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Disaster capitalism

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In her groundbreaking book The Shock Doctrine The Rise of Disaster Capitalism  Naomi Klein  has shown how From Chile in 1973 to Iraq today, neoliberals have repeatedly harnessed terrible shocks and violence to implement their radical policies or neoliberalization and debt enslavement of the weaker countries. This concept is closely related to the concepts of Military-Industrial Complex and Predator state. Amazon review of the book states:

Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine advances a truly unnerving argument: historically, while people were reeling from natural disasters, wars and economic upheavals, savvy politicians and industry leaders nefariously implemented policies that would never have passed during less muddled times. As Klein demonstrates, this reprehensible game of bait-and-switch isn't just some relic from the bad old days. It's alive and well in contemporary society, and coming soon to a disaster area near you.

"At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq'' civil war, a new law is unveiled that will allow Shell and BP to claim the country's vast oil reserves… Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly outsources the running of the 'War on Terror' to Halliburton and Blackwater… After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts… New Orleans residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be re-opened." Klein not only kicks butt, she names names, notably economist Milton Friedman and his radical Chicago School of the 1950s and 60s which she notes "produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today." Stand up and take a bow, Donald Rumsfeld.

There's little doubt Klein's book--which arrived to enormous attention and fanfare thanks to her previous missive, the best-selling No Logo, will stir the ire of the right and corporate America. It's also true that Klein's assertions are coherent, comprehensively researched and footnoted, and she makes a very credible case. Even if the world isn't going to hell in a hand-basket just yet, it's nice to know a sharp customer like Klein is bearing witness to the backroom machinations of government and industry in times of turmoil. --Kim Hughes 

Publishers Weekly review adds to this:

The neo-liberal economic policies—privatization, free trade, slashed social spending—that the Chicago School and the economist Milton Friedman have foisted on the world are catastrophic in two senses, argues this vigorous polemic. Because their results are disastrous—depressions, mass poverty, private corporations looting public wealth, by the author's accounting—their means must be cataclysmic, dependent on political upheavals and natural disasters as coercive pretexts for free-market reforms the public would normally reject. Journalist Klein (No Logo) chronicles decades of such disasters, including the Chicago School makeovers launched by South American coups; the corrupt sale of Russia's state economy to oligarchs following the collapse of the Soviet Union; the privatization of New Orleans's public schools after Katrina; and the seizure of wrecked fishing villages by resort developers after the Asian tsunami. Klein's economic and political analyses are not always meticulous. Likening free-market shock therapies to electroshock torture, she conflates every misdeed of right-wing dictatorships with their economic programs and paints a too simplistic picture of the Iraq conflict as a struggle over American-imposed neo-liberalism. Still, much of her critique hits home, as she demonstrates how free-market ideologues welcome, and provoke, the collapse of other people's economies. The result is a powerful populist indictment of economic orthodoxy. 

Selected Amazon reviews

Steve Koss VINE VOICE on September 25, 2007

A Stunning and Well-Researched Indictment of Friedmanian Neoliberalism
 

Naomi Klein's THE SHOCK DOCTRINE is a stunning indictment of American corporatism and institutionalized globalization, on a par with such groundbreaking works as Harrington's THE OTHER AMERICA and Chomsky's HEGEMONY OR SURVIVAL. Comprehensive in its breadth and remarkable for its well-researched depth, Klein's book is a highly readable but disturbing look at how the neoliberal economic tenets of Milton Friedman have been implemented across the world over the last thirty-plus years.

The author's thesis is simply stated: that neoliberal economic programs have repeatedly been implemented without the consent of the governed by creating and/or taking advantage of various forms of national shock therapy. Ms. Klein asserts that in country after country, Friedman and his Chicago School followers have foisted their tripartite economic prescription - privatization, deregulation, and cutbacks in social welfare spending - on an unsuspecting populace through decidedly non-democratic means. In the early years, the primary vehicle was dictatorial military force and accompanying fear of arrest, torture, disappearance, or death. Over time, new organizations such as the IMF and the World Bank were employed instead, using or creating impossible debt burdens to force governments to accept privatization of state-owned industries and services, complete removal of trade barriers and tariffs, forced acceptance of private foreign investment, and widespread layoffs. In more recent years, terrroism and its response as well as natural disasters like hurricanes and tsunamis have wiped clean enough of the slate to impose these Friedmanite policies on people too shocked and focused on recovering to realize what was happening until it was too late.

According to Ms. Klein's thesis, these revolutionary economic programs were the "medicine" deemed necessary by neoliberal, anti-Keynesian economists to bring underdeveloped countries into the global trading community. Ms. Klein argues her case in convincing detail a long chronological line of historical cases. Each chapter in her book surveys one such situation, from Chile under Pinochet and Argentina under military junta through Nicaragua and Honduras, Bolivia under Goni, post-apartheid South Africa, post-Solidarity Poland, Russia under Yeltsin, China since Tiananmen, reconstruction of Iraq after the U.S. invasion, Sri Lanka after the tsunami, Israel after 9/11, and New Orleans post-Katrina. Along the way, she lets various neoliberal economists and Chicago School practitioners speak for themselves - we hear their "shock therapy" views in their own words. As just one example, this arrogant and self-righteous proclamation from the late Professor Friedman: "Only a crisis - actual or perceived - producs real change...our basic function, to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable."

What the author makes inescapably clear is that the world economic order has been largely remade in Milton Friedman's image in the last few decades by adopting programs that would never have been democratically accepted by the common people. Military coups, violence and force, wars, induced hyperinflation, terrorism, preemptive war, climate disasters - these have been the disruptive vehicles that allowed such drastic economic packages to be imposed. Nearly always, they are developed in secrecy and implemented too rapidly for citizens to respond. The end results, as Ms.Klein again makes clear, are massive (and too often, continuing) unemployment, large price increases for essential goods, closing of factories, enormous increases in people living in poverty, explosive concentration of wealth among a small elite, and extraordinary opportunity for rapacious capitalism from American and European corporations.

Ms. Klein argues that from its humble beginnings as an economic philosophy, the neoliberal program has evolved (or perhaps devolved) into a form of corporatism. Particularly in America, government under mostly Republican adminstrations has hollowed itself out, using private sector contractors for nearly every conceivable task. Companies ranging from Lockheed and Halliburton to ChoicePoint, Blackwater, CH2M Hill, and DynCorp exist almost entirely to secure lucrative government contracts to perform work formerly done by government. They now operate in a world the author describes as "disaster capitalism," waiting and salivating over the profits to be made in the next slate-wiping war or disaster, regardless of the human cost. In an ominous closing discussion, Ms. Klein describes the privatization of government in wealthy Atlanta suburbs, a further step in self-serving and preemptive corporatism guaranteed to hollow out whatever is left of major American cities if it becomes a widespread practice.

THE SHOCK DOCTRINE is truly a head-shaking read. One can only marvel at the imperiousness of past (mostly) American governmental behavior, the grievous callousness of it all, the massive human despair and suffering created for no other reason than economic imperialism, and the nauseating greed of (mostly Republican) politicians, former political operatives, and corporate executives who prey like pack wolves on people's powerlessness and insecurity. Reading this book, one can no longer ask the question, "Why do they hate us?" The answer is obvious, and no amount of hyperventilation from Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, or Fox News can erase the facts and consequences of behavior that we as a country have implicitly or explicitly endorsed.

THE SHOCK DOCTRINE proves itself as shaming of modern American governmental policy as Dee Brown's epic of 19th Century America, BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE. It is an essential read for intelligent citizens who want to understand the roots of globalization and its blowback effects on our lives.

Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 11, 2007

Format: Hardcover
**FYI** Please note to the best of my knowledge I am NOT related to Naomi Klein.**

If you wonder what happened to the middle class, why poverty is on the rise and what the economies in a democracracy, dictatorship and "communism" have in common, you'll find lots of food for thought in Naomi Klein's THE SHOCK DOCTRINE. Tracing the rise of the "Chicago Boys" laissez-faire economic beliefs, their impact on South America, China, Russia, Poland and South Africa and how it impacted their form of government, Klein makes a compelling argument for the flaws in Milton Friedman's economic science.

Naomi Klein's book looks at the conflict between Milton Friedman's "laissez-faire" approach to business and government where business is largely unregulated running itself and government is little more than a bare bones system. According to Klein, Friedman believed that the economic theories he espoused would be perfect and that any problems with it would be due to outside forces interferring with his free market world. His approach was in complete contrast to Keynes who believed that the prime mission of politicians and economists was to prevent unemployment and avoid a depression or recession by regulating the market place. People like John Kenneth Galbraith (heir to Keynes' mantle)believed part of the purpose of economic regulation was to keep our captalist system fair and prevent a small group of businesses from dominating the market. Galbraith also believed in bills like the Glass-Steagall act which created a firewall between Wall Street and various banking institutions (which former President Clinton helped to eliminate). The net result would be to prevent recreating disasters like the Great Depression and 1929 stock market crash (the current version of which contributed to part of the economic mess we're in today).

It's the conflict between these two economic philosphies that allows our economic world to thrive. You'll have to decide for yourself how accurately she reflects each man's philosphy based on what you know about each respective philosphy but I found, for the most part, that the book gave a pretty accurate summation of the benefits and issues at the core of each, as well as which classes benefit the most.

Klein suggests that "disaster capitalism", i.e., introducing radical changes in terms of economic and government policy when a country is in "shock" (taking advantage of the fact that massed resistence is unlikely to that change), is allowing the rise of unchecked multi-national corporations that take advantage of and damage our society in the process. She suggests that Friedman's beliefs that the market will manage itself and that free market capitalism undermined the Soviet Union is an idealized and naive belief. The impact for good and bad is that a business functions like a plant. If it receives too much sunlight and water, it will overgrow and strangle out everything else in the economic ecosystem. The net result would cause the system to become unbalanced with human suffering and economic disaster as the result if left unchecked. She traces a parallel path between the rise of Friedman's economic philosphy and the rise of human rights violations, rise and fall of various governments throughout the world and the opportunism of the business world to exploit it.

She ties all of this together looking at the economic policies and beliefs that are reshaping American society--for good and bad--into a different society where the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to expand and one where the free market society is being radically retooled. The result is a society where the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer. The pressured middle class continues to shrink. This undermines the foundation of our economic growth. This book will probably divide those along the more extreme political lines but has the ring of truth nevertheless.

Klein crafts a fascinating book. Although some of her observations might be a bit of a stretch and her arguments occasionally flawed, she provides compelling evidence to support her thesis and connects the dots of events that might otherwise appear to be unrelated. Whether or not you agree with Klein or are outraged by her evidence, you'll find plenty of food for thought in her book.

Justin M. Feldman on October 27, 2007

An important read with some shortcomings

Naomi Klein has written this book about the rise of what she calls "disaster capitalism": the global imposition/adoption of Chicago School (neoliberal) economics since the early 1970s. This is a particularly important book because, while many have written about the same topic, I have never seen it treated in a form that is both holistic (ie. a global history) and accessible (ie. largely free from the academic jargon of economics and social theory). The book does suffer from some problems however.

Klein's main thesis is problematic. She writes that the idea of economic shock therapy arose out of the same logic as Electric Convulsive Therapy (ECT). This idea is to create or exploit a destructive event in order to create regression, passivity, and a 'blank slate' on which to build a new order. In supporting this thesis, Klein uses all of Part I of her book to write about psychological torture and the CIA's mind control experiments. She attempts to develop a 'poetics of torture' that links the individual violence of ECT to the structural violence that occurs when neoliberalism is imposed as a governing strategy. Klein is no poet however, and the metaphor seems to die pretty early on in the book. She does thankfully offer a more implicit thesis that she invokes more regularly and supports more thoroughly: free markets did not develop through freedom, but through authoritarian or technocratic interventions.

Secondly, Klein treats capitalism as if it were only 35 years old. Her book however is thematically similar to the work of another woman who wrote on the same issues a century before: Rosa Luxemburg. By only going as far back as the rise of Keynsianism and developmentalism, Klein makes it seem as though neoliberalism is a radical historical exception. Yet it seems that, since the industrial revolution, it is Keynsianism that itself was the historical exception.

This book is mostly comprised of what are essentially case studies. Each case study could certainly be expanded into its own 600-page book, so simplification was necessary. I think that it is also necessary for the author to explicitly admit the complexity of any situation beyond just the power of market forces, which act strongly and ubiquitously but never alone. I think she does admit the shortcomings of her case studies for Israel/Palestine, South Africa, and Iraq (her best and most personally-involved ones), but not for the rest.

All in all, this book is worth a read and is a good introduction to one of the most powerful forces of our times. I just hope that it inspires people to read some other books that illuminate more of the complexities in regards to the theory and practice of neoliberalism in our communities, countries, and worlds.

 I particularly recommend David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism.

ByBrian F. "Nurse Ratched"on April 7, 2015

How shocking! (pun intended)

I have always been a bit of a history buff and have prided myself on knowing a lot of the history involving the US. Recently, I had an enlightening revelation; one which I think I always knew, but had never heard it articulated. Each of us looks at our place in the world in different ways. Some see the world sociologically, some see it economically and some see it politically. Obviously these three "slants" affect our interpretations, and I totally get that there is obvious cross-over. Within each of these areas there is a continuum and people line up (usually) to one side of center or the other. Until I read Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, I had not realized just where I aligned. Obviously I was aware that my views tend to be colored with the politics of the world in which I find myself. Having studied some sociology I knew and could interpret things with that lens, as well. What I knew about economics, however, had never given me (that I know of) a different vantage point on history. Until now.

I read through a number of the one star reviews, as is my habit. I like to see what folks have to say who may not be a fan of leftist thought. Let's face it: There's thought (so-called "critical thinking") and then there's blind adherence to ideology. This seems to happen on a lot of levels and is a view shared by many with otherwise opposing world-views. Still, when I read the same old, re-hashed, regurgitated and repeated stuff.... maintaining the status quo, I have to cringe. When I read many of the one star "reviews", I saw a lot of this. One individual who offered quotes from founding father John Adams (among others) rightly pointed out that facts are annoying things. When Ms. Klein put words to paper, she obviously knew this might be an issue. She quotes not only people but documents in support of the argument at hand. Those who oppose her expose on idealogical grounds have often (not always) done so without having given the courtesy of reading the book. Of course, this happens all the time here, on Amazon. Those that have read the book seem to conveniently forget the documents and contemporary quotes of the individuals involved. Unfortunate.

So here's my synopsis (working from memory - I read the book a while ago): Free Market economy, imagined and theorized by Milton Friedman of the Chicago school (University of Chicago, school of economics) in the 50s got it's first real opportunity to prove its mettle in 1970 with Pinochet's coup in Chile. Adherents and followers saw "successes" and shortfalls with this first real-world experiment. The entire southern cone of South American nations experienced similar things, all of which Ms. Klein links through personnel involved to Friedman. They got the okay from Kissinger and the ball got rolling. After South America, then Poland, the USSR/Russia, South Africa, China, and a string of other economies fell into the Friedman fold. He was an advisor!

"Shock and Awe" is followed extremely closely by already laid plans being nearly instantly enacted in order to push through laws and edicts which stood no chance of being passed "democratically". Privatization is the mantra. Donald Rumsfeld was a HUGE Chicago school adherent/supporter who took the idea of privatization to the limit while Secretary of Defense under Bush II, cutting public sector jobs from the DOD with abandon. Iraq's "green zone" was a classic example of a nearly completely privatized entity. A country within a country. Katrina was dealt with in nearly the same manner.

I'll never look at history the same way again. My eyes have been opened. For those of you who will decry my review as leftist praise for a leftist writer... if you're in the 2% and are benefitting, financially, from all this privatization... I can understand you defending it. For ANYONE else, if you defend Laissez Faire / Free Market / or "Trickle Down" economics, you have my sympathy because you are supporting the means of your own suppression. Good Luck!

Pocketson February 20, 2015

Be Ready to be Shocked

This book explains how the CIA bankrolled and encouraged the exploitation and political overthrow of many countries around the world in the '60's, 70's and 80's including Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Iran, Nicaragua and many others. It helps one understand how the Neocons evolved into what their basic philosophy remains today. Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winning economist, played a major role in this evolution and remained unapologetic about the misery that resulted from his economic model of creating change through shock. This book is very thorough and detailed in its presentation and reads like an exciting novel even though it is a factual reporting of real events.


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[Aug 15, 2018] While the west is gradually leaning toward dumping Ukraine and hoping Russia will solve the financial problems it faces, Russia might decline this offer

Ukraine has huge problems because far right nationalists while hate corruption, do not control economics and oligarchs who control it do not intent to share their profits with the population, who is on the edge of starvation.
Breaking economic ties with Russia helped to relegate Ukraine to semi-colonial status as without cooperation with Russian industries and access to Russian market (which they know very well) many Ukrainian manufacturing industries are less viable..
Ukraine was already converted into debt-slave, and it is extremely difficult to climb out of this hole without default. At the same time it serves are powerful anti-Russian force in the region and as such will be semi-supported by both the USA and EU. for example attacks on Ukrainian currency probably will be avoided.
This is a variant of " don't cry for me Argentina" situation.
Notable quotes:
"... Notably that while the west is gradually leaning toward dumping Ukraine and hoping Russia will solve the problem, the warning signs are there that Russia has no intention of bailing out an exhausted Ukraine, and that this time it is going to be allowed to fail all the way down. The west should be warned that nobody is riding to the rescue and pouring their resources into stabilizing Ukraine – if the west cannot do it, the alternative is collapse and draining emergency work to keep the population from starvation. Prosperity is an impossible dream now, and the people – I think – would be pretty happy to be back where they were before the glorious Maidan. ..."
"... Interestingly, something that was not touched upon in the 'Necessary' section was the elimination of the oligarchy in Kiev and other major cities. I will declare frankly that I have no idea how this might be achieved – as discussed before several times, the Ukrainian oligarchs control something in the order of 70% of Ukrainian GDP, and are not about to gift any of it back to the Ukrainian state. ..."
"... You'll know there's no more money in Ukraine when the oligarchs leave, and I see no sign of that so far, while it is evident they intend to be a big part of any future rebuilding. They've already successfully stolen most of the IMF money, and plainly think an even bigger payday is still in the offing. ..."
"... Eventually, if the USA is unsuccessful in forcing the outbreak of another world war, the west will get around to either asking Russia to help, or trying to dump Ukraine on Russia. ..."
"... Whatever happens, the dream of Ukrainian nationalists to forge a great and powerful ... nation of Ukraine is always going to remain that – a dream. They're happy enough at present scampering about in the ruins and glorying in their imagination of great power, but they are kings of the dungheap without any clue of nation-building. ..."
"... The few who both hated Russia and honestly aspired to a Great Ukraine – free of corruption and able to pay its way through judicious management of its undeniable resources and casting off the peasant mentality – have no influence, and operate at the pleasure of the power-brokers; they are allowed to dabble at anti-corruption until their probing becomes uncomfortable, and then they are discredited and fired, if not charged with the crimes they say they are investigating. ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Cortes August 10, 2018 at 9:02 pm

Last post time, but a goodie (I think):

http://thesaker.is/whats-destructive-constructive-and-necessary-in-ukrainian-politics/

No intention to comment- read for yourselves.

Mark Chapman August 11, 2018 at 6:41 am
That is indeed an interesting piece – generally speaking, we most enjoy writing with which we agree, and I mostly agree with it and feel the ring of familiarity, because some of it is what we have been saying here for a couple of years. Notably that while the west is gradually leaning toward dumping Ukraine and hoping Russia will solve the problem, the warning signs are there that Russia has no intention of bailing out an exhausted Ukraine, and that this time it is going to be allowed to fail all the way down. The west should be warned that nobody is riding to the rescue and pouring their resources into stabilizing Ukraine – if the west cannot do it, the alternative is collapse and draining emergency work to keep the population from starvation. Prosperity is an impossible dream now, and the people – I think – would be pretty happy to be back where they were before the glorious Maidan.

Interestingly, something that was not touched upon in the 'Necessary' section was the elimination of the oligarchy in Kiev and other major cities. I will declare frankly that I have no idea how this might be achieved – as discussed before several times, the Ukrainian oligarchs control something in the order of 70% of Ukrainian GDP, and are not about to gift any of it back to the Ukrainian state.

But for so long as Ukraine continues to elect one oligarch after another to the office of President, the oligarch of the moment will be far more occupied with increasing his/her personal wealth and power, and settling scores with rivals, than with governance and accountability. At the same time, there is no use hoping the President will be a poor man or woman, because they generally do not have the worldly education to grasp the problem and envision solutions while being simultaneously beset from all sides by the oligarchy, seeking to retain its power and influence.

You'll know there's no more money in Ukraine when the oligarchs leave, and I see no sign of that so far, while it is evident they intend to be a big part of any future rebuilding. They've already successfully stolen most of the IMF money, and plainly think an even bigger payday is still in the offing.

The United States has largely forgotten Ukraine, as it was only ever a pretext for a full-court press against Russia anyway, and it now has enough Russophobia sustainment in its ditzy population to press forward without the need to invoke sympathy for Ukraine. Europe is still quite interested in a resolution, but only because of its fear that it is going to get stuck with the booby prize, and be made to assume responsibility for getting Ukraine on its feet somehow, perhaps even absorbing it. Eventually, if the USA is unsuccessful in forcing the outbreak of another world war, the west will get around to either asking Russia to help, or trying to dump Ukraine on Russia.

Whatever happens, the dream of Ukrainian nationalists to forge a great and powerful ... nation of Ukraine is always going to remain that – a dream. They're happy enough at present scampering about in the ruins and glorying in their imagination of great power, but they are kings of the dungheap without any clue of nation-building.

The few who both hated Russia and honestly aspired to a Great Ukraine – free of corruption and able to pay its way through judicious management of its undeniable resources and casting off the peasant mentality – have no influence, and operate at the pleasure of the power-brokers; they are allowed to dabble at anti-corruption until their probing becomes uncomfortable, and then they are discredited and fired, if not charged with the crimes they say they are investigating.

Patient Observer August 11, 2018 at 8:17 am
Well said. Presumably, the Donbass will pull away from Ukraine and vote to joint Russia and Russia will approve for any number of reasons but certainly including humanitarian, ethnic/cultural connections and military considerations. Other regions such as Odessa could jump aboard as well.

There may be a mass exodus from what is left – the grifter to the West and those seeking a better life to the east. The Nazis will remain behind and may serve some purpose such as providing a pool of mercenaries for CIA projects.

I, for one, do not think the Donbass will be an overwhelming economic burden in the long run. The population has shown resolve and resilience. Given leadership and material aid, they can rebuild fairly quickly I think.

[Aug 15, 2018] Canadian sniper rifles expected to be in the hands of Ukrainian military by fall, MP says

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al August 8, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Well Canada has rather upset the apple cart, hasn't it? On the one hand, western moralizing and sermonizing other states about what they should do used to be only restricted to mostly enemy states, preferably much less rich ones, on the other hand values only mean something if you actually are willing to pay a literal price in either money, blood or both.

The financial papers are saying that this will damage SA's the confidence of foreign investors, precisely those SA is trying to attract so that it can start to diversify its economy away from petroleum based products, but we have yet to see if this will have a noticeable effect, rather than just a wish effect.

The US has said Sweet FA, along with the rest of the sermonizing weapon selling west, so Canada has very little support from its allies. So far. Germany should be an obvious supporter but if pissing of the Saudis makes it more dependent on Russia ergo there are plenty of reasons that can be wheeled out to keep treading lightly.

It looks to me as just another sign of the existing order breaking down, whether or not Canada back tracks or not. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.

As for the so-called free and democratic media, well they only further discredit themselves publicly.

Meanwhile, I just checked out the Canada headlines and this jumped out:

National Post: Canadian sniper rifles expected to be in the hands of Ukrainian military by fall, MP says
https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-sniper-rifles-expected-to-be-in-the-hands-of-ukrainian-military-by-fall-mp-says

Global Affairs Canada would not say whether Canadian taxpayers are financing the sale, and would not provide any other details about the arms deal

Few details are available about the proposed sale of weapons, as the Canadian government says such information is commercially sensitive. It has declined to name the company selling the guns or indicate how many rifles would be sent to Ukraine. However Conservative MP James Bezan, who has been in contact with the Canadian company that has the agreement to supply the rifles to Ukraine, confirmed the deal's likely timeline. He declined to name the firm since the sale still has to be finalized.

Nicolas Moquin, a spokesman for the Canadian Joint Operations Command Headquarters, said the Canadian military has been providing sniper and counter-sniper training to Ukraine's security forces since September 2015. He said Canada is not looking at this time of providing additional sniper training to coincide with the delivery of new weapons .
####

Freeland will be doing her grandfather justice!

Canadian sniper rifle manufacturers:

PGW Defense Technologies – C14 Timberwolf (CAF current rifle)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C14_Timberwolf

Parker-Hale C3, C3A1 and M82

Where as this old NP article fingers Colt Canada chasing sales to the Ukraine, though this seems to be for assault rifles rather than sniper rifles:

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-arms-manufacturer-hopes-to-sell-assault-rifles-to-ukraine-military

OR, is this just Canada selling sniper rifles that are not necessarily of Canadian origin?

According the the video below with Canadian MP James Barazan, he says there are large numbers of weapons such as assault rifles, sniper systems, mortar systems, counter battery radar etc. sitting in warehouses in Jordan (& Toronto) that were supposed to go to Kurdistan.

Patient Observer August 8, 2018 at 3:48 pm
Yes,, the world order is falling apart. For some reason, this state of affairs reminds me of the observation that married couples who are heading toward divorce are on that path not because of a lack of communications but because they are now communicating for the first time.
Mark Chapman August 8, 2018 at 4:48 pm
Ukraine is awash in small arms – they could give them out with a box of tea at the supermarket as a promotion, and it would still take months to work through their supply. The last thing they need is more rifles. On the other hand, new ones will probably fetch a good price on e-Bay.
Hor August 8, 2018 at 7:44 pm
Maybe the hryvnia no longer holds any value and the new currency is sniper rifles.

[Aug 15, 2018] Ukraine has more or less lost its case before the WTO, in which it wept that Russia s unfair imposition of an embargo on its railway cars and rolling stock constituted a violation which caused a former $3.2 Billion in annual sales

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 1, 2018 at 5:27 pm

Oh, dear; Ukraine has more or less lost its case before the WTO, in which it wept that Russia's unfair imposition of an embargo on its railway cars and rolling stock constituted a violation which caused a former $3.2 Billion in annual sales – more than it realizes from transit fees for carrying Russian gas to Europe – to collapse to $150 Million. The WTO bought the Russian rationale that Russian inspectors going to Ukraine to ensure the product conformed to Russian standards would be in fear of their lives.

But the WTO ruled that the security situation was such that Russian inspectors sent to check that Ukraine's exports complied with Russian standards would have been risking their lives, and Russia was therefore justified in not sending them to Ukraine.

"The panel fully agreed with Russia's position and recognized that there was no systematic restriction of imports of Ukrainian equipment by Russia," Russia's Ministry of Trade and Economy said in a statement.

The WTO did go on to say Russia could have carried out the inspections outside Ukraine, but therein lies a sandbag to the head that Ukraine probably spotted already – if Russian inspectors found shoddy work or any other reason to refuse the offered goods, to say nothing of the probability that no contracting position between the two countries even exists any more, then Ukraine would be out the sale plus whatever costs it incurred to ship the goods outside Ukraine.

https://m.investing.com/news/economy-news/wto-ruling-derails-bulk-of-ukrainian-trade-dispute-against-russia-1551279?ampMode=1

Gosh! Is Ukraine's Russophobia beginning to blow up in its face?

[Aug 14, 2018] Creating problems in Ukriane is one of the few ways Russia could impose tangible costs on USA

Looks like the aim of US sanctions is to ratchet the hostility up with Russia to the level of a full blown cold war. Ukraine can be a victim.
Notable quotes:
"... Meanwhile, you'll get bogged down in Ukraine. You'll face tough choices (sanctions will get North Korea-style quickly, and even Chinese sympathy will get questionable), like should you spend your scarce resources on modern weaponry or a large security force to keep Ukraine pacified? ..."
"... Very few people in Russia would want Ukraine now. The consensus is: "good riddance". In Ukraine, on the other hand, there are people who want Russia to invade. Some are waiting for someone else to liberate them from Nazis (they apparently are not familiar with Protestant wisdom that God helps those who help themselves), some pray for a pretext to invite NATO/US (as if anyone is willing to die for them). ..."
Aug 14, 2018 | www.unz.com

@reiner Tor


We'll need an anti-sanctions law regardless of whether or not we are going to invade.
Well, I'd say it's a precondition to invading Ukraine. If you're incapable of making such a simple law, you're sure as hell incapable of invading Ukraine. And you do need the law if you want to avoid the sanctions creating the perverse incentives inside Russia, like the biggest banks not having branches in the Crimea. Decoupling from the US dollar is no help, since US sanctions are extraterritorial, if you didn't notice, so they affect euro or even Chinese yuan denominated transactions, too.
Eastern Europeans will never mobilise. What would mass mobilisation even look like in a country like Hungary? Instead, they'll petition USA to station more of its troops in Eastern Europe. A lot more, like hundreds of thousands more.
Within living memory, Hungary had armed forces of 150,000 troops and 1,500 main battle tanks (admittedly, the majority were somewhat obsolete), with hundreds of fighter and light bomber jets (MiG-21s and Su-22s etc.), and we were the slackers in the Eastern Bloc, not spending on defense as much as other neighbors of us. Increasing defense spending to 2% of GDP is what's the plan. If you invaded and occupied the whole of Ukraine, it could easily go up to 4-5%.

Of course, the Americans might come in numbers, too. But you're delusional here:

Doing so will impose costs on the USA. Actually, this is one of the few ways Russia could impose tangible costs on USA: by stoking tensions in Eastern Europe.
We have no military industry to speak of. Most of our neighbors do have some, but even they are nowhere near self-sufficiency. You can guess who we'll buy our weapons from. Poland recently offered to pay for an American base on its soil. So it won't be much of a cost for the US, it might actually be quite beneficial.

Meanwhile, you'll get bogged down in Ukraine. You'll face tough choices (sanctions will get North Korea-style quickly, and even Chinese sympathy will get questionable), like should you spend your scarce resources on modern weaponry or a large security force to keep Ukraine pacified?

Mass deportations is the best part about occupying the Ukraine!
Stalin's USSR at the height of its power only deported much smaller populations. You'd need a lot of people to achieve that. But let's assume you'll manage to do that. It will, of course, create a huge backlash against Russia: popular opinion will get united against Russians. (Defense spending quickly up to 5% of GDP or higher.) The Ukrainians in our countries will of course enter the workforce and join anti-Russian ragtag militias to control the border.
Instead they would have to contend with an insurgency in Eastern Poland
So the people ethnically cleansed from their homes will rise up against NATO in support of Russia. This is a seriously dumb idea.

AnonFromTN , August 13, 2018 at 7:04 pm GMT

Very few people in Russia would want Ukraine now. The consensus is: "good riddance". In Ukraine, on the other hand, there are people who want Russia to invade. Some are waiting for someone else to liberate them from Nazis (they apparently are not familiar with Protestant wisdom that God helps those who help themselves), some pray for a pretext to invite NATO/US (as if anyone is willing to die for them).

This reminds me of an old Russian joke.

An old hag sits on the bench and screams: "Help! They are raping me!"
Another one passes by and asks: "Have you gone completely mad?"
The first one answers: "Everyone is entitled to a pleasant dream!"

Cyrano , August 13, 2018 at 6:15 pm GMT
@Mr. Hack

Don't worry about my IQ woes – they are non-existent. I am a stable genius – just like Donald Trump. Your IQ issues are – on the other hand – very easy to fix. All you have to do is admit that you are Russian and you immediately gain 20-30 IQ points. Of course, this will come at the expense of Russia, but then again. everything you've ever done in your history came at the expense of Russia. All the Russians ever wanted was to have a brotherly nation in Ukraine. They have a brother all right, unfortunately that brother has a Down syndrome.

AnonFromTN , August 13, 2018 at 5:46 pm GMT
@Okechukwu

Any Russian ruler who tries to return Crimea will be overthrown in no time. As Russia gradually disengages from the US-dominated financial system, the costs will go down. Russia has already created its own payment system similar to that of Visa and Mastercard, as well as its own money transfer system similar to SWIFT. On the other hand, if Russia fails to disengage from dollar-dominated system, the losses would be much greater than Crimea. It might even turn into a shithole, like Ukraine.

Insurance is more often a scam than not: Lehman Brothers enjoyed pretty high ratings until their crash. What's more, banks were insured against the risks of sub-prime mortgages they held. Remember what happened in 2008?

As to the future, nobody has the crystal ball. Can you tell how much a Big Mac will cost in the US five or ten years from now? $4? $40? $400? $4,000? Your guess is as good as mine. Ponzi schemes have a habit of crashing and nobody worked out a way of predicting when exactly the crash will occur.

AnonFromTN , August 13, 2018 at 5:15 pm GMT
@DaveE

This might be in the cards. The US sanctions actually squeezed Russian comprador (5th column) oligarchs, who were always subservient to the West, sent their families there, and are siphoning off their money offshore, more than anything. If Putin uses this to expropriate their stolen riches, which he might do (98% of Russian population would be cheering; they'd cheer even more if Putin hangs those bastards, but that's unlikely), these sanctions would be yet another example of the US shooting itself in the foot. The US is getting pretty good at that lately, always screaming that it hurts afterwards.

[Aug 14, 2018] Our Despicable, Indefensible Policy in Yemen by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... So will a good Christian like Mike Pompeo reconcile these obvious falsehoods, self deception. With every letter, he will be denying the very God he professes to believe in. ..."
"... Trump and his administration are the reveal of the true nature of modern American political Christianity. This is what it always was ..."
"... But The People are not exactly conscientious objector on the issue of Yemen and the crimes committed in our name either. The Republic might rot from the head, but the rot has certainly spread far and wide. ..."
Aug 13, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
The pathetic U.S. response to last week's massacre of students in Yemen continues :

A senior general urged Saudi officials to conduct a thorough investigation into an airstrike that killed at least 40 children in Yemen, the Pentagon said Monday, an indication of U.S. concern about allied nations' air operations against Houthi militants.

The general's request actually shows how little concern the U.S. has for how the Saudi coalition conducts its war effort. If the U.S. were concerned with how the war was being fought, our officials wouldn't be asking the perpetrators of atrocities to investigate their own crimes. It is pointless to urge the Saudis to conduct an investigation into their own war crime when we already know that they will find that they did nothing wrong. As the Post article notes later on, the coalition's investigations predictably excuse their actions:

According to Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director for Human Rights Watch, Saudi investigators had cleared coalition military officials of legal responsibility in virtually all investigations the JIAT had conducted.

The pattern of Saudi coalition conduct over the last three years is clear. Their forces commit numerous documented war crimes, and then when they "investigate" those crimes they determine that their forces are guilty of nothing. It would have been laughable to ask the Saudis to investigate themselves back in 2015, and to do the same over three years later is inexcusable. It is an invitation to whitewashing heinous, illegal acts. The U.S. will not honestly call out the coalition members for their crimes against Yemeni civilians because our government is deeply complicit in those crimes, and so we are treated to this pantomime farce where we send officers to call for investigations whose results have been predetermined even before the crimes were committed. The entire policy is a disgrace, and it brings dishonor on everyone ordered to participate in it.

There needs to be an independent, international inquiry into war crimes committed by all sides in Yemen. All parties to the conflict are assuredly guilty of war crimes, and all parties should be held accountable for what they have done to Yemen's civilians. As long as the U.S. enables Saudi coalition crimes and then shields them from scrutiny, our government is implicated in both the crime and the cover-up. Congress could put a stop to this if they were willing to do their jobs and assume their proper responsibilities, but for more than three years they have shirked their duties and acquiesced in a despicable and indefensible policy in Yemen.


Other Costs August 14, 2018 at 1:34 am

"The entire policy is a disgrace, and it brings dishonor on everyone ordered to participate in it."

For all that they're doing it at the order of even more disgusting civilians, this has got a be a low point in the history of the American military. The word "Yemen" on a resume or CV will make military people stink for the rest of their lives. Like "My Lai" or "Dishonorable Discharge".

Christian Chuba , says: August 14, 2018 at 7:41 am
We are getting a preview of the letters Mike Pompeo will be signing off on to Congress.

So will a good Christian like Mike Pompeo reconcile these obvious falsehoods, self deception. With every letter, he will be denying the very God he professes to believe in.

rayray , says: August 14, 2018 at 10:33 am
@Christian Chuba
Trump and his administration are the reveal of the true nature of modern American political Christianity. This is what it always was
b. , says: August 14, 2018 at 3:39 pm
"The entire policy is a disgrace, and it brings dishonor on everyone ordered to participate in it."

Conduct unbecoming.

The higher the rank of the officers involving themselves in this – in following unconstitutional orders to participate in an illegal campaign of aggressive war and collective punishment – the worse it gets. It would be a heroic act for a private – or even the officer piloting a refueling tanker – to speak out against this, a general has much less of a claim to honor and acquiescence both.

If The People really supported those who serve, they would rally to every conscientious objector – even the misguided ones – because anybody who has the honor and integrity to question orders is preferable to those that pay no heed to the meaning of their oath.

But The People are not exactly conscientious objector on the issue of Yemen and the crimes committed in our name either. The Republic might rot from the head, but the rot has certainly spread far and wide.

[Aug 13, 2018] >As dubya the idiot once said

Aug 13, 2018 | caucus99percent.com

ggersh on Mon, 08/13/2018 - 10:01am "you're either with us or against us"

Well I'm fucking against us

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/08/13/heres-video-schoolchildren-...

Here's the Video of Schoolchildren Just Moments Before Being Massacred by U.S.-Backed Saudi Bombing
"This blood is on America's hands, as long as we keep sending the bombs that kill so many Yemenis."

After

[Aug 13, 2018] Not supposed to get angry right? Supposed to be civil

Notable quotes:
"... "Most ironic of all, US and Saudi-backed sectarian extremists, including Al Qaeda in Yemen, had served as proxy forces meant to keep Houthi militias in check by proxy so the need for a direct military intervention such as the one now unfolding would not be necessary. This means that Saudi Arabia and the US are intervening in Yemen only after the terrorists they were supporting were overwhelmed and the regime they were propping up collapsed." ..."
"... "Indeed, the conflict in Yemen is a proxy war. Not between Iran and Saudi Arabia per say, but between Iran and the United States, with the United States electing Saudi Arabia as its unfortunate stand-in." ..."
"... "In reality, Saudi Arabia's and the United States' rhetoric aside, a brutal regional regime meddled in Yemen and lost, and now the aspiring global hemegon sponsoring it from abroad has ordered it to intervene directly and clean up its mess." ..."
"... Sanders won't say that and most media will simply blame it on the U.S. supplying weapons but they don't get into the why, typically blaming it on the MIC being the MIC. ..."
"... "Most ironic of all, US and Saudi-backed sectarian extremists, including Al Qaeda in Yemen, had served as proxy forces meant to keep Houthi militias in check by proxy so the need for a direct military intervention such as the one now unfolding would not be necessary. This means that Saudi Arabia and the US are intervening in Yemen only after the terrorists they were supporting were overwhelmed and the regime they were propping up collapsed." ..."
"... "By backing the Saudi coalition's war in Yemen with weapons, aerial refueling, and targeting assistance, the United States is complicit in the atrocities taking place there." -- Sen. Bernie Sanders ..."
Aug 13, 2018 | caucus99percent.com

Big Al on Mon, 08/13/2018 - 12:28pm

ya right.
Like all wars, most media, including Common Dreams, either sugarcoat them or obfuscate the real purpose. And of course the politicians do that even better, like Sanders, who just a few years ago was begging Saudi Arabia to "get their hands dirty", just at the time that the U.S. proxy war in Yemen heated up with their lapdog Saudi Arabia getting their hands dirty indeed. The problem of course is that it's not just the U.S. supplying the bombs and military guidance, it's that it's actually another U.S. proxy war using it's favorite terrorists and terrorist supporting countries for it's imperialist agenda.

"Most ironic of all, US and Saudi-backed sectarian extremists, including Al Qaeda in Yemen, had served as proxy forces meant to keep Houthi militias in check by proxy so the need for a direct military intervention such as the one now unfolding would not be necessary. This means that Saudi Arabia and the US are intervening in Yemen only after the terrorists they were supporting were overwhelmed and the regime they were propping up collapsed."

"Indeed, the conflict in Yemen is a proxy war. Not between Iran and Saudi Arabia per say, but between Iran and the United States, with the United States electing Saudi Arabia as its unfortunate stand-in."

"In reality, Saudi Arabia's and the United States' rhetoric aside, a brutal regional regime meddled in Yemen and lost, and now the aspiring global hemegon sponsoring it from abroad has ordered it to intervene directly and clean up its mess."

http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2015/03/us-saudi-blitz-in-yemen-naked....

Actually it's larger than that, it's part of the larger imperialist struggle against China and Russia, control of the Bab-el-Mandeb oil chokepoint and control of oil and other resources in the MENA.

Sanders won't say that and most media will simply blame it on the U.S. supplying weapons but they don't get into the why, typically blaming it on the MIC being the MIC.

ggersh on Mon, 08/13/2018 - 12:55pm
My guess is that most amerikans

@Big Al don't get the why/when for if they ever do amerika won't be amerika anymore and that could go both ways, for better
or for worse

and you're correct in Sanders won't say it but Bernie shouldn't be the one stop cure all, their need to be many more voices but the crickets are most abundant.

Sanders won't say that and most media will simply blame it on the U.S. supplying weapons but they don't get into the why, typically blaming it on the MIC being the MIC.

ya right.

Like all wars, most media, including Common Dreams, either sugarcoat them or obfuscate the real purpose. And of course the politicians do that even better, like Sanders, who just a few years ago was begging Saudi Arabia to "get their hands dirty", just at the time that the U.S. proxy war in Yemen heated up with their lapdog Saudi Arabia getting their hands dirty indeed. The problem of course is that it's not just the U.S. supplying the bombs and military guidance, it's that it's actually another U.S. proxy war using it's favorite terrorists and terrorist supporting countries for it's imperialist agenda.

"Most ironic of all, US and Saudi-backed sectarian extremists, including Al Qaeda in Yemen, had served as proxy forces meant to keep Houthi militias in check by proxy so the need for a direct military intervention such as the one now unfolding would not be necessary. This means that Saudi Arabia and the US are intervening in Yemen only after the terrorists they were supporting were overwhelmed and the regime they were propping up collapsed."

"Indeed, the conflict in Yemen is a proxy war. Not between Iran and Saudi Arabia per say, but between Iran and the United States, with the United States electing Saudi Arabia as its unfortunate stand-in."

"In reality, Saudi Arabia's and the United States' rhetoric aside, a brutal regional regime meddled in Yemen and lost, and now the aspiring global hemegon sponsoring it from abroad has ordered it to intervene directly and clean up its mess."

http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2015/03/us-saudi-blitz-in-yemen-naked....

Actually it's larger than that, it's part of the larger imperialist struggle against China and Russia, control of the Bab-el-Mandeb oil chokepoint and control of oil and other resources in the MENA.

Sanders won't say that and most media will simply blame it on the U.S. supplying weapons but they don't get into the why, typically blaming it on the MIC being the MIC.

TheOtherMaven on Mon, 08/13/2018 - 4:06pm
Future generations, if there are any,

@ggersh

will call these years the "Oil Wars".

#4 don't get the why/when for if they ever do amerika won't be amerika anymore and that could go both ways, for better
or for worse

and you're correct in Sanders won't say it but Bernie shouldn't be the one stop cure all, their need to be many more voices
but the crickets are most abundant.

Sanders won't say that and most media will simply blame it on the U.S. supplying weapons but they don't get into the why, typically blaming it on the MIC being the MIC.

Big Al on Mon, 08/13/2018 - 1:52pm
Actually what Sanders and some others

(the other so called progressive heroes) are saying,

"By backing the Saudi coalition's war in Yemen with weapons, aerial refueling, and targeting assistance, the United States is complicit in the atrocities taking place there."
-- Sen. Bernie Sanders

is basically propaganda. Clearly he's making it sound like the U.S. is supplying weapons and some military assistance and therefore is complicit in the atrocities that Saudi Arabia and it's "coalition" are perpetrating in "their" war, which in turn leads people to believe (and the progressive hero politicians to propose) the U.S. simply needs to stop supplying those weapons and military assistance, i.e., get out of Saudi's war. But that misses the history of U.S. interest and involvement in Yemen, it's real role in the near genocide happening there and the overall agenda of those controlling our government. And that is why most Americans, including most progressives, don't know what is really going on in Yemen. Our political "representatives" and the 90% owned by six rich bastard corporations oligarchy media won't tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It's why people still believe the war in Syria is a civil war. It's why people believe the Russia cold war propaganda. That's all they hear and the only way to get the real truth is to dig for it and try to make sense of the big picture along with the true history of this country and our government and political system.

Not to mention he's a fucking hypocrite.

"Even worse, after the Saudis started bombing Yemen with U.S. government backing earlier this year, killing thousands and leading to what the UN is now calling a "humanitarian catastrophe," and suffering that is "almost incomprehensible," Sanders continued. In another interview, again with Wolf Blitzer in May, Sanders did correctly note that as a result of the Iraq invasion, "we've destabilized the region, we've given rise to Al-Qaeda, ISIS." But then he actually called for more intervention: "What we need now, and this is not easy stuff, I think the President is trying, you need to bring together an international coalition, Wolf, led by the Muslim countries themselves! Saudi Arabia is the third largest military budget in the world, they're going to have to get their hands dirty in this fight. We should be supporting, but at the end of the day this is [a] fight over what Islam is about, the soul of Islam, we should support those countries taking on ISIS."

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/bernie-sanders-policy-backing-saudi-in...

(Note on Truthdig article: also propaganda inserted by both Sanders and the author by insinuating the U.S. wars in the MENA "gave rise" to ISIS. That is not true, ISIS was created, aided and abetted FOR the wars in the MENA and beyond.)

[Aug 13, 2018] Oh, yeah, those evil "Muslim dictators" -- always interfering with elected governments foreign trade policies

Aug 13, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

bus full of kids was a target of 500 pound bomb and probably f-16! partizan , Aug 13, 2018 11:24:58 AM | 45

Another imperial crime in the US Overseas Territory.

https://twitter.com/BitarSaif/status/1028977314351198208

Probably Raytheon's Hellfire.

partizan , Aug 13, 2018 11:39:04 AM | 46
bus full of kids was a target of 500 pound bomb and probably f-16!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_82_bomb

[Aug 13, 2018] Turkey blames Trump for attack on lira, says it won't 'kneel' and has counter-measures ready

Notable quotes:
"... "The currency of our country is targeted directly by the US president," ..."
"... "This attack, initiated by the biggest player in the global financial system, reveals a similar situation in all developing countries." ..."
"... "All of our action plan and measures are ready," ..."
"... "Together with our banks, we prepared our action plan regarding the situation with our real sector companies, including Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which is the sector that is affected by the fluctuation the most," ..."
"... "Together with our banks and the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BRSA), we will take the necessary measures quickly." ..."
"... "It is making an operation against Turkey Its aim is to force Turkey to surrender in every field from finance to politics, to make Turkey and the Turkish nation kneel down," ..."
"... "We have seen your play and we challenge you." ..."
Aug 13, 2018 | www.rt.com

Turkey has accused Donald Trump of leading an attack on its national currency. The lira lost about 40 percent of its value against the US dollar this year and, to reduce its volatility, Ankara has prepared an urgent action plan. "The currency of our country is targeted directly by the US president," Finance Minister Berat Albayrak told the Hurriyet. "This attack, initiated by the biggest player in the global financial system, reveals a similar situation in all developing countries."

The Turkish lira took a massive hit against the dollar on Friday following Trump's decision to double tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from Turkey to 20 percent and 50 percent. Overall, the national currency lost roughly about 40 percent of its value this year.

Read more © Ozan Kose Erdogan urges Turks to dump dollar to support lira

To calm down the markets, the government instructed its institutions to implement a series of actions on Monday. "All of our action plan and measures are ready," Albayrak said, without elaborating.

"Together with our banks, we prepared our action plan regarding the situation with our real sector companies, including Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which is the sector that is affected by the fluctuation the most," the minister said . "Together with our banks and the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BRSA), we will take the necessary measures quickly."

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meanwhile slammed the US decision to impose new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

"It is making an operation against Turkey Its aim is to force Turkey to surrender in every field from finance to politics, to make Turkey and the Turkish nation kneel down," Erdogan said in Trabzon on Sunday. "We have seen your play and we challenge you."

[Aug 10, 2018] Dozens of Yemeni Children Killed in Saudi Coalition Airstrike by Daniel Larison

Notable quotes:
"... Coalition attacks on Yemeni markets are unfortunately all too common. The Saudis and their allies know they can strike civilian targets with impunity because the Western governments that arm and support them never call them out for what they do. ..."
Aug 09, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
There was another Saudi coalition airstrike on a crowded market in northern Yemen today. Dozens of civilians have been killed and dozens more injured. Many of the dead and injured were children whose school bus was hit in the attack:

Coalition attacks on Yemeni markets are unfortunately all too common. The Saudis and their allies know they can strike civilian targets with impunity because the Western governments that arm and support them never call them out for what they do. The U.S. continues to arm and refuel coalition planes despite ample evidence that the coalition has been deliberately attacking civilian targets. At the very least, the coalition hits civilian targets with such regularity that they are ignoring whatever procedures they are supposed to be following to prevent that. The weapons that the U.S., Britain, and other arms suppliers provide them are being used to slaughter wedding-goers, hospital patients, and schoolchildren, and U.S. refueling of coalition planes allows them to carry out more of these attacks than they otherwise could. Today's attack ranks as one of the worst.

Saada has come under some of the most intense attacks from the coalition bombing campaign. The coalition illegally declared the entire area a military target three years ago, and ever since they have been blowing up homes , markets , schools , water treatment systems, and hospitals without any regard for the innocent civilians that are killed and injured.

The official U.S. line on support for the war is that even more civilians would be killed if the U.S. weren't supporting the coalition. Our government has never provided any evidence to support this, and the record shows that civilian casualties from Saudi coalition airstrikes have increased over the last year. The Saudis and their allies either don't listen to any of the advice they're receiving, or they know they won't pay any price for ignoring it. As long as the U.S. arms and refuels coalition planes while they slaughter Yemeni civilians in attacks like this one, our government is implicated in the war crimes enabled by our unstinting military assistance. Congress can and must halt that assistance immediately.

Update: CNN reports on the aftermath of the airstrike:

The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said that a hospital it supports in Saada had received 29 dead bodies of "mainly children" under 15 years of age, and 40 injured, including 30 children.

"(The hospital) is very busy. They've been receiving wounded and dead since the morning and it is non-stop ," ICRC head of communications and spokesperson Mirella Hodeib told CNN.

Second Update: The Associated Press reports that the death toll stands at 43 with another 63 injured.

Third Update: The death toll has reportedly risen to 50 . 77 were injured.


an older america weeps August 9, 2018 at 11:30 am

School buses?

Good Lord above. School buses.

Of course I have no right to surprise or shock. They've already targeted hospitals, foreign doctors and nurses, first responders, wedding parties, and funerals.

School buses.

We used to make movies about killing people who do things like this. Now we help them do it.

Daniel O'Connor , says: August 9, 2018 at 12:54 pm
The repetitive frequency and intensity of these attacks on hospitals, schools, markets and other civilian gatherings, coupled with the indifference of the guilty national governments and their international enablers, signals that the world and human species is passing through a mass psychosis. This psychosis is playing itself out at all levels. Fascism, which is very current as a national psychology, is generally speaking, a coping strategy for dealing with nasty chaos. This coping strategy is designed around generating even more chaos, since that is a familiar and therefore more comfortable pattern of behavior; and that does provide a delusion of stability. A good example would be the sanctions just declared by the Trump Administration on Iranian commerce. In an intrinsically connected global market, these sanctions are so thorough that they qualify as a blockade, within a contingency plan for greater global conflict. But those who destroy hospitals, schools, school buses and public celebrations are not, otherwise, forward looking nice people. We are descending into a nasty fascist war psychosis. Just shake it. Live. Long and well.
b. , says: August 9, 2018 at 2:18 pm
"even more civilians would be killed if the U.S. weren't supporting the coalition"

If we did not hand them satellite images, did not service, repair and refuel their planes, and did not sell them the bombs, then they would . kill more civilians how? They could not even reach their targets, let alone drop explosives they do not have.

What Would Mohammad Do? Buy bombs from the Russians? Who have better quality control and fewer duds, hence more victims?

What Would Mohammad Do? Get the UAE to hire Blackwater to poison the wells across Yemen?

How exactly do the profiteers in our country, that get counted out blood money for every single Yemeni killed, propose that the Saudis and Emiratis would make this worse?

But, good to know that our "smart" and "precise" munitions can still hit a school bus. Made In America!

Great.

Hunter C , says: August 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm
The coverage in the media has been predictably cowardly and contemptible in the aftermath of this story. I read articles from CNN and MSNBC and they were variations on "school bus bombed", in the passive tense – with no mention of who did it or who is supporting them in the headline, ad if the bombings were natural disasters.

Fox, predictably, was even worse and led with "Biblical relics endangered by war", which speaks volumes about the presumed priorities of their viewership.

This, and not anything to do with red meat domestic politics, is the worst media malpractice of our time. "Stop directly helping the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks drop bombs on school children" should be the absolute easiest possible moral issue for our media to take a stand on and yet they treat it like it's radioactive.

Speaking as someone who considers themselves a liberal I am infuriated by the Democrats response. How can the party leadership not see that if they keep flogging the horse of Russian trolls and shrugging their shoulders over American given (not sold – *given*) bombs being dropped on schools and hospitals, no one is ever going to take the supposed Democratic anti-war platform seriously again. The Republicans can afford to be tarde by association with these atrocities. The Democrats can't.

I wonder how many Democrats are in the same boat as me right now: I may not like Trump or the Christian conservatives but fights over the Supreme Court or coal plants or a healthcare law look terribly petty compared to the apparent decision by Saudi Arabia to kill literally millions. For the first time in my life I'm seriously wishing there was a third-party candidate I could support and the congressional elections just so I could send a message on this.

Erik , says: August 9, 2018 at 10:13 pm
@Hunter C
Vote Libertarian Party. You won't agree with a lot of their domestic agenda, but they're not going to win, so it doesn't matter. The noninterventionist foreign policy is your message.

[Aug 10, 2018] There is also the documented presence of American forces and officers in the operations room of the Saudi coalition

Aug 10, 2018 | www.unz.com

annamaria , August 10, 2018 at 1:59 pm GMT

@DESERT FOX

The ZUSA empire in action (for children, you know) on the other side of the globe: http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/08/us-fine-tuning-of-saudi-airstrike-target-list-creates-results.html#comments

"Following an attack this morning on a bus driving children in Dahyan Market, northern Saada, (an ICRC-supported) hospital has received dozens of dead and wounded," the organisation said on Twitter without giving more details.

In a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency, the coalition called the strike a "legitimate military action"

The Comment section:

"The US provides the in-flight refueling that makes these bombing sorties possible. The "Five Eyes" provides the surveillance that picks the targets, and the navigation to hit them.

KSA is doing precisely what the AZ Empire requires of it. Just as the British Royals and their banker sponsors dictated over a century ago, so does the Empire direct these heinous crimes today.

If the Saud Royals ever did go "rogue," they'd be taken out just as the AZ [American Zionist] Empire has done time and time again."
"There is also the documented presence of American forces and officers in the operations room of the Saudi coalition." https://twitter.com/abcdaee198/status/1027649243568386055

"Why is it that the Zionist media were up in arms every time White Helmets were digging Syrian children out of rubble or dousing them with hoses? Dozens of children were slaughtered in Yemen, and many more maimed and injured and hundreds of thousands are being subjected to famine but there's only deafening silence on the Zionist-run media."

"Imagine the reaction if the Russians or Syrians had blown up a busload of kids."

-- On the same topic: Israel demanded -- and BBC changed its headline. In a headline, BBC claimed that "Israeli air strikes 'kill pregnant woman and baby.'" After some time, BBC changed its title to "Gaza air strikes 'kill woman and child' after rockets hit Israel: https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/250275

[Aug 10, 2018] U.S. 'Fine Tuning' Of Saudi Airstrike Target List Creates Results

Aug 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

occidentosis , Aug 9, 2018 3:03:23 PM | 1

I saw one video
there was nothing left of the children but bits
It was surreal
Kalen , Aug 9, 2018 3:17:53 PM | 2
Next Saudi Target: Ottawa.
MbS went beserk like Musk overdosed on juice.
Ian , Aug 9, 2018 3:22:53 PM | 3
One day, the West will reap the Karma it has sowed upon the world.
librul , Aug 9, 2018 3:35:10 PM | 4
Obama spoke about mothers sending their children to school in his acceptance speech for the
Nobel Peace Prize.

He contrasted reality vs hope
and we learned which one he would deliver.

Obama in Oslo, December 10, 2009,:

"Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty
still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what
few coins she has to send that child to school
-- because she believes that
a cruel world still
has a place for that child's dreams.

Let us live by their example.
We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us,
and still strive for justice .
We can admit the intractability of deprivation,
and still strive for dignity.
Clear-eyed,
we can understand that there will be war,
and still strive for peace.
We can do that -- for that is the story of human progress; that's the
hope
of all the world; and at this moment of challenge,
that must be our work here on Earth.

Thank you very much.
(Applause.)

One week later Obama shredded dozens of women and children in Yemen
and covered it up.

