The Flynn fiasco is not about national security advisor Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador. It’s much deeper than that. It’s about Russia. It’s about Putin. It’s about the explosive rise of China and the world’s biggest free trade zone that will eventually stretch from Lisbon to Vladivostok. It’s about the one country in the world that is obstructing Washington’s plan for global domination. (Russia) And, it’s about the future; which country will be the key player in the world’s most prosperous and populous region, Asia.
That’s what’s at stake, and that’s what the Flynn controversy is really all about.
Many readers are familiar with the expression “pivot to Asia”, but do they know what it means?
It means the United States has embarked on an ambitious plan to extend its military grip and market power over the Eurasian landmass thus securing its position as the world’s only superpower into the next century. The pivot is Washington’s top strategic priority. As Hillary Clinton said in 2011:
“Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests… Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia…
The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade…. we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia…and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.”(“America’s Pacific Century”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)
In other words, it’s pivot or bust. Those are the only two options. Naturally, ruling elites in the US have chosen the former over the latter, which means they are committed to a strategy that will inevitably pit the US against a nuclear-armed adversary, Russia.
Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, wanted to normalize relations with Russia. He rejected the flagrantly hostile approach of the US foreign policy establishment. That’s why he had to be removed. And, that’s why he’s been so viciously attacked in the media and why the threadbare story about his contacts with the Russian ambassador were used to force his resignation.
This isn’t about the law and it isn’t about the truth. It’s about bare-knuckle geopolitics and global hegemony. Flynn got in the way of the pivot, so Flynn had to be eliminated. End of story. Here’s a clip from an article by Robert Parry:
“Flynn’s real “offense” appears to be that he favors détente with Russia rather than escalation of a new and dangerous Cold War. Trump’s idea of a rapprochement with Moscow – and a search for areas of cooperation and compromise – has been driving Official Washington’s foreign policy establishment crazy for months and the neocons, in particular, have been determined to block it.
Though Flynn has pandered to elements of the neocon movement with his own hysterical denunciations of Iran and Islam in general, he emerged as a key architect for Trump’s plans to seek a constructive relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Meanwhile, the neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks have invested heavily in making Putin the all-purpose bête noire to justify a major investment in new military hardware and in pricy propaganda operations.” (“Trump Caves on Flynn’s resignation“, Consortium News)
US foreign policy is not developed willy-nilly. It emerges as the consensus view of various competing factions within the permanent national security state. And, although there are notable differences between the rival factions (either hardline or dovish) there appears to be unanimity on the question of Russia. There is virtually no constituency within the political leadership of either of the two major parties (or their puppetmaster supporters in the deep state) for improving relations with Russia. None. Russia is blocking Washington’s eastward expansion, therefore, Russia must be defeated. Here’s more from the World Socialist Web Site:
“US imperialism seeks to counter its declining world economic position by exploiting its unchallenged global military dominance. It sees as the principal roadblocks to its hegemonic aims the growing economic and military power of China and the still-considerable strength of Russia, possessor of the world’s second-largest nuclear arsenal, the largest reserves of oil and gas, and a critical geographical position at the center of the Eurasian land mass.
Trump’s opponents within the ruling class insist that US foreign policy must target Russia with the aim of weakening the Putin regime or overthrowing it. This is deemed a prerequisite for taking on the challenge posed by China.
Numerous Washington think tanks have developed scenarios for military conflicts with Russian forces in the Middle East, in Ukraine, in the Baltic States and in cyberspace. The national security elite is not prepared to accept a shift in orientation away from the policy of direct confrontation with Russia along the lines proposed by Trump, who would like for the present to lower tensions with Russia in order to focus first on China.” (“Behind the Flynn resignation and Trump crisis: A bitter conflict over imperialist policy“, WSWS)
Foreign policy elites believe the US and its NATO allies can engage Russia in a shooting war without it expanding into a regional conflict and without an escalation into a nuclear conflagration. It’s a risky calculation but, nevertheless, it is the rationale behind the persistent build up of troops and weaponry on Russia’s western perimeter. Take a look at this from the Independent:
Thousands of Nato troops have amassed close to the border with Russia as part of the largest build-up of Western troops neighbouring Moscow’s sphere of influence since the Cold War…Tanks and heavy armoured vehicles, plus Bradley fighting vehicles and Paladin howitzers, are also in situ and British Typhoon jets from RAF Conningsby will be deployed to Romania this summer to contribute to Nato’s Southern Air Policing mission…
Kremlin officials claim the build-up is the largest since the Second World War. (“The map that shows how many Nato troops are deployed along Russia’s border“, The Independent)
Saber-rattling and belligerence have cleared the way for another world war. Washington thinks the conflict can be contained, but we’re nor so sure.
The inexperienced Trump– who naively believed that the president sets his own foreign policy–has now learned that that’s not the case. The Flynn slap-down, followed by blistering attacks in the media and threats of impeachment, have left Trump shaken to the core. As a result, he has done a speedy about-face and swung into damage control-mode. On Tuesday, he tried to extend the olive branch by tweeting that “Crimea was taken by Russia” and by offering to replace Flynn with a trusted insider who will not veer from the script prepared by the foreign policy establishment. Check out this blurb on the Foreign Policy magazine website on Wednesday:
President Donald Trump offered the job of national security advisor to retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward on Monday night…If, as expected, Harward accepts the job today, he is likely to bring in his own team, from deputy on down, with a focus on national security types with some experience under their belts…
Harward also would work well with Defense Secretary James Mattis. When Mattis was chief of Central Command, Harward was his deputy. Mattis trusted him enough to put him in charge of planning for war with Iran. Mattis has urged Harward to take the NSA job.
