Sunday, April 20, 2014

Report : U.S. Ground Troops To Be Sent To Poland, Estonia

An insane Obama continues to harass Putin following Geneva accords and once more uses our military servicemen and women as decoys in a transparent, meaningless provocation

STARS AND STRIPES
By John Vandiver
04/19/2014

STUTTGART, Germany— 
 
A small contingent of U.S. soldiers will deploy to Poland and Estonia for a series of upcoming ground exercises aimed at reassuring allies shaken by Russian intervention in neighboring Ukraine, according to a report. 
 
 
Chuck Hagel, TRAITOR to America, U.S. military
The U.S. is planning to send a company sized Army element of roughly 150 troops to conduct drills with allies, spanning roughly two weeks respectively in both Poland and Estonia, The New York Times reported Friday.

The land force exercises being planned by the Obama administration are part of a broader undertaking by NATO to beef up its presence in eastern Europe. It is unclear what U.S. unit will be taking part in the exercises in Poland and Estonia, but more details are expected to be announced next week, the Times reported.


On Wednesday, NATO said it would increase its presence in the region both on land, sea and air. Measures include plans for more fighter patrols over the Baltic nations and warships in the Baltic Sea and eastern Mediterranean. 
 
One way to ensure a steadier presence of ground forces in the region is through a series of on-going troops rotations. 
 
 
NATO, EU, UK forces risk annihilation by Russian Army
The plan to send 150 troops to Poland and Estonia could be a first step with more such rotations to come in the future.

“There’s an entire range of possibilities and measures that are being considered,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during a Thursday news conference at the Pentagon with Poland’s defense minister Tomasz Siemoniak. “Rotational basis of training and exercises are always part of that.”


One such possibility that has been under consideration is the deployment elements from the Texas-based 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division — the unit already designated as the U.S. contribution to the NATO Reaction Force — to maintain a steadier regional presence.

Warsaw is unlikely to be satisfied by such limited, rotational deployments. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has urged NATO to station 10,000 troops in Poland.

During the past two months, the U.S. has bolstered its presence in the region in a variety of ways as the crisis in and around Ukraine has unfolded. Steps have included the deployment of 12 F-16 fighter jets to Poland for more frequent training exercises. Hagel said that augmented presence will continue through the year. U.S. warships also have been a more regular presence in the Black Sea. 
 
 
Will Americans allow this to happen yet AGAIN?
 
In the weeks ahead, NATO’s plans for boosting its presence in eastern Europe are expected to become clearer as allies make troop contributing pledges for assorted missions.

Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO supreme allied commander and head of U.S. forces in Europe, earlier this week said Russian actions around Ukraine are a signal that security on the Continent can no longer be taken for granted as NATO reassess its posture.

“We’ve had a paradigm shift, change, gone through a period where I think we thought we were past the time when military force would be used to change international borders in Europe,” Breedlove told reporters on Wednesday, adding that would change how NATO viewed security on the continent and the readiness and responsiveness of its forces.




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The Ukraine Imbroglio And The Decline Of The American Empire

Obama has managed to finish off any remaining vestiges of U.S. prestige following the disastrous Bush era

GLOBAL RESEARCH
By Arno J. Mayer
04/18/2014

When discussing the Ukraine-Crimea “crisis” it might be hygienic for Americans, including their political class, think-tank pundits, and talking heads, to recall two striking moments in “the dawn’s early light” of the U. S. Empire: in 1903, in the wake of the Spanish-American War, under President Theodore Roosevelt America seized control of the southern part of Guantanamo Bay by way of a Cuban-American Treaty which recognizes Cuba’s ultimate sovereignty over this base; a year after the Bolshevik Revolution, in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson dispatched 5,000 U. S. troops to Arkhangelsk in Northern Russia to participate in the Allied intervention in Russia’s Civil War, which raised the curtain on the First Cold War. Incidentally, in 1903 there was no Fidel Castro in Havana and in 1918 no Joseph Stalin in the Kremlin. 
 
 
It might also be salutary to note that this standoff on Ukraine-Crimea is taking place in the unending afterglow of the Second Cold War and at a time when the sun is beginning to set on the American Empire as a new international system of multiple great powers emerges.

Of course, empires have ways of not only rising and thriving but of declining and expiring. It is one of Edward Gibbon’s insightful and challenging questions about the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empirethat is of particular relevance today. 
 
 
Gibbon eventually concluded that while the causes for Rome’s decline and ruin were being successfully probed and explicated, there remained the great puzzle as to why “it had subsisted for so long.” Indeed, the internal and external causes for this persistence are many and complex. But one aspect deserves special attention: the reliance on violence and war to slow down and delay the inevitable. In modern and contemporary times the European empires kept fighting not only among themselves, but also against the “new-caught, sullen peoples, half-devil and half-child,” once these dared to resist and eventually rise up against their imperial-colonial overlords. After 1945 in India and Kenya; in Indochina and Algeria; in Iran and Suez; in Congo. Needless to say, to this day the still-vigorous

U. S. empire and the fallen European empires lock arms in efforts to save what can be saved in the ex-colonial lands throughout the Greater Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

There is no denying that America’s uniquely informal empire, without settler colonies, expanded headlong across the globe during and following World War Two. It did so thanks to having been spared the enormous and horrid loss of life, material devastation, and economic ruin which befell all the other major belligerents, Allied and Axis. To boot, America’s mushrooming “military-industrial complex” overnight fired the Pax Americana’s momentarily unique martial, economic, and soft power.

By now the peculiar American Empire is past its apogee. Its economic, fiscal, social, civic, and cultural sinews are seriously fraying. At the same time the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and Iran are claiming their place in the concert of world powers in which, for a good while, one and all will play by the rules of a new-model mercantilism in a globalizing soit-disant “free market” capitalist economy.

America’s splendid era of overseas “boots on the ground” and “regime change” is beginning to draw to a close. Even in the hegemonic sphere decreed by the Monroe Doctrine there is a world of difference between yesteryear’s and today’s interventions. In the not so distant good old times the U. S. horned in rather nakedly in Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1962), Dominican Republic (1965), Chile (1973), Nicaragua (1980s), Grenada (1983), Bolivia (1986), Panama (1989), and Haiti (2004), almost invariably without enthroning and empowering more democratic and socially progressive “regimes.” Presently Washington may be said to tread with considerably greater caution as it uses a panoply of crypto NGO-type agencies and agents in Venezuela. It does so because in every domain, except the military, the empire is not only vastly overextended but also because over the last few years left-leaning governments/“regimes” have emerged in five Latin American nations which most likely will become every less economically and diplomatically dependent on and fearful of the U. S.

Though largely subliminal, the greater the sense and fear of imperial decay and decline, the greater the national hubris and arrogance of power which cuts across party lines. To be sure, the tone and vocabulary in which neo-conservatives and right-of-center conservatives keep trumpeting America’s self-styled historically unique exceptionalism, grandeur, and indispensability is shriller than that of left-of-center “liberals” who, in the fray, tend to be afraid of their own shadow. Actually, Winston Churchill’s position and rhetoric is emblematic of conservatives and their fellow travelers in the epoch of the West’s imperial decline which overlapped with the rise and fall of the Soviet Union and Communism. Churchill was a fiery anti-Soviet and anti-Communist of the very first hour and became a discreet admirer of Mussolini and Franco before, in 1942, proclaiming loud and clear: “I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.” By then Churchill had also long since become the chief crier of the ideologically fired “appeasement” mantra which was of one piece with his landmark “Iron Curtain” speech of March 1946. Needless to say, never a word about London and Paris, in the run-up to Munich, having willfully ignored or refused Moscow’s offer to collaborate on the Czech (Sudeten) issue. Nor did Churchill and his aficionados ever concede that the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact (Nazi-Soviet Pact) of August 1939 was sealed a year after the Munich Pact, and that both were equally infamous ideologically informed geopolitical and military chess moves.