Here is ABC's Brian Ross using his most masculine baritone voice to boast about Obama's attack:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHcg3TNSRPs

Wikileaks cable corroborates evidence of US airstrikes in Yemen
https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2010/12/wikileaks-cable-corroborates-evidence-us-airstrikes-yemen/

Cable itself:
https://search.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/10SANAA4_a.html

S , Aug 9, 2018 3:57:13 PM | 5
The comments under the Daily Mail article are disabled, lest someone mentions the U.S. involvement.
Lochearn , Aug 9, 2018 4:06:42 PM | 6
Imagine the reaction if the Russians or Syrians had blown up a busload of kids...
worldblee , Aug 9, 2018 4:08:36 PM | 7
Yes, they are fine tuning their ability to hit children, hospitals, etc.
Circe , Aug 9, 2018 4:16:06 PM | 8
@4

I've written many times Obama was Bush II - BUT F...KING TRUMP IS IN THE WHITE HOUSE NOW! So why are you giving us the ancient history deflection???????????

karlof1 , Aug 9, 2018 4:16:41 PM | 9
The pic provides an example of how the Outlaw US Empire implements its global population control policy--all bombs, no kids. Twitterverse is madder than a wet hen. One went to Trump's twitter to ask where's his outrage over these kid's real deaths, not the staged ones he launched missiles at Syria over. It deserves to be retweeted millions of times. Unfortunately, sadists are incapable of being shamed; they just grin at such pics while congratulating themselves. Betcha the Trump dossier got it backwards--It was Trump who pissed all over the Russian women.
librul , Aug 9, 2018 4:29:31 PM | 10
@8

It isn't about you.

Mark2 , Aug 9, 2018 4:38:58 PM | 11
Almasdarnews. Com. Are reporting a massive Israile army convoy heading for Gaza bigger than enything seen since 2014 ! This looks serious ! The whole dam world picture is looking way beyond serious !!!
james , Aug 9, 2018 4:41:56 PM | 12
kudos the exceptional nation in support of those other exceptional nations - ksa and israel...

everyone else on the planet want to know when this horror will end...

Ahh, thats why. The Saudis are incompetent and vile, but trust the us to be even more incompetent and even more vile and putrid.
This is horrible! I see it and can not really do much. It is a never ending story of innocent people being killed off. But it does nurture a solid and hot hate to those people who are architects of this. They feel safe and secured, but they are sitting on a volcano, and when it goes, they will go too. Maybe a Gadaffi end.

Posted by: Den Lille Abe , Aug 9, 2018 4:42:25 PM | 13

Ahh, thats why. The Saudis are incompetent and vile, but trust the us to be even more incompetent and even more vile and putrid.
This is horrible! I see it and can not really do much. It is a never ending story of innocent people being killed off. But it does nurture a solid and hot hate to those people who are architects of this. They feel safe and secured, but they are sitting on a volcano, and when it goes, they will go too. Maybe a Gadaffi end.

Posted by: Den Lille Abe | Aug 9, 2018 4:42:25 PM | 13 /div

Den Lille Abe , Aug 9, 2018 5:01:23 PM | 14
Hate is a hefty spice; it can make you blind to reason, it can make you oblivious to truth, and make you inoculated against love. But hate controlled, is also a drug that is powerful and useful, hate nurtured and fed can move mountains and empires. Hate is good in manageable doses and wrecking in large ones. But take it at own risk.
Christian Chuba , Aug 9, 2018 5:17:15 PM | 15
The KSA isn't even trying to hide their evil.

They are claiming these are legitimate military targets, they targeted 'militants', the Houthis use 'child soldiers', and use human shields. I bet Nikki Haley still thinks they are the most wonderful people ever, on the front lines, fighting against the real monsters, Iran.

Guerrero , Aug 9, 2018 5:26:14 PM | 16
This is terrible.
karlof1 , Aug 9, 2018 5:30:35 PM | 17
Here's the Twitter post I mentioned using the same pic b chose.
Circe , Aug 9, 2018 5:30:42 PM | 18
@10

What's that supposed to mean??? Trump is President! Aren't you excusing Trump by dredging up Obama's shet? That excuse not to criticize Trump is getting real old.

Yeah, Right , Aug 9, 2018 5:31:45 PM | 19
@15 Nah, Christian, you are clearly wrong. Nikki would consider KSA to have the 2nd most wonderful people ever, with the USA holding the Bronze Medal position. There is no doubt who she holds as The Chosen People.


Mark2 , Aug 9, 2018 5:52:53 PM | 20
Don't let this stuff get normalised ! That's why they do it in plain site. It desensitises the dumb public
i e trump supporters in u s, torys in uk. We should be feeling outrage and hatered towards the people that
do this . Including our own governments.
ToivoS , Aug 9, 2018 5:59:38 PM | 21
#10 circe

No one is excusing Trump. The point that needs to be emphasized is that the War Party has two wings: repubs and dems. Every last president since WWII has put the interests of imperial conquest over the interests of the American people. Bill Clinton, Bush, Obama and now Trump (as well as all of their wannabes Gore, Kerry, McCain HRC) were and are war mongers. They are united in their lust for killing children (don't forget Madeline Albright with her "it was worth it" over the 500,000 babies Clinton killed through sanctions).

Mark2 , Aug 9, 2018 6:14:14 PM | 22
This evening #switch off bbc is trending number one on Twitter and number four world wide! Time we all pushback. on the net,on the streets, everywhere we can.no justice no peace !
ToivoS , Aug 9, 2018 6:21:20 PM | 23
Mark2 opines It desensitises the dumb public i e trump supporters

Are you serious? You should listen to my college educated colleagues (more than half with professional degrees) most of whom are democrats and not one who voted for Trump. When it comes to war against Syria, Libya, threats against Russia they are true blooded war mongers. Actually worse than Trump supporters because they in general oppose those wars or war threats.

Bart Hansen , Aug 9, 2018 6:26:32 PM | 24
For more terrorist reading in the Middle East by Number 2 Democracy -

https://mondoweiss.net/2018/08/eyewitness-passengers-antibiotics/

Mark2 , Aug 9, 2018 6:32:10 PM | 25
Toivos @ 23
Dumb is as dumb does! They come in all shapes sizes and political party's . Trumps a greedy pig puts children in cages and is a kkk racist don't make excuses he's a monster full stop!
Don't give me eny of that o but, o but blah blah.!!!
Pft , Aug 9, 2018 6:33:12 PM | 26
Mark2@20

It already is normalized. Go look at many of the comments on MSM (left and right) and so called progressive sites. Hopefully those are all astroturfers but I suspect many are real folks. Its luny tunes. They live in the Matrix and are blissfully unaware. Like something out of 1984 during the 2 minute hate but its 24/7 , or maybe walking dead if the WD could type or talk.

Toxik , Aug 9, 2018 6:36:01 PM | 27
as a parent, I feel the loss. as an American, I feel disgusted.
Jen , Aug 9, 2018 6:40:31 PM | 28
Another sterling example of how the US teaches its allies to be incompetent, vicious and cowardly in targeting and killing those least able to fight back.
Piotr Berman , Aug 9, 2018 6:46:23 PM | 29
O Canada! Recently, I praised them as "New Trumpland". But why did they forget that silence can be golden? Apparently, it dawned on PM that his party is called "liberal" and thus it must make "liberal calls"*. But what cause should be selected? Massacres and starvation of cute emaciated children? Conservative predecessor of current PM got ca. 7 G USD contract for "vehicles" (motorized infantly?) for KSA, and Trudeau will not endanger precious Canadian jobs. After leaving the task to the Foreign Minister (Freedland, Feminazi**), the plight of women right activists in KSA with family members in Canada.

Canada cannot yield to Saudi Arabia's deranged overreaction
The regime's reaction to a couple of tweets is more about snuffing out its own country's voices of dissent
Iyad El-Baghdadi, Amarnath Amarasingam · for CBC News · Posted: Aug 09, 2018 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: August 9

If Canada folds, some fear that a line would be drawn in the sand, and behind that line, petty Arab dictators could do what they want with their activist communities, without as much as a complaint from the world. (Cliff Owen/Associated Press)

=====

Of course Canada cannot yield. For starters, it is unclear what would appease the irate Crown Prince. Perhaps Trudeau and Friedland coming together to KSA to submit to a public flogging. But judging from the titles I have seen, Canadians cherish "delicate balance", and they though that an occasional complaint that is not 100% aligned with USA and principal customers of Canadian products should be safe.

karlof1 , Aug 9, 2018 6:49:11 PM | 30
ToivoS @23--

Agreed. When it comes to knowing the Truth of the Outlaw US Empire's overseas deeds, most people are illiterate/ignorant. They hang the flag aside their front porch and feel righteous. The only reason we don't have multitudes of people saluting whoever's POTUS and chanting Sieg Heil is because in the back of their tiny minds they somehow know that's incorrect behavior but don't know why. Some provided feedback on Michael Hudson's going autobiographical saying his upbringing seemed unreal--faked--thus showing how little they know of WW2 Home Front US history when people were much more informed and politically savvy.

It seems safe to say that Animal Farm & 1984 have both put down extensive roots within the Outlaw US Empire to the point where digging up and destroying those weeds will cause major social damage. Can't make an omelet without breaking eggs is how the saying goes. But a positive outcome isn't the only possibility.

Mark2 , Aug 9, 2018 6:49:27 PM | 31
We need to remember this' the about left or right ! That's just devide and rule. This about the 1% killing off the 99%
Agend 21.what they are doing to Yemen people now they will do to you next.
karlof1 , Aug 9, 2018 7:01:30 PM | 32
jen @28--

The deliberate targeting of civilians is Outlaw US Empire policy since WW2 despite it being a War Crime. Guernica was an outrage, but Powell had it covered up since spoke directly to US actions since the paint dried in 1937. The School Bus was yet another of all too many Guernicas that have occurred since. Someone mentioned desensitized. Yes, on an International Scale. It was an act of Terror, but how many are describing it as such? BigLie Media? Not a chance if they show/mention it at all.

I know you feel as I do, but I needed to vent.

dh , Aug 9, 2018 7:06:13 PM | 33
@29 '...Canadians cherish "delicate balance",...'

I'm not sure we should generalize about Canadians. Trudeau is trying to satisfy his base and presumably staying true to his own liberal convictions. But I've met Canadians who dislike him intensely. They do not think gender politics, welcoming refugees, settling native land claims, lecturing Saudi Arabia etc. is the best way to maintain a high standard of living.

Peter Schmidt , Aug 9, 2018 7:08:48 PM | 34
Israel demanded - and BBC changed its headline. In a headline, BBC claimed that "Israeli air strikes 'kill pregnant woman and baby.'" After some time, BBC changed its title to "Gaza air strikes 'kill woman and child' after rockets hit Israel
https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/250275
Peter Schmidt , Aug 9, 2018 7:13:26 PM | 35
A good comment from HistoryHacker (Guardian web page), I thought I share it:

"Let's see: in 1913 the British grabbed Iranian oil and made it their property. Six years later, Britain imposed another agreement and took over Iran's treasury and the army. During the Second World War, Britain's requisitioning of food led to famine and widespread disease. Shortly after that war, Iran's own efforts to establish its nascent democracy and nationalize the oil industry were thwarted. And by whom? Eisenhower joined the systematic British looting, and, sadly, by 1953, the blossoming Iranian democracy was completely destroyed by the covert operation of the American CIA and British MI6, known as Operation Ajax. In place of the democracy was installed Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, a US-British puppet, a despot deeply hated by his own people.
America picked up the baton, and here's Trump going bat crazy!
What could Iranians possibly think?! What do you think?"

Piotr Berman , Aug 9, 2018 7:40:19 PM | 36
@29 '...Canadians cherish "delicate balance",...'
I am not sure we should generalize about Canadians. Posted by: dh | Aug 9, 2018 7:06:13 PM | 33

I tried to make it clear that "Canadians" refer to my observations on titles from Canadian media as reported by Google News.

dh , Aug 9, 2018 7:58:27 PM | 37
@36 I knew that PB. Excuse my inadequate attempt to emulate your tone.

But I think it's true that Canadians enjoy a high standard of living mainly because of things like water, oil, minerals, wheat, lumber etc. and most prefer not to get involved in Saudi Arabian politics.

Virgile , Aug 9, 2018 8:03:42 PM | 38
I hope that Canada will finally lead heavy public condemnation of the Saudi-UAE coalition murderous actions in Yemen. Canada has nothing to loose anymore, it is high time it take a serious stand on the 3 years human rights abuse of the Yemenis.
It should indirectly send a dissaproval message to the USA on its complicity in these war crimes...
Maybe it is time for Canada, to reinstate diplomatic relation with Iran to snub the Saudis and the USA, but I am dreaming...
.
TG , Aug 9, 2018 8:04:08 PM | 39
"But I think it's true that Canadians enjoy a high standard of living mainly because of things like water, oil, minerals, wheat, lumber etc. "

Not quite. It's because of water, oil, minerals, wheat lumber, etc., AND they don't breed like rodents.

India has plenty of resources - adjusting for the cold climate in Canada, probably about as much as Canada, effectively. It's just that these resources don't go that far split up 1.4 billion ways and counting.

And Yemen? With very little water, and one of the highest fertility rates in the world, what do you expect?

CarlD , Aug 9, 2018 8:05:49 PM | 40
out of subject.

What to make of the new sanctions put in place by the State Dept against Russia?

What about those on Iran?

Are these implemented to generate WAR?

Whether it be against Russia, Iran or China, The US attitude is orchestrated by
Zion/Israel.

Why deal with the US when Israel is the culprit?

Wiping out Israel is the solution. Obliterating Israel will certainly ease
the World's woes.

Of course, targeted assassinations should be carried out.

Short of this, Netanyahu should be kept waiting for days whitout being able
to meet Putin. His ambassador should be expelled and the Russian Ambassador to Israel recalled.

Sanction Israel in every way possible. Break the Gaza Siege. Wipe out Israel's
Navy. Down its jets over Lebanon. Kill its Jericho rockets at lift off.

The World will certainly be a better place.

Sasha , Aug 9, 2018 8:05:52 PM | 41
@Posted by: Circe | Aug 9, 2018 4:16:06 PM | 8

I was going to say something in the same vein but you saved me the effort. I am really sick of this.

Is not this woman the spokesperson of the DoS of Trump administration?

https://twitter.com/walid970721/status/1027137513570414593

There is also the documented presence of American forces and officers in the operations room of the Saudi coalition....These guys have not been sent there by Obama...I guess....

https://twitter.com/abcdaee198/status/1027649243568386055

But what most makes me feel sick is not that American commenters out there, well payed or volunteer, insist after two years already on this cantinele, what takes me out of my nerves is that the Russians insist...in throwing balls out with certain issues....

https://twitter.com/mfa_russia/status/1027197665845673985


Sasha , Aug 9, 2018 8:20:02 PM | 42
@Posted by: Mark2 | Aug 9, 2018 4:38:58 PM | 11

But what could have really happened? Just yesterday or the day before I was reading that Israel and Hamas were in negotiations...From that to this...I wonder what could be the breaking point...

Anyone has any information/ link?

dh , Aug 9, 2018 8:23:24 PM | 43
@39 Well yes...er I mean no...er bluster bluster....here comes Malthus again.
karlof1 , Aug 9, 2018 8:44:37 PM | 44
Sasha @42--

Talks were a ruse as usual . Supposedly, a cease fire was in place but was broken as reported at the link. Ongoing protests against the "Nationality Law" continue and go unreported as usual. The continuing murder of Gazans serves as cover.

spudski , Aug 9, 2018 8:56:04 PM | 45
@37, "But I think it's true that Canadians enjoy a high standard of living mainly because of things like water, oil, minerals, wheat, lumber etc. and most prefer not to get involved in Saudi Arabian politics."

As a lifelong Canuckistani, my view is that Canada is the world's largest mine - and it is not mine.

dh , Aug 9, 2018 9:09:03 PM | 46
@45 But I understand it's not as easy to get mining permits as it used to be. Lot of environmentalists and first nations lawyers involved. Which is why Canadian mining companies move to Africa.
michaelj72 , Aug 9, 2018 9:12:39 PM | 47
the USA will perhaps suffer blowback, both at home and in many places 'strategic' to its Empire, for generation or two to come, for all the horrible and savage war crimes perpetuated by it and its allies on the poor people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Palestine, and especially now Yemen, the poorest of the poor - the sorrows of Empire
Pft , Aug 9, 2018 9:12:47 PM | 48
Spudski@45

Spending only 1% of GDP on military helps support your healthcare system too.

Neoliberalism will get you in the end. Trump going to push on NAFTA and our buddy the Saudis giving you a push.

Daniel , Aug 9, 2018 9:18:43 PM | 49
The US provides the in-flight refueling that makes these bombing sorties possible. The "Five Eyes" provides the surveillance that picks the targets, and the navigation to hit them.

KSA is doing precisely what the AZ Empire requires of it. Just as the British Royals and their banker sponsors dictated over a century ago, so does the Empire direct these heinous crimes today.

If the Saud Royals ever did go "rogue," they'd be taken out just as the AZ Empire has done time and time again.

Daniel , Aug 9, 2018 9:25:35 PM | 50
CarlD, the purpose of sanctions is to hurt the citizens of a country enough that they will rise up and revolt against their ruling class.

The AZ Empire has been striving for complete global dominance for a long time, and that means either destroying Russia and China or at least installing "friendly" governments. Hence, sanctions, "trade wars," and infiltration to foment "color revolutions."

CarlD , Aug 9, 2018 9:32:33 PM | 51
50 @ Daniel

And who is behind all of this?

Ian , Aug 9, 2018 9:49:38 PM | 52
Saudi state news agency: "strikes were carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law."

Ugh...

Chipnik , Aug 9, 2018 10:14:45 PM | 53
4

Pence's new Space Command is a blatant telltale that the twice-hacked and never-audited Pentagon has a massive hemorrhage of funds and Trump will be demanding ANOTHER $40B budget increase for Pentagon to paper over a huge Deep Purple Hole in the Bucket.

Chipnik , Aug 9, 2018 10:23:59 PM | 54
40

I was just saying something similar about a more direct way to change A-Z politics to a friend on FB today, with anecdotes from the past as examples, but within the hour, FB delinked our pages so we can't correspond. All part of the Perpetual Now© End of History campaign across pan-media towards a totally-scripted CGI-enhanced Marvel-ously fictional non-reality. With lizard people from Niburu, lol.

Pft , Aug 9, 2018 10:27:32 PM | 55
So Saudis sanction Canada but will still let the oil flow to them (2billion a year) and the US sanctions Russia but will still buy space rockets from them , and they will still sell them to us. Trade war with China but they still buy US Treasuries to finance US debt. British owned BBC rents out their studios to RT to help Russia with their propaganda

LOL. Enjoy the show, more to come

Circe , Aug 9, 2018 10:34:32 PM | 56
@21TS

You expressed it correctly, but @4, 10 I suspect is Trumpgod can do no wrong.

It's a Zionist-rigged system, where Kucinich and Ron Paul didn't stand a chance; to name a mere two of the uncorrupted.

To add to the insanity of this Saudi massacre, Israel's at it again in Gaza. Damn!

It's all Zionist-driven.

Pft , Aug 9, 2018 10:40:02 PM | 57
Carl D@51

Woodrow Wilson : "Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it."

Today some call them ruling or power elites, global elites for the most part. Elites is an interesting word whose origins come from the french word for chosen and latin word for elect.

Piotr Berman , Aug 9, 2018 10:51:43 PM | 58
Some general remarks about Canada:

1. Wealth from natural resources. This is a bit of mixed blessing, because with some exceptions, mining is very capital intensive, so the profit margins are so-so, and job creation is also so-so. Canada is blessed with nice mix of extracting industries, agriculture, "normal" manufacturing, financial centers etc. They also have somewhat reasonable spending in terms value for money in health and military sectors, saving ca. 10% of GDP between the two compared with the less rational southern neighbor Perhaps this is still short of 10%, but USA also wastes money and human resources on prison complex and other inanities.

2. Liberal Canada. Domestically, I do not know enough, but "harmonizing with USA" could please some conservatives while being too expensive to implement. On foreign policy they stick to the worst of liberalism, not standing much for anything, even for their beloved Vilna Ukrayina, although converting Ukraine to land of milk and honey with capable military and a reasonable level of corruption is beyond capacity of any foreign power. But they implemented what used to be totally unjustifiable insult, "feminazi". That said, conservatives learned from Trump to raise mind boggling issue and gain in polls, lately, how to stop hordes of "deplorables" crossing the border. I guess a cheapish solution would be to create a network of recreational trails with very confusing mapping (even GPS) and totally confusing signage, and plant some smilax = green briar or other thorny plants to impede hiking according to compass directions. A note on GPS maps based on satellite pictures: software has very hard time telling dead ends from actually passable trail connections.

3. Populist-progressive Canada of my dreams. Declare the conflicts with KSA and Trump to be matters of national dignity, punish KSA by stopping delivery of military vehicles per Harper's contract and purchases of oil, replace the latter with Iranian. Would Trump dare to impose secondary sanctions, fine American companies in Canada.

Circe , Aug 9, 2018 11:18:38 PM | 59
Why is it that the Zionist media were up in arms every time White Helmets were digging Syrian children out of rubble or dousing them with hoses?

Dozens of children were slaughtered in Yemen, and many more maimed and injured and hundreds of thousands are being subjected to famine but there's only deafening silence on the Zionist-run media.

Syrian children had propaganda value; Yemeni children have no value at all. Americans, Zionists and Saudis are sick and depraved.

Piotr Berman , Aug 9, 2018 11:38:00 PM | 60
A little correction to Circe, Aug 9 11:18:38 PM. SELECTED Syrian children were newsworthy, a recent massacre by ISIS in Sweida was newsworthy only as an example of a failure by "the regime". An earlier example, when majority of people of Greater Aleppo lived in the western part controlled by Damascus, "Aleppo" meant only the eastern part, controlled by the "moderate" rebels, and victims of moderate massacres and shelling were totally un-newsworthy.
Pft , Aug 10, 2018 12:06:44 AM | 61
Piotr@58

Natural resources drive 20 per cent of the economy -- and about 10 per cent of all the jobs in Canada. These natural resources also help Canada attract manufacturing and value added business that utilize domestically produced metals, fuel and timber (as opposed to more expensive imports) Profit motive is overstated, large companies are focused more on income growth and market share. The jobs that are produced are good paying jobs as well

I'd rather have more good paying capital intensive industries than low pay labour intensive service and manufacturing industries that may generate more profits but which end up mostly in CEO and top managements bank accounts

Frankly, the mystery is why America has not invaded Canada and taken over since we last tried in 1812. :>)

dh , Aug 10, 2018 12:10:13 AM | 62
@58 Support in Canada for Ukraine is mainly concentrated in Ukrainian communities in Alberta I believe. They form a quite significant voting block.
ben , Aug 10, 2018 12:21:33 AM | 63
Mark2 @ 31 said:"We need to remember this' the about left or right ! That's just devide and rule. This about the 1% killing off the 99% "

Yep, bottom line statement. From austerity to all neoliberal policies, and the world-wide wars now going on, are basically nothing more than class warfare directed at the 99% to enrich the already rich.

Profits uber alles. Avarice uber alles..

Piotr Berman , Aug 10, 2018 12:46:21 AM | 64
Frankly, the mystery is why America has not invaded Canada and taken over since we last tried in 1812. :>)

Posted by: Pft | Aug 10, 2018 12:06:44 AM | 61

Absorbing Canada could undermine political balance in USA leading to such calamities like socialized medicine, legal marijuana etc. Keeping them on Puerto Rico status is not tenable given the ethnic composition -- too many English speaking whites. If we could just annex Alberta...

Jen , Aug 10, 2018 12:50:16 AM | 65
Bang on cue, TG @ 39 uses a comment about Canada's standard of living (brought about in part by its governments' spending on transport infrastructure - in particular, transcontinental railways - that stimulated job growth and enabled the agricultural and manufactured wealth of the provinces to be spread across the nation and to be exported overseas) to push a racist opinion about how poor countries are at fault for being poor because their people don't have access to birth control measures made in rich countries.
Hoarsewhisperer , Aug 10, 2018 12:51:44 AM | 66
...
..for all the horrible and savage war crimes perpetuated by it and its allies on the poor people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Palestine, and especially now Yemen, the poorest of the poor - the sorrows of Empire.
Posted by: michaelj72 | Aug 9, 2018 9:12:39 PM | 47

Kipling summed it up with grim irony in three words:
White Man's Burden
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_Man%27s_Burden

Jen , Aug 10, 2018 12:56:00 AM | 67
Pft @ 61, Piotr Berman & 64:

The British and the Americans signed a treaty in 1819 to respect one another's borders in North America. The treaty was renegotiated in 1846.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_1818

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Treaty

Hoarsewhisperer , Aug 10, 2018 1:07:20 AM | 68
White man's burden...
A phrase used to justify European imperialism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; it is the title of a poem by Rudyard Kipling. The phrase implies that imperialism was motivated by a high-minded desire of whites to uplift people of color.
Amir , Aug 10, 2018 1:15:15 AM | 69
Part of the targeting assurance happens by looking at unexpected "gaps" in electronic communication signals. When there is a lot of cellphone communication noise" where is is suddenly absent, despite presence of humans, indicated an interesting anomaly for target acquisitions.
To confuse the enemy, these "silent spots" should be mirrored in different locations. They counter The selectief bias.

During WWII, RAF lost planes to German AAA. They wondered where armor them up?
Counterintuitively, the mathematician Abraham Wald explained that, if a plane makes it back safely despite a bunch of bullet holes in its wings, it means that bullet holes in the wings aren't very dangerous.
Where you really need the armor, are the areas that, on average, don't have any bullet holes.

Why? Because planes with bullet holes in those places never made it back. That's why you don't see any bullet holes there on the ones that do return.

Daniel , Aug 10, 2018 1:17:34 AM | 70
Posted by: CarlD @ 51 "And who is behind all of this?"

Wouldn't you agree that the PTSB are, as Paul Simon wrote, A Loose Affiliation of Billionaires?

The way I see it, the pinnacle of the pyramid are members of the dynasties that have controlled the finance system for centuries. Rothschilds, Warburgs, the Vatican, the European Royal Families and such. They profit off of everything, since all revenues generated by all industries pass through their sticky fingers, in addition to their Central Banking cabal that almost every country on earth is fully beholden to.

They are not a monolith, in that they compete with one another, but they all share interest in keeping this system in place.

Then, at the next level down there are the members of the Nouveau Riche, like the Rockefellers and Carneigies whose wealth was only generated a couple generations ago, and the even newer rich who do not have dynastic power (yet), but do wield enough wealth to influence the actions of the Empire, like the MIC "Daddy Warbucks" and tech industry newcomers.

And of course, there are the upper-level managers of Empire like Kissinger, Brzezenski, Soros, etc.

NemesisCalling , Aug 10, 2018 1:20:53 AM | 71
We have seen images of dead children of warfare before. I am not sure if it helps the antiwar cause. I will have to go read Susan Sontag's "The Pain of Others." In any case, thanks for posting it, b.

Will DJT order a retaliatory strike on KSA after being so moved by these photos like he was when the children of the fake gas attacks in Syria were being paraded around on the msm? I think not. Sad!

Daniel , Aug 10, 2018 1:38:19 AM | 72
Posted by: Pft | Aug 10, 2018 12:06:44 AM | 61:
"Frankly, the mystery is why America has not invaded Canada and taken over since we last tried in 1812. :>)"

Canada and the US are both members of the Five Eyes. Clearly, their roles in the great chessboard are different. But the way I see it, the nation-states are fictions that serve the charade of representative democratic self-rule.

[Aug 08, 2018] Hidden in Plain View in Belgrade Consortiumnews

Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times ..."
"... A good hypothesis is, that Olof Palme was assassinated by a US stay-behind group, consisting of Nazi military and police. ..."
"... I think VG is quite correct in this: it was a test. And the test was of the neocon/humanitarian intervention marriage. Yes, the USA has doe a lot of this sort of thing in its history, but there has always been some opposition inside the USA. This time, they figured it out and "humanitarian bombing" was born. We have seen a lot more humanitarian bombing since. ..."
"... It was Gore, in consultation with Hillary Clinton, who decided to launch the criminal bombing of Serbia, informing PM Primakov after taking a phone call meant for the president. ..."
"... By launching an illegal attack on Russia's ally, the VP and the future Sec. of State, were offering a foreshadowing of the hawkish and belligerent anti-Russian policy that was to follow for the next 17 years. ..."
"... Western populations for the most part are so thoroughly brainwashed they still cling to the belief they live in civilized countries and their militaries keep them safe from barbarians. ..."
"... Gary I agree whole heartedly with every word you wrote. I would add to how intriguing it would be to learn of the high deception played during the passage of the Federal Reserve back in 1913. Then I'd push out of the way those who blocked Claude Pepper from endorsing Henry Wallace into the 1944 Democratic Convention. This alone may have changed the course of the establishment of the CIA, and avoided the disaster that is happening in Palestine to this day. ..."
"... I do believe the assassination era was the biggest turning point, as it sent a strong message to the would be seekers of sane government policies who would incur such tragedy if explored. Joe ..."
"... I believe there are many questions that need answering about NATO. For instance: July 14, 2018 The Diabolical "Work" of NATO and Its Allies: Why Are These War Criminals Still Free? ..."
Aug 08, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

By Vladimir Golstein
in Belgrade
Special to Consortium News

Right across the street from my hotel, tucked behind tall office buildings, is the rather large Church of St. Mark. Hidden in St. Mark's shadows is a tiny Russian Orthodox church. The Church of the Holy Trinity, known simply as the Russian Church, is famous for holding the remains of Baron Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel , the Russian Civil War leader of the Whites. It is hard to find, but luckily, a friend took me there.

As we were looking around the church, not particularly interested in Wrangel, a couple of Russians asked me to take their picture in front of his tomb. Trying to find a proper angle for the picture, I noticed a small plaque on a wall nearby. It listed the names of Russians who died fighting for Yugoslav Serbs during the conflict with separatist Albanians in Kosovo and the subsequent NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

As we left the church, we took a small path toward the top of the park. There we observed another brutal sign of that war: a destroyed building next to the TV center. It too had a plaque. It screamed, " Zashto " (For What? Why?). Below it were the names of all the TV people NATO killed during that attack. In all, as many as 2,500 civilians may have been killed by NATO, according to the then Yugoslav government, though the real number may never be known.

On the one hand, the question Zashto is both idle and provocative. It implies a laceration of wounds, a refusal to forget and to start anew. On the other, there is an obvious need to find an answer to this question simply to prevent future destruction and senseless murders.

We won't find answers to this question in the official narratives, which tell us that the noble Clinton administration decided to stop flagrant violations of human rights in the extremely complex situation in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo by bombing the Serbs into respecting minorities both on its own and on neighboring territories. (In fact the large exodus of Kosovo Albanians to Albania proper only began after NATO bombs started to fall.)

Testing the Limits

Russians who died fighting for Yugoslavia. (Photo by Vladimir Golstein)

Behind these official stories, a much sadder picture emerges. Why did these people die? Why did this NATO operation go ahead without UN Security Council authorization nor proof of self-defense, requirements of the UN Charter? Was it to satisfy the lust for power of U.S. and NATO leaders, of liberal interventionists like Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton, and Susan Rice? To assuage the Clinton administration's guilt over its failure to respond to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda? Was it to set up America's largest military base in Europe since the Vietnam War, Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo? For American access to Kosovo's vast mineral wealth and other business opportunities, including for Ms. Albright ? Or was it to finally kill off a rather successful Yugoslav experiment in the "third way" between the West and the Soviet Union?

It seems these people had to die for all those reasons and to put into practice the doctrines of responsibility to protect ( R2P ) and full spectrum dominance , doctrines cooked up by liberal interventionists and neocons in Washington. Those who died were essentially guinea pigs of a New World Order experiment to see how far the world could be pushed to implement R2P, a policy that could be used to mask imperial ambitions.

And it worked. Yugoslavia was unable to stand up to the power of NATO operating outside the mandate of its obsolete charter: namely to defend Western Europe against an alleged Soviet threat. Indeed one could argue that with the Cold War over, another motive for the attack on Yugoslavia was to provide NATO with a justification to exist. (It would later go even further afield outside its legal theater of operation, into Afghanistan and then Libya.)

Russia could do little to help the Serbs. Then the Chinese Embassy was hit as well, as a test it seems, though The New York Times said it was a mistake. The Chinese did nothing.

Thus was R2P implemented -- with no protection for Yugoslav Serbs. They had to die in the experiment to explore the limits of U.S. power and the limits of its resistance.

Vladimir Golstein, a former associate professor at Yale University, manages the Department of Slavic Studies at Brown University and is a commentator on Russian affairs.


Noel cowling , August 7, 2018 at 4:16 pm

If my memory serves me correctly, President Bill Clinton had set up a summit meeting with Russian President Yevgeny Primakov here in the USA. Primakov was in flight on his way here for that summit meeting when President of Vice, Al Gore, without Clinton's permission or knowledge, called Primakov, in flight, to tell him NATO had decided to bomb Kosovo. Primakov immediately ordered his plane to turn around and return to Russia, thus cancelling the summit meeting...

Aurora , August 7, 2018 at 8:55 pm

In Russia that is known as "The Primakov Loop."

rosemerry , August 6, 2018 at 3:57 pm

Thanks Vladimir. The Serbs are demonized by so many, especially the Germans-many believe it was because they fought so valiantly against the Nazis in WW2. Diana Johnstone has written "Fools' Crusade- Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions", and Michel Collon "Media Lies and the Conquest of Kosovo", but books with this point of view are not readily publicised. Nor is the fact that after his death (no trial had yet taken place) Slobodan Milosovic was finally found nOT to have been responsible for all the murderous acts he was accused/assumed to be responsible for.

We can note now of course the Russian reaction to the "annexation of Crimea" after a referendum, no bloodshed and the referendum also of Russians all over the Federation, while Kosovo was ripped from Serbia by trickery and not consent, and we see how it is now. Russia is sanctioned, the people who overthrew the Ukrainian government are not mentioned, Crimea is not allowed to return to Russia. Slight difference from the "nation" of Kososvo!

Thomas Binder , August 6, 2018 at 6:35 am

The war against #Serbia under #R2P was the #MilitaryIndustrialFinancialMedialComplex'es ruling the #USA/#NATO/#ISR/#SAU empire (#PNAC's) test for eternal war against #AlQaeda outside international law & interference of #USLegislators for getting full-spectrum dominance.

Jackson , August 5, 2018 at 2:21 pm

NATO should have been disbanded after the fall of the Soviets. When you arm people and train them to kill, they will look for an enemy to fight. War becomes inevitable.

jose , August 5, 2018 at 6:00 pm

It is hard to disagree with your post. Nato, disgracefully, has become a terrorist organization that has dedicated itself to be the paw of the western elite. Shamefully, other countries have joined Yugoslavia as victims of Nato criminality. Well done Jackson.

Björn Lindgren , August 5, 2018 at 7:25 am

FOR REASON OF STATE, FOR REASON OF INTEREST

There might be still more reasons for the destruction of Yugoslavia.

Germany had put its mind into destabilizing Yugoslavia to get a "Hinterland". Added to this, a revenge motive: Nazi Germany occupation of Yugoslavia failed, and this has never been forgotten. And lastly, Yugoslavia was a member of the non-alignment movement, not obeying US-NATO.

And, of course, after the collapse of the Warsaw pact, NATO had no enemy, no purpose. But, it invented one: full US spectrum global dominance.

Sweden has also been punished to obey the US.

During the years of PM Olof Palme, Sweden was also a member of the non-alignment movement. Palme was educated in and friendly to the US, but critized the US war in Vietnam. (Nixon hated Palme, and withdraw the US diplomats from Sweden).

1992 foreign submarines penetrated Swedish waters repeatedly.

The submarine incident at Hårsfjärden, a marine base, was not made by Russia, but was made by US and British submarines. Afterwards, both Caspar Weinberger and Sir Keith Speed confirmed this. Weinberger even thanked Sweden for not blowing up the US mini-sub (which we could have done. (Read, "Hårsfjärden. Det hemliga ubåtskriget mot Sverige," by Ola Tunander).

Purpose: pushing Sweden westward.

Already in the mid 50s, William Colby, later head of the CIA, was in Sweden organizing stay-behind groups, recruting Swedish voluntary ex-soldiers from the Finnish wars against Soviet Union. In the 50-s these people were organized in "Sveaborg", a Nazi group.

A good hypothesis is, that Olof Palme was assassinated by a US stay-behind group, consisting of Nazi military and police.

Which, of course, had to be stonewalled "for reason of state". Today, Sweden is "cooperating" shamelessly with NATO, invite, and have excersices with NATO. This week, the Swedish government annonced that it will purchase US "Patriot" anti-missiles with "ballistic capability" (Hey, hey!).

Supporting the insane belligerent US and UK nuclear armament (for a nuclear first-strike?) against neoliberal, oligarchic Russia, which is planning to keep up in the race towards the abyss. That is, Sweden is now d e f a c t o a member of NATO, without the Swedish people or parliament have had a say. NATO which eventually is falling apart, and with a lunatic US president and his military government in the White House, in a US empire collapsing. The peace aspirations of Sweden are long forgotten. And so, is the Helsinki Conference and agreement (1975-1983) for common security, disarmamanet , and a nuclear-free zone in Europe.

The question is if Germany, France, UK (with Corbyn in 10 Downing) and Russia will organize a new Helsinki Conference and Agreement?

Maybe, "for reasons of interest".

--

rosemerry , August 6, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Thanks so much for this comprehensive addition to the discussion. Sweden indeed has been placed in an invidious position. Pretending that NATO has any purpose even vaguely related to peace is laughable.

David G , August 6, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Great comment, Björn Lindgren. Many thanks.

The withering away of Swedish neutrality into an empty formality has become so obvious, but never remarked upon in the U.S. I'm sure most cable TV talking heads just assume Sweden is in NATO – indeed, I've heard the error made, albeit corrected after the next commercial break.

I appreciate reading your committed, highly informed perspective. Maybe you could submit an article on this under-reported subject to Consortium News?

Zivadin Jovanovic , August 5, 2018 at 4:54 am

Excellent article in the eve of 20th anniversary of NATO aggression on Yugoslavia which will be marked by Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals, March 23, 24rth, 2019.

NATO 1999 aggression was meant to be precedent and turning point in global conduct toward globalization of military interventionism (Avganistan, Iraq, Libya, etc.). Willy Wimmer wrote to Schoerder on May 2nd, 2000, USA position: "The war against Yugoslavia was conducted in order to correct the mistake of General Eisenhower from the 2ndWW. Subsequently, for strategic reasons, USA troops had to be stationed there ". And: "It is clear that it is the precedent to be recalled any time" The Bondstil base in Kosovo was only the first in the ensuing chain of new USA bases in Bulgaria (4), Rumania (4), Albania (2), Baltic states

Patrick Armstrong , August 4, 2018 at 5:30 pm

I think VG is quite correct in this: it was a test. And the test was of the neocon/humanitarian intervention marriage. Yes, the USA has doe a lot of this sort of thing in its history, but there has always been some opposition inside the USA. This time, they figured it out and "humanitarian bombing" was born. We have seen a lot more humanitarian bombing since.

Branko Mikasinovich , August 4, 2018 at 4:45 pm

A great and truthful article about Western Policy, NATO and US. A courageous and informative analysis of Mr. Golstein. Thank you.

ToivoS , August 4, 2018 at 1:18 pm

Goldstein writes Russia could do little to help the Serbs. Then the Chinese Embassy was hit as well, as a test it seems, though The New York Times said it was a mistake. The Chinese did nothing.

Actually the Chinese did do something. They changed their attitude towards the US. I have yet to meet a Chinese national who believes that the embassy hit was a "mistake". They and their government view it as a deliberate attack on their sovereignty. But they realized they were not in a position respond so they then began military planning for possible conflict between China and the US Navy in the Western Pacific. In 2000 they started a 10 plan to achieve the ability to sink any US aircraft carrier within a 1000 km of their shores. We won't know if they have achieved that ability until a real test is conducted. But that is the something they have done.

FB , August 8, 2018 at 9:24 am

Good point Toivos The Chinese have never forgotten the Belgrade embassy bombing and they never will. Ask any Chinese today, even those living in the West the Chinese are an ancient people with a long and proud memory the embassy bombing was a step too far. All of these hubristic missteps will come back to haunt the empire

Theo , August 4, 2018 at 10:51 am

I remember well the NATO bombings of Yugoslavia under the pretext to stop the genocide that was allegedly committed by the Serbs. The saddest thing for me was that Germany was participating in the bombing campaign. My father who was in Yugoslavia as a Wehrmacht soldier was outraged as were many others. After almost sixty years German bombers were over Serbia again. My dad used to say German soldiers on foreign soil had never been good neither for the foreign country nor for Germany. That's why until today the Germans have an aversion to all military and the deployment of German soldiers in foreign countries is not very popular.

David G , August 4, 2018 at 11:16 am

The 1999 air attacks were the coup de grace, but I think Germany had the (dis)honor of leading the vivisection of Yugoslavia from the start.

As Vladimir Golstein rhetorically asks: "Or was it to finally kill off a rather successful Yugoslav experiment in the 'third way' between the West and the Soviet Union?"

Indeed it was, and that surely appealed to all the Western powers. But Germany was particularly interested in removing a possible continental rival, and took the lead in making sure it happened – not at all to absolve the U.S., under whose aegis it was ultimately operating.

Antiwar7 , August 4, 2018 at 11:42 am

The German people and the German government are different. The German government has had an anti-Serb animus for over 150 years: that's clear. But the German people, as Theo's dad shows, can be very nice. My father was a POW in Germany for 4 years during WWII, and most of the German people he encountered were quite nice to him.

Theo , August 4, 2018 at 3:56 pm

You are right. The vivisection of Yugoslavia began when Germany recognized the independence of Slovenia before any other country did. The German government with Genscher as foreign minister didn't consult with any of the European allies. Especially France was not amused at all.

rosemerry , August 6, 2018 at 4:04 pm

It was Germany, 9 days after reunification, which led the removal of Croatia from Yugoslavia and beginning the breakup of a successful multicultural country.

Juan P. Zenter , August 4, 2018 at 7:29 am

Yugoslavia was a federation of states and was, thus, an obstacle to consolidating EU and NATO power in Southeastern Europe. Once the federation was destroyed, the individual states that comprised it could be absorbed by EU/NATO. That was the ultimate outcome of NATO bombing there, despite all denials about that being the intent.

Jessika , August 4, 2018 at 5:30 am

Thanks for the article, the photo of the beautiful church, and the reflection on this horrible chapter from the book of atrocities disguised as "humanitarian" to fool the masses. This also helped Bill and Hillary Clinton distract the American public from the Monica Lewinsky affair.

j. D. D. , August 4, 2018 at 7:59 pm

I don't see it that way. Rather, as President Clinton was hit with the Lewinsky scandal and put on the defensive immediately following his speech to NY's Council on Foreign Relations in which he called for "a new world financial archithitecture," VP Al Gore, who later shunned the president, saw the opportunity to determine policy. It was Gore, in consultation with Hillary Clinton, who decided to launch the criminal bombing of Serbia, informing PM Primakov after taking a phone call meant for the president. Whereupon the PM turned around his flight in mid-air over the Atlantic and returned to Russia. By launching an illegal attack on Russia's ally, the VP and the future Sec. of State, were offering a foreshadowing of the hawkish and belligerent anti-Russian policy that was to follow for the next 17 years.

FB , August 8, 2018 at 9:31 am

Disagree these are minor details that are meaningless. Yugoslavia had already been systematically dismembered starting the very instant after German unification and the fall of the Soviet Union. Coincidence ? Maybe a child could believe it by 1999, the final chapter of the dismemberment, Kosovo, was ready, after several years of laying careful groundwork of subversion, propaganda and agitation

The Nato war of aggression in 1999 would have proceeded no matter what to think that the Lewisnky nonsense had anything to do with anything is ridiculous

nonsense factory , August 3, 2018 at 11:50 pm

One major factor in the NATO bombing and the overall agenda in the region was control of territory for a proposed gas/oil pipeline export route from Central Asia to Europe. The creation of Camp Bondsteel was directly related to that goal, and the chief contractor (KBR-Halliburton) played the same role there that they did in the construction of numerous military bases in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

That's been a dominant theme in U.S. foreign policy and military strategy circles ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Numerous routes have been proposed – trans-Afghanistan pipeline, the Nabucco pipeline, etc., all with the same goal – getting Central Asia fossil fuels (leased to US and British majors like Exxon, Chevron, BP, etc.) to global markets while bypassing Iran and Russia.

Monbiot in the Guardian, 2001 (when it was still a fairly decent paper, rather than a gung-ho enforcer of the Blairite neoliberal agenda), said this:

"For the past few weeks, a freelance researcher called Keith Fisher has been doggedly documenting a project which has, as far as I can discover, has been little-reported in any British, European or American newspaper. It is called the Trans-Balkan pipeline, and it's due for approval at the end of next month. Its purpose is to secure a passage for oil from the Caspian sea. . ."

"In November 1998, Bill Richardson, then US energy secretary, spelt out his policy on the extraction and transport of Caspian oil. "This is about America's energy security," he explained. "It's also about preventing strategic inroads by those who don't share our values. We're trying to move these newly independent countries toward the west. We would like to see them reliant on western commercial and political interests rather than going another way. We've made a substantial political investment in the Caspian, and it's very important to us that both the pipeline map and the politics come out right. . ."

Paul Stuart, in the WSWS, 2002, noted:

"According to leaked comments to the press, European politicians now believe that the US used the bombing of Yugoslavia specifically in order to establish Camp Bondsteel. Before the start of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the Washington Post insisted, "With the Middle-East increasingly fragile, we will need bases and fly over rights in the Balkans to protect Caspian Sea oil.""
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2002/04/oil-a29.html

Forward project of American imperial power in the name of control of energy resources and the cash flows arising from them, in a nutshell. Or, "business as usual since the 1950s". Since JFK, it's all been done under the cover of "humanitarian intervention" and "protecting democracy" which is why so many American citizens have no idea what the true aims of these wars have really been

MH , August 7, 2018 at 2:13 pm

Sadly, Monbiot's column aside, the Guardian's coverage of what most of us here think of as a war against Yugoslav independence was unabashedly pro-NATO and anti-Serb. The outlet did it's best to confuse otherwise war skeptical liberals -- by demonizing the Serbs as bloodthirsty savages purveying late 1930s genocide -- about the true character of "the west's" aggression against the Serbs. Unlike Iraq, where the Graundiad reversed their pro-war stance, the paper only doubled down on its anti-Serb biases, culminating in trumpets and coronets for Hague's prosecutors ludicrously inept (at best) handling of Milosevic's trial.

Bob Van Noy , August 3, 2018 at 8:11 pm

Thank you Vladimir Golstein for this article. I'm sure you know the answers to the questions you ask in the paragraph titled "Testing the Limlts". The answer to each of them is given to us and to the world in F. William Engdahl's devastating book entitled "Manifest Destiny" : Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance. I say devastating because Mr. Engdahl thoroughly describes a series of American administrations responsible for all of these crimes and more.

It will be up to us (American Citizens) to educate ourselves as to the real history of our government acting secretly, without broad consensus, and illegally. This article is a good beginning but the discussion needs to be broadened and further documented. Then we can begin to find a resolution.

https://www.amazon.com/Manifest-Destiny-Democracy-Cognitive-Dissonance/dp/3981723732/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533341271&sr=8-1&keywords=f.+william+engdahl

Jimbobla , August 3, 2018 at 6:55 pm

How one can wonder how the German population stood aside while the Nazis committed their atrocities while at the same time not speaking out at our own apparent daily military excesses is beyond me.

irina , August 4, 2018 at 12:01 am

Not to mention meekly paying for these daily military excesses, with no protest.

christina garcia , August 4, 2018 at 1:02 am

here is an historical answer, My Grandfather and Grandmother were born in Koenigsberg Prussia what is now known as Kaliningrad. The City of Emanuel Kant and not quite in the 1930's fans of National Socialism. My Grandfather owned a brick factory and a saw mill . They were capitalists, not National Socialists. And you JIMBOBLA , fyi, My Opa was caught by the Russian Army 1943, my family was totally disunited. It took the Red Cross 3 years to find my family members and repatriate them .The Nazi organization disliked capitalism . I can prove every single sentence I wrote. Please be careful when you write Nazism

Sam F , August 4, 2018 at 8:48 am

If you disagree, you should really address the issue of "how the German population stood aside while the Nazis committed their atrocities." Are you arguing that Nazi atrocities were justified by the USSR dispersing a family in 1943 Kaliningrad, during a war in which Nazis killed over 20 million Russians? It would be interesting to hear an argument with substance and references.

christina garcia , August 4, 2018 at 1:04 am

it is beyond you because you never experienced these atrocities

Milojkovic , August 5, 2018 at 8:11 pm

Dear Christina, I am very sorry about what happened to your family. They probably didn't have a choice, otherwise the Nazis would have hurt them. Maybe you'd have never been born if they dared to resist actively. Probably good people, unfairly caught in the whirlwind of history and human brutality. They were then retaliated against by other Nazi victims without deserving so, just because of their ethnicity. I am a Serb, living in U.S. Trust me, I can relate. I was here in U.S. during those terrible days of 1999, living through them as if in a daze. Life is now "kinda back to normal", but I try my best not to think just how big a part of me had died in that bombing. My grandfather, who was just a peasant but a very devoted Christian, died in a horrible pain from the terminal stomach cancer because there was no pain medication for him; plus the pharmaceutical factories were bombed after having been accused of being able to produce chemical weapons in a coordinated NATO propaganda just days before. In agony, he was trying to undress himself, and was screaming and running around the garden. Several of our family members were killed by Wehrmacht in WW II. I think that Germany had no business participating in this bombing. Look up Varvarin bridge. It was shameful. And yes, unfortunately, it was a German hand holding the match that lit up the powder keg that was Yugoslavia in early 90's.

Consortium's Fan , August 7, 2018 at 10:28 am

Did YOU, Christina Garcia, experience atrocities? Judging by you comment, I am confidently saying you DIDN'T. You know NOTHING about atrocities. Read and watch films about Nazi doings. And compare them to "dispersing a family" in a wartime. A recent film worth seeing is SOBIBOR, entirely based on archives, – a Nazi concentration camp in Poland's Sobibor – hence the name. Educate yourself.

Lois Gagnon , August 3, 2018 at 5:37 pm

Western populations for the most part are so thoroughly brainwashed they still cling to the belief they live in civilized countries and their militaries keep them safe from barbarians. Unf*cking believable.

rosemerry , August 6, 2018 at 4:11 pm

The likelihood of damage being caused by the USA NOT intervening anywhere must be vanishingly small!!!!!

Realist , August 3, 2018 at 5:24 pm

To U.S. authorities, foreign lives simply do not matter. No need to conduct any "intelligence assessment" to determine their culpability. They shamelessly commit mass murder right out in the open with impunity.

Jean , August 3, 2018 at 6:14 pm

What makes you think USA lives matter to them. I see no evidence of that either.

Realist , August 3, 2018 at 11:39 pm

Nothing makes me think that. Why do you think I chose the phraseology that I did? It gained currency in reaction to the murderous abuses by American police on our own streets.

LarcoMarco , August 4, 2018 at 1:50 pm

It gained currency when that other Donald (Rumsfeld) essentially said that G.I's were cannon fodder.

REDPILLED , August 4, 2018 at 4:54 pm

That despicable attitude long predates war criminal Rumsfeld: "Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy."? Henry Kissinger

Drew Hunkins , August 3, 2018 at 5:17 pm

Michael Parenti's book "To Kill a Nation" is the best book on the criminal NATO war on Yugoslavia. Followed closely by Diana Johnstone's seminal book "Fool's Crusade."

Antiwar7 , August 4, 2018 at 11:45 am

Agreed: those are excellent books, the best English language works on the breakup of Yugoslavia.

dj anderson , August 3, 2018 at 4:57 pm

Thank you for this article. Noam Chomsky also bravely gave a fine accounting. https://chomsky.info/200005__/

Jeff Harrison , August 3, 2018 at 4:55 pm

One wonders how many times these sorts of things have to happen, and fail before the rest of the world says enough of your bullshit, "West".

REDPILLED , August 4, 2018 at 4:59 pm

The rest of the world has already passed judgment on the imperialistic, war-waging U.S.: Polls: US Is 'the Greatest Threat to Peace in the World Today'
https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/08/07/polls-us-greatest-threat-to-peace-world-today.html

Joe Tedesky , August 3, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Isn't it sad that the most enduring monuments the U.S. is leaving for it's worldly legacy are but artifacts of war and destruction. We could have done much better than this.

Gary Weglarz , August 3, 2018 at 8:25 pm

Joe – Exactly. I sometimes find myself thinking the "what if" to the U.S. mayhem of just my own lifetime. "What if" the CIA hadn't coordinated the assassinations of JFK and Lumumba, as well as of course the murder or overthrow of dozens of elected leaders in former colonies who simply aspired to helping their own people, rather than acting as proxies to the continuing pillage by U.S. & Western capitalism. What if instead those leaders were allowed to lead their nations into a non-aligned world and not forced to be beholden to either the U.S. or Soviet systems by threats of U.S. military and economic violence? What if Malcolm and MLK and RFK had not been murdered by forces connected to the U.S. ruling institutions, and had instead by now had become elder statesmen in a more humane and democratic U.S. system that would stand in stark contrast to the insane neoliberal capitalist freak show which has been forced upon the world, and who's mystical – "invisible hand" – can be found tightly wrapped around the throats of the poor everywhere?

Yes Joe I agree, I think we could have lived in a very different world had not the greed and pathology of U.S. and Western oligarchy quite intentionally and violently destroyed any possibility of a more humane and egalitarian world by routinely murdering those more humane leaders who could have helped us reach it. That possibility of a more humane world was replaced instead with the odious Maggie Thatcher's "there is no alternative" global nightmare of continued neocolonial pillage euphemistically called neoliberal capitalism. Only the fine-tuning of the rational for mass murder has changed. Now we have "duty to protect" – which translated from 'newspeak' means = "we now must bomb and kill you because we care about you so very, very much." Sort of a Western postmodern version of earlier justifications for slaughtering the indigenous in order to – "save their souls" I suppose. We in the West have created this current version of global "reality" through absolutely amoral unrelenting mass violence over 500+ years now, and sadly there does not seem to be any real evidence of a change of heart or direction in our global mayhem.

Joe Tedesky , August 3, 2018 at 9:24 pm

Gary I agree whole heartedly with every word you wrote. I would add to how intriguing it would be to learn of the high deception played during the passage of the Federal Reserve back in 1913. Then I'd push out of the way those who blocked Claude Pepper from endorsing Henry Wallace into the 1944 Democratic Convention. This alone may have changed the course of the establishment of the CIA, and avoided the disaster that is happening in Palestine to this day.

Thatcher & Reagan surly introduced us into this new economy which is often said to be doing so great, and there we are ruined by an overly eager Fed lender along with an out of sight Defense budget. Your job isn't there, and with that you are told to blame the union. Ah, the Union wasn't that what Margaret & Ronny sabotaged eventually . nice work.

I do believe the assassination era was the biggest turning point, as it sent a strong message to the would be seekers of sane government policies who would incur such tragedy if explored. Joe

Gary Weglarz , August 3, 2018 at 11:11 pm

Joe – I quite agree. The assassination era was the huge turning point, but as you point out the corruption and manipulation of democracy by the oligarchy goes way back. Yes, imagine if Wallace had been the VP for FDR? Had Wallace's nomination not been sabotaged, perhaps the Dulles brothers would have spent their remaining time on earth learning woodworking skills in prison workshop after being convicted for the treason of their Nazi dealings – instead of leading the CIA and State Dept. into the corrupt secrecy of multiple regime changes, assassinations, and endless insane cold war posturing. The Dulles CIA era, including it's loving embrace of the Nazi war criminals, seems to have a been in retrospect a very dark prelude leading up to the assassination era to follow. Ike certainly had some foreboding of the evil to come given his parting comments.

REDPILLED , August 4, 2018 at 5:04 pm

A brief recommended reading list:

Bob Van Noy , August 4, 2018 at 8:35 am

Joe and Gary, very nice and well informed thread, thank you. Clearly we all share the history that both of you mentioned and we also see through the now crumbling obfuscation. It will become our new duty to use that past experience and a new hope to help make an official case for correcting the official record and reclaiming Democracy. Actually it's a worthy endeavor and we're uniquely positioned to help

Consortium's Fan , August 7, 2018 at 10:42 am

"Sort of a Western postmodern version of earlier justifications for slaughtering the indigenous in order to – "save their souls" I suppose."

Or even earlier justifications (by the Holy Inquisition in the Middle Ages) to burn people alive to "save their souls".

Realist , August 4, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Excellent point, Joe. I wonder how different the history books will look if this country somehow manages to shed the warmongering hegemonists who have been in control for at least the last 70 years (or, one might argue, from its inception).

I'd also like to see an English translation of the current world history books, used in the schools of China, Russia, Iran, India, Pakistan, Cuba, Vietnam or dozens of other countries not part of the American World Empire. I'll bet American actions and motives are not portrayed to be as noble and pure as the driven snow. I'll bet even Mexico has a quite different take. Canada? You stopped our invasion in 1812, aided the slaves sent to you via the Underground Railway and refused to cooperate in the Vietnam fiasco. What happened since then? Now you extradite AWOL GI's who don't want to go back to the numerous "sand boxes" we play in. I'll bet those books, if ever published in English, would not be allowed on public library shelves in the U.S.

Stephen J. , August 3, 2018 at 4:45 pm

Interesting article.

I believe there are many questions that need answering about NATO. For instance: July 14, 2018 The Diabolical "Work" of NATO and Its Allies: Why Are These War Criminals Still Free?

NATO's recent meeting or summit in Brussels July 11 – 12, 2018, could be described as a gathering of heinous hypocrites. [1] There are millions of people dead, millions are refugees, their countries have been destroyed and our ruling hypocrites spout the words "rule of law." Has there ever been a gang of human reptiles (are they even human?) so evil, dressed in expensive suits [and dresses] and operating out of houses of power called "parliaments" and other houses of ill repute? These criminals, or gangsters, or bandits, or reprobates (Add your own epithet) are up to their filthy necks in the blood of the victims of their planned carnage.

