Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Killing the Putin-Obama ‘Trust’

“Putin will not talk to Obama under pressure,” American journalist Josh Rogin was told late last week by a close associate of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. If Russia’s President will no longer call or accept calls from the President Obama, this strikes me as the most important casualty so far from U.S.-provoked “regime change” in Ukraine. Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin apparently had conversations on Ukraine almost every week in March; their last talk took place on April 14.

U.S. “pressure” – including token economic and travel sanctions against some Russian companies and friends of Putin – is likely to continue. But it is not likely to become more extensive if key European countries “man up” and tell Washington what was obvious from the start; namely, that Russia holds very high cards in this area and that the Europeans will not damage their own flagging economies by approving stronger economic sanctions that would inflict real “punishment” on Russia.

As for Russia’s leaders, the U.S. emphasis on economic sanctions bespeaks a punitive, belligerent attitude not conducive to real cooperation of the kind that is desperately needed on a crisis like Ukraine and that has proved so useful in averting escalations in other international hotspots, such as Syria and Iran.

It was rapport and trust between Presidents Obama and Putin, together with the adroit diplomatic efforts of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, that produced the agreement announced on Sept. 9, 2013, under which Syria agreed to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction. Two days later, the New York Times published an op-ed by Vladimir Putin pegged to the tumultuous events of the previous two weeks regarding Syria.

Putin began by saying that Syria was what “prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.” Putin argued against a U.S. attack on Syria, a position which was still being advocated passionately by Secretary of State John Kerry and many neocons.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Senator Reid meets reality … many think the Federal Government is illegitimate

Last week, Real Clear Politics quoted Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) saying that “[Mr.] Cliven Bundy doesn’t believe that the American government is legitimate.” Mr. Bundy’s largely accurate belief apparently came as a shock to Senator Reid.

Now, before proceeding, let us recall that the Founders intended the limited national government they created to do no more than (a) promote commerce and prosperity by keeping the decks clear for American enterprise; (b) protect the republic from foreign and internal enemies; (c) obey the Constitution and enforce the laws made pursuant to it; (d) conduct foreign relations; and (e) ensure the nation’s sovereignty and independence.

With these parameters in mind, it seems clear that the attitude ascribed to Mr. Bundy by Senator Reid has merit. Legitimacy in government or any other of life’s endeavors comes from successful deeds, not vacuous words and certainly not from words meant to deceive, as in “mission accomplished” and “you can keep your doctor.” But it seems that Senator Reid and most members of both parties do not recognize — as Mr. Bundy and many other Americans do — that the federal government no longer adequately performs the tasks assigned to it by the Founders, tasks they believed, if effectively executed, would make the national government legitimate, respected, and even loved by its citizens.

That Senator Reid does not understand this is shocking in its own right. Indeed, so blatant is federal illegitimacy, that one wonders how Senator Reid could think that all ordinary working Americans would consider the current national government legitimate or worthy of respect and affection, especially given the hundreds of examples of its deliberate, knowing failure to execute its responsibilities? The following half-dozen items are examples of such intentional and stupefying failures. They may not be the most destructive examples that could be cited, but they will do for starters.

–Forty-one years after the first oil embargo, both parties have failed to move the United States to energy self-sufficiency, and today’s administration is blocking the private sector from exploiting a real chance to achieve that status so that the Democratic Party can keep campaign contributors contributing. As a result, economic activity and employment are deliberately suppressed here at home, and our independence of action is compromised by continued dependence on Arab tyrants.

Read the entire article

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Israeli Leaders Smear Even Peaceful Palestinian Efforts for a State

Even more threatening to Israel these days than the sporadic violence on its borders from the civil war in Syria or Islamist opposition to the military coup in neighboring Egypt is the peaceful and growing boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement in the West and in Palestine against Israeli companies and institutions, especially those that have a presence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Not surprisingly, Israeli leaders see the potent danger this movement presents to their occupation, which violates international law by continuing to retain and settle territory gained by military conquest.

Yet the rhetoric of Israelis leaders has been over the top in condemning the BDS movement. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently dubbed proponents of BDS "classical anti-Semites in modern garb." Similarly, the country’s economy minister, Naftali Bennett called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a "mouthpiece" for anti-Semitic elements attempting to boycott Israel.

