Drawing: the Best Way to Learn – Drawing should not be about performance, but about process – A way of taking in the world – by Anne Quito (Quartz)

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“I just can’t draw.” It’s a refrain most adults say when confronted with a blank piece of paper. Something happens in our teenage years that makes most of us shy away from drawing, fretting that our draftsmanship skills aren’t up to par, and leaving it to the “artists” among us.

But we’ve been thinking about drawing all wrong, says the design historian D.B. Dowd. In his illuminating new book, titled Stick Figures: Drawing as a Human Practice, Dowd argues that putting a pencil to paper shouldn’t be about making art at all.

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“We have misfiled the significance of drawing because we see it as a professional skill instead of a personal capacity,” he writes. “This essential confusion has stunted our understanding of drawing and kept it from being seen as a tool for learning above all else.”

Put another way: Drawing shouldn’t be about performance, but about process. It’s not just for the “artists,” or even the weekend hobbyists. Think of it as a way of observing the world and learning, something that can be done anytime, like taking notes, jotting down a thought, or sending a text.

Mistaking drawing for art is embedded in our institutions, says Dowd, a professor of art and American culture at the Washington University in St. Louis. For centuries, schools have lumped drawing with painting and confined it in an “aesthetic cage,” he says.

Our anxiety around drawing starts around puberty, when we begin self-critiquing our abilities to render a perfect likeness, Dowd says. “The self-consciousness associated with ‘good’ drawing, or a naive form of realism, is mostly to blame,” he explains to Quartz. ”If you take a step back, and define drawing as symbolic mark-making, it’s obvious that all human beings draw. Diagrams, maps, doodles, smiley faces: These are all drawings!”

Drawing Helps Us Think Better

At its core, drawing is a problem-solving tool. Scientists are often avid doodlers, like the Fields-Medal-winning mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, for instance. “The process of drawing something helps you somehow to stay connected,” she explained in a 2014 interview. “I am a slow thinker, and have to spend a lot of time before I can clean up my ideas and make progress.”

Even if you’re not tackling hyperbolic geometry, drawing is useful for our daily affairs from giving directions, taking meeting notes, outlining an presentation, or making grocery lists. It fosters close observation, analytical thinking, patience, even humility.

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An Alternative to Google-Based Learning

Digital technology coddles us by giving us shortcuts to “instant knowledge,” but drawing breaks our collective instinct to Google everything, argues Dowd. He cautions against relying too much on easy paths to learning:

When we ask for something from Google Image Search—say “airplane”—we get contemporary definitions of same, which in that case yields thousands of pictures of commercial airliners. That’s a narrow result from a general inquiry, and one version of how aggregation keeps us from seeing a wider world. Drawing works in exactly the opposite way: close observation of almost any particular engages the senses and heightens experience, making the world seem bigger, not smaller.

There is a physical dimension to this, too. Our brains got bigger when our thumbs moved into an opposable position vis-a-vis our fingers. Our hands, fixed on the ends of our arms, brought us news of the world, and we evolved rapidly to take advantage. Our manual capacities are critical to our understanding of the world. Isn’t it weird, and a wicked paradox, that the digital has eroded the manual?

Dowd, who has been critical of the graphic design industry’s over-reliance on digital illustration tools like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, argues that drawing isn’t necessarily anti-tech: “I have no beef with technology per se—after all, pencil and paper is a technology. But drawing offers simplicity and directness compared to other information gathering procedures.”

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Freedom. Photo by Reuters/Thomas Peter.

Drawing Makes Us Better Humans

There’s another fundamental reason for using drawing as a learning tool: It can bring out our better qualities as people. “If practiced in the service of inquiry and understanding, drawing does enforce modesty,” says Dowd. “You quickly discover how little you know.”

The observation that’s necessary for drawing is also enriching. “Drawing makes us slow down, be patient, pay attention,” he says. “Observation itself is respectful, above all else.”

In the closing chapter of Stick Figures, Dowd argues that drawing can even make us better citizens, in the sense that it trains us to wrestle with evidence and challenge assumptions. “It might seem sort of nutty, but I do think that drawing can be a form of citizenship,” he says. “Observation, inquiry, and steady effort are good for us.”

This form of individual sense-making is a practice that’s ever more vital at a time when we’re inundated with falsehoods and bad faith, says Dowd: “When we look hard and listen carefully, how are we not led back to questions of justice, of what is right?”

Perhaps drawing pads should be standard issue in government offices and boardrooms.

Random Line Drawings From the Files –

Kurdish Participation in the Armenian Genocide of 1915 – by Morgan E. Hunter – 30 Oct 2019

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A bipartisan 405-11 majority of the US House of Representatives decided Tuesday to condemn the 1915 massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire. The result came after decades of attempts by the Armenian lobby, which had been successfully opposed by Turkey and its friends in the United States, especially – until recently – the pro-Israeli Jewish lobby. (A fascinating article in the Jewish Daily Forward by Nathan Guttman from 2010 entitled “Jewish Lobby Sits Out Vote on Armenian Genocide,” describes how deteriorating relations between Israel and Turkey had led the Jewish lobby to stay largely neutral in a very close but unsuccessful vote that year.)

The huge margin this year was primarily the result of President Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Northern Syria – an intervention that began under Obama and was always pushed primarily by the US intelligence community, but also supported by Israel and its US supporters as an anti-Assad operation. No attempt was made to link the current vote to any anniversary of the massacre itself. The timing of the vote was clearly meant instead to signal disapproval of Trump’s actions and of Turkey’s military campaign to take control of the border area between Syria and Turkey from Kurdish militias that had captured control of the region during the recent Syrian civil war.

Uyghur Fighters in Syria

(Islamist Militia in Syria)

Turkey’s use of Sunni Arab militias in the campaign had been particularly attacked by advocates of the US Syrian adventure. Ironically, those same Arab militias which are now being correctly described by deep state spokesmen as “thugs” and “murderers” were only six months ago being praised by these same people as the “Free Syrian Army” and “moderate opposition”. Before that these same militias were actually funded by the CIA and their leaders were posing for photos with John McCain.

McCain and Islamists

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The New York Times account made the connection with the Kurds explicit:

Livid at Turkey’s bloody military assault in northern Syria, some lawmakers saw an uneasy parallel between the Armenian genocide and the bitter warnings from Kurdish forces that the withdrawal of American forces would lead to the ethnic cleansing of their people.

“Recent attacks by the Turkish military against the Kurdish people are a stark reminder of the danger in our own time,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said in a speech on Tuesday.

Not widely known in the United States, but very well known in the region, is that among the most enthusiastic participants in the Armenian massacres of 1915 were Kurdish Muslim tribesmen, who largely inhabited the same regions of Anatolia as Armenian Christian peasants. This fact also goes unmentioned in the New York Times piece, but can be found by a casual perusal of Wikipedia, and the associated footnotes.

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The Ottoman government of World War I (whose most important leaders, such as Kemal Pasha and Enver Pasha, were actually Albanians by ethnicity) considered Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians as a potential fifth column for the Russians, and made every effort to encourage Muslim attacks on them. The best parallel is with anti-Jewish pogroms in Czarist Russia of that same era, which were encouraged by government officials but mostly carried out by local Polish and Ukrainian peasants.

In the context of the House resolution, it is ironically appropriate that the only Kurdish political party that has actually acknowledged that Kurds participated willingly in the Armenian massacres, and were not just ordered to do so by the Ottoman government – namely the PKK – is the only Kurdish party that is condemned by the US Government as a terrorist organization. I will discuss the PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD in a subsequent article.

Morgan E. Hunter received her PhD in Classics from the University of California at Berkeley in 2019. She also tweeted as @Molotov_1917 as part of the award-winning #1917LIVE Twitter project that reconstructed the daily events of the Russian Revolution and the beginning of the Russian Civil War.

US Air Force’s X-37B Space Plane Lands After Record 780-Day Mystery Mission – by Tariq Malik (Spaceflight ) 27 Oct 2019

A U.S. Air Force X-37B space plane, an unpiloted miniature space shuttle, is seen after landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility on Oct. 27, 2019 to end its record 780-day OTV-5 mission.

A U.S. Air Force X-37B space plane, an unpiloted miniature space shuttle, is seen after landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility on Oct. 27, 2019 to end its record 780-day OTV-5 mission.
(Image: © U.S. Air Force)

The U.S. Air Force’s unpiloted X-37B space plane landed back on Earth Sunday (Oct. 27) after a record 780 days in orbit , racking up the fifth ultra-long mission for the military’s mini-shuttle fleet. 

The X-37B’s Orbital Test Vehicle 5 (OTV-5) mission ended with a smooth autonomous touchdown at the Shuttle Landing Facility of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida at 3:51 a.m. EDT (0751 GMT), Air Force officials said. The mission originally launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Sept. 7, 2017.

With the successful landing, OTV-5 broke the previous X-37B mission record of 718 days set by the OTV-4 mission in May 2017. OTV-5 is the second X-37B mission to land at NASA’s Shuttle Landing Facility (OTV-4 was the first), with previous missions landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. 

“The safe return of this spacecraft, after breaking its own endurance record, is the result of the innovative partnership between Government and Industry,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein said in a statement. “The sky is no longer the limit for the Air Force and, if Congress approves, the U.S. Space Force.”

The U.S. Air Force has at least two reusable X-37B spacecraft in its fleet, and both have flown multiple flights. The solar-powered space planes were built by Boeing and feature a miniature payload bay to host experiments or smaller satellites. They were originally designed to spend up to 240 days in orbit.

“The X-37B continues to demonstrate the importance of a reusable spaceplane,” said Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett said in the same statement. “Each successive mission advances our nation’s space capabilities.”

 

Air Force officials have said that the exact nature of X-37B missions are classified, though they have dropped hints about the types of experiments OTV-5 performed in orbit. One payload was the Air Force Research Laboratory Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader, an experiment designed to “test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies in the long-duration space environment,” according to an Air Force statement.

OTV-5 also flew to a higher-inclination orbit than previous X-37B flights, suggesting it had new experiments or technology tests in store. In a statement today, Air Force officials confirmed OTV-5 carried multiple experiments and carried smaller satellites into orbit. 

“With a successful landing today, the X-37B completed its longest flight to date and successfully completed all mission objectives,” Randy Walden, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office director, said in the statement. “This mission successfully hosted Air Force Research Laboratory experiments, among others, as well as providing a ride for small satellites.”

The X-37B space plane was originally developed by NASA in 1999 to serve as a technology test bed for future spacecraft and looks much like a miniature version of  a space shuttle. In 2004, the military’s Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) took over the project, ultimately turning it over to the U.S. Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office a few years later. 

X-37B vehicles are 29 feet (8.8 meters) long, 9.5 feet (2.9 m) tall and have a wingspan of just under 15 feet (4.6 m). Their payload bays are about the size of a pickup truck bed, about 7 feet long and 4 feet wide (2.1 by 1.2 m).

https://www.space.com/x-37b-space-plane-otv5-lands-after-780-days.html

Bpeomg X 37B space vehicle

Picture the Soviet Union in A Space – Retrofire – 1961

 

 

The song celebrates the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human in space, orbiting the Earth once in Vostok 1.  Gagarin described hearing a whistle and an ever-growing din as the rocket trembled all over, and tore itself off the launchpad.
“The noise was no louder than one would expect to hear in a jet plane, but it had a great range of musical tones and timbres that no composer could hope to score, and no musical instrument or human voice could ever reproduce.” Yuri Gagarin

Retired Admiral Calls For Removing Trump “By Whatever Means Necessary” – McRaven Says Active Duty Officers Calling for Military Coup – by Phil Giraldi – 22 Oct 2019

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Admiral William McRaven, who commanded the Navy Seals when Osama bin Laden was captured and killed and who has been riding that horse ever since, announced that if Donald Trump continues to fail to provide the type of leadership the country needs, he should be replaced by whatever means are necessary.

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The op-ed entitled “Our Republic is Under Attack by the President” with the subtitle “If President Trump doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office” was featured in the New York Times, suggesting that the Gray Lady was providing its newspaper of record seal of approval for what might well be regarded as a call for a military coup.

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McRaven’s exact words, after some ringing praise for the military and all its glorious deeds in past wars, were that the soldiers, sailors and marines now must respond because “The America that they believed in was under attack, not from without, but from within.”

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McRaven then elaborated that “These men and women, of all political persuasions, have seen the assaults on our institutions: on the intelligence and law enforcement community, the State Department and the press. They have seen our leaders stand beside despots and strongmen, preferring their government narrative to our own. They have seen us abandon our allies and have heard the shouts of betrayal from the battlefield. As I stood on the parade field at Fort Bragg, one retired four-star general, grabbed my arm, shook me and shouted, ‘I don’t like the Democrats, but Trump is destroying the Republic!’”

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It is a call to arms if there ever was one. Too bad Trump can’t strip McRaven of his pension and generous health care benefits for starters and McRaven might also consider that he could be recalled to active duty by Trump and court martialed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And the good admiral, who up until 2018 headed the state university system in Texas, might also receive well merited pushback for his assessment of America’s role in the world over the past two decades, in which he was a major player, at least in terms of dealing out punishment. He wrote ““We are the most powerful nation in the world because we try to be the good guys. We are the most powerful nation in the world because our ideals of universal freedom and equality have been backed up by our belief that we were champions of justice, the protectors of the less fortunate.”

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Revisiting the Win-Win-Win-Win Outcome in Syria – by The Saker • 23 Oct 2019

In his recent articleThe Road to Damascus: How the Syria War Was WonPepe Escobar summarized the outcome of the war in Syria in the following way:

“It’s a quadruple win. The U.S. performs a face saving withdrawal, which Trump can sell as avoiding a conflict with NATO ally Turkey. Turkey has the guarantee – by the Russians – that the Syrian Army will be in control of the Turkish-Syrian border. Russia prevents a war escalation and keeps the Russia-Iran-Turkey peace process alive. And Syria will eventually regain control of the entire northeast.”

This otherwise excellent summary overlooks two out of three members of the “Axis of Kindness”, including Israel and the KSA. Of course, later in his analysis Pepe does address these actors, and also includes Kuwait. Furthermore, a thorough discussion of what took place would have to also include China, Hezbollah, Yemen and the EU (well, the ones that matter, the UK and France. The rest are just voiceless colonies of the US).

Most of the analyses of what just took place focused on the “what”. I will try to look into the “why” and the “how” of what just happened in Syria. Still, I don’t propose to make such a detailed analysis, but I do want to re-classify the actors in a somewhat different way: by their relative strength.

It is now time to try to make sense of all this and try answer the question of why one group of relatively strong actors had so much bad luck as to become weaker and weaker, while the weaker became stronger and stronger.

The first thing we need to agree upon is that irrespective of the public posturing, everybody is, and has been, talking to everybody else. This “conversation” could be official and public, or behind closed doors, or even by means of intermediaries and, last but not least, a state version of “body language”: by means of actions which send a message to the other party or parties. Still, while this is certainly true, it is the quality of the communications between the various parties which made all the difference. When, say, Netanyahu or Trump publicly proclaim they they don’t give a damn about anything at all (including international law) and that they reserve the right to threaten or even attack anybody, at any time, for any reason whatsoever, this is a very clear message to, say, the Iranians. But what is that message, really? It says a couple of things:

  1. Resistance is futile because we are so much stronger than you and therefore
  2. We don’t give a damn about you or your national interests and therefore
  3. We are not interested in negotiating with you (or anybody else for that matter). Your only solution is to submit to us

This is really crucial. The US and Israel have proclaimed their total superiority over the entire planet and, specifically, over every single actor in the Middle-East. Furthermore, their entire worldview and ideology is predicated on this very strong sense of military superiority. Ask any Israeli or American what their countries will do if some coalition of local powers is successful in attacking them: they will reply something along the lines of “we will simply nuke all the friggin’ ragheads and sand-n***ers – fuck them!”. This line is always delivered with a tone of absolute finality, a total certitude and the mental equivalent of “’nuff said!”.

Alas, for the Axis of Kindness, this is a completely counter-factual belief. Why?

First, the quick appeal to nukes is an implicit admission that there is something very wrong with the rest of the armed forces of the Axis of Kindness. Furthermore, the real regional powers all understand that it is not in their interest to give the US or Israel a pretext to use nukes. Thus, while, say, the Iranians sure have the means to strike Israel or any one of the many CENTCOM facilities in the Middle-East, they have been very careful to keep their counter-attacks below the dangerous threshold in which the legacy AngloZionist corporate media would be unable to conceal the magnitude of the disaster and demand that nukes be used (yes, if it comes to that, both the Israeli and the US media will demand nuclear strikes just as they cheered for every war of aggression ever committed by the US and Israel).

Second, precisely because the US and Israel are unable to have real allies (they only have colonies run by comprador elites), they cannot operate successfully in a multi-lateral kind of relationship with other actors. The contrast between the US/Israel, on one hand, and Russia and Iran, on the other, could not be greater. Both Russia and Iran understand that having real allies is much more advantageous than having puppets. Why? Because in order to convince somebody to become your ally you absolutely have to offer that party something tangible as part of a compromise goal setting. When this is done, the weaker ally feels that it is defending its own interests and not the interests of a patron which might be unreliable or which might even backstab you.

Third, one of the best US experts on the theory of negotiations, Professor William Zartman, wrote in his seminal book “The Practical Negotiator” that

One of the eternal paradoxes of negotiations is that it allows the weak to confront the strong and still come away with something which should not be possible if weakness and strength were all that mattered (…). Weaker parties tend to seek more formal negotiating forums and to strengthen their hand through organizations (…). Weak states can afford erratic or irresponsible behavior more easily than stronger parties, particularly when the rules of regularity and responsibility favor the strong (…). Weak states do best by rewarding stronger states’ concessions rather than than by “hanging tough” and by opening high to indicate needs and to facilitate rewards (…). The tactics of toughness and softness vary according to the strength of the parties: under symmetry, toughness tends to lead to toughness and under asymmetry to softness, with weaker parties following the leader of stronger parties.

There is a lot to unpack here (and there is much more in this book which I highly recommend to everybody!).

First, let’s compare and contrast the Russia and US approaches to creating negotiation fora. The US cooked up theFriends of Syriaforum which was most remarkable in two unique ways: first, in spite of calling itself “Friends of Syria” this group only contained a who’s who of Syria’s, Iran’s and Russia’s enemies (just like to “Friends of Libya was a cornucopia of countries hostile to Libya). Secondly, the self-evident (and not really denied) purpose and function of this group was to bypass the UNSC. There is nothing new here, the US has been trying to replace the UN and its role in upholding international law with all sorts of gimmicks including “coalition of the willing” or appeals for a “rules-based international order”. Needless to say, with the possible exception of a few truly dim propagandists, all these tricks are designed to avoid the already existing international fora, beginning with the United Nations. Russia, in contrast, not only used the UN for all its (admitted limited) worth and succeeded in forcing the US to accept resolutions on Syria (or the Ukraine for that matter) which the US did not want to agree to, but which they could not veto on political considerations. Not only that, Russia also created the Astana peace process which, unlike the US created fantasies, brought together different parties including parties hostile to each other. The most brilliant move of the Russians was to impose on all parties the notion that “those willing to negotiate are legitimate parties whose interests must be considered while those who refused to sit down are all terrorists“. Of course, the many al-Qaeda franchises tried to play the “rebranding game”, but this did not help: you can change names once every 24 hours if you want, but if you ain’t sitting down at the negotiating table you are a terrorist and, therefore, a legitimate target for Russian/Iranian/Syrian attacks. Once the Empire had to accept these terms, backed by a UNSC resolution, it became locked-in in a process which they could only stop by means of a military victory.

And here we come back to the boots on the ground issue. For all its combined military power, the Axis of Kindness does not have a ground force it can put on the ground. Whereas the Syrians, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia very neatly and most effectively (even if informally) agreed to the following assignment of tasks:

  1. The Syrians will let the Russians reorganize their armed forces, especially a few elite units, and slowly, step-by-step liberate their lands.
  2. The Iranians and Hezbollah will act like a fire-brigade and will directly support the Syrian operations with their own forces in crucial sectors of the line of contact.
  3. The Russians will take control of the Syrian airspace and provide the Syrians, Iran and Hezbollah protection from AngloZionist missile and bomb strikes. Finally, Russian special operation forces will be engaged in high priority operations which are beyond Iranian or Hezbollah capabilities.

What was the biggest obstacle to the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah-Russian plans?

Turkey, of course. The Turks have always hated Assad (father and son) and their Neo-Ottoman delusions still give them a, shall we say, “special desire” to intervene beyond their own borders. Furthermore, Turkey also very much saw Syria as a contributing factor to their “Kurdish problem”. Finally, Turkey did have the kind of military which made it possible for it to threaten intervention or even intervene in Iraq and Syria (obviously not against Iran). Thus, what Russia needed to do was take Turkey out of the equation or, at least, weaken Turkey as much as possible. And that is exactly what Russia did.

For the Kremlin the shooting down of the Su-24 was tantamount to a declaration of war. Except that the Russians, quite aware of their relative weakness if compared to the US+NATO+CENTCOM+Turkey, wisely decided not to retaliate in kind and, say, strike Turkish military facilities. But Putin did promise “you won’t get away with just not selling us tomatoes” (Russia imposed an embargo on a number of Turkish export goods). Besides a number of political and economic sanctions, you can be sure that the Russians decided to use all their methods and means to weaken and destabilize both Erdogan personally and Turkey as a whole. Then, here is what happened:

  • On November 24th, 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24
  • In the next days, Russia closed down the north Syrian airspace, severed all contacts with the Turkish military, promised to shoot down any other Turkish aircraft attacking any target in Syria (regardless from what airspace) and imposed political and economic sanctions.
  • In December Putin ominously declared “Если кто-то думает, что, совершив подлое военное преступление: убийство наших людей — они отделаются помидорами, или какими-то ограничениями в строительной и других отраслях, то они глубоко заблуждаются” (“if somebody thinks that by committing a vile war crime they will get away with tomatoes or some type of restrictions in the construction and other industries, they are profoundly mistaken“).
  • In June 2016, Erdogan sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin expressing sympathy and ‘deep condolences’.
  • On 15 July 2016, a coup d’état was attempted against Erdogan and almost cost him his life. By all accounts, Russia played some kind of behind-the-scenes role and saved Erdogan’s life and power.
  • Following the failed coup, Turkey embarked on a major re-alignment and cast its lot with Russia and Iran, even if that meant having to accept Assad in power in Syria.

What exactly Russia did behind the scenes (versions range from warning Erdogan to actually using Russian special forces to evacuate him in extremis) will probably remain a secret for many years, but neither does it really matter. All we know for sure, is that after the coup, Erdogan made a 180 and completely changed his tune. My personal belief is that the Russians used their covert means to entice the US and its Gulenist CIA puppets to try to overthrow Erdogan only to then foil their coup attempt. I find the two other main options (the US is fantastically stupid and incompetent and Russia is an amazingly lucky country) much harder to believe. But even if we accept these options, or some combination thereof, Russia still superbly played her cards (by, for example, using the pretext of Turkey’s downing the Su-24 to strongly beef up Russian air defense capabilities in Syria) and Turkey was removed as a “powerful hostile actor” from the Russian equation of the Middle-East.

After that, what was left was only a kind of “political and military mopping-op operation.

Russia repeatedly tried to make the Kurds realize that their strategy of fighting every single neighbor they had was a non-starter which will inevitably backfire. Alas for the Kurdish people, their leaders were either too delusional, or too corrupt, to understand this. In the meantime, Erdogan and the rest of the Turkish political establishment were adamant they Turkey would under no circumstances allow the Syrian (or Iraqi) Kurds to ever establish their own state.

For the Kremlin, the solution was obvious: use the Turks to force the Kurds to accept the inevitable but don’t let the Turks establish a permanent invasion force in northern Syria.

True, the Russians have voiced their rather flaccid disapproval of the Turkish operation and they called everybody to come back to the negotiation table. This is one rather rare example in which Russia’s rhetoric did not match her actions because in reality the Turkish operation would have been absolutely impossible if the Russians had not given Ankara an unofficial, but very trustworthy, go ahead beforehand. Furthermore, according to at least one report (which I find reasonably credible) the Russian Aerospace Forces even scrambled a pair of Su-35S to engage a Turkish pair of F-16 which, as soon as they saw what was about to happen, decided to make a run for their lives. Yet, in other instances, we know for a fact that F-16’s were used against Kurdish targets. It is pretty clear that the Russians not only told Erdogan what was acceptable and what was not, they also “fine tuned” the Turkish operation just so it would force the Kurds to negotiate while not making it possible for the Turks to establish any kind of meaningful presence in northern Syria.

What happened next was a domino effect. The Kurds tried to fight as best they could, but everybody realized that they were doomed. The Americans, very predictably and, I would argue, very logically, also ran for their lives. Trump used this (totally true, but nevertheless pretext) to get out of Syria (at least officially) not only to protect US lives, but to also get out of the political quicksand which Syria has become for the Axis of Kindness.