Yet it was reported: "The summit will also discuss the fight against terrorism." Gee! Does that statement about fighting "terrorism" smack of hypocrisy? There is evidence that NATO and its members have, in fact, been consorting with, and supporting, terrorists. [2]
[much more info at link below]
http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-diabolical-work-of-nato-and-its.html

[Aug 08, 2018] At some point the Western Powers decided the that old Communist Apparachik Milosevic would be the Bad Guy and the Croatian freedom-loving "our bastards" the good guys to be internationally recognized and thus enflamed the passion of secession.

Notable quotes:
"... At some point the Western Powers decided the that old Communist Apparachik Milosevic would be the Bad Guy and the Croatian freedom-loving "our bastards" the good guys to be internationally recognized and thus enflamed the passion of secession. The thing just flew apart. And afterwards we had to bomb the country in order to save it. ..."
Aug 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

Sic Semper , August 8, 2018 at 1:37 pm GMT

I vividly recall the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. I was nine-years-old and we were not wired for cable then. There also was no remote control for the 27″ Zenith color console. I was forced to watch some of the coverage for those reasons. Sarajevo was held up as a utopian city where Serbs, Croats and Muslims all lived in a beautiful city peacefully.

It was so beautiful said the announcers. And in less than a decade that Olympic stadium was turned into a cemetery as those peaceful Croats, Serbs and Muslims slaughtered each other. Once the Soviet Army withdrew from Yugoslavia and the nation disintegrated back into its ethnic lines, the killings started.

Imagine what is coming in the United States where the simmering hatreds are invited and exploited by not three distinct groups, but hundreds. Image what is to come when "historically aggrieved" peoples who have been weaponized for generations to despise their non-homogenous neighbors.

The erasure of common nationhood and the instilling of grievance as a caste system will see the US descend into chaotic slaughter the likes of which have never been seen before.

When Pakistan separated from India after the British pulled out, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus slaughtered each other, stopping trains filled with refugees being repatriated into their new nations and slaughtering every one of them. Americans have been so denuded of historical understanding that these histories are unknown.

The malevolence of humanity seething just under the surface until the opportunity arises for it to burst forth is forgotten by placated propagandized people. What people in world history have been more propagandized and placated than Americans who have been viewing carefully crafted scripts since their eyes were first able to focus on a tv screen and whose desperately poor are morbidly obese?

Stocking a warehouse to the rafters with volatile materials, packing them in so tightly until they near critical mass, now add in some agitation -- and light a match. The most devastating weapon ever devised in not the hydrogen bomb, it is a population bomb. A 100 megaton nuclear weapon destroys cleanly -- one flash and a wind storm -- it's all over aside from lingering sunshine units. In a thousand years the land will forget what had happened.

A population bomb where the very people have been weaponized will prove far more devastating and remain scarring the land for eons and that common memory lives on in the survivors igniting anew every few decades.

El Dato , Next New Comment August 8, 2018 at 2:04 pm GMT
@Sic Semper

Once the Soviet Army withdrew from Yugoslavia and the nation disintegrated back into its ethnic lines, the killings started.

That never happened though because the Soviet Army was never in Yugoslavia in the first place. It was Tito who maintained order with an iron fist.

At some point the Western Powers decided the that old Communist Apparachik Milosevic would be the Bad Guy and the Croatian freedom-loving "our bastards" the good guys to be internationally recognized and thus enflamed the passion of secession. The thing just flew apart. And afterwards we had to bomb the country in order to save it.

I vaguely remember a pretty explanation in First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia by David N. Gibbs

[Aug 07, 2018] Bill Black Pre-Crisis 4506-T Studies Showed Massive Fraud in Liar's Loans; Fed Ignored Warning, DoJ Refused to Target Implic

Notable quotes:
"... By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives ..."
"... New Economic Perspectives ..."
"... The Pentagon Wars ..."
"... The Generals ..."
"... The Chickenshit Club ..."
Aug 07, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Bill Black: Pre-Crisis "4506-T Studies" Showed Massive Fraud in Liar's Loans; Fed Ignored Warning, DoJ Refused to Target Implicated Banksters Posted on August 7, 2018 by Yves Smith Yves here. With the tsunami of "ten years after the crisis" stories that are already starting to hit the beach, I am endeavoring to focus on ones that contain new or significantly under-reported information or give particularly insightful overviews. Here Black gives a telling example of both how the authorities were warned of massive mortgage fraud and ignored it, and then later failed to use the same evidence to pursue the perps.

By Bill Black, the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One, an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. Jointly published with New Economic Perspectives

Steven Krystofiak formed the Mortgage Brokers Association for Responsible Lending, a professional association dedicated to fighting mortgage fraud and predation. On August 1, 2006. He tried to save our Nation by issuing one of the most prescient warnings about the epidemic of mortgage fraud and predation and the crisis it would so cause.

The context was Congress' effort to empower and convince the Federal Reserve to take action against what the mortgage lending industry called, behind closed doors, "liar's" loans. A liar's loan is a loan in which the lender does not verify (at least) the borrower's actual income. The industry knew that the failure to verify inherently led to endemic fraud. George Akerlof and Paul Romer's 1993 article on "Looting" by financial CEOs explicitly cited the failure to verify the borrower's income as an example of a lending practice that only fraudulent lenders would use on a widespread basis.

Congress gave the Fed the unique authority to ban all liar's loans in 1994, by passing the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA). HOEPA gave the Fed the authority to ban liar's loans even by "shadow" sector financial firms that had no federal deposit insurance.

Liar's loans began to become material around 1989 during the savings and loan debacle where all good U.S. financial frauds are born – Orange County, California. In that era, they were called "low documentation" ('low doc') loans. We (the West Region of the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), were the federal regulator for these S&Ls, and we were overwhelmed dealing with the "control frauds" driving the debacle, who overwhelmingly used commercial real estate (CRE) as their accounting "weapon" of choice. Our examiners, however, made two critical points. No honest lender would make widespread loans without verifying the borrower's income because it was certain to produce severe "adverse selection" and produce serious losses. The examiners' second warning was that such loans were growing rapidly in Orange County and multiple lenders were involved.

We listened and responded well to our examiners' timely and sound warnings and made it a moderate priority to drive liar's loans out of the industry we regulated. The last of the major fraudulent S&L liar's loan lenders was Long Beach Savings. Long Beach set a common pattern for fraudulent lenders by also engaging in predation primarily against Latinos and blacks. In 1994, the same year HOEPA became law; Long Beach voluntarily gave up federal deposit insurance and its charger as a savings and loan. Long Beach's controlling owner, Roland Arnall, did this for the sole purpose of escaping our regulatory jurisdiction and our ability to examine, sue, and sanction the S&L and its officers. Arnall changed its name to Ameriquest, and converted it to a mortgage bank. Mortgage banks were essentially unregulated. Arnall successfully sought sanctuary in what we now call the "shadow" financial sector. The S&L debacle did not end. It found sanctuary in the Shadow and grew 50% annually for 13 years.

Ameriquest and its leading mortgage bank competitor, run by former S&L officers we (OTS) had "removed and prohibited" from working in any federally insured lender, became the leading "vectors" spreading the epidemic of fraudulent liar's loans through (initially) the shadow sector and later back into federally insured lenders. Many of Arnall's lieutenants eventually left Ameriquest to lead other fraudulent and predatory lenders making predatory liar's loans. Michael W. Hudson's book, The Monster , is a great read that presents this history. Ameriquest and its fraudulent and predatory peers grew at extraordinary rates for over a decade. They hyper-inflated the bubble and drove the financial crisis.

Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernake refused to use HOEPA to stop this surging epidemic of fraudulent and predatory liar's loans. This was the setting when Krystofiak, on his own dime and initiative took advantage of a Fed hearing on predatory lending near his home to warn us all of the coming disaster. Krystofiak was not the first warning. His written testimony cited the appraisers' and the FBI's prior warnings. The appraisers' 2000 petition explaining how lenders and their agents were extorting appraisers to inflate appraisals was superb. Chris Swecker's 2004 warning on behalf of the FBI that the developing "epidemic" of mortgage fraud would cause a financial "crisis" if not stopped was superb.

Krystofiak was also superb. The Fed did not want to conduct hearings on fraudulent and predatory liar's loans – Congress forced it to do so. The Fed's Board members were not interested in stopping fraudulent and predatory liar's loans. The Fed did not invite Krystofiak to testify. The Fed offered only a brief "cattle call" at the end of the hearing allowing (after a top Fed official had left to fly back to DC) the public to make a very brief statement.

The Fed's treatment of Krysofiak stood in sharp contrast to its fawning treatment of the Mortgage Bankers Associations' chosen witness. The MBA chose the leading originator of fraudulent liar's loans in California – IndyMac – to present the MBA's position. The MBA's position was that the Fed should not use its HOEPA authority to ban fraudulent and predatory liar's loans. The Fed officials cracked jokes with and treated the IndyMac officer like an old pal. They treated Krytofiak with cold indifference. The MBA witness presented utter BS. Krystofiak spoke truth to power. Power loved the BS. The truth discomfited the Fed officials.

Krytofiak's written testimony made many vital points, but I refer to only two related points here. First, he warned the Fed that the twin mortgage fraud origination epidemics – appraisal fraud and liar's loans – were so large that they were inflating the housing bubble. Second, his means of quantifying the incidence of liar's loan fraud showed the regulators and the prosecutors that they could use the same method to document reliably, cheaply, and quickly the incidence of liar's loan fraud at every relevant financial firm.

Data Collected by the Mortgage Brokers Association for Responsible Lending

A recent sample of 100 stated income loans which were compared to IRS records (which is allowed through IRS forms 4506, but hardly done) found that 90 % of the income was exaggerated by 5 % or more. MORE DISTURBINGLY, ALMOST 60 % OF THE STATED AMOUNTS WERE EXAGGERATED BY MORE THAN 50%. These results suggest that the stated income loans deserves the nickname used by many in the industry, the "liar's loan" (emphasis in original).

The MBA's anti-fraud experts, MARI, appears to have conducted the study for Krystofiak. They featured the 4506-T (the "T" stands for "transcript") study and its finding of a 90% fraud incidence in liar's loans. In 2006, MARI presented its fraud study at the MBA's annual meeting. The MBA sent MARI's report to every member, which included all the major mortgage players.

Any honest originator, purchaser, or packager of liar's loans was on notice no later than mid-2006 that they could determine quickly, cheaply, and reliably the fraud incidence in those liar's loans by using the 4506-T forms to test a sample of those loans. Krystofiak aptly noted that while lenders typically required borrowers to sign the IRS 4506-T form allowing the lender to access their tax information, it was actually "hardly done." Lenders supposedly require the 4506-T because taxpayers have an obvious interest in not inflating their income to the IRS. The self-employed have to report their income accurately or face potential tax fraud sanctions.

The reason liar's loan mortgage lenders, purchasers, the packagers of toxic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs ) that typically were composed of large amounts of liar's loans, and credit rating agencies, "hardly [ever] used" or required the sellers to use their 4506-T authority is also clear if you understand "accounting control fraud." Any 4506-T study of liar's loans will document their pervasive frauds. Virtually all liar's loan and CDO sales required "reps and warranties" that they were not fraudulent. If a firm making or selling liar's loans conducted a 4506-T study and documented that it knew its reps and warranties were false, and it continued t make, sell, package, or rate those fraudulent loans under false reps and warranties it would be handling its counterparty a dream civil fraud suit. They would be handing DOJ the ability to prosecute them successfully for felonies that caused hundreds of billions of dollars in losses. The fraudulent mortgage money machine relied on the major players following a financial "don't ask; don't tell" policy.

The exceptions prove the rule. I have found public evidence of only two cases in which mortgage players (other than Krystofiak) conducted 4506-T audits of liar's loans. I have never found public evidence that any federal regulator or prosecutor conducted or mandated a 4506-T study. The two known cases of 4506-T audits were Wells Fargo (just disclosed by DOJ) and Countrywide (disclosed by the SEC investigation and complaint). Both audits found massive fraud incidence in the liar's loans. The risk officers presented these audit results to the banks' senior managers.

Bank Whistleblowers United's 4506-T Proposal

Two and-a-half years ago, Bank Whistleblowers United (BWU) discussed the senior officers of Countrywide's response to its 4506-T audit. We noted that BWU co-founder Michael Winston blew the whistle on Countrywide's frauds to the bank's most senior officers to try to prevent these frauds. Mr. Winston eagerly aided potential prosecutors – who failed to prosecute Countrywide's senior officers leading the frauds. BWU then explained the analogous response of Citigroup's senior officers to a different but equally reliable audit conducted by BWU co-founder Richard Bowen. We did so in a January 30, 2016 New Economic Perspectives blog urging presidential candidates in the 2016 election to pledge to implement the 60-day BWU plan to restore the rule of law to Wall Street.

As documented in the SEC complaint, Countrywide's managers conducted a secret internal study of Countrywide's liar's loans that, on June 2, 2006, confirmed Krystofiak's findings of endemic fraud in liar's loans. Fraud was the norm in Countrywide's liar's loans, a fact that it failed to disclose to its stockholders and secondary market purchasers. Instead of stopping such loans, Countrywide's senior officers caused it to adopt what they termed "Extreme Alt-A" loans offered by Bear and Lehman that "layered" this fraud risk on top of a half dozen additional massive risks to create what Countrywide's controlling officer described as loans that were "toxic" and "inherently unsound." "Alt-A" was the euphemism for liar's loans. Countrywide made massive amounts of "Extreme Alt-A" and acted as a vector spreading these "toxic" loans throughout the financial system. A member of our group, Dr. Michael Winston, tried to stop these kinds of abuses, which enriched top management but bankrupted Countrywide.

Similarly, a member of our group, Richard Bowen and his team of expert underwriters, documented that Citigroup knew that it was purchasing tens of billions of dollars of loans annually on the basis of fraudulent "reps and warranties" – and then reselling them to Fannie and Freddie on the basis of fraudulent reps and warranties. Bowen put the highest levels of Citigroup (including Bob Rubin) on personal notice in writing as the incidence of fraud climbed from 40% to 60%. (It eventually reached an astonishing 80% fraud incidence.) Citigroup's leadership's response was to remove his staff. Senior Citigroup officers also responded to the surging fraud by causing Citigroup to become a major purchaser of fraudulently originated liar's loans.

We can now add the senior leaders that determined Wells Fargo's response to its 4506-T audit. We draw on the Department of Justice (DOJ) disclosures in conjunction with its indefensible settlement of civil fraud claims against Wells Fargo's massive mortgage fraud. The DOJ press release revealed that "in 2005, Wells Fargo began an initiative to double its production of subprime and Alt-A loans." DOJ did not explain that this was after the FBI warned there was an emerging "epidemic" of mortgage "fraud" that would cause a financial "crisis" if it were not stopped. The settlement discloses that Wells' risk officers alerted senior managers that the plan to increase greatly the number of liar's loans would greatly increase fraud in 2005 before Wells implemented the plan.

The press release had other bombshells (unintentionally) demonstrating the strength of the criminal cases that DOJ refused to bring against Wells' senior officers. Wells Fargo's 4506-T audit found that its liar's loans were endemically fraudulent, and the amount of inflated income was extraordinary.

The results of Wells Fargo's 4506-T testing were disclosed in internal monthly reports, which were widely distributed among Wells Fargo employees. One Wells Fargo employee in risk management observed that the "4506-T results are astounding" yet "instead of reacting in a way consistent with what is being reported WF [Wells Fargo] is expanding stated [income loan] programs in all business lines."

The press release note some other actions by Wells' senior managers that show what prosecutors term "consciousness of guilt." Such actions make (real) prosecutors salivate. The press release's final substantive revelation is the unbelievable rate of loan defaults on Wells Fargo's fraudulent loans and the exceptional damages those loans and sales caused.

Wells Fargo sold at least 73,539 stated income loans that were included in RMBS between 2005 to 2007, and nearly half of those loans have defaulted, resulting in billions of dollars in losses to investors.

Typical default rates on conventional mortgages averaged, for decades, around 1.5 percent. The Wells Fargo liar's loans defaulted at a rate 30 times greater.

How Corrupt is Wells? Cheating Customers is "Courageous"

The press release does not contain the Wells Fargo gem that proves our family rule that it is impossible to compete with unintentional self-parody. Paragraph H of the settlement reveals that Wells' term for doubling its number of fraudulent liar's loans in 2005 was "Courageous Underwriting." Wells' senior managers changed its compensation system to induce its employees to approve even worse loans. Calling defrauding your customers "courageous" epitomizes Wells Fargo's corrupt culture built on lies and lies about lies.

DOJ's pathetic settlement with Wells Fargo has no admissions by the bank. It does not require a penny in damages from any bank officer. It does not require a bank officer to return a penny of bonuses received through these fraudulent loans. The settlement contains DOJ's statement that its investigation found that Wells' violated four federal criminal statutes. DOJ will continue to grant de facto immunity from prosecution to elite banksters. The Trump administration has again flunked a major test dealing with the swamp banksters.

Section H (b) of the settlement is factually inaccurate in a manner that makes it highly favorable to fraudulent lenders making liar's loans. There is no indication that DOJ ever investigated Wells' fraudulent loan origination practices. It was overwhelmingly lenders and their loan brokers that put the lies in liar's loans. DOJ's settlement documents do not refer to Wells whistleblowers, even though and competent investigation would have identified dozens of whistleblowers. Throughout its Wells documents, DOJ implies that borrowers overstated their income rather than Wells and its loan brokers.

The Jig is Up on DOJ's Pathetic Excuses for Refusing to Jail Elite Bank Frauds

We now know with certainty from the whistleblowers and the internal audits that the response of Citigroup, Countrywide, and Wells Fargo's senior leaders to knowing that most of their liar's loans and the reps and warranties they made about those loans were fraudulent. We know with certainty that Michael Winston and Richard Bowen's disclosures were correct. We know with certainty that each served up to DOJ on a platinum platter dream cases for prosecuting Citigroup and Countrywide's top managers. The senior managers' response to proof that their banks were engaged in endemic fraud makes sense only if the senior managers were leading an "accounting control fraud," which enriches the managers by harming the lender.

When the appraisers' warned of extensive extortion by lenders and their agents to inflate appraisals, when the FBI warned that mortgage fraud was becoming "epidemic" and would cause a financial "crisis" if not halted, and when the MBA publicized Krystofiak and MARI's warnings that liar's loans were endemically fraudulent, the fraudulent CEOs' response was always the same. In each case, they expanded what they knew were endemically fraudulent liar's loans and increased the extortion of appraisers.

Back to BWU's 4506-T Proposal

This brings us back to reminding the public what BWU proposed 32 months ago about 4506-T audits. Point 17 of our 60-day plan began:

Within 60 days, each federal financial regulatory agency directs any bank that it regulates to conduct and publicly report a "Krystofiak" study on a sample of "liar's" loans that they continue to hold. Krystofiak devised a clever study that he presented to the Federal Reserve in an unsuccessful attempt to try to get the Fed to stop the epidemic of fraudulent liar's loans. Lenders and secondary market purchasers routinely required borrowers to authorize the lender and any subsequent purchaser of the loan to obtain a "transcript" (4506-T) of the borrower's tax returns from the IRS to allow the lender to quickly and inexpensively verify the borrower's reported income.

Other parts of our 60-day plan called for DOJ appointees with the courage, integrity, and skills to restore the rule of law to Wall Street. We also explained the needs (and means) for the banking regulators to conduct the investigations (such as 4506-T audits), activate a legion of whistleblowers, and make the criminal referrals to DOJ essential to bring successful prosecutions.

Conclusion

Had the regulators (particularly the Fed through its HOEPA power) required each bank making liar's loans to conduct a 4506-T audit, the senior managers would have faced a dilemma. They could stop the fraudulent lending or provide DOJ with a great opportunity to prosecute them. The bank CEOs' response to the internal audits showing endemic fraud and the retaliation against the whistleblowers combine to offer superb proof of senior managers' 'specific intent' to defraud. The reasons for the failure to prosecute were some combination of cowardice and politics. If Democrats win control of the House they can use their investigative powers to force each bank regulator to cause every relevant financial institution to conduct a 4506-T audit.

Of course, the Republican Senate and House chairs could order those steps today . We are not holding our breath, but BWU's co-founders are eager to aid either, or both, parties restore the rule of law to Wall Street. Instead, we are rapidly creating an intensely criminogenic environment on Wall Street that will eventually cause a severe financial crisis.


Hayek's Heelbiter , August 7, 2018 at 5:35 am

Did John Stumpf (President of Wells Fargo 2007-2016) really say, "If one family loses their home, it is a tragedy. If ten million people lose their homes, it is a statistic?"

Tinky , August 7, 2018 at 6:33 am

Even by Black's lofty standards, this is an outstanding article. The fact that it won't be published in the mainstream media, and that the vast majority of regulators and politicians will ignore it, underscores once again just how broken and corrupted the American political and economic systems are.

Colonel Smithers , August 7, 2018 at 7:54 am

Thank you, Tinky.

It's the same in the UK with regard to mortgage fraud and reporting.

A colleague, brought in from the regulator to clean up our German basket case TBTF's brief and late in the day foray into the mortgage market, said the UK mortgage market was as corrupt / fraudulent. The same US firms were involved in many, if not most, cases. Lehman had an outpost, Ascendant, in my home county, Buckinghamshire, for such activity. Lehman, Merrill and Citi carved out the UK on geographical lines. One (US) firm was given the name of the Germanic tribe that settled in the area 1500 years before.

readerOfTeaLeaves , August 7, 2018 at 11:34 am

Agree about the excellence of this post.

FWIW, the kinds of government errors, cowardice, and confusions that Black relates – on top of having taxpayers foot the bill for it all – was a key factor IMVHO in people voting Trump as a kind of protest vote. He talks about 'fake news' to a huge number of Americans who faked income, or approved fake income.

The rest of us, I assume, continue to seethe and are supporting 'honest money, fair wages/salary' candidates like Warren and Sanders.

flora , August 7, 2018 at 11:54 am

+1

Tom Stone , August 7, 2018 at 7:49 am

In early 2005 I was working as a loan Broker when I met the World Savings rep or the first time.
The first words out of his mouth were a warning not to take more than 3 pints on the back end because it was greedy, the second sentence was "If there's a problem with the income the underwriter will drop the file on my desk, I'll call you and we'll fix it".
He's still in the business, a few rungs further up the corporate ladder, I got out of the business the following week.

Peter Pan , August 7, 2018 at 10:31 am

If Democrats win control of the House they can use their investigative powers to force each bank regulator to cause every relevant financial institution to conduct a 4506-T audit.

The establishment democrats that receive donor dollars from Wall Street banks? I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for them to even investigate much less do anything else to stop this criminal activity.

Otherwise another excellent post by Bill Black.

Tomonthebeach , August 7, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Also, is there a statute of limitations on this fraud? If so, both parties might just be running out the clock.

crittermom , August 7, 2018 at 7:43 pm

+1

Bewildered , August 7, 2018 at 10:41 am

Fabulous piece as usual from Mr. Black. Just makes the tenure of the previous administration all the more complicit in the current state of affairs. As Mr. Black details there was an obvious solution to uncover the fraud and go after senior execs, something that also could have also been done when the 'democrat' party held the House and at least a leverage position in the Senate. What the American public received instead was a giant con job/cover-up advertised as restitution and Obama goes on national TV to pathetically claim that grossly fraudulent behavior was simply unethical. Obviously that maneuver had a higher ROI for post-tenure legacy building and fundraising.

georgieboy , August 7, 2018 at 10:50 am

Wells Fargo -- doing it the Warren Buffet way! For that matter, Goldman Sachs -- doing it the Warren Buffet way!

Superb summary by Mr. Black, thanks Yves.

Bottom Gun , August 7, 2018 at 11:10 am

There is really a simple solution: fire everyone at DOJ and replace them with Air Force officers.

An Air Force officer is brave. He will fly through enemy fire if he has to in order to do his job. He gives no thought to the Taliban career opportunities that he might be forgoing by bombing them.

An Air Force officer is competent. He can fly through thunderstorms in the dead of night and get his bombs when and where the forward air controller down with the infantry needs them. Compare that to the experience of an honest IG official trying to get an indictment from DOJ for anyone at a mega-bank.

An Air Force officer knows how to get funding for his priorities. The Air Force annual budget, at $156 billion, is about 5 times that of DOJ. Enough said.

When you know these facts, the solution is obvious.

Kevbot5000 , August 7, 2018 at 4:36 pm

Go read The Pentagon Wars or Coram's Boyd . Air Force (or other service) officers have no particular claim to virtue. If you pulled mostly captains maybe it'd work, but the bravery and competence needed on the front line is vastly different from that needed from say a Colonel or General running programs/units which is likely the officers you'd be bringing in. Remember you're advocating bringing in people responsible for the boondoggle that is the F35 to shape up an organization. (which is not an isolated instance but emblematic of the upper tiers of the service)

Bottom Gun , August 7, 2018 at 8:00 pm

Thanks for the referrals; let me take a look. (I have read Thomas Ricks' The Generals , which I suspect makes a similar point to those.) The point is acknowledged, although I have not only read The Chickenshit Club but lived through it. There were many DOJ people I had to deal with whom I can only describe using Bundy's pungent phrase for the South Vietnamese political leadership: "the absolute bottom of the barrel." They contrasted starkly with the fellow junior officers I knew in my youth, but as you noted, those were junior officers.

Susan the other , August 7, 2018 at 12:08 pm

The simplicity of the 4506-T audits is as profound as the physics comparison of the diversity of the economy to GDP. These things don't work when all the chaos comes home to roost. In 1989 our economy was on the rocks and our corporations were offshoring as fast as they could; the USSR collapsed and we landed like a murder of crows to pick their bones and loot Russia. OPEC was naming their price; China was exporting massive deflation; our banks were already on the brink. But how to bring home all the loot from not just Russia but all the other illegal sources connected with our once and future imperialism? We were no longer a country of laws; we were looters, thieves and launderers. We were trying to salvage our "investments" or we were hoovering up flight capital or some other thing that had nothing to do with law and order and democracy. You name it. How else did all the banks, all of them, agree to forego their own standards and make all those conveyor belt loans? They prolly all had to become industrial laundromats and get rid of the stuff asap. Which was perhaps only one aspect to the ongoing collapse of "capitalism" as we once knew it – but were unable to protect it. I love Bill Black because he makes me come to uncomfortable explanations who knows how it all fell apart? Somebody does.

templar555510 , August 7, 2018 at 2:34 pm

Superb comment Susan. I make know how ' it all fell apart ' other than recognising that the early capitalists worked with stuff that had to be produced, and so despite vile excesses produced something useful to many , whereas these financial capitalists produce nothing of value to anyone except themselves and take away something from everybody else ( liar's loans being a key example ) . The question is , is there any here beyond here ? Clearly not with ANY of the present political incumbents ( I am in the UK it's the same for you and us ) . So that in two sentences is my answer to your question . My question is ' how on earth do we get beyond here ?'

Chauncey Gardiner , August 7, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Re Bill Black: " Instead, we are rapidly creating an intensely criminogenic environment on Wall Street that will eventually cause a severe financial crisis."

By design and intent with no fear of criminal prosecution for fraud, imprisonment, or even surrender of ill-gotten personal financial gains. All brought to us courtesy of the political donor class and large corporations, those they have corrupted, and the Supreme Court's Orwellian-named Citizens United decision and expanded executive branch powers that make it possible.

Look at any set of issues: Failure to pass and implement policies to address climate change, endless wars, defunding public education and infrastructure, the opioid crisis, manipulation of financial markets, federal government austerity, transfers of public lands and resources into private hands, privatization of public services, healthcare, stagnant real wages, loss of any semblance of economic equality, debt burdens placed on our young people seeking economic opportunity or family formation, lack of legal separation of bank depository and payments system functions from their market speculations, failure to enforce corporate antitrust laws, erosion of privacy and civil liberties, repeated bubbles, concentration of media ownership in the hands of a few, secret international tax havens, etc. and what do you see?

Tim , August 7, 2018 at 12:22 pm

In case you need comedy – George Carlin The Death Penalty from 1996

https://youtu.be/qDO6HV6xTmI

crittermom , August 7, 2018 at 8:02 pm

Thanks, Tim. Comedy was exactly what I needed after Bill Black's excellent article. (One of his best, IMHO)

I saw George Carlin in person at a small theater in Denver long ago. He was great, & still cracks me up.

shinola , August 7, 2018 at 12:49 pm

With the latest disclosures about WF stealing directly from their banking customers on top of their previous frauds, I'm just sure the regulators will come down hard on them this time (NOT!)

I wonder if Mr. Trump, with his involvement in commercial RE, ever "mis-stated" his his income, assets and/or liabilities when obtaining a loan. Nah, couldn't happen.

Tomonthebeach , August 7, 2018 at 3:37 pm

I wonder why anybody still banks with WF. My late mom had about 30K in a WF account under a trust that I could not close out for 24 months (Florida laws – WF had a branch in their eldercare facility.) I was delighted that my closeout check did not bounce.

Karma Fubar , August 7, 2018 at 1:22 pm

A while back I worked at a medical device startup operating within a formal (i.e. written and comprehensive) quality system. A quality system is required for any commercial sales of medical products; previously I had been involved in early stage R+D and had not been bound by such systems. So a lot of it was new to me.

Something that stuck out at the time, and probably ties in to the article above, was the sanctity of corporate internal audit files. The FDA could demand access to almost any company quality system document, except for internal audit files. They could be provided with summaries of these internal audits indicating something like "6 minor deficiencies found, 1 major deficiency found, 0 extreme deficiencies found" , but were not permitted access to the raw internal audits.

I suspect that financial firms have the same level of protection for their internal audits. Had they hired a consulting firm to investigate the accuracy of stated income in the loans they originated, the results of that outside investigation would probably be a document reviewable by government regulators (assuming they were interested in doing their job). But by pursuing this as an internal audit, executives knew that the results would never be reviewable, and give them plausible deniability that they knew of the systemic level of fraud.

There certainly must be other ways of investigating efficiency or compliance within a company, but by pursuing it as an internal audit they could easily bury the results.

Oregoncharles , August 7, 2018 at 1:52 pm

A quibble: comparing stated income to income tax forms may be misleading, although it is the standard. People have an interest in understating their income to the IRS, and in overstating it when seeking a loan. The logic is that they risk prosecution if they understate to the IRS, but there are plenty of situations where they're very unlikely to get caught. It's conceivable the loan application is more honest than the tax return.

perpetualWAR , August 7, 2018 at 7:57 pm

Neither is correct.

Enquiring Mind , August 7, 2018 at 3:09 pm

Loan officers I knew over the decades have changed their views. Asking them if they would lend their own money to the proposed borrower used to be more likely to elicit a Yes. When standards loosened (again) earlier this millennium, some answered No until realizing that they shouldn't care since the money wasn't theirs. What really mattered was getting that commission endorsed and deposited, given the rise of IBGYBG (I'll be gone, you'll be gone) thinking.

Another question I asked was about tracking borrower performance relative to loan officer compensation. Relationship building and longer term interactions declined with the rise of neo-liberalish (the -ish suffix indicates a primitive reaction to immediate perceived incentives without further investigation) mindsets. Portfolio lenders had more at risk but still laid off some of that on the deposit insurance funds. Loan buyers did not fully appreciate that they had to trust everyone preceding them in the value (destruction) cycle, from brokers and investment bankers through ratings agencies.

Internal audits, compliance functions and regulatory exams were often the only temporary inconveniences or obstacles to transactions and related income distribution.

Ron Con Coma , August 7, 2018 at 3:20 pm

Eric Holder for President – NOT!

steelhead23 , August 7, 2018 at 4:02 pm

If Democrats win control of the House they can use their investigative powers to force each bank regulator to cause every relevant financial institution to conduct a 4506-T audit.

Let us, for a moment, imagine this happens. Then what? The results would show widespread fraud and a pathetic lack of adequate vetting by the issuer. Then those fraudulent loans were aggregated into various RMBS and sold to others. I hope you can see that just this disclosure is likely to cause a substantial hiccup in the financial system, perhaps another full-blown crisis. And who would the public blame? The criminals – or the cops? I could see Dems, even Dems with little or no connection to the Street, deciding not to open Pandora's box.

That is one of the problems with the American political system. From defense appropriations to banking regulation, the pols live in fear of being tarred for doing the right thing, if the outcome is temporarily bad or unpopular. Yes, it would obviously be best to cleanse the wound, but doing so would hurt, so the pols decide that it would be best for their popularity to let the wound fester until it becomes too big to ignore or financial Armageddon occurs. Isn't that precisely the thinking of the Obama Administration?

Murgatroy , August 7, 2018 at 6:25 pm

All major Wall St banks and brokerages including Wachovia, Wells, BofA and even Citadel and a few foreign banks (ABN Amro, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, etc) set up an offshore sub called CDS Indexco. This was used as a defacto cartel to control the prices of both Sub-Prime CDO issues and their respective Credit Default Swaps. They created the Markit BBB- index which was used by Paulsen, Ackman and a few other chosen ones to short the MBS sub-prime market. This is the truth.. CDS Indexco dropped that name in Nov. 2008 when the accounting rules forced Marked to Market accounting and also the Consolidation of VIE's (Special Purpose Financial Subs that got an exception to the Enron Rule). So in other words: if banks had been made to follow the "Enron Rule" the financial crisis wouldn't have happened. Goldman's own employee was the Chairman of CDS Indexco, I couldn't make this shit up. And Yves knows it too. Gramm Leach Bliley made it all possible – so banks could hold both the debt and the equity of an entity that they took no responsibility for. This was the precise reason for Glass-Steagall banks were manhandling the ownership of business due to inherent conflicts of interest between debt and equity holders.

steelhead23 , August 7, 2018 at 7:30 pm

My dear Murgatory, Wow. This is the first I have heard of CDS Indexco. You are suggesting that it was much more than a mere market clearinghouse. Where could I read more on this?

perpetualWAR , August 7, 2018 at 7:51 pm

Google it. I just did.
I. Am. Stunned.
Just when I think the shiitake can't get any deeper, it does.

perpetualWAR , August 7, 2018 at 7:34 pm

A former bank/trustee foreclosure attorney is running for a District Court judge position in Seattle. Remember Trott, the Foreclosure King, who Michigan sent to Congress? Yeah, this dude is trying to get on the bench.

crittermom , August 7, 2018 at 8:19 pm

Of course no bankers went to jail.

But does anyone remember this news from 2011, about the homeowner who did?
The lengths they went to 'catch him' once he was in their sites, says it all.
https://www.businessinsider.com/charlie-engle-2011-3

[Aug 07, 2018] Yemen? We are assisting a genocidal war. What else can be said?

Aug 07, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com
8. Yemen? We are assisting a genocidal war. What else can be said? pl

English Outsider -> EEngineer , 7 hours ago

On your last paragraph, I've been nursing that hope as far as the ME goes for a while as well. Ever since the Jerusalem decision.

As for European NATO, isn't that already shot? Turkey unreliable at one end. The UK at odds with the mainland at the other, if all the disaster talk isn't just theatre and maybe if it is. European NATO no longer looks like a credible alliance. Not an alliance at all should Trump remove or cause to be removed the American glue holding it all together.

But the Colonel's item 8 is going to weigh on the conscience of the West for a long time.

EEngineer -> English Outsider , 6 hours ago
On #8: I would bet that not 1 in 100 Americans know anything about the place at all, never mind the current slaughter. There will be nothing for them to forget. I'm not trying to be flippant either. Unfortunately, most of my countrymen are simply fat, dumb, and happy; and content to stay that way.

[Aug 05, 2018] 23 Years Ago the US Backed a Brutal Croatian Ethnic Cleansing of Serbs

Notable quotes:
"... "We could not prevent the slaughter of the Serbs by the Croatians, including elderly people and children " –  UNPROFOR French Lieutenant-General Jean Cot ..."
"... " The decision to launch Operation Storm is not controversial; what is controversial, however, is 'the successful effort' of some Croatian officials headed by President Franjo Tudjman to 'exploit the circumstances' and implement the plan to drive Serbs out of Krajina ." --  ICTY prosecutor Alain Tieger ..."
"... Just remember that at that time, US government offered $5 million reward for the capture of war criminal Ante Gotovina, making him the ICTY most wanted man. He was at that time sheltered by Croatian government, and through the notorious Vatican' "Rat Channels", that were used at the end of WWII to facilitate the escape of Nazis, he was hidden (among the other Croatian war criminals) in a Catholic monastery, to be smuggled to Tenerife, where he was eventually captured by the Spanish police, in 2005. ..."
"... " It is important that these [Serb] civilians start moving and then the army will follow them, and when the columns start moving, they will have a psychological effect on each other. That means we provide them with an exit, while on the other hand we feign (pretend) to guarantee civilian human rights and the like " -- ..."
"... Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, during War Council meeting in July 1995 ..."
"... Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varivode_massacre ..."
"... "American concern is that if General Gotovina is arrested he may carry out a threat to disclose previously unknown extent of US covert involvement in the Krajina offensive " ..."
"... – London Times, June 14th, 2003. ..."
"... Crime pays, doesn't ..."
Aug 05, 2018 | russia-insider.com

23 Years Ago the US Backed a Brutal Croatian Ethnic Cleansing of Serbs Miodrag Novakovic ( FBReporter ) Sat, Aug 4, 2018 | 4,303 445 If there was a nation that could safely conclude from its own historical experience that "Crime Pays", than it must be the newest EU member, Croatia. In the modern history this tiny Catholic nation committed one of the most horrific genocides in WWII over Serbian Orthodox Christian population residing in Croatia and Bosnia, murdering at least one million people; and recently in 1995, Croatia conducted (under US supervision) the biggest and permanent ethnic cleansing "military operation" against its (again) Serbian population, expelling over 200,000 of them in just three days (the real number of ethnically cleansed Serbs from Croatia during the wars in 90ies, is at least twice larger)- unofficially becoming the most ethnic cleanse European state.

If you believe, that Croats "en masse", would be ashamed of such reputation, then you are dead wrong. Actually most of them are very proud, and for the last 23 years they are celebrating it very loudly, and doing everything in their power to prevent (after being pressured by the international community) the return of hundreds of thousands of Serbs to their ancient land, and to avoid returning of their stolen property, mostly (real estates, farm lands, etc.).

https://www.youtube.com/embed/lw0qZmFhPBg

"We could not prevent the slaughter of the Serbs by the Croatians, including elderly people and children " –  UNPROFOR French Lieutenant-General Jean Cot

Elderly Krajina' resident murdered in his home by Croatian soldiers. His guilt- He was a Serb

WHEN WESTERN "DEMOCRACIES" ORCHESTRATE ETHNIC CLEANSINGS

Of course, if would be unreasonable, for this evident and well documented war crimes, and crimes against humanity, to blame only Croats. If their hands are soaked in the blood, of innocent Serbian civilians, up to their arms, then the hands of their Western sponsors (namely USA and Germany) are soaked in the blood at least up to their elbows. Simply Croats would never get away with "such perfect crime", if they were not backed, in every possible way, by their American and German sponsors.

This week will mark 22 years, since on August 4th 1995, Croatia lunched so called military-police operation, named Storm, against Serb' held and controlled Krajina region. Croats backed by US military-logistic & air support, CIA intelligence drone reconnaissance, and open political support from Washington, completed their "operation" in just three days. On August 7th they declared "victory".

Their "victory resulted": in a complete ethnic cleansing of Krajina region, and a murder of at least 2,000 Serbs; vast majority of them were defenseless civilians. Official sources claim that: 1,192 Serbian civilians were killed or missing, and around 200,000 thousands (entire Krajina population) were expelled from their ancient land. Their property was destroyed, looted and stolen, by the Croatian "soldiers" (who performed this "operation" under direct Washington' supervision, while UNPROFOR peacekeepers assigned for the protection of UN designated "Krajina Safe Zone" just stood by, doing almost nothing to prevent the slaughter).

Croatian "soldiers" in "liberated Krajina"

IMPERATIVE WAS TO ESTABLISH US MILITARY PRESENCE IN YUGOSLAVIA

To understand this US complicity, and its direct military involvement, in such horrendous atrocity against one ethnic group, in one, of many, civil wars, which erupted, when former Socialist Yugoslavia "fell apart", again with covert or overt Western support, we have to look here at the wider picture-

When the Clinton' government, together with their major European allies, decided in 90ies, that the best American interest in the Balkans will be to back armed rebellion of the separatist administrative regions in Western Yugoslavia, and openly support the breakup of, internationally recognized, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, while it was still the UN member, they consciously opened the Pandora box.

They openly sided politically & militarily with Slovenian and Croatian Catholics from the Western Yugoslavian Republics, and with Islamic fundamentalists from Bosnia, in their civil and religious wars against Orthodox Christian Serbs living outside, then administrative Republic of Serbia (and later in 1999, US & NATO started another illegal war against Serbia, on behalf of Islamic Albanian separatists from Kosovo, ultimately "stealing" this Southern Serbian province).

Croatian and Bosnian Serbs, who simply wanted to remain in their Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and not to be "taken away" by Catholic and Islamic separatists, and not to be stripped of their constitutional rights, under existing Yugoslavian laws, naturally rebelled against such illegal and violent Yugoslavian outcome, and they subsequently declared own autonomy within the Yugoslavian separatist' regions.

And then all hell broke loose

The historical roots of such American approach, could be found in the Western (mainly British and American) support of "Anti-Stalin" communist leader of post-WWII Yugoslavia Marshal Josip Broz Tito (who was Croat himself), who provided Western leaders with assurances that he will, not only keep Yugoslavia outside the Soviet bloc, but he would align militarily his country with NATO alliance as well; and later in Reagan' presidential directive NSDD133, from 1984, which outlined US strategic interest to expand its military presence to Yugoslavia.

Croatian and US military leadership celebrating "joint operation"- the biggest ethnic cleansing in Europe since WWII

THEY ARE KILLING "LITTLE RUSSIANS" TOO, AREN'T THEY ?

The "only" obstacle to this US (read NATO) expansionist policy in the former Yugoslavia, was Serbian (majority) population, which was, due to its traditional friendship with Russia, considered as "problematic" and had to be decimated, "broken into pieces", and Republic of Serbia to be disabled as an independent state, during so called "spontaneous" civil wars in 90s.

I am not trying here to state that in the Western society exist some unexplained hatred against Serbs (in same time, there is a lots of prejudice, and media & Hollywood bias, picturing Serbs primarily as "bad guys"), actually I believe that people and their politicians in the West could not care less about Serbs (Serbians), and most of them have no clue where to find Serbia on the geographic map. But in same time, as we can observe these days in the West, particularly in United States, there is a lot of unfounded and unreasonable hatred for the Russians

And if we are familiar with the popular saying among Western diplomats, that "Serbs are Little Russians", then is not difficult to put two and two together, and understand their desire to "disable" any Russian-friendly nation in the region.

As long as you are a Serb, regardless of your age, for Croats and their US sponsors, you are a "fair game"

CROATIAN WAR CRIMES AGAINST SERBS WERE SO EVIDENT, AND ON SUCH LARGE SCALE, THAT WESTERN CONTROLLED ICTY HAD NO CHOICE, BUT TO SENTENCE CROATIAN LEADERSHIP

Western controlled ICTY (International Crime Tribunal for Yugoslavia) reluctantly brought charges for war crimes and ethnic cleansing, against (war time) ultra-nationalistic Croatian leadership and group of its generals. But in the wake of overwhelming evidence and international outcry, they had little choice.

In 2001 ICTY brought charges for war crimes against Croatian president general Franjo Tudjman (who will be remembered for publically saying "that he was very proud that his wife was neither Jew or Serb"), Croatian defence minister Gojko Susak (prior to war- open Neo-Nazi ideologist), and two other former (renegade) Yugoslav Army generals, (promoted into supreme commanders of Croatian army) Janko Bobetko and Zvonimir Cermenko. Their indictment was actually travesty of justice, because at the time they were charged, all of them (with exception of General Janko Bobetko), were already dead (by natural cause). General Bobetko died one year after indictment, before he could be delivered to ICTY.

" The decision to launch Operation Storm is not controversial; what is controversial, however, is 'the successful effort' of some Croatian officials headed by President Franjo Tudjman to 'exploit the circumstances' and implement the plan to drive Serbs out of Krajina ." --  ICTY prosecutor Alain Tieger

When the indictment of Croatian generals Ante Gotovina, Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac, for their war crimes and ethnic cleansing of Croatian Serbs in Krajina, during "operation" Storm in 1995, was announced in 2008- Serbs who survived US sponsored pogrom and ethnic cleansing, were naively hoping that at last some justice will be served.

Even, with such unprecedented obstruction of ICTY by Croatian government, Catholic Church and wider Croatian society, who concealed and destroyed many war documents, facilitated escape and concealment of indicted Croatian war criminals, and intimidated not only victims and witnesses, but ICTY leadership as well- the trial of those three Croatian generals came to conclusion in 2011, and after the overwhelming evidence (the evidence, Croats were not able to conceal or destroy), Gotovina was sentenced to 24 years, Markac to 18 years, while Cermak was acquitted.

Serbian victims hoped that at the end at least some justice was served- but they were wrong again. There is a Serbian saying: "A crow doesn't pick out another crow's eyes."-

In 2012, ICTY appeal chamber overturned the decision of lower chamber, and unconditionally acquitted Croatian war criminals Gotovina and Markac for all crimes. Entire Croatia and its diaspora erupted in joy and massive celebration.

Their historical experience that Crime Pays have been proven yet again

Serbian children getting starved to death and slaughtered by knife in a first-ever death camp for children and infants established by Croats in Jastrebarsko, Sisak, Stara Gradiska, Independent State of Croatia in WW2

Even, after the ICTY had proved (from the audio and written transcript of Croatian war leadership meeting in July 1995) – that there was very credible evidence of existence of a joint criminal enterprise, with intent to forcibly remove ethnic Serbs from Croatia, and that civilian areas in Krajina, including the subsequent civilian refugee columns, were indiscriminately shelled by Croatian artillery, and bombed & machine gunned by Croatian air-force – that did not prevent the real ICTY masters to pervert the course of justice.

One would wander who and what was behind such obvious and embarrassing justice travesty, demonstrated in this example. What had forced American controllers of ICTY to change their mind, and influence the tribunal to free of any charges, these obvious and heavy documented, war criminals?

Just remember that at that time, US government offered $5 million reward for the capture of war criminal Ante Gotovina, making him the ICTY most wanted man. He was at that time sheltered by Croatian government, and through the notorious Vatican' "Rat Channels", that were used at the end of WWII to facilitate the escape of Nazis, he was hidden (among the other Croatian war criminals) in a Catholic monastery, to be smuggled to Tenerife, where he was eventually captured by the Spanish police, in 2005.

Serbian civilians fleeing US/CRO joint operation "Storm" were bombed, machine-gunned, and ran by Croatian tanks, mercilessly- thousands of innocent people just perished

INTERNATIONAL "POST-MORTEM" RESPONSE

It is worth to mention accusations and reactions, to such perversion of justice by ICTY, from some highest international bodies and public persons, at that time-

US Security Council, on August 10th 1995 issued "post-mortem" (when ethnic cleansing of Serbs was already completed) resolution #1009, demanding from Croatia to halt military operation, and condemning targeting of UN peacekeepers (during the operation Storm, Croats had killed three UN soldiers) – but UNSC failed to request a withdrawal of the Croatian forces, and de-facto accepted new "ethnically cleanse" reality!?

The only UN official, who was fully aware of the horrific aspect of this US sponsored "operation", and who was trying to prevent further Croatian atrocities against Serbian population, was, at that time, the Head of UN mission in Yugoslavia, Thorvald Stoltenberg, who urged UN Secretary Yasushi Akashi to request NATO strikes against Croatian army, to prevent further atrocities against civilians.

Of course, that never happened, especially if we know that Croatian operation Storm, was directly supervised by the retired US generals (via Pentagon military contractor MPRI), while US Air Force conducted air raids against Serbian Air Defense systems in Krajina, and CIA officers operated surveillance drones, which provided intelligence for advancing Croatian troops, from two Croatian bases in Adriatic.

Even, EU negotiator Carl Bildt, and US ambassador in Croatia Peter Galbraith, publically condemned Croatian atrocities in Krajina- but they too stayed short of requesting some concrete and punitive measures.

" It is important that these [Serb] civilians start moving and then the army will follow them, and when the columns start moving, they will have a psychological effect on each other. That means we provide them with an exit, while on the other hand we feign (pretend) to guarantee civilian human rights and the like " -- Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, during War Council meeting in July 1995

The only ones from UN troops who tried to prevent Croatian atrocities, and in couple occasions fought bravely against bloody-thirsty Croatian soldiers, where Canadian peacekeepers from "Patricia Company", but they too, where upon return to Canada, silenced and their experience never got real media traction. Their testimony simply did not fit with the Western agenda, that Serbs are the only bad guys

THE REAL ATROCIOUS OUTCOME OF THE BIGGEST ETHNIC CLEANSING IN POST-WWII EUROPE IS MUCH HIGHER, THEN THE OFFICIAL FIGURES STATE

While ICTY prosecutors accepted the fact that some 200,000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed in just couple of days from Krajina region, they "lowered" the number of murdered Serbian civilians to 324. Serbian sources on the ground documented 1,192 dead or missing civilians, while Croatian Helsinki Committee documented 677 killed.

Human Rights Watch documented at least 5,000 Serbian homes razed to the ground by Croatian forces, and HRW accused Croats for summary executions of elderly and disabled Serbs, who stayed behind due to inability or unwillingness to leave their homes. We can only imagine if the entire defenseless Serbian civilian population stayed behind, and faced bloody-thirsty Croatian soldiers- in that case we would be talking here about a full scale genocide, not "just" the ethnic cleansing!?

To better understand what kind of "Croatian justice" were facing defenseless Serbian civilians, who decided not to leave their homes during operation Storm, here is one excerpt from Wikipedia, describing one of many of Croatian "post-Storm" atrocities against innocent civilians-

"The Varivode massacre was a mass killing that occurred on 28 September 1995 in the village of Varivode , Croatia during the Croatian War of Independence . According to United Nations officials, soldiers of the Croatian Army (HV) and Croatian police killed nine Croatian Serb villagers, all of whom were between the ages of 60 and 85. [4] After the war, six former Croatian soldiers were tried for committing crimes in the village, but were all eventually released due to lack of evidence On the night of 28 September 1995, Croatian soldiers entered the village of Varivode and killed nine elderly Serb villagers. The civilians that were killed were Jovan Berić, Marko Berić, Milka Berić, Radivoje Berić, Marija Berić, Dušan Dukić, Jovo Berić, Špiro Berić and Mirko Pokrajac. After the executions occurred, the bodies were buried in a cemetery near the village without the knowledge of the families of the victims. [4] After the massacre, Croatian authorities denied reports of widespread atrocities targeting Serbs and said that they were propaganda. Later, the government blamed the atrocities on uncontrollable elements within the Croatian Army and Croatian police. [25] Christiane Amanpour 's report from October 1995 said that the "United Nations believes 12 Serb civilians were massacred." [25] In the first one hundred days following Operation Storm, at least 150 Serb civilians were summarily executed, and many hundreds disappeared as part of a widespread campaign of revenge against Croatia's Serb minority. [26] The bodies of the killed Serbs were never exhumed, autopsies were never performed and much of the evidence that could have been used against the perpetrators of the crime was discarded. [27] Despite this, six Croatian soldiers were tried for committing crimes in the village. The soldiers were Ivan Jakovljević, Peri Perković, Neđeljko Mijić, Zlatko Ladović, Ivica Petrić and Nikola Rašić. However, in 2002 they were all released due to the lack of evidence against them. [27] In July 2012, the Supreme Court of Croatia ruled that the Republic of Croatia was responsible for the deaths of the nine Serb villagers who were killed in Varivode. The Supreme Court declared, "two months after the conclusion of Operation Storm, an act of terrorism was committed against the Serb inhabitants of Varivode for the purpose of causing fear, hopelessness and to spread feelings of personal insecurity among the citizens." [35]Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varivode_massacre

By 2012, Croatian government received 6,390 reports about committed war crimes against Serbian civilians, during and after operation Storm, but did little or nothing to bring the perpetrators to justice.

To make things worse and more humiliating for surviving Krajina Serbs, Croatian government is still refusing to return (or reimburse) 140,000 Serbian homes, stolen from ethnic Serbs. 795 Serbs, presumed dead, are still missing, 1,604 bodies were retrieved- according to NGO "Veritas".

Croats were attacking Krajina using the strategy of "Scorched Earth", with unconditional US support

DID THE CROATS SUCCESSFULLY BLACKMAIL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTO SUBMISSION, FORCING THEM TO OVERTURN THE INITIAL ICTY RULING!?

Defense ministers celebrating the joint outcome of the biggest ethnic cleansing in Europe since WWII- Left: US William Perry, Right: CRO Gojkos Susak

The initial ICTY ruling in 2011, which sentenced Croatian generals Gotovina and Markac to long term imprisonment, was expected, and very well supported by the "conclusive evidence". Even, according to many international experts, this sentencing was not enough tough, and did not cover the full scale of war crimes and atrocities, committed by Croatian political and military leadership, during and in the aftermath of operation Storm. Still, many Serbian victims were satisfied that they finally achieved at least some justice

So, when in November 2012 ICTY appeal chamber ruled that Croatian generals are innocent of all charges and free to go, the news came to many as a complete shock, and reaffirmed them in a belief that ICTY tribunal is just another NATO war tool, in their efforts to punish and humiliate, not only the Serbian government, but the numerous Serbian victims of civil wars in 90ies, whose executors were never (and probably never will be) brought to justice.

The ruling was very controversial, not only because it ignored all the hard evidence, including the forensics and the testimony of the international observers, but because the formal excuse for the liberating judgment was – that in the prosecutor documents were missing the Croatian artillery log books, that according to the Appeal chamber, were the only document that would prove the Croatian intent to drive Serbian population from Krajina. The same books were previously repeatedly requested by the ICTY prosecutors, and Croatia did not even deny its existence, but simply refused to cooperate with ICTY and hand them over. Finally, when in 2008 Croatia was warned by European leaders that non-cooperation with ICTY might affect the prospect of its EU membership – somebody from the Croatian leadership simply destroyed these books, and they informed Hague tribunal that Artillery logs no longer exist. Even such provocative and blunt obstruction of the international justice by the Croatian government, did not result in any repercussions for them, and practically they were forgiven for their deeds. Crime pays – doesn't it?

Anyway, ICTY tribunal had plenty of other evidence, proving the intentional destruction of Serbian civilian infrastructure was very well documented by the international observers, and in April 2011 ICTY had no choice but to sentence general Gotovina to 24 years, and general Markac to 18 years.

Another fact that indicates that Appeal chamber' ruling was the political one, and result of some external interference was its split decision – the chamber ruled by the majority decision 3 – 2, implying that there were serious doubts and disagreements, by at least two of the Appeal chamber judges.

"American concern is that if General Gotovina is arrested he may carry out a threat to disclose previously unknown extent of US covert involvement in the Krajina offensive " – London Times, June 14th, 2003.

Gotovina was arrested, but only shortly, until Croatian blackmail convinced their US masters, to pull strings in ICTY, and free him unconditionally

CROATIAN OFFICIALS PROVIDED A PLENTY OF EVIDENCE THAT U.S. GOVERNMENT WAS INVOLVED IN "STORM" MILITARILY, AND HAD A FULL CONTROL OVER WAR (CRIMES) ACTIVITIES THAT TOOK PLACE ON THE GROUND

As soon the ICTY indictments against Croatian leaders were announced in 2001, the Croatian government, NGOs, public, and very well organized and connected diaspora, displayed anger and disagreement, promising that they will do everything in their power to obstruct ICTY investigations and prevent trials against their "national heroes". When in 2011, the first instance judgment by ICTY was issued and Croatian generals were sentenced to long term imprisonment, the Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and President Ivo Josipovic publicly expressed their shock and rejection of the ruling, promising to help to overturn the judgment, on appeal!?

And they started their campaign – of obstruction of justice, of abetting the accused war criminals, of the intimidation, and finally, of the blackmail, of ICTY and US officials –

On July 4th, 2002, NGO associated with Croatian government "Croatian World Congress- CWC" filed complaint with ICTY citing what proofs, about US direct involvement in ethnic cleansing of Krajina, they have:

" US officials aided General Gotovina and the Croatian army in operation Storm by violating UN arms embargo and allowing Croatia to obtain weapons US officials established a CIA base inside General Gotovina' military base, which provided the US officials with real-time video footage of events transpiring on the ground during Operation Storm (and thus imputing to them knowledge of events on the ground ), but also from which they could provide such intelligence data to General Gotovina to assist him in conducting Operation Storm . If General Gotovina carried out pre-planed campaign to deport 150,000 to 200,000 Croatian Serbian civilians, the CIA base was not only used to provide knowledge to US officials of such plan and course of conduct on the part of General Gotovina , but was also used to assist General Gotovina in achieving the goals of his alleged plan . The US official gave the green light for the Operation and provided diplomatic and political support for it . The US officials at all times had the ability to halt the military operations . Accordingly, the US officials named in the complaint should be indicted for having aided and abetted General Gotovina. "

Ethnic cleansing in Krajina was the joint US/CRO criminal enterprise History will be the judge

If you read carefully through this CWC statement (threat), they are not even trying to deny Gotovina' war crimes, they are just implying bluntly, that if their lovely General was sentenced, they would gladly provide ICTY with the evidence of Croatian-American "Joint criminal enterprise to forcibly remove the Serb population from Croatia ", as it states the ICTY indictment from 2001, of course omitting the US participation (which was the very secret deal, at least until Croatian officials started "mouthing" their "American friends").

