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Risking Major Escalation, Trump Weighs Killing Of Russian Fighters In Syria As Sign Of “Tough Stance” Toward Putin

In the aftermath of Robert Mueller’s indictment against 13 Russian “operatives” for meddling with the US presidential election, President Trump has been under fire for lashing out at everyone… except Russia. So, in response, Bloomberg reports that the Trump administration is weighing citing the deaths of more than 200 Russian fighters – or rather mercenaries – in Syria, who were killed following US strikes on February 7, as an example of Trump’s tough stance toward Russia.

Recall that last week, “more than 200 mercenaries, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base and refinery held by U.S. and U.S.-backed forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region” In terms of total body count, the U.S. official put the death toll at about 100, with 200 to 300 injured; while Russia admitted that Russians were killed, it said the number was five and denied that the men killed were officially sanctioned Russian troops.

It is this attack that Trump hopes to use as proof of his administration’s determination to show a “hard line” stance toward Putin.

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made an oblique reference to “an incident” as she argued that President Donald Trump has been tougher on Russia than his predecessor Barack Obama. And, according to Bloomberg, she was alluding to the Syria battle – an episode which as we suggested last week threatened to further deteriorate relations with Moscow, as it would put the onus on Putin to respond to what Trump will deem an official Russian provocation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russiagate Isn’t About Trump, And It Isn’t Even Ultimately About Russia 

Russiagate Isn’t About Trump, And It Isn’t Even Ultimately About Russia 

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes recently asked a question of his Twitter following that was so heavily loaded it wouldn’t be permitted on most interstate highways: “Aside from genuine cranks, is there anyone left denying it was the Russians that committed criminal sabotage in the American election?”

Hayes asked this fake question because he works for MSNBC and it is therefore his job, and he asked it in response to a report first made viral by deranged espionage LARPer Eric Garland that a Dutch intelligence agency had been observing Russian hackers attacking US political parties in advance of the 2016 election. Like all “bombshell” Russiagate reports, this one roared through social media like wildfire carried on the wings of liberal hysteria about the current administration, only to be exposed as being riddled with gaping plot holes as documented here by independent journalist Suzie Dawson. The report revolves around an allegedly Russian cyber threat now known in the west as “Cozy Bear”, which as Real NewsMax Blumenthal notesis not a network of hackers but “a Russian-sounding name the for-profit firm Crowdstrike assigned to an APT to market its findings to gullible reporters desperate for Russiagate scoops.”

This “bombshell” overlapped with another as it was reported by the New York Times that at one point many months ago Trump had wanted to fire Robert Mueller, but then didn’t.

*Cough.*

Why does this keep happening? Why does the public keep getting sold a mountain of suspicion with zero substance? Over and over and over again these “bombshell” stories come out about Trump and Russia, Russia and Trump, only to be debunked, retracted, or erased from the spotlight after people start actually reading the allegations and thinking critically about them and see they’re not the shocking bombshells they purport to be?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S. Empire Still Incoherent After All These Years

U.S. Empire Still Incoherent After All These Years 

Exclusive: Without solid economic, political and ideological bases, the U.S. lacks the legitimacy and authority it needs to operate beyond its borders, argues Nicolas J.S. Davies in this essay.


I recently reread Michael Mann’s book, Incoherent Empire, which he wrote in 2003, soon after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Mann is a sociology professor at UCLA and the author of a four-volume series called The Sources of Social Power, in which he explained the major developments of world history as the interplay between four types of power: military, economic, political, and ideological.

In Incoherent Empire, Mann used the same framework to examine what he called the U.S.’s “new imperialism” after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. He predicted that, “The American Empire will turn out to be a military giant; a back-seat economic driver; a political schizophrenic; and an ideological phantom.”

What struck me most forcefully as I reread Incoherent Empire was that absolutely nothing has changed in the “incoherence” of U.S. imperialism.  If I picked up the book for the first time today and didn’t know it was written 15 years ago, I could read nearly all of it as a perceptive critique of American imperialism exactly as it exists today.

In the intervening 15 years, U.S. policy failures have resulted in ever-spreading violence and chaos that affect hundreds of millions of people in at least a dozen countries. The U.S. has utterly failed to bring any of its neo-imperial wars to a stable or peaceful end.  And yet the U.S. imperial project sails on, seemingly blind to its consistently catastrophic results.

Instead, U.S. civilian and military leaders shamelessly blame their victims for the violence and chaos they have unleashed on them, and endlessly repackage the same old war propaganda to justify record military budgets and threaten new wars.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russia Meddling “Act of War”, Michael Moore Trapped, CIA Admissions

Idiotic comments regarding “Russia’s act of war” against the US for meddling in the Us election has reached consensus.