Last but not least, the Israelis were absolutely livid, and for good reason: there is no doubt that they are the biggest losers in this entire process and they now find themselves in the situation of depending on a pretend superpower which cannot deliver anything of value (except loads of dollars which the Israelis spend on a lot of useless hardware). The recent events in the region have not only shown that US ground forces plainly suck, they have also show that US guarantees are worthless while US weapons systems are vastly over-rated.

Here we come to what I believe is the single most important development of this conflict: ALL the many Israeli plans for the region collapsed one after the other. Most pathetically, all the trips Netanyahu made to Russia to try to con the Russians into taking Israel seriously have failed. Why? Because the Russians have long understood that Israel is a paper tiger with impressive “roar” (aka the massive international Zionist propaganda machine known as the “western free media” among infants and dull people) but who is unable to follow up its loud roaring with anything more tangible. Yes, I know, the worse things go for the Israelis, the bigger their boastful propaganda becomes: after having promised that the “invincible IDF” conducted “hundreds” of strikes in Syria and Iraq they now make noises about having a “killing list” which includes Hassan Nasrallah. Right. As for their “hundreds” of airstrikes, they must be the most inept and poorly executed air campaign since the total failure of NATO’s air campaign in Kosovo. Ask yourself this basic question:

If the Israelis have been conducting “hundreds” of airstrikes in Syria – why have they not resulted in any tangible effects on the military situation on the ground?

After all, when the Russians intervened, they changed the course of the entire war. In fact, the (very small) Russian Aerospace task force in Syria reversed the course of that war.

Why did the Russian air campaign yield such truly phenomenal results and why did the Israel air campaign yield absolutely nothing (except some much needed psychotherapy for the many Zionists who suffer form what Gilad Atzmon brilliantly referred to as “pre-traumatic stress disorder”)?

The answer is simple: one was a real military campaign while the other was just “feel good” PR.

A very good example of Zartman’s thesis that “Weak states can afford erratic or irresponsible behavior more easily than stronger parties, particularly when the rules of regularity and responsibility favor the strong” can be found in the relative position of, on one hand, Iran, Hezbollah and the Houthis and, on the other, the US and Israel. Not that Iran or its allies have acted irresponsibly, they have not, but when they reacted, it was always with a double message: we don’t want war, but we are ready for it. But when the US engages in rather crude threats (just think of all the silly threats Trump has made during his presidency, including the most recent ones to wage war on Turkey if needed, not a joke, check here), these threats always end up further weakening the US. It is a true blessing for Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and the Syrians that their enemies are not only so inept, but also so good at cornering themselves in the worst kind of situations. In the end, the US still managed to lose face, even if you were never told about it. What do I mean?

Just look at what just took place: Trump sent Erdogan such a crude and rude letter (he sounds like a 10 year old), which was so insulting to Erdogan that he not only tossed it in the trash bin, but he also made sure to tell his aides to “leak” to the media how Erdogan treated Trump’s silly threats and insults. Turkey also launched a full-scale invasion and clearly challenged the US to do something about it. At this point, the two other “geniuses” in the White House (Pompeo and VP Pence) had to scramble to Ankara in what was clearly a desperate “damage control” mission, beg for a meeting, and then beg the Turks to agree to an entirely symbolic ceasefire which gave just enough time for the Kurds to agree to all the Syrian terms and to let the Syrian army take control of huge swaths of land without firing a single shot. Now here is the beauty of it all:

Pompeo and Pence demanded that Erdogan agree exactly to the kind of balanced outcome the Russians have been advocating all along! I am amazed that the Dem-media has not accused Pompeo and Pence of being Russian agents because what they just “demanded” and “obtained” from Turkey is exactly what Putin wanted 🙂

Of course, this was all wrapped in all sorts of threats and promises to wipe out this or that country (including Turkey, a NATO member state which could, in theory, invoke Art 5 and ask NATO to defend it against the US! Of course, this would not happen as this would mark the end of NATO) and all the rest of the obligatory barking we always hear from the US when the “best military in world history” fails to achieve anything at all (even if Trump seriously claims that the US – not Russia – defeated the Takfiris the West has so lovingly been federating, supporting, I strongly believe, directing them for decades). Yes, Trump did the right thing when he declared that he wanted the US forces out of Syria, but let’s not be naive about that either: he did not order that because he is some great humanitarian, but because if the Turks, the Kurds, the Syrians or anybody else had taken a hard shot at the US forces in the region, this would have resulted in a bigger war which would certainly cost Trump his presidency.

Which brings us to the Russian task force in Syria. As I said, it is strong, then weak and then strong again. It all depends on your assumptions:

If we look just at the Russian task force in Khmeinim and Tartus, we see that it is protected by cutting edge Russian weapons systems including S-400s, Su-34s, Su-35S, EW stations, battle management stations, etc. This is more than enough to beat back a pretty powerful missile and/or bombing strike. In this case we can think of the Russian task force in Syria as very powerful and capable of dealing with many types of attack.

On the next level, however, it becomes obvious that the biggest weakness of the Russian task force in Syria has been, from day 1, its very small size. Irrespective of its sophistication, the Russian air defenses can be over-run by a determined attack by any combination of Axis of Kindness forces simply because at the end of the day, air defenses are always a part of a numbers game. Even in the best of cases, one Russian air defense missile can only engage one attacking missile or aircraft. For an attack to be successful, all the Axis of Kindness forces need to do is calculate how many missiles the Russians have, then shoot about 1.5x that number of (rather antiquated) Tomahawks, and once the Russians use up their stores, follow up with a second wave of missiles, this time modern and difficult to target ones. At this point the Russians would have to reply with only their AA artillery and their EW capabilities. Inevitably, there will come a point when they will be overwhelmed. In this scenario, Russia is the weaker party and the Russian task force is doomed in case of a sustained US/NATO/CENTCOM attack.

Finally, there is a third level which the AngloZionists have to consider: the Russians have made it pretty clear that in case of an attack on the Russian task force in Syria, Russia will use her strategic striking capabilities to protect her task force. Such measures could include: long range cruise missile attack and air strikes (possibly coming from the Iranian airspace). In this case, as my friend Andrey Martyanov explained many times, including in his article

Russia’s Stand-Off Capability: the 800 Pound Gorilla in Syria which he concluded by the follow words:

“This simple, single operational fact shows precisely why for two years a relatively small Russian military contingent has been able to operate so effectively in Syria and, in fact, dictate conditions on the ground and in the area of its operations. The answer is simple—many adrenaline junkies are lowered in a cage into the water to face sharks, with only metal rods separating them and sharks’ deadly jaws. Yet, up there, in the boat one can always put a man with a gun which can be used in case of emergency to a deadly effect should the cage give. The Russian military contingent in Syria is not just some military base—it is the force tightly integrated with Russian Armed Forces that have enough reach and capability to make anyone face some extremely unpleasant choices, including the fact that it is Russia, not the US, who controls escalation to a threshold and that can explain a non-stop anti-Russian hysteria in US media since the outcome of the war in Syria became clear”

Here, again, we have the same stance as Iran’s: we don’t want war, but we are ready for it. One could say that the US stance is the polar opposite: we do want war (heck, we need it for political and economic reasons!), but we are completely unprepared for it (including psychologically).

Conclusion: remember all those who are now proven wrong!

Remember all the folks who predicted with absolute confidence that Russia was “selling out” Syria? They began their tune when Russia prevented a US attack on Syria by catching the US at its word and offering to remove all chemical weapons from Syria. Not only were these weapons useless, they were a prefect pretext for the Axis of Kindness to strike Syria. The US was livid, but had to accept. Well, all the “Putin/Russia is/are selling out” Syria immediately claimed that Russia was disarming Syria to make it easier for Israel to attack.

Yet, in reality, no (meaningful) Israeli attack ever materialized.

Then the same folks claimed that Russia “allowed” Israel to strike Syria, that the Russians turned off their S-300s/S-400s, etc, etc, etc.

Yet, in reality, the US pretty much gave up, while the Israelis claimed “hundreds” of sorties. Maybe they even did hit a few empty and therefore unprotected buildings, who knows?

Then there was the massive choir of trolls declaring that Russia would partition Syria. Yet, for all the convincing sounding arguments (at least to those who did not understand Russia or the Middle-East), one by one the various “good terrorists” strongholds fell to the Syrian military. Now more Syrian land has been liberated than ever before. As for the Turks, they can dream on about a bigger Turkey or about creating some kind of security/buffer zone, but they understand that they cannot do that if Russia and Syria both oppose this. In fact, Turkey has officially promised to respect the territorial integrity of Syria (see here, in Russian)

Memorandum of Understanding Between Turkey and the Russian Federation

October 22, 2019 (emphasis added by me, VS)

President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President of The Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin agreed on the following points:

1. The two sides reiterate their commitment to the preservation of the political unity and territorial integrity of Syria and the protection of national security of Turkey.

2. They emphasize their determination to combat terrorism in all forms and manifestations and to disrupt separatist agendas in the Syrian territory.

3. In this framework, the established status quo in the current Operation Peace Spring area covering Tel Abyad and Ras Al Ayn with a depth of 32 km will be preserved.

4. Both sides reaffirm the importance of the Adana Agreement. The Russian Federation will facilitate the implementation of the Adana Agreement in the current circumstances.

5. Starting 12.00 noon of October 23, 2019, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will enter the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border, outside the area of Operation Peace Spring, to facilitate the removal of YPG elements and their weapons to the depth of 30 km from the Turkish-Syrian border, which should be finalized in 150 hours. At that moment, joint Russian-Turkish patrols will start in the west and the east of the area of Operation Peace Spring with a depth of 10 km, except Qamishli city.

6. All YPG elements and their weapons will be removed from Manbij and Tal Rifat.

7. Both sides will take necessary measures to prevent infiltrations of terrorist elements.

8. Joint efforts will be launched to facilitate the return of refugees in a safe and voluntary manner.

9. A joint monitoring and verification mechanism will be established to oversee and coordinate the implementation of this memorandum.

10. The two sides will continue to work to find a lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict within Astana Mechanism and will support the activity of the Constitutional Committee. The key elements of this MoU are

  1. US out, Russia in
  2. Syria’s borders cannot be changed

You can see the full press conference of Putin and Erdogan by clicking here.

Finally, this is the reaction of one of the worst AngloZionist propaganda outlets in Europe:

”Die Kapitulation des Westens” (The Capitulation of the West)
”Die Kapitulation des Westens” (The Capitulation of the West)

I can’t say that I disagree with their conclusion 🙂

Finally, does this “capitulation talk” not remind you of something else we have all seen recently?

Yes, of course, the Ukronazi “Ні капітуляції!” (no to the capitulation!).

Again, what does all that talk of “capitulation” strongly suggest?

If this is not a triumph of Russian diplomacy then I don’t know what this is!

And, just for those who disagree, let me throw in a rhetorical question:

If Putin is such a loser who “sells out” everything and who works with/for Israel and for Netanyahu specifically, if Russia is so weak and clueless, why is it that it is not the Russian people who are denouncing a “capitulation” but, instead, why are all the enemies of Russia freaking out about capitulating?

* * *

And now, where do we go from here?

Actually, I am very cautiously optimistic since there is a huge difference between Russia and the US: the US needs constant wars simply in order to survive, whereas Russia needs peace to flourish. Now that the Russians are the biggest player in the Middle-East (well, with the Iranians, of course), they will use the fact that they have pretty good relationships with everybody, including (former?) enemies of Russia like the KSA or the UAE.

Of course, there shall be no peace between Israel and the rest of the Middle-East, if only because by its very nature Israel is a mortal threat to every country in the region, even for countries which currently eagerly collaborate with Israel (like the KSA). The only way for the long suffering Middle-East to finally live in peace again would be for the Zionist “occupation regime over Jerusalem to vanish from the arena of time” to use the famous, and often mistranslated, words of Ayatollah Khomeini. The current Iranian Supreme leader also clearly spelled out the only manner in which the Palestinian question can be solved peace will be achieved in the Middle-East:

“The Islamic Republic’s proposal to help resolve the Palestinian issue and heal this old wound is a clear and logical initiative based on political concepts accepted by world public opinion, which has already been presented in detail. We do not suggest launching a classic war by the armies of Muslim countries, or throwing immigrant Jews into the sea, or mediation by the UN and other international organizations. We propose holding a referendum with [the participation of] the Palestinian nation. The Palestinian nation, like any other nation, has the right to determine their own destiny and elect the governing system of the country.”

Both Iranian leaders are absolutely correct. There shall never be peace in the region as long as a crazed racist regime which has only contempt for the rest of the planet continues its slow motion genocide of the indigenous population of Palestine.

In the meantime, now that Syria, Russia, Iran, the Houthis, Hezbollah and the Shia forces in Iraq have successfully shown Uncle Shmuel the door out of Syria, the last Israeli plan (a “plan Z” perhaps) has now collapsed along with any hopes of creating an independent Kurdistan.

Israel is in no condition to take on such a powerful coalition. I would argue that even the US cannot win against this force, even if it still is capable of triggering a bloodbath (just like the Israelis did in 2006).

Of all the strategic collapses we have seen under the Obama and Trump presidencies, the loss of influence in the Middle-East is probably the biggest one of them all. This is a very positive development for the region and for the world. Now let’s just hope that whoever makes it into the White House in 2020 will understand that this is a done deal and will not try to make “the Empire great again” and reverse that course as any such attempts will result in a major regional war.

PS: here is a video of the “best military in history” being pelted by stones and veggies by disgusted Kurds while the US forces evacuate in a hurry. Really says it all, doesn’t it? Feel the love 😉

It also appears that the same sentiment is shared by the Iraqis who are now trying to take legal action to finally also give the boot to Uncle Shmuel, see here: https://www.rt.com/news/471645-iraq-pleads-un-help-us-troops/

Again, feel the love, the respect and the (lack) of fear

……………….

The Saker

 

 

The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War was Won – The Biggest Defeat for the CIA Since Vietnam – by Pepe Escobar (Consortium News) 18 Oct 2019

What is happening in Syria, following yet another Russia-brokered deal, is a massive geopolitical game-changer. I’ve tried to summarize it in a single paragraph this way:

“It’s a quadruple win. The U.S. performs a face saving withdrawal, which Trump can sell as avoiding a conflict with NATO ally Turkey. Turkey has the guarantee – by the Russians – that the Syrian Army will be in control of the Turkish-Syrian border. Russia prevents a war escalation and keeps the Russia-Iran-Turkey peace process alive.  And Syria will eventually regain control of the entire northeast.”

Syria may be the biggest defeat for the CIA since Vietnam.

Yet that hardly begins to tell the whole story.

Allow me to briefly sketch in broad historical strokes how we got here.

It began with an intuition I felt last month at the tri-border point of Lebanon, Syria and Occupied Palestine; followed by a subsequent series of conversations in Beirut with first-class Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, Russian, French and Italian analysts; all resting on my travels in Syria since the 1990s; with a mix of selected bibliography in French available at Antoine’s in Beirut thrown in.

The Vilayets

Let’s start in the 19thcentury when Syria consisted of six vilayets — Ottoman provinces — without counting Mount Lebanon, which had a special status since 1861 to the benefit of Maronite Christians and Jerusalem, which was a sanjak (administrative division) of Istanbul.

The vilayets did not define the extremely complex Syrian identity: for instance, Armenians were the majority in the vilayet of Maras, Kurds in Diyarbakir – both now part of Turkey in southern Anatolia – and the vilayets of Aleppo and Damascus were both Sunni Arab.

Nineteenth century Ottoman Syria was the epitome of cosmopolitanism. There were no interior borders or walls. Everything was inter-dependent.

Then the Europeans, profiting from World War I, intervened. France got the Syrian-Lebanese littoral, and later the vilayets of Maras and Mosul (today in Iraq). Palestine was separated from Cham (the “Levant”), to be internationalized. The vilayet of Damascus was cut in half: France got the north, the Brits got the south. Separation between Syria and the mostly Christian Lebanese lands came later.

There was always the complex question of the Syria-Iraq border. Since antiquity, the Euphrates acted as a barrier, for instance between the Cham of the Umayyads and their fierce competitors on the other side of the river, the Mesopotamian Abbasids.

James Barr, in his splendid “A Line in the Sand,” notes, correctly, that the Sykes-Picot agreement imposed on the Middle East the European conception of territory: their “line in the sand” codified a delimited separation between nation-states. The problem is, there were no nation-states in region in the early 20thcentury.

The birth of Syria as we know it was a work in progress, involving the Europeans, the Hashemite dynasty, nationalist Syrians invested in building a Greater Syria including Lebanon, and the Maronites of Mount Lebanon. An important factor is that few in the region lamented losing dependence on Hashemite Medina, and except the Turks, the loss of the vilayet of Mosul in what became Iraq after World War I.

In 1925, Sunnis became the de facto prominent power in Syria, as the French unified Aleppo and Damascus. During the 1920s France also established the borders of eastern Syria. And the Treaty of Lausanne, in 1923, forced the Turks to give up all Ottoman holdings but didn’t keep them out of the game.

The Turks soon started to encroach on the French mandate, and began blocking the dream of Kurdish autonomy. France in the end gave in: the Turkish-Syrian border would parallel the route of the fabled Bagdadbahn — the Berlin-Baghdad railway.

In the 1930s France gave in even more: the sanjak of Alexandretta (today’s Iskenderun, in Hatay province, Turkey), was finally annexed by Turkey in 1939 when only 40 percent of the population was Turkish.

The annexation led to the exile of tens of thousands of Armenians. It was a tremendous blow for Syrian nationalists. And it was a disaster for Aleppo, which lost its corridor to the Eastern Mediterranean.

To the eastern steppes, Syria was all about Bedouin tribes. To the north, it was all about the Turkish-Kurdish clash. And to the south, the border was a mirage in the desert, only drawn with the advent of Transjordan. Only the western front, with Lebanon, was established, and consolidated after WWII.

This emergent Syria — out of conflicting Turkish, French, British and myriad local interests —obviously could not, and did not, please any community. Still, the heart of the nation configured what was described as “useful Syria.” No less than 60 percent of the nation was — and remains — practically void. Yet, geopolitically, that translates into “strategic depth” — the heart of the matter in the current war.

From Hafez to Bashar

Starting in 1963, the Baath party, secular and nationalist, took over Syria, finally consolidating its power in 1970 with Hafez al-Assad, who instead of just relying on his Alawite minority, built a humongous, hyper-centralized state machinery mixed with a police state. The key actors who refused to play the game were the Muslim Brotherhood, all the way to being massacred during the hardcore 1982 Hama repression.

Secularism and a police state: that’s how the fragile Syrian mosaic was preserved. But already in the 1970s major fractures were emerging: between major cities and a very poor periphery; between the “useful” west and the Bedouin east; between Arabs and Kurds. But the urban elites never repudiated the iron will of Damascus: cronyism, after all, was quite profitable.

Damascus interfered heavily with the Lebanese civil war since 1976 at the invitation of the Arab League as a “peacekeeping force.” In Hafez al-Assad’s logic, stressing the Arab identity of Lebanon was essential to recover Greater Syria. But Syrian control over Lebanon started to unravel in 2005, after the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, very close to Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) eventually left.

Bashar al-Assad had taken power in 2000. Unlike his father, he bet on the Alawites to run the state machinery, preventing the possibility of a coup but completely alienating himself from the poor, Syrian on the street.

What the West defined as the Arab Spring, began in Syria in March 2011; it was a revolt against the Alawites as much  as a revolt against Damascus. Totally instrumentalized by the foreign interests, the revolt sprang up in extremely poor, dejected Sunni peripheries: Deraa in the south, the deserted east, and the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo.

What was not understood in the West is that this “beggars banquet” was not against the Syrian nation, but against a “regime.” Jabhat al-Nusra, in a P.R. exercise, even broke its official link with al-Qaeda and changed its denomination to Fatah al-Cham and then Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (“Organization for the Liberation of the Levant”). Only ISIS/Daesh said they were fighting for the end of Sykes-Picot.

By 2014, the perpetually moving battlefield was more or less established: Damascus against both Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS/Daesh, with a wobbly role for the Kurds in the northeast, obsessed in preserving the cantons of Afrin, Kobane and Qamichli.

But the key point is that each katiba (“combat group”), each neighborhood, each village, and in fact each combatant was in-and-out of allegiances non-stop. That yielded a dizzying nebulae of jihadis, criminals, mercenaries, some linked to al-Qaeda, some to Daesh, some trained by the Americans, some just making a quick buck.

For instance Salafis — lavishly financed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — especially Jaish al-Islam, even struck alliances with the PYD Kurds in Syria and the jihadis of Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (the remixed, 30,000-strong  al-Qaeda in Syria). Meanwhile, the PYD Kurds (an emanation of the Turkish Kurds’ PKK, which Ankara consider “terrorists”) profited from this unholy mess — plus a deliberate ambiguity by Damascus – to try to create their autonomous Rojava.

That Turkish Strategic Depth

Turkey was all in. Turbo-charged by the neo-Ottoman politics of former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the logic was to reconquer parts of the Ottoman empire, and get rid of Assad because he had helped PKK Kurdish rebels in Turkey.

Davutoglu’s Strategik Derinlik (“Strategic Depth’), published in 2001, had been a smash hit in Turkey, reclaiming the glory of eight centuries of an sprawling empire, compared to puny 911 kilometers of borders fixed by the French and the Kemalists. Bilad al Cham, the Ottoman province congregating Lebanon, historical Palestine, Jordan and Syria, remained a powerful magnet in both the Syrian and Turkish unconscious.

No wonder Turkey’s Recep Erdogan was fired up: in 2012 he even boasted he was getting ready to pray in the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, post-regime change, of course. He has been gunning for a safe zone inside the Syrian border — actually a Turkish enclave — since 2014. To get it, he has used a whole bag of nasty players — from militias close to the Muslim Brotherhood to hardcore Turkmen gangs.

With the establishment of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), for the first time Turkey allowed foreign weaponized groups to operate on its own territory. A training camp was set up in 2011 in the sanjakof Alexandretta. The Syrian National Council was also created in Istanbul – a bunch of non-entities from the diaspora who had not been in Syria for decades.

Ankara enabled a de facto Jihad Highway — with people from Central Asia, Caucasus, Maghreb, Pakistan, Xinjiang, all points north in Europe being smuggled back and forth at will. In 2015, Ankara, Riyadh and Doha set up the dreaded Jaish al-Fath (“Army of Conquest”), which included Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda).

At the same time, Ankara maintained an extremely ambiguous relationship with ISIS/Daesh, buying its smuggled oil, treating jihadis in Turkish hospitals, and paying zero attention to jihad intel collected and developed on Turkish territory. For at least five years, the MIT — Turkish intelligence – provided political and logistic background to the Syrian opposition while weaponizing a galaxy of Salafis. After all, Ankara believed that ISIS/Daesh only existed because of the “evil” deployed by the Assad regime.

The Russian Factor

The first major game-changer was the spectacular Russian entrance in the summer of 2015. Vladimir Putin had asked the U.S. to join in the fight against the Islamic State as the Soviet Union allied against Hitler, negating the American idea that this was Russia’s bid to restore its imperial glory. But the American plan instead, under Barack Obama, was single-minded: betting on a rag-tag Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a mix of Kurds and Sunni Arabs, supported by air power and U.S. Special Forces, north of the Euphrates, to smash ISIS/Daesh all the way to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.

Raqqa, bombed to rubble by the Pentagon, may have been taken by the SDF, but Deir ez-Zor was taken by Damascus’s Syrian Arab Army. The ultimate American aim was to consistently keep the north of the Euphrates under U.S. power, via their proxies, the SDF and the Kurdish PYD/YPG. That American dream is now over, lamented by imperial Democrats and Republicans alike.

The CIA will be after Trump’s scalp till Kingdom Come.

Kurdish Dream Over

Talk about a cultural misunderstanding. As much as the Syrian Kurds believed U.S. protection amounted to an endorsement of their independence dreams, Americans never seemed to understand that throughout the “Greater Middle East” you cannot buy a tribe. At best, you can rent them. And they use you according to their interests. I’ve seen it from Afghanistan to Iraq’s Anbar province.

The Kurdish dream of a contiguous, autonomous territory from Qamichli to Manbij is over. Sunni Arabs living in this perimeter will resist any Kurdish attempt at dominance.

The Syrian PYD was founded in 2005 by PKK militants. In 2011, Syrians from the PKK came from Qandil – the PKK base in northern Iraq – to build the YPG militia for the PYD. In predominantly Arab zones, Syrian Kurds are in charge of governing because for them Arabs are seen as a bunch of barbarians, incapable of building their “democratic, socialist, ecological and multi-communitarian” society.

One can imagine how conservative Sunni Arab tribal leaders hate their guts. There’s no way these tribal leaders will ever support the Kurds against the SAA or the Turkish army; after all these Arab tribal leaders spent a lot of time in Damascus seeking support from Bashar al-Assad.  And now the Kurds themselves have accepted that support in the face of the Trukish incursion, greenlighted by Trump.