Croatian complaint to ICTY specifically named the highest US officials, alleging that they, along General Gotovina, committed too war crimes against Serbian population:

"On behalf of the Croatian World Congress, a non-governmental organization that is a member of the United Nations with advisory status, you are hereby notified pursuant to Article 18(1) of the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia of the existence of information concerning serious violations of international humanitarian law (hereinafter "IHL"), namely that officials of the United States of America, including but not limited to William Jefferson Clinton , Anthony Lake , Samuel Berger , Richard Holbrooke , Peter Galbraith and/or George J. Tenet (hereinafter collectively referred to as "U.S. officials"), aided and abetted Croatian General Ante Gotovina , who was indicted by your office on 8 June 2001."

War Criminals at work together- Croatian general Kresimir Cosic and US supreme commander general Wesley Clark

We are not going here to present detailed evidence of US crimes, committed during the operation Storm. Of course, the Croatian war crimes on the ground were very brutal, systematic and savage, they did "the physical work", but from the evidence provided by numerous Croatian officials and their organizations, it is very obvious, that operation Storm would never happen, or if happened never would be successful, without US military support and direct supervision, or without US approval.

Just to give you "a taste" what kind of American support Croats were enjoying during their atrocious operation against innocent Serbian civilians, will present you with some documented facts:

The Green Light for the operation came a couple days prior the assault- President Clinton passed the order directly to US military attaché in Zagreb Colonel Richard Herrick; Herrick passed order to Croatian head of military intelligence Markica Rebic (the others involved directly were defense minister Gojko Susak, Miro Tudjman and Miro Medimurac, heads of Secret Service and Intelligence Service). US masters were so pleased with Rebic' service, that they rewarded him with Meritorious Service Medal, delivered to him by Ambassador Galbraith in 1996. The other people from USG involved in this joint criminal enterprise with Croats, in addition to Clinton, were Anthony Lake and William Perry. US masters imposed the time limit on operation Storm- it had to be completed in 5 days.

Long before the Storm, in 1992 USG with Croatian approval established CIA reconnaissance base on island of Brac, from where CIA operators were flying unmanned aircraft spying on Serbian positions in Krajina, Bosnia and part of Serbia itself. USG requested that this cooperation to be held a top secret, so outsiders don't find that US is taking sides in the Balkans' civil wars. But it did not stay for too long the top secret. On January 1st, 1994, Croatian state security apprehended a spy on the base perimeter. They delivered him right away to General Gotovina, to find out it was their German ally, precisely it was German military attaché Hans Schwan.

This incident alerted USG, which wanted to conceal any covert activities on behalf of CG, so they promptly removed CIA base to new secret location, in Sepurina, near city of Zadar. This new location was covered by three security layers, to ensure the full secrecy. From new base CIA started immediately collecting photographic and video evidence of Serbian activities in Krajina and Bosnia, and passing them to Croats, and to Pentagon. There was 24 hours, 6 member intelligence crew, present on site- consisting of three CIA and three Croatian military officers.

Croatian military base Sepurine, near Zadar, from which CIA operated drones, aiding operation Storm, and providing live video feed of "military activities" on the ground to Pentagon

"STORM" WASN'T THE FIRST ETHNIC CLEANSING, UNDERTAKEN BY CROATIA AND US, AS A JOINT CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE:

It is interesting that disgruntled (by ICTY indictment) Croatian Officials and Croatian World Congress body, in their complaint to ICTY, are providing the evidence about USG intelligence and logistical support for another Croatian genocidal operation, named Flash, that took place in Western Slavonia, between May 1st and 3rd, 1995, which resulted in another complete ethnic cleansing of Serbian population- prior to the operation this area was populated by 29,000 Serbs, after Flash, only 1,500 remained.

The number of killed civilians is unknown because Croats prevented UNPROFOR troops from accessing the area, until they did "the sanitation" (read: removing the evidence of their crimes, because entire Serbian refugee columns were massacred and overran by Croatian tanks). Estimates of killed civilians rage between one hundred to couple thousands. Another example of "the successful US-CRO joint criminal enterprise"?

The interesting details, revealed here by Croatian sources, is- that US military attaché Herrick was attached to the Croatian mobile military command, during the genocidal operation Flash, supervising it directly- and the head of CIA branch in Zagreb Marc Kelton was directly coordinating expulsion of Slavonia' Serbs, with Croatian president Tudjman son Miro.

In the eve of the attack on Krajina, on August 4th 1995, between midnight and 4 a.m. Croatian forces were ordered to turn off all telecommunication devices, to unable US air force to electronically disable all Serbian communications.

The outcome of Joint US/CRO "justice"

According to NATO spokesman Jim Mitchell in Aviano, Italy, two US military planes EA-6B Prowlers were dispatched to Krajina air space. USAF planes, on the top of jamming Serbian telecommunications, destroyed the airport Udbine, and Radar and Serbian Air Defense near Knin, in order to prevent any Serbian air support or defence, against invading Croatian forces.

Here, US military attaché Herrick was replaced by the Colonel John Sadler, who was embedded with Gotovina command unit, directly supervising operation Storm. Pentagon was also directly monitoring the operation via live video feed.

Shortly after the biggest joint (US/CRO) ethnic cleansing in Europe was completed, US head of DIA General Colonel Patrick Hughes visited Croatia to coordinate further military actions against Serbs in Bosnia and if necessary in Republic of Serbia

Crime pays, doesn't

[Aug 02, 2018] This is a large book, embracing a vast amount of research. Conclusion is that accommodation with Putin will be very difficult

Events in Ukraine after EuroMaidan are notoriously difficult to understand.
The book is fairly recent and as such might be a useful introduction for a Western reader who is interested in Ukrainian event, but the material should be taken with a grain of salt. The author is way too simplistic and his views on geopolitical problems are incorrect. The idea that " Putin's Munich speech as a declaration of war" is nonsense. Also most of the readers probably know State Department talking points and can recognize them in the text.
. In some areas the author is clearly incompetent as the quote "In 2016, France blocked 24,000 cyber attacks targeting its military. Ukraine experienced 24, 000 cyber attacks in only the last two months of 2016" suggests.
The author views of Russia are typical of the US-based Ukrainian diaspora. As it is pretty much radicalized, it can be argued that it brings to Ukraine more harm then good. In short his views on Russia can be defined as cocktail of a 40% proof Russophobia with pure Neoconservatism. So while author analysis of "Post-Maydan" Ukrainian elite has its value, his view on Russia should probably be discarded.
For those who also bough McFaul book it is interesting to see correlation in views as well as differences (especially McFaul laments from page 429 to the end of the book) . McFaul was the co-architect of the 2011-2012 color revolution in Russia; and as an Ambassador became ostracized by Russian and later removed by Obama. For his role in "White color revolution of 2012" McFaul was put on the travel ban list by Russians and is not allowed to travel to the country. Both represent neoconservative stance on the events, but there are some subtle and rather interesting differences ;-)
Some Amazon reviews as one reproduced below are actually as valuable as the book itself and can serve as a valuable addition.
Aug 02, 2018 | www.amazon.com
5.0 out of 5 stars Graham H. Seibert TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 17, 2017
This is a large book, embracing a vast amount of research. Conclusion is that accommodation with Putin will be very difficult.

This is a large book, embracing a vast amount of research. Kuzio provides the conclusion to the book as the conclusion to his introduction. It is somber, but realistic:

"There cannot be a conclusion to the book because the Donbas is an unresolved conflict that is on-going. There will be no closure of the Ukraine-Russia crisis as long as Putin is Russian president which will be as long as he remains alive. To fully implement the Minsk-2 Accords would mean jettisoning the DNR-LNR which Putin will not do and therefore, a political resolution to the Donbas conflict is difficult to envisage."

Having lived in Kyiv for ten years, I was witness to the latter chapters of the drama that Kuzio describes. His account jibes with what I witnessed, and provides a coherent explanation of the events as they unfolded. The animus against Yanukovych was universal. His blatant theft was visible to all. Every merchant I dealt with lived in fear of his tax police. We saw, or more often read accounts about, the depredations of the titushki on a daily basis.

One of my key questions in 2014 was whether it might have been better to endure Yanukovych for another couple of years, until the elections. The Ukrainian people answered for me -- they had had enough. It wasn't exactly a coup, because the opposition was not well organized and because Yanukovych fled before he could be overthrown. But the will of the people was clear. He had to go. Kuzio makes a strong case that if it had not happened then, Yanukovych might have had time to secure his dictatorship in such a way that he could not be dislodged through democratic means.

Kuzio provides the most thorough and accurate description of the language situation I have ever read. A fact he often repeats is that a majority of the soldiers fighting against the Russians are themselves Russian speakers. Putin's claim that he is protecting a persecuted linguistic minority is absolute nonsense. Kuzio makes the very useful analogy between the use of English in Ireland and that of Russian in Ukraine. It is a matter of history and convenience.

Ukrainian is not a dialect of Russian. They are very distinct languages. Speaking Spanish, I was able to learn Portuguese quite easily. Speaking Russian has not enabled me to master Ukrainian. They have different alphabets and even different grammars. As a resident of Kyiv for 10 years I have not been forced to, and almost not been in a position to speak Ukrainian. Everybody I interact with is exactly as Kuzio describes – ardently Ukrainian, but nevertheless Russian speaking.

A question Kuzio does not raise is the utility of a language. For better or worse, Russian is a world language. There is a significant body of scientific literature, fiction and poetry written in Russian. It is, or was until recently, the lingua franca of the former USSR.

A lot of information about Kuzio himself is packed in the brief lead into his chapter entitled Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism: "Ukraine is in the hands of homosexuals and Jewish oligarchs. Aleksandr Dugin"

Russian philosopher Dugin is one of Kuzio's major bête noire's. Kuzio's book makes it clear that Dugin is as much of an activist as he is a philosopher. Dugin seems to have a hand in most things anti-Ukrainian. As a philosopher he is nothing – his book The Fourth Political Theory is the subject of the most savage pan I have ever written. Nonetheless, he is taken seriously by the resurgent Russian nationalists and Putin himself.

Dugin's claim that Ukraine is in the hands of homosexuals is absurd. Homosexuals are tolerated here, but they are discrete. Most Ukrainians, though they have no love whatsoever for Russia, are largely in sympathy with Russia's stand against the flaunting of homosexuality. The college-educated twentysomethings whom I know seem unaware that they even know homosexuals, though it appears to this San Franciscan that some people in our circles must be gay.

The claim that Ukraine is in the hand of Jewish oligarchs is quite another matter. Kuzio gives quite rational explanations for anti-Ukrainian, anti-Belarusian and anti-Russian sentiment, a great deal of which he manifests himself. He somehow looks at anti-Semitism as a phenomenon that is beyond explanation. I would contend that it should be regarded just as the other anti- concepts. Especially in the former USSR, where the Jews were regarded as a separate people in the same way as Ukrainians.

He writes about the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Fraud or hoax might be a better word. Internet sources name the author as a certain Russian Professor S. Nilus writing in 1901. The attractiveness of the fraud is that it coincides quite neatly with widely held opinions about the Jews, many of which have some substance.

Going to substance, Kuzio mentions some of the major Jewish oligarchs, Kolomoisky and Taruta, and some of the Jewish participants and Ukrainian politics: Yatsenyuk and Groisman. He discounts the notion that President Poroshenko's father, born Valtzman, was Jewish. I had never heard this account questioned. Other prominent Jews in Ukrainian politics/oligarchy who come immediately to mind include Feldman and Rabinowitz. It is not that there is anything wrong with Jews occupying dominant positions, but "simple Ivan" is not so stupid as to fail to notice them. It is also widely perceived that the Jewish oligarchs are no better or worse than the others, in that they put their personal interests ahead of that of the people who elected them. Poroshenko has been a major disappointment. Kuzio writes of Kolomoisky's support of the volunteer battalions in Donbas. True – but it was totally in line with his business interests.

The fact that six of the seven billionaires to emerge after the collapse of the USSR were Jewish belies Kuzio's claims that they were radically disadvantaged in the USSR. More balanced accounts of Soviet Judaism have been written by Robert Wistrich , Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Yuri Slezkine .

Even a paranoid has enemies. American Jewish neocons, especially Victoria Nuland and husband Robert Kagan, actively involved in Ukrainian politics, were strongly anti-Russian. Though Kuzio is absolutely correct that the animus of the Ukrainian people for Yanukovych was more than enough to power the Maidan uprising, it is also probably true that the CIA was covertly abetting the protesters.

Kuzio's history of the Donbas and Crimea provides a very useful background to the conflict. After the Welsh engineer John Hughes discovered coal around Donetsk in the 1880s there was a rush to exploit it. The sparse population of Ukrainian farmers was not interested in working the mines. The Russians brought in men from all over the Empire. A large number were criminals who earned early release by promising to work there. Others were simply soldiers of fortune.

Mining is dirty, dangerous and very masculine work. Kuzio reports that the history of the Donbas always mirrored the miners themselves. Politically, it sat in the middle between the Russians and the Ukrainians, respecting neither very much and casting its lot with whoever appeared at the moment to be most generous to them, more often Moscow than Kyiv.

Kuzio relates that Lenin included the Donbas within the Ukrainian SSR as a built-in fifth column, as a lever to control all of Ukraine. It remained after independence in 1991. The Donbas' unique culture and clannishness protected its politicians from probing inquiries into their dark pasts, such as Yanukovych' two prison terms. They would overlook his depredations and send him to Kyiv with the idea that "he's a crook, but he's our crook."

Crimea's history is even more convoluted, but the bottom line is that it has always been Russian speaking and did not identify greatly with Ukraine.

Kuzio reports, seemingly approvingly, that fellow author Alexander Motyl believes that Ukraine would be better off without these insubordinate, intransigent ingrates.

In the end, Kuzio sums the origins of the crisis up very well, "The roots of the Ukraine-Russia crisis do not lie in EU and NATO enlargement and democracy promotion, as left-wing scholars and realists would have us believe, but in two factors. The first is Russia's and specifically Putin's unwillingness to accept Ukrainians are a separate people and Ukraine is an independent state with a sovereign right to determine its geopolitical alliances. The second is Yanukovych and the Donetsk clan's penchant for the monopolization of power, state capture, corporate raiding of the state and willingness to accommodate practically every demand made by Moscow that culminated in treason on a grand scale. This was coupled with a shift to Sovietophile and Ukrainophobic nationality policies and return to Soviet style treatment of political opponents. Taken together, these policies made popular protests inevitable in the 2015 elections but they came a year earlier after Yanukovych bowed to Russian pressure to back away from the EU Association Agreement. These protests, in turn, became violent and nationalistic in response to the Party of Regions and KPU's destruction of Ukraine's democracy through the passing of draconian legislation, the president's refusal to compromise and his use of vigilantes and police spetsnaz for political repression, torture, and murders of protestors."

The question facing Ukraine at the moment is how to resolve the war in Donbas and how to prevent Russia from making further incursions. Kuzio shares some very useful insights in this regard.

Even in 2014, Russia simply did not have the resources to conquer Ukraine even if it had had the desire. Kuzio repeatedly makes the point that the Russian doctrine of hybrid war depends on a sympathetic or at least indifferent local populace. Even in the Donbass the Russians have not been welcomed by a majority.

Time and again, Putin proves himself too smart by half. In his desire to maintain deniability, he employed Chechens, Don Cossacks and "political tourists," thugs from all over Russia to infiltrate the Donbass as separatists. Criminals are simply not suited for either civil administration or organized warfare. After three months it was clear to Putin that he had to use Russian troops and administrators, pushing the separatists aside. Not mentioned in the book is the fact that a great many of the separatist leaders died mysteriously. Although Russia attempted to frame Ukraine for "Motorola's" death, it appears to have been done by Russian agents. Russia's trecherous duplicity neither won the war for them no fooled anybody for very long.

Russia has thus had several handicaps in capturing and holding even the small, Russophone and previously Russophile enclaves in Lugansk and Donetsk. The LPR and DPR would not survive without ongoing Russian support. They have not won the hearts and minds of the people.

This calls to mind Custine's Penguin Classics Letters From Russia on the fact that Russian duplicity and deceit made it impossible for them ever to subvert the West. Alexandr Zinoviev summed it up exquisitely in his satirical Homo Sovieticus :

"Even though the West seems chaotic, frivolous and defenseless, all the same Moscow will never achieve worldwide supremacy. Moscow can defend itself against any opponent. Moscow can deliver a knockout blow on the west. Moscow has the wherewithal to mess up the whole planet. But it has no chance of becoming the ruler of the world. To rule the world one must have at one's disposal a sufficiently great nation. That nation must feel itself to be a nation of rulers. And when it comes to it, one that can rule in reality. In the Soviet Union the Russians are the only people who might be suited to that role. They are the foundation and the bulwark of the Empire. But they don't possess the qualities of a ruling nation. And in the Soviet empire their situation is more like that of being a colony for all the other peoples in it."

This is the bottom line, something for the warmongers in Washington to keep in mind. Ukraine and NATO cannot defeat Russia on its own doorstep, but Russia can certainly defeat itself. For NATO to arm Ukraine, as the west did Georgia, or continue to crowd it as they are doing in the Baltics, is counterproductive. It would be quite possible, but also quite stupid for Russia to roll over its neighbors. The adventure in Ukraine has already been expensive, and holding Crimea and Donbas will only become more so. Conversely, for the west to arm countries against the Russians, as the US did in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Nicaragua, proved quite deadly for these supposed friends. Ukraine and the west should wait Putin out just as they waited out the USSR.

I have a couple of quibbles with the book. Kuzio uses the word "Fascist" to characterize various Russian nationalist groups that support Putin and attack Ukrainians. Fascism died with Hitler, 72 years ago. There should be a better term. This is especially true as Putin terms Ukrainians as "Fascists." The word is inappropriate, old and clichéd.

Kuzio goes on to paint the rising nationalist movements in Europe as Fascist, or extreme right wing. He excoriates Marine le Pen for taking Putin's money. There is a strong case to be made that anti-democrats, supported by mainstream parties, have seized the European Parliament and strongly suppressed free speech, open debate and the ability of such nationalists to find funding. Their national banks are prejudicially closed to Farage, Wilders, Orban, le Pen and the others. Kuzio should be more accommodating to the nationalists. Ukraine may soon find itself forced to work with them. Moreover, they have many good points. Generation Identity provides a succinct summary. It is a book of the millennial generation, the nationalists' strongest base, outlining their case against their elders, the boomers.

Ukraine is a conservative country. It is not wise to push the west's liberal agendas with regard to immigration, homosexuality, feminism and civil rights for the Roma and at the same time steel Ukraine for its fight against Russia. Even joining the battle against corruption smells of hypocrisy, as evidence of political corruption emerges all over the west. It is better to recognize the simple facts, as Kuzio does, and have a bit of faith. Ukraine managed against stiffer odds in 2014. It will survive.

[Jul 27, 2018] What Has Happened to Ukraine. Inertial Scenario for Ukraine's National and Political Identity by Alexei V. Popov

The author provides some interesting observations... He ignores the role of economics though.
Looks like a replay of events in Baltic republics. Might increase emigration and "provisialization" of Ukraine because Russian is suppressed but English did not became the second language (which is probably impossible without switching education into English language). Dominance of EU might be more harsh regime, then most of the supporters of Eurointergation assume, especially in economic sphere -- the status of semi-colony and debt slave are given, but it can be worse.
Economic suffering of population and pauperization of Ukraine are immense...
Notable quotes:
"... Yet, at least half of the population of all eight administrative regions of mainland South-East Ukraine viewed the Euromaidan as a coup, because, according to a survey conducted in early April 2014 by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, only a third of respondents in these regions (the survey was not conducted in Crimea and Sevastopol) considered Yatsenyuk and Turchinov legitimate heads of government and state, while half of respondents considered them illegitimate (Kiev International Institute of Sociology, 2014c). ..."
"... The conformism of the South-East elite, which only recently was at the head of the anti-Maidan movement, surpassed the conformism of society many times over, because this elite had much to lose. ..."
"... The situation with Crimea was another factor that objectively strengthened Kiev's position in the South-East. ..."
"... This predictably could not increase pro-Russian sentiments in the rest of Ukraine. ..."
"... anti-Russian forces took an increasingly tough position, describing all talk of federalization as separatism. ..."
"... the winners of the Euromaidan Crimea was not a reason but a pretext for starting a policy of de-Russification. However, these events influenced the political swamp, that is, citizens without a clear position, and strengthened the base of the current regime, as evidenced by the results of public opinion polls and elections. ..."
"... the Europeans played up to Kiev in criminalizing the notion 'federation,' because for the West the Ukrainian problem is part of the Russian problem ..."
"... The West views them as paramilitary organizations which established power in those regions with external help and imposed themselves on the population. ..."
"... This position of the West strengthened the attitude of the pro-Western liberal public in Ukraine towards people in the South-East as sovok ..."
"... the "discursive violence of the Ukrainian media" in late February-early April 2014 paved the way for the "brutality of the antiterrorist operation" by creating a negative image of people of the South-East. ..."
"... Ukrayinska Pravda, Livyi Bereg, ..."
"... At the same time, Ukrainian radical nationalism objectively was an instrument which Ukrainian [neo]liberals used to achieve victory. ..."
"... However, positive dynamics for either party to the conflict is not only measured by territories they seize -- it is seen in the fact that actions, formerly deemed impossible, turn out to be possible and not having obvious negative consequences. For example, the implementation of the political part of the Minsk Agreement (which both Kiev and the West consider imposed on Ukraine from the outside) now seems to be a much more illusory goal than it seemed in 2014-2015. ..."
"... In particular, Kiev has rescinded a bill on constitutional amendments regarding decentralization; an economic blockade of Donbass has been introduced; and several laws have been passed and measures taken to combat the Russian World, both inside and outside the country. ..."
"... The law on the reintegration of Donbass, passed by the Verkhovna Rada this January, was a logical development and a new stage of this policy. Its purpose is not so much to recognize the territories beyond Kiev's control as occupied by Russia. What is more important is that the law recognizes this state de facto without a formal recognition of the war with Russia de jure. ..."
"... This positive dynamics creates a situation where a critical mass of society thinks that at least Ukraine will not find itself in the same difficult situation as in the spring of 2014 and that, at best, it will restore full control over Donbass on its terms: Russia will not withstand the sanctions and will stop supporting the uncontrolled territories. The policy of the West does not contradict these expectations: the sanctions continue, there is almost no public criticism of Kiev's actions in Donbass at the state level, except for minor issues, and the U.S. has decided to supply Javelin antitank missiles to Ukraine, which is largely a symbolic gesture fitting perfectly into the aforementioned pattern of positive dynamics. ..."
"... Of course, very many of the above-mentioned elements of the positive (for Kiev) dynamics also have a great negative effect. For example, the existing format of the conflict in Donbass involves great military expenditures and leads to reduced ties with Russia, which is a significant burden for the Ukrainian economy. ..."
"... The present scale of losses of the Ukrainian army is not a factor that may spark a mass antiwar movement in the country, similar to the antiwar movement in the United States in the late 1960s, because the ratio of casualties to population in Ukraine is much smaller than that in the U.S. during the Vietnam War. ..."
"... Naturally, the economic situation in Ukraine is much less stable than that of the U.S. during the Vietnam War. However, in the public consciousness, the war is only one factor behind the economic problems (along with corruption, incompetence of the authorities, etc.). ..."
"... The war has advantages, too. Of course, they would have disappeared in the event of a full-scale conflict, but Kiev is confident that this will never happen. In a situation like this, it finds it simpler to mobilize society, convince it to put up with difficulties and, most importantly, format the political and information space in an advantageous way. Beneficiaries of this reformatting include not only the government but also a wide range of parties and politicians who supported the Euromaidan. ..."
"... So, the current format of the conflict strengthens the political regime in Ukraine, which is actually the closest to regimes of limited political competition, such as those that existed in some countries of Central and Eastern Europe during the interwar period in the 20th century, or some Latin American countries (Brazil and Guatemala) after the Second World War. There is formal pluralism and a real possibility of succession of power there, yet real power can be contested only by forces from one political spectrum, whereas forces that are beyond this spectrum are restrained and can only aspire to seats in parliament. ..."
"... support is limited -- the West will not fight for Ukraine and will not provide aid on a scale comparable to the Marshall Plan. ..."
"... Already now, due to migration, the population of the territory now controlled by Kiev is less than 30 million people (judging by bread consumption statistics). ..."
"... This means it has decreased by more than 40 percent since 1991. ..."
"... As regards Ukraine's admission to NATO, many Western European countries oppose this option. On the other hand, they have not proposed any detailed plan for Ukraine's non-aligned status. Objectively, such status would be best guaranteed by the specifics of the state's internal structure, when accession to a military alliance would require a consensus of the regions. ..."
"... If this state collapses due to external factors, the identity of a large part of its present population may change very quickly, as evidenced by the experience of the 17th century and recent decades. ..."
Jul 27, 2018 | eng.globalaffairs.ru

In Ukraine, however, the switching of sides takes place on a larger scale. For example, President Kuchma and Prime Minister Yanukovich had a majority in the Verkhovna Rada elected in 2002, which decreased somewhat in the last few months before the 2004 elections. Yet, newly elected President Yushchenko did not have any problems with the same parliament. The Ukrainian parliament elected in 2007 supported Prime Minister Timoshenko, but after Yanukovich won a presidential election in February 2010 he had a solid majority in it until the next election. Yanukovich also had a majority in parliament elected in 2012 until the last days of the Euromaidan. However, after the victory of the Euromaidan, a coalition was formed in parliament that supported the new authorities. It united factions and groups of 235 deputies in the 450-seat parliament, of whom 69 did not belong to pro-Euromaidan parties. Also, 371 deputies, including almost all deputies from the Party of Regions, voted to appoint Yatsenyuk as prime minister.

Can these figures serve as grounds to classify the Euromaidan as a coup d'état and accuse the new regime of failing to build a government of national accord, provided for by the agreement between Yanukovich and the opposition? A coup d'état presupposes suspending and resetting the functioning of government institutions, whereas this agreement did not specify what a national accord government should look like. On the other hand, the essence of such governments is to unite people of different political views, rather than make their members and supporters give up their former beliefs.

Yet, at least half of the population of all eight administrative regions of mainland South-East Ukraine viewed the Euromaidan as a coup, because, according to a survey conducted in early April 2014 by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, only a third of respondents in these regions (the survey was not conducted in Crimea and Sevastopol) considered Yatsenyuk and Turchinov legitimate heads of government and state, while half of respondents considered them illegitimate (Kiev International Institute of Sociology, 2014c). However, the elite of the South-East did not question the legitimacy of the new government. The most it was ready to do was consider this government undesirable and due to be replaced at the next election.

The conformism of the South-East elite, which only recently was at the head of the anti-Maidan movement, surpassed the conformism of society many times over, because this elite had much to lose. But in this situation, the masses of protesters who considered the Euromaidan a coup found themselves without their usual leaders. New leaders emerged spontaneously from among protesters and were not viewed as authoritative by those who did not take part in the protests. The depth of the gap between the masses and the elites can be seen from the following fact: There is the émigré Ukraine Salvation Committee in Moscow, headed by former Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov, which positions itself as almost a government in exile. The Committee considers the hostilities in Donbass a civil war and, therefore, does not view the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics as occupation administrations. Yet, it has no contact with the leaders of these republics, which also consider themselves an alternative Ukraine.

Although there was less conformism among the masses than among the elites, it still made the protests in the South-East less widespread than they might have been if there had been a sign of dual power, for example, if Yanukovich and the part of the elite, including parliament deputies, who did not recognize the new regime had tried to create alternative government institutions. This conformism made many people accept on faith the assurances of the new government about broad decentralization, including the humanitarian sphere.

The situation with Crimea was another factor that objectively strengthened Kiev's position in the South-East. Beginning in March, Crimea and Sevastopol, which could have been at the vanguard of protests for reformatting Ukraine, withdrew from the political field of the country by joining Russia. This predictably could not increase pro-Russian sentiments in the rest of Ukraine. Formerly, public opinion polls had invariably showed a good attitude of the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians towards Russia. However, during the conflicts over Tuzla in 2003 and the gas dispute of 2009 their attitude deteriorated significantly. Now it happened again, only this time the conflict was much more serious. Attempts by the state which annexed part of Ukrainian territory to act as an arbiter and, at the same time, pressure Kiev to reformat Ukraine into a federation, in which the voice of the South-East should be heard, were predictably doomed to failure. Even potential supporters of Russia doubted the impartiality of such arbitration, and anti-Russian forces took an increasingly tough position, describing all talk of federalization as separatism.

True, Ukrainians who were firmly pro-Russian did not become more hostile to Russia because of Crimea, while for the winners of the Euromaidan Crimea was not a reason but a pretext for starting a policy of de-Russification. However, these events influenced the political swamp, that is, citizens without a clear position, and strengthened the base of the current regime, as evidenced by the results of public opinion polls and elections. EUROPEAN INTEGRATION VS COMPROMISE

On the other hand, it would be legitimate to ask whether the victory of the Euromaidan necessarily had to lead to a war, and whether a compromise could have been reached with the masses of the discontented in the South-East at an early stage. My answer is "no."

The short history of independent Ukraine developed, on the one hand, as a history of steady integration into European and world (but Western-controlled) organizations, and on the other hand, as a history of crises which became increasingly explosive and which ended in increasingly imperfect compromises. For some time, the relationship between these processes could be easily overlooked, but now it is much more difficult not to notice it. The February 2014 agreement on the settlement of the crisis, for the first time achieved with the participation of European guarantors, was also the first world agreement in the history of Ukraine that was not fulfilled. It was after the signing of the economic part of the Association Agreement that an anti-terrorist operation began in the East, and immediately after the political part of this agreement was signed (June 27, 2014), this operation entered into its largest-scale and bloodiest phase.

Of course, the West needed to put an end to Kiev's multi-vector policy and achieve unambiguous certainty for it. Hence its position on the language issue and the territorial structure of the country, which was most vividly realized in the April 2014 PACE resolution, which spoke of the inadmissibility of any mention of Ukraine's federalization (Parliamentary Assembly, 2014).

Obviously, the real problem was not in the word but in an optimal distribution of powers (for example, Spanish autonomous communities have more powers than Austrian federal lands), but the Europeans played up to Kiev in criminalizing the notion 'federation,' because for the West the Ukrainian problem is part of the Russian problem . Its attitude to the protests in the South-East and then the war in Donbass differed fundamentally from its attitude to an overwhelming majority of internal conflicts around the globe.

In the cases of Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh, ethnic Serbs in Croatia and Kosovo, Aceh in Indonesia, FARC in Colombia, etc., the West considered the leaders of separatists or insurgents legitimate representatives of certain ethnic or social groups who had taken over powers not provided for by the laws of their country. Their right to be a party to negotiations was not questioned. But the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics are in no way seen as self-proclaimed republics that reflect the views of their populations, even though illegitimately from the point of view of Ukrainian legislation. The West views them as paramilitary organizations which established power in those regions with external help and imposed themselves on the population.

This position of the West strengthened the attitude of the pro-Western liberal public in Ukraine towards people in the South-East as sovok (homo Sovieticus) and vatnik (bigots), whose opinion could be ignored. A recent study (Baysha, 2017) convincingly shows how the "discursive violence of the Ukrainian media" in late February-early April 2014 paved the way for the "brutality of the antiterrorist operation" by creating a negative image of people of the South-East. Importantly, these were not state-run, oligarchic or party nationalist media, although they did the same. These were popular websites, which are thought to be mouthpieces for liberal civil society ( Ukrayinska Pravda, Livyi Bereg, and Gordon ).

In other words, the conflict was a logical consequence of Westernization, rather than the rise of nationalism. Welcoming the successes of the Ukrainian army in July 2014, the European Parliament thus made it clear that this Westernization on the civilizational borders of Europe may not resemble the practices of major European countries. At the same time, Ukrainian radical nationalism objectively was an instrument which Ukrainian [neo]liberals used to achieve victory. True, it is not willing to play this role and wants to be something more than just an instrument. But behind the talk of the Banderization of Ukraine is a confusion of the notions of customer and contractor.

WAR IN AN ACCEPTABLE FORMAT

Of course, many of those who took part in the Euromaidan did not fight there for renaming Vatutin Avenue in Kiev as Shukhevich Avenue, or for banning the import of Russian books, including memoirs of Princess Yekaterina Dashkova, or for banning songs by Russian singers Vladimir Vysotsky and Victor Tsoi described as "tentacles of the Russian World" which leeched onto Ukrainians (definition by Vladimir Vyatrovich, the head of the Institute of National Memory, the most Euro-integrated organization of the Ukrainian government, which consistently advocates the idea of a nationalist "recoding" of Ukrainians). The voices of people who do not agree with this (for example, the poet and culturologist Evgenia Bilchenko) are sometimes heard in the media space, but the problem is whether these voices, together with the voices of those who were against the Euromaidan from the very beginning, can become a political factor.

I think this is almost ruled out under the most likely, inertial, scenario which provides for the development of tendencies that emerged after the victory of the Euromaidan and the preservation by Russia and the West of their behavioral models which have developed over recent years.

When assessing this scenario, one should bear in mind that the armed conflict in Donbass has over the last three years entered into a format that is the most advantageous (of all really possible ones) for Ukraine -- a low-intensity smoldering conflict.

This situation objectively predisposes one to see dynamics, positive for Kiev, in the conflict that began in 2014. At first, Ukraine surrendered Crimea to Russia and pro-Russian forces without a fight. At the next stage, however, it localized the offensive of the Russian World to Donbass, although it failed to take full control over the region. The result of this phase of the fight can be regarded as a draw, or Ukraine's defeat on points. But Crimea was lost through a knockout. After that, a defeat on points is still a better outcome.

The next, longest phase of the conflict has been going on without changes on the frontline. However, positive dynamics for either party to the conflict is not only measured by territories they seize -- it is seen in the fact that actions, formerly deemed impossible, turn out to be possible and not having obvious negative consequences. For example, the implementation of the political part of the Minsk Agreement (which both Kiev and the West consider imposed on Ukraine from the outside) now seems to be a much more illusory goal than it seemed in 2014-2015.

In particular, Kiev has rescinded a bill on constitutional amendments regarding decentralization; an economic blockade of Donbass has been introduced; and several laws have been passed and measures taken to combat the Russian World, both inside and outside the country. The latter include the termination of air service, a ban on remittances, restrictions on the import of Russian books, a ban on performances by some Russian entertainers, the actual abolition of the law "On the Basic Principles of the Language Policy," restrictions on the use of the Russian language on the Ukrainian radio and television and its abolition in education (with the exception of primary school), de-Russification of geographical names, and the removal of monuments.

Kiev views all these measures as non-military blows to the enemy, and the scale of such actions increases with every year.

The law on the reintegration of Donbass, passed by the Verkhovna Rada this January, was a logical development and a new stage of this policy. Its purpose is not so much to recognize the territories beyond Kiev's control as occupied by Russia. What is more important is that the law recognizes this state de facto without a formal recognition of the war with Russia de jure.

This positive dynamics creates a situation where a critical mass of society thinks that at least Ukraine will not find itself in the same difficult situation as in the spring of 2014 and that, at best, it will restore full control over Donbass on its terms: Russia will not withstand the sanctions and will stop supporting the uncontrolled territories. The policy of the West does not contradict these expectations: the sanctions continue, there is almost no public criticism of Kiev's actions in Donbass at the state level, except for minor issues, and the U.S. has decided to supply Javelin antitank missiles to Ukraine, which is largely a symbolic gesture fitting perfectly into the aforementioned pattern of positive dynamics.

For the reasons mentioned above, the West does not advocate a direct dialogue between Kiev and Donetsk/Lugansk, but considers the existing level of conflict with more and more victims an obviously lesser evil than a possible strengthening of the self-proclaimed republics. This clearly follows from the statement of German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel about the inadmissibility of Russia's proposal on a UN peacekeeping mission, which provides for the separation of the warring parties by peacekeepers, to be deployed along the frontline, and the protection of the OSCE mission, because that would only mean freezing the conflict. (A meeting between Vladislav Surkov and Kurt Volker, which took place in Dubai during the writing of this article, showed that the Americans are nevertheless ready to accept the Russian format as the first phase of a peacekeeping mission; yet its practical implementation is still far off.)

Of course, very many of the above-mentioned elements of the positive (for Kiev) dynamics also have a great negative effect. For example, the existing format of the conflict in Donbass involves great military expenditures and leads to reduced ties with Russia, which is a significant burden for the Ukrainian economy. However, it is important to understand a balance between positive and negative aspects from Kiev's point of view.

Of course, the mobilization was a straining factor for society, because it could affect almost every family. But since the end of 2016, when all people mobilized a year before returned home, only contract soldiers and professional officers have taken part in the conflict from the Ukrainian side -- that is, only those who have made this choice voluntarily or who have chosen military service as their lifetime career. This is the main reason why the format of hostilities can be considered acceptable or, at least, not too burdensome for Ukrainian society.

The present scale of losses of the Ukrainian army is not a factor that may spark a mass antiwar movement in the country, similar to the antiwar movement in the United States in the late 1960s, because the ratio of casualties to population in Ukraine is much smaller than that in the U.S. during the Vietnam War.

Naturally, the economic situation in Ukraine is much less stable than that of the U.S. during the Vietnam War. However, in the public consciousness, the war is only one factor behind the economic problems (along with corruption, incompetence of the authorities, etc.).

The unpopularity of the idea of peace at any cost not only shows the specific character of the Ukrainian regime but, above all, it shows that society does not view the crisis as a catastrophe, which means that the conflict has acquired a format convenient for Kiev.

This format means, in particular, that, to paraphrase Trotsky, Ukraine is in a state of both peace and war with Russia, taking advantage of each of these states. For example, over the first 11 months of 2017, Ukrainian exports to Russia grew by 12 percent and brought Ukraine U.S. $360 million more than a year before. Two-thirds of Ukrainian coal imports come from Russia, including 80 percent of anthracite, which has become scarce due to the blockade of Donbass.

The war has advantages, too. Of course, they would have disappeared in the event of a full-scale conflict, but Kiev is confident that this will never happen. In a situation like this, it finds it simpler to mobilize society, convince it to put up with difficulties and, most importantly, format the political and information space in an advantageous way. Beneficiaries of this reformatting include not only the government but also a wide range of parties and politicians who supported the Euromaidan. For example, there is a segment among supporters of the Batkivshchina Party, led by Yulia Timoshenko, and the Radical Party, led by Oleg Lyashko, who, judging by public opinion polls, do not support either a confrontation with Russia or the current policy of historical memory. Obviously, these are former supporters of the Party of Regions and communists, who have realized that the successors to these parties will not be allowed to win anyway and that power can be contested only by pro-Euromaidan parties. Therefore, they side with forces that are close to their own ideological position, guided by their social slogans and disregarding their greater geopolitical and humanitarian radicalism in comparison with the current authorities. But such a choice can be made only if one is confident that this radicalism will not lead to a great war and catastrophe.

So, the current format of the conflict strengthens the political regime in Ukraine, which is actually the closest to regimes of limited political competition, such as those that existed in some countries of Central and Eastern Europe during the interwar period in the 20th century, or some Latin American countries (Brazil and Guatemala) after the Second World War. There is formal pluralism and a real possibility of succession of power there, yet real power can be contested only by forces from one political spectrum, whereas forces that are beyond this spectrum are restrained and can only aspire to seats in parliament.

History shows that such regimes can exist for a very long time, especially with external support, which Kiev certainly has, if we mean support for its geopolitical policy, rather than concrete persons in power. It is another thing that such support is limited -- the West will not fight for Ukraine and will not provide aid on a scale comparable to the Marshall Plan.

The Georgian scenario for changing this regime is theoretically possible but unlikely, because several factors prevent the success of a would-be Ukrainian Ivanishvili. The conflict in Ukraine is felt more sharply because in 2014 it lost territories that it had controlled all the years of independence, while Georgia lost control over Abkhazia in 1993 and over South Ossetia even earlier. The August 2008 war only showed the impossibility of regaining these territories. But the most important thing is that, whereas Georgia was an obvious loser in that war, Ukraine has some positive dynamics, which was discussed above. In addition, differences between Georgians and Russians have always been obvious, whereas for Kiev the current conflict is a way to recode a large part of the population and form the nation on the basis of the thesis that "Ukraine is different from Russia." Finally, the evolution of Georgia should not be exaggerated. Diplomatic relations between Tbilisi and Moscow have not been restored, while relations between Kiev and Moscow have never been broken off. Although Georgia has toned down its anti-Russian rhetoric, it keeps moving towards the Euro-Atlantic structures.

Ukraine is moving in the same direction. Its problems will obviously grow in the near future. Already now, due to migration, the population of the territory now controlled by Kiev is less than 30 million people (judging by bread consumption statistics).

This means it has decreased by more than 40 percent since 1991. In addition, the largest, postwar, generation is now entering the mortality age, while the generation of newborns is the smallest over the years of independence. Yet, the territory of the country has retained its geopolitical value and, regardless of whether Ukraine is granted formal NATO membership or not, American troops can be permanently deployed in its territory during the current Cold War -- or, more precisely, their presence can be broadened, because several thousand NATO troops, half of them Americans, have been involved in military exercises permanently held at the Yavorovo test range since the spring of 2015.

As regards Ukraine's admission to NATO, many Western European countries oppose this option. On the other hand, they have not proposed any detailed plan for Ukraine's non-aligned status. Objectively, such status would be best guaranteed by the specifics of the state's internal structure, when accession to a military alliance would require a consensus of the regions. In an interview with the Atlantic magazine in November 2016, Henry Kissinger echoed this idea: "I favor an independent Ukraine that is militarily non-aligned. If you remove the two Donbass regions from eastern Ukraine, you guarantee that Ukraine is permanently hostile to Russia, since it becomes dominated by its Western part, which only joined Russia in the 1940s. The solution, then, is to find a way to give these units a degree of autonomy that gives them a voice in military entanglements, but otherwise keeps them under the governance of Ukraine." (Goldberg, 2016)

But since this voice remains solitary, the negative attitude of Western European countries to Ukraine's accession to NATO is only a short-term tactical choice which may change later.

It is also unlikely that the implementation of the Minsk Agreement will help create the model described by Kissinger, because a "voice in military entanglements" is a trait of a confederation. Meanwhile, the status of individual Donbass regions, as defined by the above agreement, is far even from that provided for in a federation. Rather, it is similar to the limited autonomy of ethnic Serbs in Croatia, which they received under the Erdut agreement.

Therefore, even if the Minsk Agreement is implemented, which is unlikely, the existing political regime in Ukraine will hardly change.

As regards Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians, in a situation where they cannot change this regime through elections, they will try to adapt to the existing reality, at least outwardly.

The described inertial scenario is basic and most probable. However, it is not the only possible one due to the weakness of the Ukrainian state (in particular, due to the growing influence of right-wing radicals who may obtain parallel power), the unstable situation in the world, and the unpredictability of Russia's policy in the long term, as Moscow may decide that Kiev has crossed certain red lines established by it. If this state collapses due to external factors, the identity of a large part of its present population may change very quickly, as evidenced by the experience of the 17th century and recent decades.

Alexei V. Popov is an expert with the Kiev Center of Political Studies and Conflictology

[Jul 27, 2018] Ukraine over the Edge Russia, the West and the New Cold War by Gordon M. Hahn

Notable quotes:
"... an essential warning against a continuation of the frivolous and dangerous policies of regime change adopted by the West after the end of the Cold War ..."
"... The result is both a sophisticated, multilevel analysis of how and why Ukraine emerged as the key hotspot in East-West relations, and an indispensable guide for those wishing to understand the origins of the New Cold War. ..."
"... Gordon M. Hahn challenges simplistic and often misleading narratives by the media and politicians and provides a corroboration that the Maidan massacre was a false flag mass killing ..."
"... They show Maidan's quasi-revolution was driven by international geopolitics, supporting counterposed Western and Russian "civilizationist" beliefs, and deep divisions within Ukrainian society itself, not a wellspring of widespread aspiration to Western-style democracy. ..."
Jul 27, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Review "Ukraine's 2013-2014 revolution, its civil war, and Russia's annexation of the Crimea have been succeeded by newer crises, but political analyst Hahn uses detailed reportage and geopolitical theory to argue for their long-term significance, presenting Ukraine as a troubling turning point in Russo-American relations and a case study of how democratization efforts can go awry...with Russia atop American headlines to an extent not seen since the end of the Cold War, [this book] will be a strong addition to global studies collections" -- Booklist

"It was not only Ukraine that went over the edge in 2014, but the whole European security system disintegrated, while a 'new cold war' chills relations between the great powers. In this masterful study, Gordon Hahn examines how Ukraine's internal divisions combined with external lines of fragmentation to create an explosive mix, which in turn intensified domestic conflicts. The result is an internationalized civil conflict, with catastrophic consequences for Ukraine and the world. Hahn is one of the few scholars with the knowledge and discernment to make sense of it all. His impressively well-researched and well-written book is essential reading."--Richard Sakwa, University of Kent

"This impressively researched and strongly argued book is an essential corrective to the myths that have been generated concerning the crisis in Ukraine, and an essential warning against a continuation of the frivolous and dangerous policies of regime change adopted by the West after the end of the Cold War ." --Anatol Lieven, Professor, Georgetown University in Qatar and author of Ukraine and Russia, A Fraternal Rivalry

Ukraine Over the Edge is a rigorous analysis of the cultural, historical, and intellectual origins of the Ukrainian crisis. While stressing that blame for the latest phase of this crisis is shared all around, Hahn traces its domestic origins to the militancy of the opposition to president Yanukovych, and its international origins to NATO expansion, which he regards as militarized democracy-promotion. The result is both a sophisticated, multilevel analysis of how and why Ukraine emerged as the key hotspot in East-West relations, and an indispensable guide for those wishing to understand the origins of the New Cold War. "--Nicolai N. Petro, Silvia-Chandley Professor of Peace Studies and Nonviolence, University of Rhode Island

" Ukraine Over the Edge is a very useful contribution to understanding origins and key developments of the crisis in this important European and post-Soviet country. Gordon M. Hahn challenges simplistic and often misleading narratives by the media and politicians and provides a corroboration that the Maidan massacre was a false flag mass killing ." --Ivan Katchanovski, University of Ottawa About the Author Gordon M. Hahn is an advisory board member at Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, and at the American Institute of Geostrategy (AIGEO), Los Angeles; a contributing expert for Russia Direct, and a senior researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), San Jose, California. He lives in Mountain View, California.

Preface

As I read, listened and watched Western sources on the events surrounding the mass demonstrations on central square in Kiev during winter 2013-2014, a sense of deja vu became undeniable. Having studied the nature of terrorism in Russia's North Caucasus, the causes and course of the August 2008 Georgian-Russian war, and other events involving Russia, I had seen a pattern of misrepresentation of these events by most Western, especially American, media, academia and government sources. There was a clear sense that this pattern was being repeated with regard to the events on the Maidan. Hence, I decided to investigate matters for myself and have come to a distinctly different conclusion regarding them than that imparted to the Western public.

Two years after the Maidan "revolution of dignity," it was already clear that the Western-backed overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was not entirely a revolution and was ultimately in vain regardless of how one conceptualizes the events surrounding the fall-winter 2013-2014 demonstrations and violence on Kiev's Maidan. The movement was based initially on middle class opposition to corruption and soft authoritarianism and support for European integration. Ultimately, the nascent pro-democratic revolution was hijacked by neofascist elements that infiltrated the Maidan protests, overthrew the government, and then were themselves superseded by several key oligarchs, who always have thrived under the post-Soviet ancient regime. Thus, corruption and criminality have increased rather than decreased, European integration has stalled, and authoritarianism is not just in the corridors of power but on the streets under the yoke of roaming bands of neofascist groups seeking to foment a second, truly "national revolution."

Despite the all-too-numerous adepts of democratization and democratic transition, this is not the first, nor is it likely to be the last time when the West has misunderstood processes it has hoped for, encouraged, and often funded and helped to organize. The "Arab Spring" is only the most recent set of cases in point. Predictably, that spring's various revolutions became an Islamist winter spread across parts of the Middle East and North Africa, except in Egypt -- where a counterrevolution returned the status quo ante.

Similarly, in 1991 the adepts of democratic transitions or "transitology" got it wrong. Few post-Soviet states became democracies because the "democratic revolution" that overthrew the reformist late Soviet regime of Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika was assumed to be a "revolution from below" led by societal opposition forces bent on living in a democracy. This was true in the Baltic republics, but in most cases the elements of democratic revolution from below were subsumed by a mix of less civil state bureaucrat-led revolutions from above and nationalist-led revolutions from below. In Russia, the revolution was largely one led from above by the Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian state apparatus against the partially reformed but crumbling central Soviet state and regime. In Central Asia and elsewhere, there was simply a change of signboards, rebranding for still very authoritarian regimes. The partial exception is Kyrgyzstan's tulip revolutions and counterrevolutions, which also had strong elements from above. Thus, it is no surprise that both Ukraine's 2004 Orange revolution, as 1 noted at the time, and the 2013-2014 Maidan "revolution of dignity," as I predicted, proved to be something less than the democratic revolutions "transitologists" hailed.

In addition to elements of revolution from below, the Maidan revolt also has elements of revolution from above led by some state officials and state-tied oligarchs. Moreover, the revolution from below was under considerable influence from national chauvinist, ultranationalist, and neofascist groups. The Maidan ultranationalist-oligarchic regime now has little popular support and few accomplishments in democratization, and is little different from the previous, except for a marked increase in western Ukrainian neofascism (both in the corridors of power and on the streets) and a near catastrophic economy. Revolutions are indeed unwieldy things, not very manageable once unleashed.

The international geopolitical consequences have been even more deleterious. A deepening Russian-Western confrontation over Ukraine risks recreating a bipolar "world split apart," with Russia more inclined than ever to forge alliances with regimes opposed to American and Western power.

This book is dedicated to clarifying these events and their consequences, something that is imperative given the misleading government and media characterizations of them. This study is based on Western, Ukrainian and Russian sources, including media reports, reliable primary and secondary Internet sources, and official documents of governments and international organizations.

They show Maidan's quasi-revolution was driven by international geopolitics, supporting counterposed Western and Russian "civilizationist" beliefs, and deep divisions within Ukrainian society itself, not a wellspring of widespread aspiration to Western-style democracy.

[Jul 23, 2018] Christianity was formed after Jesus was executed to protect the money lenders as a protest against debt slavery

Jul 23, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Pft , Jul 23, 2018 1:27:18 AM | 43

So most folks never heard of a guy named Hillel. He was a Baghdad Jew who moved to Judea about 60 years before Christ was born.

His great influence on Judaism was a novel invention to get around the Jubilee which many civilizations employed snd was part of Judaism Mosaic Law. Basically every 7 years debts were cancelled to prevent the elites from accumulating all the land and wealth and enslaving the bottom 99% and causing rebellion. Much of the debt forgiven was owed to the state in the form of taxes but individuals and business also were indebted to money lenders . Debt of individuals acquired to pay taxes, farm, etc was forgiven by the Jubilee. Business /Merchant debts had to be repaid

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/01/19/could-should-jubilee-debt-cancellations-be-reintroduced-today/

The rabbiis of the Pharisees under the suggestion of Hillel the Elder, created a loophole in Jewish law, in which a legal document would accompany the interest-free loans (charging interest to fellow Jews was forbidden in the Torah) issued by individuals that stated that the loans were to be transferred to the courts as the law of remission does not apply In this case.
It was called a Prosbul.

This led to great unrest among Jews and non Jews alike. This unrest led to a Jewish activist named Jesus leading a protest against the Pharisees and the money lenders. Michael Hudson has a theory backed up by historical documents in the original Aramaic,Hebrew and Greek that Mosaic Law is mostly about the prohibitions of the sins related to debt and the sinful practices of creditors to secure repayment. Translations into English and other languages have obscured this.

Christianity was formed after Jesus was executed to protect the money lenders . Unfortunately the Romans were pro creditor and then Constantine hijacked the religion a couple of centuries later , and aside from a prohibition on usury by the Roman Church the Jubilee was no more. When the Roman Empire fell the Byzantine Emperor reinstated the Jubilee from 7th-10th Century and abandoned this . I imagine this wad due to the Islamic Wars that required external loans to finance at interest.

Judaism still use the prosbul today , at least in Orthodox , to escape the Jubilee called for in Mosaic Law . That applied only for loans to Jews in any event. Prohibitions of usury in the Christian world ended pretty much with the Reformation and Calvinism. Even so in the US their were limits on usury in many US states until early 1980's when neoliberalism crushed that. Now the poor get charged as much as 30% on credit card debt while earning 2% on savings and they cant even declare bankruptcy like Trump did 6 times

Islamic banking is interest free though under Sharia Law. "Loans are equity-based, asset-backed. In lieu of interest the banks rely on cost-plus financing (murabaha), profit-sharing (mudaraba), leasing (ijara), partnership (musharaka) and forward sale (bay'salam).

"This prohibition is based on arguments of social justice, equality, and property rights. Islam encourages the earning of profits but forbids the charging of interest because profits, determined ex post, symbolize successful entrepreneurship and creation of additional wealth whereas interest, determined ex ante, is a cost that is accrued irrespective of the outcome of business operations and may not create wealth if there are business losses. Social justice demands that borrowers and lenders share rewards as well as losses in an equitable fashion and that the process of wealth accumulation and distribution in the economy be fair and representative of true productivity.


"Risk sharing. Because interest is prohibited, suppliers of funds become investors instead of creditors. The provider of financial capital and the entrepreneur share business risks in return for shares of the profits."

"Money as "potential" capital. Money is treated as "potential" capital -- that is, it becomes actual capital only when it joins hands with other resources to undertake a productive activity. Islam recognizes the time value of money, but only when it acts as capital, not when it is "potential" capital."

"Prohibition of speculative behavior. An Islamic financial system discourages hoarding and prohibits transactions featuring extreme uncertainties, gambling, and risks."

So maybe the war against Islam has another component?

Getting back to Jesus. Hudson says the Pharisees decided that Jesus' growing popularity was a threat to their authority and wealth.

http://michael-hudson.com/2017/12/he-died-for-our-debt-not-our-sins/

"They said 'we've got to get rid of this guy and rewrite Judaism and make it about sex instead of a class war', which is really what the whole Old Testament is about,"


"That was that was where Christianity got perverted. Christianity turned so anti-Jesus, it was the equivalent of the American Tea Party, applauding wealth and even greed, Ayn-Rand style."


"Over the last 1000 years the Catholic Church has been saying it's noble to be poor. But Jesus never said it was good to be poor. What he said was that rich people are greedy and corrupt. That's what Socrates was saying, as well as Aristotle and the Stoic Roman philosophers, the biblical prophets in Isaiah."


"Neither did Jesus say that it was good to be poor because it made you noble.

"What Jesus did say is that say if you have money, you should share it with other people."


"American Fundamentalist Christians say don't share a penny. King Jesus is going to make you rich. Don't tax millionaires. Jesus may help me win the lottery. Tax poor people whom the Lord has left behind – no doubt for their sins. There's nothing about the Jubilee Year here."

Hudson has a book coming out next week on the subject

.

Guerrero , Jul 23, 2018 2:32:12 AM | 44
Pft, I am interested in your discourse; are their grounds for a scientific gifting economy?

What I mean is: does a model exist for a human society that has followed Christ's teaching

I know that after he was gone, his mother Mary said "my son never touched a single penny"

Is this credible? Is there an archeological reading of any society not based on greed?

I think there may be. They didn't have to do bookkeeping, a source of constant happiness,

but it's is the loss of posterity since we can wonder and speculate about gift economics.

This isn't a joke, nor is it irony. Dear Pft, ¿Can you say more about biblical etc. utopia?

[Jul 20, 2018] Su-30 Coming to Iran Elite Russian Fighters in Iranian Hands Set be a Game Changer for the Middle East

Jul 20, 2018 | russia-insider.com

[Jul 14, 2018] Is Washington Playing Iran's Useful Idiot in Syria The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Damascus and Moscow welcomed Iran's critical contribution to defeating the opposition and giving Washington and its allies a diplomatic bloody nose in the bargain. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov acknowledges that Iran's presence in Syria -- at the invitation of the regime -- is legitimate and that it would be "unrealistic" to demand its ouster. ..."
"... But instead of viewing the end of the war as an opportunity to lessen Iran's value to the regime and to reduce its footprint in the country, Washington is continuing heedlessly with failed policies created for an environment that no longer exists. As long as the fighting continues and the regime's efforts to reassert sovereignty over the entire country are frustrated by U.S. deployments in the northeast and southeast, Iran's military presence in the country is secure. Likewise, Washington shows no sign of reconsidering international sanctions against the regime, which also forces Syria into the arms of Tehran. ..."
"... A colorblind appraisal of the effects of U.S. policy in Iraq and now Syria would suggest that Washington is either brilliantly in cahoots with Iran to the latter's benefit or is being outplayed by weaker but more clear-eyed players. My vote goes squarely to the latter. ..."
"... Confronted with the disintegration of its diplomatic and military strategy, the Trump administration is reduced to playing spoiler, obstructing the inevitable restoration of the regime's sovereignty over the country and continuing the punishing sanctions that have removed the battered but resilient Syrian private sector from international capital and commercial markets. This policy fails on two fronts -- it creates more gratuitous misery for the Syrian people and it undermines the stated U.S. objective of reducing and removing Iranian and Hezbollah influence in the country. Indeed, continuing to pursue the current policies will leave the U.S. isolated among friends (Jordan and Israel) as well as frenemy Russia, and will postpone rather than speed the day that Iran leaves Syria. ..."
Jul 13, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Washington has been on the offensive against the Islamic Republic of Iran for close to half a century. Largely as a result, Iran, a rounding error in the superpower sweepstakes, has gone from strength to strength, challenging American power throughout the region, most notably in Iraq and Syria.

U.S.-led regime change in Iraq created Tehran's historic opportunity to return to Baghdad for the first time since the creation of the Ottoman caliphate in the 15th century. This unscripted but entirely predictable outcome was no mean feat, all the more so for being the opposite of what Washington intended.

The Bush administration knew that it no longer wanted Saddam in the chair, but could not think beyond this one, giant, uncharted leap into the future. Iran has a far greater and more lasting interest in the affairs of its neighbor and often bitter enemy. As a consequence, the mullahs are playing a far longer, and more successful, game.