To be sure, Stalin was an unspeakably cruel tyrant. But it was Hitler’s Nazi Germany that invaded and laid waste Soviet Russia through the corridor of Central and Eastern Europe, and it was the Red Army, not the armies of the Western allies, which at horrendous cost broke the spinal cord of the Wehrmacht. If the major nations of the European Union today hesitate to impose full-press economic sanctions on Moscow for its defiance on Crimea and Ukraine it is not only because of their likely disproportionate boomerang effect on them. The Western Powers, in particular Germany, have a Continental rather than Transatlantic recollection and narrative of Europe’s Second Thirty Years Crisis and War followed by the American-driven and –financed unrelenting Cold War against the “evil empire”—practically to this day.

During the reign of Nikita Khrushchev and Mikhail Gorbachev NATO, founded in 1949 and essentially led and financed by the U. S., inexorably pushed right up to or against Russia’s borders. This became most barefaced following 1989 to 1991, when Gorbachev freed the “captive nations” and signed on to the reunification of Germany. Between 1999 and 2009 all the liberated Eastern European countries—former Warsaw Pact members—bordering on Russia as well as three former Soviet republics were integrated into NATO, to eventually account for easily one-third of the 28 member nations of this North Atlantic military alliance. Alone Finland opted for a disarmed neutrality within first the Soviet and then post-Soviet Russian sphere. Almost overnight Finland was traduced not only for “appeasing” its neighboring nuclear superpower but also for being a dangerous role model for the rest of Europe and the then so-called Third World. Indeed, during the perpetual Cold War, in most of the “free world” the term and concept “Finlandization” became a cuss word well-nigh on a par with Communism, all the more so because it was embraced by those critics of the Cold War zealots who advocated a “third way” or “non-alignment.” All along, NATO, to wit Washington, intensely eyed both Georgia and Ukraine.

By March 2, 2014, the U. S. Department of State released a “statement on the situation in Ukraine by the North Atlantic Council” in which it declared that “Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO and a founding member of the Partnership for Peace . . . [and that] NATO Allies will continue to support Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, without outside interference.” The State Department also stressed that “in addition to its traditional defense of Allied nations, NATO leads the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan and has ongoing missions in the Balkans and the Mediterranean; it also conducts extensive training exercises and offers security support to partners around the globe, including the European Union in particular but also the United Nations and the African Union.”

Within a matter of days following Putin’s monitory move NATO, notably President Obama, countered in kind: a guided-missile destroyer crossed the Bosphoros into the Black Sea for naval exercises with the Romanian and Bulgarian navies; additional F-15 fighter jets were dispatched to reinforce NATO patrol missions being flown over the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; and a squadron of F-16 fighter bombers and a fulsome company of “boots on the ground” was hastened to Poland. Of course, theses deployments and reinforcements ostensibly were ordered at the urging of these NATO allies along Russia’s borders, all of whose “regimes” between the wars, and especially during the 1930s, had not exactly been paragons of democracy and because of their Russo-cum-anti-Communist phobia had moved closer to Nazi Germany. And once Hitler’s legions crashed into Russia through the borderlands not insignificant sectors of their political and civil societies were not exactly innocent by-standers or collaborators in Operation Barbarossa and the Judeocide.

To be sure, Secretary of State John Kerry, the Obama administration’s chief finger wagger, merely denounced Putin’s deployment in and around Ukraine-Crimea as an “act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of pretext.” For good measure he added, however, that “you just do not invade another country,” and he did so at a time there was nothing illegal about Putin’s move. But Hillary Clinton, Kerry’s predecessor, and most likely repeat candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, rather than outright demonize Putin as an unreconstructed KGB operative or a mini-Stalin went straight for the kill: “Now if this sounds familiar. . . it is like Hitler did back in the ‘30s.” Presently, as if to defang criticism of her verbal thrust, Clinton averred that “I just want people to have a little historic perspective,” so that they should learn from the Nazis’ tactics in the run-up to World War II.

As for Republican Senator John McCain, defeated by Barack Obama for the Presidency in 2008, he was on the same wavelength, in that he charged that his erstwhile rival’s “feckless” foreign policy practically invited Putin’s aggressive move, with the unspoken implication that President Obama was a latter-day Neville Chamberlain, the avatar of appeasement.

But ultimately it was Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who said out loud what was being whispered in so many corridors of the foreign policy establishment and on so many editorial boards of the mainline media. He advocated “creating a democratic noose around Putin’s Russia.” To this end Graham called for preparing the ground to make Georgia and Moldova members of NATO. Graham also advocated upgrading the military capability of the most “threatened” NATO members along Russia’s borders, along with an expansion of radar and missile defense systems. In short, he would “fly the NATO flag as strongly as I could around Putin”—in keeping with NATO’s policy since
1990. Assuming different roles, while Senator Graham kept up the hawkish drumbeat on the Hill and in the media Senator McCain hastened to Kiev to affirm the “other” America’s resolve, competence, and muscle as over the fecklessness of President Obama and his foreign-policy team. He went to Ukraine’s capital a first time in December, and the second time, in mid-March 2014, as head of a bipartisan delegation of eight like-minded Senators.

On Kiev’s Maidan Square, or Independence Square, McCain not only mingled with and addressed the crowd of ardent anti-Russian nationalists, not a few of them neo-fascists, but also consorted with Victoria Nuland, U. S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. Too much has been made of her revealing or unfortunate “fuck the EU” expletive in her tapped phone conversation with the local U. S. Ambassador Geoffrey Ryatt and her distribution of sweets on Maidan Square. What really matters is that Nuland is a consummate insider of Washington’s imperial foreign policy establishment in that she served in the Clinton and Bush administrations before coming on board the Obama administration, having close relations with Hillary Clinton.

Besides, she is married to Robert Kagan, a wizard of geopolitics who though generally viewed as a sworn neo-conservative is every bit as much at home as his spouse among mainline Republicans and Democrats. He was a foreign-policy advisor to John McCain and Mitt Romney during their presidential runs, respectively in 2008 and 2012, before President Obama let on that he embraced some of the main arguments in The World America Made (2012), Kagan’s latest book. In it he spells out ways to preserve the empire by way of controlling with some twelve naval task forces built around unsurpassable nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, its expanding Mare Nostrum in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean.

As a disciple of Alfred Thayer Mahan, quite naturally Kagan earned his spurs and his entrée to the inner circles of the makers and shakers of foreign and military policy by spending years at the Carnegie Endowment and Brookings Institution. That was before, in 1997, he became a co-founder, with William Kristol, of the neo-conservative Project for the New American Century, committed to the promotion of America’s “global leadership” in pursuit of its national security and interests. A few years later, after this think tank expired, Kagan and Kristol began to play a leading role in the Foreign Policy Initiative, its lineal ideological descendant.