East of Deir ez-Zor, the PYD/YPG already had to say goodbye to the region that is responsible for 50 percent of Syria’s oil production. Damascus and the SAA now have the upper hand. What’s left for the PYD/YPG is to resign themselves to Damascus’s and Russian protection against Turkey, and the chance of exercising sovereignty in exclusively Kurdish territories.

Ignorance of the West

The West, with typical Orientalist haughtiness, never understood that Alawites, Christians, Ismailis and Druze in Syria would always privilege Damascus for protection compared to an “opposition” monopolized by hardcore Islamists, if not jihadis.  The West also did not understand that the government in Damascus, for survival, could always count on formidable Baath party networks plus the dreaded mukhabarat — the intel services.

Rebuilding Syria

The reconstruction of Syria may cost as much as $200 billion. Damascus has already made it very clear that the U.S. and the EU are not welcome. China will be in the forefront, along with Russia and Iran; this will be a project strictly following the Eurasia integration playbook — with the Chinese aiming to revive Syria’s strategic positioning in the Ancient Silk Road.

As for Erdogan, distrusted by virtually everyone, and a tad less neo-Ottoman than in the recent past, he now seems to have finally understood that Bashar al-Assad “won’t go,” and he must live with it. Ankara is bound to remain imvolved with Tehran and Moscow, in finding a comprehensive, constitutional solution for the Syrian tragedy through the former “Astana process”, later developed in Ankara.

The war may not have been totally won, of course. But against all odds, it’s clear a unified, sovereign Syrian nation is bound to prevail over every perverted strand of geopolitical molotov cocktails concocted in sinister NATO/GCC labs. History will eventually tell us that, as an example to the whole Global South, this will remain the ultimate game-changer.

……………..

https://thesaker.is/the-road-to-damascus-how-the-syria-war-was-won/

 

The EU Is Rewriting WWII History to Demonize the Red Army and Communist Russia – by Max Parry • 22 October 2019

Last month, on the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II, the European Parliament voted on a resolution entitled “On the Importance of European Remembrance for the Future of Europe.” The adopted document:

“…Stresses that the Second World War, the most devastating war in Europe’s history, was started as an immediate result of the notorious Nazi-Soviet Treaty on Non-Aggression of 23 August 1939, also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and its secret protocols, whereby two totalitarian regimes that shared the goal of world conquest divided Europe into two zones of influence; Recalls that the Nazi and communist regimes carried out mass murders, genocide and deportations and caused a loss of life and freedom in the 20th century on a scale unseen in human history, and recalls the horrific crime of the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazi regime; condemns in the strongest terms the acts of aggression, crimes against humanity and mass human rights violations perpetrated by the Nazi, communist and other totalitarian regimes.”

For 75 years, we have been told that the war started on September 1st, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland, even though the Pacific Theater between Japan and China began two years earlier. Now we are to understand that it actually began eight days prior when the German foreign minister visited Moscow. Take no notice of the inherent doublespeak in the premise that a war could be the consequence of a peace agreement, which without any evidence provided is said to have contained “secret protocols”, not provisions. You see, unlike the other pacts signed between European countries and Nazi Germany — such as the Munich Betrayal of 1938 with France and Great Britain to which the Soviets were uninvited while Austria and Czechoslovakia were gifted to Hitler for the courtesy of attacking Moscow — Molotov-Ribbentrop was really a confidential agreement between Hitler and Stalin to conquer Europe and divide it between them.

This is pure mythology. The fact of the matter is that neither the Soviets or even Germany drew the dividing line in Poland in 1939, because it was a reinstatement of the border acknowledged by the League of Nations and Poland itself as put forward by the British following WWI. Even Winston Churchill during his first wartime radio broadcast later that year admitted:

“Russia has pursued a cold policy of self-interest. We could have wished that the Russian Armies should be standing on their present line as the friends and allies of Poland, instead of as invaders. But that the Russian Armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace.”

Yet according to the EU, even though Moscow was the last country to agree to a peace deal with Hitler, it was all part of a hidden plot between them. In that case, why then did Germany choose to invade the USSR in 1941? The EU leaves this question unanswered. Forget about its racial policies of enslaving slavs or that Hitler openly declared in Mein Kampf that Germany needed to conquer the East to secure the Lebensraum . Nevermind that in the Spring of 1941, less than two months before Operation Barbarossa, Stalin gave a speech to the Kremlin at a state banquet for recent graduates of the Frunze Military Academy to give warning of an imminent attack:

“War with Germany is inevitable. If comrade Molotov can manage to postpone the war for two or three months through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that will be our good fortune, but you yourselves must go off and take measures to raise the combat readiness of our forces.”

The EU has redacted that the entire reason for the signing of the Nazi-Soviet pact in August 1939 had been to buy time for the Red Army’s attrition warfare strategy to adequately prepare its armaments against a future invasion by the Wehrmacht. The Soviet leadership well understood that Germany would eventually renege on the agreement, considering that in 1936 it had signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan and Italy directed at the Communist International. For six years, the USSR was thwarted in its attempts to forge an equivalent anti-fascist coalition and to collectively defend Czechoslovakia by the British and the French, whose ruling classes were too busy courting and doing business with Germany. It had been the Soviets alone who defended the Spanish Republic from Franco in the final rehearsal before the worldwide conflict and only when all other recourses had run out did they finally agree to a deal with the Hitlerites.

Joachim von Ribbentrop signing the Anti-Comintern Pact
Joachim von Ribbentrop signing the Anti-Comintern Pact

Just a week prior to the signing of the neutrality treaty, Stalin gave a secret speech to the Politburo where he explained:

“The question of war or peace has entered a critical phase for us. If we conclude a mutual assistance treaty with France and Great Britain, Germany will back off of Poland and seek a modus vivendi with the Western Powers. War would thus be prevented but future events could take a serious turn for the USSR. If we accept Germany’s proposal to conclude with it a non-aggression pact, Germany will then attack Poland and Europe will be thrown into serious acts of unrest and disorder. Under these circumstances we will have many chances of remaining out of the conflict while being able to hope for our own timely entrance into war.”

This latest resolution is part of a long pattern of misrepresentation of WWII by the Anglo-Saxon empire, but is perhaps its most egregious falsification that truly desecrates the graves of the 27 million Soviet citizens who were 80% of the total Allied death toll. Earlier this year, for the commemoration on the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings, Russia and its head of state were excluded from the events in Portsmouth, England. As if the ongoing absence of Western European leaders from the May 9th Victory Day ceremonies held annually in Russia weren’t insulting enough, while it’s true that the Eastern Front was not involved in Operation Overlord, Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously been in attendance at the 70th anniversary D-Day events in 2014. No doubt the increase in geopolitical tensions between the West and Moscow in the years since has given the EU license to write out Russia’s role in the Allied victory entirely with little public disapproval, though many of the families of those who volunteered in the International Brigades were rightly insulted by this tampering of history and voiced their objection.

The EU motion‘s real purpose is to fabricate the war’s history by giving credit to the United States for the liberation of Europe while absolving the Western democracies that opened the door for the rise of fascism and tried to use Germany to annihilate the USSR. History itself should always be open to debate and subject to study and revision, but the Atlanticists have made this formal change without any evidence to support it and entirely for political purposes. Like the founding of the EU project itself, the declared aim of the proposal is supposedly to prevent future atrocities from taking place, even though the superstate was designed by former Nazis like Walter Hallstein, the first President of the European Commission, who was a German lawyer in several Nazi Party law organizations and fought for the Wehrmacht in France until his capture as a POW after the invasion of Normandy.

Rather than preventing future crimes, the EU has committed one itself by deceptively modifying the historical record of communism to be parallel with that of the Third Reich. Even further, that they were two sides of the same coin of ‘totalitarianism’ and that for all the barbarity committed during the war, the Soviets were equally culpable — or judging by the amount of times the text cites the USSR versus Germany, even more so. It remains unclear whether we are now to completely disregard the previous conclusions reached by the military tribunals held by the Allies under international law at Nuremberg of which all 12 war criminals sentenced to death in 1946 were German, not Soviet. The document doesn’t even attempt to hide its politicized direction at the current government in Moscow, stating that:

“Russia remains the greatest victim of communist totalitarianism and that its development into a democratic state will be impeded as long as the government, the political elite and political propaganda continue to whitewash communist crimes and glorify the Soviet totalitarian regime.”

This accusation does not stand up to critical observation, as Russia has since erected official memorials to those executed and politically persecuted during the so-called ‘Great Terror.’ However, the stark difference between the EU resolution and the Wall of Grief in Moscow is that the latter is based on evidence from the Soviet archives. It has become a widespread and ridiculous belief in the West that Stalin somehow killed as much as five times as many people as Hitler, an absurdity not reflected in the now disclosed and once highly secretive Soviet archives, which after two decades of examination show that over a period of three decades from the early 1920s to his death in 1953, the total recorded number of Soviet citizens executed by the state was slightly less than 800,000. While that is certainly a horrid number, how does it even begin to compare to an industrial scale extermination based on the race theory?

How can anyone believe Stalin killed tens of millions of people when even the most simple analysis of a population demographics chart shows that the Soviet population rate consistently increased each decade with the only reduction taking place during WWII as a result of their casualties? Socialists, who perhaps more than any other political tendency seem to suffer from autophobia, should defend their own history from such falsification. It is only when flaws occur under communist states that the entire political and economic system is to be denounced outright, but never capitalism which for five centuries has colonized half the world while enslaving and killing entire nations.

Most of the wildly exaggerated death figures stem from falsities written in The Black Book of Communism by a group of right-wing French academics in 1997 ,who did not conceal their apologism for the Nazi collaborationist self-proclaimed Russian Liberation Army (ROA) commanded by Gen. Andrey Vlasov who defected to Germany during the war:

“A singular fate was reserved for the Vlasovtsy, the Soviet soldiers who had fought under the Soviet general Andrei Vlasov. Vlasov was the commander of the Second Army who had been taken prisoner by the Germans in July 1942. On the basis of his anti-Stalinist convictions, General Vlasov agreed to collaborate with the Nazis to free his country from the tyranny of the Bolsheviks.”

The other highly cited work by the West for its overestimated portrayal of Soviet repression is the equally unreliable The Gulag Archipelago volumes by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who as historian Ludo Martens noted also attempted to provide justification for Vlasov’s treason in his best-selling 1973 work:

“And so it was that Vlasov’s Second Shock Army perished, literally recapitulating the fate of Samsonov’s Russian Second Army in World War I, having been just as insanely thrown into encirclement. Now this, of course, was treason to the Motherland! This, of course, was vicious, self-obsessed betrayal! But it was Stalin’s. Treason does not necessarily involve selling out for money. It can include ignorance and carelessness in the preparations for war, confusion and cowardice at its very start, the meaningless sacrifice of armies and corps solely for the sake of saving one’s own marshal’s uniform. Indeed, what more bitter treason is there on the part of a Supreme Commander in Chief?”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The truth is located in the Soviet archives which indicate that Stalin’s successor, the Ukrainian-born Nikita Khrushchev, was as intent on absolving the entirety of the Soviet leadership as himself from any culpability in the purges of the 1930s so that blame for its excesses were placed squarely on his predecessor. In succession, Western historians like the British Foreign Office propagandist Robert Conquest followed his example and this account quickly became official doctrine. In hindsight, Khrushchev’s infamous 1956 secret speech, “On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences”, was what planted the seeds of self-doubt in the Soviet system that would eventually lead to its undoing decades later. To the contrary, what the historical records show is most of those who were purged in that period were not necessarily perceived as political threats to Stalin himself, but were targeted because of an overall systemic paranoia held by the entire Soviet government regarding internal sabotage and counter-revolutionary activity by a real fifth column getting inspiration from a certain traitorous former Bolshevik in exile and a potential invasion originating from outside the country.

Many forget that during the Russian Civil War, exactly such a scenario had occurred when the Allies of World War I, including the United States, collectively intervened on the side of the Whites only to be driven out by the Red Army, making such fearful instincts not entirely unreasonable. Not to mention, the rapid industrialization of the entire nation in a single decade while in preparation for the growing threat of war with Germany. When Hitler began his Masterplan for the East, their worst fears came to fruition when tens of thousands of Banderite turncoats enlisted in the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician) in Ukraine to collaborate with the German occupiers in the slaughter of their fellow countrymen and after the war ended, continued their treasonous struggle during the 1950s with assistance from the CIA. So the saying goes, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you…

As for the accusation of “whitewashing”, it is true that recent polls indicate that 70% of Russians today hold a favorable view of Stalin — but just as many are nostalgic for communism itself and regret the breakup of the USSR on the basis that the socialist systemtook care of ordinary people.’ Putin did once remark that despite Stalin’s legacy of repression, he doubted that the native Georgian statesman would have been willing to drop two atomic bombs on Japan like the United States, an atrocity that killed 225,000 innocent civilians (most of them instantly) which is more than a quarter of those capitally punished during the entire Stalin era. Was he wrong to say so? A significant amount of deaths also occurred in the Soviet-wide famines of the 1930s, but there is significantly more evidence to suggest that the British deliberately starved 3 million Bengalis to death then there is to support the Holodomor fraud concocted by the Ukrainian nationalist diaspora. If the West wants to talk about deliberate starvation, it should take a look at what the U.S. did with its economic sanctions in the 1990s killing half a million Iraqi children which former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famously described as “worth it.”

This isn’t the first time the Anglosphere has historically omitted the Soviet role in the Allied victory or conflated the USSR with the Third Reich. On previous occasions the European Parliament has issued resolutions declaring August 23rd “a European day of remembrance of the victims of the Nazi-Soviet alliance.” This is all an attempt by the Atlanticists to depict communism as somehow worse than fascism while disconnecting the Nazis from the lineage of European settler colonialism whose racism was its source of inspiration. Why is that which befell the Jews not considered an extension of what was already done to the Herero-Nama tribes for which Namibia is now suing Germany a century later?

The neoliberal political establishment in Europe and its anti-EU populist opponents are fond of appearing dead-set against one another, but it seems they share the same fairytale beliefs about WWII that the Nazis and Soviets were equivalent evils as inscribed in this latest decree. It has always been ironic that the liberal billionaire “philanthropist” and currency manipulator George Soros is so derided by right-wing populists when it was his Open Society Institute NGOs which engineered the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Soros may be averse to the anti-immigrant brand of right-wing nationalism currently on the rise in Western Europe, but as a fanatical Russophobe he is willing to make strange bedfellows with ultra-nationalists in Kiev to undermine Moscow’s sphere of influence and that includes revising WWII history to a version favored by the Banderites which took power during the pro-EU 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine.

The Nazi junta regime in Kiev has since instituted Russophobic ‘de-communization’ laws erasing the remaining traces of Ukraine’s Soviet past while replacing them with memorials to their wartime foes. A recent example was the city of Vinnitsa renaming a street that paid tribute to the Soviet spy and war hero Richard Sorge to that after Omelyan Hrabetsk, a commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army which cooperated with Germany during the war and killed thousands of Poles and Jews. Sorge posed as a German journalist in Tokyo and famously provided timely intelligence to Moscow that Japan did not plan to attack the USSR, allowing Stalin to transfer essential reinforcements to the Battle of Moscow which proved to be a major turning point in the war. He was executed by the Japanese in 1944 and posthumously awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union.

Now the EU is ‘decommunizing’ history in its own legislation. Meanwhile, Soros’s influence over the EU cannot be overstated as his lobbying power has enabled him to provide direct council to its executive branch more than any official head of state in the political and economic union. The hedge fund tycoon made a fortune as an investor during Russia’s mass privatization in the 1990s after enlisting Jeffrey Sachs and the IMF to apply ‘shock therapy’ to its economy as it did in Poland and his native Hungary. Under Putin, however, Soros’s NGOs have since been barred from Russia. Perhaps the reason he can so cynically provide support to fascist elements in Ukraine to undercut Moscow is that he did so personally in his upbringing in Hungary.

Born Gyorgy Schwartz, during WWII he was a teenager from an affluent Jewish family which survived the Axis occupation by using their wealth to bribe a government official from the collaborationist Arrow Cross government who provided the Soros’s forged documents identifying them as Christians, while the adolescent by his own admission delivered deportation notices to other Jews. A short time later, the young Soros impersonated the adopted gentile son of an official who inventoried the stolen valuables and property from Jewish estates and even accompanied him during his work. One would assume as a Jew he would have been haunted by these experiences, but Soros has repeatedly stated he has no regrets and even disturbingly compared it to his future work as an investor.


George Soros was himself a Nazi collaborator and to this day has no regrets

Like Soros, the EU has no ideology except an unquenchable thirst for greed and is fond of Nazis when they are the kind that hate Russia. For its own political interests, it is willing to dangerously foster a version of history invented by a rebranded far right where the quislings who collaborated with the Axis powers elude guilt and the Soviets who courageously defeated them are maliciously slandered. Fascism was never fully eradicated only because the West continued to nurture it during the Cold War and even now that capitalism has been reinstated in Eurasia, it continues to do so to undermine a resurgent Moscow on the world stage.

As the world appears increasingly on the brink of WWIII, one is reminded of the expression by Karl Marx who famously stated that “history repeats itself…first as tragedy, then as farce” in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, when comparing Napoleon Bonaparte’s seizure of power in the French Revolution with the coup by his nephew half a century later which brought an end to the French Revolution. Equally fitting is the humorous line by the legendary writer and noted anti-imperialist Mark Twain who reputedly said, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” Both are applicable to the unquestionable tragedy of WWII and the farcical mockery of its history by the EU whose policies continue to make another global conflict that much more likely.

Max Parry is an independent journalist and geopolitical analyst. His work has appeared in Counterpunch, Global Research, Dissident Voice, Greanville Post, OffGuardian, American Herald Tribune and more. Max may be reached atmaxrparry@live.com

The Putin-Nazis Are Coming (Again)! – by C.J. Hopkins • 21 October 2019

Tulsi Gabbard a Real American Hero

 

So, it looks like that’s it for America, folks. Putin has gone and done it again. He and his conspiracy of Putin-Nazis have “hacked,” or “influenced,” or “meddled in” our democracy. Unless Admiral Bill McRaven and his special ops cronies can ginny up a last-minute military coup, it’s four more years of the Trumpian Reich, Russian soldiers patrolling the streets, martial law, concentration camps, gigantic banners with the faces of Trump and Putin hanging in the football stadiums, mandatory Sieg-heiling in the public schools, National Vodka-for-Breakfast Day, death’s heads, babushkas, the whole nine yards.

We probably should have seen this coming.

That’s right, as I’m sure you are aware by now, president-in-exile Hillary Clinton has discovered Putin’s diabolical plot to steal the presidency from Elizabeth Warren, or Biden, or whichever establishment puppet makes it out of the Democratic primaries. Speaking to former Obama adviser and erstwhile partner at AKPD Message and Media David Plouffe, Clinton revealed how the godless Rooskies intend to subvert democracy this time:

“I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate.”

She was referring, of course, to Tulsi Gabbard, sitting Democratic Member of Congress, decorated Major in the Army National Guard, and long shot 2020 presidential candidate. Apparently, Gabbard (who reliable anonymous sources in the Intelligence Community have confirmed is a member of some kind of treasonous, Samoan-Hindu, Assad-worshipping cult that wants to force everyone to practice yoga) has been undergoing Russian “grooming” at a compound in an undisclosed location that is probably in the basement of Mar-a-Lago, or on Sublevel 168 of Trump Tower.

In any event, wherever Gabbard is being surreptitiously “groomed” (presumably by someone resembling Lotte Lenya in From Russia With Love), the plan (i.e., Putin’s plan) is to have her lose in the Democratic primaries, then run as a third-party “spoiler” candidate, stealing votes from Warren or Biden, exactly as Jill Stein (who, according to Clinton, is also “totally a Russian asset”) stole them from Clinton back in 2016, allowing Putin to install Donald Trump (who, according to Clinton, is still being blackmailed by the FSB with that “kompromat” pee-tape) in the White House, where she so clearly belongs.

Clinton’s comments came on the heels of a preparatory smear-piece in The New York Times, What, Exactly, Is Tulsi Gabbard Up To?, which reported at length on how Gabbard has been “injecting chaos” into the Democratic primaries. Professional “disinformation experts” supplied The Times with convincing evidence (i.e., unfounded hearsay and innuendo) of “suspicious activity” surrounding Gabbard’s campaign. Former Clinton-aide Laura Rosenberger (who also just happens to be the Director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, “a bipartisan transatlantic national security advocacy group” comprised of former Intelligence Community and U.S. State Department officials, and publisher of the Hamilton 68 dashboard) “sees Gabbard as a potentially useful vector for Russian efforts to sow division.”

The Times piece goes on to list an assortment of unsavory, extremist, white supremacist, horrible, neo-Nazi-type persons that Tulsi Gabbard has nothing to do with, but which Hillary Clinton, the Intelligence Community, The Times, and the rest of the corporate media would like you to mentally associate her with. Richard Spencer, David Duke, Steve Bannon, Mike Cernovich, Tucker Carlson, and so on. Neo-Nazi sites like the Daily Stormer. 4chan, where, according to The New York Times, neo-Nazis like to “call her Mommy.”

In keeping with professional journalistic ethics, The Times also reached out to experts on fascism, fascist terrorism, terrorist fascism, fascist-adjacent Assad-apologism, Hitlerism, horrorism, Russia, and so on, to confirm Gabbard’s guilt-by-association with the people The Times had just associated her with. Brian Levin, Director of the CSU Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, confirmed that Gabbard has “the seal of approval” within goose-stepping, Hitler-loving, neo-Nazi circles. The Alliance for Securing Democracy (yes, the one from the previous paragraph) conducted an “independent analysis” which confirmed that RT (“the Kremlin-backed news agency”) had mentioned Gabbard far more often than the Western corporate media (which isn’t backed by anyone, and is totally unbiased and independent, despite the fact that most of it is owned by a handful of powerful global corporations, and at least one CIA-affiliated oligarch). Oh, and Hawaii State Senator Kai Kahele, who is challenging Gabbard for her seat in Congress, agreed with The Times that Gabbard’s support from Jew-hating, racist Putin-Nazis might be a potential liability.

“Clearly there’s something about her and her policies that attracts and appeals to these type of people who are white nationalists, anti-Semites, and Holocaust deniers.”

But it’s not just The New York Times, of course. No sooner had Clinton finished cackling than the corporate media launched into their familiar Goebbelsian piano routine, banging out story after television segment repeating the words “Gabbard” and “Russian asset.” I’ve singled out The Times because the smear piece in question was clearly a warm-up for Hillary Clinton’s calculated smear job on Friday night. No, the old gal hasn’t lost her mind. She knew exactly what she was doing, as did the editors of The New York Times, as did every other establishment news source that breathlessly “reported” her neo-McCarthyite smears.

As I noted in my previous essay, 2020 is for all the marbles, and it’s not just about who wins the election. No, it’s mostly about crushing the “populist” backlash against the hegemony of global capitalism and its happy, smiley-faced, conformist ideology. To do that, the neoliberal establishment has to delegitimize, and lethally stigmatize, not just Trump, but also people like Gabbard, Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn … and any other popular political figure (left, right, it makes no difference) deviating from that ideology.

In Trump’s case, it’s his neo-nationalism. In Sanders and Corbyn’s, it’s socialism (or at least some semblance of social democracy). In Gabbard’s, it’s her opposition to the Corporatocracy’s ongoing efforts to restructure and privatize the Middle East (and the rest of the entire planet), and their using the U.S. military to do it.

Ask yourself, what do Trump, Sanders, Corbyn, and Gabbard have in common? No, it’s not their Putin-Nazism … it’s the challenge they represent to global capitalism. Each, in his or her own way, is a symbol of the growing populist resistance to the privatization and globalization of everything. And thus, they must be delegitimized, stigmatized, and relentlessly smeared as “Russian assets,” “anti-Semites,” “traitors,” “white supremacists,” “fascists,” “communists,” or some other type of “extremists.”

Gabbard, to her credit, understands this, and is focusing attention on the motives and tactics of the neoliberal establishment and their smear machine. As I noted in an essay last year, “the only way to effectively counter a smear campaign (whether large-scale or small-scale) is to resist the temptation to profess your innocence, and, instead, focus as much attention on the tactics and the motives of the smearers as possible.” This will not save her, but it is the best she can do, and I applaud her for having the guts to do it. I hope she continues to give them hell as they finish off her candidacy and drive her out of office.

Oh, and if you’re contemplating sending me an email explaining how these smear campaigns don’t work (or you spent the weekend laughing about how Hillary Clinton lost her mind and made an utter jackass of herself), maybe check in with Julian Assange, who is about to be extradited to America, tried for exposing U.S. war crimes, and then imprisoned for the remainder of his natural life. If you can’t get through to Julian at Belmarsh, you could ring up Katharine Viner at The Guardian, which has ruthlessly smeared Assange for years, and published outright lies about him, and is apparently doing very well financially.