The legacy of unintended consequences continues to define Washington's policy towards Iraq a generation after the first Gulf War ended. And so too with Syria. In both countries, U.S. shortcomings have created a historic opportunity for Iran to enhance its influence in Arab arenas that when not actively hostile to it (Iraq) are at best lukewarm (Syria).

Are al-Qaeda Affiliates Fighting Alongside U.S. Rebels in Syria's South? How U.S. Iran Policy Hurts Iran and America

When asked about Syria's relationship with Iran, Farouk Shara'a, longtime foreign minister and vice president, once explained to a mutual friend, "You don't have to love the woman you are sleeping with."

Syria has been in bed with Iran for decades. Saddam's war against Iran in the '80s, the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and most recently the war against the Assad regime in Syria, have conspired to throw these two unlikely allies into a cold embrace.

Washington has been oblivious to this essentially ambivalent Syrian attitude towards Iran, and remains equally so to the opportunities it creates to reduce Iran's footprint in postwar Syria. Now that the war is winding down, the value of Iran's military contribution to Syria is declining. In parallel, Syria's interest in reducing the power of its erstwhile Iranian and Russian friends over its destiny increases.

Damascus and Moscow welcomed Iran's critical contribution to defeating the opposition and giving Washington and its allies a diplomatic bloody nose in the bargain. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov acknowledges that Iran's presence in Syria -- at the invitation of the regime -- is legitimate and that it would be "unrealistic" to demand its ouster.

But while Iran's wartime contribution proved critical to victory, neither Assad nor Putin was displeased to distance Iranian-backed elements from the recent battle front in the south. Neither has an interest in enabling Tehran to pursue a postwar Syrian agenda towards Lebanon and Israel. Nor is either enamored with Iran's continuing efforts to reshape the Syrian military in its image. On these important issues, Iran stands all but alone against an invisible, de facto coalition that includes Washington and the EU alongside Israel, Moscow, and the Assad regime itself.

But instead of viewing the end of the war as an opportunity to lessen Iran's value to the regime and to reduce its footprint in the country, Washington is continuing heedlessly with failed policies created for an environment that no longer exists. As long as the fighting continues and the regime's efforts to reassert sovereignty over the entire country are frustrated by U.S. deployments in the northeast and southeast, Iran's military presence in the country is secure. Likewise, Washington shows no sign of reconsidering international sanctions against the regime, which also forces Syria into the arms of Tehran.

A colorblind appraisal of the effects of U.S. policy in Iraq and now Syria would suggest that Washington is either brilliantly in cahoots with Iran to the latter's benefit or is being outplayed by weaker but more clear-eyed players. My vote goes squarely to the latter.

Apart from the lingering campaign against ISIS, in every other respect the U.S. effort in Syria is imploding. Washington under Obama and now Trump has been forced to uneasily acknowledge the regime's staying power. It has now been reduced to bickering over the details of Syrian constitutional reform in the postwar era, a waste of time if ever there was one. Lately, the U.S. secretary of state, from his respected perch, has personally threatened Iran's key military strategist and architect of its advances in Iraq and Syria, Qassem Sulemani, a sure sign that the policymaking process at State is frozen.

In the field, Washington has ignominiously abandoned allies in the southern front. And in the northeast, the Kurds have embarked on the road back to Damascus, imperiling Washington's deployment there.

Confronted with the disintegration of its diplomatic and military strategy, the Trump administration is reduced to playing spoiler, obstructing the inevitable restoration of the regime's sovereignty over the country and continuing the punishing sanctions that have removed the battered but resilient Syrian private sector from international capital and commercial markets. This policy fails on two fronts -- it creates more gratuitous misery for the Syrian people and it undermines the stated U.S. objective of reducing and removing Iranian and Hezbollah influence in the country. Indeed, continuing to pursue the current policies will leave the U.S. isolated among friends (Jordan and Israel) as well as frenemy Russia, and will postpone rather than speed the day that Iran leaves Syria.

Geoffrey Aronson is chairman and co-founder of The Mortons Group and a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute.



Janwaar Bibi July 12, 2018 at 11:24 pm

A colorblind appraisal of the effects of U.S. policy in Iraq and now Syria would suggest that Washington is either brilliantly in cahoots with Iran to the latter's benefit or is being outplayed by weaker but more clear-eyed players. My vote goes squarely to the latter.

US foreign policy is controlled by the Israeli lobby and to a lesser extent, by the Saudi lobby. The illegal and unprovoked attacks by the US on Iraq, Libya and Syria were done at the behest of these lobbies. The only country that has benefited from all this bloodshed is Israel, which now dominates the Middle East.

Since this obvious truth cannot be said out aloud, we need to pretend we don't know who is behind all the mayhem in the Middle East, like this pointless article does.

Procivic , , July 13, 2018 at 12:55 am
The writer can't see the forest for the trees. Successive U.S. administrations have behaved irresponsibly to enhance Israel's position in the guise of bring "democracy" to the region. Washington's failures have created ongoing misery in Iraq, a failed state in Libya and the destruction of the ancient land of Syria.

The U.S. continues to
pretend it had no role in the creation of the huge refugee problem that followed its interventions in Libya and Syria.

No lessons learned, the folly is being played out daily in Yemen where the Pentagon is leading the a campaign of death and destruction alongside its "democratic" allies, the Salman clan of Arabia and the sheikhs of the Persian Gulf minnow petrostates.

Genesee Hike , , July 13, 2018 at 8:11 am
"the stated U.S. objective of reducing and removing Iranian and Hezbollah influence "

I've yet to see a compelling reason for this "stated objective". If you want to argue that it's an American interest because the Israel Lobby wants it, well, OK, there are politicians who can be bribed to do Israel's will, but no real American would agree.

One of these days an American president will make an "opening to Iran" as Nixon once made one to China. Surely we can bury the hatchet with Iran for the sake of a grand bargain that accomplishes America's one real interest in the Middle East, which is to free ourselves of the various parasites who entangle us in their messes, and get the hell out of there. Some of us hoped that Trump might be that president, but it wasn't meant to be.

Krzysztof Hołubicki , , July 13, 2018 at 8:59 am
As far as Procivic and Genesee Hike comments are concerned -- they are perfectly right and down to the point.
the piper will be paid , , July 13, 2018 at 11:36 am
"The U.S. continues to
pretend it had no role in the creation of the huge refugee problem that followed its interventions in Libya and Syria."

Which is ridiculous. When you bomb, invade, and arm insurgencies in people's countries, a lot of people run away. Everybody knows that.

In the case of our bombing, invading, and/or arming insurgencies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, a lot of people ran away.

Millions ran into Turkey. Millions more ran through Turkey into Greece and then up through the Balkans into other NATO countries. And still more came up from Africa and sailed away from the shores of ruined Libya to our NATO allies Italy, Spain, and France.

We did this. Everybody knows we did it. It's absurd to deny it. What's worse is that many of the allies destabilized by the refugees warned or even begged us not to start those wars. With no American interest at stake, no real risk assessment, and no exit strategy formulated, we did it anyway.

Sid Finster , , July 13, 2018 at 12:07 pm
Much simpler explanation: For decades, the United States has been the loyal servant of Israel, and to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia, faithfully carrying out its masters' every dictate.

As an unintended consequence of Israeli/Saudi policy, Iran has grown much stronger.

The only reason that the US foreign policy establishment is rushing headlong into a war with Iran is because Israel and Saudi Arabia are terrified of the Iran that they have created.

[Jul 09, 2018] Why Was Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 Shot Down, by Kees van der Pijl

Notable quotes:
"... Flight MH17, Ukraine and the New Cold War. Prism of Disaster ..."
"... Today, Western imperialism projects its global power, as far as capital is concerned, primarily from the perspective of speculative, financial asset investment. Long gone are the days of class and international compromise forced upon it after World War Two. Instead, the predatory instincts of dominant financial capital require forcibly opening up all states for commodification and exploitation. Given the global spread of product and commodity chains, the continued flow of profits to the West cannot be taken for granted as long as effective state sovereignty elsewhere persists. For the liberal, Anglophone heartland of capital, 'defence' is therefore not merely, or even primarily, a matter of upholding the territorial integrity of the states constituting it, but keeping open the arterial system of the global economy and maintaining the centrality of the West. Regime change is a logical corollary, and from this perspective we must view the coup in Ukraine in February 2014 and all ensuing events, including the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. ..."
"... Defence Planning Guidance for Fiscal 1994-'99 ..."
"... Self-Determination in the New World Order ..."
"... The Grand Chessboard ..."
"... Russia under Yeltsin had effectively surrendered its sovereignty to transnational capital and the West and as a result was left a social and economic disaster zone. ..."
"... The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq on a false pretext made abundantly clear that the West was abandoning the rules of the post-war international order. 'Democracy promotion' intended to prevent national sovereignty from being mobilised against Western global governance, was now made a priority. The 'Rose Revolution' in Georgia in 2003 and the 'Orange Revolution' a year later in Ukraine, marked the lengths to which the United States was willing to go. ..."
"... To ensure that countries incorporated into the US-NATO sphere of influence, really became neoliberal client states, Pascual and Krasner devised a strategy for preventive intervention with a rulebook listing the measures by which 'market democracy' was to be established. Ukraine was a key target and battleground, because by now, Russia was beginning to contest Western forward pressure. ..."
"... The economic mismanagement and infighting of the different oligarchic clans in Ukraine led to payment arrears and repeated shutdowns of the gas supply from Russia, and Gazprom, the state-owned Russian gas company, early on began to look for ways to bypass the Ukrainian grid. ..."
"... Patriot of Ukraine ..."
"... if the Ukrainians lose control of the narrative ..."
"... If Russia takes Ukraine, Belarus will join the Eurasian Union, and, presto, the Soviet Union (in another name) will be back. ..."
"... Far easier to [hold] the line now, in Ukraine than elsewhere, later ..."
"... weekend of 13 to 14 April, CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital. ..."
"... Anti-Terrorist Operation ..."
"... Parubiy sent out a Twitter message on the 15th that veterans of the Maidan uprising were poised to join the fight. ..."
"... The downing of MH17 on 17 July changed all that. As I said above, who did it and how remains obscure, although there are several pursued by people familiar with local circumstances, or revealed by insiders who know who which military assets were operating that day -- but all that remains inconclusive. The official reports by the Dutch Safety Board and the JIT may be conveniently dismissed although the DSB rightly pointed at the questionable decision by Kiev to allow civilian planes to fly over a war zone. However, irrespective of the actual perpetrator, and whether it was an intentional act or an accident, there is no doubt about the West's intent to exploit the event to the maximum. ..."
"... 'without MH17 it would have been pretty difficult to find sufficient support for the increased sanctions on the Russian economy' ..."
"... Even at the time of the Kiev coup, commentators wondered to what extent shale gas from the US might be used to offset Russian deliveries. LNG facilities planned in Florida and Maryland were projected to serve the European market at Gazprom's expense, a prospect meanwhile far more realistic. ..."
"... The downing of Flight MH17 also definitively sealed the fate of South Stream. Russian banks financing the project, led by Gazprombank, were hit by new sanctions, so that the necessary capital could no longer be raised internationally. ..."
"... Since the F-16 that shot down the Russian jet was part of a pro-NATO unit based at Inçirlik airbase that took part in the coup attempt, the incident over Syria would appear to fit in a framework that may also have decided the fate of Flight MH17: a provocation to throw relations with Russia into disarray, but we don't know for sure. ..."
"... whether managed or violent ..."
"... cover the scenarios from changes of leadership within the current structures, to the emergence of a group ready to pursue structural reform in some sort of accountable dialogue with the Russian population, to regime collapse ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Russia Project Strategy ..."
"... In the current global conjuncture, even the tentative contender coalition combining the Eurasian Union, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, constitutes an acute danger to a capitalist West in crisis. Whether the United States and NATO would therefore also be willing to take even greater risks than they are doing now is a prospect too frightening to contemplate. However, it must be confronted, or the fate of the 298 people on Flight MH17 may become that of humanity at large. ..."
Jul 09, 2018 | www.unz.com

Four years ago, on 17 July 2014, in the midst of a civil war raging in eastern Ukraine, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was destroyed with all 298 passengers and crew. On 25 May last, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) entrusted with the criminal investigation of the downing and composed of the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and paradoxically, given its possible involvement, Ukraine, presented its second progress report. Like the first report in September 2016, it took the form of a press conference, with video animations supporting the investigation's findings. This time there was even less to report; the main conclusion was that elements from the Russian 53rd Buk missile brigade were the culprits, a claim already made by the London-based investigative group Bellingcat two years before. In February 2016 that assertion had still been dismissed as unfit for evidence by the Dutch chief prosecutor on the JIT, Fred Westerbeke, in a letter to victims' relatives. How can it possibly have become the core component of the case for the prosecution two years and two months later?

The JIT press conference was immediately followed by a formal declaration on the part of the Dutch and Australian governments that held Russia responsible. However, JIT member Malaysia dissociated itself from the accusation, whilst Belgium has remained silent. The obviously over-hasty conclusion, on the heels of the alleged Skripal nerve gas incident in Salisbury and the likewise contested Syrian government gas attack on jihadist positions in Douma, all point in the same direction: Putin's Russia must be kept under fire and there is no time to wait for a court verdict.

ORDER IT NOW

In my book Flight MH17, Ukraine and the New Cold War. Prism of Disaster (Manchester University Press), I have refrained from entering the slippery terrain of making claims about who pulled the trigger, intentionally or by accident, in the late afternoon of 17 July, or even which type of weapon was used. For the downing of the Malaysian plane has become part of a propaganda war that was already heating up prior to the catastrophe. Instead the book is about what we do know about the events surrounding it, in the preceding months, weeks, and days, indeed even on the day itself. Subsequent events have only underlined that it is this context that lends meaning to the tragedy.

Refocusing US Supremacy After the Soviet Collapse

Today, Western imperialism projects its global power, as far as capital is concerned, primarily from the perspective of speculative, financial asset investment. Long gone are the days of class and international compromise forced upon it after World War Two. Instead, the predatory instincts of dominant financial capital require forcibly opening up all states for commodification and exploitation. Given the global spread of product and commodity chains, the continued flow of profits to the West cannot be taken for granted as long as effective state sovereignty elsewhere persists. For the liberal, Anglophone heartland of capital, 'defence' is therefore not merely, or even primarily, a matter of upholding the territorial integrity of the states constituting it, but keeping open the arterial system of the global economy and maintaining the centrality of the West. Regime change is a logical corollary, and from this perspective we must view the coup in Ukraine in February 2014 and all ensuing events, including the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.

Right from the Soviet collapse in 1991, the US global perspective was articulated in several new strategic doctrines. The first and perhaps foundational one is the Wolfowitz Doctrine, named after Paul Wolfowitz, undersecretary of defence in the Bush Sr. administration, who commissioned a Defence Planning Guidance for Fiscal 1994-'99 (DPG) of 1992. It proclaims the United States the world's sole superpower, which must remain ahead of all possible contenders in arms technology and never again accept military parity, as with the USSR during the Cold War. The newly self-confident European Union, too, was obliquely warned that the US alone would handle global policing.

Additional doctrines, specifying on which grounds armed US intervention might be undertaken and justified, added elements such as humanitarian intervention (a Carnegie Endowment report of 1992, Self-Determination in the New World Order ); it was applied in Yugoslavia and again in Libya. Next, the'War on Terror', originally floated at Israeli Likud/US Neocon conferences between 1979 and 1984, was revived after the collapse of the USSR as the 'Clash of Civilizations' by Cold War strategist Samuel Huntington; Afghanistan and Iraq stand as monuments of the application of this doctrine. Finally, Zbigniew Brzezinski's The Grand Chessboard of 1997 specifically dealt with reorganising the former USSR, including Ukraine.

Through the different episodes, NATO was transformed into a global policing structure serving the interests of Atlantic capital. 'Out of area operations', unthinkable in the Yalta epoch, were first tried out against the Bosnian Serbs in the mid-1990s. The enlargement of the alliance into the former Soviet bloc, which began around that time too, was obviously motivated to prevent European departures from US tutelage, hence its bold forward surge. Already in 1994, Ukraine became the first former Soviet republic to join the Partnership for Peace, the newly created waiting room for NATO membership. To quell Russian concerns about the advancing West, the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997 laid down that no nuclear weapons and permanent troop deployments would take place in new member states. Yet Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova not long afterwards joined a low-key organisation of former Soviet republics (after the initials, GUAM), another oblique link up with NATO.

Mobilising Georgia and Ukraine against Resurgent Russia

Russia under Yeltsin had effectively surrendered its sovereignty to transnational capital and the West and as a result was left a social and economic disaster zone. Under his successor, Vladimir Putin, the country began to mutate back to a society led by a directive state, assisted by rising oil prices. After the United States unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 and announced a missile defence system deployed in the CzechRepublic, Poland, and Rumania, Russia shifted to a more robust international position. The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq on a false pretext made abundantly clear that the West was abandoning the rules of the post-war international order. 'Democracy promotion' intended to prevent national sovereignty from being mobilised against Western global governance, was now made a priority. The 'Rose Revolution' in Georgia in 2003 and the 'Orange Revolution' a year later in Ukraine, marked the lengths to which the United States was willing to go.

Yet even a colour revolution means little if there is no accompanying make-over of the fundamental state/society relation. Hence, the incoming policy planning director at the US State Department, Stanford professor Stephen Krasner, and Carlos Pascual, former US ambassador in Kiev, developed a comprehensive regime change doctrine in 2004. This would prove a key element in the subsequent Ukraine intervention. To ensure that countries incorporated into the US-NATO sphere of influence, really became neoliberal client states, Pascual and Krasner devised a strategy for preventive intervention with a rulebook listing the measures by which 'market democracy' was to be established. Ukraine was a key target and battleground, because by now, Russia was beginning to contest Western forward pressure.

At the Munich Security Conference in January 2007, Putin reminded his audience of the promises made to Gorbachev in 1991 not to expand the Atlantic alliance and warned that further attempts at enlargement (the Baltic states having been included in 2004) would imply great risks. Yet NATO and the EU were inexorably pressing forward. At the Bucharest NATO summit in April 2008 the Americans made the offer of NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine, only to have the offer vetoed by Germany and France. Possibly to force the issue, the pro-Western president brought to power by the Rose Revolution in Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, armed and encouraged by the US and Israel, later that year embarked on a military adventure to recapture the breakaway province of South Ossetia. It ended in a complete debacle, as a Russian army stood ready in North Ossetia to deal the invaders a major, if very costly, blow. This, then, was what Richard Sakwa calls, 'the war to stop NATO enlargement'. From now on, every post-Soviet republic tempted to join the Atlantic alliance would have to reckon with Russian protection for groups resisting such integration, irrespective of whether it concerned actual Russians or any other of the almost two hundred nationalities of the former USSR.

The EU-Russian Energy Equation and Ukraine

The gas from Russia that feeds Europe today was discovered back in the 1960s; the Friendship oil pipeline was built in 1964 and the Soyuz, Urengoi and Yamal pipelines followed after West Germany started purchasing Soviet gas. The link-up culminated in 1980 with the contract for a gas pipeline from Urengoi in north Siberia to Bavaria, signed by a heavy-industry consortium headed by Deutsche Bank.

After the collapse of the USSR, Russian gas had to pass through the pipeline grid of independent Ukraine, which in the meantime had become the prey of rival clans of oligarchs. For most of them, gas was the key source of rapid enrichment -- directly, as in the case of subsequent prime minister Yuliya Timoshenko, 'the Gas Princess', or indirectly, by supplying steel pipes for gas transport, as in the case of president Leonid Kuchma's son-in-law, Victor Pinchuk, the 'Pipeline King'. The economic mismanagement and infighting of the different oligarchic clans in Ukraine led to payment arrears and repeated shutdowns of the gas supply from Russia, and Gazprom, the state-owned Russian gas company, early on began to look for ways to bypass the Ukrainian grid.

After Putin had come to power, he disciplined the Russian oligarchs as part of the restoration of state sovereignty. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the energy oligarch and richest of all Russian billionaires at the time, at the time was buying support in the Duma to build a trans-Siberian pipeline to China; whilst negotiating with ExxonMobil and Chevron about US participation in his Yukos concern, which he planned to merge with Sibneft into the world's largest oil company. In 2005 he was convicted to a long prison sentence. Yukos was brought back into the Russian patrimony via a proxy construction involving state-owned Rosneft and Gazprom, as part of broader subordination of the economy to the state.

Gazprom meanwhile began building alliances to avoid future disruption of supplies via Ukraine and secure its European market. In 2005 it agreed with the outgoing government of Gerhard Schröder to build a pipeline across the Baltic directly to Germany, 'Nord Stream', with a consortium of German companies. Schröder was made the chairman of the board of the joint venture, Achimgaz, and two years later, a South Stream pipeline across the Black Sea to Bulgaria was contracted with ENI of Italy. It was to be extended into south-eastern Europe as far as Austria. In this way Gazprom and the Russian state were outmanoeuvring various EU projects for pipelines aimed at by-passing Russia. Indeed it was the EU's plan to use a Nabucco pipeline across Turkey to connect to the Caspian energy reserves that prompted the $40 billion South Stream project. Romano Prodi, prime minister of Italy, who first discussed South Stream with Putin in late 2006, was offered the chairmanship, which he declined, perhaps in the knowledge the project would become highly contested.

The Eurasian connection by now posed a direct threat to the cohesion of the enlarged Atlantic bloc. Besides Nord Stream and South Stream, Gazprom's collaboration with NIOC of Iran and a joint venture with ENI in Libya set all alarm bells ringing in Washington. Already in May 2006, a few months after the gas shutdown to Ukraine, the US Senate unanimously adopted a resolution calling on NATO to protect the energy security of its members and have it develop a diversification strategy away from Russia. Senator Richard Lugar in a much-noted speech prior to the NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, in November 2006, argued in favour of designating the manipulation of the energy supply as a 'weapon' that can activate Article 5 of the NATO treaty (common defence).

In a report to the European Parliament in 2008, the director of the EurasianPolicyCenter of the Hudson Institute in the US recommended that the EU should assist in liberalising and modernising the Ukrainian grid instead of supporting South Stream. Tension in the Black Sea area, her report noted candidly, might serve the purpose of blocking that pipeline altogether. However, after the 2010 election of president Victor Yanukovych, the front man of the powerful eastern and southern oligarchs, the lease of Russia's Crimean naval base at Sebastopol, home of its Black Sea fleet, had been extended to 2042, so the prospects for stirring up unrest there were mitigated by Moscow's enduring naval preponderance.

Regime Change in Kiev

One aspect of the resurgence of a sovereign Russia was the plan for a Eurasian economic union to rebuild relations with former Soviet republics (Ukraine obtained observer status early on). The EU's Eastern Partnership was a direct response. It was offered to former Soviet republics in 2008, in a gesture that signalled that Europe now effectively acted as a subcontractor to the larger anti-Russian design drafted in Washington. Concretely, the EU offered Ukraine and other former Soviet republics an Association Agreement that also included provisions for the country's alignment on NATO security policy, besides a neoliberal make-over in the spirit of the Krasner-Pascual doctrine. The envisaged reforms would be devastating for the country's existing power structure, not least for the Donbass oligarchs whose front man was Yanukovych. Their heavy industry assets would be swept away by EU competition, the country turned into an agricultural supplier, and Russian gas cut off.

Hence, when both the EU and Russia sought to win over Yanukovych to join their respective blocs and Brussels ruled out the triangular arrangement by which the Ukrainian president had hoped to postpone the choice, he could not but step back from signing the EU Association Agreement in November 2013 and accept a Russian counteroffer. By then, 'Europe' had become a code word for an end to oligarchic rapaciousness, in which Yanukovych and his sons had become involved as well. The president's decision triggered mass demonstrations and occupations, which this time included an armed insurrection by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists in the historically anti-Russian west of the country. It created the space for actual fascists to hijack the protests and prepare a coup. By their use of deadly force at the Maidan central square (ascribed by the coup plotters and in the West to the riot police), the Ukrainian ultras demonstrated they were ready to kill their own compatriots to achieve their aims.

To prevent the situation from getting out of hand completely, the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland flew to Kiev on 20 February 2014. However, whilst they negotiated a deal with Yanukovych and the opposition, the US and other NATO ambassadors met with Andriy Parubiy, the co-founder of the fascist party of Ukraine and former head of its militia, Patriot of Ukraine . Parubiy, today the speaker of the Kiev parliament, was in command of the armed gangs at the Maidan; two days later these took power in the capital, installing a government of Ukrainian nationalist stripe, selected by US diplomats. Parubiy was appointed secretary of the National Security and Defence Council (NSDC), a key post overseeing all military and intelligence operations, which he continued to hold until three weeks after the downing of MH17. With the Russian-Ukrainian half of the country effectively disenfranchised, the coup was responded to by the secession of Crimea and an armed insurrection in the Donbass. Stirrings of revolt in Odessa and Mariupol would be suppressed with deadly violence, in which Parubiy and other far right figures were directly involved.

Confronting the BRICS in Ukraine

From late March onwards the war party in the United States and NATO began to elaborate a strategy that would make Ukraine the testing ground for a trial of strength with Russia and China. The secession of Crimea and its re-incorporation into the Russian Federation was exploited to evoke the spectre of an impending Russian invasion on several fronts. General Philip Breedlove, commander of US Eucom (European Command, one of nine regional US military commands spanning the globe) and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Saceur), coordinated the Western position with General Wesley Clark, a former NATO Saceur at the time of the Yugoslavia wars. Clark was already advising Kiev forces in eastern Ukraine before the Donbass had actually risen in revolt. On 12April he asked Breedlove whether the NATO commander could not arrange a statement blaming Moscow for the violence because ' if the Ukrainians lose control of the narrative , the Russians will see it as an open door'. Clark then elaborated on the general geopolitical situation, giving further insights into why the war party in the US believed that Ukraine was to be 'held' and chosen as a battle ground to confront Russia and China. No time was wasted on market democracy here. Claiming that 'Putin has read US inaction in Georgia and Syria as US "weakness",' Clark went on to explain that

China is watching closely. China will have four aircraft carriers and airspace dominance in the Western Pacific within 5 years, if current trends continue. And if we let Ukraine slide away, it definitely raises the risks of conflict in the Pacific. For, China will ask, would the US then assert itself for Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, the South China Sea? If Russia takes Ukraine, Belarus will join the Eurasian Union, and, presto, the Soviet Union (in another name) will be back. Neither the Baltics nor the Balkans will easily resist the political disruptions empowered by a resurgent Russia. And what good is a NATO "security guarantee" against internal subversion? And then the US will face a much stronger Russia, a crumbling NATO, and [a] major challenge in the Western Pacific. Far easier to [hold] the line now, in Ukraine than elsewhere, later .

On the weekend of 13 to 14 April, CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital. The Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO, so called because the use of military force within the country is only warranted under that label) began right after Brennan's visit; Parubiy sent out a Twitter message on the 15th that veterans of the Maidan uprising were poised to join the fight. Since NATO had earlier implored Yanukovych not to use force against (armed) demonstrators, Moscow now asked the alliance to restrain the coup leaders in turn. But according to foreign minister Lavrov, the answer they got was that 'NATO would ask them to use force proportionately'.

In fact even the oligarch, Petro Poroshenko, elected president on 25 May 2014 to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the coup regime, proved unable to restrain the hardliners. On 30 June, following a four-hour NSDC meeting with Parubiy, interior minister Avakov, and others whose armed followers were demonstrating outside, Poroshenko declared that the ceasefire would be lifted and a new offensive launched. Three days later NATO naval manoeuvres in the Black Sea commenced with US participation and with electronic warfare a key component. On the ground, Kiev's forces made rapid progress, apparently drawing a ring around the large rebel city of Donetsk. NATO had its own concerns: an upcoming summit in Wales in September was expected to capitalise on the trope of a 'Russian invasion', vital after the Afghanistan debacle, and dovetailing with the emerging contest with the BRICS bloc.

The BRICS, coined first as a banker's gimmick, were never more than a loose collection of '(re-) emerging economies', but from Washington's perspective, sovereign entities not submitting to neoliberal global governance are unacceptable. So when on 16 July, the BRICS heads of state, hosted by the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff (removed by a rightwing conspiracy in May 2016), signed the statute establishing a New Development Bank, or BRICS bank, as a direct challenge to the US and Western-dominated World Bank and IMF, the US imposed new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, specifically targeting the energy link with the EU. The creation of an equivalent of the World Bank with a capital of $100 billion with a reserve currency pool of the same size (an equivalent of the IMF), laid the groundwork of a contender pole in the global political economy challenging the West's austerity regime frontally -- or so it seemed at the time.

Still in Brazil before flying back to Moscow, Russian president Putin on the fringes of the football world cup finals also agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to pursue a comprehensive Land for gas deal. Its tentative provisions included normalising the status of Crimea in exchange for a massive economic rehabilitation plan and a gas price rebate for Ukraine. However, a special European Council meeting convened on the 16th could not reach agreement on whether the EU should follow the American lead this time, since countries with export interests to Russia and dependent on its gas, were balking. Instead, the Council stressed the EU's commitment 'to pursue trilateral talks on the conditions of gas supply from the Russian Federation to Ukraine' in order to 'safeguard the security of supply and transit of natural gas through Ukraine.'

The Downing of Flight MH17 and South Stream

The downing of MH17 on 17 July changed all that. As I said above, who did it and how remains obscure, although there are several pursued by people familiar with local circumstances, or revealed by insiders who know who which military assets were operating that day -- but all that remains inconclusive. The official reports by the Dutch Safety Board and the JIT may be conveniently dismissed although the DSB rightly pointed at the questionable decision by Kiev to allow civilian planes to fly over a war zone. However, irrespective of the actual perpetrator, and whether it was an intentional act or an accident, there is no doubt about the West's intent to exploit the event to the maximum.

Former secretary of state and then-presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton in a TV interview on the 18th called for making 'Russia pay the price' once its culpability had been established. Her to-do list for the EU included, one, 'toughen sanctions'; two, find alternatives to Gazprom, and third, 'do more in concert with us to support the Ukrainians'. The 'Land for gas' negotiations were shelved and on the 22nd Europe dropped the remaining hesitations when it underwrote the US sanctions targeting Russia's role as an energy supplier. As Mark Leonard, founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, noted in a newspaper interview a year later, 'without MH17 it would have been pretty difficult to find sufficient support for the increased sanctions on the Russian economy' .

In 2009 the EU had introduced a new energy policy, dubbed a 'Third Energy Package'. It does not permit gas to be transported to the EU by the company producing it, effectively forcing Gazprom to sell even the gas piped through the Ukrainian grid to other companies before it could enter the EU. Nord Stream had still been exempted from EU competition rules, but the projected South Stream was not, never mind that most contracts with Gazprom had been signed before the Third Energy Package came into force. Even at the time of the Kiev coup, commentators wondered to what extent shale gas from the US might be used to offset Russian deliveries. LNG facilities planned in Florida and Maryland were projected to serve the European market at Gazprom's expense, a prospect meanwhile far more realistic.

The Crimean secession and incorporation into the Russian Federation obviously played its own role here. Crimea is a historically Russian region; having been assigned to Ukraine by a whim of Soviet party leader Khrushchev in 1954, it never reconciled itself to being part of an independent Ukraine. After the nationalist coup in late February, the status of the Russian naval base in Sebastopol was in the balance. In 1991, the Black Sea had been a Soviet/bloc inland sea, with one NATO country (Turkey) bordering it. Now there were two more NATO/EU countries and two pro-Western, aspiring NATO members on its littoral. So when one week after the coup, three former Ukrainian Presidents, Kravchuk, Kuchma, and Yushchenko, called on the coup government in Kiev to cancel the agreement under which the lease of Sebastopol, home to the Russian Black Sea fleet, had been extended to 2042, the question of who would be able to project naval power over the Black Sea became acute. The question now was whether Russia would be able to provide cover for a large-scale project such as South Stream, or not.

South Stream itself came into the firing line directly. The European Parliament, which never raised the issue of why the February agreement with Yanukovych the EU brokered had been sidelined by the coup, on 17 April 2014 adopted a non-binding resolution opposing the South Stream gas pipeline and recommended a search for alternative sources of gas. On 28 April, the United States imposed a ban on business transactions within its territory on seven Russian officials, including Igor Sechin, the CEO of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, as well as Gennady Timchenko, whose Volga Group controls Stroytransgaz, the company entrusted with building the Bulgarian section of South Stream. Nevertheless the Bulgarian parliament approved South Stream two weeks after the reincorporation of Crimea, circumventing the EU's anti-trust legislation by renaming the pipeline a 'sea-land connection'.The European Commission then instructed Bulgaria to stop work on South Stream and proceeded to cut off tens of millions of much-needed regional development funds, whilst the US ambassador warned Bulgarian companies against working with Timchenko. A final visit of US Senators John McCain and Ron Johnson, in combination with other punitive measures then led to the cancellation in early June. As Eric Draitser commented at the time, 'South Stream has become one of the primary battlegrounds in the economic war that the West is waging against Russia'.

The downing of Flight MH17 also definitively sealed the fate of South Stream. Russian banks financing the project, led by Gazprombank, were hit by new sanctions, so that the necessary capital could no longer be raised internationally. Putin earlier had hinted at moving the transit of gas for the EU to non-European countries; in August, it was reported there was a Plan B in the works to export via Turkey. On 1 December 2014, during a state visit to Ankara, the Russian president announced that in light of Western sanctions and the refusal of construction permits in the EU, South Stream would be replaced by a 'Turkish Stream' pipeline, besides the existing Blue Stream link. However, in November 2015, a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian fighter jet over northern Syria, throwing relations between Moscow and Ankara into a deep crisis and entailing the cancellation of Turkish Stream. This was only overcome after the July 2016 coup attempt against Erdoğan, in which Russia sided with the Turkish president, possibly even warning him in advance. Since the F-16 that shot down the Russian jet was part of a pro-NATO unit based at Inçirlik airbase that took part in the coup attempt, the incident over Syria would appear to fit in a framework that may also have decided the fate of Flight MH17: a provocation to throw relations with Russia into disarray, but we don't know for sure.

Regime Change in Moscow?

The MH17 disaster occurred in the context of a deep crisis, in which capitalist discipline as imposed from its historic epicentre in the West, has become primarily predatory, relying to an ever-greater extent on violence. Speculative financial operations in combination with the 'War on Terror' have spread economic risk and repression at home, war and regime change abroad. Human survival itself has been turned into a global gamble played out over the head of the affected populations for private gain. The West, led by the effectively bankrupt United States, increasingly relies on force to sabotage the formation of any alternative, something its own social formation can no longer bring forth. Even the most promising, potentially revolutionary IT and media developments coming out of Silicon Valley have been mortgaged by a planetary project of communications surveillance to safeguard US imperial positions.

Back in the 1980s, when it launched the second Cold War, the Reagan administration intended to destabilise the Soviet bloc and bring about regime change in Moscow. This is also the aim of the current, new Cold War. A 2015 Chatham House report, 'The Russian Challenge', discusses this in some detail. Although it concedes that the West cannot have an interest in Russia sliding into complete anarchy, neither should the Putin presidency be protected 'against change, whether managed or violent '. Therefore, 'whether Putin was ousted by an internal coup, by illness or by popular unrest , it would nevertheless be sensible for the West to give further thought to how it might deal with the consequences of regime change in Russia.'

Effective communication with the Russian people and the defence of human values beforehand would be essential for Western credibility Planning for the future ought, lastly, to cover the scenarios from changes of leadership within the current structures, to the emergence of a group ready to pursue structural reform in some sort of accountable dialogue with the Russian population, to regime collapse .

The president of the National Endowment for Democracy, Carl Gershman, in a piece for the Washington Post in October 2016 suggested launching a new, sustained anti-Putin campaign, for which the contract killing of the journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, ten years earlier, might be used as a vignette.

For such a campaign, George Soros' Open Society Foundation can be trusted to have elaborated the 'civil society'/colour revolution scenarios, whilst identifying the groups that might be mobilised for their execution. The OSF plan of action for 2014-17, titled Russia Project Strategy , identifies Russian intellectuals active in Western academic and opinion networks, the Russian gay movement, and others as potential levers for civil society protest against the conservative bloc in power in Moscow. From the OSF documents hacked by the CyberBerkut collective, Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation emerges as the key beneficiary, and discussion portals and liberal media such as Echo of Moscow radio station, RBK news agency, and the newspaper Vedomosti, as the preferred channels to disseminate content.

There is no need to repeat that all this is part a powerful offensive to derail the loose contender bloc around China and Russia, which had constituted itself in the face of Western aggressiveness and crisis. The seizure of power in Ukraine as well as the secession of Crimea and the civil war in the east, which has meanwhile cost the lives of more than 13,000 people and displaced a million, as well as economic warfare against Russia by the US and the EU, have brought the danger of a large European war several steps closer. Whether the actual downing of Flight MH17 was an intentional, premeditated act or an accident, whether it involved a jet attack, an anti-aircraft missile, or both, ultimately cannot be established with certainty. Yet both the NATO war party and the coup regime in Kiev, which on many occasions has demonstrated that its ultra-nationalist and fascist antecedents are very much alive, would have been perfectly capable of such an act and had the means for it. Most importantly, they had the motive. Those in power in Kiev had several times already attempted to draw Moscow into the civil war, directly and through a NATO intervention. If this indeed was their aim, it would also have served the Atlantic bloc's determined and long-standing commitment to force continental Europe into an antagonistic relation with Russia.

In the current global conjuncture, even the tentative contender coalition combining the Eurasian Union, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, constitutes an acute danger to a capitalist West in crisis. Whether the United States and NATO would therefore also be willing to take even greater risks than they are doing now is a prospect too frightening to contemplate. However, it must be confronted, or the fate of the 298 people on Flight MH17 may become that of humanity at large.

Kees van der Pijl is a Fellow, Centre for Global Political Economy and Professor Emeritus of the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex.

[Jul 06, 2018] If Ukraine drifts into chaos, its neighbors, being aware of its history of extreme violence and atrocity are preparing themselves for the spillover

So far Ukrainian society holds well and I see no signs that it will collapse soon. Economics in dismal shape though...
Jul 06, 2018 | www.unz.com

Erebus , June 16, 2018 at 9:40 am GMT

Look up Rostislav Ishenko's latest excellent piece yesterday:

I did, and as usual Ishenko takes an oblique approach that shines a light into obscure but critical corners.

What an eye opener this one is.

Not sure how much was lost in translation, but if I understood correctly the Russians are massing forces in the Western District, not because they fear an attack from NATO, or plan to attack Europe but to rescue Europe from a conflagration that will be sparked in Ukraine. That it was drifting into failed state status is well known, but that a religious war is in the offing was utterly unknown to me, and I suspect to most others here.

That in turn shines a light on why Poland and the Baltics are begging for US/NATO troops as well, and at least partially why US/NATO is delivering. As Ukraine drifts into chaos, its neighbours, being aware of its history of extreme violence and atrocity are preparing themselves for the spillover. They have no desire to relive the decade+ blood orgy that erupted in the middle of the 20th C centred on Ukraine (where, IMHO, the real Holocaust happened).

Overwhelming force applied at an overwhelming pace is the best way of dealing with such an outbreak, and the Russians are the only party able to deliver. US/NATO forces can be expected to roar around in their APCs avoiding trouble and then claim credit in accordance with Western military tradition. Meanwhile, the Russians will go into mopping up the leftovers.

Makes a lot of sense if Ishchenko's read of the situation is right. It probably has a bigger impact on Dunford's and Gerasimov's meeting than the USM "going home".

Whew!
PS: Yes, I was aware of the Russian central bank selling off its USTs. With the Petro-Yuan and Western sanctions now in full swing, it really doesn't need $100B's worth to manage its U$ denominated imports.

[Jul 06, 2018] Corporate Media's About-Face on Ukraine's Neo-Nazis by Daniel Lazare

Notable quotes:
"... Special to Consortium News ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Zhydobanderivets ..."
"... The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy ..."
"... Le Monde Diplomatique ..."
"... The American Conservative ..."
"... If you enjoyed this original article please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one. ..."
Jul 05, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

Corporate Media's About-Face on Ukraine's Neo-Nazis July 5, 2018 • 59 Comments

U.S. corporate media spent years dismissing the role of neo-Nazis in Ukraine's 2014 coup but it is suddenly going through a conversion, as Daniel Lazare reports.

By Daniel Lazare
Special to Consortium News

Last month a freelance journalist named Joshua Cohen published an article in The Washington Post about the Ukraine's growing neo-Nazi threat. Despite a gratuitous swipe at Russia for allegedly exaggerating the problem (which it hasn't), the piece was fairly accurate.

Entitled "Ukraine's ultra-right militias are challenging the government to a showdown," it said that fascists have gone on a rampage while the ruling clique in Kiev closes its eyes for the most part and prays that the problem somehow goes away on its own.

Thus, a group calling itself C14 (for the fourteen-word ultra-right motto, "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children") not only beat up a socialist politician and celebrated Hitler's birthday by stabbing an antiwar activist, but bragged about it on its website. Other ultra-nationalists, Cohen says, have stormed the Lvov and Kiev city councils and "assaulted or disrupted" art exhibits, anti-fascist demos, peace and gay-rights events, and a Victory Day parade commemorating the victory over Hitler in 1945.

Yet nothing has happened to stop this. President Petro Poroshenko could order a crackdown, but hasn't for reasons that should be obvious. The U.S.-backed "Euromaidan" uprising not only drove out former president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, who had won an OSCE-certified election, but tore the country in two, precisely because ultra-rightists like C14 were in the lead.

When resistance to the U.S.-backed coup broke out in Crimea and parts of the country's largely Russian-speaking east, the base of Yanukovych voters, civil war ensued. But because the Ukrainian army had all but collapsed, the new, coup government had no one to rely on other than the neo-fascists who had helped propel it to power.

So an alliance was hatched between pro-western oligarchs at the top – Forbes puts Poroshenko's net worth at a cool $1 billion – and neo-Nazi enforcers at the bottom. Fascists may not be popular. Indeed, Dmytro Yarosh, the fire-breathing leader of a white-power coalition known as Right Sector, received less than one percent of the vote when he ran for president in May 2014.

But the state is so weak and riddled with so many ultra-rightists in key positions – Andriy Parubiy, founder of the neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine, is speaker of the parliament, while ultra-rightist Arsen Avakov is minister of the interior – that the path before them is clear and unobstructed. As Cohen points out, the result is government passivity on one hand and a rising tide of ultra-right violence on the other. In the earlier stages of the civil war, for instance, the rightwing extremists burned more than 40 people alive in a labor union building in Odessa, a horrific incident downplayed by Western media.

Cohen's article may have Washington Post readers scratching their heads for the simple reason that the paper has long said the opposite. Since Euromaidan, the Post has toed the official Washington line that Vladimir Putin has exaggerated the role of the radical right in order to discredit the anti-Yanukovych revolt and legitimize his own alleged interference.

Sure, anti-Yanukovych forces had festooned the Kiev town hall with a white supremacist banner, a Confederate flag , and a giant image of Stepan Bandera , a Nazi collaborator whose forces killed thousands of Jews during the German occupation and as many as 100,000 Poles. And yes, they staged a 15,000-strong torchlight parade in Bandera's honor and scrawled an SS symbol on a toppled statue of Lenin. They also destroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who had fought on what Bandera supporters regard as the wrong side of World War II, that is, with the Soviets and against the Axis.

But so-called responsible, mainstream journalists are supposed to avert their eyes to avoid being tarred as a " useful idiot " whom Putin supposedly employs to advance his "anti-American agenda." Ten days after Yanukovych's departure, the Post dutifully assured its readers that Russian reports of "hooligans and fascists" had "no basis in reality."

A week or so later, it said "the new government, though peppered with right-wing politicians, is led primarily by moderate, pro-European politicians." A few weeks after that, it described Bandera as no more than "controversial" and quoted a Kiev businessman as saying: "The Russians want to call him a fascist, but I feel he was a hero for our country. Putin is using him to try to divide us."

Thus, the Post and other corporate media continued to do its duty by attacking Putin for plainly saying "the forces backing Ukraine's government in Kiev are fascists and neo-Nazis." But who was wrong ?

The New York Times was no better. It assailed Russia for hurling "harsh epithets" like "neo-Nazi," and blamed the Russian leader for "scaremongering" by attributing Yanukovych's ouster to "nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes, and anti-Semites." The Guardian 's Luke Harding – a leading Putin basher said of the far-right Svoboda Party:

"Over the past decade the party appears to have mellowed, eschewing xenophobia, academic commentators suggest. On Monday, the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, said he had been 'positively impressed' by Svoboda's evolution in opposition and by its behavior in the Rada, Ukraine's parliament. 'They have demonstrated their democratic bona fides,' the ambassador asserted."

This is the party whose founder, Oleh Tyahnybok, said in a 2004 speech that "a Moscow-Jewish mafia" was running the Ukraine and that Bandera's followers "fought against the Muscovites, Germans, Jews and other enemies who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state." Had the leopard really changed its spots, according to Pyatt? Or was it simply a matter of America not giving a damn as long as Svoboda joined the fight to encircle Russia and advance NATO's drive to the east?

As someone named Marx once observed , "Who you gonna believe, me or your own two eyes?" As far as Ukraine was concerned, the answer for the corporate press came from the U.S. State Department. If Foggy Bottom said that Ukrainian neo-Nazism was a figment of Russia's imagination, then that's what it was, regardless of evidence to the contrary.

Someday, historians will look back on Euromaidan Ukraine as one of the looniest periods in western journalism – except, of course, for all the ones that have followed. But if one had to choose the looniest story of all, one that best reflects the abject toadyism of the reporting classes, it would have to be "Why Jews and Ukrainians Have Become Unlikely Allies," a 1,400-word article that ran on the Post -owned Foreign Policy website in May 2014. Four years later, it stands as a model of how not to write about an all-important political crisis.

Cohen's Conversion

Tyahnybok: 'Moscow-Jewish mafia' is running Ukraine.

The piece begins with the usual hand-wringing about Svoboda and Right Sector and expresses remorse that the latter still venerates the "controversial" Bandera, whose followers "fought on the side of the Nazis from 1944 until the end of World War II." (Actually, they welcomed the Germans from the start and, despite rocky relations with the Slav-hating Nazis, continued to work with them throughout the occupation.)

But then it gets down to business by asserting that as bad as Ukrainian nationalists may be, Russia is doubly worse. "Despite the substantial presence of right wing nationalists on the Maidan during the revolution," it says, "many in Ukraine's Jewish community resent being used by Putin in his propaganda war." The proof is an open letter signed by 21 Ukrainian Jewish leaders asserting that the real danger was Moscow.

"We know that the political opposition consists of various groups, including some that are nationalistic," the letter declared. "But even the most marginal of them do not demonstrate anti-Semitism or other forms of xenophobia. And we certainly know that our very few nationalists are well-controlled by civil society and the new Ukrainian government – which is more than can be said for the Russian neo-Nazis, who are encouraged by your security services."

This was music to Washington's ears. But if neo-Nazis are free of "anti-Semitism or other forms of xenophobia," how does one explain the white-power symbols in the Kiev town hall? If nationalists were "very few" in number, why did journalists need to explain them away? If Russian security forces really encouraged neo-Nazis, where were the torchlight parades and portraits of Bandera-like collaborators hanging from public buildings in Moscow?

The article might have noted that Josef Zissels, the Jewish community leader who organized the letter, is a provocative figure who has long maintained close relations with Ukraine's far right. A self-styled Zhydobanderivets – a word that roughly translates as "Kike follower of Bandera" – he has since infuriated other Jewish leaders by criticizing California Congressman Ro Khanna for sending a letter to the State Department asking that pressure be brought on the governments of Poland and Ukraine to combat Holocaust revisionism in their countries.

Forty-one Jewish leaders were so angry, in fact, that they sent out a letter of their own thanking Khannna for his efforts, expressing "deep concern at the rise of anti-Semitic incidents and expressions of xenophobia and intolerance, including attacks on Roma communities," and "strongly proclaim[ing] that Mr. Iosif Zissels and the organization VAAD do not represent the Jews of Ukraine." A Jewish community leader in Russia was so outraged by the pro-Bandera apologetics of Zissels and a Ukrainian-Jewish oligarch named Igor Kolomoisky that he said he wanted to hang both men "in Dnepropetrovsk in front of the Golden Rose Synagogue until they stop breathing."

So Foreign Policy used a highly dubious source to whitewash Ukraine's growing neo-Nazi presence and absolve it of anti-Semitism. As crimes against the truth go, this is surely one of the worst. But now that the problem has gotten too big for even the corporate media to ignore, overnight muckrakers like Joshua Cohen are seeing to it that getting away with such offenses will no longer be so easy. Before his abrupt about-face, the author of that misleading Foreign Policy piece was Joshua Cohen.

Daniel Lazare is the author of The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace, 1996) and other books about American politics. He has written for a wide variety of publications from The Nation to Le Monde Diplomatique , and his articles about the Middle East, terrorism, Eastern Europe, and other topics appear regularly on such websites as Jacobin and The American Conservative .

If you enjoyed this original article please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.


mike k , July 6, 2018 at 4:49 pm

The leaders of Israel who sell weapons to the Nazis in Ukraine, are no better than those Nazis.

Susan Sunflower , July 6, 2018 at 1:37 pm

for those having Alice In Wonderland whiplash, yes the USA was funding the Ukranian neonazis Azov Brigade before Congress banned the funding in March 2018.

https://therealnews.com/columns/the-us-is-arming-and-assisting-neo-nazis-in-ukraine-while-congress-debates-prohibition

which of course does not mean that others are not funding them and/or funding or simply "arming" their friends and allies

https://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-arming-neo-nazis-ukraine/24876

same old "syrian playbook" wrt to enemy-of-my-memory bull .

rosemerry , July 6, 2018 at 10:12 am

The two-hour documentary "Putin" shows in an interview Pres. Putin explaining his government's cooperating with the Western- supported Ukrainian government for four years (because they were neighbors and had many links) which he considered normal behavior. However, once the 2014 election brought in a more "Moscow-friendly" team to govern Ukraine, the USA began its plans to overthrow it and we see all the consequences shown in this article.

Francis Lee , July 6, 2018 at 7:53 am

Ukraine: Fascism's toe-hold in Europe.

The tacit support given by the centre-left to the installation of the regime in Kiev should give them cause for concern writes Frank.

Politics in the Ukraine can only be understood by reference to its history and ethnic and cultural make-up – a make-up criss-crossed by lasting and entrenched ethnic, cultural and political differences. The country has long been split into the northern and western Ukraine, where Ukrainian is the official and everyday lingua franca, and the more industrialised regions of the east and south where a mixture of Russian speaking Ukrainians and ethnic Russians reside. Additionally, there has long been Hungarian and Romanian settlement in the west of the country, and a particularly important Polish presence, whose unofficial capital, Lviv, was once the Polish city of Lwow. The Russian Orthodox Church is the predominant form of Christianity in the East, whilst in the west the Christian tradition tends towards Roman Catholicism.

Politically the Eastern and Southern Oblasts (Regions) which includes the cities and centres of heavy industry, Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhe, Nikolayev, Kherson, Simferopol and Odessa, have tended to tilt towards Russia whilst the western regions have had a more western orientation. This has traditionally been reflected in the electoral division of the country. There is no party which can be considered 'national' in this respect, except ironically, the old Communist party, which of course is now banned. The major regional parties have been the Fatherland party of Yulia Tymoshenko (since renamed) and the former head of government, Arseniy Yatsenyuk as well as the ultra-nationalists predominantly in the west of the country, and the deposed Victor Yanukovich's Party of the Regions in the East (now defunct) along with its junior partner in the coalition, the Ukrainian Communist Party.

However, what is new since the coup in February 2014 there has been the emergence from the shadows of ultra-nationalist (fascist) parties and movements, with both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary (i.e.,military) wings. In the main 'Svoboda' or Freedom Party, and the paramilitaries of 'Right Sector' (Fuhrer: Dimitry Yarosh) who spearheaded the coup in Kiev; these have been joined or changed their names to inter alia the Radical Party, and Patriots of the Ukraine; this in addition to the punitive right-wing militias, such as the Azov Regiment responsible for numerous atrocities in the Don Bas.

Suffice it to say, however, that these political movements and parties did not emerge from nowhere.
This far-right tradition has been historically very strong in the western Ukraine. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was first established in 1929 and brought together, war veterans, student fraternities, far-right groups and various other disoriented socially and political flotsam and jetsam under its banner. The OUN took its ideological position from the writings of one, Dymtro Dontsov, who, like Mussolini had been a socialist, and who was instrumental in creating an indigenous Ukrainian fascism based upon the usual mish-mash of writings and theories including Friedrich Nietzsche, Georges Sorel, and Charles Maurras. Dontsov also translated the works of Hitler and Mussolini into Ukrainian.

The OUN was committed to ethnic purity, and relied on violence, assassination and terrorism, not least against other Ukrainians, to achieve its goal of a totalitarian and homogeneous nation-state. Assorted enemies and impediments to this goal were Communists, Russians, Poles, and of course – Jews. Strongly oriented toward the Axis powers OUN founder Evhen Konovalets (1891-1938) stated that his movement was ''waging war against mixed marriages'', with Poles, Russians and Jews, the latter which he described as ''foes of our national rebirth''. Indeed, rabid anti-Semitism has been a leitmotif in the history of Ukrainian fascism, which we will return to below.

Konovelts himself was assassinated by a KGB hit-man in 1938 after which the movement split into two wings: (OUN-m) under Andrii Melnyk and, more importantly for our purposes (OUN-b) under Stepan Bandera. Both wings committed to a new fascist Europe. Upon the German invasion in June 1941, the OUN-b attempted to establish a Ukrainian satellite state loyal to Nazi Germany. Stepan Lenkavs'kyi the then chief propagandist of the OUN-b 'government' advocated the physical destruction of Ukrainian Jewry. OUN-b's 'Prime Minister' Yaroslav Stets'ko, and deputy to Bandera supported, ''the destruction of the Jews and the expedience of bringing German methods of exterminating Jewry to Ukraine, barring their assimilation and the like.''

During the early days of the rapid German advance into the Soviet Union there were some 140 pogroms in the western Ukraine claiming the lives of between 13000-35000 people (Untermensch, in fascist terminology). In 1943-1944 OUN-b and its armed wing the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukrainska povstanska armia – UPA) carried out large scale ethnic cleansing resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands; this was a particularly gruesome affair in Volhynia where some 90000 Poles and thousands of Jews were murdered. The campaign of the UPA continued well into the 1950s until it was virtually wiped out by the Soviet forces.

It should be said that during this early period Bandera himself had been incarcerated by the German authorities up until his release in 1944, since unlike Bandera they were not enamoured of an independent Ukrainian state but wanted total control. Bandera was only released at this late date since the German high command was endeavouring to build up a pro-German Ukrainian quisling military force to hold up the remorseless advance of the Red Army. Also pursuant to this it is also worth noting that during this period the 14th Galizian Waffen SS Division, a military Ukrainian collaborationist formation established by Heinrich Himmler, was formed to fight the Soviet forces, and yet another being the Nachtingal brigade; (1) this unit was integrated into the 14th Galizian in due course. It is also interesting to note, that every year, and up to 2014 commemoration ceremony including veterans of this unit takes place with a march through Lviv in an evening torchlight parade – genuine Nazi pastiche. The flag of this unit is not dissimilar to the Peugeot logo, the standing lion, and can be seen at ultra-nationalist rallies as well as football matches involving Lviv Karparti FC. There are also numerous statues of Bandera across Ukraine, and since the 2014 coup even street names bearing the same name. Significantly the UPA have now received political rehabilitation from the Kiev Junta, with Bandera declared a hero of the Ukraine and the UPA rebranded as 'freedom fighters.' One particularly splendid statue of Bandera stands proudly in Lviv and is usually adorned with flowers.

Other novel attractions the capital of Banderestan include 'Jewish themed restaurants' one such is Kryivka (Hideout or Lurking Hole) where guests have a choice of dishes and whose dinning walls are decorated with larger than life portraits of Bandera, the toilet with Russian and Jewish anecdotes. At another Jewish themed restaurant guests are offered black hats of the sort worn by Hasidim. The menu lists no prices for the dishes; instead, one is required to haggle over highly inflated prices ''in the Jewish fashion''. Yes, it's all good clean fun in Lviv. Anti-Semitism also sells. Out of 19 book vendors on the streets of central Lviv, 16 were openly selling anti-Semitic literature. About 70% of the anti-Semitic publications in Ukraine are being published by and educational institution called MUAP (The Inter-Regional Academy of Personnel Management). MAUP is a large, well-connected and increasingly powerful organization funded from outside anti-Semite sources, and also connected to White Supremacist groups in the USA and to the David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

(It is one of the ironies of history that if the Zionists in AIPAC and the Washington neo-con think tanks, and the Labour Party Friends of Israel, were so concerned about anti-Semitism, they might try looking for it in Lviv. They wouldn't have to search very far.)
Present day neo-Nazi groupings in Ukraine – Svoboda (Freedom) party and Right Sector – have been the direct descendants from the prior ideological cesspool. Heading Svoboda is Oleh Tyahnybok. Although these are separate organizations Tyahnybok's deputy Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn is the main link between Svoboda's official wing and neo-Nazi militias like Right Sector. The Social-Nationalist party as it was formerly known chose as its logo an amended version of the Wolfsangel, a symbol used by many SS divisions on the Eastern front during the war who in 2004 a celebration of the OUN-UPA, stated in 2004, that ''they fought against the Muscovite, Germans, Jews and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.'' And further that ''Ukraine was ruled by a Muscovite-Jewish mafia.'' Tyahnybok came under pressure from the then President, Yuschenko, to retract his inflammatory statements, which he did, but he then retracted the retraction!