But the point is not that Victoria Nuland’s demarche in Maidan Square may have been unduly influenced by her husband’s writings and political engagements. Indeed, on the Ukrainian question, she is more likely to have been attentive to Zbigniew Brzezinski, another highly visible geopolitician who, however, has been swimming exclusively in Democratic waters ever since 1960, when he advised John F. Kennedy during his presidential campaign and then became national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter. Heavily fixed on Eurasia, Brzezinski is more likely to stand on Clausewitz’s rather than Mahan’s shoulders. But both Kagan and Brzezinski are red-blooded imperial Americans. In 1997, in his The Great Chessboard Brzezinski argued that “the struggle for global primacy [would] continue to be played” on the Eurasian “chessboard,” and that as a “new and important space on [this] chessboard . . . Ukraine was a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia.” Indeed, “if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its [then] 52 million people and major resources, as well as access to the Black Sea,” Russia would “automatically again regain the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.” The unwritten script of Brzezinski, one of Obama’s foreign policy advisors: intensify the West’s—America’s—efforts, by means fair and foul, to detach Ukraine from the Russian sphere of influence, including especially the Black Sea Peninsula with its access to the Eastern Mediterranean via the Aegean Sea.

Presently rather than focus on the geopolitical springs and objectives of Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine-Crimea Brzezinski turned the spotlight on the nefarious intentions and methods of Putin’s move on the Great Chessboard. To permit Putin to have his way in Ukraine-Crimea would be “similar to the two phases of Hitler’s seizure of Sudetenland after Munich in 1938 and the final occupation of Prague and Czechoslovakia in early 1938.” Incontrovertibly “much depends on how clearly the West conveys to the dictator in the Kremlin—a partially comical imitation of Mussolini and a more menacing reminder of Hitler—that NATO cannot be passive if war erupts in Europe.” For should Ukraine be “crushed with the West simply watching the new freedom and security of Romania, Poland, and the three Baltic republics would also be threatened.” Having resuscitated the domino theory, Brzezinski urged the West to “promptly recognize the current government of Ukraine legitimate” and assure it “privately . . . that the Ukrainian army can count on immediate and direct Western aid so as to enhance its defense capabilities.” At the same time “NATO forces . . . should be put on alert [and] high readiness for some immediate airlift to Europe of U. S. airborne units would be politically and militarily meaningful.” And as an afterthought Brzezinski suggested that along with “such efforts to avoid miscalculations that could lead to war” the West should reaffirm its “desire for a peaceful accommodation . . . [and] reassure Russia that it is not seeking to draw Ukraine into NATO or turn it against Russia.” Indeed, mirabile dictu, Brzezinski, like Henry Kissinger, his fellow geopolitician with a cold-war imperial mindset, adumbrated a form of Finlandization of Ukraine—but, needless to say, not of the other eastern border states—without, however, letting on that actually Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, had recently made some such proposal.

Of course, the likes of Kagan, Brzezinski, and Kissinger keep mum about America’s inimitable hand in the “regime change” in Kiev which resulted in a government in which the ultra-nationalists and neo-fascists, who had been in the front lines on Maidan Square, are well represented.

Since critics of America’s subversive interventions tend to be dismissed as knee-jerk left-liberals wired to exaggerate their dark anti-democratic side it might help to listen to a voice which on this issue can hardly be suspect. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and renowned inquisitor of anti-Semitism, concedes that “there is no doubt that Ukraine, like Croatia, was one of those places where local militias played a key role in the murder of thousands of Jews during World War II.” And anti-Semitism “having by no means disappeared from Ukraine . . . in recent months there have been a number of anti-Semitic incidents and there are at least two parties in Ukraine, Svoboda and Right Sector, that have within them some extreme nationalists and anti-Semites.”

But having said that, Foxman insists that it is “pure demagoguery and an effort to rationalize criminal behavior on the part of Russia to invoke the anti-Semitism ogre into the struggle in Ukraine, . . . for it is fair to say that there was more anti-Semitism manifest in the worldwide Occupy Wall Street movement than we have seen so far in the revolution taking place in Ukraine.” To be sure, Putin “plays the anti-Semitism card” much as he plays that of Moscow rushing to “protect ethnic Russians from alleged extremist Ukrainians.” Even at that, however, “it is, of course, reprehensible to suggest that Putin’s policies in Ukraine are anything akin to Nazi policies during World War II.” But then Foxman hastens to stress that it “is not absurd to evoke Hitler’s lie” about the plight of the Sudeten Germans as comparable to “exactly” what “Putin is saying and doing in Crimea” and therefore needs to be “condemned . . . as forcefully . . . as the world should have condemned the German move into the Sudetenland.”

Abraham Foxman’s tortured stance is consonant with that of American and Israeli hardliners who mean to contain and roll back a resurgent great-power Russia, as much in Syria and Iran as in its “near abroad” in Europe and Asia.

As if listening to Brzezinski and McCain, Washington is building up its forces in the Baltic states, especially Poland, with a view to give additional bite to sanctions. But this old-style intervention will cut little ice unless fully concerted, militarily and economically, with NATO’s weighty members, which seems unlikely. Of course, America has drones and weapons of mass destruction—but so does Russia.

In any case, for unreconstructed imperials, and for AIPAC, the crux of the matter is not Russia’s European “near abroad” but its reemergence in the Greater Middle East, presently in Syria and Iran, and this at a time when, according to Kagan, the Persian Gulf was paling in strategic and economic importance compared to the Asia-Pacific region where China is an awakening sleeping giant that even now is the globe’s second largest economy—over half the size of the U. S. economy—and the unreal third largest holder of America’s public debt—by far the largest foreign holder of U. S. Treasury bonds.

In sum, the unregenerate U. S. empire means to actively contain both Russia and China in the true-and-tried modus operandi, starting along and over Russia’s European “near abroad” and the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait connecting the South China Sea to the East China Sea.

Because of ever growing budgetary constraints Washington has long since complained about its major NATO partners dragging their financial and military feet. This fiscal squeeze will intensify exponentially with the pivoting to the Pacific which demands steeply rising “defense” expenditures unlikely to be shared by a NATO-like Asia-Pacific alliance. Although most likely there will be a cutback in bases in the Atlantic world, Europe, and the Middle East, with the geographic realignment of America’s global basing the money thus saved will be spent many times over on the reinforcement and expansion of an unrivaled fleet of a dozen task forces built around nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. After all, the Pacific and Indian oceans combined being easily more than twice the size of the Atlantic and though, according to Kagan, China is not quite yet an “existential threat” it is “developing one or two aircraft carriers, . . . anti-ship ballistic missiles . . . and submarines.” Even now there are some flashpoints comparable to Crimea, Baltic, Syria, and Iran: the dustup between Japan and China over control of the sea lanes and the air space over the potentially oil-rich South China Sea; and the Sino-Japanese face-off over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Whereas it is all but normal for Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea to have tensions, even conflictual relations, with China and North Korea, it is something radically different for the United States to NATOize them in the pursuit of its own imperial interest in the furthest reaches of its now contested Mare Nostrum.

The Pacific-Asian pivot will, of course, further overstretch the empire in a time of spiraling fiscal and budgetary constraints which reflect America’s smoldering systemic economic straits and social crisis, generative of growing political dysfunction and dissension. To be sure, rare and powerless are those in political and academic society who question the GLORIA PRO NATIONE: America the greatest, exceptional, necessary, and do-good nation determined to maintain the world’s strongest and up-to-date military and cyber power.

