Die „Macht“ hinter den Politikern

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/28/deep-state-vs-donald-trump/

Deep State vs. Donald Trump

President Trump has stepped onto a high-wire in defying America’s Deep State, but can he withstand the powerful winds that will surely buffet him and what will President Putin do to help or hurt, asks ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.

By Alastair Crooke

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said it often: the door to co-operation (with the U.S.) “lies ajar.” He has said it repeatedly: that it was not Moscow in the first place that had withered – and then severed – the lines of communication with Washington. And Mr. Putin has been consistent in periodically easing the path to “Moscow” for President Trump.

(The Americans had hinted recently that they might appreciate “a gesture” from the Russians – and they got one: Russia invited the incoming U.S. administration to the Syria talks, at Astana. Moscow made this gesture – even at the cost of almost losing their Iranian ally’s support at the talks.)

Perhaps it is this “door ajar” stance by Mr. Putin that has given rise to the idea, in much of the press, that détente between the two leaders is somehow a “slam dunk” bet — that Trump and Putin are cut from similar cloth, and will somehow end up bashing Islamic radicals together. If that is the consensus, then it is perhaps premature, and possibly wrong.

The door is indeed “open,” and it is possible that the two leaders may indeed conjure up a détente. But it is no “slam dunk” (certainty). And Moscow certainly does not regard it to be “slam dunk” – at all. On the contrary, they are aware that whereas there are areas of common approach, there are also areas of obvious difference – and possible disagreement – between the new U.S. administration and Moscow. The hope for détente ultimately may prove to lie just beyond reach. We shall have to see.

We do not know what President Trump’s foreign policy – in practice – will be. It is not at all clear (intentionally so, in part. But, also because the details have not yet been thrashed out within the team, who are busy with managing a complex transition). Nonetheless we can tease out, perhaps, a few solid pointers in the wake of the new U.S. President’s inaugural speech:

–Mr. Trump has witnessed America’s political and economic decline over the years (he made plain previously his concerns about America’s deteriorating situation in his 2000 campaign publication).

–He sincerely believes the U.S. to be in crisis – and that without radical, urgent and comprehensive reform, America (qua “America”) will be in peril. He is, as it were, someone who has looked upon decay and corruption, and been transfigured by that which he saw: Yes, there was a Cromwellian “New Model Army” whiff to his inauguration speech. He said that he intends to purge – and then to remake – America, no less.

–He has arrayed against him the still intact power of the Deep State, yet he chooses mainly to taunt them. His inaugural speech told the Deep State flatly to prepare for its own disempowerment. He has thereby “burnt his bridges” in respect to any subsequent Faustian sale of his soul. He can only succeed, or dramatically fail.

–For all the pomp of an orderly transfer of power on Jan. 20th, the reality behind the trappings is one of a “state of war” between the U.S. President and the still-present Deep State elites (but not necessarily the Deep State’s foot soldiers, many of whom, it appears, voted for Trump).

Political Tactics

Artemis Capital presciently describes Trump’s likely political tactics: “Trump knows that if you can’t win [as matters stand], then you change the rules of the game – this is what he has already done with American politics – and what he is about to do to the entire Post-Bretton Woods World Order. If you really want to know a person, watch what they do, and not what they say … or what they tweet … the rants and twitter storms are part of a strategy of media control and distraction.

“Trump’s business career was largely comprised of three core strategies 1) Leverage 2) Restructure 3) Brand … in that order. Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s Trump rode a generational decline in interest rates and debt binge to purchase a range of high profile real estate projects including the Grand Hyatt (1978), Trump Tower (1983), the Plaza Hotel (1988) and the Taj Mahal (1988). In the 1990s he went through a total of 6 bankruptcies due to over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City and New York. In the 2000s he pivoted to move away from debt-driven property investments to building a global brand through the ‘Apprentice’ TV show.

“Trump will run the country as he ran his businesses …. He will lever, and lever, and lever, and lever … and lever … and then restructure his way to success, or whatever success is defined as, by the broadest measure of popularity at any given time. Trumponomics, if it delivers, will be a supply-side free for all: massive tax cuts, deficit spending to create jobs, financial and energy deregulation, business creation, and trade protectionism – all driving inflation. More importantly, Trump sees bankruptcy as a tool and not an obligation and will have no problem pushing the US to the limits of debt expansion. ‘I do play with bankruptcy laws, they’re very good to me!’ he once said.”

‘The Destructor’

And this is what – in broad outline – we already see. Trump’s tweets are “the destructor” element: Creating negotiating leverage through uncertainty. No one can be sure of Trump’s final aims, or his “bottom line.”

This is his strategy. The tweets are mini-grenades tossed into the mix, precisely to confuse, to distract, and to loosen up the existing “order” – and to make it more susceptible to negotiation – and to subsequent “re-structuring” – should initial negotiations hit a brick wall.

Similarly, with leverage. Trump has leverage: Most significantly, the U.S. is the globe’s biggest buyer of consumer goods; it possesses the world’s reserve currency, and controls all the Bretton Woods financial institutions, with all the privileges which that implies. It has the Federal Reserve and can manipulate other states’ currencies; the U.S. “owns” NATO, and the defense protection it does (or does not) choose to confer on other states; it has the biggest military; and is more or less energy independent. Not bad cards.

Trump may be expected to lever, and lever again, all these assets. He will pull out all the stops in the interest of putting America First, and returning jobs and manufacturing to America’s marginalized white middle- and blue-collar classes. He will lever this aim financially (i.e. debt, border taxes and tax incentives) too, as well as politically strong-arm America’s trading rivals.

Brand “America” will be advanced by all the tradecraft that Trump acquired though his “reality” TV show: distractions, surprises, and publicity stunts to create an aura of success – for he is determined to succeed. It is almost as if he feels he can lift the “animal spirits” of Americans, as it were, by willpower, and pithy, one-liner tweets. To an extent, he already has – to judge by polls on business confidence in the U.S.

A Method Behind Madness

The above account may imply that, with Trump, all policy will essentially be determined by the seat of his pants. But if that is what conveyed, it is only half the story. John Maudlin of Maudlin Economics provides this corrective:

“This is going to be a short letter summarizing my impressions from the last few days [in Washington talking with Trump’s transition team]. I think it might be easiest to present them in the form of a list.

“If you listen to the media you might have the impression that the Trump transition team is in complete disarray. Talking with leaders of the transition team certainly didn’t leave me with that impression. They have broken the transition process down into over 30 departments and have created a ‘landing document’ for each department. The analogy they are using is that this process is like planning an invasion, and they are going to hand the landing document off to the ‘beachhead teams’ who will then execute the plans.

“I was briefly allowed to look at (without actually being able to read) the plan for one cabinet-level department. It appeared to be about 100 pages plus of serious detail as to exactly what executive orders would need to be removed and added, what personnel would have to be replaced (both appointees and regular staff), what policies would need to be changed, and so forth.

“I was told that this level of planning was being done for every department. My impression is that there are a lot of people from various think tanks and others with experience in the presidential transition process who are involved in directing the plan for each department. That level of detailed planning doesn’t happen in less than two months. My guess is that some of that thinking has been going on for years, and now it can be implemented.

“That being said, we know that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy; and it was instructive to sit with Bill Bennett, who talked about his experience in trying to reform the Department of Education under Reagan. They were still dealing with personnel and policy issues a year later, and this was when the department was much smaller than it is today. And that is just one department.

“When I asked a key person how much of the overall plan would likely come to fruition, I got a rueful smile and a shrug. ‘If we even get half of this done in the first few years, that will be major reform’…

“Trump’s management style is going to drive the media (and admittedly, much of the country and the world) nuts. One person who has worked closely with Trump during the transition says it is a lot like the HBO show Entourage and not at all like the British sitcom Yes, Minister. Trump will have people in his entourage competing to give him the pieces of information he needs. In his business organization, he sets the vision and then hires people to execute that vision; and then he goes back to doing what we have seen him do so well, which is to create the brand and image.

“He is bringing in people to execute his vision, and he’s going to expect them to get it done. He will jump in when he thinks he’s needed or when he can add something to the process, but he will mostly be paying attention to his team’s performance.

“One assessment suggests that there is going to be more than the usual amount of personnel turnover in the first six months. The media will be writing about how Trump can’t keep people and about all the chaos in the White House and other parts of government. But from Trump’s perspective, and given his management style, that’s not necessarily bad in terms of his longer-term goal of changing things.

“We have not had a president with this type of management style in my lifetime. Since it’s not something that any of us are going to be familiar with, it is going to make some of us uncomfortable until we get used to it (and some people never will).”

Putin and Trump

Where does this put Russia? Is President Putin, then, cut from similar cloth, as many commentators suggest?

Superficially: Yes (but in other ways, no). President Putin too saw his nation in decline (the Yeltsin years). And yes, Putin also sincerely believed that Russia was in crisis when he assumed the Presidency.

President Putin did face Russian Deep State powers arrayed against him, but, unlike Trump, there was no public declaration of war against the Russian Deep State, but rather, the Russian President has made it his objective to try to “heal Russia,” and to keep the opposing Russian political poles from splintering away from the main trunk. In this respect, President Putin is no populist: there has been no metaphorical rallying of blue-collar “pitchforks and torches” against the Elites. Putin has preferred to out-maneuver his enemies in more discreet, less public, ways.

So the “chemistry,” if it transpires in the flesh, derives from something else. Steve Bannon, Trump’s close confidant, in a 2014 interview, said simply enough: The “very, very, very intelligent” Putin just “gets it.” He understands “us.” He can see what our various Tea Party Movements are about (this interview was before Trump was a Candidate). Putin can tell that a “revolution” in America and Europe is brewing, Bannon implies, and notes that the Russian President has been quietly, (and “cleverly”) positioning himself towards it, especially in Europe.