Given the fact that Svoboda was, apart from its stamping grounds in the west, making little national electoral headway, it was essential to clean up its image and deny its Nazi past. But this was always going to be difficult since the members of such groups cannot help the unscripted outbursts and faux pas which they tend to make and which reveals their true colours. For example, following the conviction and sentencing of John Demjanjuk to five years in jail for his role as an accessory to the murder of 27,900 people at the Sobibor death camp, Tyahnybok travelled to Germany and met up with Demjanjuk's lawyer, presenting the death camp guard as a hero, a victim of persecution ''who is fighting for truth''.
And so it goes on. We can therefore infer that this organization is inveterate fascist. More disturbing Svoboda has links with the so-called Alliance of National European Movements, which includes: Nationaldemokraterna of Sweden, Front Nationale of France, Fiamma Tricolore in Italy, the Hungarian Jobbik and the Belgian National Front. More importantly Svoboda held several ministerial portfolios in the Kiev administration, and Right Sector swaggers around Kiev streets with impunity, and/or are being drafted into a National Guard to deal with the separatist movements in the east, or to beat down anyone who doesn't conform to their Ayran racial and political ideals.

One would have thought that this mutating revolution in the Ukraine would have drawn attention of the centre-left to the fact that fascism had gained a vital beachhead in Europe, and that the danger signals should be flashing. But not a bit of it; a perusal of the Guardian newspaper quickly reveals that their chief concern has been with a non-existent 'Russian threat'. One of their reporters – or old friend, Luke Harding -described Right Sector as an ''eccentric group of people with unpleasant right-wing views.'' Priceless! This must rank as the political understatement of the century. In fact, the Guardian was simply reiterating the US-imposed neo-conservative foreign policy. But naturally, this is par for the course.

(1) The Nachtingal brigade, which was later incorporated into the SS Galizien, took part in a three-day massacre of the Jewish population of Lvov (now Lviv) from 30 June 1941. Roman Shukhevych was the commander of the Nachtingal and later, in 1943, became commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (the "Banderivtsy", or UPA/UIA[5] ), armed henchmen of the fascist Stepan Bandera, who after the war pretended that they had fought both Nazis and Communists. Members of the division are also accused of having murdered some 800 residents of the Polish village of Huta Pieniacka and 44 civilians in the village of Ch?aniów.

Paolo , July 6, 2018 at 7:11 am

Just for the record: the Ukrainians hailed the Nazis as liberators after the Soviets had let millions of Ukrainians die of hunger in the thirties, a sort of "genocide" that goes under the name of Holodomor and has officially been recognized by western Parlaments only a few decades ago. In eastern Ukraine there were no more inhabitants after the Holodomor, and the Russians imported hundreds of thousand peasants from Russia to get agriculture working again.

The problems of Ukraine are so deep that fomenting regime change there was a most idiotic thing to do. Sooner or later the problems will explode, and it will be tough shit. Whoever helped this regime change should be locked up in some high security jail as far as possible.

Garrett Connelly , July 6, 2018 at 9:52 am

The big lie is 180° opposite of reality repeated over and over using free corporate propaganda.

vinnieoh , July 5, 2018 at 3:15 pm

Still scratching my head at the electric last line of Mr. Lazare's piece. I'm mean, I'm used to "official" organs like WaPo and NYT publishing whatever narrative is most helpful to whatever pieces are being moved on the chessboard, but for the same "freelance journalist" to have written both the earlier Foreign Policy piece and the recent WaPo piece is a puzzle to me.

Does Joshua Cohen just write stuff that goes with the flow (at any particular moment) and has a good chance of being published (and consequently of himself being paid)?

Or did this person really have an epiphany, and the scales fell from his eyes? I suspect a third explanation though what that may be eludes me. One thing is for sure, as a Trump/Putin meeting gets closer, expect more false "official" narratives concerning both Ukraine and Syria.

robjira , July 5, 2018 at 2:54 pm

https://off-guardian.org/2018/01/11/documentary-ukraine-on-fire-2016/

For anyone who hasn't watched this film yet.

Seamus Padraig , July 5, 2018 at 2:05 pm

'The U.S.-backed "Euromaidan" uprising not only drove out former president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, who had won an OSCE-certified election, but tore the country in two, precisely because ultra-rightists like C14 were in the lead But if one had to choose the looniest story of all, one that best reflects the abject toadyism of the reporting classes, it would have to be "Why Jews and Ukrainians Have Become Unlikely Allies," a 1,400-word article that ran on the Post-owned Foreign Policy website in May 2014.'

Here's the thing though: however weird it may sound, there actually DOES seem to exist some sort of tacit alliance between (some, not all) Jews and Ukrainian Nazis. Even if their ultimate goals are completely at odds–the Nazis hate the EU, but the Jews mostly want to join it–they nearly always seem to work together against Russia. It has even been maintained that the Azov Battalion (one of the all-volunteer Neo-Nazi militias fighting against the Donbass rebels) was entirely financed for a time by Jewish oligarch Ihor Kholomoisky, at least until he did something to piss Poroshenko off and got sacked from his post as governor of Dniepropetrovsk. And in the beginning, Jews who tried to point out that Neo-Nazi groups were involved in overthrowing Yanukovych, like Dr. Stephen Cohen, were roundly denounced a 'Russia apologists' just for stating facts.

But now that Washington's whole Ukraine project has gone south, I guess the Nazis, having outlived their usefulness, are, as usual, to be the fall-guys and take all the blame.

Anna , July 5, 2018 at 2:39 pm

yeh, the Kaganat of Nuland has many veils.
The most stunning aspect of the banderite putsch in Kiev was the dead silence of nazi-hunters from Wiesenthal Center, the always oh-so-sensitive ADL, the main 52 (fifty-two!) American Jewish organizations, and the overall docility and compliance of the "righteous" Israel with the banderite-neo-Nazi ideology by Kagans-selected power structures in Ukraine.
Mr. Kolomojsky, a financier of neo-nazi battalion Azov, is still an Israeli citizen.
Mrs. Nuland-Kagan, the main machinator of the regime change in Kiev, has not been ostracized by the Jewish Community at large.
The deeply amoral and bloodthirsty Carl Gerschman from NED, who has been the main cheerleader for the putsch and for the installing the banderite-friendly government in Kiev, has not been ostracized by the Jewish Community at large either. What a stench!
https://medium.com/@gmochannel/us-staged-a-coup-in-ukraine-brief-history-and-facts-898c6d0007d6

Pft , July 5, 2018 at 9:07 pm

Yeah. The prime minister and many of the top oligarchs are Jewish. Relations between Ukraine and Israel seem quite good despite the UNSC vote that the US abstained on regarding Israeli settlements in the West Bank, perhaps reminded by Stalin doing the same to them in the 1920's.

As for relations with the neo nazis I remember before WWII that Zionists in Palestine cooperated with Nazis who sent German Jews to Palestine in return for the purchase of German goods which were being boycotted by Jews in the west

I suspect most Americans don't know Ukrainian history. The early years of Bolshevik rule were quite brutal and over 10 million rural Christians lost their lives in Ukraine over their policies .Solzhenitsyn 200 years can shed some light on the roots of the anti-Semitism among the peasants that developed in the 20's-30's and no doubt has been passed on.

Robert , July 6, 2018 at 4:24 pm

I've thought about this myself and have concluded that a fair number of Jewish organizations and institutions in the Ukraine were receiving a small portion of the US State Department funding allocated to the Ukraine each year of $200-250 million, totaling $5 billion since 1992. In return for this rather small (by US standards) outlay to a broad spectrum of NGOs, private educational and religious institutions, and political groups, the US purchased an enormous amount of influence. Most of the members of these groups were unaware of this US support, as the funds were funneled through individual leaders who were tasked to influence opinion, organize demonstrations and petitions, and write letters to the press and government members. Scholarships to the US and Canada were offered to promising youth to ensure continuity of support. For this reason, most Jewish and other groups operating in Ukraine have, until recently and only with reluctance, been willing to deviate from the official US "story". Thus, they knowingly (at least as far as their leadership was concerned) supported an overtly US-led neo-Nazi coup.

mike , July 5, 2018 at 1:24 pm

Makes sense that Josh Cohen is a former U.S. Agency for International Development project officer involved in managing economic reform projects in the former Soviet Union. Isn't that really what this is all about? Putin gets elected and takes charge of the economy, jailing corrupt oligarchs and putting the kibosh on said reform projects sponsored by us in care of Jeffrey Sachs et al. As Russia tries to reassert its sovereignty the US gets miffed and retaliates.

It's a lot of fun until someone loses an eye.

Tom Hall , July 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm

The Electronic Intifada has just posted an article by Asa Winstanley detailing how Israel, among others, has been supplying the Ukrainian Azov Battalion with military arms. It's well worth reading.

https://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-arming-neo-nazis-ukraine/24876

The next time you hear a pro-Israel mouthpiece sounding off about purported antisemitism in the British Labour Party, or in pro-Palestinine activist circles in the U.S., invite them to consider Israel's policy -- and that of the U.S. as well as friendly European states -- of direct military sponsorship of textbook Nazism in Ukraine. Jews are being menaced and beaten in the streets of Kiev by armed bands who celebrate their historical persecution, while thugs like Avigdor Lieberman sit cordially with officials representing that regime. But then, such warm relations between Zionists and anti-Semites is an old story.

Jeff Harrison , July 5, 2018 at 1:03 pm

Interesting. Anyone with two brains to rub together knows that the US, to the best of it's ability, has been surrounding Russia with compliant right wing governments, usually dictators, but we've gotten better at manipulating elections to get reliable puppet government. The bad news is that it is a full time job to stay on top of that.

Gary Weglarz , July 5, 2018 at 1:01 pm

It used to be that the only things one could depend on were "death & taxes." Now of course we must add to that list the very dependable presence of CIA / State Dept lies parroted by MSM all over the West. Lies which are endlessly repeated in defiance of all physical reality and often in direct opposition to actual events in the actual world we live in. From the Ukraine coup, to Russia-gate, to the "Assad's gassing his own people" regime change propaganda, to the totally surreal Alice in Wonderland Skripnal poisoning nonsense in the U.K, the Western MSM have been as dependable as the rising sun. They can and do provide fact-free, evidence-free reporting directly from the bowels of the deep state in support of the neocolonial West, including unending support for the never ending resort to mass violence the West relies upon to keep the rest of the planet subjugated – just as it has for the last 500+ years.

irina , July 5, 2018 at 2:06 pm

It's not just the media. The late night talk show hosts are doing their bit too, as I heard last night on a Jimmy Kimmel rerun (of a recent show). Can't remember the context as I was doing the dishes, but did hear him say the usual "Russian illegally annexed Crimea" standard phrase, immediately followed by "and then invaded Ukraine". The latter just casually tossed off as a given. People hear these memes constantly repeated and, regardless of their veracity (suspect to say the least) it becomes part of their worldview.

Who is behind the political preaching of hosts like Jimmy Kimmel ? Inquiring minds want to know !

Joe Tedesky , July 5, 2018 at 2:43 pm

You know what irina, seeing these late night talk shows go all crazy over Putin makes me think of the Zio-Media executives, and where their allegiance to power resides. Joe

Devil's Advocate , July 5, 2018 at 2:48 pm

I would assume you'd have to look at who owns the media source in question. Kimmel's show is on ABC, which is partly owned by Disney. Follow the money chain of those 2 parent companies, and you have your answer.

Gary Weglarz , July 5, 2018 at 6:28 pm

irina – I quite agree. The same is true of the former Daily Show crew members who now have their own shows. Several have shown themselves to be quite the little imperialist war mongers when it comes to gleefully repeating the CIA sponsored Syrian regime change and Russiagate propaganda. Samantha Bee & John Oliver kept triggering my gag reflex with their propaganda lines until I found a simple but effective solution and stopped watching them altogether. We have an amazingly seamless propaganda system here in the U.S. One can chose to either get one's "pro-war regime change propaganda" delivered with barely concealed racism and misogyny from Fox News, or instead opt for hearing the same nonsense delivered with pretentious blather and catchy jazz interludes at PBS. American democracy is all about having "choices."

Jeff Harrison , July 5, 2018 at 7:57 pm

I quite agree. I knew the minute that they started calling RT a propaganda outlet that, in fact, the USG was running a full scale propaganda operation. I don't know if I simply wasn't paying enough attention or if they have, in fact ramped the operation up, but I can hardly read any MSM outlet's output without calling bullshit on it.

irina , July 6, 2018 at 2:55 am

Jimmy Kimmel actually used to be funny and there is a really good clip (somewhere on youtube no doubt) of him reading a 'doctored' Dr. Seuss
book to The Donald (a live guest) during his primary candidacy.

But since The Donald's election Kimmel has opened almost every show with 'ten minutes hate' segment on The Donald. I still watch (or at least listen) occasionally because I want to know what is being fed to The Public.

You are absolutely right though, "we have an amazingly seamless propaganda system here in the US". The average person maybe has 30 minutes to devote to the news, between getting home and having dinner; they watch some sort of news show and think they are 'informed'. But it actually takes MANY hours and a knowledge of alternative websites to even begin to piece together an approximation of what might, in reality, be going on.

The Russians used to say that, at least they knew they were being propagandized.

Unfortunately, probably due to 'American Exceptionalism', most Americans think the MSM is bringing them 'the truth'. But nothing could be further from The Truth.

Peter H , July 6, 2018 at 10:41 am

I can't count the number of times I've had to turn off Colbert's Late Show for his Russian/Putin bashing BS. So disappointing. That's a rule in my house now. The first mention of Russia and off it goes.

Drew Hunkins , July 5, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Likewise, the corporate militarist-Zio media should eventually have to concede someday that the current Syrian "rebels" are little more than ruthless sociopathic Saudi-Zio-Washington intel agency supported mercenary terrorists.

Folks in the know knew very early on that much of the Kiev putschists and violent invaders of Eastern Ukraine were neo-Nazi types bent on eradicating the last vestiges of Russian social and ethnic solidarity.

It's really truly remarkable when one steps back to think about it all. These are the depraved groups the crypto-fascists, the Wall Street militarist imperialists, and Zionists have embedded themselves with: bloodthirsty Takfiri mercenary terrorists and neo-Nazis.

Bob Van Noy , July 5, 2018 at 2:25 pm

Each time I see an article like this I'm reminded of the videos of Zbigniew Brzezinski's early meetings with the Mujahideen and his manipulation of cultures on The Grand Chessboard or "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" a totally absurd assumption and the natural outcome of that absurdity, is blowback which this article again addresses. Our "boots on the ground" end up paying the price of this kind of supposed intellectualism. Shameful. Thank you Drew Hunkins.

Joe Tedesky , July 5, 2018 at 2:39 pm

Bob the old saying if I got right is the company you keep is what you become. We have truly loss our way, and Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of the biggest reasons we have become the predators of this dying green earth. All this for the profit, as all mankind must yield to the power of the dollar. Sad. Joe

MBeaver , July 6, 2018 at 5:03 am

One would think we had learned from Vietnam. Instead the "peace loving" liberals do everything to destabilize whole region for nothing and then send soldiers in who die for their messed up agenda.

JWalters , July 5, 2018 at 7:16 pm

It is truly remarkable. A lot of the behind-the-scenes magic is explained in "War Profiteers and Israel's Bank" http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com
.

[Jul 06, 2018] The IMF is back in Argentina an economic and social crisis, even more serious than the present one, looms large on the horizon by Eric Toussaint , Sergio Ferrari

Jun 27, 2018 | www.defenddemocracy.press

The second neoliberalization of Argentina turned into second financial crash. Brazil is probably next. And Argentina and Brazil were two contires in which neoliberal staged a counterrevolution after financial crisi of 2008.

The IMF is back in Argentina: "an economic and social crisis, even more serious than the present one, looms large on the horizon"

1. The vicious circle of illegitimate debt grapples the Argentine people once again
2. IMF's $ 50 billion loan surpasses Greece's previous record

Sergio Ferrari from Berne, Switzerland interviewed Eric Toussaint, international debt specialist

After more than a decade of Argentina's official "distance" from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mauricio Macri's government has just knocked on the doors of the world's financial police. The $ 50 billion credit granted by the organization during the first week of June sets an international record and will directly impact the economic and social situation of this South American country. Eric Toussaint, Belgian historian and economist, an eminent specialist in this field and spokesperson for the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM), based in Brussels, pointed this out. Interview follows. Q: Why did the Argentine government turn to the IMF , in full view of Argentina's relations with this international organization in the late 1990s and their dire political consequences? Is the financial top brass of the Macri team despairing?

Eric Toussaint (ET): Since the Mauricio Macri government assumed office in December 2015, its policies have led to a critical situation. Sharp reduction in export taxes have brought down tax revenues, the debt servicing expenditure has been significantly increased (100% higher in 2018 than in 2017). The country is running out of dollars. Currency reserves fell by $ 8 billion earlier this year. Macri needs this IMF loan to continue debt servicing. Private international lenders require such a loan as a prerequisite for continued credit to Argentina. A very large chunk of the IMF loan will be used directly to repay foreign creditors in dollars.


Q: If we look at the Argentine history of the 1990s, this seems to be a scheme of playing with fire

Read also: What Kissinger did in Chile, Cyprus, Turkey, the Middle East and ... his own country

ET: Yes, of course. But I would like to further explore the background of this appeal to the IMF

Q- Please go ahead!

ET: This shows that the government's policy is an abject failure: with a peso that devalued fast; with the interest rate set at a high 40% by the Argentine Republic's Central Bank ; with the $ 8 billion reduction in international reserves that keep declining. And with a debt service that has increased by 100% compared to 2017. Faced with a balance sheet of such a nature, undoubtedly it is a total failure. Macri claimed that a high growth level and a viable debt would be ensured by paying the debt – between end-2015 and early-2016 – and by compensating the vulture funds , in keeping with Judge Thomas Griesa's verdict. He knelt before the vulture funds (see: http://www.cadtm.org/Reject-the-Imminent-Agreement-with ). But the facts confirm that this plan did not work. Debt rose at a whirling pace and it's startling to see how fast it snowballed. As a result, it became impossible to convince the creditors that Argentina could repay its debt in the future. That's why Macri is asking for this $ 50 billion credit. We must remember that when Greece received $ 30 billion from the IMF in 2010 in the backdrop of a dramatic situation, it was a record amount!

Q: Some analysts say that President Macri is trying to breathe in some fresh air with the help of this loan, before commanding a comfortable position in the October 2019 elections.

ET: I would not like to engage in farfetched political speculations. I prefer facts. I have read the contents of the agreement signed with the IMF and it has imposed a severe reduction in general social benefits and wages of the public servants. Public investment will be almost wiped out and it will lead to an economic depression. Debt repayment will increase and the IMF charges high interest rates . The government will impose taxes with elevated rates on the public to repay the debt, while continuing to hand out fiscal perks to the capitalists. The government will encourage the export of the maximum number of agricultural products and raw materials to the global market by reinforcing the extractivist-exporting model. IMF's policy will lead the country to an economic and social crisis even more serious than what it suffered before this loan was sanctioned. Let's go back to your question. It is very likely that, politically, Macri will claim that what he is doing is not his project, but what the IMF demands from him.

Read also: USA - In praise of Riotous Assembly

Q: This brings us back to a not-so-distant past and I would like to highlight that: the decade of indebtedness and the IMF's role in the 1990s that eventually led to the social outburst of 2001. Can history repeat itself without tragedy?

ET: History is repeating itself in a country that is a serial debt payer. It started with the illegitimate and odious debt inherited from the military dictatorship of the 1970s. IMF's support was crucial for this dictatorship to continue until the early 1980s. The vicious circle of illegitimate debts persisted during the 1990s with President Carlos Menem followed by Fernando De la Rúa. Their allegiance to the IMF's recommendations led to the great social crisis of late 2001. President Rodríguez Saá, in his few days or Presidency at end-2001, announced the suspension of debt repayment to allay popular anger. The debt was restructured in 2005, then re-negotiated with creditors who had not participated before. It caused a crisis in the government and evoked sharp criticism from the people (see the section on Argentina here http://www.cadtm.org/Restructuration-Audit-Suspension,11723 ). Former minister Roberto Lavagna, who had negotiated the 2005 restructuring, objected to negotiations with outsider creditors. The Argentine authorities never wanted to do what Ecuador did in 2007-2008: to carry out a debt audit with citizens' participation, which could have defined the odious and illegitimate part of the debt (see: http://www.cadtm.org/Video-The-Ecuador-debt-audit-a and http://www.cadtm.org/Vulture-funds-are-the-vanguard ). This, along with the inconsistency of the Cristina Fernandez government's national sovereignty discourse, frustrated people. This partly explains Macri's electoral victory in 2015.

Q: A course over several decades where illegitimate debts condition government policies without ever finding structural solutions

Read also: Two-Thirds of Human Rights Defenders Killed in 2017 Were From Latin America

ET: Yes. And that led today to this new mega-loan from the IMF. From now on, it can be included in the category of odious and illegitimate debts. An odious debt is a debt contracted against the people's interests, and the creditors know that it is illegitimate. Evidently a new illegitimate and odious debt is taking shape.

Q: What about future prospects?

ET: I have already spoken about the deteriorating economic and social crisis. I hope for a strong popular reaction in the coming months. I also hope that the popular forces will not take too long to consolidate their strength to oppose even more vigorously the Macri government and the pressures of the IMF and other international creditors.

Translated by Suchandra De Sarkar

[Jul 05, 2018] SNAFU! Dr. Phillip Karber on the Russian Way of War (MUST WATCH VIDEO!!!!)

If we assume that this is true: "Beyond that, the Ukrainians had no realistic option to defend Crimea. Their military was in extremely poor shape by the time 2014 rolled around thanks to more than two decades of neglect, monumental corruption and even more monumental incompetence by Ukrainian politicians and military leaders, while the Russians had well prepared contingency plans and had already begun far reaching military reforms as a result of their experiences in Chechnya and Georgia."
Then Ukrainian armed forces should drastically improve after several years of fighting.
Notable quotes:
"... The fact that the US leadership didn't even stop to consider how the Russians might react shows just how arrogant, hubristic and incompetent Obama and his national security team really were. ..."
"... Caveat emptor. Karber is a flamboyant blowhard. This is not to dismiss Russia's invasion or or act of war in Ukraine but merely to state that this guy is essentially a Tom Clancy cut out. I like a lot of his slides (I wonder who made them?) and his valuable tactical observations (even if it does sound, at times, like a shopping list for Ukrainian military aid) but he is no SME. https://foreignpolicy.com/2... ..."
Jul 05, 2018 | www.snafu-solomon.com
Thundarr the Barbarian15 minutes ago

If the Obama administration ordered Ukraine not to fight for Crimea on the assumption they could force Russia to give it back via sanctions, they miscalculated badly.

The Russians believe Crimea rightfully belongs to them and they saw control of it as vital to their national security. There were some serious shenanigans going on in Kiev, which the Russians interpreted as an American engineered coup. The Russians reacted to what they believed was a major threat to their national security. The fact that the US leadership didn't even stop to consider how the Russians might react shows just how arrogant, hubristic and incompetent Obama and his national security team really were.

There is no way the Russians will ever give up Crimea, especially under pressure from the US, NATO and the EU. No Russian politician could do that and hope to survive. Besides, the Russians have repeatedly demonstrated an ability to endure suffering and hardships much greater than the capacity of Western nations to endure and the sanctions showed that Russia was far less vulnerable to pressure than Western politicians assumed.

Beyond that, the Ukrainians had no realistic option to defend Crimea. Their military was in extremely poor shape by the time 2014 rolled around thanks to more than two decades of neglect, monumental corruption and even more monumental incompetence by Ukrainian politicians and military leaders, while the Russians had well prepared contingency plans and had already begun far reaching military reforms as a result of their experiences in Chechnya and Georgia. SurfaceBook 4 hours ago I disagree with mr kerber's assesment on Crimean ops being the largest air assault in history. Operation Market Garden in WW2 was the largest Air assault involving divisions of paratroopers from US/UK/Poland into german occupied drop zones (in conjuction with a land assault forcing it's way to Arnhem).

One other curiousity , Washington 'ordered' Ukraine ? a sovereign nation under orders ? just who is in charge of ukraine at that time ? see more

Thundarr the Barbarian SurfaceBook 2 hours ago

To answer your question: Victoria Nuland, who was the Assistant Secretary of State for Eurasian Affairs during the Obama administration. In other words, she was the American proconsul for Eastern Europe.

ignatzthecat6 hours ago

Bottom line? "The Fog of War".........All these scenarios mean nothing after the first "shot" is fired. If any US "enemy" cannot crush US air power they are finished from the gitgo. Not a fan of our foreign policies but we can "crush" the enemy; we just can't "rule" them.

Distiller9 hours ago

Would really like to hear the other side. Where does he get his information from? The Ukrainians? All this Russia-is-evil-and-scheming-to-do-more-evil is ... slightly over the top. I don't say it's impossible that Russian regular troops have been involved in Donbas but he makes it sound like Unternehmen Zitadelle

BSmitty13 hours ago

IMHO, beware taking too many lessons away from this conflict. The Ukranian's don't have anything close to the SEAD/DEAD/EW/airpower capability of the US. What worked against their aviation won't necessarily work against ours. Once mid-high altitude air defenses are down, enemy jammers will have a short lifespan.

His comments that even light infantry should have the means to get away when under attack, and sufficient armor to counter attack point to the inadequacies of Army IBCTs (Infantry, not "Interim").

IMHO, IBCTs should have 100% vehicular mobility, and have the option of attaching an independent tank battalion. Cobbling together random HMMWVs from div/corps just seems silly. Make vehicles part of the core TOE. see more

DOnT4 BSmitty 6 hours ago

You are assuming that we are working within our own timeline. Yes with enough time and blood, we can peal back their defense network with airpower. The question is, who buys us that time?

Russians (and the Chinese) ground forces trained to fight in contested airspace. The US Army assumes we have it.

utahbob6214 hours ago

Sol, Thanks for posting the link and asking for discussion. One thing that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up is how much of this is being shared with the PLA and worse the DPRK? They are pretty smart and probility can figure lots of this out on their own. Is there any PLA observers up front with the RuFA or exchanging TTPs in an AAR? Or professional papers and presentations at staff school level or higher? I am just a grunt and red leg, but how does the EW and fires part impact the navy? A step is being taken: http://soldiersystems.net/2... I wonder when this is part of OPFOR at NTC or 29 Palms? see more

Solomon Mod utahbob62 14 hours ago

NO! thank you for sharing !!!!! this is like getting a seat at the Army War College and getting to hear what is never shared with the troops or the public.

to be honest what i heard in that video was downright shocking. i won't say scary cause i won't be facing that shit but if i was i'd be beyond concerned.

to answer your question you can bet your last dollar that the Chinese are getting briefings on this. you can bet that they're not only studying the above vid but getting info from the subject matter experts in Russia.

this guy is senior but i would so love to hear an assessment of Marine Corps chances if war were to break out in Norway or surrounding countries (we still have the flank). how would a Marine Expeditionary Brigade standup to those type tactics. we're talking about a lighter formation than the US Army equivalent but with integrated air.

oh and a side note. as much as i think the US Army and Marine Corps would be in a hurtlocker can you imagine what would happen to any of our European allies if they were somehow isolated and attacked?

my only regret about this whole thing is that i wanted to sit back and drink in serious conversation about this video. instead i'm getting the usual trolling. i can tolerate that on the majority of subjects i cover here but this one is different. i wanted to hear from serious individuals doing serious thinking about what the Dr presented.

such is life. if you run across anything else PLEASE send it. i find this fascinating!

Deckard Rick15 hours ago T

he slide at 12.44 is also interesting it shows Russia's "desire" for "friendly relations" with the west and its neighbours. But i guess like in the cold war there is no shortage of naives that think that Russia understands anything else but sanctions or force. see more

spinfight Deckard Rick13 hours ago

Very true but defenses still have to be credible. It's pretty clear that a European military would get squashed like a bug.

Remington Steele16 hours ago

Caveat emptor. Karber is a flamboyant blowhard. This is not to dismiss Russia's invasion or or act of war in Ukraine but merely to state that this guy is essentially a Tom Clancy cut out. I like a lot of his slides (I wonder who made them?) and his valuable tactical observations (even if it does sound, at times, like a shopping list for Ukrainian military aid) but he is no SME. https://foreignpolicy.com/2...

Deckard Rick16 hours ago

My conclusions -- Western/ US allies/Nato armies will need to have:

- integrated air defence at every level from platoon to regimental.(manpads, spaag,
- mass fire/steel rain capabilities cheap and heavy MLRS also MLRS launched antiradiation missiles)
the israelis launched AGM Shrikes with boosters from trucks to target Syrian Radars
- Field Army EW sigint/elint/jamming/defense capabilities
- EW munitions (currently russia has tube artillery launched jammers don't know about the US or NATO)
- Small and light SPGs like the Gvozdika

spinfight Nuno Gomes 16 hours ago
Whilst I agree Russia does tend to export it's kit extensively. Also some of the potential uses such as GPS jamming drones, could be more than merely inconvenient on very small budgets.

[Jul 05, 2018] The Birth of Predatory Capitalism by Umair

Yes neoliberalism is deeply predatory. Still is survives as a social system for let's say 40 years (1987-2017) and probably will survive another 20-30 years. And what is coming might be worse. If Trump signify turn to "national neoliberalism" the next step from it might some kind of neofascism.
Notable quotes:
"... But financialization didn't just have a direct cost  --  no value being created, just men in shiny suits betting pebbles on who'd blink first. It also had an opportunity cost. As finance grew to be a larger and larger share of the economy, so the wind got sucked out of the sails of the "real economy", as American economists put it, which simply means people doing the work that actually does create value  --  teachers, nurses, engineers, artisans, bakers, small-town factories, and so on. Think about it simply: the more money that was burned up in speculating, the less that was available for making things of genuine value. So the incomes of all these people  --  those in the "real economy"  --  began to stagnate. New schools and hospitals and energy grids and so on weren't built  --  all the money was going towards speculating on the backs the old ones, sometimes, often, on their failures. A black hole was growing at the heart of the economy  --  but according to pundits, it was the sun itself. Everything was upside down. The bets were indeed about to all go south at once  --  only no one knew understood how or why yet. ..."
"... The third force in the rise of predatory capitalism was the implosion of the institution formerly known as the job. Now, just before peak financialization, beginning in the 1990s, many jobs were "offshored." That's a polite way to say that the speculators above discovered that companies were more profitable when they evaded as much of human civilization as possible. Find a country with no labour laws, no protections, no standards, no rule of law at all, in fact  --  and send jobs there. That way, you wouldn't have to pay for pensions, healthcare, childcare, insurance, and so on. Cost savings! Efficiency! Synergies, even  --  you could make everything in that one sweatshop. ..."
"... We're used to thinking that offshoring "took" jobs in rich countries. But the truth is subtler  --  and more ruinous. They blew apart the idea of a job as we used to know it. As jobs went to countries without good governance, decent labour laws, a boomerang effect happened. ..."
"... Managers began stripping away benefits of every kind, from childcare, to vacations, to healthcare. Until, at last, in a final triumph, the "at-will job" and the "zero-hours contract" were created  --  social contracts that were only "jobs" in name, but offered less than no stability, security, mobility, or opportunity. People who didn't have benefits could now be fired on a whim  --  and so now they bore all the risk. But the risk of what, precisely? ..."
"... Remember those speculators? Taking huge risks, betting billions with each other, on exactly nothing of real value? Risk had come full circle. Now it was the average person in the real economy who bore all the risks of these bets going bad. If the bets with south, who'd take the hit? All those people with zero benefits, no protection, no safety ..."
"... So in had to step governments. They bailed out the banks  --  but didn't "restructure" them, which is to say, fire their managers, wash out their shareholders, and sell off the bad loans and bets. They just threw money at them ..."
"... What does a bankrupt have to do? Liquidate. So governments began to slash investment in social systems of all kinds. Healthcare systems, pension systems, insurance systems, media and energy systems. This was the fourth step in the birth of predatory capitalism: austerity. ..."
"... The only thing keeping the real economy going at this point was investment by the government  --  after all, the speculators were speculating, not investing for the long run. It was governments that were effectively keeping economies afloat, by providing a floor for income, by anchoring economies with a vast pool of stable, safe, real, secure jobs, and investing dollars back in societies short of them. And yet, at the precise moment that governments needed to create more of precisely that, they did just the opposite. ..."
"... It's the once prosperous but now imploded middle which turns on the classes, ethnicities, groups, below it. The people who expected and felt entitled to lives of safety and security and stability  --  who anticipated being at the top of a tidy little hierarchy, the boss of this or that, the chieftain of that or this, but now find themselves adrift and unmoored in a collapsing society, powerless. ..."
"... Predatory capitalism imploding into strange, new forms of old diseases of the body politic ..."
Jul 05, 2018 | eand.co

A (successful) American politician who cries: Neo-nazis in the Bundestag . The extreme right rising in Italy . Poland's authoritarians purging its Supreme Court .

How did we get here? To a world where the forces of intolerance and indecency are on the rise, and those of decency, wisdom, and civilization are waning? Is something like a new Dark Age falling?

I think it has everything to do with predatory capitalism, and so I want to tell you a story. Of how it came to be born, in four steps, which span three decades.

During the 2000s, the economy of the rich world underwent something like a phase transition. It became "financialized", as the jargon goes  --  which simply means that finance came to make up a greater and greater share of the economy. Hedge funds and investment banks and shady financial vehicles of all kinds went from a modest portion of the economy, to making up a huge chunk of it  --  around half, in some countries.

Now, what was "financialization" for? What were all these bankers, hedge fund managers, investors, and so on, doing? The answer is: nothing. Nothing of value, anyways. They were simply placing bets with each other. Bets on bets on bets, meta-bets. Economists, who have something like an inferiority complex, envious of swashbuckling bankers, bought their marketing pitch hog, line, and sinker: "we're going to reduce risk! Everyone will benefit!" But no such thing was happening  --  and anyone could see it. Risk was being massively amplified, in fact, because every time a speculator made a billion dollar bet with another, they were both betting with the same pool of money, essentially. Whose money? It wasn't theirs  --  it was everyone's. Pensions, savings, bank accounts, earnings, retirement funds. All that being bet on bets on bets on bets which amounted to nothing. But what if all the bets went south at once?

First, I want you to really understand that what was happening was a zero-sum game, where one had to lose for another to win. Imagine there are three of us, in a little stone age tribe, with a hundred pebbles each. We spend all day every day finding new ways to lend pebbles to each other, to bet them on who'll blink first, or even bets on those bets, and so on. In our little economy, does anyone ever end up better off? Does anyone, for example, discover antibiotics, or even invent the wheel? Nope. We're just fools, who'll never accomplish, learn, or create anything, sitting around playing a zero-sum game, in which no real value is ever created. The pebbles never become anything more valuable, like, for example, books, symphonies, knowledge, or medicine. All that is exactly what was happening during the phase of financialization.

But financialization didn't just have a direct cost  --  no value being created, just men in shiny suits betting pebbles on who'd blink first. It also had an opportunity cost. As finance grew to be a larger and larger share of the economy, so the wind got sucked out of the sails of the "real economy", as American economists put it, which simply means people doing the work that actually does create value  --  teachers, nurses, engineers, artisans, bakers, small-town factories, and so on. Think about it simply: the more money that was burned up in speculating, the less that was available for making things of genuine value. So the incomes of all these people  --  those in the "real economy"  --  began to stagnate. New schools and hospitals and energy grids and so on weren't built  --  all the money was going towards speculating on the backs the old ones, sometimes, often, on their failures. A black hole was growing at the heart of the economy  --  but according to pundits, it was the sun itself. Everything was upside down. The bets were indeed about to all go south at once  --  only no one knew understood how or why yet.

How was the real economy to survive, then? Another hidden effect of financialization was super-concentration  --  the second force in the rise of predatory capitalism. Mom-and-pop capitalism is a healthy and beautiful thing, an economy of a million little shops, bakeries, artisans  --  but it takes only a modest attachment to a profit motive. But thanks to the rise of massive, global speculation, only aggressive quarterly profit-maximization was allowed. CEO earnings were hitched to share prices, and your share price only went up if your earnings did, relentlessly, illogicaly, crazily, every single quarter, instead of stabilizing at a happy, gentle amount  --  and so the only way left, in the end, to achieve it, was to build titanic monopolies, which could squeeze people for every dime. Once the economy had Macy's, JC Penney, K-Mart, Toys-R-Us and Sears. Now it has Walmart. The story was repeated across every single industry. Amazon, Google, Apple. A new age of monopoly arose.

But monopolies had an effect, too. The third force in the rise of predatory capitalism was the implosion of the institution formerly known as the job. Now, just before peak financialization, beginning in the 1990s, many jobs were "offshored." That's a polite way to say that the speculators above discovered that companies were more profitable when they evaded as much of human civilization as possible. Find a country with no labour laws, no protections, no standards, no rule of law at all, in fact  --  and send jobs there. That way, you wouldn't have to pay for pensions, healthcare, childcare, insurance, and so on. Cost savings! Efficiency! Synergies, even  --  you could make everything in that one sweatshop.

We're used to thinking that offshoring "took" jobs in rich countries. But the truth is subtler  --  and more ruinous. They blew apart the idea of a job as we used to know it. As jobs went to countries without good governance, decent labour laws, a boomerang effect happened. The machine discovered that it could do in rich countries what it had done in poor ones  --  and so it began stripping away everything that made a job "a job." Because the economy was increasingly composed of monopolies, giant companies, banks, and investors had the power to do so with impunity. Speculators began raiding pension funds. Managers began stripping away benefits of every kind, from childcare, to vacations, to healthcare. Until, at last, in a final triumph, the "at-will job" and the "zero-hours contract" were created  --  social contracts that were only "jobs" in name, but offered less than no stability, security, mobility, or opportunity. People who didn't have benefits could now be fired on a whim  --  and so now they bore all the risk. But the risk of what, precisely?

Remember those speculators? Taking huge risks, betting billions with each other, on exactly nothing of real value? Risk had come full circle. Now it was the average person in the real economy who bore all the risks of these bets going bad. If the bets with south, who'd take the hit? All those people with zero benefits, no protection, no safety, all those people for whom "a job" now meant something more like "a temporary soul-crushing way to avoid destitution." They're the ones who'd be fired, instantly, lose what little savings they had, have their already dwindling incomes slashed, be ruined.

And then the bets went bad. As bets tend to do, when you make too many of them, on foolish things. What had the speculators been betting with each other on? As it turns out, largely on property prices. But people without the stable jobs that had kept such a huge property bubble going didn't have growing incomes anymore. Property prices couldn't keep rising. Bang! The financial system fell like a row of dominoes. It turned out that everyone had bet property prices would go on rising  --  and on the other side of that bet was everyone else. All of them had been betting on the same thing  --  "we all bet prices will keep rising forever!" The losses were so vast, and so widespread, that the whole global financial system buckled. The banks didn't have the money to pay each other for these foolish bets  --  how could they have? Each one had bet the whole house on the same thing, and they all would have gone bankrupt to each other. LOL  --  do you see the fatal stupidity of it all yet?

So in had to step governments. They bailed out the banks  --  but didn't "restructure" them, which is to say, fire their managers, wash out their shareholders, and sell off the bad loans and bets. They just threw money at them  --  and took those bad bets onto the nation's books, instead. It was the most foolish decision since the Great Depression. Why?

Well, now governments had trillions in  --  pow!  --  sudden debt. What were they to do? How would they pay it off? Now, you might think that Presidents are very intelligent people, but unfortunately, they are just politicians. And so instead of doing what they should have done  --  printing money, simply cancelling each others' debts to each other, which were for fictional speculation anyways  --  they decided that they were "broke". Bankrupt, even  --  even though a country can't go bankrupt, anymore than you could if you could print your own currency at home, and spend it everywhere.

What does a bankrupt have to do? Liquidate. So governments began to slash investment in social systems of all kinds. Healthcare systems, pension systems, insurance systems, media and energy systems. This was the fourth step in the birth of predatory capitalism: austerity.

But people's incomes were already dwindling, thanks to the first three steps  --  as jobs not just disappeared in quantity, but also imploded in quality, as monopolies grew in power, and as pointless, destructive, zero-sum speculation sucked the life out of the real economy. The only thing keeping the real economy going at this point was investment by the government  --  after all, the speculators were speculating, not investing for the long run. It was governments that were effectively keeping economies afloat, by providing a floor for income, by anchoring economies with a vast pool of stable, safe, real, secure jobs, and investing dollars back in societies short of them. And yet, at the precise moment that governments needed to create more of precisely that, they did just the opposite.

Snap! Economies broke like twigs. The people formerly known as the middle class had been caught in between the pincers of these four forces  --  financialization, monopoly, the implosion of the job, and austerity. Together, they shattered what was left of rich economies  --  to the point that today, incomes are stagnant across the rich world, even in much vaunted Scandinavia, while living standards are falling in many rich countries, like the US and UK.

What do people do as hardship begins to bite  --  especially those who expected comfortable, easy lives? They become reactionary, lashing out violently. They seek safety in the arms of demagogues. That doesn't mean, as American pundits naively think, that "poor people become authoritarians!" Quite the opposite.

It's the once prosperous but now imploded middle which turns on the classes, ethnicities, groups, below it. The people who expected and felt entitled to lives of safety and security and stability  --  who anticipated being at the top of a tidy little hierarchy, the boss of this or that, the chieftain of that or this, but now find themselves adrift and unmoored in a collapsing society, powerless.

That gap between expectation and reality is what ruinous. They retain a desperate need to be atop a hierarchy, to be above someone, the entitled imploded middles  --  and what has happened in history, time and again, is that they turn to those who promise them just that superiority, by turning on those below them. Even if, especially if, it is in the extreme, irrational, yet perfectly logical form of supremacy and dominion over the weak, the despised, and the impure.

And that is what all today's reactionary, extremist movements  --   which I call the Faction  --  really are. Predatory capitalism imploding into strange, new forms of old diseases of the body politic -- ultrauthoritarianism, theosupremacism, kleptofascism, neofeudalism, biodominionism, hatriarchy, technotalitarianism, novel and lethal forms of ruin for a new dark age.

And so here we are, you and I. On the cusp of that age. A time where the shadows in human hearts shine as black and blinding as midnight. And once again, it is the folly and hubris of wise men that led us here.

Umair
July 2018

[Jul 04, 2018] Pathology of Debt

Jul 04, 2018 | www.henryckliu.com

Pathology of Debt

By
Henry C.K. Liu

Part I: Commercial Paper Market Seizure turns Banks into their own Vulture Investors

This article appeared in AToL on November 27, 2007

Vulture restructuring is a purging cure for a malignant debt cancer. The reckoning of systemic debt presents regulators with a choice of facing the cancer frontally and honestly by excising the invasive malignancy immediately or let it metastasize over the entire financial system over the painful course of several quarters or even years and decades by feeding it with more dilapidating debt.

But the strategy of being your own vulture started with Goldman Sachs, the star Wall Street firm known for its prowess in alternative asset management, producing spectacular profits by manipulating debt coming and going amid unfathomable market anomalies and contradictions during years of liquidity boom. The alternative asset management industry deals with active, dynamic investments in derivative asset classes other than standard equity or fixed income products. Alternative investments can include hedge funds, private equity, special purpose vehicles, managed futures, currency arbitrage and other structured finance products. Counterbalancing opposite risks in mutually canceling paired speculative positions to achieve gains from neutralized risk exposure is the basic logic for hedged fund investments.

Hedge Funds

The wide spread in return on investment between hedge funds and mutual funds is primarily due to differences in trading strategies. One fundamental difference is that hedge funds deploy dynamic trading strategies to profit from arbitraging price anomalies caused by market inefficiencies independent of market movements whereas mutual funds employ a static buy-and-hold strategy to profit from economic growth. An important operational difference is the use of leverage. Hedge funds typically leverage their informed stakes by margining their positions and hedging their risk exposure through the use of short sales, or counter-positions in convergence or divergent pairs. In contrast, the use of leverage is often limited if not entirely restricted for mutual funds.

The classic model of hedge funds developed by Alfred Winslow Jones (1910-1989) takes long and short positions in equities simultaneously to limit exposures to volatility in the stock market. Jones, Australian-born, Harvard and Columbia educated sociologist turned financial journalist, came upon a key insight that one could combine two opposing investment positions: buying stocks and selling short paired stocks, each position by itself being risky and speculative, but when properly combined would result in a conservative portfolio that could yield market-neutral outsized gains with leverage. The realization that one could couple opposing speculative plays to achieve conservative ends was the most important step in the development of hedged funds.

The Credit Guns of August

Yet the credit guns of August 2007 did not spare Goldman's high-flying hedge funds. Goldman, the biggest US investment bank by market value, saw its Global Equity Opportunities Fund suffer a 28% decline with assets dropping by $1.4 billion to $3.6 billion in the first week of August as the fund's computerized quantitative investment strategies fumbled over sudden sharp declines in stock prices worldwide.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index, a measure of large-capitalization stocks, fell 44.4 points or 2.96% on August 9. On August 14, the S&P 500 fell another 26.38 points or 1.83%, followed by another fall of 19.84 points to 1,370.50 or 1.39% on August 15, totaling 9.4% from its record high reached on July 19, but still substantially higher than its low of 801 reached on March 11, 2003 .

Goldman explained the setback in Global Equity Opportunities in a statement: "Across most sectors, there has been an increase in overlapping trades, a surge in volatility and an increase in correlations. These factors have combined to challenge many of the trading algorithms used in quantitative strategies. We believe the current values that the market is assigning to the assets underlying various funds represent a discount that is not supported by the fundamentals." The statement is a conceptual stretch of the meaning of "fundamentals" which Goldman defines as value marked to model based on a liquidity boom rather than marked to market, even as the model has been rendered dysfunctional by the reality of a liquidity bust.

The market value in mid August of two other Goldman funds: Global Alpha and North American Equity Opportunities also suffered big losses. Global Alpha fell 27% in the year-to-date period, with half of the decline occurring in the first week of August. North American Equity Opportunities, which started the year with about $767 million in assets, was down more than 15% through July 27. The losses had been magnified by high leverage employed by the funds' trading strategies. Goldman said both risk-taking and leverage in these two funds had since been reduced by 75% to cut future losses. Similarly, leverage employed by Global Equity Opportunities had been reduced to 3.5 times equity from 6 times. The three funds together normally managed about $10 billion of assets.

Feeding on One's Own Death Flesh

Facing pending losses, Goldman Chairman Lloyd Blankfein was reported to have posed a question to his distraught fund managers: if a similar distress opportunity such as Goldman's own Global Equity Opportunities presented itself in the open market outside of Goldman, would Goldman invest in it as a vulture deal. The answer was a resounding yes. Thus the strategy of feeding on one's own dead flesh to survive, if not to profit, took form.

Goldman would moderate its pending losses by profiting as vulture investor in its own distressed funds. The loss from one pocket would flow into another pocket as gains that, with a bit of luck, could produce spectacular net profit in the long run if the abnormally high valuations could be manipulated to hold, or the staying power from new capital injection could allow the fund to ride out the temporary sharp fall in market value. It was the ultimate hedge: profiting from one's own distress. The success of the strategy depends on whether the losses are in fact caused by temporary anomalies rather than fundamental adjustment. Otherwise, it would be throwing good money after bad.

The Fed Held Firm on Inflation Bias

The Fed, in its Tuesday, August 7 Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, defied market expectation and decided against lowering interest rates with a bias against growth and focused instead on inflation threats. In response, the S&P 500 index, with profit margin at 9% against a historical average of 6%, fell 44.4 points or 2.96% to 1,427 on August 9. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped 387 points to 13,504 on the same day, even as the Federal Reserve pumped $62 billion of new liquidity into the banking system to help relieve seizure in the debt market.

On the following Monday, August 13, Goldman announced it would injected $2 billion of new equity from its own funds into its floundering Global Equity Opportunities fund, along with another $1 billion from big-ticket investors, including CV Starr & Co., controlled by former American International Group (AIG) chairman Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, California real estate developer Eli Broad who helped found SunAmerica and later sold it to AIG, and hedge fund Perry Capital LLC, which is run by Richard Perry, a former Goldman Sachs equity trader.

The new equity injection was intended to help shore up the long/short equity fund, which was down almost 30% in the previous week, to keep the fund from forced sales of assets at drastic discount long enough for markets to stabilize and for the fund to get out of the tricky leveraged bets it took before the credit markets went haywire in mid August. Global Equity "suffered significantly" as global markets sold off on worries about debt defaults credit draught, dragging the perceived value of its assets down to $3.6 billion, from about $5 billion.

Goldman chief financial officer David Viniair on a conference call with analysts was emphatic that the move was not a rescue but to capture "a good opportunity". After more than a week of panic over the disorderly state of global capital markets, Goldman Sachs pulled a kicking live rabbit magically out of its distressed asset hat.

On a conference call to discuss the additional equity investment in the $3.6 billion Global Equity Opportunities fund, Goldman executives insisted the move would not add to moral hazard (encouraging expectations that lead investors to take more risk than they otherwise might because they expect to be bailed out), but would merely reflect the firm's belief that the value of the fund's underlying assets was out of whack with "fundamentals" and that sooner or later the losses would be recouped when an orderly market returns.

"We believe the current values that the market is assigning to the assets underlying various funds represent a discount that is not supported by the fundamentals," Goldman explained in a statement. A day later, on August 14, the S&P 500 fell another 26.38 points or 1.83%, followed by another fall of 19.84 points or 1.39% on August 15, notwithstanding that a chorus of respected voices were assuring the public that the sub-prime mortgage crisis had been contained and would not spread to the entire financial system.

But Goldman did not inject more equity into two of its other funds: Global Alpha and North American Equity Opportunities that had also suffered sharp losses. Goldman said it was reducing leverage in the funds, a process that was mostly complete, but added that it was not unwinding Global Alpha, down 27% this year through August 13, about half of that in the previous week alone. Unlike Global Equity Opportunities, Goldman did not bolster its Global Alpha quantitative fund. Investors had reportedly asked to withdraw $1.6 billion, leaving Global Alpha with about $6.8 billion in assets after forced liquidation to pay the withdrawals.

Ireland registered Global Alpha, originally seeded in 1995 with just $10 million and returned 140% in its first full year of operation, was started by Mark Carhart and Raymond Iwanowski, young students of finance professor Eugene Fama of the University of Chicago . Fama's concept of efficient markets is based on his portfolio theory which states that rational investors will use diversification to optimize their portfolios based on precise pricing of risky assets.

Global Alpha soon became the Rolls Royce of a fleet of alternative investment vehicles that returned over 48% before fees annually. Hedge funds usually charge management fees of up to 2% of assets under management and 20% of investment gains as incentive fees. Global Alpha fees soared to $739 million in first quarter of 2006, from $131 million just a year earlier and boosted earnings rise at the blue-chip Goldman Sachs by 64% to $2.48 billion, the biggest 2006 first-quarter gain of any major Wall Street firm. Goldman is one of the world's largest hedge fund managers, with $29.5 billion in assets under management in an industry that oversees $2.7 trillion globally. Goldman reported in October 2006 that its asset management and securities services division produced $485 million, or 21% of its $2.36 billion in pretax profit for the fiscal third quarter.

For 2006, Global Alpha dropped 11.6% through the end of November and end up dropping 9% for the year yet still generating over $700 million in fees from earlier quarters. That was the first annual decline in seven years and followed an almost 40% gain for all of 2005. The fund took a hit misjudging the direction of global stock and currency markets, specifically that the Norwegian krone and Japanese yen would decline against the dollar. Global Alpha lost money partly on wrong-way bets that equities in Japan would rise, stocks in the rest of Asia and the US would fall and the dollar would strengthen. Before August 2007, the fund had lost almost 10% on wrong bet in global bond markets.

Goldman's smaller $600 million North American Equity Opportunities fund had also hit rough waters, losing 15% this year. There was real danger of a rush of redemptions from nervous investors that would force the funds to sell securities in a market that had all but seized up, forcing down asset prices to fire sale levels. Global Equity Opportunities investors were entitled to pull their money monthly with a 15-day warning, meaning notices for Aug. 31 were due on August 16. Global Alpha investors could redeem quarterly, and certain share classes also must notify the fund by the week of August 13.

Hedge funds are private, largely unregulated pools of capital whose managers command largely unrestricted authority to buy or sell any assets within the bounds of their disclosed strategies and participate in gains but not losses from investment. The industry has been growing over 20% annually due to its above-market performance. Still, Carhart and Iwanowski, both in their early forties, had not been able to take any of their 20% incentive fees since Global Alpha fell from its 2006 peak. They would have to make good about 60% of their previous incentive fees from profit, if any, in future quarters before they could resume taking a cut of the fund's future gains.

The Fed Wavered

By August 16, the DJIA fell way below 13,000 to an intraday low of 12,445, losing 1,212 points from its 13,657 close on August 8. The next day, August 17, the Fed while keeping the Fed Funds rate target unchanged at 5.25%, lowered the Discount Rate by 50 basis points to 5.75%, reducing the gap from the conventional 100 basis points by half to 50 basis points and changed the rules for access by banks to the Fed discount window.

In an accompanying statement, the Fed said: "To promote the restoration of orderly conditions in financial markets, the Federal Reserve Board approved temporary changes to its primary credit discount window facility. The Board approved a 50 basis point reduction in the primary credit rate to 5-3/4 percent, to narrow the spread between the primary credit rate and the Federal Open Market Committee's target federal funds rate to 50 basis points. The Board is also announcing a change to the Reserve Banks' usual practices to allow the provision of term financing for as long as 30 days, renewable by the borrower. These changes will remain in place until the Federal Reserve determines that market liquidity has improved materially. These changes are designed to provide depositories with greater assurance about the cost and availability of funding. The Federal Reserve will continue to accept a broad range of collateral for discount window loans, including home mortgages and related assets. Existing collateral margins will be maintained. In taking this action, the Board approved the requests submitted by the Boards of Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks of New York and San Francisco ."

The Fed Panicked

A month later, on September 18, brushing aside a DJIA closing at a respectable 13,403 the day before even in the face of poor employment data for August, the Fed panicked over the unemployment data and lowered both the Fed Funds rate target and the Discount Rate each by 50 basis points to 4.75% and 5.25% respectively. The rate cuts gave the DJIA a continuous rally for 9 consecutive days that ended on October 1 at 14,087. Obviously, the Fed knew something ominous about the credit market that was not reflected in the DJIA index.

The Global Equity Opportunities fund, now with about $6.6 billion in asset value, was using six times leverage before the capital infusion. Like many other managers, Goldman was experiencing the same problems with its so-called quantitative funds. Quant funds use computerized models to make opportunistic investment decisions on minute statistic disparities in asset prices caused by market inefficiency. When the short-term credit market seized up, the quant models turned dysfunctional.

Funds caught with significant losses in credit and bond investments had to sell stock holdings to lower the risks profile of their overall portfolios, and the herd selling in the stock market magnified the price shift in a downward spiral. Stocks that were held long fell in price, and stocks that were held short rose, exacerbating losses.

Opacity Fueled Market Rumors

As required, quant fund managers have been disclosing losses to investors but they are not required to disclose to the market. The opacity fueled the rumor mill. Renaissance Technology's $26 billion institutional equities fund was reportedly down 7% for the year. Some of the funds Applied Quantitative Research (AQR) managed were down as well, as were quant funds at Tykhe Capital, Highbridge Capital and D.E. Shaw (of which Lehman now owns 20%).

Vulture Opportunities in Distressed Funds

At Goldman, quant funds made up half of the $151 billion of alternative investments under management, and half of which was the sort of long-short equity quant funds that had been having trouble. But Goldman executives began to see opportunities in distressed funds. The highly respected AQR was raking in new funds to invest in distressed situations, as were other astute fund managers. AQR is an investment management firm employing a disciplined multi-asset, global research process, with investment products provided through a limited set of collective investment vehicles and separate accounts that deploy all or a subset of AQR's investment strategies. These investment products span from aggressive high volatility market-neutral hedge funds, to low volatility benchmark-driven traditional products. AQR's founder is Clifford S. Asness, a Goldman alumni where he was Director of Quantitative Research for the Asset Management Division responsible for building quantitative models to add value in global equity, fixed income and currency markets. H e was another of Fama's students at the University of Chicago .

Goldman was putting its own money down alongside that of select outside investors, an expression of its faith in the fund's ability to recoup. The situation differed from that of Bear Stearns which had to loan $1.6 billion to bail out one of two internal hedge funds that had big problems with exposure to mortgage-related securities.

The First Wave of Warnings

Goldman, one of the world's premiere financial companies, had joined Bear Stearns and France 's BNP Paribas in revealing that its hedge funds had been hit by the credit market crisis. Bear Stearns earlier in the summer disclosed that two of its multibillion dollar hedge funds were wiped out because of wrong bets on mortgage-backed securities. BNP Paribas announced a few weeks later it would freeze three funds invested in US asset-backed securities.

The assets of the two troubled Bear Stearns hedge funds had been battered by turmoil in the credit market linked to sub-prime mortgage securities. On Jun 20, 2007 , $850 million of the funds' assets held as collateral was sold at greatly discounted prices by their creditor, Merrill Lynch & Co. The assets sold included mortgage-backed securities (MBS), collateralized debt obligations (CDO) and credit default swaps (CDS). JP Morgan, another Bear Stearns creditor, had also planned an auction for some of the collateralized assets of the Bear Stearns funds, but cancelled the auction to negotiate directly with the Bear Stearns funds to unwind positions via private transactions to avoid setting a market price occasioned by market seizure.

The two Bear Stearns funds: High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund and High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Fund, run by mortgage veteran Ralph Cioffi, were facing shut-down as the rescue plans fell apart. The funds had slumped in the first four months of 2007 as the subprime mortgage market went against their positions and investors began asking for their money back. The High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund sold roughly $4 billion of subprime mortgage-backed securities in mid June, selling its highest-rated and most heavily traded securities first to raise cash to meet redemption requests from investors and margin calls from creditors, leaving the riskier, lower-rated assets in its portfolio that had difficulty finding buyers.