And therein lies the rub. The U.S.A. accounts for close to 40% of the world’s military expenditures, compared to some 10% by China and 5.5% by Russia. The Aerospace and Defense Industry contributes close to 3% oi GDP and is the single largest positive contributor to the nation’s balance of trade. America’s three largest arms companies—Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing—are the world’s largest, employing some 400,000 hands, and all but corner the world’s market in their “products.” Of late defense contracting firms have grown by leaps and bounds in a nation-empire increasingly loathe to deploy conventional boots on the ground. These corporate contractors provide an ever greater ratio of contract support field personnel, many of them armed, over regular army personnel. Eventually, in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom private contract and regular military personnel were practically on a par.

This hasty evocation of the tip of America’s military iceberg is but a reminder of President Dwight Eisenhower’s forewarning, in 1961, of an “immense military establishment” in lockstep with “a large arms industry. . . [acquiring] unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought,” injurious to democracy. At the time Ike could hardly have imagined the gargantuan growth and political weight of this military-industrial complex or the emergence, within it, of a corporate-contract mercenary army.

The formidable oligarchy of arms makers and merchants at the heart of the military-industrial complex fields a vast army of lobbyists in Washington. In recent years the arms lobby, writ large, spent countless millions during successive election cycles, its contributions being all but equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. And this redoubtable octopus-like “third house” is not about to sign on to substantial cuts in military spending, all the less so since it moves in sync with other hefty defense-related lobbies, such as oil, which is not likely to support the down-sizing of America’s navy which, incidentally, is far and away the largest plying, nay patrolling, the world’s oceans—trade routes.

There is, of course, a considerable work force, including white-collar employees, that earns its daily bread in the bloated “defense” sector. It does so in an economy whose industrial/manufacturing sectors are shrinking, considerably because of outsourcing, most of it overseas. This twisted or peculiar federal budget and free-market economy not only spawn unemployment and underemployment but breed growing popular doubt about the material and psychic benefits of empire.

In 1967, when Martin Luther King, Jr., broke his silence on the war in Vietnam, he spoke directly to the interpenetration of domestic and foreign policy in that conflict. He considered this war an imperialist intervention in far-distant Southeast Asia at the expense of the “Great Society” which President Johnson, who escalated this war, proposed to foster at home. After lamenting the terrible sacrifice of life on both sides, King predicated that “a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” He even intimated that “there is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent . . . the richest and most powerful nation in the world . . . from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.”

Almost 50 years later President Obama and his staff, as well as nearly all Democratic and Republican Senators and Representatives, policy wonks and pundits, remain confirmed and unquestioning imperials. Should any of them read Gibbon they would pay no mind to his hunch that “the decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness” which by blowback corroded the polity, society, and culture that carried it. Of course today, with no barbarians at the gates, there is no need for legions of ground forces so that the bankrupting “defense” budget is for a military of airplanes, ships, missiles, drones, cyber-weapons, and weapons of mass destruction. Si vis pacem para bellum—against whom and for which objectives?

In the midst of the Ukraine “crisis” President Obama flew to The Hague for the third meeting of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) chartered in 2010 to prevent nuclear terrorism around the world. The NSS was Obama’s idea and project, spelled out in an official statement issued by the White House Press Secretary on the eve of its founding meeting in April 2010 in Washington. This statement stressed that “over 2,000 tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium exist in dozens of countries” and that there have been “18 documented cases of theft or loss of highly enriched uranium or plutonium.” But above all :”we know that al-Qaeda, and possibly other terrorist or criminal groups, are seeking nuclear weapons—as well as the materials and expertise needed to make them.” But the U. S., not being “the only country that would suffer from nuclear terrorism” and unable to “prevent it on its own,” the NSS means to “highlight the global threat” and take the urgently necessary preventive measures.

Conceived and established in the aftermath of 9/11, by the latest count the NSS rallies 83 nations bent on collaborating to head off this scourge by reducing the amount of vulnerable nuclear material worldwide and tightening security of all nuclear materials and radioactive sources in their respective countries. At The Hague, with a myriad of journalists covering the event, some 20 heads of state and government and some 5,000 delegates took stock of advances made thus far in this arduous mission and swore to press on. But there was a last minute dissonance. Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia, and Yi Jinping, the President of China, along with 18 other chief delegates, refused to sign a declaration calling on member nations to admit inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to check on their measures to rein in the menace of nuclear terrorism.

Inevitably the standoff over Ukraine-Crimea dimmed, even overshadowed, the hoped-for éclat of the Nuclear Security Summit. President Obama’s mind was centered on an ad hoc session of the G 8 in the Dutch capital; a visit to NATO Headquarters in Brussels; an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, in Rome; and a hastily improvised meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh. Except for his visit with the Holy Father, from which he may have hoped to draw a touch of grace and indulgence, in his other meetings the President reasserted and proclaimed that America was and meant to remain what Hubert Védrine, a former French Foreign Minister, called the world’s sole “hyperpower.” The Ukraine-Crimea imbroglio merely gave this profession and affirmation a greater exigency.

It is ironical that the scheduled Nuclear Security Summit was the curtain-raiser for the President’s double-quick imperial round of improvised meetings in the dawn of what Paul Bracken, another embedded and experienced geopolitician, avers to be The Second Nuclear Age (2012), this one in a multipolar rather than bipolar world. Actually Bracken merely masterfully theorized what had long since become the guiding idea and practice throughout the foreign policy-cum-military establishment. Or, as Molière’s Monsieur Jourdain would put it, for many years the members of this establishment had been “speaking prose without even knowing it.”

The negotiated elimination or radical reduction of nuclear weapons is completely off the agenda. It is dismissed as a quixotic ideal in a world of nine nuclear powers: U. S., Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea—and Israel. It was on Obama’s watch that the U. S. and post-Soviet Russia agreed that neither would deploy more than roughly 1,500 warheads, down from many times that number. But now, with Russia’s reemergence as a great power and China’s prodigious forced-draft renascence, in a multipolar world the U. S. seems bent on keeping a considerable nuclear superiority over both. Whereas most likely Washington and Moscow are in the throes of “modernizing” their nuclear arsenals and delivery capabilities, in this sphere China is only beginning to play catch-up.

Standing tall on America’s as yet unsurpassed military and economic might, Obama managed to convince his partners in the G 8, the conspicuous but listless economic forum of the world’s leading economies, to suspend, not to say expel, Russia for Putin’s transgression in Ukraine-Crimea. Most likely, however, they agreed to make this largely symbolic gesture so as to avoid signing on to ever-stiffer sanctions on Moscow. With this American-orchestrated charade the remaining G 7 only further pointed up the prepossession of their exclusive club from which they cavalierly shut out the BRICS.

The decline of the American Empire, like that of all empires, promises to be at once gradual and relative. As for the causes of this decline, they are inextricably internal / domestic and external / foreign. There is no separating the refractory budgetary deficit and its attendant swelling political and social dissension from the irreducible military budget necessary to face down rival empires. Clearly, to borrow Chalmers Johnson’s inspired conceptually informed phrase, the “empire of bases,” with a network of well over 600 bases in probably over 100 countries, rather than fall overnight from omnipotence to impotence risks becoming increasingly erratic and intermittently violent in “defense” of the forever hallowed exceptional “nation.”