And, if Katharine is on holiday in Antigua or somewhere, or having tea with Hillary in the rooftop bar of the Hay-Adams Hotel, you could try Luke Harding (who not only writes and publishes propaganda for The Guardian, but who wrote a whole New York Times best-seller based on nothing but lies and smears). Or try Marty Baron, Dean Baquet, Paul Krugman, or even Rachel Maddow, or any of the other editors and journalists who have been covering the Putin-Nazi Attack on America,” and keeping us apprised of who is and isn’t a Hitler-loving “Russian asset.”

Ask them whether their smear machine is working … if you can get them off the phone with their brokers, or whoever is decorating their summer places in the Hamptons or out on Martha’s Vineyard.

Or ask the millions of well-off liberals who are still, even after Russiagate was exposed as an enormous hoax based on absolutely nothing, parroting this paranoid official narrative and calling people “Russian assets” on Twitter. Or never mind, just pay attention to what happens over the next twelve months. In terms of ridiculous official propaganda, spittle-flecked McCarthyite smears, and full-blown psychotic mass Putin-Nazi hysteria, it’s going to make the last three years look like the Propaganda Special Olympics.

……………….

C. J. Hopkins is an award-winning American playwright, novelist and political satirist based in Berlin. His plays are published by Bloomsbury Publishing (UK) and Broadway Play Publishing (USA). His debut novel, ZONE 23, is published by Snoggsworthy, Swaine & Cormorant Paperbacks. He can be reached at cjhopkins.com or consentfactory.org.

UK Manchester: Pro-Brexit Rally – The Unfinished Business of St Peter’s Field – Brendan O’Neill’s Speech – 20 Oct 2019

Yesterday, 19 October 2019, Brendan O’Neill spoke at a pro-Brexit rally organised by Leavers of Manchester close to the spot of the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. His speech is published below.

All my life, I’ve been labouring under an illusion: I believed I lived in a democratic country.

 

I believed that as a result of the sacrifices made by the people who marched here 200 years ago, Britain was now a democratic nation.

I believed that thanks to the tireless campaigning of the Chartists in the 1840s, British people had the right to vote.

I believed that thanks to the Suffragettes, every adult in this country, regardless of their sex or their station in life, had an equal say in how the country should be governed.

But now, I’m not so sure.

Because now I am told that the vote I cast in 2016 – the most important vote I have ever cast – can be overturned.

I am told that the votes of my friends and family can be overturned.

I am told that the votes of millions of my fellow citizens can be declared null and void. They can be destroyed; erased from history.

And if that can happen, if that does happen, then this is not a democratic country. And the suffering of the people who rallied in St Peter’s Field, on this spot, 200 years ago will have been in vain.

We cannot let that happen under any circumstances.

Let’s get real about Brexit. This is no longer a fight to take Britain out of the EU, although that absolutely must happen. This is a fight for democracy itself. This is a fight to preserve the vote.

This is a fight to ensure that ordinary people have as much say in the governance of this country as rich people, posh people, and those bloody people marching in London today to overturn the result of the 2016 referendum.

This is a fight to say that the people who marched here 200 years ago were right. They were right that even people who live in the most difficult of circumstances deserve equal democratic rights.

That’s why we are here today – to make sure the democratic progress those brave marchers fought for is not snuffed out by the new elites; by our political class and the ‘People’s Vote’ mob who trust the snobs and technocrats of Brussels more than they trust us, the British people.

We should never underestimate the seriousness of the political moment we are living through. We are living through a huge battle over democracy.

If our votes from 2016 can be trashed, then the right to vote itself becomes meaningless. If the largest democratic vote in the history of this nation is blocked or thwarted or diluted beyond recognition, then voting itself will be emptied of meaning.

The vote will become a hollow thing. It will be robbed of its power. If our votes are enacted only if the political class and chattering classes agree with what we say, that isn’t the right to vote at all. That is the right to vote so long as the establishment thinks you made the right decision.

That would kill the right to vote stone cold dead. It would disenfranchise us. These are the stakes.

The political and media elites who are lined up against Brexit and against us – what they really fear and loathe is democracy itself. It isn’t really the wisdom of leaving the EU that they are calling into question – it is the wisdom of the people.

What Gina Miller really detests is the idea that her cleaner should have the same political power as she does.

What those Remain snobs at the Guardian really hate is the idea that people who read the Sun should have the same voting power as they do.

What the leaders of the ‘People’s Vote’ movement really cannot stand is the idea that the people who live on the council estate at the end of their street should have the same say as them as to whether Britain stays in the EU.

Those people, with their St George’s flags hanging off their balconies, and their tabloid newspapers under their arms, and their white vans in their driveways – how is it possible that those people had the same right as nice middle-class people who went to Oxford to decide whether Britain should stay in the EU?

That is the question that keeps these people awake at night. Let us never underestimate the role that class hatred plays in the ultra-Remainer camp and in the broader war on Brexit. Make no mistake – these people would have been with the magistrates who sent out the yeomanry to cut down democratic protesters on this spot 200 years ago.

Democracy was a searingly radical idea 200 years ago when the good people of Manchester gathered here to demand their democratic rights. And it remains a searingly radical idea today. That is why this idea is causing the elites to go into such meltdown right now. They can’t believe people actually took this idea seriously; they can’t believe we really thought that working people should have the same voting power as wealthy people.

Well, we do! We take this idea very seriously indeed. Some of us think it is the most important idea in the entire history of politics. And that’s why we are here today to defend it.

We owe so much to the people who marched here 200 years ago. We owe so much to the 60,000 men, women and children who gathered here and said: ‘Give us a voice.’

Their bravery ignited the spirit of democracy; it gave rise to movements which won us the rights and comforts we enjoy today.

We cannot let those people down. Two hundred years ago, people’s democratic rights were cut down by swords and sabres – today our democratic rights are cut down by technocratic deal-making, middle-class arrogance, and parliamentary betrayal.

No more. Brexit is the people’s cry for greater democratic power. If democracy in this country is to survive, then Brexit must happen. And mark our words – it will.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

The Strange Death of Sean Kealiher AKA Armenio – Portland Antifa Anarchist Hit By SUV Under Gunfire – Nobody’s Talking – 18 Oct 2019

Why haven’t the police announced who was in the SUV that apparently struck Sean Kealiher?  The police arrived on the scene of an accident where the bullet riddled SUV was near the Democratic Party Headquarters.  No one was in the vehicle.  Police must have seen the license plates on the crashed SUV and run the license number through their computer system within ten minutes of arriving on the scene.  Perhaps a search might take longer, but, days later there seems to be nothing in the press reports of who the owner of the vehicle is and who was driving in the vehicle.

sean 5

A man who was sleeping rough in a tent a short distance from where the crash occurred said that there were loud arguments and one tough guy told people to leave the area or get physically beaten.  Was that Sean Kealiher who was a reputed martial arts practitioner and is online in a number of videos at demonstrations threatening people with violence. 

Sean 2

In the upside down world of anarchist flavored Cider Riot drinking establishment people think that they are living in Nazi German conditions from the 1930’s.  The anarchists see the police as fascists or agents of fascists.  So, the anarchists are proud to say, “we don’t call the police.”  The anarchist also don’t want to talk to the police to help find out what led to Sean Kealiher’s death in the street at the young age of twenty-three.  The police are the armed agents of the authoritarian state.  The police are viewed by the anarchists as proto-fascists forces.  So no one who saw Sean Kealiher knocked down wants to tell any Portland police officer what they saw.  In the anarchist mind they are living in Nazi Germany and resisting the forces of fascism and darkness. 

Sean Kealiher

Taking things one step further into a delusional understanding of the society they live in Sean Kealiher’s mother asked people at a memorial in the street where the young man fell to not talk to ‘the media’ either because they tell lies.   So, as little publicity as possible might get out and in a few days most people have forgotten that a young man was struck down in the street in the middle of the night while he thought he was fighting ghosts from fascist Germany.  What a nightmare. 

sean 4

The Unholy Mess of US Middle Eastern Strategy – by Anatol Lieven (Valdai) 14 Oct 2019

It is hard to exaggerate how utterly the USA has failed in the Middle East in the thirty years since the end of the Cold War. In the 1990s, US hegemony in the region was challenged by no outside great power competitor at all, and all the calculations which had underpinned Cold War strategies in the region had vanished. By the end of the decade, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had been reduced to an irritant, and Iran was ruled by the reformist government of President Mohammad Khatami. Yet President Clinton bowed to the Israelis (helped admittedly by some disastrous decisions by the PLO) and failed to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians even at a moment when Israel too faced no serious threat and the prospects for peace were better than at any time in the history of Israel.

Saudi Attack

Driven largely by the implacable US hatred of Iran created by the Iranian hostage crisis, the Clinton administration failed to seize the opportunity for reconciliation with Iran, instead choosing the strategy of “dual containment” of Iraq and Iran that laid the basis for Bush’s “Axis of Evil” approach after 9/11. As a result of the continued tension with Iran, Clinton failed to place any distance between the USA and Saudi Arabia, maintaining the close relationship which has burst into such poisonous flower in the time of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Finally, both the Clinton and Bush administrations (in its first seven months in power) failed to appreciate and counter the threat of Sunni Islamist terrorism, despite ample warnings.

The Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq created the circumstances for the rise of Al Qaeda in Iraq and its successor ISIS, thereby turning Salafist terrorism into fully-fledged insurgency. The overthrow of ancient Sunni Arab hegemony in Mesopotamia led both to horrendous sectarian conflict and an increase in Iranian power which terrified other states in the region. The stage was thus set for the dreadful conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

In Syria, the Obama administration’s decision (perhaps one should say Hilary Clinton’s rather than Obama’s) to treat Russia and Iran as enemies not allies against ISIS meant that the only possible US allies on the ground against ISIS were the Kurds. The result was an expansion of Kurdish power which inevitably frightened and infuriated all sections of the Turkish establishment, effectively drove Turkey out of NATO, and eventually led to the present Turkish invasion of the Kurdish-controlled Syria – accompanied by Turkish threats to destabilise NATO and the EU still further by sending new floods of Syrian refugees into Europe.

Despite the clear warnings in Iraq and Afghanistan of the dangers of destroying an existing state, the USA overthrew the Ghaddafi regime in Libya, leading to the collapse of the state, civil war, and a flow of migrants across the Mediterranean that has driven right wing extremism in Europe. In the process, the Obama administration also engaged in blatant deceit of Moscow and Beijing, destroying whatever remained of US diplomatic credibility in those capitals. And the USA has not even been able to prevent one set of allies in the region from boycotting another ally – Qatar – which is home to a vital US air base!

 

The current preferred explanation for the latest disasters on the part of the US establishment is the personal behaviour of President Trump – and indeed, in all the history of American diplomacy there may be nothing to equal Trump’s latest statements on Turkey and the Kurds for illiteracy, irresponsibility and absolute stupidity. In the wider world, some of Trump’s instincts appear to be good. Despite all his bluster, he shrinks from actual war, and he opened direct talks with the North Koreans and the Taliban that ought to have been initiated by Washington many years ago. Yet as these examples demonstrate, he appears incapable of the most minimal consistency or steadiness in his approaches, or indeed of grasping the basic dynamics of any given international relationship.

However, the concentration on blaming Trump is also a way for the US and Transatlantic establishments to excuse themselves for the series of disastrous and sometimes criminal decisions (and lack of decisions) by the previous three Democratic and Republican administrations. This pattern has its roots in the decay of the US political system and political establishment at home, including the power of lobbies and their money over US policy in key areas; the retreat of area studies in academia and think tanks, leading to sheer ignorance of some of the key countries with which the USA has to deal; the self-obsession, self-satisfaction and ideological megalomania that in every dispute leads so much of the US establishment and media to cast the USA as a force of absolute good, and its opponents as absolutely evil; and the failure – linked to these three syndromes – to identify vital an secondary interests and choose between them – a failure that has led the USA to the cvrazy position of confronting China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Turkey and ISIS all at the same time while alienating the countries of the European Union.

However, it must also be acknowledged that the structures of the Middle East itself have also been responsible for many disasters; and that the appalling bitterness, complexity and interconnectedness of the region’s problems would have challenged even the wisest and most far-sighted of would-be hegemons. It is not only that almost every state in the region is threatened from within by some combination of failure of socio-economic development, lack of political legitimacy, sectarian strife and rebellious minorities. The way in which these divides cut across the region means that almost every state has the capacity to pose an existential threat to other states, or at least is perceived to have this ability. The resulting set of fears and hatreds could be described as paranoid, except that in many cases they are in fact well-based.

The Middle East recalls, though on a much larger and more dreadful scale, the situation in the southern Caucasus by the mid-1990s. The newly independent states of the region had got into such a terrible mess, and fought (and generally lost) so many wars, that there was a widespread assumption among Western journalists covering the region that the result would be the creation of a new Pax Russica, with the agreement of most of the region’s exhausted inhabitants. But Moscow was never able to solve the problem – which probably was in fact insoluble – of how to incorporate Azerbaijan and Georgia in a new Russian-dominated security system without comprehensively betraying the Armenians, Ossetes and Abkhaz. With the threat of Russian military power severely diminished by failure in Chechnya (just as the threat of US ground invasion has become empty since the disaster in Iraq), no such Pax Russica could be established.

At the same time, given its own interests and the risk of new wars, Russia could never simply withdraw from the southern Caucasus. Nor – as both Obama and Trump have found – can the USA simply withdraw from the Middle East without causing yet more disasters. The answer, if there is an answer, lies in a fourfold US strategy: of the elimination of hatreds and disputes left over from the past; of trying as far as possible to play the role of an even-handed “honest broker” in local conflicts; of reducing US and Western dependence on oil, allowing distancing from Saudi Arabia; and of seeking a concert of power with Russia, China and India to combat terrorism and contain conflicts.

President Obama did try partially to achieve the first two goals, through the nuclear deal with Iran and his public recognition that Iran and Saudi Arabia will have to share influence in the region. But a combination of the outrageous public stances of Khatami’s successor, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad (in office 2005-2013) with bitter resistance from the Israel lobby, the Republican Party and many Congressional Democrats meant that Obama was only able to achieve the nuclear agreement towards the very end of his presidency, after which it was promptly torn up by Trump; and no more than any other US president was Obama able to achieve balance between Israelis and Palestinians or Turks and Kurds.

As for co-operation with Russia and China, this is ruled out both by wider hostility on the part of the USA and by the congenital incapacity of the US establishment to treat any other state as an equal. Nor indeed is there much evidence that China wishes to play a greater geopolitical role in the Middle East. As a Chinese official once told me, referring both to US failures and to Chinese awareness that they have no solutions for the regions’ conflicts, “Why would we want to get involved in that mess?” Given the modern history of the Middle East, it is hard not to agree with him; and as the Russian administration attempts to spread its influence in the Middle East, and to develop good relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran simultaneously, Moscow too would be well-advised to keep this in mind.

US military warns 2

I draw on every scrap of paper in my apartment – Every recycle cardboard box is turned inside out – I must draw

a recycle bin art 2 Oct 2019

I was looking at pictures I had posted on Imgur.com mostly pictures from the day’s news that I want to highlight.  I saw the picture I had taken when I looked in my recycle bin and saw I drawing I had made among the recycle materials.  There is printed material and a sardine can that is a little bronze color, a styrofoam cup from Dunkin Doughnuts, and empty olive oil bottle, the expensive stuff, that’s not from my house.  Of all the letters and half words and ingredients printed on the paper in the bin, my drawing is the only thing that is hand made, hand draw.

I have been trying for a long while to draw on every piece of scrap paper, or cardboard box that I toss in the recycle bin.  I have become a habitual drawer because I draw every often.  When a box of cereal is finished I take the box apart and use the brown clear inside of the box to draw.  I have cans of broken crayons and odd pens and pencils in cans and have these drawing tools and playthings in easy reach in every room in my five room apartment.  After a while when I see a blank sheet of paper, or a cardboard box, or even a clear surface I instantly think of what kind of a line drawing I would like to put there right here, right now.

I said to one of my wives many years ago that I was going to throw out all of my sketches everynight in the recycle bin.  I wanted to stop treating the results of artistic expressions as objects.  Objects to be venerated and hoarded, and stolen and guarded by armed men.

After a while she was looking at some of the drawings in the blue recycle bin and said that some of them were pretty good and that I should just put them aside and save them. So I did start saving ones that pleased me.  But I had definitely created a habit of drawing a lot and not being worried about using up expensive material, or even unused paper, or thinking about ‘art’ as something to be framed and saved and awarded and monetized, et cetera.

I wanted to emphasis to myself my complete rejection of that mindset.  That curse.  So out went the simple line drawings that are the way I express myself .  Love it or hate it, I can’t stop.  When I started to have the cavalear attitude to the paper I filled up with whatever nonsense came into my head, or through my fingers I made more drawings and I felt freer and as if I had quit a job.  I do have a large number of drawings saved because they are repetative for one thing, but there are enough variations to interest me and every so often ones that really please me.

I saw that Leonard Cohen did a lot of sketchy, lazy, seemingly childish line drawing sketches that reminded me of my work.  But, when I see a series of his drawings and some of the songs or poems from the man juxtaposed I gain a greater appriciation for the man’s visual expression through seemingly simple drawings.  Childish? or Childlike?

I read some ‘self-help’ advice in an article that warned about taking care with the first thing in the morning a person did because that could set mental patterns for the way the person behaves all day.  In other words getting up and instantly checking a phone, or going on a computer for social media could be metaphorically ‘re-wiring’ a person’s brain so that one is almost living in the computer and smart phone world.

So I was interested when I read that the first thing Leonard Cohen did when he got up was draw a self-portrait.  A crappy little bunch of squiggles that took about three minutes.  But look how he set his brain up for the rest of the day by making drawing his first activity.

No wonder the man had a second, or was it third, career in music when he was cheated out of a lot of his money when he was  in his sixties.  He stayed creative and woke up by waking up his creativity.  So, I think I am on the right track.  Draw, draw, draw!  I even draw on the Paul Newman Green Tea wrappers.

 

 

 

Should Americans Fight to Protect the Kurds in Syria? – By David Nelson – 14 Oct 2019

(Kurdish Fighters)

The Washington foreign policy outrage mob was at it again, this time wringing their hands in angst after President Trump announced that he would begin drawing down the American military presence in northern Syria and then finally ordered a full withdrawal of around 1,000 U.S. troops from the area. The primary complaint this time around from the permanent war cheerleaders was that pulling U.S. troops out of the region would expose the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish group that has fought alongside the Americans, to an attack by invading Turkey, which considers the YPG to be terrorists and condemns their allegiance to the PKK, the Kurdish militia based in Turkey that is considered a terrorist group by both Turkey and the U.S. To people like Lindsey Graham and Meghan McCain, who referred to Trump and Senator Rand Paul as “Chicken heart isolationists”, it is outrageous and immoral to even consider bringing troops home from an undeclared war halfway around the world in which there is no clear mission and no obvious interests for the American people.

The outrage, however, was not limited to the neoconservatives and neoliberals who invariably favor perpetual U.S. intervention. This time, it even expanded to generally less-hawkish Democrats like congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who parrroted the inane neocon argument that the withdrawal would “reward Russia, Iran, and ISIS”. Never mind that Russia and Iran have vigorously fought against ISIS throughout the Syrian conflict. To the supposed patriots who espouse this line, the interests of American troops, American security, and American taxpayers, all of which would greatly benefit from a U.S. disengagement in Syria, are secondary to the interests of the American empire, which seeks to weaken adversaries like Russia and Iran in order to maintain optimal levels of global dominance. Of course, the hawks have been massive failures even on their own terms, as U.S. intervention itself has been a prime factor in empowering Russia, Iran, and ISIS in the region.


The claim that Trump is leaving the Kurds high and dry is certainly not altogether wrong. The Turks have already proceeded to invade northern Syria and the Kurds are no doubt in a serious predicament without the American support they’ve enjoyed throughout most of the Syrian conflict. Trump had many an opportunity to negotiate a more diplomatic U.S. withdrawal by involving the Syrian government to provide the Kurds with protection against Turkey, although there are recent reports that the Kurds have begun negotiating with the Syrian state on their own. So although this U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria is much needed, it is inaccurate to say that Trump has handled the situation well and it’s not even clear that he is truly pursuing a more non-interventionist strategy in the region.

Trump has made many past promises to withdraw American troops from the Middle East, most notably in December 2018 when he suggested that the U.S. would be reducing its troop presence in Syria and Afghanistan, causing Secretary of Defense James Mattis to resign in disgust. Yet, we still find that Trump has failed to de-escalate any of the existing conflicts he inherited from Obama and has instead increased American involvement in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen, and ratcheted up tensions with Iran. In fact, just hours after declaring that the U.S. would be drawing down in Syria, Trump announced he would be sending hundreds of troops and more weapons to Saudi Arabia to help them continue their genocide in Yemen.

Unfortunately, those who are outraged over Trump’s Middle East policy are seemingly unconcerned over the various ways in which he has escalated U.S. involvement overseas and instead hyperventilate over the thought of America potentially not policing every corner of the globe. The idea of allowing people in other countries to sort out their own problems without the moral wisdom of America to arm or support one side or the other (or in this case three different sides: the Turks, Kurds, and our “moderate” al-Qaeda rebel friends), is inconceivable to Washington talking heads like McCain or chickenhawk Senators like Lindsey Graham.

Congressman Thomas Massie asked a simple question, wondering, “If having troops in Syria is so important, why hasn’t Congress ever voted to send troops there?” One would think that if Trump removing troops from Syria was such a catastrophic mistake, then surely having them there in the first place would be an issue important enough for the Congress to vote on and authorize. Additionally, the fact that removing a small number of troops could lead to such a disaster is a pretty good indication of just how big a failure America’s Syria intervention has been and how farcical the notion that the U.S. has been fighting to create stability in the country is.

Instead of fulfilling their constitutional duties, Graham and the rest of the bipartisan interventionist foreign policy consensus in Congress would prefer to shirk their responsibility to declare war and simply allow the President and the CIA to operate with impunity, and then throw temper tantrums at the slightest sign of a draw down of the troops that were illegally deployed to begin with.

Here’s congressman Dan Crenshaw deriding the “no more endless wars” camp by claiming that, “Removing our small and cost-effective force from Northern Syria is causing more war, not less,” and, “Our presence there was not meant to engage in endless wars, it was there to deter further warfare.” For Crenshaw, the entire history of American escalation of the conflict since 2011 doesn’t matter because he claims we had good intentions to stop further warfare. Forget Operation Timber Sycamore, the CIA’s five-plus year campaign of arming and training jihadists loyal to al-Qaeda that turned initially minor and mostly nonviolent protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the Arab Spring into a full-fledged war that upended the entire country and killed countless civilians. All we need to do in Crenshaw’s mind is focus on the immediate uptick in violence that occurs from Turkey’s offensive after America withdraws troops and never mind the past policies that he championed that turned Syria into such a disaster.

This is a typical warmonger framing of the issue, where, as Robert Higgs puts it, you “truncate the antecedents” and pretend that history starts at whichever point is most advantageous to the narrative that we can’t leave anywhere ever and anything bad that happens is a result of America not being involved enough. In this case, Crenshaw obfuscates the fact that the Kurds would not be in such a precarious position if not for U.S. intervention in the first place and leads the reader to believe that the only thing putting them in danger of being attacked by Turkey is this one act of U.S. disengagement. In reality, America’s support for the jihadist rebels all along has created the crisis in Syria, and America protecting the Kurds and promising them safety, while at the same time supporting Turkey and their jihadist proxy forces has created a house of cards that is bound to fall.

So you have people from all across the political spectrum who oppose Trump’s withdrawal because it has allowed Turkey to invade northern Syria to attack the Kurds. Turkish President Erdogan is an authoritarian dictator, they claim, who has no problem committing mass murder. But curiously enough, you’d be hard pressed to find any opposition to America’s alliance with Turkey by these very same people until just days ago. All along, Turkey has supported some of the most brutal extremist groups in Syria, yet not a peep could be heard from beltway politicians or the corporate media about the evils of Erdogan and real debate about whether we should maintain our NATO alliance with Turkey was nonexistent. In fact, anyone who questioned America’s relationship with Turkey or suggested in any way that NATO and its entangling alliances are bad for the U.S. was smeared as unpatriotic or an isolationist. The American hawks never had an issue with Erdogan’s policy of arming and funding terrorist groups because that was Obama and CIA Director John Brennan’s policy, too. America supporting dictators, only to turn on them when it helps to spin a narrative that will promote further military intervention is of course nothing new, see Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi.

While the Kurds are now more exposed to the danger of Turkish attacks, it is misguided to simply blame Trump’s small scale troop withdrawal and disregard the failed policies of the very people who now say we can never leave that have created this environment of such turmoil and dysfunction in Syria. When you create chaos through constant reckless intervention, as the U.S. government has done throughout the Middle East, there will be consequences when you inevitably have to leave, and the longer you stay, the greater those consequences will be. Blaming U.S. withdrawal for anything bad that happens afterwards is like blaming a hangover on the fact that you stopped drinking and went to bed.