Such statements are offensive and ridiculous. In fact, given the fact that the United States has been fairly slavish over the years in its political and military support of Israel and provides this wealthy Middle East nation with more than $3 billion dollars in annual aid, Bennett’s statement is just downright ungrateful.

In Washington’s debates over foreign policy, nobody ever calls someone "anti-Muslim" who advocates cutting off the billions in aid that has been sent to a Pakistani government that not only aids Afghan Taliban guerrillas killing US troops in Afghanistan but probably helps them plan their anti-American attacks. Nor are people who advocate Japan taking over more of its own defense burden from the US government regarded as anti-Buddhist/Shinto.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Nuclear Warfare in the “New Cold War”

In line with the rising geopolitical friction, stories have begun to emerge that both sides have heightened their levels of nuclear readiness. NATO, for its part, has continued build-up of its European “missile shield.” In February, the USS Donald Cook arrived at port in Rota, Spain to begin its deployment as part of the so-called Ballistic Missile Defense plan. It is the first of four advanced destroyers that the US is deploying as part of the shield, which they say is aimed at defending the continent from the theoretical future threat from a theoretically nuclear-armed Iran.

That these destroyers, and NATO’s missile shield in general, is being deployed to counter a threat from Iran is not believed outside of narrow America-centric propagandistic circles, however.

In truth, the term “missile defense” is a misnomer, as it is a universally acknowledged tenet of nuclear warfare doctrine that advanced missile defense systems are integral to “escalation dominance,” or the ability to engage in warfare at any level of violence, including nuclear warfare. And the threat that NATO envisions does not come from Iran, a nation that has never been shown to be pursuing nuclear weapons, let alone actually possessing them, but Russia, still the world’s second nuclear superpower.

This was made explicit in the last round of Russia-NATO missile shield consultations, started in Lisbon in 2010 and now officially suspended by the Pentagon in the wake of recent developments in Ukraine. The consultations, launched on the premise that the two sides could work together on countering any supposed threat from outside Europe, had been deadlocked for years after Washington stonewalled Moscow’s demands for a legal guarantee that their strike forces would not target Russia’s deterrence capabilities.

Meanwhile, Russia, for its part, is also ramping up the nuclear posturing. According to a new study by the Federation of American Scientists, Moscow deployed 25 new strategic nuclear launchers in the past six months, bringing its total of deployed launchers to 498 with 1512 associated nuclear warheads. And just last Thursday, the Russian military held a massive three-day nuclear exercise involving 10,000 soldiers in its Strategic Missile Forces.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Friedman Prepares American Jews for a Divorce from Zealot Israel

Tom Friedman at the Times is preparing American Jews for a one-state solution. He’s against it, of course; John Kerry is doing the “Lord’s work.” But the worthy business of Friedman’s column is explaining that the Israel American Jews fell in love with is gone, and it is now a society of rightwing zealots. “You did not go to summer camp with these Jews.” (Non-Jewish readers are chopped liver).

Friedman is inching toward Max Blumenthal’s view of that society, in more msm-palatable terms. The man who gave chalktalks on Israel’s military victory when he was in high school now states in neutral terms that young Palestinians want a one-state solution and that the Israel lobby has locked down Congress and the White House. That’s progress too (Dennis Ross used to debate Walt and Mearsheimer by saying, the lobby has Congress, yes, but it can’t affect the White House; horse feathers).

Friedman is Mr. Nutshell, and this time it works for me. Notice how he puts “Jewish state” in quotations.
We’re not dealing anymore with your grandfather’s Israel, and they’re not dealing anymore with your grandmother’s America either… 
Israel, from its side, has become a more religious society — on Friday nights in Jerusalem now you barely see a car moving on the streets in Jewish neighborhoods, which only used to be the case on Yom Kippur — and the settlers are clearly more brazen. Many West Bank settlers are respectful of the state, but there is now a growing core who are armed zealots, who will fight the I.D.F. if it tries to remove them. You did not go to summer camp with these Jews. You did not meet them at your local Reform synagogue. This is a hard core. 
But even the more tame settlers are more dominant than ever in the Likud Party and in the Israeli army officer corps. It is not a fiction to say today that the Likud prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, represents the “center” of Israel’s right-wing bloc. And it is not an accident that Israel’s housing minister, Uri Ariel, who comes from a pro-settler party to the right of the Likud, approved a tender for 700 homes in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood, across the Green Line — just as Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace talks were coming to a head. As Minister Livni, Israel’s chief negotiator, put it: “Minister Ariel purposefully and intentionally did what he did to torpedo” the peace talks.
Read the entire article 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Harry Reid Is NOT King of Nevada

The End of Ideology?