As yet there is no significant let-up in the pretension to remain first among would-be equals on the seas, in the air, in cyberspace, and in cyber-surveillance. And the heft of the military muscle for this supererogation is provided by a thriving defense industry in an economy plagued by deep-rooted unemployment and a society racked by a crying income and wealth inequality, growing poverty, creeping socio-cultural anomie, and humongous systemic political corruption. Notwithstanding the ravings of the imperial “Knownothings” these conditions will sap domestic support for an unreconstructed interventionist foreign and military policy. They will also hollow out America’s soft power by corroding the aura of the democratic, salvific, and capitalist City on the Hill.

Whereas the Soviet Union and communism were the polymorphic arch-enemy during the First Nuclear Age terrorism and Islamism bid well to take its place during the Second Nuclear Age. It would appear that the threat and use of nuclear weapons will be even less useful though hardly any less demonic today than yesterday. Sub specie aeternitatis the cry of the terrorist attack on New York’s World Trade Center and Boston’s Marathon was a bagatelle compared to the fury of the nuclear bombardment of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. It is, of course, commendable that so many nations now seek to prevent “nuclear terrorism” by way of the Nuclear Security Summit. However, there being no fail-safe systems of access control this endeavor is bound to be stillborn without a simultaneously resolute drive to radically reduce or liquidate the world’s staggering stock of nuclear weapons and weapons-grade nuclear materials. After all, the greater that stock the greater the opportunity and temptation for a terrorist, criminal, or whistle-blower to pass the Rubicon.

According to informed estimates presently there are well over 20,000 nuclear bombs on this planet, with America and Russia between them home to over 90% of them. No less formidable are the vast global stockpiles of enriched uranium and plutonium.

In September 2009 Obama adjured the U. N. Security Council that “new strategies and new approaches” were needed to face a “proliferation” of an unprecedented “scope and complexity,” in that “just one nuclear weapon exploded in a city—be it New York or Moscow, Tokyo or Beijing, London or Paris—could kill hundreds of thousands of people.” Hereafter it was not uncommon for Washington insiders to avow that they considered a domestic nuclear strike with an unthinkable dirty bomb a greater and more imminent security risk than a prosaic nuclear attack by Russia. All this while the Nuclear Security Summit was treading water and the Pentagon continues to upgrade America’s nuclear arsenal and delivery capabilities—with chemical weapons as a backstop. With the cutback of conventional military capabilities nuclear arms are not about to be mothballed.

Indeed, with this in mind the overreaction to Russia’s move in Ukraine-Crimea is disquieting. From the start the Obama administration unconscionably exaggerated and demonized Moscow’s—Putin’s—objectives and methods while proclaiming Washington’s consummate innocence in the unfolding imbroglio. Almost overnight, even before the overblown charge that Moscow was massing troops along Ukraine’s borders and more generally in Russia’s European “near abroad” NATO—i. e., Washington—began to ostentatiously send advanced military equipment to the Baltic counties and Poland. By April 4, 2014, the foreign ministers of the 28 member nations of NATO met in Brussels with a view to strengthen the military muscle and cooperation not only in the aforementioned countries but also in Moldova, Romania, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. In addition NATO air patrols would be stepped up while anti-missile batteries would be deployed in Poland and Romania. Apparently the emergency NATO summit also considered large-scale joint military exercises and the establishment of NATO military bases close to Russia’s borders which, according to Le Figaro, France’s conservative daily, would be “a demonstration of force which the Allies had themselves foregone during the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union.” Would tactical nuclear weapons and nuclear-capable aircraft—or nuclear-capable drones—be deployed on these bases?

To what end? In preparation of a conventional war of the trenches, Guderian-type armored operations or a total war of Operation Barbarossa variety? Of course, this being post Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there must be a backup or contingency plan for nuclear sword play, with both sides, should reciprocal deterrence fail, confident in their first and second strike capabilities. Not only Washington but Moscow knows that in 1945 the ultimate reason for using the absolute weapon was transparently geopolitical rather than purely military.

With the weight of the unregenerate imperials in the White House, Pentagon, Congress, the “third house,” and the think tanks there is the risk that this U. S.- masterminded NATO “operation freedom in Russia’s European “near abroad” will spin out of control, also because the American Knownothings are bound to have their Russian counterparts.

In this game of chicken on the edge of the nuclear cliff the U. S. cannot claim the moral and legal high ground since it was President Truman and his inner circle of advisors who unleashed the scourge of nuclear warfare, and with time there was neither an official nor a popular gesture of atonement for this wanton and excessive military excess. And this despite General Eisenhower’s eventual plaint that the “unleashing of the atomic infernos on mostly civilian populations was simply this: an act of supreme terrorism (emphasis added) . . . and of barbarity callously calculated by the U. S. planners to demonstrate their country’s demonic power to the rest of the world—and the Soviet Union in particular.” Is there a filiation between this cri de coeur and the forewarning about the toxicity of the “military industrial complex” in President Eisenhower’s farewell address?

This is a time for a national debate and a citizen-initiated referendum on whether or not the U. S. should adopt unilateral nuclear disarmament. It might be a salutary and exemplary exercise in participatory democracy.

Arno J. Mayer is emeritus professor of history at Princeton University. He is the author of The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions and Plowshares Into Swords: From Zionism to Israel (Verso).




This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

How The West Gassed Thousands To Death In Damascus

Obama CIA/FSA propaganda continues to unravel

NEW EASTERN OUTLOOK
By Tony Cartalucci
04/19/2014

The bombshell report by Pulitzer Prize-winning veteran journalist Seymour Hersh titled, “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” contains many shocking revelations for those following the West’s version of reality regarding the Syrian conflict. It particularly sheds new light on the August 2013 chemical attack that left over a thousand dead (US estimates) and thousands more affected. 
 
 
Children gassed by Obama's CIA/FSA mercs
It reveals that not only was the Syrian government not behind the attack, but that it was a false flag operation designed specifically to serve as an impetus for Western military intervention. 
 
It also reveals that the West’s desire to intervene in the wake of the chemical attack was not to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons as was stated to the public, but instead was intended to completely destroy the Syrian military and save its militant proxies who were already well on their way to losing the war.


However, for all the revelations it contains, it provides only a glimpse into the greater conspiracy the West has been engaged in, grossly understating the unfolding truth of the West’s role behind the devastating conflict that is consuming Syria. To understand the entire picture, one must examine Hersh’s work stretching back as far as 2007.

Hersh’s Syrian Trilogy

Taken alone, Hersh’s latest report is damning. Taken together with two previous pieces, spanning a total of 7 years of analysis and investigative journalism, Hersh’s work paints a picture of a West engaged in a diabolical, premeditated conspiracy to mire Syria in a sectarian bloodbath for the purpose of achieving regime change in Damascus and undermining neighboring Iran. It becomes clear upon reading Hersh’s work, that the chemical attack in Damascus was not only perpetrated by the West, but was done to trigger a greater war on top of the carnage the West has already intentionally sown. 
 
 
 

Hersh’s first piece published in the New Yorker in March 2007 titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” reveals that the current conflict in Syria was in fact first engineered during the Bush administration. It states in no uncertain terms that (emphasis added):

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.” 
 
 
CIA/FSA mercs loading gas launcher
The same report would reveal that the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel had already begun funding Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood to begin preparations for the impending conflict.
 
 
 
 
Analysts within the US intelligence community foresaw a humanitarian catastrophe in the making, spurred by the arming of large groups of sectarian extremists.

Hersh’s second piece would come in the aftermath of the August 2013 chemical attack in Damascus. Published in December of 2013, Hersh’s piece titled, “Whose Sarin?” stated (emphasis added):

Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad. 
 