If you pay close attention to the arguments made by the Washington war party, you’ll notice they hardly ever attempt to justify their policies with stories of past successes. Instead, they simply claim how bad things would be if we didn’t listen to their wisdom and that if only they had been allowed to do a little bit more, everything would have turned out great. In this case, the Lindsey Grahams of the world are incapable of providing any real justification for why the U.S. military needs to be fighting in northern Syria, so instead they fear monger and promise that anything bad that happens after we leave will be America’s fault for having left, and therefore we must stay forever.

Rather, the blame should be placed squarely at the feet of those who created this mess in the first place. That means Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, and the rest of the Obama administration for instigating this war by supporting al-Qaeda and helping spur the rise of ISIS and that means Lindsey Graham and the rest of the hawks in government and in the corporate press whose influence ensures that America can never fully escape this quagmire.

Source

 

Turkey’s Syria Invasion Rapidly Backfiring for Ankara – by Patrick Cockburn • 16 Oct 2019

Turkey’s Syrian venture is rapidly turning sour from President Erdogan’s point of view. The Turkish advance into the northeast is moving slowly, but Turkey’s military options are becoming increasingly limited as the Syrian army, backed by Russia, moves into Kurdish-held cities and towns that might have been targeted by Turkish forces.

It is unlikely that Mr Erdogan will risk taking on Syrian government troops, even if they are thin on the ground, if this involves quarrelling with Russia. In the seven days since he launched Operation Peace Spring, Turkey has become more diplomatically isolated than Ankara might have envisaged when President Trump appeared to greenlight its attack.

A week later after that implicit OK of Turkey’s offensive, Mr Trump is imposing economic sanctions on Ankara after a wild zig-zag in US policy – bizarre even by Trumpian standards.

Almost the entire world is condemning the Turkish invasion and, having achieved the objective of eliminating the Kurdish statelet of Rojava, Turkey will have great difficulty in making any more gains.

“Now that the Kurds and Damascus have come to an agreement, I do not think that Ankara will dare to open a new front against Assad forces,” writes the Turkish military commentator Metin Gurcan.

Even token numbers of Syrian troops in cities like Manbij and Kobani close to the Euphrates, and Qamishli and Hasakah close to the Iraqi border, will leave Turkish soldiers and allied Arab militiamen confined to a rectangle of territory between the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tal-Abyad, possibly extending 20 miles south to the M4 highway – which is the strategic spine of Rojava. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have avoided costly engagements, but could become more of a threat if backed by Syrian army artillery and tanks.

This is all very different from 18 months ago when the Turkish army and Arab militiamen invaded the Kurdish-populated zone of Afrin, north of Aleppo, and ethnically cleansed its population.

None of this was particularly secret and bands of al-Qaeda and Isis-linked Arab gunmen, which were under Turkish control, posted videos of themselves persecuting Kurds and looting their houses and shops. Human rights groups confirmed and publicised the abuses of the Turkish-led occupation forces, but this appeared to have little impact on the wider world.

The international media was largely focused on similar atrocities being carried out by the Syrian government in besieged Eastern Ghouta in Damascus and had no time for what was happening in Afrin.

This time round the international media treatment of the present Turkish invasion of northern Syria is very different from the disinterest it showed during Operation Olive Branch in Afrin.

Focus now is on the 160,000 Kurdish refugees fleeing the Turkish advance, publicity is given to the murder of prisoners by the pro-Turkish Arab militiamen, and mention is made of their Isis and al-Qaeda backgrounds.

President Erdogan and Turkey are, for the moment at least, replacing President Bashar al-Assad and his regime as the leading international pariahs.

Mr Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds was so blatant and public that it provoked a wave of sympathy for the Syrian Kurds that they had never enjoyed before.

They were portrayed – with good reason – as the heroic conquerors of Isis who had been thrown to Turkish and al Qaeda-linked wolves by Mr Trump. In addition, there is an understandable fear that Mr Trump has given Isis a new lease of life just when it was on the verge of expiring.

Suddenly, there are pictures everywhere of Isis captives fleeing their prisons as their Kurdish guards try to stem the Turkish advance. Mr Trump’s suggestion that Turkey, which only a few years ago had tolerated the great influx of foreign Isis fighters across its borders into the so-called caliphate, would replace the Kurds in suppressing Isis, provoked general derision and dismay.

In terms of domestic Turkish public opinion, the emphasis is still on Turkish military success, but, from now on, this will bring no political benefits to Mr Erdogan. He must try to operate without allies and is being squeezed by the US and Russia. Turkish troops and their Arab allies are still pushing forward, but Turkey has lost the diplomatic and propaganda wars. In the end, it will have no option but to declare a famous victory and retreat.

The Saudi Crown Prince’s Crippled Agenda – By As`ad AbuKhalil (Consortium News) 7 Oct 2019

From launching a war on Yemen to having Jamal Khashoggi murdered, As’ad AbuKhalil sizes up the magnitude of MbS’s miscalculations.

All is not well with the Saudi regime.  Despite amassing more power than any previous Saudi ruler, with the possible exception of founding King `Abdul-`Aziz (known in the U.S. as Ibn Saud), Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, or MbS, has not been able to deliver on any of his political and economic promises.

MbS offered the Saudi people a bargain: that he would achieve military, political and economic successes while imposing brutal repression at home. 

He also offered a modicum of social relaxation, probably at the behest of Western PR firms that have influence with Gulf regimes. But these social reforms have been neither consistent nor smooth. Women were permitted to drive but the feminist men and women who advocated rights for women were jailed and tortured. (The easing of social restrictions was presumably meant to be popular, but it’s hazardous to measure public opinion in Saudi Arabia: Western media’s “conversations-on-the-street” don’t really say much because this is a government that imposes long prison sentences for the wrong retweet.) 

Power Grabber

MbS began seizing power when his ailing father took over as king in 2015.  He then became minister of defense. The post had long been held by his uncle, Prince Sultan, and it was widely expected that Sultan would be succeeded by his son, Khalid Bin Sultan (the figure-head deputy commander of the Desert Storm war). But MbS disregarded customary succession and the balance of power among the various royal factions, including his better-educated and more-experienced half-brothers.

In 2017, when he promoted himself to crown prince from deputy crown prince, he became the sole undisputed leader of Saudi Arabia. To consolidate his economic and military control, he weakened the National Guard, the vehicle for tribal alliances in the kingdom. 

As soon as MbS became defense minister, he launched the war on Yemen. He calculated that the war would only last a few weeks and that the Huthis would quickly surrender. (The Obama administration presumably found this credible, since it lent support to the adventure, probably as a compensation for the U.S.-Iran agreement, which the Saudis vigorously opposed.)

Epic Huthi Resistance

But the war has dragged on and the Huthis have proven a formidable military force. Their resistance to the brutal military campaign by Gulf and Western countries is nothing short of epic.  And, while the war was launched in the name of weakening Iranian hold in the region, it has actually cemented ties between the Huthis and the Iranian regime and its allies in the region.

This calculation backfired on other fronts as well. The assault on Yemen brought international media scrutiny to his atrocious war crimes there, while repressions inside the kingdom have been exposed in the wake of the horrific killing and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi. 

President Donald Trump with MbS in March 2017. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

MbS assumed that his excellent relations with the Trump administration, and with the other Western governments, would be sufficient to shield his regime from criticism.  But Turkey — which has its own feud with the Saudis, largely due to Ankara’s alliance with Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, and its good relations with Iran — released embarrassing details about the complicity of the MbS government in the murder of Khashoggi in the consulate in Istanbul. Turkey left no doubt that MbS was the mastermind of the murder, and the CIA seems to agree, according to U.S. media

Khashoggi’s slaying became a permanent stigma for MbS. With the exception of his brief appearance at the G-7 summit in France a few weeks ago, he has not visited the U.S. or the West since.

Confronting Iran

MbS’s miscalculations have extended to his entire confrontation with Iran in the region.  Last year he kidnapped the prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri (who has been a loyal Saudi client) to punish him for not going far enough in confronting Hizbullah. After subjecting him to beatings and humiliation, he forced him to read on a Saudi TV station a resignation letter prepared for him. But as soon as Hariri was released due to Western pressures, he returned to Lebanon and rescinded his resignation. 

Furthermore, MbS was hoping — along with MbZ of the United Arab Emirates [Mohammed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi] — that Donald Trump would be the U.S. president they had been waiting for: the one who would launch a devastating war on Iran to end Teheran’s influence in the Middle East once and for all.

In the first few years of the Trump administration Saudi regime media were full of scathing attacks on former President Barack Obama, going so far as to suggest that he was a secret Shiite Muslim who harbored religio-political sympathy for Iran.  That same press was filled with glowing profiles of Trump and praise for his impending military campaign against Iran. (This was during Trump’s famous twitter threats against Iran and North Korea.)  But Trump has proven more cautious about military adventures than either of his immediate predecessors.  Once the Saudi regime media picked up on those signals, criticism of the Trump administration surfaced.

Change of Mind

MbS seems to have now changed his mind about the desirability of war with Iran.  What Iran has done in recent months (assuming it was responsible for the various attacks on shipping in the Gulf and on the oil installations in Saudi Arabia), is to demonstrate to Saudi Arabia and the UAE not only the reach of its bombing capability, but its determination to extend the war to the Arab Gulf countries if Iran is attacked by Israel or the U.S.  This can explain the recent Saudi and Emirati overtures to the Iranian regime. Both are suddenly expressing concern over the cost of war, if it were to erupt in their region. 

Istanbul protesters outside Consulate General of Saudi Arabia following the murder of Khashoggi. (Hilmi Hacaloglu, VOA via Wikimedia Commons)

MbS must not be a happy man.  He wanted the war on Yemen to become his signature victory and cement his reputation domestically and regionally.  But it has served the opposite purpose. 

His 2017 blockade of Qatar has not gone well either. Qatar managed to survive economically and its impending regional isolation did not materialize either, as it worked to improve its relations with the unlikely odd mix of Turkey, Iran and the U.S. 

Finally, MbS hoped Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be able to elevate his stature in Washington. But the latter has proven unable or unwilling to intervene on Capitol Hill to lower the tone of criticism aimed at MbS. Furthermore, Netanyahu is today the least popular Israeli prime minster in Congress, perhaps since 1948, because he has associated his fortunes so closely with the Republican Party, and with a president detested by Democrats.  Netanyahu has been dealing with his own personal scandal, and the recent election didn’t guarantee him his premiership. In other words, MbS can’t count on Netanyahu.

Limited Choices

Bin Salman’s economic promises have also failed to bear fruit for the Saudi population. He may now be facing rising resentment within the royal family itself, although he’s so far managed to deal with that ruthlessly in the last two years. 

MbS has limited choices.  He can’t afford to antagonize Trump and nor can he influence Trump one way or another regarding U.S. policies toward Iran. 

His best hope is that war does not take place, and that Khashoggi will be forgotten. That is very unlikely given the recent publicity surrounding the first anniversary of the killing. A man who made arrogance a key part of his personality, has been humiliated by Khashoggi, a former member of the Saudi royal entourage.

But then again, Western governments have short memories when it comes to war crimes, assassinations and human rights violations by despots who are loyal to Western agendas.  Any rehabilitation that MbS can work out will require him to sacrifice much of his original agenda. It will mean curtailing his appetite for war in Yemen and elsewhere and to drop his plans to confront Iran on all fronts. The recent crippling of oil installations responsible for more than 50 percent of Saudi oil production had the effect of also crippling the foreign policy agenda of Mohammed bin Salman.

As’ad AbuKhalil is a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the author of the “Historical Dictionary of Lebanon” (1998), “Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New War on Terrorism (2002), and “The Battle for Saudi Arabia” (2004). He tweets as@asadabukhalil

 

Archived

US Capitalists in China Outraged By China’s ‘Patriot Act’ Computer Restrictions – No VPN Secret Communications – 14 Oct 2019

China’s new cybersecurity rules ban foreign companies from using VPNs to phone home  using VPNs to phone home

For decades, it was a commonplace in western business that no one could afford to ignore China: whatever problems a CEO might have with China’s human rights record could never outweigh the profits to be had by targeting the growing Chinese middle-class.

Businesses tied themselves in knots trying to reconcile this. Exactly 15 years ago, I challenged the Chairman of Google’s Board at the Web 2.0 Conference over his company’s decision to censor its search-results to help the Chinese state suppress political dissidence (his excuse: censoring search results delivered a “superior user experience” because including sites blocked by the Great Firewall in search results would just frustrate Chinese users who tried to click on them). The real reason? Yahoo was in China, and in 2004, if you wanted to get Google to do something stupid, all you needed to do was get Yahoo to do it first.

Two years later, we learned that Yahoo had secured their commercial future in China by helping the Chinese state target dissidents’ Yahoo Mail inboxes, so that Yahoo’s users could be kidnapped and tortured for their political activities.

Five years after that, Google disclosed that Chinese spies had hacked Gmail in order to continue their surveillance of pro-democracy activists, and revealed that this was the reason the company had pulled out of China altogether. Google co-founder Sergey Brin, a Soviet refugee, could not stomach being a party to repressive state surveillance.

But since then, Google has embarked upon a secret project to re-introduce a censored/surveilling search tool to the Chinese market.

Google’s not alone. Apple is totally dependent on China, both for customers and for manufacturing, which is why it agreed to remove all functional VPNs from its App Store, leaving only those that had backdoors for Chinese spies.

Now, with the Hong Kong uprising in full swing, Apple has caved in and blocked an app that let Hong Kongers avoid the city-state’s murderous police thugs.

Not just Apple, either: basketball fans have been disgusted to watch the NBA (also totally dependent on China for broadcasting fees and merch sales) censor its fans and owners who voiced support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

All along, businesses have insisted that if only we were patient and allowed them to make billions from China, China would “westernize” and embrace an open and free political model that would justify all those petty and gross human rights abuses that western companies profited from.

The tacit quid-pro-quo for that support was that China would leave its western collaborators alone, at least outside of China. That’s what made the Gmail hacks so shocking, after all — breaking into Google’s servers was a violation of the unspoken deal between China and Google. Likewise the outrage over the NBA censoring American fans and owners — it’s one thing to sanitize your in-China offerings to appease the murdering autocrats of China, but another thing entirely to allow those war-criminals to reach into America and decide who may speak and what they may say.

But China was always going to embrace-and-extend its reach over western companies, and this is just the beginning.

The latest move is the long-threatened extension of Chinese spying powers over foreign companies, whose employees are to be prohibited from using working VPNs to communicate with their non-Chinese offices. These employees will now be left to use the same censored internet as Chinese citizens, and every trade secret and confidential communique they transmit to their home offices will be open to capture, inspection and use by Chinese authorities and the state industries they have long supported by funneling proprietary foreign corporate data to domestic competitors.

The Chinese “Cybersecurity Law” enables Chinese authorities to access any data on any server or personal computer, even those used by foreign firms. Moreover, a new Foreign Investment Law that takes effect in 2020 will eliminate any special dispensations currently enjoyed by foreign firms (for example, foreign firms are presently exempt from rules that allow the Chinese state to insert political appointees within the executive ranks of companies to monitor their operations — this will no longer be the case as of Jan 1).

As Steve Dickinson points out on the China Law Blog, the ability of Chinese firms to spy on all communications between Chinese and offshore offices of US firms compromises US companies’ ability to comply with US laws restricting the export of “sensitive technologies” — the fact that the Chinese state can simply plunder these technologies from US companies’ servers means that whether or not the US companies turn their trade secrets over, they can still be presumed to be in the hands of the Chinese state and military and the Chinese companies that are closely aligned with them.

Under the new Chinese system, trade secrets are not permitted. This means that U.S. and EU companies operating in China will now need to assume any “secret” they seek to maintain on a server or network in China will automatically become available to the Chinese government and then to all of their Chinese government controlled competitors in China, including the Chinese military. This includes phone calls, emails, WeChat messages and any other form of electronic communication. Since no company can reasonably assume its trade secrets will remain secret once transmitted into China over a Chinese controlled network, they are at great risk of having their trade secret protections outside China evaporating as well.

The U.S. or EU company may have an enforceable agreement with the Chinese recipient of its confidential information. So trade secrecy is protected with respect to that authorized recipient. But if the secret is easily available to the Chinese government, there is no real trade secret protection.

By giving the Chinese government and its cronies full access to its data, the U.S. or EU company may very well be deemed to have illegally exported technology to China and it could face millions of dollars in fines and even prison sentences for some of its officers and directors. There is an inherent conflict between foreign laws mandating a company not transfer its technology and China’s laws which effectively mandate that transfer.

China’s New Cybersecurity Program: NO Place to Hide [Steve Dickinson/China Law Blog]

(via Four Short Links)

Boinboing

Portland OR: The Sad Death of Sean Kealiher Outside Cider Riot – News the Local News Simply Can’t Or Won’t See – There Will be More Violence Between Right and Left – 14 Oct 2019

Clueless Reporting – What happened? The young anarchist has been going to Leftist and populist protests since he first showed up at age 13 to Occupy Portland where he slept out with other protesters. He has been around the Anarchist scene ever since. He has been videoed at numerous protests. He was given a 15 day jail sentence for assault and battery on opponents. Judges do not give people time in lockup for simple shoving matches at heated demonstrations. The Cider Riot bar where he is a frequent customer is an organizing spot for left wing anarchists and similar people. Right wing opponents have shown up more than once at Cider Riot to bring their opposition to the Leftists.

Sean Kealiher

What happened the other night? Probably the SUV with Right Wingers drove by and shouted insults or challenges to the Leftists outside the bar. Sean Kealiher probably shouted things back, and got in the street to block or attack the SUV and the Rightists. The driver of the SUV hit Sean Kealiher. A leftist armed with a firearm of some kind fired shots at the SUV leaving the scene and the SUV crashed into a tree near the Democratic Party building close to the Cider Riot bar. The SUV driver and passengers fled the scene under gunfire.

Sean 2

The friends of Kealiher did not call an ambulance. They were heard telling the dying youth, “Walk, man.” As if that is a way to treat someone who was struck by a car. The anarchist refused to call police and instead of waiting for an ambulance and medical professionals who would have told them not to move an injured person they decided to put Sean Kealiher in a private car and drive him to the hospital themselves.

Unfortunately Sean Kealiher died. The police arrested the people who brought him to the hospital to question how they came to be transporting an injured dying man to a hospital with no call to authorities.

sean 4

Who was in the SUV. The license plates will give the police a pretty good idea who the owner of the vehicle was. If the police had been called right away the people who hit Sean Kealiher might have been apprehended withing minutes. But, anarchists don’t call the police.

The ‘news’ report looks like it was something written by someone in high school who has very little idea of how the city they live in operates. Or, are the ‘reporters’ afraid to express observations which just about any adult in a coffee shop in the neighborhood would make. But, all of this is speculation, no speculation allowed on the news. “He had a wonderful smile.” That’s the news. Look forward to more Left vs Right in Portland, and this may not be the last time there is gunfire or sadly a death. I’m thousands and thousands of miles away and I can see this, why can’t some people in Portland see what is right in front of their eyes?

sean 5

Sean Kealiher – Requiescat in pace et in amore

………

Update:

Darryl Perez, who lives less than a block from the site of the crash, said Monday that it appeared to him that the deadly encounter started with a road rage confrontation.

Perez said he was in his tent across from the Democratic headquarters, 232 Northeast Ninth Avenue, when he heard two cars speeding up Northeast Everett Street before coming to an abrupt stop near Ninth Avenue.

Perez said he heard people from both cars begin to argue, followed by the sound of a physical altercation.

“I heard someone say, ‘The best thing you can do right now is get back in your car and drive out of here because otherwise I’ll kill you,’” Perez recalled one of the people saying.

Perez said he then heard the sound of a collision. Four gunshots came next, he said.

That’s when he came out of his tent, Perez said, and saw an SUV stalled on the sidewalk in front of the Democratic headquarters. Nearby, two people stood over a bloody man on the ground, he said.

“The two dudes kept telling their friend to get up and walk, but he wasn’t moving,” Perez said.

The two people picked up the man, according to Perez, and started dragging him across the street, creating a trail of blood behind them.

The three eventually got into the car and drove off, Perez said. He said he could not identify the make and model of the car.

Perez, who has lived off the corner of Northeast Everett and Ninth for about two weeks, said he provided his account to police.

…..

https://archive.is/PklJc

Portland Anti-Fascist Activist Killed In Hit And Run Outside Cider Riot

https://www.opb.org/news/article/antifa-killed-homicide-cider-riot-sean-kealiher/

CIA ‘Poisoner in Chief’ – Book Talk – by Stephen Kinzer – 26 Sept 2019

By Jared Prenda 

Magical realism is defined as “a literary or artistic genre in which realistic narrative and naturalistic technique are combined with surreal elements of dream or fantasy.” Upon the first glance of Stephen Kinzer’s book, one might categorize ‘Poisoner In Chief’ under magical realism, with events too absurd to comprehend, but it is entirely nonfiction.

CIA PoisonKinzer came to Politics and Prose on Connecticut Avenue to have a discussion about his 10th book, highlighting the life of Dr. Sidney Gottlieb. Gottlieb was the chief chemist of the CIA and director of the controversial MK-Ultra program from its beginning in 1953 and served as director for 10 years. During his tenure, Gottlieb was responsible for spending $240,000 in order to attain the world’s entire supply of LSD in order to research the possibility of mind control after the CIA feared the Soviets were already capable of such a feat.

Kinzer is one of the most influential foreign policy journalists who served for 20 years covering foreign news for the New York Times. During his tenure with the times, Kinzer sat as the bureau chief for the New York Times offices in Nicaragua from 1983 to 1989, Germany from 1990 to 1996, and in Turkey from 1996 to 2000. His coverage of the political turmoil in Central America and Eastern Europe following the fall of the Soviet Union earned Kinzer multiple awards and recognition. He currently serves as a senior fellow at the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

Before the release of the book, little was known of Gottlieb and Kinzer even stated at the beginning of his talk.

Poisoner in Chief

“I think I discovered or stumbled across, the most powerful, unknown American of the Twentieth Century. Unless someone else conducted extreme experiments on human subjects across three continents, lived in complete invisibility, and had what amounted to what was the license to kill from the US Government” said Kinzer.

The book shop café, Politics and Prose, was packed with rows of local residents to hear the author speak about his discoveries about the little known director of one of the CIA’s most controversial research projects. The discussion was broken up into two segments with the first half being Kinzer’s outline of his research and discoveries about Gottlieb, who died suspiciously in 1999 before a lawsuit about his research was about to be brought to court. The second half was a Q&A section where many of the attendees bounced their own theories about the fallout of Gottlieb’s work off of the author.

Gottlieb himself was a fascinating character. The son of Hungarian Jewish immigrants, he was one of the first Jews hired by the agency in 1951 at thirty-three-years-old. He was a type of hippy who lived in an eco-home in the woods and would milk his own goats every morning. Following his career in espionage, he went on great mission trips where he’d work in leprosy hospitals in India and perform other works of charity. All the while, he was wreaking havoc on the lives of American citizens and committing war crimes against East Asian prisoners of war deemed “expendables.” As his time as chief chemist, he came up with various ways to administer poison in assassination attempts, particularly on infamous Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and Congolese president Patrice Lumumba.

Throughout the lecture, the journalist outlined horrific stories of research where the CIA used prisoners of war, unknowing American and Canadian citizens, including terminally ill hospital patients with a variety of drugs and torture in order to accomplish the goal of mind control in a two-part process.

“At the end of these 10 years, he came to what amounts to a double conclusion. One, yes it is possible to destroy a person’s mind. He verified this time and time again with his experiments and destroyed countless lives,” Said Kinzer. “Two, it is not possible to insert a new mind into the void you’ve created, and the 10 years of suffering was in vain.”

These research facilities were often unaware of the CIA’s involvement in these experiments. Some of which happened even here in the DMV area at the University of Maryland, George Washington University, and Georgetown University according to a Washington Post article written in 1977 following congressional hearings on the matter. All three universities either denied any knowledge of the experiments or declined to comment.

One particularly horrific tale outlined by Kinzer spoke of seven anonymous African American prisoners in Kentucky, who without consent or permission were isolated in small cells.

The inmates were administered “triple and quadruple doses of LSD for 77 straight days without any idea what they were being given or what might happen” said Kinzler.

The book is for sale on Amazon and Kinzer himself is on a book tour, speaking with NPR and visiting various book shops across the country. One line from the acknowledgments section details the mystery behind both Gottlieb and MK-Ultra, as all documents, including the names of its test subjects, were destroyed on the CIA’s orders.

“Everything in this book is true, but not everything that is true is in this book” wrote Kinzler.

Source

US vs Iran – Not the ‘cake walk’ the imperialist pictured – by Scott Ritter (Truth Dig) 8 Oct 2019

Exactly 17 months have passed since the US precipitously withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action, or JCPOA. Two and a half months later, on July 22, 2018, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo delivered a speech to a group of Iranian expatriates at the Reagan Presidential Library, in Simi Valley, California. “The United States,” Pompeo said, “is undertaking a diplomatic and financial pressure campaign to cut off the funds that the regime uses to enrich itself and support death and destruction.” The crowd launched into generous applause, after which Pompeo delivered his main point. “We have an obligation to put maximum pressure on the regime’s ability to generate and move money, and we will do so.”