On our TV talk shows and op-ed pages, and in our think tanks here, there is rising alarm over events abroad. And President Obama is widely blamed for the perceived decline in worldwide respect for the United States.

Yet, still, one hears no clamor from Middle America for “Action This Day!” to alter the perception that America is in retreat.

If a single sentence could express the seeming indifference of the silent majority of Americans to what is going on abroad, it might be the simple question: “Why is this our problem?”

If a Russian or Ukrainian flag flies over Simferopol, why should that be of such concern to us that we send U.S. warships, guns or troops? If Japan and China fight over islets 10,000 miles away, islets that few Americans can find on a map, why should we get into it?

And, truth be told, the answers of our elites are unconvincing.

One explanation for America’s turning away from these wars is that we see no vital interest in these conflicts — from Syria to Crimea, Afghanistan to Iraq, the South China Sea to the Senkaku Islands.

Moreover, the prime motivator of a half-century of sacrifice in a Cold War that cost us trillions and 90,000 dead in Korea and Vietnam — the belief we were leading the forces of light in a struggle against the forces of darkness that ruled the Sino-Soviet Empire — is gone.

The great ideological struggle of the 20th century between totalitarianism and freedom, communism and capitalism, militant atheism and Christianity is over.

Read the entire article

Friday, April 11, 2014

Is the US or the World Coming to an End?

2014 is shaping up as a year of reckoning for the United States.

Two pressures are building on the US dollar. One pressure comes from the Federal Reserve’s declining ability to rig the price of gold as Western gold supplies shrivel and market knowledge of the Fed’s illegal price rigging spreads. The evidence of massive amounts of naked shorts being dumped into the paper gold futures market at times of day when trading is thin is unequivocal. It has become obvious that the price of gold is being rigged in the futures market in order to protect the dollar’s value from QE.

The other pressure arises from the Obama regime’s foolish threats of sanctions on Russia. Other countries are no longer willing to tolerate Washington’s abuse of the world dollar standard. Washington uses the dollar-based international payments system to inflict damage on the economies of countries that resist Washington’s political hegemony.

Russia and China have had enough. As I have reported and as Peter Koenig reports 
here http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38165.htm Russia and China are disconnecting their international trade from the dollar. Henceforth, Russia will conduct its trade, including the sale of oil and natural gas to Europe, in rubles and in the currencies of its BRICS partners.

This means a big drop in the demand for US dollars and a corresponding drop in the dollar’s exchange value.

As John Williams (shadowstats.com) has made clear, the US economy has not recovered from the downturn in 2008 and has weakened further. The vast majority of the US population is hard pressed from the lack of income growth for years. As the US is now an import-dependent economy, a drop in the dollar’s value will raise US prices and push living standards lower.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Don’t Free Spy Jonathan Pollard

More than twenty-five years ago, Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, was convicted of spying for Israel. Ever since, Israel has been trying to free him.

Some in the United States also have doubted whether Pollard should remain in jail, because, after all, he had "only" been spying for a cherished US ally. However, instead of questioning whether Pollard should be behind bars, perhaps proponents of his release instead should be questioning the cozy US relationship with Israel.

US underwriting of Israeli security has only made that country more intransigent against making peace by returning land it seized by attacking its Arab neighbors in 1967. Now, the Obama administration, led by the crusading Secretary of State John Kerry, is now thinking about releasing Pollard to motivate Israel to extend essentially stalled peace talks with the Palestinians and perhaps make some ill-defined "concessions."

Essentially, the Obama administration seeks to replicate what the Carter administration did with the Camp David accords in the late 1970s: pay parties to do what is in their long term interest to do anyway – make peace. Ironically, the continuing lavish military aid to Israel, which was hiked back then to buy the Camp David deal, is emboldening Israel to resist the concessions required to make peace with the Palestinians today. Adding Pollard’s release to the Israeli pot of gold likely would not make Israel more likely to give back the West Bank and resettle Palestinian refugees uprooted by past wars in the Middle East; the hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would likely just pocket the concession and continue his unyielding obstructionism.