In other words, it is not so much the transactional possibilities that attracts Bannon to Putin, but a sense of dealing with someone who has an instinctive, almost telepathic, shared understanding of what Bannon and his Breitbart circle (now including Trump) are about, and how they view the world. This type of empathetic communication – if borne out by experience – does have a real potential to overcome otherwise difficult political differences.

Russia’s Hot Buttons

And political differences, there are. Major potential hurdles: The “America First” policy, and that of aggressively re-building the home base, will not ruffle President Putin one jot. He feels the same about Russia. Ditto for the America First energy policy. Mr. Putin will have no problems with that (there can be fruitful exchanges with Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson, who is leaving his job as Exxon-Mobil’s CEO, on this issue).

However, three issues could be very problematic: The first is Trump’s emphasis that the U.S. “military dominance must be unquestioned” since this directly touches on Russia’s own national security. Moscow does not seek an absolute “balance,” but a balance of esteem, and “strategic stability” with the U.S. Two, Team Trump says the president will not “allow other nations to surpass our [U.S.] military capability”; and (in a White House policy outline), “We [the U.S.] will also develop a state-of-the-art missile defense system to protect against missile-based attacks from states like Iran and North Korea.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has already warned that nuclear weapons, strategic stability and nuclear and strategic parity, will be the key issue in Russian-U.S. relations. And the third “hot” issue will be whether Trump is intent on driving a wedge into the strategic security architecture linking China, Russia and Iran. Again, any attempt to split the coalition, or to collapse the keystone of the Eurasian economic “arch” (One Belt, One Road), could sour any entente between Trump and Putin.

There is however another major consideration for Russia: Can he do it? And, should he fail, what would be the implications for Russia? Might Trump’s term in office be curtailed? Might the U.S. President be removed, and replaced by an administration that would pursue vindictive retribution against Russia, for having allegedly “sided with” Trump?

Trump is determined to pull out all the stops: to succeed, but it will not be easy. The headwinds are strong. Growth is proving elusive – globally – for a range of complex factors. It is not Trump’s fault. It’s just how it is.

Economic Challenges

And a Damocles’ sword hangs over his economic program: Yes, he will try to lever, lever and lever again, as it he did in his business career (infrastructure projects, tax breaks and higher spending). For sure it is going to be inflationary – and interest rates already are rising. What happens when 10-year U.S. Treasuries hit 3 percent or more? Will it be war with a “tightening” Federal Reserve? Will debt markets generally, enter crisis?

But really, this program can, and almost certainly will, spice up life (and equity prices), for some U.S. corporations, but can it reach down, in the only sense that ultimately matters for Mr. Trump – to the level of bringing home the jobs to middle-class and blue-collar America? Who will work these newly returned plants? Robots? Americans on $15 an hour, or Americans on $45 an hour (a well-paid hourly job)?

And if the latter, who is going to purchase the expensive products which these well-paid workers will manufacture? Fellow Americans presumably, but it will take many millions of consumers, themselves on $45 an hour, to afford these high price goods. But if it is Americans on $15 per hour, from whence will come the revived consumer “animal spirits” and free spending? And if it is ‘bots…?

And is “tough on China” really viable? Modern industrial supply lines are long, transnational and complex. If America plays tough with end-product locus of manufacture, Asia can hit back in the supply lines. A whole supply line is much harder to pick up and put down elsewhere – than is one single plant.

More salient is the question: does China in fact have the economic “fat” to afford to part with some of it, to please America? Parts of America have been suffering from the effects of globalization, but now China has begun to be globalization’s latest victim, too. China may not have any “fat” to negotiate away. And China certainly does have “cards” of its own.
We have entered upon a bold experiment. Is it fully thought through, though? The Russians must be wondering, too.

Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum.

Advertisements

US-Revolution gegen Trump? Zum Beobachten

Wie unorganisiert sind die Proteste gegen Trump? Und welches Ziel verfolgen sie?

Haben wir es mit einer Form des „arabischen Frühlings“ zu tun oder sind es nur die vielen Leute, die über die Wahl von Trump geschockt sind und Widerstand (durch Protest) leisten wollen?

Für eine Farbenrevolution fehlt den Demonstranten die optische Einheitlichkeit. In Hongkong war es der Regenschirm, in der Ukraine die Farbe Orange, in Georgien die Rosenrevolution (rot), im Libanon die Zedernrev. (grün) und in Kirgisien die Tulpenrev.(gelb). https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farbrevolutionen und weitere Beispiele sowie Literatur.

Time will tell.

A “color revolution” is under way in the United States

A “color revolution” is under way in the United States

This article was written for the Unz Review: http://www.unz.com/tsaker/a-color-revolution-is-under-way-in-the-united-states/

A Russian joke goes like this: “Question: why can there be no color revolution in the United States? Answer: because there are not US Embassies in the United States.

Funny, maybe, but factually wrong: I believe that a color revolution is being attempted in the USA right now.

Politico seems to feel the same way.  See their recent cover:

While I did predict that “The USA are about to face the worst crisis of their history” as far back as October of last year, a month before the elections, I have to admit that I am surprised and amazed at the magnitude of struggle which we see taking place before our eyes.  It is now clear that the Neocons did declare war on Trump and some, like Paul Craig Roberts, believe that Trump has now returned them the favor.  I sure hope that he is right.

Let’s look at one telling example:

US intelligence agencies are now investigating their own boss!  Yes, according to recent reports, the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and Treasury Department are now investigating the telephone conversations between General Flynn and the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyk.  According to Wikipedia, General Flynn is the former

  • Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Joint Functional Component Command for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
  • Chair of the Military Intelligence Board
  • Assistant Director of National Intelligence
  • Senior intelligence officer for the Joint Special Operations Command.

He is also Trump’s National Security Advisor.  In other words, his security clearance is stratospherically high and he will soon become the boss of all the US intelligence services.  And yet, these very same intelligence services are investigating him for his contacts with the Russian Ambassador.   That is absolutely amazing.  Even in the bad old Soviet Union, the putatively almighty KGB did not have the right to investigate a member of the Communist Party Central Committee without a special authorization of the Politburo (a big mistake, in my opinion, but never mind that).  That roughly means that the top 500 members of the Soviet state could not be investigated by the KGB at all.  Furthermore, such was the subordination of the KGB to the Party that for common criminal matters the KGB was barred from investigating any member of the entire Soviet Nomenklatura, roughly 3 million people (and even bigger mistake!).

But in the case of Flynn, several US security agencies can decide to investigate a man who by all standards ought to be considered at least in the top 5 US officials and who clearly has the trust of the new President.  And that does not elicit any outrage, apparently.

By the same logic, the three letter agencies might as well investigate Trump for his telephone conversations with Vladimir Putin.

Which, come to think of it, they might well do it soon…

This is all absolutely crazy because this is evidence that the US intelligence community as gone rogue and is now taking its orders from the Neocons and their deep state and not from the President and that these agencies are now acting against the interests of the new President.

In the meantime, the Soros crowd has already chosen a color: pink.  We now are witnessing the “pussyhat revolution” as explained on this website.  And if you think that this is just a small fringe of lunatic feminists, you would be quite wrong.  For the truly lunatic feminists the “subtle” hint about their “pussyhat revolution” is too subtle, so they prefer making their statement less ambiguous as the image on the right shows.

This would all be rather funny, in a nauseating way I suppose, if it wasn’t for the fact that the media, Congress and Hollywood are fully behind this “100 days of Resistance to Trump” which began by a, quote, “queer dance party” at Mike Pence’s house.

This would be rather hilarious, if it was not for all gravitas with which the corporate media is treating these otherwise rather pathetic “protests”.

Watch how MCNBS’s talking head blissfully reporting this event:
http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_lw_michaelmooreresist_170118

Listen carefully to what Moore says at 2:00.  He says that they will “celebrate the fact that Obama is still the President of the United States” and the presstitute replies to him, “yes he is” not once, but twice.

What are they talking about?!  The *fact* that Obama is still the President?!

How is it that Homeland Security and the FBI are not investigating MCNBC and Moore for rebellion and sedition?

So far, the protests have not been too large, but they did occur in various US cities and they were well covered by the media:

http://www.liveleak.com/ll_embed?f=e375ceb15903

Make no mistake, such protest are no more spontaneous than the ones in the Ukraine.  Somebody is paying for all this, somebody is organizing it all.  And they are using their full bag of tricks.  One more example:

Remember the pretty face of Nayirah, the Kuwaiti nurse who told Congress that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers tossing our babies from Kuwaiti incubators (and who later turned out to be the daughter of Saud Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States)?  Do you remember the pretty face of Neda, who “died on TV” in Iran?  Well, let me introduce you to Bana Alabe, who wrote a letter to President Trump and, of course, the media got hold of the latter and now she is the “face of the Syrian children”.

Want even more proof?

Okay, click here and take a look at a sampling of anti-Trump caricatures and cartoons complied by the excellent Colonel Cassad.  Some of them are quite remarkable.  From this nauseating collection, I will select just two:

The first one clearly accuses Trump of being in the hands of Putin.  The second one make Trump the heir to Adolf Hitler and strongly suggests that Trump might want to restart Auschwitz.  Translated into plain English this sends a double message: Trump is not the legitimate President of the USA and Trump is the ultimate Evil.

This goes far beyond the kind of satire previous Presidents have ever been subjected to.