The US, Pompeo stated, would reimpose sanctions on Iran’s banking and energy sectors. “Our focus,” he concluded, “is to work with countries importing Iranian crude oil to get imports as close to zero as possible by Nov. 4, [2018]. Zero.”

The ostensible purpose of the “maximum pressure” campaign was to get Iran to withdraw from the JCPOA and return to the negotiating table, where a new, more restrictive agreement would be crafted that eliminated its nuclear enrichment program, curtailed its ballistic missile program and reduced its influence in the Persian Gulf. However, given Pompeo’s embrace of the regime-change mantra of the Iranian expat community—a sentiment he shared with then-national security adviser John Bolton—the “maximum pressure” campaign could only be interpreted as an act of economic warfare against Iran, as prelude to an eventual military campaign designed to remove the Shi’a theocracy that has ruled the country since assuming power in 1979. Bolton himself emphasized this when he stated in November 2018 that “it is our intention to squeeze them very hard. As the British say: ‘Squeeze them until the pips squeak’.”

In April 2019, the U.S. State Department announced it would not be extending any waivers that it had granted to several of Iran’s key oil importers in an effort to ease the economic burden of being weaned off Iranian oil. “We are fulfilling our promise to get Iran’s oil exports to zero and deny the regime the revenue it needs to fund terrorism and violent wars abroad,” a State Department fact sheet noted. The State Department was particularly concerned about Iran’s so-called “malign activities” in Lebanon in support of Hezbollah, in Syria in support of the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and in Yemen in support of the Houthi rebels. The “maximum pressure” campaign was designed to starve these movements of Iranian financial support, thereby hastening the nation’s demise.

For a year following the US May 8, 2018, exit from the JCPOA, Iran complied with its obligations under that agreement, adhering to every restriction while imploring the agreement’s other parties to honor their commitments and ignore the newly reimposed U.S. economic sanctions. This proved increasingly difficult as the U.S. treated any nation or company that used the U.S. banking system to facilitate a transaction with Iran in violation of its terms. As a result, in May 2019, Iran began suspending its commitments under the JCPOA, something it (rightfully) claimed was permitted under the terms of the JCPOA in the case of noncompliance by a party to the agreement. (Iran claimed, with justification, that the EU was in noncompliance by failing to permit the unrestricted sale of Iranian oil to EU customers.) The U.S. responded by dispatching two B-52 bombers and an aircraft carrier battle group to the region, an action Bolton claimed was intended to “send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.” By all appearances, it looked as if the U.S. campaign of “maximum pressure” was about to enter its final phase.

B-52 bomber

This is where the narrative gets interesting. Rather than retreat in the face of U.S. military pressure, Iran doubled down. Months before, in December 2018, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had warned that “America should know that we are selling our oil and will continue to sell our oil and they are not able to stop our oil exports. If one day they want to prevent the export of Iran’s oil, then no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf.” At the time, the Trump administration saw Rouhani’s statement as empty bluster. It wasn’t.

oil tanker attacked

On May 12, 2019, four oil tankers, including two belonging to the National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia, were attacked off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz. While no one claimed responsibility for the attacks, the U.S. was quick to blame Iran, which denied all responsibility. Oil prices jumped nearly 3% as a result. On June 13, two additional oil tankers were attacked while transiting the Strait of Hormuz; the U.S. claimed the vessels were attacked using limpet mines, while the crews claimed they were struck by projectiles. Again, the U.S. blamed Iran, and the Iranians denied all responsibility. Oil prices surged.

Whether or not Iran was involved, these attacks sent a clear signal to the oil-consuming world— transit through the Strait of Hormuz, through which some 18.5 million barrels a day of crude and refined products pass, representing 20% of all oil produced globally, was not guaranteed. This point was reinforced when, on June 20, Iran shot down a U.S. Global Hawk drone it claimed had violated its airspace.

Global Hawk 2

The loss of the $130-million reconnaissance aircraft put the U.S. on war footing, with Bolton advocating a retaliatory air strike against Iran’s air defenses and nuclear installations.

Global Hawk drone

The Pentagon cautioned President Trump, the Commander in Chief, that any U.S. attack would likely result in a massive Iranian retaliation that would threaten the oil production infrastructure of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the other Gulf Arab states. Trump opted not to attack, avoiding a wider war, but in doing so left open the question as to the viability of U.S. military deterrence posture in the Persian Gulf. This turned out to be precisely the answer Iran was looking for.

Saudi Arabia had always been a major factor in the “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. One of the foundational requirements for a successful U.S. effort targeting Iranian oil sales was for oil markets to remain well supplied and oil inventory levels to remain consistently strong. “We have commitments from oil-producing countries,” the State Department noted in April 2019, “including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to increase oil production to offset reductions in Iranian oil exports.” On June 20, in the midst of the crisis over the downing of the U.S. drone, the special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, visited Saudi Arabia to discuss next steps. “We affirmed the Kingdom’s support for the United States maximum pressure campaign on Iran,” the Saudi Vice Minister of Defense, Khalid bin Salman, tweeted after the talks concluded, “which came as a result of continuing Iranian hostility and terrorism, and discussed the latest Iranian attacks on the Kingdom. Also discussed with the United States Special Representative for Iran the dangerous role that the Iranian regime plays in Yemen, where it neglects the humanitarian needs of the Yemeni people in favor of using the country as the main launchpad for its regional terrorism.”

The ongoing war between Saudi Arabia and Houthi rebels in Yemen has been a sore point between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, especially in the aftermath of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist, by henchmen operating under the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Sultan. The humanitarian crisis that has befallen Yemen as a result of the invasion in 2015 has caught the attention of a U.S. Congress no longer willing to turn a blind eye to Saudi atrocities. In March 2019, Congress voted to suspend all U.S. military aid to Saudi Arabia’s war effort in Yemen. While the measure was vetoed by President Trump, the vote was a stinging rebuke to the Saudis, who had taken continuous and unobstructed U.S. military aid as a given.

But rhetoric alone does not win the day. The problem for the United States has been that its campaign of “maximum pressure” has had zero impact on Iran’s so-called “malign activities” in the region. In July 2019, Iran test fired a ballistic missile with a range of more than 1,000 kilometers. A defiant Iranian spokesperson tweeted that “Iran’s missiles are absolutely and under no condition negotiable with anyone or any country, period.”

Iran missile

The Iranian missile test came amid a growing crisis between Iran and the United Kingdom over the tit-for-tat seizure of oil tankers. In early July, British Royal Marines boarded and took control of the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1, claiming that its load of oil was destined for Syria in violation of EU sanctions. Iran responded by boarding and seizing the British oil tanker, Stena Impero, as it navigated the Strait of Hormuz.

Stena Impero 2

Complicating matters further was Iran’s announcement in early July that it was suspending another JCPOA-imposed limitation on its nuclear program, breaching the 3.67% cap on the level of uranium enrichment allowed under the agreement. As the world debated Iran’s suspension of JCPOA commitments, its ongoing tanker war with the U.K., and its testing of ballistic missiles, another front was opening that would test the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign like no other.

Houthis

(Houthi Military Spokesman)

The first rumblings of trouble came in May 2019, when the Saudis reported that Houthi drones operating out of Yemen had struck a strategic oil pipeline and two oil pumping stations, causing minor damage. “This is a message to Saudi Arabia: Stop your aggression,” a Houthi spokesman declared afterward. “Our goal is to respond to the crimes they are committing every day against the Yemeni people.”

In August, as if to prove the May attacks were not a fluke, the Houthi launched an even larger attack against the Shaybah natural gas liquification facility, some 1,000 kilometers from the border with Yemen, using 10 drones. The attack, which caused minor damage, was condemned by Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the U.S. A Houthi spokesman promised “fiercer and larger attacks” against Saudi Arabia if it continued its aggression in Yemen. Left unanswered was how the Houthi were able to penetrate Saudi Arabian air defenses and strike critical oil-related infrastructure.

The Houthi attacks of the Shaybah facility were lost in a news cycle increasingly dominated by evidence of the “maximum pressure” campaign’s imminent collapse. The first sign of failure was the decision by the British to release the Grace 1, despite efforts by the U.S. to execute a warrant for arrest en rem. The British defiance of the U.S. was part of an overall posture of resentment on the part of Europe over U.S. sanctions against Iran and the resulting unraveling of the JCPOA. The growing divide between the U.S. and Europe was put on full display when French President Macron invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif to attend the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, despite having recently been singled out for sanctions by the U.S. government. While no agreement was forthcoming, the fact that Iran was talking with its European counterparts meant that negotiation, and not confrontation, was the preferred path for America’s EU partners.

This divide became even more apparent in September when the Iranians followed through on their promise to continue to withdraw from the terms of the JCPOA. While stressing that all of its actions were reversible the moment Europe came into compliance with the deal and started defying U.S. sanctions, these actions were particularly eye-opening as Iran began installing advanced centrifuges capable of more efficient uranium enrichment, closing the one-year “breakout” period that served as the foundation for the nuclear pact. (The “breakout” period is defined by the amount of time Iran would need to enrich enough weapons-grade uranium for the production of a single nuclear weapon; if Iran put the new centrifuges into operation, it would shrink the “breakout window to a matter of months, which had previously been a red line for the U.S.)

The Iranian action prompted a heated debate within the Trump administration as to how best to respond. President Trump had always envisioned himself as a dealmaker and was looking for any opening to bring Iran back to the negotiating table so he could produce a new nuclear agreement. Iran had made it clear there could be no negotiations as long as the U.S. maintained its “maximum pressure” campaign. Macron and the other European leaders were lobbying Trump to come up with some sort of relief formula that could be used to bring Iran back into full compliance with the JCPOA. Trump was leaning toward sanctions relief, believing it might lead to a meeting between him and Iranian leader Rouhani during the United Nations General Assembly debate later that month. Bolton strenuously objected. On September 11, Trump fired Bolton on social media, claiming he “disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions.”

Iran had one more card to play. Three days after Bolton’s dismissal, the Houthi followed up on their threat to continue attacking Saudi oil infrastructure with a bold strike on two Saudi oil processing facilities, inflicting massive damage that knocked out 50% of Saudi Arabia’s oil production capacity, or some 6% of global oil supplies. Saudi oil production was the lynchpin to the “maximum pressure” campaign; without it, there was no means of offsetting the loss of Iranian oil production brought on by sanctions.

Saudi Attack hole

Moreover, the ease with which the Houthi had destroyed Saudi oil production infrastructure highlighted the future of all Gulf Arab oil production should there be a general war with Iran. In one fell swoop, Iran, through its Houthi proxies, had laid bare the naked truth about the U.S-Saudi defense relationship: There was literally nothing the U.S. could do, despite investing hundreds of billions of dollars into the Saudi military, and deploying hundreds of billions of dollars more in terms of U.S. military forces into the region, to protect the life’s blood of the Saudi Kingdom—oil.

 

Saudi crying

The U.S. decision to deploy a single Patriot surface-to-air missile battery and three air defense radars to protect Saudi oil fields from further attack was nothing more than a face-saving measure; while both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for the attack, no one could pinpoint where the attack originated from, meaning they had no idea how to defend themselves against any future incursion.

Houti Rebels

(Yemen’s Houthi Fighters)

The Houthi drone attack proved to be the final nail in the coffin of the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Saudi Arabia, recognizing the precarious position it has found itself in, has greenlighted talks with Iran to resolve their regional differences. Despite an abortive effort to finesse a meeting between Trump and Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly, both the U.S. and Iran appear prepared to engage in negotiations once Iran’s conditions regarding the lifting of sanctions are met, something the EU strongly supports. If Trump’s goal in implementing the “maximum pressure” campaign was to eventually bring Iran to the negotiating table, then he may very well have succeeded. But history will show that it was Iran that set the conditions that brought the U.S. onboard, and not the other way around.

Saudi Patriots

In May 2018, the myth of American military deterrence in defense of Saudi Arabia was still alive; today it lies shattered amidst the ruins of the destroyed Saudi oil facilities.

Sun ir 5

Seen in this light, the collapse of the U.S. campaign of “maximum pressure” can only be interpreted as a strategic victory for Iran, and a decisive defeat for the United States.

 

sun ir 6

(Saudi Arabian Oil Plant Burns After Houthi Attack)

US military warns 2

Source

https://archive.is/mb7Bj

The ‘New Yorker’ Magazine’s Partisan Attempt to Refute Its Claim of Partisan Disinformation on Biden and Ukraine – By Joe Lauria (Consortium News) 8 Oct 2019

Biden Corruption in Context: Board members of Exxon Mobil (one of the worlds largest and most prestigious energy companies) make $330,000 annually. Hunter Biden, with no industry knowledge or duties, was being paid $600,000 annually. All of this while the average annual salary in Ukraine is $1700

…………………..

The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer has gained a reputation as one of the best reporters in Washington, but in her latest piece on Ukraine and former Vice President Joe Biden, Mayer has succumbed to the partisan mania ripping apart this city and much of the country.

There is little subtlety in her argument, as evidenced by the title of the piece: “The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine.” Rather than taking an impartial, non-partisan view—needed now more than ever in journalism—Mayer neglects evidence that would have produced a more nuanced report on this increasingly volatile story.

Such an achievement required the suppression of a seasoned reporter’s natural curiosity. Maybe the other side has evidence worth examining too.

Mayer is not alone in dismissing serious questions about Biden as merely “a repeatedly discredited conspiracy theory involving Joe Biden and his son Hunter’s work in Ukraine.” In doing so, Mayer has joined an unthinking media consensus protecting Biden and the media’s own interests to save itself from the shame of having pushed the now discredited conspiracy theory of Trump’s collusion with Russia. With the Trump Justice Department digging into the origins of that fiasco it was the perfect time to preempt its findings with a trumped up impeachment scandal. The last thing the intelligence agencies and their compliant media need are revelations about how they together duped the country.

Mayer, who distinguished herself on many stories, including a defense of the wrongly accused National Security Agency senior executive Tom Drake—an actual whistleblower—reduced herself to the journalists’ herd that gave Russiagate credence, and in the process undermined scores of media reputations.

Instead of owning up to it, Mayer writes that the media was manipulated in 2016, not by Democrats or intelligence officials, but by Republican partisans.  She produces a line about Ukrainegate that would more credibly describe media accomplices in Russiagate: “News organizations continue to be just as susceptible to manipulation by political partisans pushing complicated and hard-to-check foreign narratives as they were in 2016.”

Mayer’s unwillingness to see the corruption of both major parties is stunning.

She writes: “Anyone trying to track the Ukrainian conspiracy stories that were eventually embraced by President Trump is likely to get mired in the same echo chamber of right-wing news purveyors that misinformed voters in 2016” (except that in 2016 it was an echo chamber aligned with Democrats).

Jane Mayer 2

Mayer only blames Republicans who were largely on the defensive during Russiagate.  Her exoneration of Democrats then and now for misinforming voters, extends to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s approval of an uranium deal with Russia, after which, Mayer reports, “more than two million dollars in contributions” came to “the Clinton Foundation from the businessmen behind the deal.”  She says Clinton is in the clear because other U.S. agencies also approved the deal and the amount of uranium was “negligible.” It was all just a conservative plot, Mayer tells us.

The Biggest Omissions

Mayer attributes the origins of Biden’s appearance of conflict of interest in Ukraine solely to a disinformation campaign run by a shadowy group set up by Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, the right wing activist, Steve Bannon.

This is intended to put a nail in the story at its origins, portraying it as just a nutty conservative conspiracy, and thus no one needs to be concerned about significant evidence that followed. “For nearly two years, conservative operatives have been trying to weaponize the Ukraine-based story that has led Trump to the brink of impeachment,” Mayer wrote.

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She takes at face value Bannon’s braggadocio about his so-called Government Accountability Initiative being “key” and the “predicate” to the Biden-Ukraine story, allowing her to easily dismiss an array of facts, including a public admission of corruption by Biden himself, as merely an “unethically seeming morass.”

Of all the evidence missing from Mayer’s piece, perhaps the most important is the opening act of this Washington drama: the U.S.-backed coup that overthrew an elected Ukrainian government in 2014. Without that evidence it is impossible to understand the context of the nauseating Biden/Ukraine impeachment story. She is not alone in this either. The entire elite liberal media and Fox News won’t mention it in a bipartisan cover-up of rapacious American foreign policy.

The press usually takes 25 years, after the declassification of documents, to admit the United States routinely breaks international law by overthrowing sovereign governments, and not in the name of spreading democracy, but in the interests of capital and geo-strategy. That was the case with Ukraine in 2014.

Can you imagine if the Trump administration finally succeeds in overthrowing the Venezuelan government and a couple of months later Vice President Mike Pence’s son (who wasn’t kicked out of the Navy for drug use) lands a spot on the board of a privatized Venezuelan national oil company?

That is exactly what happened with Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine.

And then imagine that the U.S.-installed government of Juan Guaidó begins an investigation into corruption at the oil company and wants to question Pence’s son. So Pence flies to Caracas and tells Guaidó he won’t get a $1 billion U.S. credit line until the prosecutor is fired. Six hours later the prosecutor begins cleaning out his desk and Pence later brags about it in an open forum at the Council on Foreign Relations.

That is exactly what Biden did in Ukraine.

The fired Venezuelan prosecutor then gives an affidavit under oath that Pence had him fired because he was investigating his son’s company and that the U.S. had taken over the country’s prosecutor’s office.

That is exactly what the Ukrainian prosecutor testified.

But none of these facts are in Mayer’s story. In the face of the affidavit and Biden’s open admission on video, she still somehow calls these “baseless tales claiming that Biden corruptly intervened on behalf of his son’s Ukrainian business interests.”

Instead Mayer attacks the reporter who revealed most of them, John Solomon of The Hill. A partisan reporter attacking another partisan reporter is what passes for journalism these days.  Being non-partisan—a requirement to practice serious journalism—means looking past the politics of a reporter or a news outlet, and even overlooking their partisan motivation, if they present documented evidence. The motive is irrelevant if the evidence is substantiated.

There was no such evidence in the Russiagate farce, but that never stopped partisans in the Democratic media. The same lack of skepticism has accepted now two CIA officials as “whistleblowers” without questioning their motives, while showing no interest in real whistleblowers who challenge the Establishment on behalf of the nation.

If the Department of Justice and its investigation into the origins of Russiagate is serious and reveals wrongdoing by intelligence officials and by extension by the media, the best move those officials and journalists can make is to go on offense as their best defense.  It also gives them another crack at Trump after failing with Russiagate. And Trump gave them the opening to do it.

Trump’s Blunder

Trump’s mistake was to get personally involved in the investigations into the origins of Russiagate and the Bidens. By mentioning both in a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, he broke the wall that should exist between the White House and the Justice Department. Though there was no clear quid-pro-quo, Trump hinted that he would release military aid to Ukraine in exchange for the investigations. If Trump did that it is the routine corrupt way the U.S. carries out foreign policy, as Biden openly admitted.

Trump compounded his problems by publicly calling for China to investigate Hunter Biden’s dealings in that country. By getting personally involved, instead of leaving it up to the DOJ to investigate his possible challenger in next year’s presidential election, Trump allowed his enemies in intelligence and the media to portray his conversation as an impeachable offense.

Every move the DOJ or Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, makes in investigating Russiagate or the Bidens’ corruption, including legitimately asking foreign governments for assistance, is now tainted as political because of Trump’s unwise intervention.  He threw a lifeline to intelligence officers and journalists like Mayer, who will continue to make the most of it even if it means turning their backs on their professional commitments.

Consortium News

https://archive.is/3SnGU

Give War A Chance! – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Denounces Trump For Taking US Troops Out of Syrian War Zone – 8 Oct 2019

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Congressional Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Democrat – New York) opposes President Trump’s proposal to withdraw remaining U.S. troops from Syria, tweeting Tuesday that a pullout could have “catastrophic consequences.”

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Ocasio-Cortez’s stance is a complete reversal of her earlier position on the war in Syria and other “endless wars” overseas.

She ran in 2018 on a pledge to end the war in Syria and elsewhere: “Alexandria believes that we must end the “forever war” by bringing our troops home, and ending the air strikes that perpetuate the cycle of terrorism throughout the world,” her 2018 campaign website said:

Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States has entangled itself in war and occupation throughout the Middle East and North Africa. As of 2018, we are currently involved in military action in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. Hundreds of thousands of civilians in these countries have been killed either as collateral damage from American strikes or from the instability caused by U.S. interventions. Millions more have fled their broken countries, contributing to the global refugee crisis.

According to the Constitution, the right to declare war belongs to the legislative body, and yet many of these global acts of aggression have never once been voted on by Congress. In some cases, we’ve even acted unilaterally, without the backing of the United Nations.

America should not be in the business of destabilizing countries. While we may see ourselves as liberators, the world increasingly views us as occupiers and aggressors. Alexandria believes that we must end the “forever war” by bringing our troops home, and ending the air strikes that perpetuate the cycle of terrorism throughout the world.

By bringing our troops home, we can begin to heal the wounds we’re opening by continuing military engagement. We can begin to repair our image. We can reunite military families, separated by repeated deployments. We can become stronger by building stronger diplomatic and economic ties, and by saving our armed forces only for when they’re truly needed.

In addition, Ocasio-Cortez has repeatedly used her widely-followed Twitter account to attack U.S. wars in Syria and elsewhere:

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Ocasio-Cortez did not provide an alternative solution for Syria, or for US allied Kurdish security, or relations with US NATO ally Turkey.

https://archive.is/36mKz

 

Germany: A Follower of “Terrorism” Drives Truck Into Cars on the Street in Limburg – Syrian “Refugee” Performs Propaganda of the Deed – 7 Oct 2019

Limburg, Germany:  A person from Syria who supports the ideology of ‘terrorism’ hijacked a truck and smashed into cars at a stop light.
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Police boldly labelled the man’s motivation for the action as “terrorism.”  The refugee was allowed in to Germany where followers of Terrorism are welcomed and criticizing Terrorism can land a person in jail if they put their opposition to Terrorism online or in writing.
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The refugee is in his early thirties and was speaking Arabic when pulled from the cab of the Mercedes truck was shouting in Arabic and used the Arabic name of an unnamed religion’s Illah or God.  The name is Allah bystanders claim while the police claimed that they heard nothing and saw nothing.

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The Terrorist injured at least nine people who were in the eight vehicles he struck that were stopped at a traffic light.
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Since large numbers of the Terrorist ideology were admitted to Germany since 2015 people have a pretty good idea as to who commits actions like truck attacks.
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Broadcaster ZDF, Germany’s public news organization,  reports that police initially said they were baffled as to the man’s motive because he was speaking Arabic.  Many in Germany say that more police who speak Arabic and understand the Terrorist ideology are needed.  There are too many white German men on the police forces who are constantly baffled by the Terrorist beliefs of refugees.

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The last big Terrorist truck attack killed twelve people at a Christmas street fair in 2016 by a Tunisian follower of Terrorism.  Apparently this follower of Terrorism could not wait till Christmas.
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Police have urged people to make sure their vehicle doors are locked because Terrorism is just an everyday part of life in Germany with so many refugees being brought into the country.
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The public broadcaster ZDF has vowed to hire more believers in Terrorism to make refugees feel welcome and a part of Germany.

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Police have vowed to become less ‘baffled’ the next time Terrorism and those who follow the belief system of Terror strikes.
https://archive.is/S7hIv

US Diplomat’s Wife – Anne Sacoolas – Diplomatic Immunity for Wrong Way Driving Manslaughter in UK? – by Tom Cleary (Heavy) 7 Oct 2019

AAnne Sacoolasnne Sacoolas is the U.S. diplomat’s wife who fled from the United Kingdom to America after a crash that killed 19-year-old British motorcyclist Harry Dunn in Northamptonshire, Sky News reports. She has claimed diplomatic immunity.

The 42-year-old Sacoolas is married to Jonathan Sacoolas, public records show. It is not clear what position he holds in the U.S. government that has provided him and his wife diplomatic immunity. The couple lives near RAF Croughton, a British Royal Air Force base currently being used by the U.S. Air Force as a communications station. Sky News referred to it as a “spy base.”

Sacoolas had only been in the U.K. for three weeks, The Telegraph reports.

Dunn was killed in a head-on collision near the base on August 27. His family and British government officials have spoken out about the incident in order to call for justice for Dunn, encouraging Sacoolas to return to Britain to face questioning and potential charges. She has not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing at this point. Officials in the U.K. have encouraged the U.S. to waive Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday, “I do not think that it can be right to use the process of diplomatic immunity for this type of purpose. I hope that Anne Sacoolas will come back and will engage properly with the processes of law as they are carried out in this country. That’s a point that we’ve raised or are raising today with the American Ambassador here in the U.K., and I hope it will be resolved very shortly. And to anticipate a question you might want to raise, if we can’t resolve it then of course I will be raising it myself personally with the White House.”