If Harward becomes NSA, Mattis would emerge from the Flynn mess in a uniquely powerful position: He would have two of his former deputies at the table in some meetings. The other one is John Kelly, now secretary for Homeland Security, who was his number two when Mattis commanded a Marine division early in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. (“A Mattis protégé poised to take the helm of Trump’s NSC,” Foreign Policy)
In other words, Trump is relinquishing control over foreign policy and returning it to trusted insiders who will comply with pre-set elitist guidelines. Trump’s sudden metamorphosis was apparent in another story that appeared in Wednesday’s news, this time related to Rex Tillerson and General Joseph Dunford. Here’s a clip from CNN:
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford meet face to face with their Russian counterparts Thursday, as the Trump administration evaluates the future direction of US-Russian relations….But even as Tillerson’s plane was taking off in Washington, the Pentagon announced the meeting between Dunford and his Russian counterpart Valeriy Gerasimov, which will take place Thursday in Baku, Azerbaijan….
The military leaders will discuss a variety of issues including the current state of U.S.-Russian military relations …Trump’s envoys have been expressing positions more keeping with previous US policies. …
Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, indicated the US would maintain sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea in 2014. She condemned what she called the “Russian occupation” of the Ukrainian territory…
The US has deployed thousands of troops and tanks to Poland and Romania in recent weeks, while other NATO allies have sent troops to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
“There is a common message from the President, from his security team, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, that they stay strongly committed to NATO,” he added.
Let’s summarize: The sanctions will remain, the tanks are on the border, the commitment to NATO has been reinforced, and Dunford is going to explain Washington’s strategic objectives to his Russian counterpart in clear, unambiguous language. There will be no room for Tillerson, who is on friendly terms with Putin, to change the existing policy or to normalize relations; Dunford, Haley, and Defense Secretary James Mattis will make sure of that.
As for Trump, it’s clear by the Crimea tweet, the sacking of Flynn and the (prospective) appointment of Harward, that he’s running scared and is doing everything in his power to get out of the hole he’s dug for himself. There’s no way of knowing whether he’ll be allowed to carry on as before or if he’ll be forced to throw other allies, like Bannon or Conway, under the bus. I would expect the purge to continue and to eventually include Trump himself. But that’s just a guess.
The hope that Trump would bring an element of sanity to US foreign policy has now been extinguished. The so called “Trump Revolution” has fizzled out before it ever began.
In contrast, the military buildup along Russia’s western flank continues apace.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you thought yesterday’s press conference was “ranting and raving”, it appears President Trump just turned the anti-’Fake news’-media amplifier up to ’11′, declaring CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS , The New York Times (yet not The Washington Post) as “enemies of the American people”.
Incidentally, this was the second tweet, after Trump removed the first version one, which some thought was deleted as it was just a little too “aggressive” but as it turned out, simply ommitted ABC and CBS.
Which begs the question, if the “media” is the enemy, what does that make its corporate owners?
As a reminder, Trump and chief White House strategist Steve Bannon have both referred to the media as the “opposition party.”
“The mainstream media has not fired or terminated anyone associated with following our campaign,” Mr. Bannon said. “Look at the Twitter feeds of those people: they were outright activists of the Clinton campaign.” (He did not name specific reporters or editors.) ”That’s why you have no power,” Mr. Bannon added. “You were humiliated.”
“You’re the opposition party,” Mr. Bannon said. “Not the Democratic Party. You’re the opposition party. The media’s the opposition party.”
And here was Trump yesterday.
The media – which according to the president is now America’s enemy – had reactions, ranging from the shocked, to the defensive, to the conciliatory, to the bemused.
Column: How bureaucrats are fighting the voters for control of our country
Donald Trump was elected president last November by winning 306 electoral votes. He pledged to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., to overturn the system of politics that had left the nation’s capital and major financial and tech centers flourishing but large swaths of the country mired in stagnation and decay. “What truly matters,” he said in his Inaugural Address, “is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people.”
Is it? By any historical and constitutional standard, “the people” elected Donald Trump and endorsed his program of nation-state populist reform. Yet over the last few weeks America has been in the throes of an unprecedented revolt. Not of the people against the government—that happened last year—but of the government against the people. What this says about the state of American democracy, and what it portends for the future, is incredibly disturbing.
There is, of course, the case of Michael Flynn. He made a lot of enemies inside the government during his career, suffice it to say. And when he exposed himself as vulnerable those enemies pounced. But consider the means: anonymous and possibly illegal leaks of private conversations. Yes, the conversation in question was with a foreign national. And no one doubts we spy on ambassadors. But we aren’t supposed to spy on Americans without probable cause. And we most certainly are not supposed to disclose the results of our spying in the pages of the Washington Post because it suits a partisan or personal agenda.