Understandably, the betrayed US intelligence community has always vehemently opposed Pollard’s release. In fact, the normally sycophantic then-CIA Director George Tenet actually threatened to resign if then-President Bill Clinton freed Pollard to get a modest Middle East deal.

And what an injustice that the Obama administration is actively trying to extradite and prosecute whistle-blower Edward Snowden – whose likely motive was only to curb excessive National Security Agency spying, both abroad and more importantly on Americans at home in defense of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment – while contemplating freeing Pollard, whose disloyalty to his country benefited himself monetarily and a foreign power.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Red Line and the Rat Line

In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.[*] Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.

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 Erdo─čan 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.’

The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration’s public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’. (According to a Defense Department consultant, US intelligence has long known that al-Qaida experimented with chemical weapons, and has a video of one of its gas experiments with dogs.) The DIA paper went on: ‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF 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.’ (Asked about the DIA paper, a spokesperson for the director of national intelligence said: ‘No such paper was ever requested or produced by intelligence community analysts.’)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Israeli meme about Jonathan Pollard patently false

Israel’s domestic and foreign propaganda apparatus is spinning the yarn that convicted U.S. spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard has served longer in prison than any other spy for an American “ally.” The meme from Israel considers that Israel, which is considered a “hostile intelligence” nation by the FBI, Directorate of National Intelligence, each of the military service’s counter-intelligence branches, the CIA, and the National Security Agency, is an American ally. American counter-intelligence places Israel in the category of a nation with a hostile intelligence agency. 

Secretary of State John Kerry is reportedly negotiating the release of Pollard for the continued release of Palestinian prisoners by Israel and a pledge by Israel to freeze construction of settlements in the Occupied West Bank. Israel’s history shows that it has always reneged on such promises. The release of Israeli whistleblowing nuclear scientist Mordechai Vanunu to the West is also not part of the negotiations between Washington and the Jerusalem authorities on Pollard’s release. 

The release of Pollard, which has been demanded by successive Israeli prime ministers since he was jailed during the Reagan administration, is contentious within the U.S. intelligence community. CIA director George Tenet threatened to resign during the Clinton administration when there was a proposal by the White House to release Pollard. 

Pollard is serving a life sentence for transmitting to the Israelis a virtual garage-full of classified documents. Some of the classified documents were traded with the Soviet Union by Israel in exchange for the release of Soviet Jews to the self-proclaimed Jewish state. Pollard’s compromise of sensitive intelligence sources and methods resulted in the collapse of American espionage networks throughout the Middle East. 

Pollard always maintained that he turned over the classified documents to Israel because he was a committed Zionist who was out to help Israel and not harm the United States. However, court records show that Pollard received more than $45,000 in cash from the Israelis for transmitting thousands of documents to Israeli intelligence agents between July 1984 and November 1985. It was on November 18, 1985, that Pollard was arrested by the FBI while trying to sneak into the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC. Israel promised Pollard an additional $300,000 in a Swiss bank account. 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ukraine crisis 'result of US, Israel, NATO, EU interference'

“I would be fearful that out of this whole situation can arise a very tragic war,” Mark Dankof, former US Senate candidate, told Press TV on Monday.

The US is “speaking tongue-and-cheek when it talks about the legitimate aspirations of the people in Ukraine to determine their own fate and to do so free of foreign interference,” he added.

Dankof said the US has broken its historical pledges against the former Soviet Union several times and that is why Russian President Vladimir Putin has “some degree of understandable anxiety” about the situation in Ukraine.

“The United States broke a pledge made with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989 that the pending demise of the Soviet Union would not result to an American-NATO exploitation of the situation by moving NATO and American forces closer to Soviet borders,” he said.

“What we clearly see in the last quarter of the century is how that pledge has been repeatedly violated as in fact the US and NATO have been recruiting former eastern bloc countries to belong to NATO and for there to be western military.”

“The second thing is that Mr. Kerry is not mentioning” is “the illegitimate NATO bombing in 1999 of Serbia in order to sever Kosovo from Serbia. That has also played a role in what has happened in the Ukraine.”

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