 
CNN, CIA Al Jazeera, Euronews, Fox News, among others responsible for MSM coverup of CIA/FSA gassings
 
The lengthy report goes on in detail, covering the manner in which Western leaders intentionally manipulated or even outright fabricated intelligence to justify military intervention in Syria – eerily similar to the lies told to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the escalation of the war in Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

The report also reveals that Al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, was identified by US intelligence agencies long ago for possessing chemical weapons. These are the same terrorists Hersh warned about in his 2007 article, and mentioned again as being at the center of Western designs in his most recent piece.

The West’s Coverup

In an attempt to counter Hersh’s report in 2013, the Western media conducted a smear campaign against him and his work. It centered around “weapons expert” Eliot Higgins – an unemployed blogger with no military training who watches YouTube videos – coupled with the commentary of Dan Kaszeta, an expert-for-hire who currently heads the security contractor firm, “Strongpoint Security.”

The entirety of their argument was not who, but how the attack was carried out, proving nothing beyond the fact that the false flag operation was executed very convincingly. Higgins, in a post published by Foreign Policy arrogantly titled, “Sy Hersh’s Chemical Misfire,” claims (emphasis added):

I asked chemical weapons specialist Dan Kaszeta for his opinion on that. He compared the possibility of Jabhat al-Nusra using chemical weapons to another terrorist attack involving sarin: the 1996 gassing of the Tokyo subway by the Aum Shinrikyo cult.

“The 1994 to 1996 Japanese experience tells us that even a very large and sophisticated effort comprising many millions of dollars, a dedicated large facility, and a lot of skilled labor results only in liters of sarin, not tons,” Kaszeta said. “Even if the Aug. 21 attack is limited to the eight Volcano rockets that we seem to be talking about, we’re looking at an industrial effort two orders of magnitude larger than the Aum Shinrikyo effort. This is a nontrivial and very costly undertaking, and I highly doubt whether any of the possible nonstate actors involved here have the factory to have produced it. Where is this factory? Where is the waste stream? Where are the dozens of skilled people — not just one al Qaeda member — needed to produce this amount of material?”

Of course, to call Al Nusra a nonstate actor is entirely untruthful. Al Nusra and other extremist networks inside of Syria have had the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel’s backing since at least as early as 2007. Since 2011, Qatar and Turkey have also played immense roles in supporting Al Nusra – with NATO-member Turkey providing them sanctuary and even logistical support.

Higgins and his “expert” ask where the factories, waste streams, and skilled people are – the answer is somewhere within one of the many axis nations supporting Al Nusra. They have the capacity to both manufacturer the gas and transport it into Syria – or conversely – provide Al Nusra with the supplies and personal to do it inside of Syria.

And this, in fact, is precisely what Hersh proves in his latest article, not through YouTube videos and paid-for commentary from security contractors, but from sources within the US government itself.

Hersh beings his latest piece, “The Red Line and the Rat Line,” by quoting US defense officials who claimed (emphasis added):

For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’
Hersh also reports that (emphasis added):

‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF [Al Nusrah Front] attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.’ The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: ‘Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,’ it said, ‘were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.’
Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators constitute the “the factories, waste streams, and skilled people” used to enable Al Nusra to carry out the attack. Hersh’s report also reveals that training had been given to Al Nusra in the handling of chemical agents by Turkey:

‘The MIT [Turkey's national intelligence agency] was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training – including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said.

Hersh’s Immense Work is Still Incomplete

But this is only part of the story. While Hersh lcaims Turkey was training terrorists on Syria’s northern borders to carry out the attack, it has been revealed that the United States itself was too, as well as training Saudi-backed terrorists staging in Jordan to the south of Syria. CNN’s December 2012 report titled, “Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons,” stated that:

The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.

The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.


Though Hersh’s article suggests that the chemical attack was a false flag operation carried out by terrorists from Turkey with Turkish backing, it is just as likely, if not more so keeping in mind logistical considerations, that terrorists out of Jordan with US-Saudi backing carried out the attack instead.

Washington’s initial eagerness and expediency to launch a war against Syria may have been blunted by resistance within the US Department of Defense as suggested by Hersh, but was certainly laid to rest by an utter lack of public confidence, with the proposed war with Syria perceived as the most unpopular conflict in US history. Slate’s “Least Popular War Ever?” stated:

As Secretary of State John Kerry made the Obama administration’s most forceful statement yet on Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds just 9 percent of Americans supporting intervention in Syria, with about 60 percent opposed.

Hersh also reveals that not only was the US eager to militarily intervene based on flawed and fabricated intelligence, but that it was eagerly expanding the scope of its intervention – from disarming Syria of its chemical stockpiles, to decimating all of Syria’s military – to give the militants it was backing an upper-hand in a conflict they were sorely losing. Hersh’s report states:

It [US target list in Syria] became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.

If Turkey Carried Out the Damascus Attack, America Helped…

Turkey has been a NATO member since 1952 – and its involvement in Syria has most certainly not been unilateral. Its role in handing weapons, funding, and support to militants along the Turkish-Syrian border has been admittedly augmented by US CIA officers. In June of 2012, the New York Times in an article titled, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition,” claimed:

A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.

The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.

The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said.

The New York Times in their March 2013 article titled, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With C.I.A. Aid,” admits that:

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.


A June 2013 LA Times article titled, “U.S. has secretly provided arms training to Syria rebels since 2012,” admitted:
 
CIA agents and special operations troops have trained the rebels in anti-tank and antiaircraft weaponry in Jordan and Turkey.

The LA Times continued:

CIA operatives and U.S. special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian rebels with anti-tank and antiaircraft weapons since late last year, months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming them, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders.

The covert U.S. training at bases in Jordan and Turkey, along with Obama’s decision this month to supply arms and ammunition to the rebels, has raised hope among the beleaguered Syrian opposition that Washington ultimately will provide heavier weapons as well. So far, the rebels say they lack the weapons they need to regain the offensive in the country’s bitter civil war. 
 
 
 

If Turkey aided and abetted terrorists in carrying out a false-flag chemical weapons attack in Damascus, it is inconceivable that the US CIA did not know about it, and very unlikely they did not participate, however indirectly.

Ultimately, Hersh’s work is incomplete, and leaves the impression that Turkey went rogue, carrying out an attack to bring an unwilling US into a war they did not desire. In reality, to this day, the United States is still openly backing and arming militants it itself has designated as terrorist organizations, providing them with increasingly deadly armaments that will perpeuate the bloodbath they themselves, on record, began engineering as early as 2007.

What Hersh’s work reveals, however immense, is but one of several grotesque tentacles breaking the surface of very murky waters beneath which lurks a leviathan of state-sponsored terrorism that is responsible for the gassing of thousands, and the deaths of tens of thousands within and along Syria’s borders, and a region now teetering on the edge of a much larger and more costly war. It illustrates how the world is run by “the bad guys” who perpetrate crimes against humanity not only with absolute impunity, but with so-called international agencies covering up their tracks.

The United Nations is expected to be utterly silent over these revelations, while it continues to disingenuously wring its hands over a humanitarian crisis the West is both intentionally creating and then leveraging for geopolitical gain. What the world is left with is the need for a “non-international” response – one multipolar in nature, with Syria’s allies assisting in anti-terror operations and humanitarian relief conducted through Damascus. It may fall short of what could be accomplish if and when the nations of the West decide to genuinely commit to peace in Syria, but it is a far better alternative to capitulating to the West’s now naked conspiracy against the Syrian people.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.