Collateral Debt Obligation Crisis

CDOs are illiquid assets that normally trade only infrequently as institutional investor had not intended to trade such securities. Demand for them is not strong even in normal times. In a credit crunch, demand became extremely weak. Sellers typically give investors one or two days to price the assets and bid in order to get the best price. Bid lists were now sent out for execution within roughly an hour, which was unusual and suggested that sellers were keen to sell the assets quickly at any price.

Bear Stearns' High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund sold close to $4 billion worth of AAA and AA rated securities. The fund was started less than a year ago with $600 million in assets, but used leverage to expand its holdings to more than $6 billion. But subprime mortgage trades that went wrong left the fund down 23% in the first four months of 2007. The fund was selling its highest-rated and most tradable securities first to raise cash to meet expected redemption requests and margin calls. Buyers were found for the bonds but the fund still had to retain lower-rated subprime mortgage-based securities which had triggered its losses earlier in the year.

Bear Stearns was highly leveraged in an illiquid market and was faced with the prospect that its funds were going to start getting margin calls so it tried to sell ahead of being in the worst spot possible. Subprime mortgages were offered at low initial rates to home buyers with blemished credit ratings who could not carry the adjusted payments if and when rates rise. This was not a problem as long as prices for houses continued to rise, allowing the lenders to shift loan repayment assurance from the borrower's income to the rising value of the collateral. Thus subprime mortgages lenders were not particularly concerned about borrower income for they were merely using home buyers as needed intermediaries to profit from the debt–driven housing boom. This strategy worked until the debt balloon burst. Rising delinquencies and defaults in this once-booming part of the mortgage market had triggered a credit crunch earlier in the year that left several lenders bankrupt. Many hedge funds had generated big gains for several years on this unstainable liquidity boom. The premature bears who shorted the market repeated lost money as the Fed continued to feed the debt balloon to sustain the unsustainable.

As delinquencies and foreclosures rose finally, losses first hit the riskiest tranches of subprime mortgage-backed securities (MBS). The losses were subsequently transmitted to collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) which invested in the higher-rated tranches of subprime MBS that did not have an active market since they were bought by institutions with the intention to hold until maturity. Such securities were super safe as long as their ratings remain high.

Hedge funds have become big credit-market players in recent years, and many firms trade the riskiest tranches of subprime MBS and higher-rated CDOs tranches to profit from the return spread. While some funds, such those managed by Cheyne Capital and Cambridge Place Investment Management, had suffered sudden losses, some hedge funds made handsome gains in February 2007 betting that a subprime mortgage crisis would hit.

As the number of market participants increased and the packaging of the CDO became more exoteric over the liquidity boom years, it became impossible to know who were holding the "toxic" tranches and how precisely the losses would spread, since the risk profile of each tranche would be affected by the default rates of other tranches. The difficulty in identifying the precise locations of risk exposure caused a sharp rise in perceived risk exposure system wide. This sudden risk aversion led to rating downgrades of the high-rated tranches, forcing their holders to sell into a market with few buyers.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which monitors risk in the banking system, tracks bank holdings of MBS, but not specific tranches of CDOs. It has no information on which bank holds CDOs and how much, since such instruments are held by the finance subsidiaries of bank holding companies, off the balance sheets of banks. Asian investors, particularly those in Japan , had been eager to seek off-shore assets yielding more than the near zero or even negative interest rates offered at home. Many Japanese as well as foreign investors participated in currency "carry trade" to arbitrage interest rate spreads between the Japanese yen and other higher interest rate currencies and assets denominated in dollars, fueling a liquidity boom in US markets. The US trade deficit fed the US capital account surplus as the surplus trade partners found that they could not convert the dollars they earned from export to the US into local currencies without suffering undesirable rise in money supply. The trade surplus dollars went into the US credit market.

The growth of CDOs has been explosive during the past decade. In 1995, there were hardly any. By 2006, more than $500 billion worth was issued. About 40% of CDO collateral was residential MBS, with three quarters in subprime and home-equity loans, and the rest in high-rated prime home loans. CDOs became an important part of the mortgage market because their issuers also bought the riskier tranches of MBS that others investors shunned. The high-rated tranches of MBS were sold easily to pension funds and insurers. But the ultra-high rated tranches paid such low returns because of their perceived safety that few buyers were interested, forcing the banks which structured them to hold them themselves. The issuers often hold the more riskier tranches to sell at later dates for profit when the value of the collateral rose with rising home prices. But when the riskier tranches could not be sold as home prices fell and mortgage default rose, the higher rating tranches suffered rating drops and institutional buyers were prevented by regulation to hold the ones they had bought and from buying new ones. When the ultra safe tranches held by banks are downgraded, banks are forced to writedown their value. With CDOs withdrawing from the residential MBS market, mortgage lenders were unable to sell the loans they had originated for new funds to finance new mortgages.

The chain of derivative structures that turns home loans into CDOs begins when a mortgage is packaged together with other mortgages into an MBS. The MBS is then sliced up into different CDO tranches that pay on a range of interest rates tied to risk levels. Mortgage payments go first to the highest-rated tranches with the lowest interest rates. The remaining funds then flows down to the next risky tranches until all are paid. The riskiest CDO tranches get paid last, but they offer the highest interest rates to attract investor with strong risk appetite.

In theory, all trenches have the same risk/return ratio. As the liquidity boom has gone on for years with the help of the Fed, historical data would suggest that risks of default should be minimal. Yet when losses actually occurred from unanticipated mortgage defaults and foreclosures, the riskiest tranches were hit first, while the top-rated tranches were hit last. But until losses occurred, the riskier tranches got the higher returns. Over the years, the riskier tranches generated big profit for hedge funds when the risks did not materialize to overwhelm the high returns. The problem was that the profitability drove new issues of MBS at a faster pace than maturing MBS, with the number and amount of outstanding securities getting bigger with each passing year, exposing investors to aggregate risk higher than the accumulated gains. Because of the complexity and opacity of the CDO market, institutional investors were not alerted by rating agencies of the fact that their individual safety actually caused a sharp rise in systemic risk. They felt comfortable as long as assets they acquired were rated AAA and deemed bankruptcy-remote, not realizing the system might seize up some Wednesday morning. That Wednesday came on August 15, 2007 .

CDOs, a cross between an investment fund and an asset-backed security (ABS), perform this slicing process of risk/reward unbundling repeatedly to keep money recycling and money supply growing in the mortgage market. While CDOs lubricate the credit market to make more home financing affordable to more home buyers, it raises the price of home and its financing cost beyond the carrying capability of almost all home buyers when the bursting of the debt bubble resets interest rates to normal levels, making a rising default rate inevitable.

Hedge funds are attracted by the high returns offered by the lowest-rated tranches of subprime MBS undbubled by CDOs, the so-called equity tranches which sink underwater as home prices fall. Many hedge funds arbitrage the wide return spread with low-cost funds borrowed in the commercial paper market and magnify the return with high leverage through bank loans. They often hedge against risk by holding derivatives that are expected to rise in value when housing prices fall, such as interest rate swaps. They also hedge against defaults with credit default swaps. These hedges failed when risk was re-priced by the market at rollover time for short-term securities which could be every 30 days.

CDOs and Commercial Paper

Much of the money used to buy CDOs come form the commercial paper market. Commercial paper consists of short-term, unsecured promissary notes issued primarily by financial and non-financial corporations. Maturities range up to 270 days but average about 30 days. Many companies use commercial paper to raise cash needed for current transactions, and many find it to be a lower-cost alternative to bank loans. Financial companies use high-rated CDO tranches as collateral to back their commercial paper issues.

Because commercial paper maturities do not exceed nine months and proceeds typically are used only for current transactions, the notes are exempt from registration as securities with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

Large institutions have long managed their short-term cash needs by buying and selling securities in the money market since the early 1970's. Today, a broad array of domestic and foreign investors uses these versatile, short-term securities to help to make the money market the largest, most efficient credit market in the world driving assets from $4 billion in 1975 to more than $1.8 trillion today. This money market is a fixed income market, similar to the bond market. The major difference being that the money market specializes in very short term debt securities.

The money market is a securities market dealing in short-term debt and monetary instruments. Money market instruments are forms of debt that mature in less than one year and are very liquid but traded only high denominations. The easiest way for individual investor to gain access is through money market mutual funds, or sometimes through a money market bank account. These accounts and funds pool together the assets of thousands of investors and buy the money market securities on their behalf.

Borrowing short-term money from banks is often a labored and uneasy situation for many corporations. Their desire to avoid banks as much as they can has led to the popularity of commercial paper. For the most part, commercial paper is a very safe investment because the financial situation of a large company can easily be predicted over a few months. Furthermore, typically only companies with high credit ratings and credit worthiness issue commercial paper and over the past 35 years there have only been a handful of cases where corporations defaulted on their commercial paper repayment.

ABCP Conduits

Asset backed commercial paper (ABCP) is a device used by banks to get operating assets, such as trade receivables, funded by the issuance of securities. Traditionally, banks devised ABCP conduits as a device to put their current asset credits off their balance sheets and yet provide liquidity support to their clients. Conduits raise money by selling short-term debt and using the proceeds to invest in assets with longer maturities, like mortgage-backed bonds. Conduits typically have guarantees from banks, which promise to lend them money up to the amount of the SIVs the banks structure.

A bank with a client whose working capital needs are funded by the bank can release the regulatory capital that is locked in this credit asset by setting up a conduit, essentially a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that issues commercial paper, such as the ones used by Enron that led to its downfall. The conduit will buy the receivables of the client and get the same funded by issuance of commercial paper. The bank will be required to provide some liquidity support to the conduit, as it is practically impossible to match the maturities of the commercial paper to the realization of trade receivables. Thus, the credit asset is moved off the balance sheet giving the bank a regulatory relief. Depending upon whether the bank provides full or partial liquidity support to the conduit, ABCP can be either fully supported or partly supported.

ABCP conduits are virtual subsets of the parent bank. If the bank provides full liquidity support to the conduit, for regulatory purposes, the liquidity support given by the bank may be treated as a direct credit substitute in which case the assets held by the conduit are aggregated with those of the bank. ABCP conduits are also set up large issuers that are not banks.

The key weakness in the entire credit superstructure lies in the practice by intermediaries of credit to borrow short term to finance long term. This term carry is magical in an expanding economy when the gap between short term and long term credit is narrower than gains from long term asset appreciation. But in a contracting economy, it can be a fatal scenario, particularly if falls in short term rates raise the credit rating requirement of the short term borrower, putting previously qualified loans in technical default. Securities that face difficulty in rolling over at maturity are known as "toxic" in the trade.

Lethal Derivatives

The credit default swap market is a microcosm of investor confidence. Credit default swaps are insurance for bad debt. Insured creditors are compensated by the seller of the insurance if a debtor defaults on a loan. When the threat of default rises in the market, the insurance premium rises, just as Katrina boosted hurricane insurance premium. This is known in the business as re-pricing of risk. The cost of credit default swaps written on investment banks such as Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs and on commercial banks such as Citibank have soared in the past few months amid worries that troubles in the subprime-mortgage market and the leveraged-buyout market could leave them with massive loan defaults. The financial industry tracks mortgage-linked securities via the ABX index, which calculates the prices of a basket of assets backed by subprime loans.

The ongoing crisis in the US housing market has pushed the ABX, a key mortgage-linked derivatives index, to new lows, threatening to unleash a further bout of credit market upheaval. Price swing in the ABX can reduce the value of ultra-safe credit instruments that carried high credit ratings, forcing banks and other regulated investors to make further large write-downs on their credit market holdings, on top of the huge losses several major US and foreign banks suffered from credit turmoil that began in August.

As the US mortgages market deteriorates, financial sector losses will accumulate. Secondary market price movements indicate that losses on mortgage inventory are likely to be larger in coming quarters. Before July, the part of the ABX index that tracks AAA debt was trading almost at face value. However, in the last three weeks in October, it has fallen sharply due to downgrades by credit rating agencies and continuing bad data from the housing sector.

As a result, the so-called ABX 07-1 index – which tracks AAA mortgage bonds originated in the first half of this year – fell to a record low close of 79 on October 30, meaning that traders reckon these bonds are worth only 79 cents on the dollar. The ABX "BBB" 07-1 index measures the performance of loans made during the second half of 2006, when many home purchase loans were made to buyers with shaky credit standings. The index traded around 44, or 44 cents on a dollar, nearly its weakest level ever.

The swing is creating real pain for investors, since in recent years numerous firms have created trading strategies which have loaded large debt levels onto these "safe" securities, precisely because these instruments were not expected to fluctuate in price. Investors normally hold such "safe" securities to maturity thus there is no demand for a ready market for them. But as the credit rating of these securities falls, investor cannot find buyer for them at any reasonable price. The last week in October saw the worst falls in the ABX market this year, especially higher up the capital structure with highly rated debt.

Pension funds and insurance companies hold the less risky, senior CDO tranches because regulatory rules restrict them from investing in lower-rated securities. When the low-rated tranches default in large numbers, the high-rated tranches lose rating and these regulated institutions are forced to sell their non-conforming holdings into a market with few buyers.

Pension funds, insurance companies and university endowment funds have also invested in hedge funds that hold the riskier CDO tranches to get higher returns. In recent years, CDO issuance has exploded and many hedge funds have been buying the riskiest tranches of MBS that are backed by subprime loans. Mortgages closed by 4 pm New York time were sent electronically to back-office locations in India to be packaged into CDO tranches and resent electronically to New York at 9:30 am the next day to be sold in the credit market, generating huge fees and profits for Wall Street firms every day.

Rating Agencies Under Pressure

Moody's Investors Services, an influential rating agency, warned in late July that defaults and downgrades of subprime MBS could have "severe" consequences for CDOs that invested heavily in the sector. CDOs that Moody's rated from 2003 to 2006 had 45% exposure to subprime MBS on average. But that varied widely from almost zero to 90% with recent CDOs having the high concentrations of such collateral, the potential downgrade for which could be 10 or more notches in rating. The secondary market for CDOs responded to these heightened risks, pushing prices down and widening spreads - the difference between interest rates on riskier debt and measures of short-term borrowing costs such as the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) or commercial paper rates. Spreads on BBB-rated asset-backed securities (ABS) CDOs over LIBOR have widened by roughly 125 basis points to 657 basis points since the end of 2006.

Structured investment vehicles (SIVs)

Although the first structured investment vehicles (SIVs) appeared in the structured finance world some 15 years ago, and the growth of SIVs had been somewhat limited, (there are fewer than 20 vehicles globally), there is no doubt that these sophisticated bankruptcy-remote structures have strongly influenced other funding vehicles and asset management businesses. Since 2002, there has been renewed interest by different types of financial institutions in starting up SIVs or SIV-like structures with evolved capital structures embracing new classes of financial instruments.

The first SIVs were founded in the mid-1980s as bankruptcy-remote entities and were sponsored by large banks or investment managers for the purpose of generating leveraged returns by exploiting the differences in yields between the longer-dated assets managed and the short-term liabilities issued. The balance sheet of a structured investment vehicle typically contains assets such as asset-backed securities (ABS) and other high-grade securities that are funded through issued liabilities in the form of commercial paper (CP) and medium-term note (MTN) and subordinate capital notes. SIVs typically hedge out all interest and currency risks using swaps and other derivative instruments.

Overall, CP and MTN issuance shot up dramatically in 2004, up US$25.7 billion to US$133.1 billion at year-end, with capital investments at an all-time high. In general, advances in capital structures and asset portfolio management have invigorated interest from investors and prospective sponsors.

SIVs, Conduits and Asset-Backed Commercial Paper (ABCP)

SIVs are typically funded in the low interest short-term asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) market to invest in high-return long-term securities for profit. The viability of the stratagem depends on the ability to roll over the short-term commercial paper when they mature in typically less than 120 days. To keep the liquidity risk at a minimum, issuers stagger the maturity so that only a small portion of the loan needs to be refunded in any one week. The credit market crisis in mid 2007 created a break in short-term debt rollovers to cause a funding mismatch in long-term assets positions because investors have stopped buying new ABCP issued by some SIVs and conduits.

What separates a SIV from other investment vehicles is the nature of its ongoing relationship with rating agencies – from the originating qualification process to the continuous monitoring of its asset diversification, risk management and funding practices. These guidelines include frequent reporting of operating parameters such as portfolio credit quality, portfolio diversification, asset and liability maturity, market risk limitations, leverage and capital adequacy requirements, and liquidity requirements.

The rigorous monitoring allows SIVs to be highly capital efficient, enabling them to be leveraged on an average of 12 times the capital base, with exceptions. Unlike related traditional asset backed commercial paper (ABCP) conduits, SIVs do not require 100% liquidity support and credit enhancement.

Many SIVs faced trouble in the summer of 2007 as they were hit by both sharp falls in the value of their investments, mainly financial debt and asset-backed bonds, and a lack of access to new refinancing as investors shunned short-term commercial paper debt linked to asset-backed securities (ABCP).

Most CDOs are cash flow transactions not directly sensitive to the market value of their underlying assets as long as the cash flow is undisturbed. But if a CDO manager needs to sell an asset quickly even at a loss because of ratings agency downgrade, the CDO manager will be forced to carry the remaining assets at a lower value, upsetting both collateral for the agreed cash flow and the balance sheet of the participants.

While some hedge funds have profited from the sublime mortgage meltdown, other funds have been hit hard, resulting in a deteriorating financial sector as asset values plummeted faster than potential gains by vultures.

Other big lenders that raised warning flags earlier about bad-performing debt portfolios included Washington Mutual, New Century Financial and Marshall & IIsley Corporation. Foreclosures jumped 35% in December 2006 versus a year earlier. For the fifth straight month, more than 100,000 properties entered foreclosure because the owner couldn't keep up with their loan payments. In January 2007, Washington Mutual disclosed that its mortgage business lost $122 million in the fourth quarter, highlighting the weak sub-prime market.

New York Attorney General Sues Appraisal Company

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a potential Democrat gubernatorial candidate for New York, has filed suit against eAppraiseIT (EA), a real estate appraisal management subsidiary of First American Corporation, for having "caved to pressure from Washington Mutual" to inflate property values of homes. Washington Mutual allegedly complained to EA that "its appraisals weren't high enough." Cuomo said in a statement that "consumers are harmed because they are misled as to the value of their homes, increasing the risk of foreclosure and hindering their ability to make sound economic decisions. Investors are hurt by such fraud because it skews the value and risk of loans that are sold in financial markets." The bank is also facing a number of class action suits from irate borrowers.

Shares of government sponsored mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac tumbled after receiving subpoenas seeking information on loans they bought from Washington Mutual and other banks. Cuomo said he uncovered a "pattern of collusion" between lenders and appraisers, and is seeking documents that may prove the lenders inflated appraisal values. The subpoenas also seek information on Fannie and Freddie's due diligence practices. If decided that they own or guarantee mortgages with inflated appraisals, company policy dictates that the lenders buy back the loans. "In order to fulfill their duty to consumers and investors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must ensure that Washington Mutual's mortgages have not been corrupted by inflated appraisals," Cuomo said. In 2007, WaMu is Fannie Mae's third-largest loan provider, selling it $24.7 billion and Freddie Mac's fourteenth largest at $7.8 billion. Washingtom Mutual share fell 17% after it announced it would set aside $1.3 billion fourth quarter 2007 for credit losses, up from $967 million in the third quarter.

Mortgage Lenders Fell Like Flies

The handwriting had been clearly on the wall. Back on February 6, New Century Financial shares plunged 29% after the mortgage services provider slashed its forecast for loan production for 2007 because early-payment defaults and loan repurchases had led to tighter underwriting guidelines. A week later, Pasadena, Calif.-based IndyMac Bancorp Inc. which sold Alt-A mortgages for borrowers who were not required to submit conforming income and financial documents necessary to quality for conventional conforming mortgages, warned that its quarterly earnings would come in well short of analyst expectations because of increased loan losses and delinquencies. Other lenders were also squeezed by deteriorating credit. Marshall & IIsley reported a jump in non-performing assets in the quarter, while Bank of the Ozarks reported a 69% increase in problem loans. US Bancorp predicted an increase in retail loan charge-offs and commercial loan losses in coming quarters. Wells Fargo warned it expected net credit losses from wholesale banking to increase in 2007.

Britain 's Barclays PLC, in the midst of an unsuccessful takeover battle for ABN Amro, was reported as among the banks that were having trouble with bad loans and its hedge funds. Barclays Global Investors was one of the world's biggest fund managers, with some $2 trillion in assets under management.

The Case of Countrywide Financial

Non-conforming mortgages securities packaged by Countrywide Financial needed to be sold in the private, secondary market to alternative investors, instead of the agency market. On August 3, 2007 , this secondary market collapsed and essentially stopped the sales of most non-conforming securities. Alt-A mortgages (loans given to self-declared creditworthy borrowers without supporting documentation) completely stopped trading and the seizure extended to even AAA-rated mortgage-backed securities. Only securities with conforming mortgages were trading. Unfazed, Countrywide Financial issued a reassuring statement that its mortgage business had access to a nearly $50 billion funding cushion.

In reality, the sub-prime mortgage meltdown put Countrywide Financial, along with many other mortgage lenders, in a crisis situation of holding drastically devalued loan portfolios that could not be sold at any price. Amid rising defaults, investors have fled from mortgage-related investments, drying up market demand. The ongoing credit crunch threatened Countrywide's normal access to cash.

After the collapse of American Home Mortgage on August 6, the market's attention returned to Countrywide Financial which at the time had issued about 17% of all mortgages in the United States . Days later, Countrywide Financial disclosed to the SEC that disruptions in the secondary mortgage markets could adversely affect it financially. The news raised speculation that Countrywide was a potential bankruptcy risk. On August 10, a run on the Countrywide Bank began as the secondary mortgage market shutdown, curtailing new mortgage funding.

The perceived risk of Countrywide bonds rose sharply. Credit ratings agencies downgraded Countrywide to near junk status. The cost of insuring its bonds rose 22% overnight. This development limited Countrywide access to the short-term commercial paper debt market which normally provides cheaper money than bank loans. Institutional investors were trying desperately to unload outstanding Countrywide paper held in their portfolios. Some 50 other mortgage lenders had already filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and Countrywide Financial was cited as a possible bankruptcy risk by Merrill Lynch and others on August 15. This combined with news that its ability to issue new commercial paper might be severely hampered put severe pressure on the stock. Countrywide shares fell $3.17 to $21.29, which was its biggest fall in a single day since the crash of 1987 when the shares fell 50% for the year. The 52-week low to date was $12.07 per share.

On Thursday, August 16, having expressed concerns over liquidity because of the decline of the secondary market for securitized mortgage obligations, Countrywide also announced its intention to draw on the entire $11.5 billion credit line from a group of 40 banks. On Friday August 17, many depositors sought to withdraw their bank accounts from Countrywide. It also planned to make 90% of its loans conforming. By this point stock shares had lost about 75% of their peak value and speculation of bankruptcy broadened.

The Fed Discount Window Accepts Toxic Collateral from Banks

At the same time the Federal Reserve lowered the discount rate 50 basis points in a last-minute, early morning conference call. The Fed also accepted $17.2 billion in repurchase agreements for mortgage backed securities to provide liquidity in the credit market. This helped calm the stock market and investors promptly responded positively with the Dow posting temporary gains.

Additionally, Countrywide was forced to restate income it had claimed from accrued but unpaid interest on "exotic" mortgages in which the initial pay rate was less than the amortization rate. By mid 2007, it became apparent much of this accrued interest had become uncollectible. In a letter dated August 20, Federal Reserve agreed to waive banking regulations at the request of Citigroup and Bank of America to exempt both banks from rules that limited the amount that federally-insured banks can lend to related brokerage companies to 10% of bank capital, by increasing the limit to 30%. Until then, banking regulations restricted banks with federally insured deposits from putting themselves at risk by brokerage subsidiaries' activities. On August 23, Citibank and Bank of America said that they and two other banks accessed $500 million in 30-day financing at the Fed's discount window at the new low rate of 5.25%.

On the next day, Countrywide Financial obtained $2 billion of new capital from Bank of America Corp, the banking holding parent. In exchange, the Bank of America brokerage arm would get convertible preferred stock yielding 7.3%, a profitable spread over its Fed discount rate of 5.25% and the Fed funds rate of 4.75%. The preferred stocks can be converted into common stock at $18 per share (trading around $12 on October 25). This gave the distressed mortgage lender a much-needed cash infusion amid a crippling credit crunch. Countrywide shares soared 20.01%, or $4.37, to $26.19 after hours on the news. Bank of America shares rose 1.9%, or 98 cents, to $52.63 (trading around $46.75 on October 25 after announcing third quarter earning dropping 32%).

SEC to Scrutinize Security Valuation

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is reportedly looking into the accounting and securities valuation practices at Wall Street investment banks to ensure consistency and clarity for investors. Meanwhile, major financial institutions were lining up to announce write-downs on their sub-prime mortgage exposures. Merrill Lynch wrote down $5.5 billion which was later revised to $8 billion; Citigroup $3.3 billion which was later revised to $11 billion; Goldman Sachs $1.7 billion, Lehman Brothers $1 billion, Morgan Stanley $0.9 billion and Bear Sterns $0.7 billion. Many in the market expect further write downs in coming quarters. Already Merrill Lynch write down is widely put at more than $14 billion and few believe that Citigroup's loss could be kept to $11 billion in coming quarters. The heads of Merrill, UBS and Citigroup all resigned.

Wachovia, the fourth-largest US bank by assets, estimated on Friday, November 9 that the value of its subprime mortgage-related securities had fallen $1.1 billion in October. It said loan-loss provisions would be increased by as much as $600 million in the fourth quarter due to "dramatic declines" in home values. The announcement came three weeks after Wachovia reported writedowns of $1.3 billion in the third quarter and posted its first earnings drop in six years.

Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest U.S. securities firm, said on November 7 its subprime mortgages and related securities lost $3.7 billion in the past two months, after prices sank further than the firm's traders anticipated. The decline may cut fourth-quarter earnings by $2.5 billion. Colm Kelleher, Morgan Stanley chief financial officer to the Financial Times in an interview: "You need to see some of these long positions reduced, you need to see buyers coming in, you need to see an easing of liquidity in the market." Kelleher said credit markets would take three or four quarters to recover, instead of the one or two he estimated when the firm reported third-quarter results on September 19.

Concerns about potential writedowns at Morgan Stanley have pushed the stock lower this week, bringing the year-to-date decline to 24 percent. The stock fell $3.32, or 6.9%, to $51.19 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading on November 8. Analysts estimate the firm would lose about $4 billion on asset- backed securities and collateralized debt obligations and expected the remaining losses to be booked on residual mortgage interest and on credit lines to structured investment vehicles.

Being Right Can lead to Losses through Aggressive Hedging

Part of the losses Morgan Stanley incurred stemmed from derivative contracts the firm's proprietary trading unit wrote earlier in the year. The traders anticipated correctly a decline in the value of subprime securities and took up short positions and the contracts made money for the firm in the second quarter. But the contracts started losing money when prices fell below the level the traders had anticipated. As markets continued to decline, the firm's risk exposure swung from short, to flat to long because the structure of the book had big negative convexity. For any given bond, a graph of the relationship between price and yield is a convex curve rather than a linear straight-line. As a bond's price goes up, its yield goes down, and vice versa. The degree to which the graph is curved shows how much a bond's yield changes in response to a change in price. Negative convexity gives the investor a greater loss in the event of a 50 basis points drop in yields than his gain in the event of a 50 basis points rise in yields. For any given move in interest rates, the downside is bigger than the upside to give a built-in loss for a short position with negative convexity. Sophisticated traders can create instruments which have so much negative convexity that the price might start off moving in one direction as yields start moving, and then eventually start moving in the opposite direction beyond a given range. The hedge then begins to cannibalize profitability.For any given move in interest rates, the downside is bigger than the upside to give a built-in loss for a short position with negative convexity, thus producing losses. For positive convexity, the upside is bigger than the down side, thus giving short positions an advantage. Morgan Stanley's short positions allegedly turned against them by negative convexity; at least that was how they explained the loss. Some analysts think there must be more than meets the eye, assuming Morgan management itself even know. The people who put on the bad trades were fired and not there to answer questions.

It is one thing to lose money, but it is quite another to lose money without knowing why and how. Morgan Stanley, Citibank, and the rest still have difficulty figuring out how they lost money last quarter and how much loss is waiting in future quarters. They only know the numbers came in very bad.

SEC Concern over Accuracy of Writedowns

US market regulators have been working with investment banks and accounting firms over the past few months to keep tabs on how they are dealing with changes to the accounting treatment of securities that were introduced this year by the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). The SEC has been particularly concerned during the third quarter earnings season, which resulted in billions of dollars in write-downs at investment banks after problems in the sub-prime mortgage markets that triggered a wider credit crisis. At issue is whether these write-downs accurately reflect the total financial impact of the credit crisis on the banks and their investors.

The SMELEC Super Fund Proposal

Citigroup, Bank of America and JP Morgan/Chase announced on Monday, October 15, plans for a super fund to buy mortgage-linked securities in an attempt to allay fears of a downward price-spiral that would hit the balance sheets of big banks. US banks collectively would put up credit guarantees up to $100 billion for the fund, named the Single-Master Liquidity Enhancement Conduit (SMLEC).

The concept of an SMLEC first emerged three weeks earlier when the US Treasury summoned leading bankers to discuss ways to revive the mortgage-linked securities market and to deal with the threat to the credit market posed by structured investment vehicles (SIVs) and conduits. The Treasury said it acted as a "neutral third party" in the discussions, but Henry Paulson, Treasury secretary, was reportedly strongly in support of the initiative.

Robert Steel, under-secretary for domestic finance, led the US Treasury side of the discussions, with the day-to-day work handled by Anthony Ryan, assistant secretary. The plan is an attempt to address concerns about SIVs and conduits, vehicles that are off-balance sheet but closely affiliated to banks.

Fears emerged that some SIVs might be pushed into forced sales of assets, prompting further declines in the market price of mortgage-linked securities as a class that could hurt the balance sheets of all lending institutions. SMLEC, designed as a superfund to preserve the theoretical value of the high-rated tranches by creating a ready buyer for them, is likely to be unpopular with some banks and non-bank institutions which have already started trading in distressed low-rated subprime securities at knockdown prices.

SMLEC as proposed is intended as a restructuring vehicle, repackaging credit securities to make them more transparent than existing SIV commercial paper and less risky to investors. It would only deal in "highly-rated" assets. Although it is envisaged that the scheme will initially focus on vehicles in the dollar market held by US banks, it is expected to extend to non-US banks as well, and may even be extended to the euro market. The US Treasury declined to provide official comment on the reported proposal.

In October, Citigroup Inc. posted a 57% slump in third-quarter net income at $2.38 billion, or 47 cents a share, from $5.51 billion, or $1.10 a share, a year earlier. The latest quarterly results included $1.35 billion of pretax write-down in the value of loans that helped finance the leveraged-buyout boom and $1.56 billion of pretax losses tied to loans and sub-prime mortgages. A couple of weeks after the SMLEC proposal, Citigroup announced a write down of $3.3 billion which was later revised to $11 billion and that its Chairman resigned after an emergency board meeting on the first Saturday of November.

SMLEC is in essence a big bet that a consortium of banking giants, at the prodding of the US Treasury, can persuade investors to pour new money into the troubled credit market to buy the assets of troubled SIVs to prevent the pending loss faced by the sponsoring institutions.

Alan Greenspan, former Fed chairman, immediately raised serious doubts over SMLEC, warning that it could prevent the market from establishing true clearing prices for asset-backed securities. "It is not clear to me that the benefits exceed the risks," Greenspan told Emerging Markets , adding, "The experience I have had with that sort of intervention is very mixed." As the person most responsible for a macro liquidity boom that had prevented "the market from establishing true clearing prices for assets of all types", Greenspan is critical of the effort of the Treasury to do the same thing on a micro level to save the banking system.

Greenspan explained: "What creates strong markets is a belief in the investment community that everybody has been scared out of the market, pressed prices too low and there are wildly attractive bargaining prices out there." He added: "if you intervene in the system, the vultures stay away. The vultures are sometimes very useful." Goldman Sachs must have heard the message loud and clear and decided to act as its own home-grown vulture.

Greenspan's remarks came amid growing speculation on Wall Street that the current Federal Reserve sees potential benefits in the SMLEC proposal in terms of preventing a possible fire sale of assets, and does not think it has been designed to allow financial institutions to avoid recognizing losses. But the Fed is concern that the superfund plan could exacerbate growing investor anxiety, and thinks markets might normalize faster if at least some troubled SIV assets were sold in the market to allow prices to find a floor. Fed officials have been officially silent on the superfund plan, leading to the impression that the Fed wants to keep its distance. The Treasury regards the Fed's silence as simply reflecting the separation of powers and responsibilities between the institutions. In reality, the Treasury leads the Fed on issues of national economic security, notwithstanding the Fed's claim of independence.

Greenspan defended the 1998 Fed-sponsored rescue of Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM) by a group of creditor banks, saying it worked because it took a set of assets that would otherwise have been dumped at fire-sale prices off the market, allowing prices of the remaining assets to find a true equilibrium. But he said today "we are dealing with a much larger market." To those who still have reliable memory, the justification for the Fed managed rescue of LTCM was to prevent the total collapse of the financial market because of the dominant size and high leverage of LTCM. Other distressed hedge funds would also have survived with a Fed managed bailout, but they did not qualify as being "too big to fail".

Frederic Mishkin, a Federal Reserve governor, admitted to the Financial Times that although the central bank could use monetary policy to offset the macroeconomic risk arising from the credit squeeze, it was "powerless" to deal with "valuation risk" – the difficulty assessing the value of complex or opaque securities.

Robert J Shiller, Yale economist of " Irrational Exuberance " fame (2000), writing in the October 14 edition of the New York Times: Sniffles That Precede a Recession : "While it may seem as though these private banks could have met by themselves and agreed to create a fund without pressure from Treasury to do so, apparently there are times when the private sector cannot take care of itself and it needs the government to intervene and prod it in the right direction, at least that appears to be the attitude at Treasury (and I wonder if there will be government guarantees of any sort as part of the bargain, a situation that rules out the private sector doing it on its own, but also a situation that more explicitly recognizes the existence of market failure and the need for government intervention to overcome it). It would be refreshing to see this same attitude extended by the administration to other markets that cannot coordinate properly or that suffer from significant market failures of other types, markets that produce outcomes where, say, children are left without health coverage. But don't get your hopes up."

Warren Buffett, the Pied Piper of other awed investors, told Fox Business Network that "pooling a bunch of mortgages, changing the ownership" would not change the viability of the mortgage instrument itself. "It would be better to have them on the balance sheets so everyone would know what's going on." Bill Gross, chief investment officer of Pimco, the giant bond fund manager, called the superfund idea "pretty lame". Investors need to know what their portfolio is really worth at any moment in time, not merely constructed value if conditions should hold.

Next: The Commercial Paper Market and SIVs

[Jul 03, 2018] The role of diaspora might as destructive in Ukraine as it was in Iraq and Iran

Notable quotes:
"... The reason they endlessly get it wrong, of course, is that they listen to the exiles in the US and elsewhere. Those exiles still mainly come from the old upper classes, with their eternal sense of entitlement to power, and their air-tickets ready in their pockets to fly back to Tehran and take back their positions under the Shah. Because of course, the Iranian revolution was one of the first populist movements, where the religious regime appealed directly to "the people", and the upper classes were cut out. The system has worked well - "the people" have continued to vote for the regime, naturally being a majority. ..."
Jul 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Laguerre , Jul 2, 2018 4:37:58 AM | 37

There was a distinct change earlier this year, after the second US fusillade of cruise missiles, and the Israeli bombing of "Iranian" bases in Syria.

We were all expecting further military action, but nothing happened, in particular no more Israeli action, although Iranian forces in Syria were hardly damaged.

Instead they started muttering about subversion of the Iranian state from the inside, which is what b is writing about here. That was a big sign that the all-out assault on Iran has been called off.

Why? Evidently because the military say no. The scenario was the same as the one back in 2012, the last time we thought to see Israeli aircraft getting permission from Saudi to do their bombing runs on Iran, but it didn't happen then, because the Israeli military were saying no. Evidently the position hasn't changed, I was relieved to discover, although the propagandists claimed the plan is all worked out now, and Iran has little defence.

Well, internal subversion of the regime, then. Hasn't the US been attempting to do precisely that for 40 years now, ever since the revolution overthrew the Shah in 1979? What are the conditions which mean that they are going to succeed now, when they've failed for 40 years?

The reason they endlessly get it wrong, of course, is that they listen to the exiles in the US and elsewhere. Those exiles still mainly come from the old upper classes, with their eternal sense of entitlement to power, and their air-tickets ready in their pockets to fly back to Tehran and take back their positions under the Shah. Because of course, the Iranian revolution was one of the first populist movements, where the religious regime appealed directly to "the people", and the upper classes were cut out. The system has worked well - "the people" have continued to vote for the regime, naturally being a majority.

I don't want to get into a historical disquisition (which in any case I've said before), but the reason this works is that there's history behind it - I'm pretty sure that the original Islamisation of Iran (I don't mean the Arab conquest, but the conversion of the country) was a popular revolt against the pre-Islamic nationalist aristocracy, who didn't pay any taxes. The present-day Iranian exiles attach themselves strongly to that old nationalist aristocracy, including most academics of Iranian origin in western universities. They don't seem to notice that the class they admire grindingly oppressed the poor, such that it led to a revolution.

sorry for that rant, as Debs would say.

[Jul 03, 2018] Is reconsiliation still possible?

Jul 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

currently having an online debate about conditions in the crimea, specifically alleged russian oppression of crimeans in 2018, but also conditions leading up to the initial referendum (my opponents claim annexation or conquest, and cite a freedom house survey to back it up--from what i can see freedom house is fully funded by the us govt). my understanding is the us fomented the coup in ukraine, along with nato, as opposed to the ukrainian people rebelling against a russian puppet, which is the us line i believe. any articles or sources detailing the us role in all this, or rebutting claims that crimeans are being terrified into silence in 2018 about russian oppression, would be appreciated.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Jul 1, 2018 2:05:08 PM | 3


somebody , Jul 1, 2018 4:01:34 PM | 5

3 Just quoting "Western" mainstream sources:

BBC?

"Ethnic Russians in the majority, Tartars and Ukrainians in the minority."

Carnegie?

About half of the respondents admit to having been taken by surprise by Russia's actions in 2014. Interestingly, there is agreement among the Crimean population, including the Crimean Tatars, that successive Ukrainian governments had neglected the region. Roughly one third of respondents pointed to this neglect as the main cause of the developments in 2014. ... The majority of survey respondents agree with the statement that the different ethnic groups in Crimea currently live peacefully side by side. Twenty percent disagree "fully" or "rather" with this statement, thereby indicating both an uncertainty and unease with the situation at the moment that reaches beyond the Crimean Tatar share of the population (about 12 percent). This result is mirrored in the reaction to the ban on the main political Crimean Tatar organization, the Mejlis, by the Russian authorities: 20 percent "fully" or "rather" disagreed with this step, compared to 80 percent endorsing this policy. ... The survey clearly spells out the severe disruption of links to the rest of Ukraine, limited travel to other parts of Russia, the absence of personal international reference points, and a near-complete integration into the Russian media sphere.

This combination makes any change in the opinions of the majority of the Crimean population on the annexation unlikely in the foreseeable future. However, it is also clear that the Crimean population's high expectations in the Russian economy and trust in Russian (but not Crimean) institutions needs to be carefully managed by Moscow in view of the already strained financial situation of the majority of the Crimean population.

Compare to Ukraine

The authors are also cautious about drawing overly-optimistic conclusions about the present time: "The risk of conflict emerging within Ukrainian society and growing serious remains, based on noticeable differences among residents of different regions about the further geopolitical direction the country should move in. There are also serious problems connected to restoring Ukraine's territorial integrity and the model of coexistence with those living in the regions that are currently occupied, how to reach reconciliation and mutual understanding." ...

Joining the EU remains a strong desire among a majority of Ukrainians. In September 2016, 51% of those surveyed by the Rating Group put integration with the EU ahead of joining Russia's Customs Union or some other association. Still, in Rating's September 2015 survey, 57% of Ukrainians did so, and in September 2014, 59% did. This noticeable decline could be the result of a number of factors. For one thing, the Association Agreement did not have a noticeable impact on the standard of living of most Ukrainians. Many Ukrainians are also upset at what they see as the European Union's limp response to Russia's aggression against their country. And the way the granting of a visa-free regime to the EU has been dragged out for years and the obvious internal squabbles among the Union's members have also left their imprint on Ukrainians.

Ukraine is a very diverse country. Trump coming to an agreement with Putin that eases tensions instead of agreeing/dividing on spheres of influence would be their best hope.

PavewayIV , Jul 1, 2018 6:26:14 PM | 8
pretzelattack@3 re: "...rebutting claims that crimeans are being terrified into silence in 2018 about russian oppression."

I honestly have not heard anything about actual oppression - just that some Ukrainians and Tartars are still - today - not terribly happy with the secession/annexation/transfer. Acts of civil disobedience were generally individual, "I don't want to be part of Russia and I'm not signing these papers or paying taxes," kind of thing. I know any polls of Crimeans are noted to be terribly flawed - neither the pro-Russian nor the pro-Ukraine people trust anyone taking polls. They'll not answer or give an answer that seems to agree with whatever 'side' the pollster might be from.

I can't see how this issue could be fairly considered without at least an acknowledgement that in 1954, 1.1 million people in Crimea woke up one day to find they were now citizens of the Ukraine SSR. No polls, no vote, no discussion and no terribly good reasons.

https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/why-did-russia-give-away-crimea-sixty-years-ago

Jen , Jul 1, 2018 6:27:35 PM | 9
Pretzel Attack @ 3:

If you need sources to back up your argument that the US helped to foment the Maidan uprising that overthrew the Yanukovych government, here are a couple that feature a video and a transcript of a phone conversation.

Information CLearing House: Victoria Nuland [former US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe during Obama administration] Admits: US Has Invested $5 Billion In The Development of Ukrainian "Democratic Institutions"
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37599.htm

The article includes the video of the speech Nuland gave to the Washington press corp in December 2013 in which she talks about "investing" the $5 billion.

A transcript of the phone call between Nuland and the then US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who to select for the post-Yanukovych government in Kiev at this Global Research link:
https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-eu-clash-on-how-to-install-a-puppet-regime-in-ukraine-victoria-nuland/5367794

This is the famous phone call in which Nuland utters her most memorable lines: "Yats [Yatsenyuk] is the guy [for deputy prime minister]" and "Fuck the EU".

-----

I have also found details of the Korsun massacre incident that occurred on 20 February 2014. I had known about this massacre but in a hazy way and had thought only a few people had been killed. However this incident is much more grave and this was the stimulus for the Crimeans to organise their independence referendum and break away from Ukraine.

Eight buses of Crimean supporters of the Yanukovych government were returning to Crimea when the convoy was ambushed by Nazi thugs (who had known of the convoy's movements in advance). The thugs ordered everyone off the buses, beat them up and tortured them. Several people were killed.

More details of the Korsun incident at this Fort Russ link:
https://www.fort-russ.com/2015/02/korsun-massacre-anniversary-what-really/

karlof1 , Jul 1, 2018 6:47:59 PM | 10
Crimeans are very pleased about their reaffiliation with Russia. To say otherwise is to lie, pure and simple.
dh , Jul 1, 2018 6:51:06 PM | 11
@3 You can add this to Jen @9...

"Americans prepared very seriously and thoroughly for their entrance into Crimea, – said a member of the Federation Council Committee on defense and security, Dmitry Sablin. – A year before the events on Maidan in Kiev, they made repair estimates of a number of buildings in Sevastopol and in Simferopol, where they planned to house the headquarters and intelligence units. Military airfields and garrisons, which then belonged to Ukraine, they considered as their own military installations and even sent instructions for their conversion to NATO standards. In the plans of the U.S. military April 2014 was the start time of upgrades in Crimea. It seemed to them that the issue has been settled. But the referendum had thrown off their plans, and on March 18, Crimea became Russian again, where the overseas guests were no longer welcome. Americans later themselves acknowledged that the Russians outplayed them on all counts. Well, and from helplessness imposed sanctions -- as a revenge for Crimea".

https://www.fort-russ.com/2016/03/how-russia-ruined-american-plans-in/

Jen , Jul 1, 2018 7:02:07 PM | 12
Pretzel Attack @ 3:

Here's a Russia Insight documentary in which survivors of the Korsun massacre help re-enact the incident:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ummUo7DEEzM

Jen , Jul 1, 2018 7:08:28 PM | 13
Pretzel Attack @ 3

You can add this to DH @ 11:

Renovation of Sevastopol School #5, Ukraine
Solicitation Number: N33191-13-R-1240
Agency: Department of the Navy
Office: Naval Facilities Engineering Command
Location: NAVFAC Europe and Southwest Asia
https://www.fbo.gov/?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=2bb691b61c59be3a68180bd8c614a0cb&tab=core&_cview=1

This is the tender put out by the US Navy to invite private companies to propose renovation plans for a school for naval officers' children in the military base in Sevastopol.

Jen , Jul 1, 2018 7:08:28 PM | 13 Daniel , Jul 1, 2018 7:40:45 PM | 14
Sabine @6: On political/national/ethnic determinations.

It is a messy situation. I had thought one of the reasons we hate the Nazis is because ethno-nationalism is evil. And yet, most of the West's leaders fully support Israel, and the AZ Empire is promoting Kurdish ethno-states in Iraq and Syria (though not in Turkey, where 50% of all Kurds live).

We were all ready to accept a referendum that would have seen Scotland secede from Great Britain, and yet when people in regions of 1991 Ukraine resisted the Western-fomented coup in 2014, and voted to secede, we are told they are terrorists to be crushed.

Most of the national borders in the Middle East and Africa were created by an elite in Great Britain and Europe, which divided families and crammed together enemies, creating the inevitable century of turmoil. And yet, here most of us support the sovereignty of some of those artificially-created neocolonial states.

Messy.

Personally, I believe in the right to self-determination. If a group of people in a region choose to form, or dissolve, or maintain, or expand a political entity, then they should be allowed to. Such decisions should be made by the will of those people only.

What I see as illegitimate is people from outside that region interfering to force their will on others.

Jen , Jul 1, 2018 8:42:46 PM | 17
Pretzel Attack @ 3:

I keep finding juicy things for you!

Here is a link to a documentary "Crimea for Dummies" by Los Angeles-based film-maker Miguel Francis Santiago in 2014. Watch it and judge for yourself whether Crimeans seem genuinely happy at being part of Russia again.
https://21stcenturywire.com/2018/06/17/sunday-screening-crimea-for-dummies-2014/

MFS also travelled to the Donbass and made a documentary about his journey there. I saw the documentary a couple of years ago and from memory I believe he met Givi, one of the Donbass military commanders. Givi died in early 2017 when a missile hit his office.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukQgVoTnAuE

Daniel , Jul 1, 2018 9:32:44 PM | 19
Jen. Thanks for the great links on the Ukraine situation. Oliver Stone created a stunning documentary, that is the best on the subject I've seen: "Ukraine on Fire"

Unfortunately, it appears to be banned or at lest heavily censored within the US. I saw it on RT.

I found a version with foreign language over-dubbing which my ear finds difficult. But it does have CC in English.

Grieved , Jul 2, 2018 12:08:00 AM | 25
@3 pretzelattack

I second all of the very valuable responses made to you, but no story of Crimea would be complete without Crimea. The Way Home. Documentary by Andrey Kondrashev

I've seen several uploads of this documentary, which was made in 2015. But the resolution of this version is superb. I recommend it for everyone actually, and I'm happy to say that it's being hosted on the Vesti News channel - which is worth exploring in its own right.

This is the definitive story told from the inside of the people of Crimea forming a resistance force to take their land back from Ukraine. It was already happening but the Korsun massacre detailed above by commenters was the galvanizing point that showed the Crimeans that Kiev was coming to massacre it also, unless it resisted. And as everyone knew, Crimea was hated most of all, and its suffering would be far worse than that of Donbass.

Kondrashev is a popular Russian news commentator, and he interviews Putin extensively in the film. This was made one year after the Crimea restoration to Russia, after the events of that time, coordinated by Putin, were de-classified.

The documentary is a dramatic and stirring work. You will be totally in love with with Crimea and the Russian people by the end of it. And you will understand how the Maidan was a US color revolution in classical style. Your heart will jump when you see the snipers kill the hard-pressed Berkut. And it's a true story, made from real footage, and with parts reenacted by the actual people.

When the polite green men show up, in the very nick of time, you may find yourself weeping with gladness.

[Jul 03, 2018] When you see some really successful financial speculator like Soros or (or much smaller scale) Browder , search for links with intelligence services to explain the success or at least a part of it related to xUSSR space , LA and similar regions

Highly recommended!
Jul 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Recently came across the following article written by F. William Engdahl in 1996 which might be of interest to some here:

The secret financial network behind "wizard" George Soros

The last page of the above article can be found here:

Soros's looting of Ibero-America

Posted by: integer | Jul 2, 2018 4:49:45 AM | 35

[Jun 26, 2018] Donetsk and how it was founded by 19th-century Welsh engineer industrialist John Hughes, after whom it was originally named Yuzovka.

Jun 26, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mark2 @ 81, Daniel @ 82:

I am halfway through watching a film of US actor Peter von Berg travelling through the Donetsk People's Republic and meeting Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko and various others to find out how the Donetsk rebels are creating a socialist state under a situation of war. The film is as much an implicit criticism of US society (and by extension, Western capitalist society generally) as it is an investigation of the reality on the ground on Donetsk, ignored by the Western MSM.

Von Berg visits a greenhouse farm growing tomatoes, a hospital and a factory among other places he travels to (including the capital, of course) in the DPR.

There is even a short history of the city of Donetsk and how it was founded by 19th-century Welsh engineer industrialist John Hughes, after whom it was originally named Yuzovka.

https://www.therussophile.org/watch-nyc-to-donetsk-back-a-new-film.html/

Posted by: Jen | Jun 25, 2018 7:06:44 PM | 89

[Jun 21, 2018] US interventions vs Russia interventions

Notable quotes:
"... The attributions of attacks to countries are very shaky. Throw in a couple of Cyrillic letters and voilà, you have associated a certain IP address or a certain piece of code with Russia. Somehow these simpleton arguments are uncritically accepted as proofs by computer security professionals the world over, who, of all people, really should know better. It's as if all the supposedly smart cryptographers and programmers are completely oblivious to the concept of manipulation. ..."
Jun 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 2:44:25 PM | 2

Could someone remind me the amount of country's America have invaded since the last world war 30 - 40 , I here'd. Compared to Russia 5-8 ? Russia is in Syria by invitation to deal with rebels/terrorist's .America is now threatening both. Despite being there to attempt a regime change. Just who do they think they are ? The sooner they are stopped the better and the easier.
karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 3:13:44 PM | 3
Mark2 @2--

Russia intervened nowhere; the USSR intervened in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In 1993, Yeltsin's cabal intervened in Russia to preserve Bush's and Clinton's New World Order. USSR was invited into Afghanistan; Outlaw US Empire wasn't. An incomplete list from William Blum's Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II . A graphic map based on Blum's book.

ben , Jun 21, 2018 5:31:23 PM | 14
Mark2@ 2: Here ya' go Mark:)

https://williamblum.org/essays/read/overthrowing-other-peoples-governments-the-master-list

karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 5:32:52 PM | 15
Yesterday, Putin met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Unfortunately, the Kremlin's recap of the meeting's currently incomplete, but what is recorded is instructive:

"Of course, we look at the Russian Federation as a founder of the United Nations and as a permanent member of the Security Council, but I would say that at the present moment we look at the Russian Federation as an indispensable element of the creation of a new multipolar world.

"To be entirely frank, these are not easy times for multilateralism and not easy times for the UN. And I think that after the Cold War and after a short period of unipolar world we are still struggling to find a way to have a structured, multipolar world with multilateral governmental institutions that can work. And this is something that worries me a lot and is something in which, I believe, the Russian Federation has a unique role to play."

Considering many think Guterres just an agent for the Outlaw US Empire, maybe his cited words will cause a reassessment. I'd like to know what followed. Apparently there was some discussion about Korea and the economic initiatives being openly discussed since RoK President Moon will arrive in Russia tomorrow.

Lavrov met with Guterres today, and his opening remarks shine a bit more light on what was discussed:

"As emphasised by President Putin, we have invariably supported, support, and will continue to support the UN, this unique universal organisation. We think highly of your intention, Mr Secretary-General, to raise the profile of the United Nations in world affairs, particularly in settling regional conflicts. As you noted yourself at the meeting in the Kremlin yesterday, this is largely dependent on the general state of the international system as a whole and the UN member states' readiness to act collectively, jointly, rather than unilaterally, and to pursue the goals enshrined in the UN Charter rather than self-centred,[sic] immediate aims.

"We note that you have consistently advocated the pooling of efforts by major players to deal with world problems. This is the logic of the UN Charter, specifically its clauses on the creation and powers of the UN Security Council. I hope that based on the values we share we will be able to successfully continue cooperation in the interests of solving international problems."

Lots of emphasis on the absolute necessity of making the UN Charter whole again and not allowing any one nation to make a mockery of it by pursuing its "self-centered, immediate aims."

Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 5:54:25 PM | 18
Ben @ 14
Thanks Ben. Yep that's what l thought reality would look like, that's my sanity safe for a while longer. Remember we are not alone!
Zanon @ 12
That is a perfect example of 'fake news' we can spot it here ! Or are we here now msm!
pantaraxia , Jun 21, 2018 6:06:38 PM | 20
@2 Mark2 'Could someone remind me the amount of country's America have invaded since the last world war '

Perhaps as relevant a question is how many countries are presently enjoying the beneficence of U.S. military operations?

According to Seymour Hersh in a recent interview on Democracy Now: " The United States is conducting war in 76 countries now."

Seymour Hersh on Torture at Abu Ghraib & Secret U.S. Assassination Programs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRvLZ6y4PxM

This confirms a recent statement by Sen. Bernie Sanders: "meanwhile we are "fighting terrorism" in some 76 countries...'

The Jimmy Dore Show - Bernie's Amazing Foreign Policy Smackdown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmcMzCIEV8Y

karlof1 , Jun 21, 2018 6:19:58 PM | 21
I'd Like this made into a poster ! From Southfront's reporting about a RICO lawsuit filed against Clinton and Co. Quite the charge sheet, although it lacks several crimes.
Mark2 , Jun 21, 2018 6:36:55 PM | 22
Pantaraxia @ 20
Wow that doubles what I was already shocked about ! And then of course there's the comercal operations destablising country's using greed as a weapon. Plus the banks, I'm sure South Africa would have been a real success if they'd kept the banking curuption out. Time for immoral capitalism to fall.
Also don't you just hate victim blaming.There that's me done. Grrr
S , Jun 21, 2018 9:49:05 PM | 32
@b: I know you're just one man and can't do everything, but it would be wonderful if you could cover the history of hacking accusations against Russia. No one lays out a sequence of events better than you.

Just yesterday, another accusation has been leveled against Russia by the head of Germany's BfV intelligence agency, Hans-Georg Maassen: German intelligence sees Russia behind hack of energy firms - media report (Reuters). It's a serious accusation, and one would expect a serious proof. However, no proof has been given except that "it fits the Russian modus operandi". Also, the fact that the alleged attack has been named "Berserk Bear" by some unknown Western analyst. Apparently, that's enough proof by today's standards.

There is a critical lack of independent thinking and skepticism in the international computer security circles nowadays. The attributions of attacks to countries are very shaky. Throw in a couple of Cyrillic letters and voilà, you have associated a certain IP address or a certain piece of code with Russia. Somehow these simpleton arguments are uncritically accepted as proofs by computer security professionals the world over, who, of all people, really should know better. It's as if all the supposedly smart cryptographers and programmers are completely oblivious to the concept of manipulation.

[Jun 18, 2018] The next year the strategic position of Ukraine might get worse

Jun 18, 2018 | www.unz.com

Beckow , June 16, 2018 at 12:24 am GMT

If Kiev wants to attack Donbas they better hurry. After World Cup, and definitely next year when the pipelines bypassing Ukraine will be ready, Ukraine's strategic situation will get worse. We are in a transition phase: sh..t happened in 2013-15 that is impossible to undo, but there were fortunately constraints on all sides that prevented a meltdown. In a year or two most of those constraints will be gone.

Saker is correct that EU countries will not work with Russia. Blaming it all on Washington was always stupid – there are forces in Europe, in all countries, who want a confrontation with Russia. Any event, real or fake, will be used to escalate. West cannot lose this one without another fight. And if they sit on their hands, they will eventually lose with a disillusioned Ukraine and slowly disintegrating EU. Populist energy needs to be re-directed eastward, and for that a more aggressive policy is required. This is not pessimism, there simply is no way for EU elite to climb down. How could UK make up with Russia without looking like complete idiots? Or Macron and Merkel? The hostility is at this point inherent in the situation – what started out as a badly thought-out attempt to get some quick goodies (bases in Crimea, Nato expansion, sell weapons) has evolved into a real death spiral.

We are one Franz Ferdinand moment away from a catastrophe. Let's enjoy the games while we still can. Trump knows this, so he is trying desperately to organize a summit or send some messages of conciliation. But he is powerless and it might be too late for that. Hubris never dissipates, it requires a disaster and an elite turnover to cure hubris.