Here was a case of current and former national security officials using their position, their sources, and their methods to crush a political enemy. And no one but supporters of the president seems to be disturbed. Why? Because we are meant to believe that the mysterious, elusive, nefarious, and to date unproven connection between Donald Trump and the Kremlin is more important than the norms of intelligence and the decisions of the voters.
But why should we believe that? And who elected these officials to make this judgment for us?
Nor is Flynn the only example of nameless bureaucrats working to undermine and ultimately overturn the results of last year’s election. According to the New York Times, civil servants at the EPA are lobbying Congress to reject Donald Trump’s nominee to run the agency. Is it because Scott Pruitt lacks qualifications? No. Is it because he is ethically compromised? Sorry. The reason for the opposition is that Pruitt is a critic of the way the EPA was run during the presidency of Barack Obama. He has a policy difference with the men and women who are soon to be his employees. Up until, oh, this month, the normal course of action was for civil servants to follow the direction of the political appointees who serve as proxies for the elected president.
How quaint. These days an architect of the overreaching and antidemocratic Waters of the U.S. regulation worries that her work will be overturned so she undertakes extraordinary means to defeat her potential boss. But a change in policy is a risk of democratic politics. Nowhere does it say in the Constitution that the decisions of government employees are to be unquestioned and preserved forever. Yet that is precisely the implication of this unprecedented protest. “I can’t think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this,” a professor of government tells the paper. That sentence does not leave me feeling reassured.
Opposition to this president takes many forms. Senate Democrats have slowed confirmations to the most sluggish pace since George Washington. Much of the New York and Beltway media does really function as a sort of opposition party, to the degree that reporters celebrated the sacking of Flynn as a partisan victory for journalism. Discontent manifests itself in direct actions such as the Women’s March.
But here’s the difference. Legislative roadblocks, adversarial journalists, and public marches are typical of a constitutional democracy. They are spelled out in our founding documents: the Senate and its rules, and the rights to speech, a free press, and assembly. Where in those documents is it written that regulators have the right not to be questioned, opposed, overturned, or indeed fired, that intelligence analysts can just call up David Ignatius and spill the beans whenever they feel like it?
The last few weeks have confirmed that there are two systems of government in the United States. The first is the system of government outlined in the U.S. Constitution—its checks, its balances, its dispersion of power, its protection of individual rights. Donald Trump was elected to serve four years as the chief executive of this system. Whether you like it or not.
The second system is comprised of those elements not expressly addressed by the Founders. This is the permanent government, the so-called administrative state of bureaucracies, agencies, quasi-public organizations, and regulatory bodies and commissions, of rule-writers and the byzantine network of administrative law courts. This is the government of unelected judges with lifetime appointments who, far from comprising the “least dangerous branch,” now presume to think they know more about America’s national security interests than the man elected as commander in chief.
For some time, especially during Democratic presidencies, the second system of government was able to live with the first one. But that time has ended. The two systems are now in competition. And the contest is all the more vicious and frightening because more than offices are at stake. This fight is not about policy. It is about wealth, status, the privileges of an exclusive class.
“In our time, as in [Andrew] Jackson’s, the ruling classes claim a monopoly not just on the economy and society but also on the legitimate authority to regulate and restrain it, and even on the language in which such matters are discussed,” writes Christopher Caldwell in a brilliant essay in the Winter 2016/17 Claremont Review of Books.
Elites have full-spectrum dominance of a whole semiotic system. What has just happened in American politics is outside the system of meanings elites usually rely upon. Mike Pence’s neighbors on Tennyson street not only cannot accept their election loss; they cannot fathom it. They are reaching for their old prerogatives in much the way that recent amputees are said to feel an urge to scratch itches on limbs that are no longer there. Their instincts tell them to disbelieve what they rationally know. Their arguments have focused not on the new administration’s policies or its competence but on its very legitimacy.
Donald Trump did not cause the divergence between government of, by, and for the people and government, of, by, and for the residents of Cleveland Park and Arlington and Montgomery and Fairfax counties. But he did exacerbate it. He forced the winners of the global economy and the members of the D.C. establishment to reckon with the fact that they are resented, envied, opposed, and despised by about half the country. But this recognition did not humble the entrenched incumbents of the administrative state. It radicalized them to the point where they are readily accepting, even cheering on, the existence of a “deep state” beyond the control of the people and elected officials.
Who rules the United States? The simple and terrible answer is we do not know. But we are about to find out.
Two weeks ago heavy machines began to clear the banks of the Mur in the south of Graz, which was for long time one of the most important recreational zones in our city. Because of the wide ranging civil resistance against the project the construction firms have great fear that sabotage in any possible way may happen. Fortunately all protests until now remained peaceful.
Dozens of police buses are parked in the vicinity of the excavators. Police and private security services build a human shield to protect the workers from being harassed by angry citizens.
What is a sad example how security forces are abused to protect the interests of a little, influential group against the sake of the people while it is supposed to be the other way around.
I ask myself how it must be for a good, dutiful policeman who feels with us and would therefore prefer to stand on the other side of the fence.
High fences and many security guards are needed to shield the building site from upset people. Sadly even the biggest rally with more then 4.000 protesters could not prevent the things that happen now.