My purpose in listing all the examples above is to suggest the following: far from having accepted defeat, the Neocons and the US deep state have decided, as they always do, to double-down and they are now embarking on a full-scale “color revolution” which will only end with the impeachment, overthrowal or death of Donald Trump.

One of the most amazing features of this color revolution against Trump is the fact that those behind it don’t give a damn about the damage that their war against Trump does to the institution of the President of the United States and, really, to the United States as a whole.  That damage is, indeed, immense and the bottom line is this: President Trump is in immense danger of being overthrown and his only hope for survival is to strike back hard and fast.

The other amazing thing is the ugly role Britain plays in this process: all the worst filth against Trump is always eventually traced back right to the UK.  How come?  Simple.  Do you recall how, formally at least,  the CIA and NSA  did not have the right to spy on US nationals and the British MI6 and GCHQ had no right to spy on British nationals.  Both sides found an easy way out: they simply traded services: the CIA and NSA spied on Brits, the MI6 and GCHQ spied on Americans, and then they simply traded the data between “partners” (it appears that since Obama came to power all these measures have now become outdated and everybody is free to spy on whomever the hell they want, including their own nationals).  The US Neocons and the US deep state are now using the British special services to produce a stream of filth against Trump which they then report as “intelligence” and which then can be used by Congress as a basis for an investigation.  Nice, simple and effective.

The bottom line is this: President Trump is in immense danger of being overthrown and his only hope for survival is to strike back hard and fast.

Can he do that?

Until now I have suggested several times that Trump deal with the US Neocons the way Putin dealt with the oligarchs in Russia: get them on charges of tax evasion, corruption, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, etc.  All that good stuff which the US deep state has been doing for years.  The Pentagon and the Three Letter Agencies are probably the most corrupt entities on the planet and since they have never been challenged, never mind punished, for their corruption they must have become fantastically complacent about how they were doing things, essentially counting on the White House to bail them out in case of problems.  The main weapon used by these circles are the numerous secrecy laws which protect them from public and Congressional scrutiny.  But here Trump can use his most powerful card: General Flynn who, as former director of the DIA and current National Security Advisor to the President will have total access.  And if he doesn’t – he can create it, if needed by sending special forces to ensure “collaboration”.

However, I am now beginning to think that this might not be enough.  Trump has a much more powerful weapon he can unleash against the Neocon: 9/11.

Whether Trump knew about it before or not, he is now advised by people like Flynn who must have known for years that 9/11 was in inside job.  And if the actual number of people directly implicated in the 9/11 operation itself was relatively small, the number of people which put their full moral and political credibility behind the 9/11 official narrative is immense.  Let me put it this way: while 9/11 was a US “deep state” operation (probably subcontracted for execution to the Israelis), the entire Washington “swamp” has been since “9/11 accomplice after the fact” by helping to maintain the cover-up.  If this is brought into light, then thousands of political careers are going to crash and burn into the scandal.

9/11 was a collective crime par excellence.  A few men actually executed it, but then thousands, possibly tens of thousands, have used their position to execute the cover-up and to prevent any real investigation.  They are ALL guilty of obstruction of justice.  By opening a new investigation into 911, but one run by the Justice Department and NOT by Congress, Trump could literally place a “political handgun” next to the head of each politician and threaten to pull the trigger if he does not immediately give up on trying to overthrow Trump.  What Trump needs for that is a 100% trusted and 100% faithful men as the director of the FBI, a man with “clean hands, a cool head and a burning heart” (to use the expression of the founder of the Soviet Secret Police, Felix Dzerzhinsky).  This man will immediately find himself in physical danger so he will have to be a man of great personal courage and determination.  And, of course, this “man” could be a woman (a US equivalent of the Russian prosecutor, Natalia Poklonskaia).

I fully understand that danger of what I am suggesting as any use of the “9/11 weapon” will, of course, result in an immense counter-attack by the Neocons and the deep state.  But here is the deal: the latter are already dead set in impeaching, overthrowing or murdering Donald Trump.  And, as Putin once said in an interview, “if you know that a fight is inevitable, then strike first!”.

You think that all is this over the top?  Consider what is at stake.

First, at the very least, the Trump Presidency itself: the Neocons and the US deep state will not let Trump implement his campaign promises and program.  Instead they will sabotage, ridicule and misrepresent everything he does, even if this is a big success.

Second, it appears that Congress now has the pretext to open several different congressional investigations into Donald Trump.  If that is the case, it will be easy for Congress to blackmail Trump and constantly threaten him with political retaliation if he does not “get with the program”.

Third, the rabid persecution of Trump by the Neocons and the deep state is weakening the institution of the Presidency.  For example, the latest crazy notion floated by some politicians is to “prohibit the President of the United States from using nuclear weapons without congressional authorization except when the United States is under nuclear attack.”  From a technical point of view, this is nonsense, but what it does is send the following signal to the rest of the planet: “we, in Congress, believe that our Commander in Chief cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons.”  Never mind that they would trust Hillary with the same nukes and never mind that Trump could use only conventional weapons to trigger a global nuclear war anyway (by, for example, a conventional attack on the Kremlin), what they are saying is that the US President is a lunatic that cannot be trusted.  How can they then expect him to be take seriously on any topic?

Fourth, can you just imagine what will happen if the anti-Trump forces are successful?!  Not only will democracy be totally and terminally crushed inside the USA, but the risks of war, including nuclear, will simply go through the roof.

There is much more at stake here than just petty US politics.

Every time I think of Trump and every time I look at the news I always come back to the same anguished thought: will Trump have the intelligence to realize the fact that he is under attack and will he have the courage to strike back hard enough?

I don’t know.

I have a great deal of hopes for General Flynn.  I am confident that he understands the picture perfectly and knows exactly what is going on.  But I am not sure that he has enough pull with the rest of the armed forces to keep them on the right side should a crisis happen.  Generally, “regular” military types don’t like intelligence people.  My hope is that Flynn has loyal allies at SOCOM and JSOC as, at the end of the day, they will have the last say as to who occupies the White House.  The good news here is that unlike regular military types, special forces and intelligence people are usually very close and used to work together (regular military types also dislike special forces).  SOCOM and JSOC will also know how to make sure that the CIA doesn’t go rogue.

Last but not least, my biggest hope is that Trump will use the same weapon Putin used against the Russian elites: the support of the people.  But for that task, Twitter is simply not good enough.  Trump needs to go the “RT route” and open his own TV channel.  Of course, this will be very hard and time consuming, and he might have to begin with an Internet-based only channel, but as long as there is enough money there, he can make it happen.  And, just like RT, it needs to be multi-national, politically diverse (including anti-Empire figures who do not support Trump) and include celebrities.

One of the many mistakes made by Yanukovich in the Ukraine was that he did not dare to use the legal instruments of power to stop the neo-Nazis.  And to the degree that he used them, it was a disaster (like when the riot cops beat up student demonstrators).  After listening to a few interviews of Yanukovich and of people near him during those crucial hours, it appears that Yanukovich simply did not feel that he had a moral right to use violence to suppress the street.  We will never now if what truly held him back are moral principles of basic cowardice, but what is certain is that he betrayed his people and his country when he refused to defend real democracy and let the “street” take over replacing democracy with ochlocracy (mob rule).  Of course, real ochlocracy does not exists, all mobs are always controlled by behind-the-scenes forces who unleash them just long enough to achieve their goals.

The forces which are currently trying to impeach, overthrow or murder President Trump are a clear and present danger to the United States as a country and to the US Federal Republic.  They are, to use a Russian word, a type of “non-system” opposition which does not want to accept the outcome of the elections and which by rejecting this outcome essentially oppose the entire political system.

I am not a US citizen (I could, but I refuse that citizenship on principle because I refuse to take the required oath of allegiance) and the only loyalty I owe the USA is the one of a guest: never to deliberately harm it in any way and to obey its laws.  And yet it turns my stomach to see how easy it has been to turn millions of Americans against their own country.  I write a lot about russophobia on this blog, but I also see a deep-seated “Americanophobia” or “USophobia” in the words and actions who today say that Trump is not their President.  To them, they micro-identity as a “liberal” or as a “gay” or as “African-American” means more than the very basic fundamental principles upon which this country has been built.  When I see these crowds of Trump-bashers I see pure, seething hatred not of the AngloZionist Empire, or of a plutocracy masquerading as a democracy, but a hatred of what I would call the “simple America” or the “daily America” – the simple people amongst whom I have now lived for many years and learned to respect and appreciate and whom the Clinton-bots only think of as “deplorables”.

It amazes me to see that the US pseudo-elites have as much hatred, contempt and fear of the American masses as the Russian pseudo-elites have hatred, contempt and fear of the Russian masses (the Russian equivalent or Hillary’s “deplorables” would be a hard to pronounce for English speakers word “быдло“, roughly “cattle”, “lumpen” or “rabble”).  It amazes me to see that the very same people which have demonized Putin for years are now demonizing Trump using exactly the same methods.  And if their own country has to go down in their struggle against the common people – so be it!  These self-declared elites will have no compunction whatsoever to destroy the nation their have been parasitizing and exploiting for their own class interest.  They did just that to Russia exactly 100 years ago, in 1917.  I sure hope that they will not get away with that again in 2017.

The Saker

Etwas Verschwörungstheorie: Trumps aussenpolitische Ausrichtung, cui bono?

Interessanter Aspekt im Artikel: Russland wird Rumänien und Polen angreifen, um die Raketensilos auszuschalten. Noch sind diese als Raketensilos für Verteidigungswaffen konzipiert, können aber leicht zu Silos für strategische Atomrakete umgemodelt werden. Das ist ein zu grosses Risiko für die Russen. Es entspricht der Kubakrise mit umgekehrten Vorzeichen.