IN THE WAKE of last week’s indictments alleging that 13 Russian nationals and entities created fake social media accounts and sponsored political events to sow political discord in the U.S., something of a consensus has arisen in the political and media class (with some notable exceptions) that these actions not only constitute an “act of war” against the U.S., but one so grave that it is tantamount to Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Indeed, that Russia’s alleged “meddling” is comparable to the two most devastating attacks in U.S. history has, overnight, become a virtual cliché.

The claim that Russian meddling in the election is “an act of war” comparable to these events isn’t brand new. Senators from both parties, such as Republican John McCain and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, have long described Russian meddling in 2016 as an “act of war.” Hillary Clinton, while promoting her book last October, described Russia’s alleged hacking of the DNC and John Podesta’s email inbox as a “cyber 9/11.” And last February, the always war-hungry Tom Friedman of the New York Times said on “Morning Joe” that Russian hacking “was a 9/11-scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor-scale event.”

But the last few days have ushered in an explosion of this rhetoric from politicians and journalists alike. On Friday night’s Chris Hayes show on MSNBC, two separate guests — Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler and longtime Clinton aide Philippe Reines — posited Pearl Harbor as the “equivalent” of Russian meddling.

Should We Bomb Russia?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire 

Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire 

Photo by Diariocritico de Venezuela | CC BY 2.0

Only in the world of comic-book fantasies is the United States a friend to the oppressed in Africa or anywhere else on the planet. In the real world, the U.S. is a predator, colonial/capitalist nation. But like the imagined nation of Wakanda, in the latest cultural assault on critical mass consciousness, “American exceptionalism” and “make America great again” – two slogans representing both sides of the imperialist coin, ruling class interests are obscured and the people are reduced to working against their objective interests and being accomplices to imperial lawlessness.

In every part of the world, the United States is engaged in maniacal, criminal assaults on democracy, basic human decency and common sense.  From its support for armed jihadists groups in Syria and its illegal occupation of that nation, transferring heavy military equipment to its puppet regime in Ukraine, supporting unending war in Afghanistan, to the military invasion of African, the commitment to maintaining U.S. global dominance has moved war and militarism to the center of U.S. strategy.

But nowhere is U.S. criminality more apparent and unrelenting than right here in the Americas where the Pan-European project was born in 1492. That was the year “Europe” was born, emerging from its relative cultural backwardness using with terrifying efficiency the only advantage it had over the more civilized people of the region—armor protection and steel weapons—to slaughter the people, take the land and begin the 500-hundred-year nightmare the people of the world have suffered ever since.

Today, the barbarism of the Pan-European project continues under the tutelage of what history will record—if humanity survives—as the most violent, racist, oppressive human experience ever to have emerged in the short span of human existence on Earth: The United States of America.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean

Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean

Photo by Christopher Michel | CC BY 2.0

“We’ve been doing this kind of thing [electoral meddling] since the CIA was created in 1947.”

Loch K. Johnson, New York Times, Feb 17, 2018

Electoral meddling has become the gruel of US politics for months, and more servings are being promised in the wake of the indictments against 16 Russians and Russian entities dished out Robert Mueller last week.  Such actions can, when taken in isolation, seem sensible.  Righteous indignation can be channelled appropriately, and given the suitable icing of exceptionalism.

One of the difficulties behind the podium stance of virtue taken by the US political establishment on Russian interference in the country’s electoral process is one of simple hypocrisy.  In the game, and importantly theatre, of international relations, the shove, give, and take are all powerful incentives.  Express outrage, by all means, but do so with a certain sentient awareness that you have been as culpable as your opponent of the same charge.

Idealism, however, is the magic mushroom that clouds such assessments.  Filled with pride and a sense of purpose, individuals such as former CIA director James Woolsey are happy to first say that the CIA “probably” inserts its nose in the electoral affairs of other states, then justify it.

Friday’s encounter with Laura Ingraham of Fox News was sufficiently frank, if unsettling, in pulling down any pretence about the role of US power and its self-justified assertiveness in the electoral processes of other states.  “Have we ever tried to meddle in other countries’ elections?” posed Ingraham.  “Oh, probably,” came the humoured response, “but it was for the good of the system in order to avoid communists taking over.”