Different environmental groups joined the protests. The banks of the Mur are an important habitat for some protectec animals like certain kinds of bats, the dice snake and the Huchen. which will most likely disappear when the Mur-barrage in the south of Graz is completed.
Although there is already a lot of destruction, activists still hope to stop the project and prevent at least the remainining natural part of the Mur in the inner city from being destroyed.
Despite the icy temperatures a brave group of people are determined to resist. They have therefore set up a protest camp near the bank of the green river. Men and women spend nearly all of their spare time, eating, and sleeping under the open sky even the in the harsh weather conditions which typically prevail in Graz in February.
A fire bowl stands in the middle. People sit in a circle around the fire and warm their legs at the sound of a guitar. Protest songs and poems are written and rehearsed together for the next big rally.
One touching thing is to see how local residents support the protesters by hanging out flags with the Lettering „Rettet die Mur“ (Save the Mur). Supporters from the sorrounding residental blocks bring warm clothings, wood for the firebowl, food and – the most important thing – good Words of encouragement and assist the gruop physically and morally in every possible way.
Despite rumors that the camp may be violently cleared by security forces in the near future the majority of the people in the camp keep a positive attitude and believe in their ability to change the course of things
Daniel Vidic, born and living in Graz, Austria
Prepress technician (gravure) for food packaging
Hobbies: Canoeing, Hanggliding (flight instructor), climbing, mountaineering
Website “Save the Mur”
Environmental society Styria
Green party https://graz.gruene.at/murkraftwerk
Copyright © Daniel Vidic, Global Research, 2017
This week the Turkish President Erdogan visited the Gulf states. He asked for bigger investment in Turkey and for cash for his project to occupy more parts of Syria. A week ago Erodgan had claimed:
“Al-Bab is about to be captured. Manbij and Raqqah are next,” Erdogan said, adding their number one priority was to form a safe zone in the country.
Operation Euphrates Shield has entered a new phase in al-Bab, as the offensive stage is over now that the town has largely been recaptured from Daesh.“The operation in al-Bab is over,” Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar said at a press conference in Qatar on Wednesday during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s trip to Gulf countries.
Silence now dominates the area that was once scene to heavy clashes. Turkish tanks patrol al-Bab’s streets and the Syrian opposition has pressed a major advance.
That claim was a huge lie. While Turkish forces had earlier taken some outskirts of Al-Bab and claimed to own 40% of the city they were by then stuck and later in full retreat.
Yesterday the Turkish forces lost the Al-Hikma hospital and the automatic bakery they had earlier captured and retreated from all inner districts of Al-Bab. At least 90% of Al-Bab is still in Islamic State hands.
Geolocated video by the Islamic State and Turkish supported forces show that the Turks are back at their starting points at the outer city limits.
As many as 430 Syrian civilians have been killed by Turkish forces and their auxiliaries. Just last week the MI-6 sponsored Syrian Observatory said that Turkish bombing killed more than 60 in Al-Bab. It confirmed videos posted by the Islamic State which showed killed children and destroyed houses. Unlike with every death cause by fighting between Takfiris and the Syrian Army no “western” main-stream media picked up on that.
Turkey started to invade Syria between Aleppo and Euphrates exactly six month ago. The aim was to prevent the Syrian Kurds from taking an east-to-west corridor along the Turkish border. Such would have closed off Turkey from further influence in Syria. The Turks had hired some of the Syrian “rebels” they had earlier supported to fight the Syrian government to now fight the Islamic State and the Kurds. The Takfiris of Ahrar al-Sham are their storm troopers.
The first three month showed some rapid progress. The Islamic State was bribed to move out of the northern Syrian areas without a fight and the Turks moved in. But in December they reached Al-Bab, a city east of Aleppo with originally some 60,000 inhabitants. There resistance from the Islamic State picked up and the Turkish progress stopped. Turkish armor, often placed without cover in sight of the front line, was destroyed in mass by Islamic State anti-tank missiles. Casualties climbed and the mercenaries of the FSA refused to continue the fight.
As of Thursday casualties number so far were at least 64 Turkish soldiers killed and 386 wounded. Of the FSA auxiliaries at least 469 were killed and 1,712 wounded. A dozen main battle tanks were confirmed as lost. Unofficial sources claim that more than 30 Turkish tanks were destroyed as well as 20+ armored infantry carriers – nearly two battalions wasted for no significant gain.
The Free Syrian Army mercenaries Erdogan hired to take on the Kurds and the Islamic State are now mostly useless. They do not fight efficiently but profusely waste ammunition for spray-and-pray show offs (vid).
To compensate for that Turkey injected its own special Forces and now has some 3,000 soldiers involved in the operation. But that did not help either – losses continued and no progress was made. Another 5,000 Turkish soldiers were now send (Tur) to join the operation. It was also announced that Turkey plans to erect three garrisons in Syria. On top of the eluding Al-Bab Erdogan now also wants to take the Islamic State held Raqqa and the Kurdish held Manbij.
His plan of a Raqqa operation is ludicrous. It would require to fight for and hold a corridor through Kurdish-Syrian areas:
Ankara’s preferred plan of action envisages Turkish and U.S. special forces, backed by commandoes and Turkey-backed Syrian rebels entering Syria through the border town of Tel Abyad, currently held by Kurdish YPG militia, the newspaper said.The forces would effectively cut through YPG territory, before pushing on to Raqqa, which lies about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south.