The U.S. State Department issued a statement to CBS News on Monday expressing sympathy and condolences to Dunn’s family but added, “questions regarding a waiver of immunity with regard to our diplomats and their family members overseas in a case like this receive intense attention at senior levels and are considered carefully given the global impact such decisions carry; immunity is rarely waived.”

Sacoolas and her husband could not be reached for comment by Heavy and it is not clear if they have hired an attorney.

Here’s what you need to know about Anne Sacoolas:


1. Anne Sacoolas — Who Struck Harry Dunn With Her Car While on the Wrong Side of the Road — Was Encouraged to Leave Britain by Someone on the American Side, Sky News Reports

Anne Elizabeth Sacoolas struck and killed 19-year-old Harry Dunn with her Volvo XC90 while driving the wrong way on August 27, police said. The crash occurred near the Air Force base. Dunn was riding a Kawasaki motorcycle.

According to The Telegraph, Sacoolas’ 12-year-old son was in the front seat of her car at the time of the crash. The newspaper reports that Sacoolas admitted liability after getting out of her car. But when police went to her home at the Croughton base and told her Dunn had died, lawyers and U.S. Embassy officials stepped in.

Northamptonshire Police Superintendent Sarah Johnson said in a statement, “We can confirm that a 42-year-old American woman being treated as a suspect in our investigation into a fatal road traffic collision on the B4031 Park End, Croughton, on Tuesday, August 27, has left the country.”

 

 

 

 

New Yorker Journo Who Peddled Discredited Kavanaugh Claims Calls Biden-Ukraine Scandal A “Conspiracy Theory” – by Tyler Durden (Zero Hedge) 6 Oct 2019

Narrative-shaping establishment minions are scrambling to make us understand that former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter simply couldn’t have engaged in textbook corruption in Ukraine and China. More importantly, any investigation into said allegations is beyond the pale – especially if it might ruin the left’s chances of dislodging ‘orange man bad’ from the Oval Office in 2020.

On Friday, the New Yorkers resident anti-Kavanaugh crusader Jane Mayer spent the better part of 2100 words lashing out at the effort to investigate the bidens, reducing credible allegations to a “conspiracy theory” despite direct evidence that at minimum, Joe Biden leveraged his office to get a Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, fired.

(Jane Mayer)

Shokin was investigating Burisma holdings, an oil and gas company paying Hunter Biden $600,000 per year to sit on its board next to a former CIA Director – when the younger Biden’s only apparent qualification was having been born right. If you think that’s odd, you may be a conspiracy theorist.

To discredit Shokin, Mayer repeats the well worn claim that “European and US officials, including Joe Biden, complained that he [Shokin] was lax in curbing corruption.” Perhaps, but let’s see some evidence from the period leading up to his ouster that doesn’t include high-level hearsay.

In short, Jane’s latest diatribe does little to address the merit of the allegations against the Bidens. Instead, she seeks to delegitimize conservative journalists reporting on it, such as The Hill‘s John Solomon and Breitbart‘s Peter Schweizer – calling them “political partisans pushing complicated and hard-to-check foreign narratives” who are engaging in disinformation.

“Anyone trying to track the Ukrainian conspiracy stories that were eventually embraced by President Trump is likely to get mired in the same echo chamber of right-wing news purveyors that misinformed voters in 2016,” Mayer writes.

Schweizer went a step further. His chapter implied not just that Burisma was a crooked company but that the end of a Ukrainian criminal investigation into it on January 12, 2017, was in some unstated way connected to Joe Biden’s visit to the country four days later. In this way, Schweizer floated the possibility that, as Vice-President, Biden had abused his power to protect the company or his son from prosecution. Yet Schweizer provided no proof of causation nor evidence of illegality. –New Yorker

Where she does address the Biden-Ukraine scandal, Mayer makes unexplored claims such as “The Burisma investigation had been dormant under Shokin,” without noting that Shokin said in a sworn affidavit “The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors.

We suppose it’s entirely possible that Hunter Biden and John Kerry’s stepson coincidentally landed a $1.5 billion contract in China all by themselves just two weeks after Joe and Hunter flew there together on Air Force Two. Again, however, you might be a conspiracy theorist if you suspect otherwise.

And while Hunter’s lucrative Ukraine dealings were outrageous enough in 2014 for ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl to ask Obama’s then-press secretary Jay Carney about the “appearance of conflict,” such questions are apparently the stuff of ‘conspiracy theory’ according to Mayer.

Another glaring red flag is the pass given to the Bidens for lying about Joe’s knowledge of Hunter’s dealings – with Joe claiming the two “never spoke” of them, and Hunter later telling the New Yorker the two had discussed Burisma “just once.”

Of course, when a Clinton Foundation board member tells a Trump campaign aide that Russia has dirt on Hillary – a rumor he later repeats to an Australian diplomat, let’s kick off a multi-year counterintelligence investigation on the premise that Trump is working with Russia and not call it the actual conspiracy theory it turned out to be. We can only imagine what would turn up if an unbiased FBI and a special counsel spent over three years similarly pursuing the Bidens.

It’s OK when we do it… 

When it comes to President Trump and anyone else whose name has been so much as uttered in the same breath, hearsay and ‘concerns’ are enough to launch investigations.

To that end – for someone who thinks “evidence of illegality” is the standard by which claims should be investigated, Mayer peddled several eleventh-hour sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh – most notably that of Christine Blasey Ford, whose claim has largely unraveled after the people she says were at a High School party where Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her can’t recall the incident, and have in fact denied it happened or otherwise refuted her account (Mayer also co-wrote a 1994 book, Strange Justice, used in a similar eleventh-hour attack against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas).

For Biden, we suddenly require proof behind dots even a caveman could connect.

Meanwhile, the leftist journo was also called out by Meghan McCain on “The View” for her defense of former Democratic Senator Al Franken, who resigned after eight women accused him of sexual misconduct.

 

 

In summary; pay no attention to that man behind the curtain if he’s a Democrat, and you’re a conspiracy theorist for even thinking of looking.

 

https://www.zerohedge.com/political/new-yorker-journo-who-peddled-kavanaugh-hit-piece-calls-biden-ukraine-scandal-conspiracy

https://archive.is/rFoIg

Iran Reframed: Anxieties of Power in the Islamic Republic – By Daniel Larison (American Conservative) 30 Sept 2019

Iran Reframed - Narges Bajoghli

Narges Bajoghli has written a fascinating book about her research into the work of pro-government media and film producers inside Iran. The book is called Iran Reframed: Anxieties of Power in the Islamic Republic, and it just came out last week. I have read shorter pieces of analysis from Prof. Bajoghli before, and I have occasionally cited her in some of my posts here, so I knew the book would be worth reading. I finished it a few days ago, and it does not disappoint. Najoghli presents a thoughtful, critical, and nuanced account of her subjects.

The book introduces us to many of the people responsible for creating pro-regime media and shows us how they operate, the divisions and disagreements among them, and what motivates them. One of the questions that Bajoghli seeks to answer is how the older generations of regime supporters are attempting to “transmit the commitment of their revolutionary project” to later generations, and along the way she shows us that there is a significant generational divide between the early supporters of the regime with their experience of the war with Iraq and the newest generation that have been coming up in the last ten to fifteen years. This is important research that allows us to understand how different regime supporters see their own system and their country, and it points to divisions that exist inside that system that are usually invisible to outside viewers. It also shows how the regime’s media producers have adapted over the last decade to appeal to the wider Iranian public with nationalistic messages and it tells how they are making use of a variety of media to deliver that message in ways so that the audience doesn’t realize that it is a product of the state.

One of the interesting splits in the ranks of these regime media producers was generational. The older men that Bajoghli interviewed understood their membership in the Basij in terms of defending the country against invasion, and they held the newer members in low esteem because they saw them mainly as opportunists out for personal advancement. One war veteran said of them: “For us, it was a matter of life and death. These kids are ideological and they don’t even know why.” (p. 47) Interestingly, the older Basijis that Bajoghli met refused to let their children join the organization, which they saw as a step down from the status that they had acquired for themselves and their families.

During her research, Bajoghli spoke to many veterans of the war with Iraq, and during her conversations with them she found that they would switch between their real, honest accounts of their wartime experience when they had grown to trust her and would then slip into an “official” mode when on camera. This is hardly unique to the Iran-Iraq war, but it is something that can be overlooked when the “official” line is the only one that is permitted to be heard: “The official narrative of the war has stayed the same throughout the past three decades. On the other hand, the real stories are characterized by secrecy, revelation, novelty, and anger.” (p. 56)

The book’s title refers to the anxieties of power, and one of the anxieties that Bajoghli identifies is a recurring fear of Iran “turning into Syria.” As she says in the introduction, “Syria became a metaphor for what Iran’s military elite sought to avoid at all costs.” (p.4) This is echoed again in another conversation recounted later in the book in which one of the producers said, “We have to stand strong or we’ll turn into Syria.” (p. 86) For regime supporters, the fear that a similar conflict could tear apart their own country seems to be very real.

The gap between regime supporters and the majority of the country’s young people is a recurring theme in the book. The regime media producers recognize that the gap is there, and they are frequently at a loss with how to bridge it. One of the problems that the producers have is not just that they don’t know the right way to convey their message, but that the pro-regime message that they have been trying to promote leaves many people cold and alienates them. That is why they have increasingly resorted to reframing their message in terms of nationalism and appeals to defend the country rather the the regime or the revolution as such.

Iran Reframed is an insightful introduction to a side of Iran that most of us know little or nothing about, and anyone interested in learning more about media and politics in contemporary Iran would benefit from it.

Source

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From Stanford University Press –

An inside look at what it means to be pro-regime in Iran, and the debates around the future of the Islamic Republic.

More than half of Iran’s citizens were not alive at the time of the 1979 Revolution. Now entering its fifth decade in power, the Iranian regime faces the paradox of any successful revolution: how to transmit the commitments of its political project to the next generation. New media ventures supported by the Islamic Republic attempt to win the hearts and minds of younger Iranians. Yet members of this new generation—whether dissidents or fundamentalists—are increasingly skeptical of these efforts.

Iran Reframed offers unprecedented access to those who wield power in Iran as they debate and define the future of the Republic. Over ten years, Narges Bajoghli met with men in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Ansar Hezbollah, and Basij paramilitary organizations to investigate how their media producers developed strategies to court Iranian youth. Readers come to know these men—what the regime means to them and their anxieties about the future of their revolutionary project. Contestation over how to define the regime underlies all their efforts to communicate with the public. This book offers a multilayered story about what it means to be pro-regime in the Islamic Republic, challenging everything we think we know about Iran and revolution.

About the author

Narges Bajoghli is Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Guardian, and the Washington Post, and has appeared as a commentator on NPR, PBS, and the BBC. She is the director of the documentary The Skin That Burns, screened at The Hague, Hiroshima, Jaipur, and film festivals throughout the United States.

https://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=29666

New Weapons and the New Tactics Which They Make Possible: Three Examples – by The Saker • 2 Oct 2019

Heavy Strike UAV S-70 Hunter

There are probably hundreds of books out there about the so-called “Revolution in Military Affairs”, some of them pretty good, most of them very bad, and a few very good ones (especially this one). For a rather dull and mainstream discussion, you can check the Wikipedia article on the RMA. Today I don’t really want to talk this or similar buzzwords (like “hybrid warfare” for example). Frankly, in my experience, these buzzwords serve two purposes:

  1. to sell (books, articles, interviews, etc.)
  2. to hide a person’s lack of understanding of tactics, operational art and strategy.

This being said, there are new things happening in the realm of warfare, new technologies are being developed, tested and deployed, some extremely successfully.

In his now famous speech, Putin revealed some of these new weapons systems, although he did not say much about how they would be engaged (which is quite logical, since he was making a political speech, not a military-technical report). For those would be interested in this topic, you can check here, here, here, here, here and here.

The recent Houthi drone and missile strike on the Saudi oil installations has shown to the world something which the Russians have known for several years: that even rather primitive drones can be a real threat. Sophisticated drones are a major threat to every military out there, though Russia has developed truly effective (including cost-effective, which is absolutely crucial, more about that later) anti-drone capabilities.

First, lets look at the very low-cost end of the spectrum: drones

Let’s begin with the primitive drones. These are devices which, according to one Russian military expert, roughly need a 486 CPU, about 1MB of RAM, 1GB of harddisk space and some (now extremely cheap) sensors to capture the signals from the US GPS, the Russian GLONASS or both (called “GNSS”). In fact, the “good terrorists” in Syria, financed, assisted and trained by the “Axis of Kindness” (USA/KSA/Israel) have been attacking the Russian base in Khmeimim with swarms of such drones for years. According to the commander of the air defenses of Khmeimin, over 120(!) drones were shot down or disabled by Russian air defenses in just the last two years. Obviously, the Russians know something that some “Axis of Kindness” does not.

The biggest problem: missile systems should not be used against drones

Some self-described “specialists” have wondered why Patriot missiles did not shoot down the Houthi drones. This is asking the wrong question because missiles are completely ineffective in engaging attacking drone swarms. And, for once, this is not about the poor performance of Patriot SAMs. Even Russian S-400s are the wrong systems to use on individual drones or drone swarms. Why? Because of the following characteristics of drones:

  1. they are typically small, with a very special low profile, extremely light and made up of materials which minimally reflect radar signals;
  2. they are very slow, which does not make it easier to shoot them down, but much harder, especially since most radars are designed to track and engage very fast targets (aircraft, ballistic missiles, etc.);
  3. they can fly extremely low, which allows them to hide; even lower than cruise missiles flying NOE;
  4. they are extremely cheap, thus wasting multi-million dollar missiles on drones costing maybe 10-20 dollars (or even say, 30,000 dollars for the very high end) makes no sense whatsoever;
  5. they can come in swarms with huge numbers; much larger than the number of missiles a battery can fire.

From the above, it is obvious how drones should be engaged: either with AA cannons or by EW systems.

It just so happens that the Russians have both, hence their success in Khmeimim.

One ideal anti-drone weapon would be the formidable Pantsir which combines multi-channel detection and tracking (optoelectronics, radar, IR, visual, third-party datalinks, etc.) and a powerful cannon. And, even better, the Pantsir also has powerful medium range missiles which can engage targets supporting the drone attack.

The other no less formidable anti-drone system would be the various Russian EW systems deployed in Syria.

Why are they so effective?

Let’s look at the major weaknesses of drones

First, drones are either remotely controlled, or have onboard navigation systems. Obviously, just like any signal, the remote signal can be jammed and since jammers are typically closer to the intended target than the remote control station, it is easier for it to produce a much stronger signal since the strength of a signal diminishes according to the so-calledinverse square law“. Thus in terms of raw emission power, even a powerful signal transmitted far away is likely to lose to a smaller, weaker, signal if that one is closer to the drone (i.e. near the intended target along the likely axis of attack). Oh sure, in theory one could use all sorts of fancy techniques to try to avoid that (for example frequency-hopping, etc.) but these very quickly dramatically raise the weight and cost of the drone. You also need to consider that the stronger the signal from the drone, the bigger and heavier the onboard power cells need to be, and the heavier the drone is.

Second, some drones rely on either satellite signals (GPS/GLONASS) or inertial guidance. Problem #1: satellite signals can be spoofed. Problem #2 inertial guidance is either not that accurate or, again, heavier and more costly.

Some very expensive and advanced cruise missiles use TERCOM, terrain contour matching, but that is too expensive for light and cheap drones (such advanced cruise missiles and their launchers is what the S-3/400s were designed to engage, and that at least makes sense financially). There are even more fancy and extremely expensive cruise missile guidance technologies out there, but these are simply not applicable to weapons like drones with their biggest advantage being simple technology and low costs.

The truth is that even a non-tech guy like me could build a drone ordering all the parts from online stores such as Amazon, AliBaba, Banggood and tons of others and build pretty effective drones to, say, drop a hand grenade or some other explosive on an enemy position. Somebody with an engineering background could easily build the kind of drones the “good terrorists” have used against the Russians in Syria. A country, even a poor one and devastated by a genocidal war, like Yemen, could very easily build the kind of drones used by the Houthis, especially with Iranian and Hezbollah help (the latter two have already successfully taken remote control of US and Israeli drones respectively).

 

Finally, I can promise you that right now, in countries like the DPRK, China, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Cuba, etc, there are teams of engineers working on the development of very low cost drones just like there are teams of military analysts developing new tactics of engagement.

This is, I submit, the first not-so-noticed (yet) kinda-revolution in military affairs.

Second, lets look at the very high end: 5th+ generation aircraft and 5-6th generation UAVs

While some in India have declared (for political reasons and to please the USA) that the Su-57 was not “really” a 5th generation aircraft (on the pretext that the first ones were deployed with 4th gen engines and because the Su-57 did not have the same kind of all-aspect RCS which the F-22 has), in Russia and China the debate is now whether the Su-57 is really only a 5th generation aircraft or really a 5th + or even 6th generation one. Why?

For one thing, rumors coming out of the Sukhoi KB and the Russian military is that the pilot in the Su-57 is really an “option”, meaning that the Su-57 was designed from the start to operate without any pilot at all. My personal belief is that the Su-57 has an extremely modular design which currently does require a human pilot and that the first batch of S-57s will probably not fly all alone, but that the capability to remove the human pilot to be replaced by a number of advanced systems has been built-in, and that the Russians will deploy pilot-less Su-57’s in the future.

In the meantime, the Russians have for the first time shown this:

 

What you are seeing here is the following:

A Su-57 flies together with the new long range Russian strike drone: the Heavy Strike UAV S-70 Hunter and here is what the Russian MoD has recently revealed about this drone:

  • Range: 6,000km (3,700 miles)
  • Ceiling: 18,000m (60,000 feet)
  • Max speed: 1,400km/h (1,000mph)
  • Max load: 6,000kg (12,000lbs)

Furthermore, Russian experts are now saying that this UAV can fly alone, or in a swarm, or in a joint flight with a manned Su-57. I also believe that in the future, one Su-57 will probably control several such heavy strike drones.

What can a Su-57 do when flying together with the S-70?

Well, for one thing since the S-70 has a lower RCS than the Su-57 (this according to Russian sources) the Su-57 uses the S-70 as a long range hostile air defense penetrator tasked with collecting signals intelligence and relaying those back to the Su-57. But that is not all. The Su-57 can also use the S-70 to attack ground targets (including SEAD) and even execute air-to-air attacks. Here the formidable speed and huge 6 tons max load of the S-70 offer truly formidable capabilities, including the deployment of heavy Russian air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-ship capabilities.

The usual gang of trolls will probably object that the Russian computer/chip industry is so far behind the supposedly much superior western solid-state electronics that this is all nonsense; there was a human sitting inside the S-70; this thing don’t fly; the Su-57 is a 4th gen aircraft much inferior to the amazingly superb F-22/F-35; and all the rest of it. Especially for them, I want to remind everybody that Russia was the first country to deploy airborne phased array radars on her MiG-31s which, to boot, were capable of exchanging targeting data by encrypted datalinks with FOUR (!) other aircraft maintaining EM silence (while using their optoelectronics and relaying that data back). Furthermore, these MiG-31s could also exchange data with airborne (AWACS) and ground-based (SAMs) radars. And that was in the early 1980s, almost 40 years ago!

The truth is that the Soviet armed forces deployed plenty of network-centric systems long before the West, especially in the Soviet Air Force and Navy (while the Soviet Ground-Forces pioneered the use of so-called RSCreconnaissance-strike complexes which were the nightmare of NATO during the Cold War). Nowadays, all we need to do is parse the NATO whining about Russian Anti Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities to see that the Russians are still pioneering advanced military-technical capabilities which the West can only dream of.

Now let’s revisit some of the recent criticisms of the Su-57

So what about the fact that the Su-57 does not have all-around very low RCS? What if the Su-57 was never intended to spearhead the penetration of advanced and integrated air defense systems? What if from day 1 the Sukhoi designers were warned by their colleagues at Almaz-Antey, Novator, KRET or even the good folks at the OSNAZ (SIGINT) and the 6th Directorate of the GRU that “stealth” is vastly over-rated? What if it was clear to the Russians from day 1 that a low frontal-RCS did not compromise other capabilities as much as a quasi-total reliance on all-aspect low-RCS never to be detected in the first place?

The crucial thing to keep in mind is that new technological capabilities also generate new tactics. By the way, western analysts understand that, hence the new network-centric capabilities of the F-35. This is especially true since the F-35 will be a pathetic dogfighter whereas the Su-57 might well be the most capable one out there: did you know that the Su-57 has several radars besides the main one, that they cover different bands and that they give the Su-57 a 360 degree vision of the battlefield, even without using the signals from the S-70, AWACS or ground based SAM radars?). And in terms of maneuverability, I will just show this and rest my case:

Lastly, the case of the invisible missile container 🙂

Remember the Kalibr cruise-missile recently seen in the war in Syria. Did you know that it can be shot from a typical commercial container, like the ones you will find on trucks, trains or ships? Check out this excellent video which explains this:

Just remember that the Kalibr has a range of anywhere between 50km to 4,000km and that it can carry a nuclear warhead. How hard would it be for Russia to deploy these cruise missiles right off the US coast in regular container ships? Or just keep a few containers in Cuba or Venezuela? This is a system which is so undetectable that the Russians could deploy it off the coast of Australia to hit the NSA station in Alice Springs if they wanted, and nobody would even see it coming. In fact, the Russians could deploy such a system on any civilian merchant ship, sailing under any imaginable flag, and station it not only anywhere off the US coastline, but even in a US port since most containers are never examined anyways (and when they are, it is typically for drugs or contraband). Once we realize this, all the stupid scaremongering about Russian subs off the coast of Florida become plain silly, don’t they?

Now let’s look at some very interesting recent footage from the recent maneuvers in Russia:

Here is what the person who posted that (Max Fisher, here is his YT channel) video wrote about this coastal defense system, explaining it very well:

For the first time, during the tactical exercises of the tactical group of the Northern Fleet, carrying combat duty on the island of Kotelny, the coastal missile system “Bastion” was used The BRK was successful in firing a supersonic Onyx anti-ship cruise missile at a sea target located over 60 kilometers in the Laptev Sea, which confirmed its readiness to effectively carry out combat duty in the Arctic and perform tasks to protect the island zone and the Russian coast. Onyx is a universal anti-ship cruise missile. It is designed to combat surface naval groups and single ships in the face of strong fire and electronic countermeasures. On the basis of the rocket, there are two seemingly absolutely identical export options: the Russian Yakhont and the Indian BrahMos, but with significantly reduced combat characteristics. These vehicles are capable of starting from under water: they have a flight speed of 750 meters per second and carry the crushing high-explosive warhead with a weight of half a ton. The range of their flight is more than 600 kilometers. Previously, Rubezh BRK was used as the main coastal missile system of the tactical group of the Northern Fleet. At the end of August, he successfully hit two targets “Termit” missiles installed in the Laptev Sea at a distance of more than 50 kilometers from the coast.

Now let me ask you this: how hard would you think it would be for Russia to develop a container size version coastal defense system using the technologies used in the Bastion/Yakhont/BrahMos missile systems? Since the AngloZionists have now reneged on The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Russians have already developed a land-based version of their Kalibr missile which is ready to deploy as soon as the US deploys any such missile in Europe.

The fact is that Russia has perfected an entire family of ballistic and cruise missiles which can be completely hidden from detection and which can be deployed literally anywhere on the planet. Even with nuclear warheads.

This capability completely changes all the previous US deterrence/containment strategies (which are still halfway stuck in the Cold War and halfway stuck with low-intensity/counter-insurgency operations like what they have been doing (with no success whatsoever!) in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and in Latin America and Africa).

In the light of the above, what do you make of the steady flow of NATO ships deployed in the Black Sea to “deter” Russia? If you find it completely suicidal, I agree. In fact, all these ships are doing is allowing the Russians to train their crews on the “real thing”. But should it ever come to a shooting war, the life span of any and every NATO ship in the Black Sea would be measured in minutes. Literally!

Now lets think of Iran. As I said many, many times, Russia will not enter a full-scale war against the combined powers of the “Axis of Kindness” on behalf of Iran (or any other country on the planet). But Russia very much might get seriously fed up with the “Axis of Kindness” and sell Iran any missile the Iranians would be willing to acquire. In the past I have often written that the real sign that Iran is about to be attacked would not be the presence of USN ships in the Strait of Hormuz or along the Iranian coast, but the opposite: a flushing out of all ships from the Strait itself and a careful repositioning of the bulk of the USN ships inside sea and land based US air defenses “umbrella” available at that moment. I can only imagine the nightmare for CENTCOM if Iran begins to acquire even a small number of Bastions or Kalibers or Yakhont or BrahMos missiles 🙂

Conclusion: the “Axis of Kindness” countries are in big, big trouble!

The US and Israel have tremendous technological capabilities, and in normal times US specialists could gradually deploy systems capable of countering the kind of capabilities (not only necessarily Russian ones) we now see deployed in various areas of operations. And there sure is enough money, considering that the US alone spends more on the “promotion of kindness” than the rest of the planet combined! So what is the problem?