Then came a few points of illustration: “For example, in Europe, in ’47, ’48, ’49, the Greeks and the Italians, we CIA…” Ingraham, at that point, charged in with an interruption, asking whether the US “did that anymore”.  “We don’t mess around in other peoples’ elections, Jim?”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, Buttering Up the Pentagon

Tomgram: Danny Sjursen, Buttering Up the Pentagon

Recently, the Pentagon’s top Asia official, Randall Schriver, told senators that the Afghan war would cost this country’s taxpayers $45 billion in 2018, including $5 billion for the Afghan security forces, $13 billion for U.S. forces in that country, and $780 million in economic aid.  How the other $26 billion would be spent is unclear and, given the Pentagon’s record in these years, Schriver’s estimate could prove a low-ball figure.  All in all, it’s just another year in this country’s endless war there.  Still, if Schriver is on the mark, in Afghanistan alone the American taxpayer will spend more than a fifth of the $200 billion the Trump administration is urging Congress to put up for the rebuilding of America’s crumblinginfrastructure. (The estimated cost of the full war on terror in President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, according to the Costs of War Project, is approximately… yep, you guessed it: $200 billion.) And, of course, all of that is next to nothing when compared to the $5.6 trillionthe Costs of War Project estimates the war on terror has already cost us (with certain future expenses added in).

Under the circumstances, isn’t it remarkable that the government has sent so many taxpayer dollars tumbling down the rabbit hole of its failed wars and the “reconstruction” scams in Afghanistan and Iraq that once passed for “nation-building”? (By 2014, the U.S. had already sunk more money into “reconstructing” Afghanistan than it had once put into the Marshall Plan to rebuild all of Western Europe — and compare the results of each of those investments!)  More remarkable still, for all the bitter political disputes in these years about how government money should be spent, there has never been real disagreement here, no less significant protest, over the decision to put such staggering sums into America’s wars.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Is That Russia Troll Farm an Act of War?

Is That Russia Troll Farm an Act of War?

According to the indictment by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Russian trolls, operating out of St. Petersburg, took American identities on social media and became players in our 2016 election.

On divisive racial and religious issues, the trolls took both sides. In the presidential election, the trolls favored Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein and Donald Trump, and almost never Hillary Clinton.

One imaginative Russian troll urged Trumpsters to dress up a female volunteer in an orange prison jump suit, put her in a cage on a flatbed truck, then append the slogan, “Lock Her Up!”

How grave a matter is this?

This Russian troll farm is “the equivalent (of) Pearl Harbor,” says Cong. Jerrold Nadler, who would head up the House Judiciary Committee, handling any impeachment, if Democrats retake the House.

When MSNBC’s Chris Hayes pressed, Nadler doubled down: The Russians “are destroying our democratic process.” While the Russian trolling may not equal Pearl Harbor in its violence, said Nadler, in its “seriousness, it is very much on a par” with Japan’s surprise attack.

Trump’s reaction to the hysteria that broke out after the Russian indictments: “They are laughing their (expletives) off in Moscow.”

According to Sunday’s Washington Post, the troll story is old news in Russia, where reporters uncovered it last year and it was no big deal.

While Mueller’s indictments confirm that Russians meddled in the U.S. election, what explains the shock and the fear for “our democracy”?

Is the Great Republic about to fall because a bunch of trolls tweeted in our election? Is this generation ignorant of its own history?

Before and after World War II, we had Stalinists and Soviet spies at the highest levels of American culture and government.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Syrian Fighters Enter Afrin; Turkey Retaliates With Immediate Bombing Sending Turkish Lira, Stocks Tumbling

As we reported yesterday, in a surprising twist in the ongoing Syrian proxy war, YPG Kurdish fighters in north-western Syria – who are backed by the US – had struck a deal with the Russia-backed Assad regime for Syrian forces to enter the Afrin region and repel a Turkish offensive which began last month.

Badran Jia Kurd, an advisor to the Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria told Reuters that Syrian troops will deploy along several border positions and could enter the region within the next two days: “we can cooperate with any side that lends us a helping hand in light of the barbaric crimes and the international silence,” Jia Kurd said.

We didn’t have long to wait for this escalation to unfold, and moments ago a convoy of fighters waving Syrian flags entered the northern Kurdish-held region of Afrin, which Turkey is targeting in a cross-border operation, according to footage on Syrian state TV shows.


BREAKING: Pro-Syrian government forces have begun entering in northern Syria, state TV reports. pic.twitter.com/ya1XixC15o

UPDATE: Footage of troops in now airing on state TV. pic.twitter.com/zJfrjhIK68

View image on Twitter


The pro-government fighters were filmed entering the village of Nubul in some 20 pickup trucks.  As Bloomberg adds, Rami Abdurrahman, head of the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war through activists on the ground, also confirmed the movement.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Five Reasons To Be Absolutely Certain That The Establishment Is Lying About Syria

Five Reasons To Be Absolutely Certain That The Establishment Is Lying About Syria 

Whenever you see UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on video she’s trying to start World War Three. At today’s UN Security Council Haley gave remarks about why the UN should “take action” against two of the US power establishment’s favorite targets, Russia and the Syrian government, due to allegations that Bashar al-Assad has been using chemical weapons.