Such a plan would require the United States to convince the Kurdish militia to grant the Turkey-backed forces a 20-kilometre (12-mile)-wide strip through YPG territory in order to push south, ..
The U.S. would not (and could not) hold back Kurdish forces from attacking such a long Turkish supply line.
But who takes such announcements serious anyway? After the alleged coup against him Erdogan kicked out every officer who was not, in his view, sufficiently loyal to him. His air-force was hurt the most. Allegedly only 0.4 qualified pilots per plane are available now instead of the regular 2-3. It takes up to a decade to train new pilots.
The ground army may be in slightly better shape but NATO’s second biggest military is no longer the serious force it once was. The whole Turkish operation is in disarray. Moreover – there is no plan for the day after or any exit strategy. Decisions and announcements change from day to day.
The current Turkish plans contradict the Astana agreements concluded with Russia, Syria and Iran. Only a short, temporary role for Turkish forces was agreed upon. Al-Bab was supposed to be taken by Syrian forces. Syria has officially protested at the UN against the Turkish invasion. But neither Syria nor Russia or Iran have started to fight the Turkish forces. “Just let the Turks bleed,” seems to be their current slogan.
Erdogan set the date for a referendum in Turkey over a new constitution. The vote in April would legalize his quasi dictatorial powers. But the quagmire in Syria and the stalemate at Al-Bab will cost him. Why choose a dictator prone to lose his fights? Unconfirmed rumors are swiveling around claiming that Erdogan is trying to bribe the Islamic State to leave Al-Bab. Such a move would fit Erdogan’s motives. He needs the victory and does not shy away from otherwise illegitimate methods.
South of Al-Bab the Syrian army is moving towards the Euphrates. It will cut off the Turkish forces path to Raqqa and Manbij. In north-east Syria formerly Turkish sponsored Takfiris fight each other. Jund al-Aqsa, allied with Islamic State, is mass killing ”moderate rebels” allied with Al-Qaeda. Hundreds of “rebel” fighters and prisoners have lost their lives in such infighting.
In the south “moderate rebels” and al-Qaeda try to attack the city of Daraa, held by regular Syrian forces. The attacks failed. Jordan closed its borders and no longer takes care of wounded “rebels”. The Military Operations Room in Jordan has stopped all supplies and payments to anti-Syrian forces. Only Israel is still secretly helping them.
Syrian government forces mop up isolated rebel strongholds near Damascus. Some Syrian army forces are moving to retake Palmyra. The east-Syrian garrison in Deir Ezzor, isolated and attacked by the Islamic State, is still holding out. Bigger operations against the Takfiris in the south and north-west are planned but the smart move now is to just sit tight and let the enemies, Takfiris as well as Turks, continue in their self destruction.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Transatlantic bond remains our strongest bulwark against instability and Russia.
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, Feb 17, 2017
While the US commander-in-chief finds the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance something of an obsolete joke, and a costly one at that, his own appointment as Defence Secretary James M. Mattis was singing a different tune in Munich.
The occasion was that of the Munich Security Conference, the 53rd no less, advertised as “a key annual gathering for the international ‘strategic community’” and founded as the “Internationale Wehrkunde-Begegnung.”
After being introduced by German Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyden, Mattis reiterated a line he seems he can stick with: Trump “too espouses NATO’s need to adapt to today’s strategic situation for it to remain credible, capable and relevant.” The interpretation there was elementary: European states had to engage in more convincing acts of binge spending on defence.
Moving onto the lingo of watered down geopolitics, Mattis then claimed that, “We all see our community of nations under threat on multiple fronts as the arc of instability builds on NATO’s periphery and beyond.” Nothing like a good jolt of fear to beef military budgets.
MSC chairman Wolfgang Ischinger had set the tone on the sentiment ahead of the receptions, the panels and the strategic love-in. “Instead of waiting in fear of the next Trump tweet, we Europeans should lay the foundations for a Europe that is strong, capable of taking action and committed to Western values.”
Gazing through Trump’s tweets has made officials in European capitals tremble. There is a fear of equivalence: the Trump administration treating German Chancellor Angela Merkel as he would Russian President Vladimir Putin. For the business mind, this is hardly surprising. For the ideologue, this is terrifying.
Ischinger engages in a bit of America gazing himself, trying to decode, then debunk, “America First” as dangerously anti-internationalist. That said, he cautions against writing off the United States as a continuing valuable partner. The US is still the place of more good eggs rather than broken ones. The “majority,” he reminds us, did not vote for The Donald.
Self-deception is a dangerous quality at any security conference, and to speak of Europe in terms of a bloc of clear headed, coherent thinkers acting as one, is comfortingly superficial. Estrangement is in the air across the continent, and not all see the threats in quite the same way.
Well as it is that a majority of voters thought differently about Trump, but within Europe, fractures have appeared that threaten giddy reassessments and an unravelling. (A nice theme for the conference might have been “Global Exit: Prospects and Promise.”)