Mattheus , June 16, 2018 at 2:06 pm GMT
Saker is once again completely wrong. His theories fall short to explain lots of real events. He got hooked on his "Anglo-Zionist" theory and "one Hegemon", which is far from explaining the reality on the ground. There is no one single hegemon, but two powerful interest groups in the west. One of the power centers is dominated by the Rothschilds from the City of London and the other ruled by the Rockerfellers which is based in the US.
The powers described above are sometimes working in collusion but sometimes work against each other (They were in collusion during the Soviet Afghan war for instance). Currently, we don't see a collusion but a war being waged in between these two groups. I think it is highly self evident, so much so that it is happening almost all in the open. In the modern history we haven't witnessed such a openly fought war ever before (between these two powers). All is at stake and the war in between these two is vicious. Thus you can explain Trump's attitude towards EU, everlasting character assasination of Trump by certain opposing circles in the US, high level resignations, the state of confusion of Nato and much more. If this theory is right (and I think it is much more viable than any other theory that I came across in the Alt-Med), this makes Russia firmly embedded into one of the camps. Unfortunately, the position that Russia took makes him not a sovereign power but on contrary puts him into a subservient role. The late actions of Russia, especially in Syria, is quite telling. I know people who admire Russia get quite frustrated when they hear such a scenario and outcome, but this is possibly the only way Putin believes that Russia can survive. Thus it explains his latest house clean-up of Euroasian integrists. Even worse, if you believe in this scenario, it brings Russia and China against each other especially in the long run. This scenario also put a full stop to the idealist Euroasian multi-polar world order.
Here is the link to an older video in Russian with English subtitles. The guy's name is Andrei Fursov and he has some interesting things to say regarding this subject. This interview was just before Obama was elected but is still quite relevent. His newer videos seems to have lost steam, possibly because he is working for some state connected Russian institutions and think-thanks and thus I think he is somewhat restricted. After all it is again the famous "Game Theory", isn't it?
byrresheim , June 16, 2018 at 6:39 pm GMT
As long as the Author keeps talking about Ukronazis, we know that he is not at all prepared to see any problems on the Russian side at all.

Which serves devalue his argument, even if there are a lot of valid points otherwise.

Beckow , June 17, 2018 at 1:39 am GMT
@Philip Owen

I don't think you realize that armies need supplies. To break into Donbas cities would be hard enough, but to re-supply them would be impossible. Civilians would mostly evacuate, so there would be little to 'hide in'. Kiev cannot win militarily as long as Russia opposes it. Russia can always blast their bases from air, or with missiles. Don't kid yourself, if Russia has the will, they will prevail.

Since you mentioned 2014, there was a perfect opportunity for Maidanistas to avoid this. All they had to do was to be friendly and accommodating to its Russian minority. Offer them autonomy, re-assure them, promise that trade and ties with Russia would continue. Kiev did the exact opposite, an extremely bad tactic. US kept on telling them to cool it, that one doesn't win by attacking before ready. But in Kiev emotions prevailed, and so we are where we are.

Sooner or later a more accommodating government in Kiev will try the 'let bygones be bygones' tactic on Russia. If we are lucky enough to make it that far.

[Jun 17, 2018] Ukraine as reflection of USA. When masters fall out their men get the clout by Mark Kravets

Dec 26, 2017 | medium.com

So-called Ukrainian 'maidans' have bored the world community to death. And the public has been taking the protests currently under way in Kiev for no more than traditional autumn and winter open-air parties, similar to the Parisian 'fire shows'. Meanwhile, much more significant confrontation has been taking place in Kiev, alongside with the circus of ex-president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. An inner conflict between two anticorruption and power-wielding departments of the country is long overdue. In their relations with the media, both representatives of those organizations and members of various Verkhovna Rada fractions have been describing specific processes that are taking place in Ukraine as 'Makhnovshchina' or a war of all against all, literally speaking.

After returning from the international anti-corruption forum organized by the U.S. State Department, Nazar Holodnitsky, head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAP) of Ukraine, stated in an interview to TSN , the Ukrainian TV channel, that a standoff of law enforcement agencies may escalate into a war harmful to entire Ukraine. Thus, a conflict between the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and the General Prosecutor's Office (GPO) has evolved into a hybrid war with interrogations involving physical and mental pressure and mutual accusations of all sorts of evils. Delegates of both sides have simultaneously visited their U.S. sponsors and come back comforted with just another assurance of '1000% support'.

Such confrontation of the government institutions raises eyebrows, I must say. State Department has publicly been sympathized with both the corruption fighters and the General Prosecutor's Office upon condition of the settlement of conflict by legal means and punishment of officials guilty of criminal charges. Meanwhile, the FBI has also been drawn in this undeclared war. In June 2016, the FBI and NABU adopted the Memorandum of Understanding, which allows the FBI to assist NABU and SAP in the matter of investigations and implementation of anti-corruption actions. The Bureau's special agents and analysts have been working in NABU on a temporary rotational basis.

The mere presence of the FBI suggests an idea about another U.S. security service which has been standing invisibly by in Ukraine, since it gained independence. This is the CIA, a classic rival of the FBI. The very secret visit in 2014 of the former Central Intelligence Agency chief John O. Brennan preceded the beginning of active hostilities in Ukraine. The CIA stood behind the appointment of the recent Kiev government. It had also protected the acting president of the country from rivals, up to a certain time. For instance, they conduced to the resignation of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a former rather ambitious Prime Minister of Ukraine who was in conflict with Petro Poroshenko and running for his post.

That helps explain the real cause of furious intransigence of NABU and the General Prosecutor's Office throwing wild accusations at each other. They have virtually been used by power-wielding structures and political forces of another state for a showdown. A never-ending internal fighting in the American national security environment has become the talk of the town being eventually accreted with new dirty wash. It seems that it has become more acute, with the passing of time.

For example, the FBI dealt a hard blow to the CIA bringing 12-count charges including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, false statements, and other against Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman and his business associate, Richard Gates. His other partner, Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager was involved as well. Manafort was renowned for his associations with the CIA and for consulting the Party of Regions which was led by Victor Yanukovych. It became clear who was he FBI's source of such detailed and valuable data after the statements by Artem Sytnyk , Director of NABU and Serhiy Leshchenko , a Ukrainian MP.

Nevertheless, the CIA won at this stage of confrontation, because Trump came to power. Even support to the current President of the USA prior to the elections wasn't of much assistance to the FBI Director Comey.

History has witnessed a number of episodes when Ukraine was a stage for showdown by political forces from other countries. It never ended peacefully. As far back as in the XVII century Ukrainian territory had become a theatre of operations owing to the bloody strife between Polish hetmans (high military commanders in the Army of the Kingdom of Poland) of Ukrainian and Cossack origin. As a result, lands of the Zaporizhian Host voluntarily pledged allegiance to Russia.

During World War II the Ukrainian people suffered much harder. At that time the Third Reich was intensely seeking for ways to weaken the USSR, even before it invaded Poland in 1939. It was decided to use the ancient divide-and rule tactics proven by Julius Caesar, involving gradual tearing away of territories with malcontent population. Ukraine was considered the most prospective area for fomenting disaffection.

However, there also was both ideological and political discord among the highest ranks of the Third Reich. Thus, Alfred Rosenberg, the main ideologue of Nazism, along with admiral Wilhelm Canaris (who was accused of 'spiritual instigation' of a plot against Hitler) were planning the establishment of Ukrainian buffer state controlled by the Third Reich. Using such promises they managed to recruit Andriy Melnyk, a central figure in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), and notorious Stepan Bandera who, just like Mr. Yatsenyuk, was striving to lead the government in independent Ukrainian state. If the second one kept clinging to his aims all the time, Melnyk was good at matching to desires of his sponsors from Hitler's surrounding. When Himmler and Koch didn't recognize Rosenberg's ideas and wanted to weaken his power in the National Socialist Worker's Party, Melnyk was quick to assure them of his willingness to cooperate on any terms, especially when they let him know that Fuhrer didn't like the idea of a Ukrainian buffer state.

It is a paradox that those relations that had developed both within various branches of OUN-UPA and the Third Reich senior ranks coordinating them were similar to the recent situation in Ukraine. Ukrainian nationalist leaders were used not only for German purposes, but also for elimination of competitors in power. For instance, Rosenberg, after all, had to abandon his point of view. Many of his influential followers resigned just like chief Comey did to the delight of chief Pompeo, this May. Although NABU, the organization most thoroughly maintaining a steady U.S. course prepared for Ukraine, has been successfully continuing investigations, digging into Poroshenko who fell into disfavor for his poor record. And here you are, Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and a close acquaintance of the U.S. president's national security advisor McMaster and Secretary of Defense Mattis has indirectly supported Saakashvili's demonstration. In September, Saakashvili hanged out happily with contenders of the recent president in future election Valentyn Nalyvaichenko and Andriy Sadoviy, in Lviv. Now a big friend of Senator McCain Yulia Timoshenko and a number of Verkhovna Rada MPs endorse him.

This mess of warring parties seems to be disordered and extremely headachy. The situation has been much worse for the number of competing forces and foreign organizations standing behind them in Ukraine was much greater during the Third Reich and it continues to be so at present. The recent Ukrainian bellum omnium contra omnes has been a reflection of competitive battle between various security and governmental agencies in the USA.

A single distinct and unequivocal fact is that being a neighbour of such a huge state as Russia, Ukraine was always suffering from those who wish to weaken that influential country. Over and over again throughout Ukrainian history the country was exploited, with nationalist sentiments artificially ignited and false promises made. Even 'humane' Rosenberg's scheme ascribed Ukraine the role of a mere supplier of raw materials and a buffer state between Germany and Eastern Slavic countries without any right to independence.

As such, the USA regards Ukraine as an administered territory which is useful for strategic and economic aims. They skillfully manipulate Kiev government with carrot and stick. Undesirable Ukrainian political puppet might be branded as corrupt and replaced by more manageable nominee, at any time. There is always a possibility to initiate another blood shedding Maidan with oppressions and civil war, in case of urgency. Today's Ukraine is no freer than it was in 1941, during the invasion of Nazi Germany. Melnyks, banderas, hetmans skoropadskies have been replaced by new 'heroes', who never changed their essence. For evanescent promises and artificially inflated ambitions they've been tearing the country apart without mercy either to each other, or their countrymen. Meanwhile, the world community has been watching with approval the beacon of democracy vigorously setting things to order in 'dark and ignorant' Ukraine. Each of them thinking, 'Better them than me.'

[Jun 15, 2018] Putin, Donbass, emigration of Ukranians to Russia and US neocons foreign policy

An interesting point about refugees and emigration of Ukrainians to Russia.
Notable quotes:
"... Donbass is a civil conflict involving some Russian support for the rebels, who're overwhelmingly from the territory of the former Ukrainian SSR. These individuals have a realistic basis to oppose the Kiev based regimes that came after the overthrow of a democratically elected Ukrainian president. ..."
"... During the American Revolution, most of the pro-British fighters were said to be colonists already based in America. Furthermore, the American revolutionaries received significant support from France. With these factors in mind, the Donbass rebels don't seem less legit than the American revolutionaries. ..."
"... Some Kiev regime elements positively reference the 1995 Croat ethnic cleansing of Krajina Serbs (known as Operation Storm) as a solution for ending the rebel position in Donbass. Russia doesn't seek a massive refugee problem in Donbass and some other parts of the former Ukrainian SSR. As is, a sizeable number of Ukrainian residents have fled to Russia. ..."
"... Putin isn't anti-US in the manner claimed by Peters. Moreover, Peters is clearly more anti-Russian (in a narrow minded way at that) than what can be reasonably said of how Putin views the US. Putin's obvious differences with neocons, neolibs and flat out Russia haters isn't by default anti-US. He was the first foreign leader to console the US following 9/11. The Russian president has been consistently on record for favoring better US-Russian ties (even inquiring about Russia joining NATO at one point), thereby explaining why he has appeared to have preferred Trump over Clinton. ..."
"... the Russians (by and large) prefer predictability. As a general rule this is otherwise true. However, Clinton's neocon/neolib stated views on Russia have been to the point where many Russians felt willing to take a chance with Trump, whose campaign included a comparatively more sympathetic take of their country. At the same time, a good number of Russians questioned whether Trump would maintain that stance. ..."
Jun 15, 2018 | www.unz.com

Mikhail , Website June 14, 2018 at 10:28 pm GMT

@Carlton Meyer

Peters has been hardcore anti-Russian and anti-Serb. His views are quite collapsible. Regarding one of his mass media appearances

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/07/17/dnc-kiev-regime-collusion-isnt-americas-best-interests.html

Last week, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, received well deserved praise for taking to task the permeating anti-Russian biases. The highlight of Carlson's exchanges was his encounter with Ralph Peters, who for years has spouted grossly inaccurate propaganda against Russia. Antiwar.com and Russia Insider, are among the counter-establishment English language venues commenting on the Carlson-Peters discussion. The US foreign policy establishment realist leaning National Interest carried a lengthy piece on Carlson's challenge to the neocon/neolib foreign policy perceptions. For the record, more can and should be said in reply to Peter's comments.

Peters falsely claims that Russia hasn't made a concerted effort in confronting ISIS. In one of his more accurate moments, CNN's Wolf Blitzer said that the ISIS claimed shoot down of a Russian civilian airliner over Egypt, was in response to Russia's war against ISIS. You've to be either a liar or clueless to not recognize why Russia has actively opposed ISIS. The latter sees Russia as an enemy, while having a good number of individuals with roots in Russia and some other parts of the former USSR.

Peters' characterization of Russia targeting civilian areas is disingenuous. Over the years, the matter of collateral damage is something periodically brought up in response to those killed by US and Israeli military actions.

Peters offers no proof to his suspect claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin kills journalists. There're numerous anti-Putin advocates alive and well in Russia. That country does have a violence problem. Recall what the US was like in the 1960s thru early 1970′s. For that matter, Bernie Sanders isn't blamed for the pro-Sanders person who attempted to kill Republican lawmakers.

Given the situations concerning Kosovo and northern Cyprus, Peters is being a flat out hypocrite regarding Crimea. Donbass is a civil conflict involving some Russian support for the rebels, who're overwhelmingly from the territory of the former Ukrainian SSR. These individuals have a realistic basis to oppose the Kiev based regimes that came after the overthrow of a democratically elected Ukrainian president.

During the American Revolution, most of the pro-British fighters were said to be colonists already based in America. Furthermore, the American revolutionaries received significant support from France. With these factors in mind, the Donbass rebels don't seem less legit than the American revolutionaries.

Some Kiev regime elements positively reference the 1995 Croat ethnic cleansing of Krajina Serbs (known as Operation Storm) as a solution for ending the rebel position in Donbass. Russia doesn't seek a massive refugee problem in Donbass and some other parts of the former Ukrainian SSR. As is, a sizeable number of Ukrainian residents have fled to Russia.

Putin isn't anti-US in the manner claimed by Peters. Moreover, Peters is clearly more anti-Russian (in a narrow minded way at that) than what can be reasonably said of how Putin views the US. Putin's obvious differences with neocons, neolibs and flat out Russia haters isn't by default anti-US. He was the first foreign leader to console the US following 9/11. The Russian president has been consistently on record for favoring better US-Russian ties (even inquiring about Russia joining NATO at one point), thereby explaining why he has appeared to have preferred Trump over Clinton.

Some (including Trump) disagree with that view, which includes the notion that the Russians (by and large) prefer predictability. As a general rule this is otherwise true. However, Clinton's neocon/neolib stated views on Russia have been to the point where many Russians felt willing to take a chance with Trump, whose campaign included a comparatively more sympathetic take of their country. At the same time, a good number of Russians questioned whether Trump would maintain that stance.

Steve in Greensboro , June 14, 2018 at 10:42 pm GMT
@Rurik

I suppose many of us saw the Tucker with Max Boot. Boot seemed unhinged, really emotionally overwrought by Tucker raising commonsensical challenges to his neocon orthodoxy. Sad, angry man.

[Jun 13, 2018] The Roots of Argentina's Surprise Crisis

The root is neoliberal government that came to power in 2015
Notable quotes:
"... Why is any of this still "surprising" ..."
"... Economist Ha Joon Chang popularized the term "ladder kicking" to describe the way in which most developed countries used tariffs and trade restrictions to ascent to the top but are all for "free trade" now. ..."
"... Once again, so long as "Original Sin" is a reality, there is little hope. Keynes' BANCOR was the idea to begin to fix this, but short of some other global currency initiative, we're left to the International Finance Vultures as the primary arbiters of what's possible. ..."
Jun 13, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Synoia , June 13, 2018 at 10:25 am

Early measures included the removal of exchange-rate and capital controls

How does a county manage what it does not control?

ChrisAtRU , June 13, 2018 at 1:28 pm

Exactly see Trilemma .

Scott1 , June 13, 2018 at 6:34 pm

Thanks for the link. I will be spending some time thinking of what Argentina would best employ as best practices from where it is.
Would they be best off if they stopped issuing such high paying bonds? Should they pay them all off and stop with it. It does appear to me that issuing bond after bond is one of the single most dangerous things you can do.
It would appear to me to be a superior practice to sell what you produce for the best price you can get on the open markets and dictate the value of your currency.
I'll have to do some more study here.
Again, thanks for the link.

Lorenzo , June 13, 2018 at 6:31 pm

You're uttering the discourse of the most recalcitrant neo-liberal cum austerity-fundamentalists around.

The US doesn't tax soybean exports. Argentina needs to maximize its exports to earn foreign exchange.'

it's misleading to say the least to draw a comparison between how the US handles soybean exports and Argentina does it. They're around a quarter of the latter's exports, barely a hundredth of the latter's.

The US will never have forex issues, Argentina does have them, and they are very serious. You make it as if simply exporting commodities will fill the country's economy with USD, while in truth those dollars will be neatly parked in tax heavens. Eliminating tax and controls over Argentina's biggest exports -agricultural commodities- is in practice as if these commodities were produced not in this country but in some foreign territory over which only the very few who hold most of the land are sovereign. Which is what the current administration has been doing for the past two years.

You also make it as if the current situation where the value of the peso is given over completely to whatever short-term speculators feel like doing with it whenever LEBACs are due is more desirable than the capital controls imposed by the previous government. These prevented the hurtful rapid rise we're seeing in the exchange rate and reduced the negative consequences of the fiscal deficit thus allowing significant investment in and expansion of the real economy.

Addressing the fiscal deficit through increased value added and income tax is something that clearly benefits the owner over the working class and depresses private consumption. I can only sarcastically wonder who would want such a thing.

I don't feel the need or the duty to defend the previous government, but victimization of the Sociedad Rural is something I just lack the words to condemn strongly enough

ChrisAtRU , June 13, 2018 at 9:15 pm

NP. You're welcome. See my comment below. Unfortunately, the only way to win this game is not to play (by the vulture established rules).

Mickey Hickey , June 13, 2018 at 4:24 pm

Argentina is probably the most self sufficient country on earth. It has everything, fertile land that produces an abundance of wheat, barley, oats, rye, wine grapes. As well as oil, gas. uranium, silver, gold, lead, copper, zinc. Foreigners are well aware of the wealth in Argentina and are more than willing to lend to Argentinian governments and companies. This is why Cristina Kirchner refused to give in to the US vulture funds as it dissuaded foreigners from believing that reckless lending would always be rewarded. Macri ponied up, restarting the old familiar economic doom cycle. As always its the old dog for the long road and the pup for the puddle. Macri is now in a place that he chose, the puddle. As long as foreig lenders remain reckless Argentina will remain mired in the mud, well short of its potential. I was last there in 2008 when the country was booming. When I heard of Macri's plan to pay the vulture funds I knew they were headed for disaster. This is just the beginning.

JTMcPhee , June 13, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Those "foreign lenders" can't be called "reckless." Some, maybe most among them always seem to profit from the looting, whether by "bailouts" or "backstops" from governments like the US that for "geopolitical reasons" facilitate that lending, or by extortion after the first-round lenders (who know the risks, of course -- they are big boys and girls after all) have been forestalled.

Call them "wreckers," maybe. Like early denizens of the Florida Keys, and other places, who set fires or put up lamps that resembled lighthouses to lure passing ships onto the sands and rocks where their cargoes and the valuables of their drowned passengers and crews could be stripped.

Wayne Harris , June 13, 2018 at 4:54 pm

"so-called vulture funds"?

ChrisAtRU , June 13, 2018 at 8:33 pm

"so-called" Laughable

ChrisAtRU , June 13, 2018 at 6:37 pm

Why is any of this still "surprising" to anyone?! Most countries in the world (non G7/G8) are forced to go into foreign debt in order to pursue their "development" initiatives. They are told they can export themselves out of trouble but the "free trade" (more like unfair trade!) mantra puts them at a distinct disadvantage – "unequal exchange" was the term Marx used for it.

Economist Ha Joon Chang popularized the term "ladder kicking" to describe the way in which most developed countries used tariffs and trade restrictions to ascent to the top but are all for "free trade" now.

Once again, so long as "Original Sin" is a reality, there is little hope. Keynes' BANCOR was the idea to begin to fix this, but short of some other global currency initiative, we're left to the International Finance Vultures as the primary arbiters of what's possible.

[Jun 13, 2018] Note on Us strategy

Notable quotes:
"... Erster General-Quartiermeister ..."
"... The US strategy is based on two core principles: (1) Maintain – extend hegemony over whole world. (Resources, military etc etc) (2) Act as Israel's Golom. ..."
"... Of course this (very abbreviated) view of US "strategy" is open to the criticisms that it's both dumb & evil. As if US establishment cares. Compared to cost of traditional "war" it's pretty cheap ..."
Jun 13, 2018 | www.unz.com

In truth, infinite war is a strategic abomination, an admission of professional military bankruptcy. Erster General-Quartiermeister Ludendorff might have endorsed the term, but Ludendorff was a military fanatic.

Check that. Infinite war is a strategic abomination except for arms merchants, so-called defense contractors, and the " emergency men " (and women) devoted to climbing the greasy pole of what we choose to call the national security establishment. In other words, candor obliges us to acknowledge that, in some quarters, infinite war is a pure positive, carrying with it a promise of yet more profits, promotions, and opportunities to come. War keeps the gravy train rolling. And, of course, that's part of the problem.

Who should we hold accountable for this abomination? Not the generals, in my view. If they come across as a dutiful yet unimaginative lot, remember that a lifetime of military service rarely nurtures imagination or creativity. And let us at least credit our generals with this: in their efforts to liberate or democratize or pacify or dominate the Greater Middle East they have tried every military tactic and technique imaginable. Short of nuclear annihilation, they've played just about every card in the Pentagon's deck -- without coming up with a winning hand. So they come and go at regular intervals, each new commander promising success and departing after a couple years to make way for someone else to give it a try.

... ... ...

Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: "Enough! Stop this madness!" Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation's gratitude and the support of the electorate.

Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity. No doubt Saudi and Israeli leaders will cheer, Europeans who remember their Great War will scratch their heads in wonder, and the Chinese will laugh themselves silly. Meanwhile, issues of genuinely strategic importance -- climate change offers one obvious example -- will continue to be treated like an afterthought. As for the gravy train, it will roll on.


Anon [323] Disclaimer , June 7, 2018 at 9:57 pm GMT

"The United States of Amnesia."

That's actually a universal condition.

unseated , June 7, 2018 at 11:00 pm GMT
@Andrei Martyanov

1. WW1 had total casualties (civilian and military) of around 40M. WW2 had total casualties of 60M. So yes WW2 was more deadly but "pales in comparison" is hardly justified, especially relative to population.

2. Marshal Foch, 28 June, 1919: "This is not a peace. It is an armistice for 20 years."
WW1 inevitably led to WW2.

c matt , June 8, 2018 at 1:18 pm GMT
"Enough! Stop this madness!"

The only politician with a modest national stage to have said that (and meant it) in the last 50 years was Ron Paul, who was booed and mocked as crazy. Trump made noises in that direction, but almost as soon as the last words of his oath echoed off into the brisk January afternoon, he seemed to change his tune. Whether he never meant it, or decided to avoid the JFK treatment, who knows.

No, as I believe Will Rogers said, democracy is that form of government where the people get what they want, good and hard.

anonymous [340] Disclaimer , June 8, 2018 at 2:08 pm GMT
@c matt

Yes.

I supported Ron Paul in 2012. But after his candidacy was crookedly subverted by the Establishment (cf., Trump's) I vowed never to vote again for anyone that I believe unworthy of the power wielded through the public office. I haven't voted since, and don't expect to until the Empire collapses.

Carlton Meyer , Website June 8, 2018 at 4:02 pm GMT
Kirk Douglas starred in a great film about fighting in World War I: "Paths of Glory." I highly recommend the film for its accuracy, best described in Wiki by the reaction of governments:

Controversy

On its release, the film's anti-military tone was subject to criticism and censorship.

In France, both active and retired personnel from the French military vehemently criticized the film -- and its portrayal of the French Army -- after it was released in Belgium. The French government placed enormous pressure on United Artists, (the European distributor) to not release the film in France. The film was eventually shown in France in 1975 when social attitudes had changed.[17]

In Germany, the film was withdrawn from the Berlin Film Festival to avoid straining relations with France;[18] it was not shown for two years until after its release.

In Spain, Spain's right-wing government of Francisco Franco objected to the film. It was first shown in 1986, 11 years after Franco's death.

In Switzerland, the film was censored, at the request of the Swiss Army, until 1970.[18]

At American bases in Europe, the American military banned it from being shown.[18]

Mike P , June 8, 2018 at 4:33 pm GMT

No, it's not the generals who have let us down, but the politicians to whom they supposedly report and from whom they nominally take their orders.

I'd say both. The generals have greatly assisted in stringing along the trusting public, always promising that victory is just around the corner, provided the public supports this or that final effort. Petraeus in particular willingly played his part in misleading the public about both Iraq and Afghanistan. His career would be a great case study for illuminating what is wrong with the U.S. today.

As to the apparent failure of the Afghanistan war – one must be careful to separate stated goals from real ones. What kind of "lasting success" can the U.S. possibly hope for there? If they managed to defeat the Taliban, pacify the country, install a puppet regime to govern it, and then leave, what would that achieve? The puppet regime would find itself surrounded by powers antagonistic to the U.S., and the puppets would either cooperate with them or be overthrown in no time. The U.S. are not interested in winning and leaving – they want to continue disrupting the peaceful integration of East, West, and South Asia. Afghanistan is ideally placed for this purpose, and so the U.S. are quite content with dragging out that war, as a pretext for their continued presence in the region.

TG , June 8, 2018 at 7:44 pm GMT
An interesting and thoughtful piece.

I would disagree on one point though: "Today, Washington need not even bother to propagandize the public into supporting its war. By and large, members of the public are indifferent to its very existence."

This is an error. A majority of the American public think that wasting trillions of dollars on endless pointless foreign wars is a stupid idea, and they think that we would be better off spending that money on ourselves. It's just that we don't live in a democracy, and the corporate press constantly ignores the issue. But just because the press doesn't mention something, doesn't mean that it does not exist.

So during the last presidential election Donald Trump echoed this view, why are we throwing away all this money on stupid wars when we need that money at home? For this he was attacked as a fascist and "literally Hitler" (really! It's jaw-dropping when you think about it). Despite massive propaganda attacking Trump, and a personal style that could charitably be called a jackass, Trump won the election in large part because indeed most American don't like the status quo.

After the election, Trump started to deliver on his promises – and he was quickly beaten down, his pragmatist nationalist advisors purged and replaced with defense-industry chickenhawks, and now we are back to the old status quo. The public be damned.

No, the American people are not being propagandized into supporting these wars. They are simply being ignored.

Left Gatekeeper Dispatch , June 8, 2018 at 9:10 pm GMT
When are you going to stop insulting our intelligence with this Boy's State civics crap? You're calling on political leaders to stop war, like they don't remember what CIA did to JFK, RFK, Daschle, or Leahy. Or Paul Wellstone.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/tribute-to-the-last-honorable-us-senator-the-story-of-paul-wellstones-suspected-assassination-2/5643200

Your national command structure, CIA, has impunity for universal jurisdiction crime. They can kill or torture anyone they want and get away with it. That is what put them in charge. CIA kills anybody who gets in their way. You fail to comprehend Lenin's lesson: first destroy the regime, then you can refrain from use of force. Until you're ready to take on CIA, your bold phrases are silent and odorless farts of feckless self-absorption. Sack up and imprison CIA SIS or GTFO.

James Kabala , June 9, 2018 at 11:24 pm GMT
@Carlton Meyer

Since Spain was smart enough to stay out of both World Wars (as was Switzerland, of course), I wonder what Franco was thinking when he banned the film. Anyway, the final scene may be the best final scene in the history of movies.

exiled off mainstreet , June 10, 2018 at 1:15 am GMT
This writer, a retired military officer whose son died in service to the yankee imperium seems to have as good a grasp as any if not a better grasp than any about the nature of the yankee system of permanent war.
smellyoilandgas , June 13, 2018 at 4:48 am GMT
@TG

While I agree the slave-American is ignored, I think the elected, salaried members of the elected government are also ignored.. The persons in charge are Pharaohs and massively powerful global in scope corporations.
Abe Lincoln, McKinnley, Kennedy discovered that fact in their fate.

Organized Zionism was copted by the London bankers and their corporations 1897, since then a string of events have emerged.. that like a Submarine, seeking a far off target, it must divert to avoid being discovered, but soon, Red October returns to its intended path. here the path is to take the oil from the Arabs.. and the people driving that submarine are extremely wealthy Pharaohs and very well known major corporations.

I suggest to quit talking about the nation states and their leaders as if either could beat their way out of a wet paper sack. instead starting talking about the corporations and Pharaohs because they are global.

Mr. Anon , June 13, 2018 at 4:49 am GMT
The yawning silence accompanying the centennial of the Great War is baffling to me. It was the pivotal event of the 20th century. It was the beginning of the unmanning, the demoralization of Western Civilization. It was the calamity that created the World we inhabit today.

I've heard nary a peep about it in the U.S. over the last four years. It's as if it were as remote in people's consciousness as the Punic Wars.

MarkinPNW , June 13, 2018 at 5:49 am GMT
The World Wars (I and II) can be seen as an increasingly desperate attempt of a fading British Empire to hold on to and maintain its power and hegemony, with the material, human, and moral cost of the wars actually accelerating the empire's demise.

Likewise, the current endless "War on Terra" can be seen as an increasingly desperate attempt of a fading American Empire to hold on to and maintain its power and hegemony, again with the material, human, and moral cost of this war actually accelerating its demise.

But in the meantime, in both examples, the Bankers and the MIC just keep reaping their profits, even at the expense of the empires they purportedly support and defend.

animalogic , June 13, 2018 at 8:14 am GMT
@Mike P

Good points Mike P.

Author says: "strategy has ceased to exist".

In a traditional sense the author is right. Strategy is the attainment of political goals, within existing constraints. (diplomatic, political, resources etc)
"Goals" traditionally means "victories". (WWI is a great example of the sometimes dubious idea of victory)
Has the US ceased to have a strategy ? No. (Their strategy is myopic & self destructive – ie it's not a "good" strategy)

The US strategy is based on two core principles: (1) Maintain – extend hegemony over whole world. (Resources, military etc etc) (2) Act as Israel's Golom. Afghanistan, at (relatively) minimal cost, US controls key land mass (& with possible future access to fantastic resources). Threaten, mess up Russian – Chinese ambitions in this area. Iraq: Israeli enemy, strategic location, resource extraction. Syria: Israeli enemy, strategic location, key location for resource transfer to markets (EU esp). Deny Russia an ally. Libya: who cares ? Gaddafi was a pain in the arse. Iran: Israeli enemy, fantastic resources, hate them regardless.

Of course this (very abbreviated) view of US "strategy" is open to the criticisms that it's both dumb & evil. As if US establishment cares. Compared to cost of traditional "war" it's pretty cheap ( which is funny, because it's such a yummy gravy train for the 1% sorry, actually, forgot the FIRST core principle of US strategy: enrich all the "right" people)

Tom Welsh , June 13, 2018 at 10:05 am GMT
'There has never been a just [war], never an honorable one–on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful–as usual–will shout for the war. The pulpit will– warily and cautiously–object–at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it." Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity.

Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers–as earlier– but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation–pulpit and all– will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception'.

- Satan, in Mark Twain's "The Mysterious Stranger" (1908)

annamaria , June 13, 2018 at 2:06 pm GMT
@Carlton Meyer

European politicians, the war on terror, and the triumph of Bankers United: https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2018/06/12/europe-brainwashed-normalize-relations-russia/
"Europe has not had an independent existence for 75 years. European countries do not know what it means to be a sovereign state. Without Washington European politicians feel lost, so they are likely to stick with Washington .

Russian hopes to unite with the West in a war against terrorism overlook that terrorism is the West's weapon for destabilizing independent countries that do not accept a unipolar world."

The world is ripe for barter exchange. Screw the money changers.

[Apr 24, 2018] America's Men Without Chests by Paul Grenier

Highly recommended!
The fact that 99.9% of neocons are chickenhawks and never experienced the level of sufferings the wat inflicts on people is defining chanracteristic of all US neocons. Especially female neocon -- a unique US breed.
Notable quotes:
"... At the core of the American philosophy is voluntarism, the justification of action based purely and simply on the will. ..."
"... The clearest and perhaps the best expression of American voluntarism come of age was expressed by Karl Rove during the George W. Bush administration, as reported by Ron Suskind in New York Times Magazine ..."
"... We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do. ..."
"... The point of the voluntarist order is to act, to impose one's will on global reality by any means necessary. The truth is not something to be understood, or grasped, still less something that should condition one's own actions and limit them in any way. Truth is reducible to whatever is useful for imposing one's will. ..."
"... For America's voluntarist order, whether these events as described are true in the objective sense is of no more importance than whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. You will recall that, just prior to the Iraq invasion, the CIA waterboarded Abu Zubaydah some 83 times in order to oblige him to confess a nonexistent connection between Saddam's Iraq, al-Qaeda, and chemical weaponry. That is voluntarism in action right there. "We're an empire now and we create our own reality." It was not a one-off. It is now the norm to make sure the facts are fixed to match the desired policy. ..."
"... Voluntarism is the fruit of an anti-civilization, and of a technological way of knowing, as the great Canadian philosopher George Grant put it, that bears a striking resemblance to what C.S. Lewis described in his pre- Nineteen Eighty-Four ..."
"... That Hideous Strength ..."
Apr 24, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

At the core of the American philosophy is voluntarism, the justification of action based purely and simply on the will. The distinguishing characteristic of voluntarism is that it gives pride of place to the will as such, to the will as power, the will abstracted from everything else, but especially abstracted from the good. The notion of the good is necessarily inclusive of the whole, of all sides. Concern exclusively for oneself goes by a different name.

The clearest and perhaps the best expression of American voluntarism come of age was expressed by Karl Rove during the George W. Bush administration, as reported by Ron Suskind in New York Times Magazine on October 17, 2004:

We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

This oft-quoted statement is naively assumed to have been the expression of a single moment in American politics, rather than a summation of its ethos by one of its shrewder and more self-aware practitioners. The point of the voluntarist order is to act, to impose one's will on global reality by any means necessary. The truth is not something to be understood, or grasped, still less something that should condition one's own actions and limit them in any way. Truth is reducible to whatever is useful for imposing one's will.

We can see this voluntarism at work among our forebears. The Skripal affair in Britain led to almost immediate action -- the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats from the United States alone -- well before the facts of this dubious incident, which has led to zero deaths, could be established. Indeed, when the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, suggested first establishing what had happened and only then acting, he was widely accused of weakness. When one is "history's actor," action mustn't be delayed. That, after all, is the whole point.

The suffering of innocents should always concern us. But in Syria, the facts regarding who is the guilty party, including in this latest case of a gas attack in Douma, are very far from having been established. What's more, though reputable investigators such as Hans Blix and MIT's Theodore Postol have cast serious doubt on the reliability of the evidence linking such attacks to Assad's government, official accounts in the U.S. proceed as if there is not the slightest controversy about the matter.

For America's voluntarist order, whether these events as described are true in the objective sense is of no more importance than whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. You will recall that, just prior to the Iraq invasion, the CIA waterboarded Abu Zubaydah some 83 times in order to oblige him to confess a nonexistent connection between Saddam's Iraq, al-Qaeda, and chemical weaponry. That is voluntarism in action right there. "We're an empire now and we create our own reality." It was not a one-off. It is now the norm to make sure the facts are fixed to match the desired policy.

Voluntarism is the fruit of an anti-civilization, and of a technological way of knowing, as the great Canadian philosopher George Grant put it, that bears a striking resemblance to what C.S. Lewis described in his pre- Nineteen Eighty-Four anti-utopia That Hideous Strength . In that novel, the institution called N.I.C.E., like the U.S. foreign policy establishment today, is essentially a voluntarist bureaucracy run by men without culture, trained in technical sciences and sociology-like "disciplines" and "law" understood in a purely formalistic sense, who assume human affairs are understandable as aggregates of facts without value. Such "men without chests" (Lewis's phrase) live in a world where the good and the true have forever been severed of their mutually defining link. The resulting, essentially irrational world they inhabit is one that has only one logic left: that of will and power.

It is an American empire where we create our own reality, the mirror image of ourselves, and it is indeed precisely hideous. If the builders of empire continue to get their way, it may all soon enough come to a violent and ignominious end. Historians, if they still exist, will marvel at our folly.

Paul Grenier, an essayist and translator who writes regularly on political-philosophical issues, is founder of the Simone Weil Center for Political Philosophy.


Annette April 23, 2018 at 1:30 pm

For another outstanding account of 'a technological way of knowing', check out Jacques Ellul's 'The Technological Society'.

Not only was this incident fabricated, it was known the preparations were known in advance. I remember reading an article two weeks before Douma about the preparations for the fabrication. Felix Somary was quite right in writing in July 1914 that "the information available to insiders, and precisely the most highly placed among them, is all to often misleading" (quoted in Jim Rickards "The Road to Ruin").

Steph , says: April 23, 2018 at 2:47 pm
An excellent recommendation, Annette! And for the religiously-minded, Ellul's theological companion piece, The Meaning of the City, is also very good.
Emil Bogdan , says: April 23, 2018 at 2:57 pm
Volunteerism, voluntarism, the mysterious workings of the "will," we're famous for all of it, but this is not so uniquely American, Rove's comment reminds me of something that Tolstoy might put in Napoleon's mouth, actually. Pride, plus the tunnel-vision typical of technocrats, academics, specialists

Karl Rove is a man without a chest–a "chickenhawk," a proud and willful man puffed up on ignorance and willpower, wrecking the world–and nothing more than that, unless he wills it to be.

Mark Thomason , says: April 23, 2018 at 3:08 pm
Volunteerism is two things, Power to the Ladies Who Lunch, and we don't have to pay for a social safety net because somebody else will provide it voluntarily for free.

It has no larger meaning, and no role in foreign policy.

The foreign policy described here is just Smedley Butler's "racket" using US foreign policy and forces for private ends.

[Apr 20, 2018] The United States, fully aware it was Iraq who gased Kurds, accused Iran, Iraq's enemy in a fierce war, of being partly responsible for the attack. The State Department instructed its diplomats to say that Iran was partly to blame."

Apr 20, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com

Andersie , 13 Apr 2018 14:45

I've just stumbled on this absolute gem, from the New York Times, 17/1/2003:

"Analysis of thousands of captured Iraqi secret police documents and declassified U.S. government documents, as well as interviews with scores of Kurdish survivors, senior Iraqi defectors and retired U.S. intelligence officers, show

(1) that Iraq carried out the attack on Halabja [a 1988 chemical attack on Kurdish villages that killed 5000 civilians], and

(2) that the United States, fully aware it was Iraq, accused Iran, Iraq's enemy in a fierce war, of being partly responsible for the attack. The State Department instructed its diplomats to say that Iran was partly to blame."

[Apr 10, 2018] Ukraine is a debilitated state, created under Soviet auspices, hampered by a difficult Soviet inheritance, and hollowed out by its own predatory elites during two decades of misrule. But it is also a nation that is too big and independent for Russia to swallow up

Apr 10, 2018 | www.foreignaffairs.com

Ukraine is a debilitated state, created under Soviet auspices, hampered by a difficult Soviet inheritance, and hollowed out by its own predatory elites during two decades of misrule. But it is also a nation that is too big and independent for Russia to swallow up. Russia, meanwhile, is a damaged yet still formidable great power whose rulers cannot be intimidated into allowing Ukraine to enter the Western orbit. Hence the standoff. No external power or aid package can solve Ukraine's problems or compensate for its inherent vulnerabilities vis-à-vis Russia. Nor would sending lethal weaponry to Ukraine's brave but ragtag volunteer fighters and corrupt state structures improve the situation; in fact, it would send it spiraling further downward, by failing to balance Russian predominance while giving Moscow a pretext to escalate the conflict even more. Rather, the way forward must begin with a recognition of some banal facts and some difficult bargaining.

Russia's seizure of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine do not challenge the entire post-1945 international order. The forward positions the Soviet Union occupied in the heart of Europe as a result of defeating Nazi Germany were voluntarily relinquished in the early 1990s, and they are not going to be reoccupied. But nor should every detail of the post–Cold War settlement worked out in 1989–91 be considered eternal and inviolate. That settlement emerged during an anomalous time. Russia was flat on its back but would not remain prostrate forever, and when it recovered, some sort of pushback was to be expected.

Something similar happened following the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, many of the provisions of which were not enforced. Even if France, the United Kingdom, and the United States had been willing and able to enforce the peace, their efforts would not have worked, because the treaty had been imposed during a temporary anomaly, the simultaneous collapse of German and Russian power, and would inevitably have been challenged when that power returned.

Territorial revisionism ensued after World War II as well, of course, and continued sporadically for decades. Since 1991, there have been some negotiated revisions: Hong Kong and Macao underwent peaceful reabsorption into China. Yugoslavia was broken up in violence and war, leading to the independence of its six federal units and eventually Kosovo, as well. Unrecognized statelets such as Nagorno-Karabakh, part of Azerbaijan; Transnistria, a sliver of Moldova; Abkhazia and South Ossetia, disputed units of Georgia; and now Donetsk and Luhansk, parts of Ukraine -- each entails a story of Stalinist border-making.

The European Union cannot resolve this latest standoff, nor can the United Nations. The United States has indeed put together "coalitions of the willing" to legitimize some of its recent interventions, but it is not going to go to war over Ukraine or start bombing Russia, and the wherewithal and will for indefinite sanctions against Russia are lacking. Distasteful as it might sound, Washington faces the prospect of trying to work out some negotiated larger territorial settlement.

Such negotiations would have to acknowledge that Russia is a great power with leverage, but they would not need to involve the formal acceptance of some special Russian sphere of interest in its so-called near abroad. The chief goals would be, first, to exchange international recognition of Russia's annexation of Crimea for an end to all the frozen conflicts in which Russia is an accomplice and, second, to disincentivize such behavior in the future. Russia should have to pay monetary compensation for Crimea. There could be some federal solutions, referendums, even land swaps and population transfers (which in many cases have already taken place). Sanctions on Russia would remain in place until a settlement was mutually agreed on, and new sanctions could be levied if Russia were to reject negotiations or were deemed to be conducting them in bad faith. Recognition of the new status of Crimea would occur in stages, over an extended period.

It would be a huge challenge to devise incentives that were politically plausible in the West while at the same time powerful enough for Russia to agree to a just settlement -- and for Ukraine to be willing to take part. But the search for a settlement would be an opportunity as well as a headache.

NATO expansion can be judged to have been a strategic error -- not because it angered Russia but because it weakened NATO as a military alliance. Russia's elites would likely have become revanchist even without NATO's advance, because they believe, nearly universally, that the United States took advantage of Russia in 1991 and has denied the country its rightful place as an equal in international diplomacy ever since. But NATO expansion's critics have not offered much in the way of practicable alternatives. Would it really have been appropriate, for example, to deny the requests of all the countries east of Germany to join the alliance?

Then as now, the only real alternative was the creation of an entirely new trans-European security architecture, one that fully transcended its Cold War counterpart. This was an oft-expressed Russian wish, but in the early 1990s, there was neither the imagination nor the incentives in Washington for such a heavy lift. Whether there is such capacity in Washington today remains to be seen. But even if comprehensive new security arrangements are unlikely anytime soon, Washington could still undertake much useful groundwork.

Critics might object on the grounds that the sanctions are actually biting, reinforced by the oil price free fall -- so why offer even minimal concessions to Putin now? The answer is because neither the sanctions, nor the oil price collapse, nor the two in conjunction have altered Russia's behavior, diminished its potential as a spoiler, or afforded Ukraine a chance to recover.

Whether they acknowledge it or not, Western opponents of a negotiated settlement are really opting for another long-term, open-ended attempt to contain Russia and hope for regime change -- a policy likely to last until the end of Putin's life and possibly well beyond. The costs of such an approach are likely to be quite high, and other global issues will continue to demand attention and resources. And all the while, Ukraine would effectively remain crippled, Europe's economy would suffer, and Russia would grow ever more embittered and difficult to handle. All of that might occur no matter what. But if negotiations hold out a chance of somehow averting such an outcome, they are worth a try. And the attempt would hold few costs, because failed negotiations would only solidify the case for containment in Europe and in the United States.

It is ultimately up to Russia's leaders to take meaningful steps to integrate their country into the existing world order, one that they can vex but not fully overturn. To the extent that the Ukraine debacle has brought this reality into sharper focus, it might actually have been useful in helping Putin to see some light, and the same goes for the collapse of oil prices and the accompanying unavoidable devaluation of the ruble. After the nadir of 1998, smart policy choices in Moscow, together with some lucky outside breaks, helped Russia transform a crisis into a breakthrough, with real and impressive steps forward. That history could replay itself -- but whether it will remains the prerogative of one person alone.

[Apr 09, 2018] When Military Leaders Have Reckless Disregard for the Truth by Bruce Fein

Highly recommended!
Apr 09, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com
To borrow from the British definition of an ambassador, United States military leaders are honest soldiers promoted in rank to champion war with reckless disregard for the truth. This practice persists despite the catastrophic waste of lives and money because the untruths are never punished. Congress needs to correct this problem forthwith.

General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, exemplifies the phenomenon. As reported in The Washington Post , Dunford recently voiced optimism about defeating the Afghan Taliban in the seventeenth year of a trillion-dollar war that has multiplied safe havens for international terrorists, the opposite of the war's original mission. While not under oath, Dunford insisted, "This is not another year of the same thing we've been doing for 17 years. This is a fundamentally different approach [T]he right people at the right level with the right training [are in place] "

There, the general recklessly disregarded the truth. He followed the instruction of General William Westmoreland who stated at the National Press Club on November 21, 1967 that the Vietnam War had come to a point "where the end begins to come into view." The 1968 Tet Offensive was then around the corner, which would provoke Westmoreland to ask for 200,000 more American troops. The Pentagon Papers and Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty have meticulously documented the military's reckless disregard for the truth throughout the Vietnam War.

Any fool can understand that continuing our 17-year-old war in Afghanistan is a fool's errand. The nation is artificial. Among other things, its disputed border with Pakistan, the Durand Line, was drawn in 1896 between the British Raj and Afghan Amir Abdur Rahmen Khair. Afghanistan's population splinters along tribal, ethnic, and sectarian lines, including Pushtans, Uzbeks, Hazara, Tajiks, Turkmen, and Balochi. Its government is riddled with nepotism, corruption, ineptitude, and lawlessness. Election fraud and political sclerosis are endemic. Opium production and trafficking replenish the Taliban's coffers.

The Afghan National Army (ANA) is a paper tiger. Desertion and attrition rates are alarming. Disloyalty is widespread. American weapons are sold to the Taliban or captured. ANA soldiers will not risk that last full measure of devotion for an illegitimate, unrepresentative, decrepit government.

The Taliban also has a safe haven in Pakistan. A staggering portion -- maybe up to 90 percent -- of United States assistance to Afghanistan is embezzled, diverted, or wasted. John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), related to Chatham House in London that "SIGAR was finding waste, fraud, and abuse nearly everywhere we looked in Afghanistan -- from the $488 million worth of aircraft that couldn't fly, to the navy the U.S. bought for a landlocked country, to the buildings the U.S. paid for that literally melted in the rain ."

"The Taliban are getting stronger, the government is on the retreat, they are losing ground to the Taliban day by day," Abdul Jabbar Qahraman, a retired Afghan general who was the Afghan government's military envoy to Helmand Province until 2016, told the New York Times last summer. ISIS has now joined the Taliban and al-Qaeda in fighting the United States. Secretary of Defense General James Mattis conceded to Congress last June that "we are not winning in Afghanistan right now," but added polyannaishly, "And we will correct this as soon as possible." Only two months earlier, the Defense Department insisted that dropping the Mother of All Bombs on Afghanistan would reverse the losing trend.

Upton Sinclair sermonized: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." Thus do military leaders deceive themselves about futile wars to extract more spending, to maintain their professional reputations and public stature, and to avoid the embarrassment of explaining to Congress and the American people that astronomical sums have been wasted and tens of thousands of American soldiers have died or were crippled in vain.

To deter such self-deception, Congress should enact a statute requiring the retirement without pension of any general or admiral who materially misleads legislators or the public about prospective or ongoing wars with reckless disregard for the truth. That sanction might have prompted General Dunford to acknowledge the grim truth about Afghanistan: that the United States is clueless about how to win that war.

Bruce Fein was associate deputy attorney general under President Reagan and is the founding partner of Fein & DelValle PLLC.

[Apr 01, 2018] Is a New War Against Russia in Ukraine Unfolding Before Our Eyes by by John McMurtry

This is definitely cancer stage of neoliberalism, but I doubt that there is connection between Skripal poisoning and Ukraine.
Also why the USA served as the catalyst for coming nationalists to power in 2014 the process started long ago with Yushchenko and to a certain extent is typical for all post Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan and Belorussia. they all try to distance themselves from Russia to prove their sovereignty. The low intensity warfare in Donetsk is the only differentiator, but even this remind attempt of Georgia to subdue South Ossetia in the past and Karabah conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Still the author is definitely a brilliant writer and thinker he describes geopolitical tensions really well
Notable quotes:
"... has to have such a war-drum distraction to survive. ..."
"... Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee of the UN General Assembly ..."
Apr 01, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker's government, and the silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding by all NATO-member governments, mass media and even 'peace activist' organisations.

This time the big-lie pretext is about the alleged poisoning by the Kremlin/Putin of a double-agent, usually a stock move in the espionage entertainments, but here with no evidence of the claimed origin of the lethal nerve-agent, but rather expert denial within British defence and weapons research itself, with devious political word games to get around the absence of any corroborated evidence in familiar denuciations of Russia full of aggression and hate. Not even a death is recorded while US-led nd UK-armed ally forces are still mass-murdering poor civilian Yeminis, drone-murdering endless targets and civilians abroad, continuing on unblamed for the ongoing NATO-executed eco-genocides of Iraq and Libya societies, and on the 19-years anniversary of the mass bombing of, once again a society, Yugoslavia, with the most evolved social infrastructures of health, education, housing and life security in the region.

What this latest war pretext for US and NATO-backed aggression is really about is justifying more war in the Ukraine now that the massive war preparations along all of Russia's Western borders following the self-declared Nazi-led and proven US- orchestrated and commanded mass-murder coup d'etat in February 2014 . As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker's government, and the silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding by all NATO-member governments, mass media and even 'peace activist' organisations.

This time the big-lie pretext is about the alleged poisoning by the Kremlin/Putin of a double-agent traitor, usually a stock move in the espionage entertainments. Yet here there is no confirmed evidence whatever of the claimed origin of the lethal nerve-agent, but rather expert denial within British defence and weapons research itself that is silence in the press, with devious political word games crafted to get around the absence of any corroborated facts in the familiar denuciations of Russia full of team aggression and hate. Not even a death is recorded while US-led nd UK-armed ally forces are still mass-murdering poor civilian Yeminis, drone-murdering endless targets and civilians abroad, continuing on unblamed for the ongoing NATO-executed eco-genocides of Iraq and Libya societies, and on the 19-years anniversary of the mass bombing of Yugoslavia -- once again a socialist society with the most evolved social infrastructures of health, education, housing and life security in the region.

What this latest war pretext for US and NATO-backed aggression is really about is justifying more war in Ukraine now that the massive war preparations along all of Russia's Western borders following the self-declared Nazi-led and proven US- orchestrated and commanded mass-murder coup d'etat in February 2014 . As always, this US-directed mass murder was reverse-blamed on the ever shifting Enemy face -- Russia's allied but duly elected government of the Ukraine. It was only after this violent-coup Nazi-led and US directed overthrow of the elected government of the very resource-rich Ukraine -- "the breadbasket of Europe" and sitting on newly discovered rich fossil fuel deposits -- that Russia annexed its traditional territory of the Crimea next to Eastern Ukraine, the latter after the violent coup put under the rule of a US-Nazi-led government until its people fought back with Russia assistance for the now NATO-targeted zones of the new Donetsk and Lugansk republics.

What is new now is that we are about to enter yet another NATO-member war build-up against the cornerstone of Western ideology, the designated Enemy Russia. As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day US-led NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker's UK government, and silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding in NATO-member states, mass media and even 'peace activist' organisations.

Cui Bono?

The UK and the US followed by Canada and some of the EU have by expulsion of Russia diplomats prepared the diplomatic way for war in the Ukraine to seize back these lost coup-territories, and it will be in the name of "freedom", "human rights" and "the rules of civilised nations". But there is much officially suppressed colour to the warring parties political conflict which reveals who the truly heinous suppressor of human rights is. Under mass media and corporate-state cover, the US-UK-NATO axis about to make war in Ukraine is doing so under the factually absurd but non-stop pretext of "Russia aggression" constructed out of the double-agent poisoning affair, with the guilty agents and poison having no proof but the ever louder UK-led and NATO-state assertion of it in unison. Yet there is a clear answer to the cui bono question -- which party does all this benefit? Clearly once the question is posed, as opposed to completely gagged in the corporate press, Theresa May's slow-motion collapsing Tory government -- now even challenged for its fraudulent Brexit referendum protecting the big London banks from EU regulation -- has to have such a war-drum distraction to survive. The old war of aggression pattern reverse-blamed on the official enemy unwinds yet again.

It is revealing in this context how Canada's government has no such ruler need of war -- unless it be its Ukraine-descendent Foreign Minister up front and the very powerful and widely Nazi-sympathizing Ukraine Liberal vote bank and leadership brought to Canada after 1945 to overwhelm the preceding active socialist Ukrainian community in Canada. Canada's government -- not its people -- is in any case used to being a puppet regime in foreign affairs as a twice-colonized rule by big business (why the NDP is not allowed to govern unless so subjugated).

The Human Rights Question

In light of all of this suppressed factual background and motive for more war in Ukraine which is unspeakable in the official news, interaction with the United Nations is of revealing interest. While it has been the cover for US-led NATO executed genocidal wars of aggression in the past as in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Korea, the pretexts of 'human rights', 'responsibility to protect' and 'stopping communist aggression', which are in fact always been the spectacular opposite on the ground in terms of diseased, mass-murdered and destituted bodies, these pretexts may not sell well when the background facts are no longer suppressed from public view.

It is worthwhile recalling how Science for Peace leadership used to be against but has since Afghanistan collaborated with these false-pretext wars in sustaining their illusions and thus the war crimes and crimes against proceeding underneath them.

The NATO-executed Ukraine war now being orchestrated is especially revealing in its actual record of 'protecting human rights' through 'international law' and 'norms of civilised nations'. Completely buried in official records is a United Nations resolution n on Ukraine that the US and Canada repudiated on November 20 2015 after the US-led bloody coup d'etat in Ukraine was in full motion of claiming all the vast tracts of land and resources that were Russia-speaking territory in the past.

The resolution was straightforwardly against "Nazi symbols and regalia" as well as "holocaust denial". The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted for a resolution to enable measures against "the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that facilitate the escalation of modern forms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance". A total of 126 member-states of the UN voted for it for the second time. Over 100 countries voted for a similar resolution in 2014 including "denial of the holocaust and glorification of the Nazi movement, former members of the Waffen SS organization, including the installation of memorials to them, and post-coup attempts to desecrate or destroy the monuments to those who fought against Nazism in Ukraine during World War II".

How could any civilised state vote against these United Nations Resolutions for human rights as Canada and the US have done and stood by ever since? Well instituted group hatred of the officially designated enemy can justify anything whatsoever, and does so right into next NATO-executed orgy of war crime and crimes against humanity, again inside Europe itself flaunting reverse-blame lies and slogans as red meat for psychotically trained masses. It is not by accident that Canada's Foreign Minister is in this near century-old Nazi loyalist vs Russia-speaking conflict was before her appointment the "proud "granddaughter of a leading Nazi war propagandist during its occupation of Poland and Ukraine described as a "fighter for freedom".

Yet on the other hand, we must not lose ourselves in ad hominem responsibility. Crystina Freeland, her Canada name, is interestingly propagandist in itself from her birth -- Christian Free Land -- but not observed in the corporate press. Minister Freeland is only a symptom of something far deeper and more systemically murderous and evil in state-executed unlimited greed and immiserization of innocent millions of people masked as 'human rights' , 'freedom' and 'rule of law' . Her more sinister double in the US is also a renamed person of the region, Victoria Nuland (read New Land) who orchestrated the whole 2014 mass-murder coup in Ukraine and now tub-thumps on public television for the 'need to teach Putin and Russia a hard lesson', aka another war attack by US-led NATO on Russia's borders.

The difference now is that the absurd pretext and geostrategic mechanisms now in motion beforehand can be seen in front of our eyes -- that is, if we can still see through the engineered prism of the US-UK led NATO war machine. This alone will stop it.

John McMurtry is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada whose work is translated from Latin America to Japan. His most recent book is The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure .

[Mar 29, 2018] Germany - if I remember correctly - was instrumental on behalf of her client state Croatia in persuading the US to acquise in the destruction of Yugoslavia.

Mar 29, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Posted by: ashley albanese | Mar 28, 2018 6:47:49 PM | 33

Germany - if I remember correctly - was instrumental on behalf of her client state Croatia in persuading the U S to acquise in the destruction of Yugoslavia.
Many could see at the time that this would unravel all the balances put into place after the travail of World War 2 . So it is proving to be . The German peoples' for whatever reasons have a history of 'overeach'. On one hand the Germans are now - after millennium - within settled borders but the political and economic wisdom and patience still seems lacking .

ashley albanese | Mar 28, 2018 6:47:49 PM | 33