That’s right, just three weeks after the Trump administration unveiled its planto keep thousands of US troops in Syria in order to force regime change, the tired old chemical weapons allegations have been unearthed and recirculated to trusting western mainstream media audiences.

I am not a Syria expert by any stretch of the imagination. If you want detailed information about what’s really going on in that nation I recommend getting in touch with real Syrians online and following the work of independent investigative journalists who regularly go there like Vanessa Beeley. Nevertheless, despite my lack of boots-on-the-ground expertise and intimate knowledge of every detail of what’s going on in that country, I am absolutely certain that the western power establishment is lying very extensively about what is going on in Syria.

One hundred percent certain, zero margin for error. I’d bet my life on it.

How can I be so sure? I’ll show you.

There are many, many, many piles of evidence substantiating the fact that the Syrian government has become the target of what is surely one of the largest and most sophisticated propaganda campaigns in human history, but most people don’t have time to comb through all the tiny details and sort through the complexities of what’s what. For this reason I thought it would be useful to compile a short list for people who, like me, don’t have time to dedicate themselves intimately to the in-depth study of Syria.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

America’s Election Meddling Would Indeed Justify Other Countries Retaliating In Kind

America’s Election Meddling Would Indeed Justify Other Countries Retaliating In Kind

Highlighting the U.S.’s long history in meddling in other countries’ elections is not “whataboutism,” but rather a highly germane point to understanding the context for the allegations of Russian meddling in Election 2016, Caitlin Johnstone observes.

There is still no clear proof that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 U.S. election in any meaningful way. Which is weird, because Russia and every other country on earth would be perfectly justified in doing so.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey admitting on national television that the United States routinely meddles in other countries’ elections.

Like every single hotly publicized Russiagate “bombshell” that has broken since this nonsense began, Mueller’s indictment of 13 Russian social media trolls was paraded around as proof of something hugely significant (an “act of war” in this case), but on closer examination turns out to be empty.

The always excellent Moon of Alabama recently made a solid argument that has also been advanced by Russiagate skeptics like TYT’s Michael Tracey and Max Blumenthal of The Real News, pointing out that there is in fact no evidence that the troll farming operation was an attempt to manipulate the U.S. election, nor indeed that it had any ties to the Russian government at all, nor indeed that it was anything other than a crafty Russian civilian’s money making scheme.

The notion that a few Russian trolls committed a “conspiracy to defraud the United States” by “sowing discord” with a bunch of wildly contradictory posts endorsing all sorts of different ideologies sounds completely ridiculous in a country whose mainstream media spends all its time actively creating political division anyway, but when you look at it as a civilian operation to attract social media followers to sock puppet accounts with the goal of selling promoted posts for profit, it makes perfect sense.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dancing to US Tune: NATO Creates Military Schengen and Launches Iraq Mission

Dancing to US Tune: NATO Creates Military Schengen and Launches Iraq Mission

Dancing to US Tune: NATO Creates Military Schengen and Launches Iraq Mission

The NATO defense chiefs’ meeting on February 14-15 was mainly devoted to sharing the defense burden and other issues routinely discussed at any event. As usual, there were turgid speeches with opaque meaning to leave one guessing what’s really behind those nice words. In fact, the alliance took two far-going decisions proving a clue to its plans for near future.

The ministers said yes to the creation of military Schengen to ease forces movements across the Old Continent. NATO is to do away with the cumbersome and lingering bureaucratic procedures hindering transportation of troops and hardware through territories of member states. One of the solutions is a standardized form used by European allies and partner states for granting permission for movements. Germany has offered to host the command center to implement the concept of free transit zone in view of its vast experience in providing logistical support.

It’s not red tape only. One thing leads to another. The military Schengen will inevitably result in additional expenditure to adapt the civilian infrastructure to military needs, upgrading roads, tunnels and bridges to enable hardware movements and heavy aircraft landings.

The decision is taken amid burgeoning preparations to boost military infrastructure near Russia’s borders. The fact that by signing the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act the bloc pledged not to deploy “substantial” ground forces on permanent basis close to Russia appears to be ignored and forgotten. With the document no longer valid, the bilateral military relationship will be deprived of any legal basis.