Pondering Mattis’ propitiating words were both the antidote and an anti-Trump version of a policy. No one, claimed Mattis, could go it alone on security – a hearty snub to Trimpist unilateralism. “Security is always best when provided by a team.” He praised the German defence minister for the “in-depth” talks held in Washington, where the “security situation facing not only our nations and the alliance, but the broader global community” were chewed over.
There was little doubting the Mattis slant on this: a traditional defender of an alliance moralised in a manner almost anachronistic. (The Russians are coming!) NATO was nothing less than fetish and protector, preserving “the rules-based international order, serving to keep the peace and to defend shared values that grew out of the Enlightenment.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. There was urgency, even emergency in the air. “In the four decades I have attended this conference, I cannot recall a year where its purpose was more necessary or more important.” There were panels considering the demise, if not terminal nature of the West.
This, claimed McCain, required delegates to reconsider the very idea of “the West,” troubled offspring of “the most awful calamity in human history”. This child born free saw a “better kind of world order… one based not on blood-and-soil nationalism, or spheres of influence, or conquest of the weak by the strong, but rather on universal values, rule of law, open commerce, and respect for national sovereignty and independence.”
McCain’s heavily abridged variant is hardly credible textbook history, ignoring the nastier aspects of what happened during the Cold War, where Manichean beasts and values went head to head in torture chambers, over proxy governments and, as a matter of fact, spheres of influence.
President Recep Erdoğan of Turkey, a vital and dangerous NATO member, would have found such particular comments testily amusing, given how busy he has been working against such shared values. “Under Erdoğan’s leadership,” scribbled an irritated Stanley Weiss, founder of the Washington-based Business Executives for National Security, “our NATO ally has arrested more allies than China, jailed thousands of students for the crime of free speech, and replaced secular schools with Islamic-focused madrassas.” Enlightenment values indeed.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: email@example.com
Copyright © Dr. Binoy Kampmark, Global Research, 2017
The approach towards the Crimea by the United States of America is as unfounded, unjust and illegal as the transfer of the Crimea by Khrushchev from the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic to the Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954, meaning that calls for the return of this part of Russian territory are based on ignorance.
There appears to be a great deal of confusion among the new US Administration headed by President Trump as to the Crimea question. Let us once and for all address the history and the legality of the issue and we shall conclude that Crimea is Russia, Crimea belongs to Russia and should according to international law remain so.
The decision by the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics decided on February 19, 1954 to transfer the Province of Crimea from the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, in secret, without informing the population. The decree appeared only a week later on February 27 on the front page of Pravda newspaper, as follows:
“Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet transferring the Crimea Province from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.
Taking into account the integral character of the economy, the territorial proximity and the close economic and cultural ties between the Crimea Province and the Ukrainian SSR, the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet decrees:
To approve the joint presentation of the Presidium of the Russian SFSR Supreme Soviet and the Presidium of the Ukrainian SSR Supreme Soviet on the transfer of the Crimea Province from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR.”
The decision was illegal
The decision was illegal, firstly because the Presidium of the Supreme Council did not have the quorum necessary, seating only 13 of 27 members, so fewer that 50 per cent. Secondly, the decision violated the Constitution of the Russian SFSR and the Constitution of the USSR. According to the text signed on June 27 2015, Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Sabir Kehlerova Mironov of the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation
“Neither the Constitution of the RSFSR or the USSR Constitution … provide powers of the Presidium Supreme Soviet of the USSR and for the consideration of the changes in the constitutional legal status of the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, members of the union republics. In view of the above, the decision adopted in 1954 by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviets of the RSFSR and the Soviet Union on the transfer of the Crimean region of the RSFSR to the Ukraine SSR, did not correspond to the Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the RSFSR and the Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the USSR.”
The decision was made before a constitutional change granted the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet (Advisory) Council under Articles 22 and 23 to carry out transfers of territories.
The legality of the current question
Let us imagine for a moment that the 1954 decision had been legal (which is was not). What happened in 2013 was that an illegal coup d’état removed the democratically elected President of Ukraine (Viktor Yanukovich). In the absence of the supreme representative of justice, according to the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea, its Legislative Assembly now passed to be the body exercising legal force. It was this body which decided to hold a free and fair referendum, internationally observed and approved, on the status of the population of Crimea, which voted overwhelmingly to return to its rightful place, inside the Russian Federation.
There is no possible doubt on the issue, which is crystal clear. Crimea is Russia, end of story. Move on and move forward, or keep pressing the same key and cause a damaging stalemate in international relations.
And more: isn’t it about time the United States of America ceased sticking its nose into everyone’s business? There are better claims for Lakota and Aztlan to change their status than the Crimea. Suppose someone decided to start stirring up trouble over there and see how Washington likes it?
Crimea and Russian history
He has spent the last two decades in humanitarian projects, connecting communities, working to document and catalog disappearing languages, cultures, traditions, working to network with the LGBT communities helping to set up shelters for abused or frightened victims and as Media Partner with UN Women, working to foster the UN Women project to fight against gender violence and to strive for an end to sexism, racism and homophobia. A Vegan, he is also a Media Partner of Humane Society International, fighting for animal rights. He is Director and Chief Editor of the Portuguese version of Pravda.Ru.