Zweiter spannender Aspekt: Die Produktion soll nach USA zurückgeholt werden, weil die militärischen Produkte alle mit Teilen aus dem Ausland konstruiert werden. Für eine Krieg oder nur einen Kalten Krieg, wo China und Japan diese Teile nicht mehr in die USA liefern würden, wäre die USA am kürzeren Hebel.

 

 

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Saker,

The Trump era starts now – with geopolitics and geoeconomics set for a series of imminent, unpredictable cliffhangers.

I have argued that Trump’s foreign policy guru Henry Kissinger’s strategy to deal with the formidable Eurasia integration trio – Russia, China and Iran – is a remixed Divide and Rule; seduce Russia away from its strategic partnership with China, while keep harassing the weakest link, Iran.

In fact that’s how it’s already playing out – as in the outbursts of selected members of Trump’s cabinet during their US Senate hearings. Factions of US Think Tankland, referring to Nixon’s China policy, which was designed by Kissinger, are also excited with the possibilities of containment regarding at least one of those powers “potentially arrayed against America”.

Kissinger and Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski are the two foremost, self-described Western dalangs – puppet masters – in the geopolitical arena. In opposition to Kissinger, Obama’s foreign policy mentor Brzezinski, true to his Russophobia, proposes a Divide and Rule centered on seducing China.

Yet an influential New York business source, very close to the real, discreet Masters of the Universe, who correctly predicted Trump’s victory weeks before the fact, after examining my argument offered not only a scathing appraisal of those cherished dalangs; he volunteered to detail how the new normal was laid out by the Masters directly to Trump. Let’s call him “X”.

The non-stop China watch

“X” starts by doing something US deep state-connected regulars, who revere their idols, never dare to, at least in public;

“It is important not to attribute too much importance to either Kissinger or Brzezinski as they are merely fronts for those who make the decisions and it is their job to cloak the decisions with a patina of intellectuality. Their input means relatively nothing. I use their names on occasion as I cannot use the names of those who actually make the decisions.”

That’s the cue for “X” to detail the new normal;

Trump was elected with the support of the Masters to tilt towards Russia. The Masters have their tools in the media and Congress maintaining a vilification campaign against Russia, and have their puppet Brzezinski also come out against Russia, stating ‘America’s global influence depends on cooperation with China’. The purpose is to threaten Russia to cooperate and place these chips on the negotiating table for Trump. In a traditional good cop-bad cop approach, Donald is portrayed as the good cop wanting good relations with Russia, and Congress, media, Brzezinski are the bad cops. This is to aid Trump in the negotiations with Russia as Putin sees the ‘precarious’ position of his friend and should be willing to make major concessions as the line goes.”

And that brings us to how Taiwan – and Japan – got into the mix;

“Donald shows the Russian tilt by talking to the Taiwanese, demonstrating that the shift is serious. But it was decided to throw Japan into the mix as a predator against US industry, with an attack on Toyota, thoroughly deserved. That moderated the position as the Masters became afraid that the perception of our building up Japan against China would be too much of a provocation.”

So expect China – as “not too much importance” Kissinger prescribed – to be under non-stop scrutiny;

The Masters have decided to reindustrialize the United States and want to take jobs back from China. This is advisable from the Chinese viewpoint; for why should they sell their work to the US for a dollar that has no intrinsic value and get really nothing back for the work. China should have a car in every Chinese worker’s garage and they will become a larger producer of cars than the EU, US and Japan combined, and their own nation will keep their wealth in their own country.”

And why China over Russia?

“Russia in this sense being a natural resource country with a gigantic military industrial complex (the latter being the only reason she is secretly respected) is exempt from any tough trade talk as they hardly export anything but natural resources and military equipment. The Masters want jobs back from Mexico and Asia including Japan, Taiwan, etc., and you see this in Trump’s attack on Japan. The main underlying reason is that the US has lost control of the seas and cannot secure its military components during a major war. This is all that matters now and this is the giant story behind the scenes.”

In only a few words “X” details the reversal of an economic cycle;

“The Masters made money out of transfer of industry to Asia (Bain Capital specialized in this), and Wall Street made money from the lower interest rates on the recycled dollars from the trade deficits. But now, the issue is strategic; and they will make money on the return of industries scaling down their investments in Asia and returning them to the United States as we rebuild production here.”

“X” remains quite fond of Henry Ford’s business strategy; and that is the cue for him to address the crucial theme: national defense. According to “X”,

“Ford doubled the wages he paid and made more money than any other manufacturer. The reason was that a living wage where the mother can have many children on her husband’s wage was psychologically good for productivity in his car plants, and that his workers could then afford his cars. He thus recognized that in a society there must be a just distribution of wealth that his admirer Steve Jobs could not. Henry’s mass productivity was the wonder of the world and that was what won World War Two for the United States. Amazon does not contribute anything to national defense, being merely an internet marketing service based on computer programs, nor Google which merely organizes data better. None of this builds a better missile or submarine except in a marginal way.”

It’s the Pentagon, stupid

So yes; this all has to do with reorganizing the US military. “X” made a point to refer to a CNAS report I quoted in my initial column;

“It is very important for what is visible between the lines. And that is we are in deep trouble being technologically behind Russia by generations in weapons, which is a follow-up on the Brzezinski quote that we are no longer a global power.”

This is a thorough, wide-ranging analysis of how Russia has managed to organize the best armed forces in the world. And that does not even take into account the S-500 missile defense system, which is now being rolled out and arguably seals the entirety of Russian airspace. And the next generation – S-600? – will be even more powerful.

“X” does venture into deep state taboo territory, as in how Russia, over the past decade, has managed to leap far ahead of the US, “eclipsing it as the strongest military power”. But the game may be far from over – wishful thinking or otherwise;

“We hope Secretary of Defense James Mattis will understand this and that the Deputy Secretary of Defense has advanced technological skills, organizational ability and the foresight to understand that the weapons of World War Three are offensive and defensive missiles, and submarines, and not air power, tanks and aircraft carriers.”

A realist, “X” admits that the warmongering neocon/neoliberalcon status quo – represented by most US deep state factions – will never abandon the default posture of unremitting hostility towards Russia. But he prefers to focus on change;

“Let Tillerson reorganize the State Department along Exxon efficiencies. He may be worth something in that.  He and Mattis may be gutless but if you tell the truth to the Senate you may not be confirmed. So what they say means nothing. But notice this about Libya. The CIA had a goal of driving China out of Africa and so does AFRICOM. That was one of the secrets to our Libyan intervention.”

Not that it worked; NATO/AFRICOM turned Libya into a wasteland run by militias, and still China was not driven away from the rest of Africa.

“X” also admits, “Syria and Iran are red lines for Russia. So is the eastern Ukraine from the Dnieper.” He is fully aware Moscow will not allow any regime change gambit on Tehran. And he’s also aware that “China’s investments in Iranian oil and gas imply that China also will not permit Washington’s overthrow of the Iranian government.”

The going really gets tough when it comes to NATO; “X” is convinced Russia “will invade Romania and Poland if those missiles are not taken out of Romania and the missile commitment to Poland rescinded. The issue is not the worthless defensive missiles of the United States but the substitutability of offensive nuclear missiles in these silos. Russia will not tolerate this risk.  These are not subject to negotiation.”

In contrast to the “perpetual threat” perpetual propaganda by the US War Party, Moscow focuses on actual facts on the ground since the 1990s; the break up of historic Slavic ally Serbia; Warsaw Pact nations and even former USSR republics annexed by NATO, not to mention attempts to also include Georgia and Ukraine; US deployment of color revolutions; the “Assad must go “ fiasco, as in regime change forced on Syria even including the weaponizing of Salafi-jihadis; economic sanctions, an oil price war and raids on the ruble; and non-stop NATO harassment.

“X”, fully aware of the facts, adds, “Russia has always wanted peace. But they are not going to play a game with the Masters of the Universe that has Trump as the good guy and the Congress, CIA, etc. as the bad guy as a negotiating ploy. That is how they see it. They do not regard this circus as real.”

The circus may be just an illusion. Or wayang – Balinese puppet theatre – as I suggested. “X” advances a crisp interpretation of the shadow play ahead from Moscow’s point of view, allowing “several months to see if Putin can work out a detente with Trump that essentially creates an autonomous eastern Ukraine, a peace treaty in Syria with Assad in place, and a withdrawal of NATO forces back to their line of defense under Ronald Reagan.”

Who will prevail; the Masters, or the deep state? Brace for impact.

Kein Beweis, dass die Russen die Emails an Wikileaks gaben

Obama ist sich sehr sicher, dass der russische Geheimdienst die Emails der Demokratischen Partei hackte. Das ist allerdings eine Annahme, die auf purer Vernunft beruht, denn es ist Aufgabe der Geheimdienste, sich solche Informationen zu holen. Das mache die USA und alle anderen Länder, die über genügend Cyber-Wissen verfügen. das nicht zu tu, wäre für den russichen geheimdienst sogar fahrlässig, den es geht ja um die mögliche zukünftige Präsidentin, über die möglichst viele Informationen vorliegen müssen, um ihr handeln und das Handeln ihres Mitarbeiterstabes einschätze zu können.

Obama sagt aber auch, dass die Geheimdienste nicht sagen können, wie die Emails von DNC und Podesta zu Wikileaks gelangten. Und er benutzt hierbei das Wort leaked nicht hacked.