This news bureau contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

 

 

How The U.S. Made Its Vladimir Putin "Problem" Worse

"Mainstream media" propagandists continue to ignore the fact that the CIA engineered and financed coup in Ukraine sparked entire "crisis"

TIMES OF INDIA
04/19/2014

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK -

In September 2001, as the U.S. reeled from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Vladimir Putin supported Washington's imminent invasion of Afghanistan in ways that would have been inconceivable during the Cold War. 


Vladimir Putin
He agreed that US planes carrying humanitarian aid could fly through Russian air space. He said the US military could use airbases in former Soviet republics in Central Asia. And he ordered his generals to brief their US counterparts on their own ill-fated 1980s occupation of Afghanistan.

During Putin's visit to President George W Bush's Texas ranch two months later, the US leader, speaking at a local high school, declared his Russian counterpart "a new style of leader, a reformer..., a man who's going to make a huge difference in making the world more peaceful, by working closely with the United States."


For a moment, it seemed, the distrust and antipathy of the Cold War were fading.

Then, just weeks later, Bush announced that the United States was withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, so that it could build a system in Eastern Europe to protect Nato allies and US bases from Iranian missile attack. In a nationally televised address, Putin warned that the move would undermine arms control and nonproliferation efforts. 


Bush with Putin
"This step has not come as a surprise to us," Putin said. "But we believe this decision to be mistaken." The sequence of events early in Washington's relationship with Putin reflects a dynamic that has persisted through the ensuing 14 years and the current crisis in Ukraine: US actions, some intentional and some not, sparking an overreaction from an aggrieved Putin.


As Russia masses tens of thousands of troops along the Russian-Ukrainian border, Putin is thwarting what the Kremlin says is an American plot to surround Russia with hostile neighbors. Experts said he is also promoting "Putinism" — a conservative, ultra-nationalist form of state capitalism — as a global alternative to Western democracy.

Not Paying Attention?

It's also a dynamic that some current and former US officials said reflects an American failure to recognize that while the Soviet Union is gone as an ideological enemy, Russia has remained a major power that demands the same level of foreign policy attention as China and other large nations — a relationship that should not just be a means to other ends, but an end in itself.

"I just don't think we were really paying attention," said James F Collins, who served as the US ambassador to Moscow in the late 1990s. The bilateral relationship "was seen as not a big deal."

Putin was never going to be an easy partner. He is a Russian nationalist with authoritarian tendencies who, like his Russian predecessors for centuries, harbors a deep distrust of the West, according to senior US officials. Much of his world view was formed as a KGB officer in the twilight years of the Cold War and as a government official in the chaotic post-Soviet Russia of the 1990s, which Putin and many other Russians view as a period when the United States repeatedly took advantage of Russian weakness. 




Since becoming Russia's president in 2000, Putin has made restoring Russia's strength - and its traditional sphere of influence — his central goal. He has also cemented his hold on power, systematically quashed dissent and used Russia's energy supplies as an economic billy club against its neighbors. Aided by high oil prices and Russia's United Nations Security Council veto, Putin has perfected the art of needling American presidents, at times obstructing US policies.

Officials from the administrations of Presidents Bush and Barack Obama said American officials initially overestimated their potential areas of cooperation with Putin. Then, through a combination of overconfidence, inattention and occasional clumsiness, Washington contributed to a deep spiral in relations with Moscow.

Common Cause

Bush and Putin's post-2001 camaraderie foundered on a core dispute: Russia's relationship with its neighbors. In November 2002, Bush backed Nato's invitation to seven nations — including former Soviet republics Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — to begin talks to join the Western alliance. In 2004, with Bush as a driving force, the seven Eastern European nations joined Nato. 


Putin and other Russian officials asked why Nato continued to grow when the enemy it was created to fight, the Soviet Union, had ceased to exist. And they asked what Nato expansion would do to counter new dangers, such as terrorism and proliferation.

"This purely mechanical expansion does not let us face the current threats," Putin said, "and cannot allow us to prevent such things as the terrorist attacks in Madrid or restore stability in Afghanistan."


Thomas E Graham, who served as Bush's senior director for Russia on the National Security Council, said a larger effort should have been made to create a new post-Soviet, European security structure that replaced Nato and included Russia.

"What we should have been aiming for - and what we should be aiming for at this point," Graham said, "is a security structure that's based on three pillars: the United States, a more or less unified Europe, and Russia."

Graham said small, incremental attempts to test Russian intentions in the early 2000s in Afghanistan, for example, would have been low-risk ways to gauge Putin's sincerity. "We never tested Putin," Graham said. "Our policy never tested Putin to see whether he was really committed to a different type of relationship."

But Vice President Dick Cheney, Senator John McCain and other conservatives, as well as hawkish Democrats, remained suspicious of Russia and eager to expand Nato. They argued that Moscow should not be given veto power over which nations could join the alliance, and that no American president should rebuff demands from Eastern European nations to escape Russian dominance.

Democracy in Our Time

Another core dispute between Bush and Putin related to democracy. What Bush and other American officials saw as democracy spreading across the former Soviet bloc, Putin saw as pro-American regime change.

The 2003 US invasion of Iraq, without U.N. authorization and over the objections of France, Germany and Russia, was a turning point for Putin. He said the war made a mockery of American claims of promoting democracy abroad and upholding international law.

Putin was also deeply skeptical of US efforts to nurture democracy in the former Soviet bloc, where the State Department and American nonprofit groups provided training and funds to local civil-society groups. In public speeches, he accused the United States of meddling.

In late 2003, street protests in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, known as the Rose Revolution, led to the election of a pro-Western leader. Four months later, street protests in Ukraine that became known as the Orange Revolution resulted in a pro-Western president taking office there.

Putin saw both developments as American-backed plots and slaps in the face, so soon after his assistance in Afghanistan, according to senior US officials.

In 2006, Bush and Putin's sparring over democracy intensified. In a press conference at the first G-8 summit hosted by Russia, the two presidents had a testy exchange. Bush said that the United States was promoting freedom in Iraq, which was engulfed in violence. Putin openly mocked him.

"We certainly would not want to have the same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq," Putin said, smiling as the audience erupted into laughter, "I will tell you quite honestly."

Bush tried to laugh off the remark. "Just wait," he replied, referring to Iraq.

A Pitstop in Moscow?

Graham said the Bush administration telegraphed in small but telling ways that other foreign countries, particularly Iraq, took precedence over the bilateral relationship with Moscow.

In 2006, for example, the White House asked the Kremlin for permission for Bush to make a refueling stop in Moscow on his way to an Asia-Pacific summit meeting. But it made clear that Bush was not looking to meet with Putin, whom he would see on the sidelines of the summit.

After Russian diplomats complained, Graham was sent to Moscow to determine if Putin really wanted a meeting and to make clear that if there was one, it would be substance-free.

In the end, the two presidents met and agreed to ask their underlings to work on a nonproliferation package.

"When the Russian team came to Washington in December 2006, in a fairly high-level ... group, we didn't have anything to offer," Graham said. "We hadn't had any time to think about it. We were still focused on Iraq."

Graham said that the Bush administration's approach slighted Moscow. "We missed some opportunities in the Bush administration's initial years to put this on a different track," Graham said. "And then later on, some of our actions, intentional or not, sent a clear message to Moscow that we didn't care."