Dentro de un mes -79 Aniversario de la Expropiación Petrolera-, ante los mexicanos se exhibirá, no el águila imperial que en tiempos remotos simbolizó la soberanía nacional. Presidirá la fecha, una gallina desplumada.
De la vieja, gorda y ponedora gallina de los huevos de oro, a los compatriotas no les quedaron ni las plumas.
En 2008, como gancho para lograr la aprobación de su Reforma Energética, Felipe Calderón se aventó la gran burla de anunciarLos bonos ciudadanos con valor de 100 pesos. Una emisión inicial, se dijo entonces, sería de cinco millones de pesos.
Se trataría de convencer a los compatriotas de que el petróleo seguiría siendo de su patrimonio.
Ya para 2014; esto es, seis años después, el director corporativo de la Empresa Productiva del Estado, Alberto Beauregard dio por abandonada aquella iniciativa: Pemex sigue siendo atractiva para los inversionistas extranjeros. Obviamente, en dólares y euros, y no en devaluados pesos mexicanos.
Pemex, del tercer al octavo sitio en el ranking mundial
En el periodo de 2000 a 2012 (el de La docena trágica), Pemex generó ingresos por siete billones 753 mil millones de pesos. Para el periodo de 2004 a 2015, Pemex había caído en elranking mundial, del tercer al octavo sitio.
En el recorrido, las refinerías de Pemex en territorio nacional bajaron su producción de un millón 78 mil barriles diarios, a 779 mil barriles.
En 2009, Pemex tenía deuda por un monto de 625 mil millones de pesos. En el más reciente reporte entregado al Senado (noviembre) se da cuenta que la deuda de Pemex se disparó hasta un billón 797 mil millones de pesos. Es decir, 187 por ciento más.
(El titular de la PGR, Raúl Cervantes, viaja a Brasil a enterarse de cómo anda la corrupción allá).
Tan decreciente y sombrío cuadro explica el por qué de los temidos e irritantes gasolinazos.
Pemex no tiene llenadera: Emite más papeles de deuda
Pero hay cosas buenas que merecen contarse, y ésta en una de ellas: Esta semana se dio a conocer que Pemex colocó papeles de deuda por cuatro mil 250 millones de euros. Sólo por esta colocación en “tres tramos”, los que vengan tendrán que arriar hasta 2028. Si bien les va.
Otra buena noticia que hay que contar, es que ayer don Juan Pablo Castañón fue reelecto para un periodo más como jefe de la burocracia privada representada por el Consejo Coordinador Empresarial (CCE).
Estaba tan emocionado por su reelección, que don Juan Pablo anunció inversiones productivas por la friolera de tres y mediobillones de pesos.
El compromiso, sin dar un cronograma y los sectores a los van esos recursos, se anunció en el XL aniversario de la fundación del CCE.
Que se recuerde, desde el último año del sexenio de Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, los hombres de negocios, en cada aniversario del CCE, anuncian colosales inversiones privadas, sin precisar para cuándo.
Hoy, con sólo la mitad de los recursos prometidos por Castañón, se pagaría el total de la deuda de Pemex. Por poner un ejemplo. Y habría remantes para activar las Zonas Económicas Especiales, cuya gestión está en manos casualmente del ex presidente del CCE, Gerardo Gutiérrez Candiani.
Repitiendo lo dicho sobre Calderón en 2008, hay quienes siguen creyendo que con grandes burlas se puede domar el “el humor social”. Eso parece ser tentación de suicidio.
Mouris Salloum George
Mouris Salloum George: Director del Club de Periodistas de México A.C.
Las Fuerzas Armadas pakistaníes desarrollan hoy una masiva operación antiterrorista en todo el territorio nacional, donde murieron más de un centenar de extremistas y una docena de uniformados en las últimas horas.
La ofensiva castrense es una respuesta a una serie de atentados ejecutados por grupos armados de corte islámico que desde principios de mes ensangrentaron a ese país.
El miércoles, tres atacantes suicidas causaron la muerte de siete personas en la provincia de Khyber Pakhtunkhwa en incidentes separados. Dos días antes una operación similar en la ciudad de Lahore dejó 14 víctimas mortales.
Pero el más cruento ocurrió el jueves cuando un suicida detonó ocho kilogramos de explosivos en un templo sufí de la sureña provincia de Sindh, causando al menos 88 muertos y 343 heridos.
Reivindicado por el Estado Islámico (EI), el ataque ocurrió en el santuario de Lal Shahbaz Qalandar en la ciudad de Sehwan, a unos 200 kilómetros al noreste de Karachi, la urbe más populosa de la nación.
Al momento de la explosión el templo estaba abarrotado de fieles, que cada jueves se congregan allí para orar y ejecutar un dhamaal, una danza folclórica tradicional de los sufíes.
Los sunitas radicales consideran esa práctica como una herejía, lo cual convierte a sus practicantes en blanco de los grupos terroristas como el EI.
En respuesta, los militares iniciaron operaciones de búsqueda y captura por todo el territorio nacional y anunciaron el lanzamiento de dos números telefónicos para denunciar cualquier acción sospechosa.
‘No dejaremos que la agenda hostil se imponga cueste lo que cueste’, advirtió el jefe del Ejército, general Qamar Javed Bajwa, quien afirmó que la sangre derramada no quedará impune.