Obama ist rhetorisch geschickt, die Verbindung zwischen Russen und Wikileaks nur anzudeuten, so dass der Leser die Verbindung automatisch selber macht. Obama sagt mit keinem Wort, dass die Russen die Emails an Wikileaks gaben und die US Geheimdienste Beweise dafür haben.

Dass ganze Theater war aufgebauscht, um Donald Trumps Auslandbeziehungen möglichst zu schädigen und Trump bereits vor seinem Amtsantritt in einen Loyalitätskonflikt („USA oder Putin“ „Verräter Trump“) zu bugsieren.

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/20/obama-admits-gap-in-russian-hack-case/

Obama Admits Gap in Russian ‘Hack’ Case

The hole in the U.S. intelligence community’s “high confidence” about Russia “hacking” Democratic emails has always been who gave the material to WikiLeaks, as President Obama admitted, notes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

Oops. Did President Barack Obama acknowledge that the extraordinary propaganda campaign to blame Russia for helping Donald Trump become president has a very big hole in it, i.e., that the U.S. intelligence community has no idea how the Democratic emails reached WikiLeaks? For weeks, eloquent obfuscation – expressed with “high confidence” – has been the name of the game, but inadvertent admissions now are dispelling some of the clouds.

Does the Russian government hack, as many other governments do? Of course. Did it hack the emails of the Democratic National Committee? Almost certainly, though it was likely not alone in doing so. In the Internet age, hacking is the bread and butter of intelligence agencies. If Russian intelligence did not do so, this would constitute gross misfeasance, especially since the DNC was such easy pickings and the possibility of gaining important insights into the U.S. government was so high. But that is not the question.

It was WikiLeaks that published the very damaging information, for example, on the DNC’s dirty tricks that marginalized Sen. Bernie Sanders and ensured that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would win the Democratic nomination. What remains to be demonstrated is that it was “the Russians” who gave those emails to WikiLeaks. And that is what the U.S. intelligence community doesn’t know.

At President Obama’s Jan. 18 press conference, he admitted as much: “the conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC e-mails that were leaked.” [Emphasis added}

It is necessary to carefully parse Obama’s words since he prides himself in his oratorical constructs. He offered a similarly designed comment at a Dec. 16, 2016 press conference when he said: “based on uniform intelligence assessments, the Russians were responsible for hacking the DNC. … the information was in the hands of WikiLeaks.”

Note the disconnect between the confidence about hacking and the stark declarative sentence about the information ending up at WikiLeaks. Obama does not bridge the gap because to do so would represent a bald-faced lie, which some honest intelligence officer might call him on. So, he simply presents the two sides of the chasm – implies a connection – but leaves it to the listener to make the leap.

WikiLeaks Account

As I suggested to RT viewers right after the last press conference, the reason WikiLeaks might have been “not witting” could be that it was quite sure it was not a “conduit” for “hacking” by the Russians or anyone else. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has stated that the Russian government was not the source and it’s significant that President Obama stopped short of contradicting him. It is also clear that WikiLeaks, in the past, has obtained LEAKED information from U.S. whistleblowers, such as Chelsea Manning.

Former U.K. Ambassador Craig Murray, a close associate of Assange, has made clear that the two separate batches of Democratic emails – one from the DNC and the other from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta – also were leaks from insiders, not hacks from outsiders.

After the Jan. 18 press conference — what Murray called the “Stunning Admission from Obama on Wikileaks” —  Murray wrote:

“In his final press conference, beginning around 8 minutes 30 seconds in, Obama admits that they have no evidence of how WikiLeaks got the DNC material. This undermines the stream of completely evidence-free nonsense that has been emerging from the US intelligence services this last two months, in which a series of suppositions have been strung together to make unfounded assertions that have been repeated again and again in the mainstream media.

“Most crucially of all Obama refers to ‘The DNC emails that were leaked.’ Note ‘leaked’ and not ‘hacked.’ I have been repeating that this was a leak, not a hack, until I am blue in the face. William Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, has asserted that were it a hack the NSA would be able to give the precise details down to the second it occurred, and it is plain from the reports released they have no such information. Yet the media has persisted with this nonsense ‘Russian hacking’ story.”

So I suppose we should thank Barack Obama for dispelling at least some of the obfuscation at which he is so rhetorically eloquent, while our lame “mainstream” media take steno and regurgitate ad nauseam.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  He was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer and CIA analyst for a total of 30 years and now servers on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

 

Coup gegen Trump: Geheimdienste arbeiten gegen Trump, Erpressung

Trump wird von den eigenen Geheimdiensten erpresst. Allerdings offensichtlich nicht genügend professionell, dass sich Trump soweit sicher fühlt, den Geheimdiensten nicht nachzugeben. Trump bekam zu den Vorwürfen, er sei von Russland durch schmutzige Videos erpressbar und der US-Geheimdienst hat darüber alle Informationen, nur die 2 seitige Zusammenfassung, in der wohl nur vage bzw. umschrieben von den genauen Vorwürfen die Rede ist. Hätte Trump bei diesen Vorwürfen dem Geheimdienst nachgegeben, wäre wohl nichts von den Details über Prostituierte im Hotelzimmer in Moskau herausgekommen, die eine „Urindusche“ im selben Bett, das Obama bereits benutzt hatte, gemacht hätten. Wären die Vorwürfe echt, so scheint es die Öffentlichkeit wenig zu bewegen und Trump konnte sie gut als fake news abkanzeln. Die Fehler innerhalb des Berichts lassen allerdings auf eine schlecht geschriebene Auftragsarbeit schliessen, welche Spekulationen und Hörensagen zusammenträgt statt wirkliche Beweise vorzulegen.

Die US-Geheimdienste schätzten die Wirkung des Rufmordes falsch ein. Trump wird bereits jedes erdenkliche Übel angedichtet, so dass der pro Trump eingestellte Teil der Bevölkerung nicht mehr zu schocken ist. Und die Gegner Trumps haben bereits zuvor kein Mittel gefunden, Trump mittels „Dreck“aufzuhalten.

Stehen bald noch schwerere Vorwürfe oder Tatsachen im Raum, die Trump auf die Linie der Geheimdienste ziehen, die aktiv auf einen cold war 2.0 hinarbeiten.

Chuck Schumer hat öffentlich bereits (im Namen der Geheimdienste) eine Drohung ausgesprochen, dass Trump dumm sei, sich gegen die Dienste zu stellen, da diese jede Möglichkeit besässen, Trump etwas anzuhängen.

Wie weit die russischen geheimdienste hier involviert sind, ist schwer zu sagen. Das sie Informationen über Clinton und Trump gesammelt haben und diese entsprechend nutzen, sollte niemanden erstaunen. Allerdings lassen sie sich nicht so einfach beim Spionieren erwischen, wie das die Amerikaner darstellen. Die „Beweise“, die auf russisches Hacken hindeuten, sind so klar russisch, dass McAfee sagt,  es sind ganz bestimmt nicht die Russen. Es handelt sich um eine bewusst gelegte falsche Fährte.

 

https://theintercept.com/2017/01/11/the-deep-state-goes-to-war-with-president-elect-using-unverified-claims-as-dems-cheer/

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2017/01/gaius-publius-whos-blackmailing-president-arent-democrats-upset.html#more-64972

Gaius Publius: Who’s Blackmailing the President & Why Aren’t Democrats Upset About It?

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. GP article archive  here. Originally published at DownWithTyranny

Until now, getting into the news and reports about Russia and Trump meant getting into some rather dense weeds (PDF of declassified report here), but with the recent release by Buzzfeed of the full 35-page dossier on Trump and Russia (the explosive one, with the women peeing on Obama’s former hotel room bed), which was distilled into a two-page appendix in the classified version of the report, the road to clarity just presented itself.

So I offer the text of three tweets (mine), a longer discussion of those main points, and comments by Glenn Greenwald on the latest Trump-Russia-intel community contretemps. Everything else, as I now see it, is detail, a gloss on these three points.

First, the tweets, a bullet-point capsule of all the main points up to now:

This hits, I think, the main elements to watch in tightly compressed form. Read on for the long version of these three points. Click here to jump ahead to Greenwald’s take on all this.

Blackmailing the U.S. President

As I said above, there only three elements to “get” to get this story. First, there’s the blackmail element. According to the 35-page dossier, Russia (supposedly) prepared blackmail material on Trump but isn’t using it.

But it’s clear that American intelligence services certainly are using it, or using the threat of using it, and doing so very publicly (per CNN, quoted here, my emphasis):

One reason the nation’s intelligence chiefs took the extraordinary step of including the synopsis in the briefing documents was to make the President-elect aware that such allegations involving him are circulating among intelligence agencies, senior members of Congress and other government officials in Washington, multiple sources tell CNN.

“For your information, sir”? Or “Careful; you don’t know what all us intel types know about you … sir”? Again, Trump was presented with just a two-page summary of the full dossier. The actual information, which we have thanks to the later publication of the 35-page dossier, was reportedly not presented to him, perhaps to leave to his imagination what it contained.

Now the detail: According to an ex-MI6 (the British CIA) agent, whose dossier, I understand from talking with journalists, was shopped around to a number of publications and rejected as unreliable before it seems to have found a home on David Corn’s desk — according to this ex-agent, Russia had assembled a fair amount of blackmail material on Donald Trump, including his sexual practices while staying at first-class hotels in Russia. But Russia, we’re told, isn’t using the material against him since Trump is in sync with their goals anyway.

American sources, however, have published this material since it came to them as well from the same ex-MI6 agent. In other words, the 35-page dossier was available both to American intel services and the U.S. press because its author had been shopping it around broadly for publication. But almost without exception, the American press considered it unreliable and wouldn’t touch it.