To augment the forces in East Europe, the Black Sea, the Baltics and the Scandinavian Peninsula the bloc needs new logistic hubs. Unobstructed large-scale transport movements become top priority for implementation of the war plans, such as concentrating combat-ready stocks for a full US brigade in Poland.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Munich Conference: “For The First Time In Decades We Are Facing Threat Of Nuclear Conflict”

Over the past fifty years, the Munich Security Conference (MSC) has traditionally reflected the current state of world military affairs. Each February, more than 450 senior decision-makers from around the globe descend into Munich, Germany, to discuss current and future security challenges.

And while there have been times in recent years when the MSC demonstrated signs of hope and optimism, none of that was evident this year. This year’s motto “To the Brink – and Back?”- which seems to be an accurate portrayal of the current geopolitical situations in most regions. After several days of senior decision-makers bickering back and forth, the negativity in the atmosphere only means one thing: A global conflict between nuclear superpowers is lingering.

“I was hoping when I opened this conference on Friday that, in concluding the conference, I would be able to say we can delete the question mark. In other words: ‘We are back from the brink,’” former German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger said in closing remarks of the MSC. “I’m actually not sure we can say that,” he added.

The dangers of nuclear proliferation and talk of a “dire” global security situation dominated the security conference: from the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine, to U.S. allegations of Russia’s election-meddling, to territorial disputes between ex-Soviet republics, and even discussions about the escalating tensions between Israel and Iran: geopolitical doom and gloom was not short in all conversations during the meeting.

And, in the latest escalation, Bloomberg reports that the most fiery subject of the conference were the tensions surrounding Russia and the U.S over nuclear arms controls.

Addressing a conference hall in Munich packed with dignitaries, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of the risks emanating from North Korea’s nuclear activities, which have ratcheted up tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The EMP Threat: How It Works and What It Means for the Korean Crisis

The EMP Threat: How It Works and What It Means for the Korean Crisis

Before we begin with this week’s installment of This Week in Geopolitics, I want to draw your attention to the 2018 Strategic Investment Conference. Last year at the SIC, I said the United States would likely launch a pre-emptive attack on North Korea. I failed to anticipate the level of opposition from South Korea, which would bear the brunt of the casualties in such an attack. Without South Korea’s support, the US reconsidered its position. No attack came.

Obviously, I would like it if GPF were right about everything. Our track record is pretty good, but in this case, we were wrong. Still, I view this as the reason the SIC is such a valuable conference. The SIC’s greatest asset is how it brings together thinkers with profoundly different viewpoints to discuss the most important issues in the world today—people who aren’t afraid to tell you what they think, or to admit when they were wrong. I’m honored to be speaking once more at the SIC, where the theme for the year ahead is “Crossroads.”

And indeed, the world is at a crossroads. The post-2008 financial crisis “recovery” has not curbed speculation or reduced inequality. It has not halted the rise of political instability in the world’s most important countries. As Europe celebrates what 10 years ago would have been meager growth rates—and as the US celebrates sky-high stock prices one day only to watch them fall the next—the world stands on a precipice where the choices seem to be imminent chaos or delayed crisis.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russia Warns US To “Stop Playing With Fire” In Syria, Immediately Leave Area It Controls

Two weeks after a US B-52 strike killed scores of Russian mercenaries in Syria, which according to Bloomberg and Reuters were are as many as 200, while Russia said no more than 5 Russians were killed in the attack then promptly refused to discuss the embarrassing topic further, Moscow has clearly not forgotten this latest – and most serious – escalation in the 7-year-old proxy war, and on Monday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the Trump administration not to “play with fire” as he lashed out at the U.S. over what he described as its “provocative” support for autonomy-seeking Kurds in Syria, while urging US troops in the area of Al-Tanf to “leave immediately.”

Speaking to a Moscow audience at the Valdai Club conference on the Middle East, Lavrov said that US troops must immediately cease operations in the Southern Syria area of Al-Tanf, adding that he once again calls “on our American colleagues not to play with fire and measure their steps proceeding not from immediate needs of today’s political environment, but rather from long-term interests of the Syrian people and of all peoples of this region, including the Kurds, of course,” the Russian top diplomat was quoted as saying by TASS News Agency.

Lavrov was referring to an area on Syria’s border with Jordan and Iraq, which the US declared to be under its protection last year. Among other things, it contains the Rukban refugee camp. The facility is apparently used by radical militants, including members of UN-designated terrorist group best known by its former name Al-Nusra Front, to recover and raid other parts of Syria, Lavrov said at the Valdai Club conference on the Middle East in Moscow, alongside his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and a top adviser of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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