Según el Servicio de Relaciones Públicas castrense (ISPR) en poco más de 24 horas fueron abatidos más de 100 insurgentes mientras otras 90 personas fueron arrestadas en las ciudades de Islamabad y Rawalpindi.
En la capital, los cuerpos de seguridad inspeccionaron más de 350 viviendas y detuvieron a 42 personas, 10 de ellas de nacionalidad afgana.
Por su parte, el Departamento Antiterrorista de la nororiental provincia de Punjab ordenó restringir el movimiento de mil 450 ciudadanos presuntamente vinculados con grupos extremistas.
Otra consecuencia del atentado suicida contra el templo sufí fue la paralización del tibio acercamiento entre Pakistán y Afganistán.
El gobierno de Islamabad exigió a Kabul aplicar medidas contra lass formaciones armadas que supuestamente utilizan el territorio afgano para ejecutar ataques contra Pakistán.
El asesor de Relaciones Exteriores del primer ministro pakistaní, Sartaj Aziz, telefoneó al titular de seguridad nacional afgano, Hanif Atmar, para demandar acciones drásticas contra los extremistas.
La mayoría de los ataques en Pakistán son reivindicados por organizaciones terroristas cuyo liderazgo se esconde en Afganistán, afirmó ayer Bajwa en una conversación telefónica con el general John Nicholson, comandante de las tropas estadounidenses desplegadas allí.
Mientras, el jefe del ISPR, Asif Ghafoor, llamó a las autoridades de Kabul a entregar a 76 extremistas que presuntamente se esconden en su nación.
El militar reveló que funcionarios de la embajada afgana fueron convocados a la sede del Ejército pakistaní para recibir la lista.
Existen pruebas que demuestran el respaldo desde el otro lado de la frontera a organizaciones terroristas, estimó un comunicado del ISPR, por lo cual anunció el cierre indefinido de la línea de demarcación.
Desde junio de 2014 el Ejército desarrolla una campaña contra los reductos de los grupos radicales en especial en las zonas limítrofes con Afganistán.
Aunque diversas ONG y el gobierno confirman que el número de ataques y de muertos disminuyó considerablemente desde esa fecha, las formaciones terroristas están lejos de ser derrotadas, como lo demuestran sus recientes atentados.
Roberto Castellanos Fernandez
La vulnerabilidad de los países caribeños ante amenazas de la naturaleza y desafíos económicos y políticos quedó de manifiesto en la recién concluida Cumbre de la Comunidad Caribeña (Caricom), que llamó al urgente fortalecimiento de la unidad regional.
El presidente de Guyana y de la agrupación integracionista de 15 países, David Granger, señaló las dificultades de los miembros de Caricom para impulsar el desarrollo económico, entre otras razones, por ser decenas de territorios diseminados en 2,4 millones de kilómetros cuadrados.
Puso como ejemplo las dificultades del transporte para el traslado de personas y mercancías dentro de la región, problemas de infraestructura para el turismo y frecuentes desastres naturales, pero insistió en el carácter único de la región y subrayó su orgullo de ser caribeño.
Más allá de estos retos, resaltó la incierta relación de Caricom con el resto del mundo, especialmente sus lazos comerciales y económicos con Estados Unidos y Reino Unido, potencias que acaban de dar nuevo rumbo a sus políticas internacionales.
Granger, en nombre de los ocho primeros ministros y varios cancilleres y funcionarios de alto nivel que asistieron a la cumbre, recordó que los países de Caricom tradicionalmente tuvieron una relación de respeto y cordialidad con Estdos Unidos y esperan que así continue con la actual administración.
El primer ministro de Granada, Keith Mitchell, quien asumirá la presidencia rotativa de Caricom en julio próximo, precisó que persiste la incertidumbre ante las medidas migratorias anunciadas por Washington, puesto que en Estados Unidos radican millones de caribeños.
Tenemos que esperar y ver, comentó, respecto al impacto que tendrá esa política en el Caribe.
Ralph Gonzalves, primer ministro de San Vicente y las Granadinas, por su parte, dijo a Prensa Latina desconocer con precisión la nueva política migratoria, pero apuntó que ‘tiene potencial para un impacto negativo. Dependerá de cuán grande sea la red cuando caiga. Pero, sin duda, no es algo que instintivamente nos inspire a inclinarnos a apoyarla’.
Otros mandatarios definieron el actual escenario internacional como un ‘hostil paisaje global’.
Aparte de las relaciones internacionales, la conferencia priorizó el debate de temas económicos y de seguridad. Al respecto, indicaron que el auge de la criminalidad no es un problema solo nacional sino regional.
En lo económico, la cumbre resaltó la necesidad de seguir avanzando en el establecimiento pleno del llamado Mercado y Economía Únicos de Caricom (CSME, por sus siglas en inglés) para garantizar el camino del desarrollo en la región. Los líderes caribeños coincidieron en que ese proyecto tiene aún varios aspectos pendientes de concreción.
Vinculado con ese tema, los mandatarios indicaron que Caricom tomará prontas medidas para rechazar las prácticas de ciertos bancos corresponsales internacionales, que perciben al Caribe como una zona de riesgo, lo cual afecta su comercio, inversiones, turismo y remesas.