Yet a summary of this widely-considered-unreliable dossier appeared in the classified briefing the U.S. intel chiefs presented to Donald Trump. Why? The obvious answer is to blackmail Trump for their own purposes.

We can speculate on what those purposes are. My best guess is to keep alive the new cold war with Russia; others like Corey Robin think maybe just agency revenge. But using unreliable information to frighten Trump is an obvious shot across his bow. It says, “We’re the we-know-everything National Security State. There’s more where this came from. You’re vulnerable to anyone who knows this stuff. Think that through … sir.”

The Security Services, the Political Process, and the Democratic Party

Second, there’s the element of multiple intrusions into the political process. Russia certainly attempted to tilt the election their way, but they were not alone in that effort. For example, the present use of blackmail material by U.S. intel chiefs, or the threat of its use, is itself an intrusion of the U.S. security services (what Greenwald calls the “deep state”) into the 2016-2017 political process.

But even this is not unique. Consider the James Comey affair. Prior to the election, there were many hands meddling to tilt the political outcome as well. For example, Comey’s “no charge” charges against Clinton count as one attempt to intrude. As I viewed the evidence against her (see here), a Comey recommendation to indict would have been justifiable. (Remember, the FBI doesn’t indict; that’s left to Loretta Lynch and the Dept. of Justice, a duty she couldn’t credibly perform after her secret tarmac meeting Bill Clinton was revealed.)

Or barring a recommendation to indict, Comey could have just stood down, recommended not to indict — and then kept his mouth shut. Had he done that, it might have been a political act since Comey is a careerist serving a Democratic president and a Democratic Attorney General. (Again, there was ample cause to turn what he correctly called “gross negligence” into a recommendation to pursue the investigation to the grand jury level. After all, the same statute has been wielded by Obama many times to punish less well-placed individuals for far less negligence running a secret, private, wide-open server through which all her government communications were passed, whether classified or not.)

But caught between an Obama administration that signaled clearly it wanted no indictment — political interference on their part — and a group of right-wing agents who clearly wanted one, Comey tried to have it both ways and failed to please anyone at all. The speech in which he indicted without indicting was certainly a political act in both senses of the phrase. He tried to get the political outcome of a recommendation to indict without recommending to indict, and in the office politics sense, he tried to please both his bosses and his employees to preserve his standing and his job.

Unfortunately, his bosses and his employees wanted opposite things. Many of the FBI agents involved in the server investigation clearly wanted an indictment, and when one wasn’t forthcoming, started leaking what they knew — or what they wanted people to think they knew — to the press. This represented political interference as well, not only by agents of the FBI, but also by investigators in the NY Police Dept, which had control of Anthony Wiener’s laptop, and who were also leaking to the press.

The Democrats at this point, I think rightly, felt heavy “cop hands” on the scale of this election (without at all acknowledging the president’s own hand, or that of Loretta Lynch), and said so — loudly.

But Comey was not alone. The CIA and NSA (the largest part of the “national security state”) were intruding politically in the other direction, by endorsing Clinton and demonizing Trump (my emphasis):

For months, the CIA, with unprecedented clarity, overtly threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and sought to defeat Donald Trump. In August, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell announced his endorsement of Clinton in the New York Times and claimed that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” The CIA and NSA director under George W. Bush, Gen. Michael Hayden, also endorsed Clinton, and went to the Washington Post to warn, in the week before the election, that “Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin,” adding that Trump is “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”

It is not hard to understand why the CIA preferred Clinton over Trump. Clinton was critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s proxy war in Syria and was eager to expand that warwhile Trump denounced it.

Now Trump is president and the pro-war national security forces are at it again, leaning again on Trump in yet another intrusion into the political process.

So who again tried to tilt the field for or against Clinton or Trump? Including Russia, the administration, Comey, agents of the FBI and NY police, the CIA and national security forces, I count five groups. This is a lot of political intrusion, regardless of which candidate you favored — all within the last year — and we’re still not done. I’m sure we’re only halfway through this extended drama.

The Selective Blindness of the Democratic Party

Third, with all this political interference, where are the Democrats? Do they condemn it all, praise it all, or pick and choose?

Bottom line: They see what they want to see, not what’s in front of us all and in plain sight. Which is not only unprincipled, it’s dangerous … for them as well as us.

Again, they did not see Obama’s original declarations of Clinton’s innocence as political intrusion. But they did see Comey’s eventual “won’t indict, but will condemn” speech, and his and other investigators’ pre-election actions, as political intrusion. They did not see the “pro-war” security apparatus’ endorsement of Clinton and trashing of Trump as intrusions. But they do see Russian interference as intrusion. And they absolutely don’t see the security services’ present blackmail threats against a duly elected president as political interference.

They see what they want to see, what they think helps them politically and electorally, and they’re blind to the rest. This is highly unprincipled. And again, it’s dangerous as well.

After all, one reason the institutional Democratic Party nearly lost to Sanders, a highly principled man — and did lose to Trump, a man who pretended to be principled — is that plenty of voters in key states were just tired of being taken for a ride by “say one thing, do another” Democrats. Tired, in other words, of unprincipled Democrats — tired of job-promising, job-killing trade deals pushed hard by both Democratic presidents, tired of the bank bailout that made every banker whole but rescued almost no mortgagees, tired of their reduced lives, their mountain of personal debt, tired of the overly complex, profit-infected, still-unsolved medical care system — tired of what 16 years of Democrats had done to them, not for them.

If Democrats want to start winning again, not just the White House, but Congress and state houses, they can’t continue to be these Democrats — unprincipled and self-serving. They must be those Democrats, Sanders Democrats, principled Democrats instead.

Does the above litany of complaint about political interference when it suits them, and non-complaint when it doesn’t, look like principled behavior to you?

Which brings me to the end of this part of the discussion. If some people see this party behavior as self-serving hypocrisy, you can bet others do as well. Democrats can only turn this decade-long collapse around by not being who they appeared to be in the last three election cycles. They have to attract the Sanders voters who stood aside in the general election and see them very negatively. Yes, Democrats will continue to get votes — some people will always vote Democratic. But in the post-Sanders, post-Trump era, will they get enough votes to turn the current tide, which runs heavily against them?

I’m not alone in thinking, not a chance.

But this is the long form of what I wanted to say. For the elevator speech version, just read the three tweets at the top. I think they capture the main points very nicely.

Glenn Greenwald: “The Deep State Goes to War with the President-Elect, and Democrats Cheer”

Greenwald’s take is very similar to mine, and there’s much more research in his excellent piece. Writing at The Intercept, he says (emphasis in original):

The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer

In January, 1961, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decadelong escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.

This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”

Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry and damaging those behaviors might be.

You can see where this is going. The “deep state,” the CIA, NSA and the rest of the unelected national security apparatus of the U.S., is going to war with an elected president even before he takes office, and Democrats are so eager for a win that they’re siding with them.

Did Russia attempt to interfere in the U.S. election? Of course, and Democrats condemned it. Did the agents of the FBI et al attempt to interfere in the U.S. election? Of course, and Democrats condemned it. Is the national security state today interfering in the outcome of a U.S. election, by trying to destabilize and force its will on the incoming administration? Of course, and Democrats are cheering it.

As horrible and as monstrous as this incoming administration is — and it will prove to be the worst in American history — who would aid the national security apparatus in undermining it?

Apparently, the Democratic Party. Greenwald continues:

The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There are a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combatting those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.

But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive. Empowering the very entities that have produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit over the last six decades is desperation of the worst kind. Demanding that evidence-free, anonymous assertions be instantly venerated as Truth — despite emanating from the very precincts designed to propagandize and lie — is an assault on journalism, democracy, and basic human rationality. And casually branding domestic adversaries who refuse to go along as traitors and disloyal foreign operatives is morally bankrupt and certain to backfire on those doing it.

And Greenwald agrees that this tactic is not just craven; it’s also dangerous:

Beyond all that, there is no bigger favor that Trump opponents can do for him than attacking him with such lowly, shabby, obvious shams, recruiting large media outlets to lead the way. When it comes time to expose actual Trump corruption and criminality, who is going to believe the people and institutions who have demonstrated they are willing to endorse any assertions no matter how factually baseless, who deploy any journalistic tactic no matter how unreliable and removed from basic means of ensuring accuracy?

All of this, don’t forget, rests on the one document mentioned above, the material summarized in an appendix to the classified version of the security services’ report on Russia (emphasis mine):

the Deep State unleashed its tawdriest and most aggressive assault yet on Trump: vesting credibility in and then causing the public disclosure of a completely unvetted and unverified document, compiled by a paid, anonymous operative while he was working for both GOP and Democratic opponents of Trump, accusing Trump of a wide range of crimes, corrupt acts and salacious private conduct. The reaction to all of this illustrates that while the Trump presidency poses grave dangers, so, too, do those who are increasingly unhinged in their flailing, slapdash, and destructive attempts to undermine it.

I’ll send you to the Greenwald piece for much more of this detail. As I said above, this story has seemed muddy until now, but it just came clear.

A Coup in the Making 

This is not a game, even at the electoral level. It has nation-changing, anti-democratic consequences. Democratic voters fear a coup, or a kind of coup, led by the Trump administration, and for good reason. But there’s another coup in the making as well, and Democrats are cheering it.

If a Republican elected official had publicly warned Obama not oppose a policy the Republicans and the CIA/NSA favored because “they have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you,” what would — what should — our response to that be? Mine would be horror and shock that a Republican had dared make that threat, followed by fear that he, and the agencies behind him, will make good on it. At which point, it’s farewell democracy, likely for a long long time.