Three Train Wrecks

Bush's relationship with Putin unraveled in 2008. In February, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia with the support of the United States — a step that Russia, a longtime supporter of Serbia, had been trying to block diplomatically for more than a decade. In April, Bush won support at a Nato summit in Bucharest for the construction of a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

Bush called on Nato to give Ukraine and Georgia a so-called Membership Action Plan, a formal process that would put each on a path toward eventually joining the alliance. France and Germany blocked him and warned that further Nato expansion would spur an aggressive Russian stance when Moscow regained power.

In the end, the alliance simply issued a statement saying the two countries "will become members of Nato." That compromise risked the worst of both worlds - antagonizing Moscow without giving Kiev and Tbilisi a roadmap to join Nato.

The senior US official said these steps amounted to "three train wrecks" from Putin's point of view, exacerbating the Russian leader's sense of victimization. "Doing all three of those things in kind of close proximity - Kosovo independence, missile defense and the Nato expansion decisions - sort of fed his sense of people trying to take advantage of Russia," he said.

In August 2008, Putin struck back. After Georgia launched an offensive to regain control of the breakaway, pro-Russian region of South Ossetia, Putin launched a military operation that expanded Russian control of South Ossetia and a second breakaway area, Abkhazia.

The Bush administration, tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan, publicly protested but declined to intervene militarily in Georgia. Putin emerged as the clear winner and achieved his goal of standing up to the West.

Only One Major Issue

After his 2008 election victory, Barack Obama carried out a sweeping review of Russia policy. Its primary architect was Michael McFaul, a Stanford University professor and vocal proponent of greater democracy in Russia who took the National Security Council position previously held by Thomas Graham. 


Putin has easily checkmated Obama, NATO, EU, UK
In a recent interview, McFaul said that when Obama's new national security team surveyed the administration's primary foreign policy objectives, they found that few involved Russia. Only one directly related to bilateral relations with Moscow: a new nuclear arms reduction treaty.

The result, McFaul said, was that relations with Moscow were seen as important in terms of achieving other foreign policy goals, and not as important in terms of Russia itself.


"So that was our approach," he said.

Obama's new Russia strategy was called "the reset." In July 2009, he traveled to Moscow to start implementing it.

In an interview with the Associated Press a few days before leaving Washington, Obama chided Putin, who had become Russia's prime minister in 2008 after reaching his two-term constitutional limit as president. Obama said the United States was developing a "very good relationship" with the man Putin had anointed as his successor, Dmitry Medvedev, and accused Putin of using "Cold War approaches" to relations with Washington.

"I think Putin has one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new," Obama said.

In Moscow, Obama spent five hours meeting with Medvedev and only one hour meeting with Putin, who was still widely seen as the country's real power. After their meeting, Putin said US-Russian relations had gone through various stages.

"There were periods when our relations flourished quite a bit and there were also periods of, shall we say, grayish mood between our two countries and of stagnation," he said, as Obama sat a few feet away.

At first, the reset fared well. During Obama's visit, Moscow agreed to greatly expand Washington's ability to ship military supplies to Afghanistan via Russia. In April 2010, the United States and Russia signed a new START treaty, further reducing the US and Russian nuclear arsenals. Later that year, Russia supported sweeping new U.N. economic sanctions on Iran and blocked the sale of sophisticated, Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to Tehran.

Experts said the two-year honeymoon was the result of the Obama administration's engaging Russia on issues where the two countries shared interests, such as reducing nuclear arms, countering terrorism and nonproliferation. The same core issues that sparked tensions during the Bush administration - democracy and Russia's neighbors - largely went unaddressed.

A Vaporized Relationship

In 2011, Putin accused Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of secretly organizing street demonstrations after disputed Russian parliamentary elections. Putin said Clinton had encouraged "mercenary" Kremlin foes. And he claimed that foreign governments had provided "hundreds of millions" of dollars to Russian opposition groups.

"She set the tone for some opposition activists, gave them a signal, they heard this signal and started active work," Putin said.

McFaul called that a gross exaggeration. He said the US government and American non-profit groups in total have provided tens of millions of dollars in support to civil society groups in Russia and former Soviet bloc countries since 1989.

In 2012, Putin was elected to a third term as president and launched a sweeping crackdown on dissent and re-centralization of power. McFaul, then the US ambassador in Moscow, publicly criticized the moves in speeches and Twitter posts.

In the interview, McFaul blamed Putin for the collapse in relations. McFaul said the Russian leader rebuffed repeated invitations to visit Washington when he was prime minister and declined to attend a G-8 meeting in Washington after he again became president. Echoing Bush-era officials, McFaul said it was politically impossible for an American president to trade Russian cooperation on Iran, for example, for US silence on democracy in Russia and Moscow's pressuring of its neighbors.

"We're not going to do it if it means trading partnerships or interests with our partners or allies in the region," McFaul said. "And we're not going to do it if it means trading our speaking about democracy and human rights."

Andrew Weiss, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that clashes over democracy ended any hopes of US-Russian rapprochement, as they had in the Bush administration.

"That fight basically vaporizes the relationship," said Weiss.

In 2013, US-Russian relations plummeted. In June, Putin granted asylum to National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Obama, in turn, canceled a planned summit meeting with Putin in Moscow that fall. It was the first time a US summit with the Kremlin had been canceled in 50 years.

Last fall, demonstrators in Kiev began demanding that Ukraine move closer to the European Union. At the time, the Obama White House was deeply skeptical of Putin and paying little attention to the former Soviet bloc, according to Weiss. White House officials had come to see Russia as a foreign policy dead end, not a source of potential successes. 


Merkel, Ashton, Lagarde, EU fascists gambled on U.S., lost
Deferring to European officials, the Obama administration backed a plan that would have moved Ukraine closer to the EU and away from a pro-Russian economic bloc created by Putin. Critics said it was a mistake to make Ukraine choose sides.

Jack F. Matlock, who served as US ambassador to Moscow from 1987 to 1991, said that years of escalating protests by Putin made it clear he believed the West was surrounding him with hostile neighbors. 


And for centuries, Russian leaders have viewed a friendly Ukraine as vital to Moscow's defense.

"The real red line has always been Ukraine," Matlock said. "When you begin to poke them in the most sensitive area, unnecessarily, about their security, you are going to get a reaction that makes them a lot less cooperative."

A Pliant Russia?

American experts said it was vital for the US to establish a new long-term strategy toward Russia that does not blame the current crisis solely on Putin. Matthew Rojansky, a Russia expert at the Wilson Center, argued that demonizing Putin reflected the continued failure of American officials to recognize Russia's power, interest and importance.

"Putin is a reflection of Russia," Rojansky said. "This weird notion that Putin will go away and there will suddenly be a pliant Russia is false."

A senior US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, called for a long-term strategy that exploits the multiple advantages the US and Europe enjoy over Putin's Russia.

"I would much rather be playing our hand than his over the longer term," the official said. "Because he has a number of, I think, pretty serious strategic disadvantages - a one-dimensional economy, a political system and a political elite that's pretty rotten through corruption."

Matlock, the former US ambassador, said it was vital for Washington and Moscow to end a destructive pattern of careless American action followed by Russian overreaction.

"So many of the problems in our relationship really relate, I would say, to what I'd call inconsiderate American actions," Matlock said. "Many of them were not meant to be damaging to Russia. ... But the Russian interpretation often exaggerated the degree of hostility and overreacted." 





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