Simple, the US Congress, which might well be the most corrupt parliament on the planet, is in the business of:

  1. Hysterically flag-waving and declaring any naysayers “un-American”
  2. Making billions for the US ruling nomenklatura

Thus, to admit that the “shining city on the hill” and its “best armed forces in history” are rapidly falling behind foes which the US propaganda has described as “primitive” and “inferior” for decades is quite literally unthinkable for US politicians. After all, the US public might wonder why all these multi-billion dollar toys the US MIC has been producing in the last decades have not yielded a single success, never-mind a meaningful victory! Trump in his campaign tried to make that point. He was instantly attacked by the Dems for not supporting the “best military in history” and he quickly changed his tune. Now even the weapons the US does not even have yet are better than those already being tested and, possibly, deployed by Russia.

This “feel good” approach to military issues is very nice, warm and fuzzy. But it sure does not make it possible to even identify present, or even less so, future dangers.

Then, of course, there is the issue of money. The US, in its short history, has deployed some absolutely world class weapons systems in technologies. My personal favorites: the Willys MBm, also known as a Jeep, and the superb F-16. But there are many, many more. The problem with these, at least from the point of view of the US nomenklatura, is that they were designed for warfare, for the many and very different real-world battlefields out there. They were never designed to enrich the already fantastically rich!

Hence the country which produced the Jeep now mostly produces massive hulks of metal which drive like crap, which constantly break, but which give the narcissistic and baseball cum sunglasses hat wearing left-lane male drivers a delightful feeling of macho superiority. And, of course, the country which created and deployed the formidable, yet economic, F-16 in the thousands (well over 4000 I think) now produces the F-35 (good thing that the US colonies like Poland or Japan are willing to buy them to please their beloved Uncle Shmuel).

From the point of view of the US nomenklatura, the F-35 is a stunning, amazing, success, not a high-tech flying brick! The costs of this system are not the proof of the incompetence of US engineers, or the cluelessness of US military analysts. Rather, these costs are proof of the combined effects of infinite greed and self-worship of the US ruling class.

Sadly, one of the best ways to learn the important lessons, is by means of a painful or catastrophic defeat. The Russia of today would not have been possible without the horrors of the “democratic rule” of Eltsin in the 1990s. Think of it: during the first Chechen war, the Russians had a hard time even finding one complete combat capable regiment and they had to use “combined battalions” (сводный батальон) instead. This will probably also happen to the USA.

https://archive.is/eNejd

Egypt Protests: How a Cartoon of US Backed Dictator Sisi ‘the cat burglar’ became the face of a movement (Middle East Eye) 3 Oct 2019

By

in

New York City
egypt
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Ganzeer says the idea had long been brewing in his head.
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He had watched from his adopted home in Houston, Texas as allegations of corruption levelled against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi by former military contractor Mohamed Ali began fomenting public anger against the government.
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The discussions online told him that the corruption saga would trigger a population facing mounting economic challenges and endless repression. A storm was coming.
“I just wanted to pitch-in but I wasn’t sure how,” says the 37-year-old street artist, who made his name in Cairo during the 2011 revolution against Hosni Mubarak.
Since the image was released on social media, it has taken a life of its own [Facebook]
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“If I would were in Cairo now, I would have taken to the streets with graffiti, like I did in 2011. I kept on wondering: how can I participate in a concrete and positive way, and make it useful?”
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On the morning of 20 September, Ganzeer woke up anxious. During the next few hours he drew the image that has quickly come to define a new wave of protests against the sitting president. In the illustration, Sisi is dressed in a striped jacket and tie, but drawn as a cartoonish cat burglar.
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‘I kept on wondering: How can I participate in a concrete and positive way, and make it useful?’
– Ganzeer, artist
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Ganzeer initially released the image in private groups as well as on his Instagram page. The image quickly went viral. Above the image the slogan reads in English: “Arrest Sisi. Free Egypt”, and below in Arabic: “Down with the betrayers, regime remnants, [Muslim] Brotherhood”.
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Activists and protesters have added their own slogans to the cartoon, as well as printing it out, cutting it up, and turning it into masks, banners and posters.
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It has popped up at protests in New York, Washington, Berlin, Paris and Oslo – and even in the back alleys of Cairo.
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“There is no way it can end up in Tahrir Square,” Ganzeer says wryly. “Not with the security crackdown there.”
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Rising anger

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Egypt has seen an outbreak of protests against Sisi since 20 September, when protesters took to the streets of Cairo and other cities, calling for him to step down.
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The demonstrations, and the online campaigns that have fuelled them, have been the most public show of opposition to the president since a crackdown on dissent after the 2013 military coup that brought Sisi to power. Hundreds of protesters were killed by security forces in Rabaa Square, with tens of thousands more arrested and imprisoned.
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A new wave of repression has followed this month’s protests, with more than 2,200 people arrested, according to local activists. Last Friday Egyptian security forces locked down the centre of Cairo and other cities to deter crowds from taking to the streets.
But the slump in the economy, which has seen the number of people living below the poverty line rise between 2015 and 2018, has left many Egyptians seething with anger.
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Activists say Ganzeer’s image not only plugged into the rising anger on the streets; drawing Sisi as a burglar fundamentally stripped the president down from a so-called statesman to an ordinary, petty thug who had literally stolen the presidency and now the coffers of the state.
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“The image has resonated with many Egyptian because it outlines the economic suffering currently playing out in the country,” Ahmed el-Hahdy, an Egyptian activist living in Princeton, New Jersey, tells MEE.
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“Given Sisi’s corruption and theft of national wealth, he has become an integral part of people’s every day suffering.”
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Activists supporting the anti-Sisi campaign say they have faced coordinated opposition online, with several saying that their social media accounts have been reported and, in some instances, blocked or suspended.
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Activists compiled names of all 2,200 detainees on a banner and demand for their release  [MEE/Azad Essa]
Activists compiled names of all 2,200 detainees on a banner and demand for their release (MEE/Azad Essa)
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Ganzeer’s Twitter account was among those briefly suspended earlier this week. After appealing, he says Twitter told him that he had been suspended for “using a trending hashtag or popular hashtag with an intent to subvert or manipulate a conversation or to drive traffic or attention to accounts, websites, products or initiatives” and for “tweeting with excessive, unrelated hashtags in a single tweet or across multiplate tweets”.
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Middle East Eye asked Twitter why it had suspended the accounts of Egyptian activists and whether it was investigating the closures.
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‘Social issues informs my work. It comes first. And there will be more actions to come’
– Ganzeer
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A spokesperson, responding by email, said that the site takes action when behaviour violates its platform manipulation and spam policy.
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“Additionally, Twitter regularly discloses data in relation to state-backed information operations on the service in what is now the largest archive of its kind in the industry,” the spokesperson said.
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Blocking trolls

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Ganzeer says his Twitter account was reactivated a couple of hours after he filed his appeal, but he told MEE he believed he had faced a coordinated online attack since publishing the image of Sisi.
“Since I released the image, I have had to spend a lot of time just blocking [trolls]. It has been coordinated with a number of suspicious handles and accounts that clearly began in September.”
Ganzeer's original image with the words "​Down with the betrayers: the military, [regime] remnants, [Muslim] Brotherhood" in Arabic below (Ganzeer)
Ganzeer’s original image with the words “​Down with the betrayers: the military, [regime] remnants, [Muslim] Brotherhood” in Arabic below (Ganzeer)
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Dalia Wassef, another activist, and one of the main organisers of a series of anti-Sisi protests in New York City, where Ganzeer’s image is featured prominently, describes the illustration as “portraying reality and confrontational.”
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“It shows the anger of the Egyptian public over the corruption of the army and the generals,” Wassef told MEE.
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But Ganzeer is quick to clarify that though Sisi has been depicted as a cartoonish cat burglar, it shouldn’t be seen as an attempt to understate the level of oppression that has characterised the president’s rule.
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“Some back home are complaining that people are ignoring the deaths and detentions and crackdowns and his attempt to stay in power and now talking about corruption.
“But if you ask me, I think this wave of protest is about exposing Sisi as a liar from the inside – and you could say it’s a key to opening up all the other lies.”
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Ganzeer has repeatedly satirised Sisi’s brutal rule in comic books, graffiti and art installations. He is no stranger to attacks by Sisi’s supporters or the state, which have forced him to stay in the US since 2014 amid fears for his safety.
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In 2014, he worked with Captain Borderline, an art collective, and the artist Sampsa in launching a social media and street art campaign called #SisiWarCrimes.
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In 2018, he worked on a comic for The Nib, in which he detailed life in Cairo under Sisi.
In his attempt to make it clear his work and protest had nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that has been vilified by the Egyptian state, he says he has been chastised by them, too.
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“The activism of Ganzeer gives a prime example of how creative artists can contribute to revolutionary change and unite political messaging in ways that go beyond the usual party centred political ideological messaging,” says el-Hahdy.
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Ganzeer says he won’t be stopping any time soon.
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“Social issues informs my work. It comes first,” Ganzeer says. “And there will be more actions to come.”
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North Korea Launches Missile From Underwater – 2 Oct 2019

Cold ejecting an SLBM from a canister underwater, then having the first stage successfully fire, then second stage separate successfully is not trivial. These guys are good. Does anyone really want to dare North Korea to “prove” the reliability of its reentry vehicles? Not me.

NK launches from underwater

–Pukguksong-3 –Solid-fueled –Cold-launched from TULP –2-stage –910 km apogee/450 km range (~1,900 on MET)  –Launched off Wonsan –Longest-range solid-fuel missile seen in North Korea –First “strategic” launch since November 2017

NK 3

NK 4

NK 2

North Korean Statement:

NK statement

https://archive.is/4cFFK

China’s latest display of military might suggests its ‘nuclear triad’ is complete – Ground, Sea, Air Based Weapons – by Liu Zhen (South China Morning Post) 2 Oct 2019

China 2 Oct 2019The parade featured mobile DF-41 ballistic missiles that can strike any target in the United States.

  • Tuesday’s National Day parade featured the country’s latest ground, sea and air-based weapons, which allow it to conduct far-ranging attacks from any platform
  •  
  • Show of strength may fuel concerns about its future ambitions and possible plans to increase its nuclear arsenal

China’s display of might during the National Day parade indicates that it has finally completed the “nuclear triad” that will allow it launch far-reaching attacks – a development likely to heighten concerns about the possible expansion of its nuclear arsenal.

Tuesday’s set piece event in Beijing featured new strategic weapons that form the three components of the triad – ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched missiles and air-launched weapons.

The new weapons on show included the mobile, solid-fuel DF-41 ICBM, which is a core element of the country’s nuclear deterrent because it can reach any location on the US mainland from China.

Its range of 15,000km (9,300 miles) improves on the 12,000km (7,500 miles) of its predecessor, the DF-31AG, and the new missile is also fitted with 10, rather than three, multiple re-entry vehicles that allow it to hit different targets independently.

 

The DF-41 can be launched from trucks or trains and is much more mobile than the silo-based DF-5B, which also featured in Tuesday’s parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic.

This means it will be harder for an enemy to attack, whereas the DF-5B’s silos would probably be the top targets for any pre-emptive strike. It can also be deployed more quickly than the liquid propellant-fuelled DF-5B.

The parade also showcased the submarine-launched JL-2 ballistic missile, which has a range of 7,400km (4,600 miles) and multiple payload vehicles to aim at different targets independently.

The JL-2’s deployment on type 094A nuclear submarines in 2015 marked the first time China had a credible sea-based nuclear deterrent.

A formation of JL-2 missiles featured in the parade. Photo: Xinhua
A formation of JL-2 missiles featured in the parade. Photo:

The previous generation SLBM JL-1 only had a range of around 2,000-2,500km (1,200-1,600 miles). Its carrier, the Type 092 nuclear submarine, was also notoriously noisy, and only one of the vessels was ever built.

The military display in Beijing also featured the first appearance of the hypersonic DF-17, which has an advanced glide system that allows it to travel well above the speed of sound and should ensure it can evade any existing missile defence system.

Although its has been officially described as a “conventional missile” it is believed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads as well.

China rolls out new weapon systems, nuclear-capable missiles in parade

This medium-range missile, the first in service to use the glider vehicle technology, has a range of 1,500km (900 miles), which means the PLA would prefer not to arm it with a nuclear payload, according to Zhou Chenming, a Beijing-based military commentator.

China’s H-6 bomber jets fly in formation over Beijing. Photo: AP
China’s H-6 bomber jets fly in formation over Beijing.

“China doesn’t need to keep too many nuclear warheads, and just lets long-range missiles be equipped with the expensive nuclear warheads, because that’s enough for nuclear deterrence,” said Zhou.

The aerial element of the triad includes the H-6N bomber, which was also on show on Tuesday and can fire nuclear-armed air-to-ship and air-to-ground ballistic missiles.

 

The current Chinese nuclear arsenal is estimated to be around 250 warheads in accordance with its “minimal deterrence” strategy, and the country has adopted a “no first use” doctrine towards nuclear missiles.

But the US Defence Intelligence Agency director Robert Ashley Jnr has predicted that China would double its nuclear stockpile over the next decade.

Military advances and Xi’s supreme status highlighted as Beijing celebrates

His assessment was based on the People’s Liberation Army’s ongoing efforts to develop the next generations of all the elements of its nuclear triad.

“We expect this modernisation to continue,” he told conservative think tank Hudson Institute in May, adding that the work showed that Beijing was committed to increasing the importance of its nuclear forces to its military aspirations.

Chinese military vehicles carrying hypersonic DF-17 missiles pass through the centre of Beijing. Photo: AP
Chinese military vehicles carrying hypersonic DF-17 missiles pass through the centre of Beijing.

Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military analyst, said China was unable to match America’s overall military spending so it focused on investment in the most critical areas.

“Nuclear weapons have been the key,” he said. “The US has overwhelming advantages in the quantity of nuclear warheads but Chinese strategy is to have high-quality carriers that are able to penetrate the missile defences to ensure a counterstrike.”

Song Zhongping, a military analyst for Hong Kong’s Phoenix Television, said the US decision to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement with Russia, meant there was a real risk of a nuclear arms race.

Song said that showcasing the new weapons could fuel “China threat” theories in the US, but added: “The Americans are trying to pull China into a nuclear arms race, but China should stick to its own plan.”

South China Morning Post

Huawei’s Plan B – Say hello to the Russia-China computer operating system – by Pepe Escobar (Asia Times) 12 June 2019

The US ban on Huawei is pushing it to develop alternative systems that may rival Google and Android

Google cuts Huawei off Android; so Huawei may migrate to Aurora. Call it mobile Eurasia integration; the evolving Russia-China strategic partnership may be on the verge of spawning its own operating system – and that is not a metaphor.

Aurora is a mobile operating system currently developed by Russian Open Mobile Platform, based in Moscow. It is based on the Sailfish operating system, designed by Finnish technology company Jolla, which featured a batch of Russians in the development team. Quite a few top coders at Google and Apple also come from the former USSR – exponents of a brilliant scientific academy tradition.

In 2014, Russian entrepreneur Grigory Berezkin started co-owning Jolla, and from 2016 his Mobile Platform company started developing a Russian version of the operating system. In 2018, Rostelecom, a state company, bought a 75% share in Open Mobile Platform.

Ahead of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum last week, Huawei chairman Guo Ping discussed the possibility of adopting Aurora with Russian minister of digital development and communications, Konstantin Noskov. According to Guo, “China is already testing devices with the Aurora pre-installed.

In Moscow, before moving to St Petersburg, Presidents Putin and Xi Jinping discussed multiple possible deals; and these include Huawei-Aurora, as well as where to locate some of Huawei’s production lines in Russia.

Google, here we come

Aurora could be regarded as part of Huawei’s fast-evolving Plan B. Huawei is now turbo-charging the development and implementation of its own operating system, HongMeng, a process that started no less than seven years ago. Most of the work on an operating system is writing drivers and APIs (application programming interfaces). Huawei would be able to integrate their code to the Russian system in no time.

HongMeng, for its part, is a key project of Huawei 2012 Laboratories, the innovation, research and technological development arm of the Shenzhen colossus.

No Google? Who cares? Tencent, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo are already testing the HongMeng operating system, as part of a batch of one million devices already distributed.

HongMeng’s launch is still a closely guarded secret by Huawei, but according to CEO Richard Yu, it could happen even before the end of 2019 for the Chinese market, running on smartphones, computers, TVs and cars. HongMeng is rumored to be 60% faster than Android.

The HongMeng system may also harbor functions dedicated to security and protection of users’ data. That’s what’s scaring Google the most; Huawei developing a software impenetrable to hacking attempts. Google is actively lobbying the Trump administration to add another reprieve – or even abandon the Huawei ban altogether.

By now it’s clear Team Trump has decided to wield a trade war as a geopolitical and geoeconomic weapon. They may have not calculated that other Chinese producers have the power to swing markets. Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo, for instance, are not (yet) banned in the US market, and combined they sell more than Samsung. They could decide to move to Huawei’s operating system in no time.

By the end of August, probably at an industry fair in Berlin, Huawei should be announcing its new chip Kirin 985. And by September the first Huawei smartphone equipped with HongMeng could be hitting the market.

Watch that Lineage

Google bought Android in 2005. Android is based on Linux, a free software operating system. There are already similar and better free software systems on the market, such as Lineage, which has a version adapted to at least two Huawei models, the P20 Pro and the Honor View 10.

The existence of Lineage operating system is proof that Huawei is not facing a lot of hurdles developing HongMeng – which will be compatible with all Android apps. There would be no problem to adopt Aurora as well. Huawei will certainly open is own app store to compete with Google Play.

The next step for Huawei and other producers is to go for Made in China processing and memory chips, breaking the stranglehold by Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Micron Technology, Western Digital and the British ARM.

And then there’s the Holy Grail: 5G. Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei has repeatedly stressed that what really matters is how advanced Huawei is compared to the competition. 

Total tech war is in full effect. Huawei may face a very hard spell ahead. But at the end of a long and winding road there may be a sweet, unbeatable prize; prevailing over Google, Cisco, Microsoft, Qualcomm, and all that with invaluable help from the Trump administration.

Archive

Labor Union-Made: Halloween candy shopping list

Union Made Candy

If you want your Halloween to be all treats and no tricks, make sure all your candy is labor union-made. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor’s resource site, Labor 411, has a list of union-made candies, as does Union Plus. Here are some highlights, featuring sweets made by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW):

  • 5th Avenue
  • Abba-Zaba
  • Almond Roca
  • Baby Ruth
  • Big Hunk
  • Bit-O-Honey
  • Butterfinger
  • Cadbury
  • Candy House Buttons
  • Caramello
  • Clark Bar
  • Dum Dums
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate
  • Gimbal’s Fine Candies
  • Hershey’s Kisses
  • Hershey’s Hugs
  • Hershey’s Nuggets
  • Jawbreakers
  • Jelly Belly
  • Kit Kat
  • LOOK!
  • Mallo Cups
  • Mary Jane
  • Mighty Malts
  • Necco Wafers
  • Red Vines
  • Rocky Road
  • Rolo
  • Russell Stover
    Jelly Belly jelly beans are on the list of candies that are union-made! | Wikipedia (CC)
    Jelly Belly jelly beans are on the list of candies that are union-made!
  • See’s Candies
  • Sky Bar
  • Smarties
  • Snaps
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Sour Punch
  • Super Ropes
  • Toblerone
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • U-NO
  • York Peppermint Patties
  • Zagnut

https://calaborfed.org/union-made-in-america-halloween/

Syria: al-Hol Refugee Camp – Islamic State Women Fighters Enforce Koranic Law – Clashes With Guards Lead to Islamist Woman’s Death – 40 Arrested – by Karwan Faidhi Dri (Radaw) 30 Sept 2019

Islamic State Women Fighters

Islamic State ‘widows’ in deadly clash with guards at Syria’s notorious al-Hol camp

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A widow of an Islamic State fighter died and several others were wounded in an armed clash with women security guards from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at Al-Hol camp in the northeast Syrian province of Hasaka on Monday. About 50 others were detained as a result of the clash, according to local sources.

“A group of women of the Islamic State Organization inside the camp who were secretly working as Hisba Islamic Morality Police, tried to whip a woman,” reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) on Monday.

Security guard (Asayesh) intervention in the attempted whipping led to an armed clash between both sides, SOHR added, in which the Islamic State-affiliated women used light weaponry against the camp guards.

Hisba refers to the Islamic State’s religious police, who took it as their duty to punish violators of their interpretation of Sharia (Islamic) law from the Koran and Hadiths during the Islamic State’s reign in Syria between 2014 and 2019.

“Two women from the Organization’s families attempted to assassinate an Iraqi refugee, by stabbing him in the abdomen … which seriously injured him,” the UK-based watchdog also said of Monday’s violence.

SDF-affiliated Hawar News Agency (ANHA) reported that one Islamic State woman was killed and seven others injured in the clashes, adding that the subsequent Asayesh crackdown led to the arrest of at least 50 Islamic State-affiliated women.

The incident gives weight to warnings by the Kurdish-led SDF and international organisations that the camp has become an incubator for Islamic State ideology, at a time when group members are known to be reorganizing in parts of both Syria and Iraq.

It also amplifies the SDF’s concerns that it does not possess the manpower or resources to indefinitely hold thousands of Islamic State members at the camp. The Kurdish-led forces have called repeatedly for international assistance to try suspected fighters, while they and US officials have implored foreign governments to repatriate their nationals – a call to which few have responded.

The group additionally faces pressure from Turkey, which has threatened incursions into SDF-controlled territory outside of its joint operation agreement with the US. Kurdish leaders in northeast Syria have said military pressure from Turkey would force them to put counter-Islamic State efforts on the backburner in order to counter a Turkish threat.

Unnamed sources told pro-SDF North Press Agency (NPA) that 40 Islamic State women were detained after the skirmish. The NPA dedeucted based on videos of the incident that the attackers were non-Syrians.

The notorious al-Hol camp is home to about 70,000 people, including more than 11,000 family members of Islamic State militants from overseas.

Attacks against Kurdish Asayesh and air workers have taken place at the camp in the past including the stabbing of a camp guard by a female Islamic State prisoner in July.

Islamic State fighters, backed and funded by Saudi Arabia, swept through and then controlled swaths of Syrian and Iraqi territory from 2014. The group was territorially defeated in Iraq in December 2017, and by the SDF in Syria in March 2019.

Source

https://archive.is/RpTzr

Moroccan court jails journalist on abortion charge that she denies – by Ahmed Eliechtimi (Reuters) 30 Sept 2019

RABAT (Reuters) – A Moroccan court on Monday sentenced a journalist to a year in prison for sex outside marriage and having an abortion, both of which she denied, in a case that has outraged rights activists, who say the charges are politically motivated.

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Moroccan activists hold signs in solidarity with Hajar Raissouni, a journalist charged with having sex before marriage and having an illegal abortion, during a protest outside the Rabat tribunal, Morocco, September 9, 2019.

Police arrested Hajar Raissouni, 28, on Aug. 31 along with her fiancé as they were leaving a gynaecologist’s clinic in Rabat.

Raissouni works for Akhbar al-Youm, an independent newspaper that has been critical of the state, and is the niece of a Muslim theologian who is a former leader of a politically influential Islamist group.

The court also sentenced her fiancé to a year in prison, her doctor to two years in prison with a further two-year ban on practising medicine on charges of complicity and of performing an illegal abortion, and his assistant and a nurse at the same clinic to suspended sentences.

“We are shocked by this verdict,” Raissouni’s lawyer Abdelmoula El Marouri told Reuters, saying that all the medical and legal evidence should have led to an acquittal.

He said Raissouni’s prosecution had been a politically motivated attack on her, her family and her newspaper, and that the verdict would be appealed.

Raissouni and her fiancé told the court they had married in a religious ceremony and were preparing documents to register their marriage in law.

The doctor said she had attended the clinic to have a blood clot removed.

Raissouni said police had taken her for forcible medical checks against her will and had asked her about her work at the newspaper and about her uncles.

The Moroccan Association for Human Rights, an independent rights group, said the medical checks carried out without her consent amounted to torture.

In court, the prosecutor dismissed any suggestion of procedural irregularities, and said that the circumstances of Raissouni’s arrest had been legal and the case had nothing to do with her work as a journalist.

The prosecutor said the doctor Raissouni had visited had been under police surveillance on suspicion of carrying out illegal abortions.

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Rights groups said her trial was part of a crackdown on critical reporters. Another journalist, Hamid El Mahdaoui, who covered protests in the Rif region, was sentenced last April to three years in jail for not reporting a crime against state security.

Raissouni’s uncle, Ahmed Raissouni, is a former leader of the Movement for Unity and Reform, an Islamist group close to the Justice and Development party (PJD) that leads Morocco’s governing coalition.

Another uncle, Souliman Raissouni, is editor-in-chief of Akhbar al-Youm and a vocal critic of the state. He said Raissouni had been “singled out” and accused the state of trying to settle scores with his family and his newspaper.

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Reuters

https://archive.is/qdKpY

Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi, editing by Angus McDowall and Kevin Liffey