Yet the following actually did happen (Greenwald again, my emphasis): “Just last week, Chuck Schumer issued a warning to Trump, telling Rachel Maddow that Trump was being ‘really dumb’ by challenging the unelected intelligence community because of all the ways they possess to destroy those who dare to stand up to them.” And yet there was no shock or fear, at least from Maddow or her viewers.

And Schumer really did use the phrase “they have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you.” The video is embedded here. Is that how Democrats plan to defeat Trump? Is it better, more comforting, if a Democrat makes that threat and appears to side with the security agencies’ (the deep state’s) strong-arm tactics?

A coup in the making — not the one we fear, which may also occur — but a coup nonetheless. This really is not a game, and both sides are playing for keeps.

Einfluss der USA in russischen Anrainerstaaten und Russlands Reaktion

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/13/whos-the-real-manipulator-of-elections/

Who’s the Real Manipulator of Elections?

Exclusive: In berating Russia for alleged interference in the recent U.S. election, the U.S. intelligence community ignores the extensive U.S. role in manipulating political movements around the globe, observes Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

The Director of National Intelligence’s public report on alleged Russian hacking opens with a “key judgment” that “Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order.”

That’s a strong claim. The assertion suggests a fundamental and sustained Kremlin challenge to Western freedom, reminiscent of the early years of the Cold War. That such an unqualified and ideologically charged claim should lead the report speaks volumes about the politicization of the U.S. intelligence community’s leadership. That such a claim has gone mostly unchallenged, aside from Donald Trump, speaks volumes about the powerful ideological consensus in Washington for escalating political and military conflict with Russia.

Yet a recent review of relations with Russia during the Obama years by former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul — a harsh critic of President Putin — puts the lie to the notion that Moscow has consistently sought to undermine U.S. political interests. At the same time, however, McFaul’s article illustrates the blinders shared by many American policy makers regarding the counterproductive impact on Russian behavior of repeated U.S. electoral and military interventions.

From Cooperation to Conflict

Writing for Foreign Policy, McFaul states that Russian cooperation allowed the Obama administration to negotiate the New START treaty, which slashed the number of missile launchers on each side; implement joint economic sanctions to pressure Iran into dismantling any capability of producing nuclear weapons; open up critical transportation routes for the resupply of NATO forces in Afghanistan; and arrange huge business deals for major U.S. corporations. Russia also cooperated extensively in counterterrorism and persuaded the Assad regime to give up its stockpiles of chemical weapons.

These are hardly the actions of a government with a long-term plan to undermine the United States or the “liberal democratic order.” That order is far more at risk from the Saudi monarchy, whose “export of the rigid, bigoted, patriarchal, fundamentalist strain of Islam known as Wahhabism has fueled global extremism and contributed to terrorism,” to quote The New York Times.

So what went wrong with Russia? As I recently argued, and McFaul acknowledges, one major sticking point in recent years was the Obama administration’s insistence on deploying missile defenses in Eastern Europe, which Moscow interpreted as a long-term threat to its nuclear deterrent. Congressional meddling in Russian affairs by imposing sanctions on alleged human rights abusers also angered the Kremlin. But those issues were not fatal, McFaul insists.

Instead, McFaul claims, the fault lay with Putin’s paranoid reaction to “common people demonstrating in the streets to demand greater freedoms and democratic rule” during the Arab Spring, the 2011 Russian elections, and then in Ukraine. “Putin’s response to those events, first the annexation of Crimea and then intervention in support of insurgents in eastern Ukraine, ended for good our ability to cooperate,” he maintains.

McFaul writes that Putin had “wild theories” about “American financial support for Russian opposition leaders and their organizations,” and about U.S. responsibility for regime change more generally in the Middle East and Ukraine.

“We tried to convince Putin and his government otherwise. We explained that the CIA was not financing demonstrators in Cairo, Moscow, or Ukraine . . . But Putin’s theory of American power — engrained long ago as a KGB officer (and confirmed, it must be admitted, by previous American actions in Iran, Latin America, Serbia, and Iraq) — was only reconfirmed by events during the Arab Spring and especially on the streets of Moscow in the winter of 2011 and spring of 2012.

“In his view, people don’t rise up independently and spontaneously to demand greater freedom. They must be guided, and the Obama administration was the hidden hand. On that, we profoundly disagreed; our bilateral relations never recovered.”

Even Paranoids Have Enemies

McFaul’s parenthetical acknowledgment of past U.S. complicity in regime change all over the world is refreshing. But he dismisses as “phantom” the documented evidence that the Obama administration also sought to overthrow regimes in areas of Russian interest with catastrophic results.

In Libya, for example, Putin was appalled when Obama flagrantly violated his narrow mandate from the United Nations Security Council to protect civilians in the 2011 civil war. That March, President Obama accepted that “broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.” One month later, he declared, with the leaders of France and Great Britain, “Colonel Gaddafi must go, and go for good.”

A recent British parliamentary report condemning that fundamental change of mission blamed the Western military campaign for triggering Libya’s “political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.”

McFaul is similarly silent about Obama’s promotion of regime change in Russia’s longstanding ally, Syria. Fresh from their disaster in Libya, Obama and his two European partners declared in August 2011 that “the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

Their proclamation came four months after the Washington Post reported that Obama had continued a covert Bush administration program to fund Syrian Islamists who were engaged in “a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad.” Five years and half a million dead later, can McFaul really paint Putin as paranoid about regime change?

Russia’s 2011 Elections

McFaul also discounts as irrational Putin’s anger over Washington’s alleged intervention in Russia’s 2011 parliamentary elections, which a hostile Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned as fraudulent. Putin complained that Clinton judged the elections unfair even before international election monitors announced their findings. He called her comments a “signal for our activists who began active work with the U.S. Department of State” to stage mass protests.

Concerns about the fairness of the election were legitimate. Putin no doubt scapegoated Washington in part to explain the drop in popularity of his United Russia party. However, he wasn’t making up the fact that the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED), created during the Reagan administration to take the place of covert CIA programs to influence civil groups, was “all over the place inside Russia.”

Moreover, according to University of Westminster dean Roland Dannreuther, “For Putin and his entourage, there were clear parallels with Western democracy promotion in the Middle East and rising opposition and societal conflict within Russia,” which had only recently achieved political and economic stability after its near collapse in the 1990s.

“The lesson they took from events in Libya and Syria was that the West’s commitment to ‘democracy’ meant a willingness to break up societies, to use force, and to impose the wishes of an elite pro-Western minority on the majority. The interpretation was that ‘we must not allow the ‘Libyan scenario’ to be reproduced in Syria’. Even more important, of course, was that the ‘Libyan scenario’ should not be reproduced in Russia or in key neighbours, such as Ukraine.”

Regime Change in Ukraine

Ukraine was, in fact, the final straw. After Washington recognized the February 2014 coup against the elected government of Viktor Yanukovych, who was friendly with Moscow, Russia’s rushed to annex (or reunify with) Crimea and back the separatist movement in Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine. Western powers responded with economic sanctions. Relations have gone downhill ever since.

Although the political opposition to Yanukovych had genuine mass appeal (at least in Western Ukraine), Washington’s hands were all over the movement to oust him and move Ukraine closer to the West. The demonstrators were publicly encouraged by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland (former foreign policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney) and by the ardently anti-Putin Sen. John McCain. Just weeks before the Ukraine coup, the Russians intercepted a phone call between Nuland and the U.S. ambassador, discussing their picks for new leadership in the country.

U.S. government funds also poured into Ukraine before the coup, through the National Endowment for Democracy, to train grass-roots activists, support key journalists, and foster business groups. In 2013, the president of NED, Carl Gershman, published a blatantly provocative op-ed column in the Washington Post calling Ukraine “the biggest prize” among countries of interest to Russia. He boasted that U.S. programs to pull Ukraine into the Western orbit would “accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents” and defeat him “not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

NED: History of Interventions

Putin has had reason to doubt Western claims about “democracy promotion” since Washington and its European allies overlooked Boris Yeltsin’s unconstitutional power grab in 1993 and his blatant manipulation of the 1996 election. That election prompted a famous Time magazine cover story: “Yanks to the Rescue: The Secret Story of How American Advisers Helped Yeltsin Win.”

U.S. interference in Russia’s domestic affairs was soon followed by the so-called “color revolutions” in such former Soviet republics as Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. Columbia University’s Alexander Cooley remarked, “Eurasian elites viewed the color revolutions not as legitimate democratic responses to corrupt authoritarian rule, but as Western-sponsored threats targeting their very survival. These perceptions were supported when various Western NGOs and donors began to publicly take credit for their role in ushering in regime changes . . .”

Cooley added, “the United States has also contributed to the erosion of its own credibility as a promoter of democratic values through the manner in which it dealt with the government of Georgia and its democratic failings in the post-[2003] Rose Revolution period. Indeed . . . the United States’ vigorous support of Georgia contributed to the notion that Washington’s efforts to promote democracy in the post-Soviet space were simply justification for supporting anti-Russian regimes.”

Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004 followed more than $65 million in spending by the Bush administration “to aid political organizations in Ukraine” and “to bring opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko to meet U.S. leaders,” reported Associated Press.

Its report continued, “U.S. officials say the activities don’t amount to interference in Ukraine’s election, as Russian President Vladimir Putin alleges, but . . . officials acknowledge some of the money helped train groups and individuals opposed to the Russian-backed government candidate — people who now call themselves part of the Orange revolution.”

American Manipulation

Ian Traynor, the Guardian’s European editor, called the 2004 Ukraine campaign “an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to . . . topple unsavoury regimes.”

“Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box,” he continued.

“If the events in Kiev vindicate the US in its strategies for helping other people win elections and take power from anti-democratic regimes, it is certain to try to repeat the exercise elsewhere in the post-Soviet world.”

As it happened, the campaign in Kiev did turn out to Washington’s liking. Yushchenko — who was married to a former official in the Reagan administration — emerged as Ukraine’s new president and began seeking membership in NATO and the European Union.

Scholars agree that Putin and other Russian elites were deeply shaken by these successive U.S. interventions along their borders. That should have come as no surprise: Washington would have reacted much the same to Russia spending tens of millions of dollars on political revolutions in our backyard, as indeed we did during the Cold War in Guatemala, Cuba, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Grenada.

The DNI report thus would have been much more correct to state that Russia has long opposed U.S.-led regime changes on its borders and in the Middle East. Moscow is not implacably hostile to American values or interests, as shown by the cooperative behavior it repeatedly showed during the early Obama years.

In order to genuinely advance U.S. interests and better protect our freedoms, therefore, the Trump administration should follow through on the President-elect’s implicit promises to rethink policies that provoke conflict with Russia in the name of promoting democracy.

Jonathan Marshall is author of many recent articles on arms issues, including “How World War III Could Start,” “NATO’s ProvocativeAnti-Russian Moves,” “Escalations in a New Cold War,” “Ticking Closer to Midnight,” and “Turkey’s Nukes: A Sum of All Fears.”

Warum ist der Kalte Krieg 2.0 von Interesse für den Militärisch-Industriellen Komplex, 2 Artikel

Pushing for a Lucrative New Cold War

The New Cold War promises untold riches for the Military-Industrial Complex, causing hawks inside the Obama administration to push for more hostilities with Russia, as in a Syrian case study dissected by Gareth Porter for Truthdig.

By Gareth Porter

Airstrikes by the United States and its allies against two Syrian army positions Sept. 17 killed at least 62 Syrian troops and wounded dozens more. The attack was quickly treated as a non-story by the U.S. news media; U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) claimed the strikes were carried out in the mistaken belief that Islamic State forces were being targeted, and the story disappeared.

The circumstances surrounding the attack, however, suggested it may have been deliberate, its purpose being to sabotage President Obama’s policy of coordinating with Russia against Islamic State and Nusra Front forces in Syria as part of a U.S.-Russian cease-fire agreement.

Normally the U.S. military can cover up illegal operations and mistakes with a pro forma military investigation that publicly clears those responsible. But the air attack on Syrian troops also involved three foreign allies in the anti-Islamic State named Operation Inherent Resolve: the United Kingdom, Denmark and Australia. So, the Pentagon had to agree to bring a general from one of those allies into the investigation as a co-author of the report. Consequently, the summary of the investigation released by CENTCOM on Nov. 29 reveals far more than the Pentagon and CENTCOM brass would have desired.

Thanks to that heavily redacted report, we now have detailed evidence that the commander of CENTCOM’s Air Force component attacked the Syrian army deliberately.

Motives Behind a Pentagon Scheme

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and the military establishment had a compelling motive in the attack of Sept. 17 — namely, interest in maintaining the narrative of a “new Cold War” with Russia, which is crucial to supporting and expanding the budgets of their institutions.

When negotiations on a comprehensive cease-fire agreement with Russia, including provisions for U.S.-Russian cooperation on air operations against Islamic State and Nusra Front, appeared to gain traction last spring, the Pentagon began making leaks to the news media about its opposition to the Obama policy. Those receiving the leaks included neoconservative hawk Josh Rogin, who had just become a columnist at The Washington Post.

After Secretary of State John Kerry struck an agreement Sept. 9 that contained a provision to set up a “Joint Integration Center” (JIC) for U.S.-Russian cooperation in targeting, the Pentagon sought to reverse it. Carter grilled Kerry for hours in an effort to force him to retreat from that provision, according to The New York Times.

Lobbying against the JIC continued the following week after Obama approved the full agreement. When the commander of the Central Command’s Air Force component, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigan, was asked about the JIC at a press briefing Sept. 13, he seemed to suggest that opponents of the provision were still hoping to avoid cooperating with the Russians on targeting. He told reporters that his readiness to join such a joint operation was “going to depend on what the plan ends up being.”

But the Pentagon also had another motive for hitting Syrian troops in Deir Ezzor. On June 16, Russian planes attacked a remote outpost of a CIA-supported armed group, called the New Syrian Army, in Deir Ezzor province near the confluence of Iraq, Syria and Jordan. The Pentagon demanded an explanation for the attack but never got it.

For senior leaders of the Pentagon and others in the military, a strike against Syrian army positions in Deir Ezzor would not only offer the prospect of avoiding the threat of cooperating with Russia militarily, it would also be payback for what many believed was a Russian poke in the U.S. eye.

Evidence in the Investigation Report

On Sept. 16, Gen. Harrigan, who also headed the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) at al-Udeid airbase in Qatar, set in motion the planning for the attack on the two Syrian army bases. The process began, according to the investigation report, on Sept. 16, when Harrigan’s command identified two fighting positions near the Deir Ezzor airport as belonging to Islamic State, based on drone images showing that the personnel there were not wearing uniform military garb and, supposedly, displayed no flags.

But, as a former intelligence analyst told me, that was not a legitimate basis for a positive identification of the sites as Islamic State-controlled because Syrian army troops in the field frequently wear a wide range of uniforms and civilian clothing,

The report contains the incriminating revelation that the authorities at CAOC had plenty of intelligence warning that its identification was flat wrong. Before the strike, the regional station of the Air Force’s Distributed Common Ground System, which is the Air Force’s primary intelligence organ for interpreting data from aerial surveillance, contested the original identification of the units, sending its own assessment that they could not possibly be Islamic State.

Another prestrike intelligence report, moreover, pointed to what appeared to be a flag at one of the two sites. And a map of the area that was available to intelligence analysts at CAOC clearly showed that the sites in question were occupied by the Syrian army. Harrigan and his command apparently claimed, implausibly, that they were unaware of any of this information.

Further evidence that Harrigan meant to strike Syrian army targets was the haste with which the strike was carried out, the day after the initial intelligence assessment was made. The investigation summary acknowledges that the decision to go ahead with a strike so soon after the target had been initially assessed was a violation of Air Force regulations.

It had started out as a “deliberate target development” process — one that did not require an immediate decision and could therefore allow for a more careful analysis of intelligence. That was because the targets were clearly fixed ground positions, so there was no need for an immediate strike. Nevertheless, the decision was made to change it to a “dynamic targeting process,” normally reserved for situations in which the target is moving, to justify an immediate strike on Sept. 17.

No one in Harrigan’s command, including the commander himself, would acknowledge having made that decision. That would have been a tacit admission that the attack was far more than an innocent mistake.

The Deir Ezzor strike appears to have been timed to provoke a breakdown of the cease-fire before the JIC could be formed, which was originally to be after seven days of effective truce — meaning Sept. 19. Obama added a requirement for the completion of humanitarian shipments from the Turkish border, but the opponents of the JIC could not count on the Syrian government continuing to hold up the truck convoys. That meant that Harrigan would need to move urgently to carry out the strike.

Perhaps the single most damaging piece of evidence that the strike was knowingly targeting Syrian army bases is the fact that Harrigan’s command sent the Russians very specific misleading information on the targets of the operation. It informed its Russian contact under the deconfliction agreement that the two targets were nine kilometers south of Deir Ezzor airfield, but in fact they were only three and six kilometers away, respectively, according to the summary. Accurate information about the locations would have set off alarm bells among the Russians, because they would have known immediately that Syrian army bases were being targeted, as the U.S. co-author of the investigation report, Gen. Richard Coe, acknowledged to reporters.

“Who is in Charge?”

Gen. Harrigan’s strike worked like a charm in terms of the interests of those behind it. The hope of provoking a Syrian-Russian decision to end the cease-fire and thus the plan for the JIC was apparently based on the assumption that it would be perceived by both Russians and Syrians as evidence that Obama was not in control of U.S. policy and therefore could not be trusted as a partner in managing the conflict. That assumption proved correct.

When Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, spoke to reporters at a press briefing outside a U.N. Security Council emergency meeting on the U.S. attack on Syrian troops, he asked rhetorically, “Who is in charge in Washington? The White House or the Pentagon?”

Seemingly no longer convinced that Obama was in control of his own military in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin pulled the plug on his U.S. strategy. Two days after the attacks, Syria announced, with obvious Russian support, that the cease-fire was no longer in effect.

The political-diplomatic consequences for Syrians and for the United States, however, were severe. The Russian and Syrian air forces began a campaign of heavy airstrikes in Aleppo that became the single focus of media attention on Syria. In mid-December, Secretary of State Kerry recalled in an interview with The Boston Globe that he had had an agreement with the Russians that would have given the United States “a veto over their flights. …” He lamented that “you’d have a different situation there now if we’d been able to do that.”

But it didn’t happen, Kerry noted, because “we had people in our government who were bitterly opposed to doing that.” What he didn’t say was that those people had the power and the audacity to frustrate the will of the President of the United States.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

 

The Dubious Case on Russian ‘Hacking’

Still not showing evidence, U.S. intelligence chief James Clapper told senators he’s really sure Russia was the source of “hacked” Democratic emails, but the case remains weak, say ex-intelligence officials William Binney and Ray McGovern.

By William Binney and Ray McGovern

It has been several weeks since the New York Times reported that “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” led the CIA to believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin “deployed computer hackers” to help Donald Trump win the election. But the evidence released so far has been far from overwhelming.

The long anticipated Joint Analysis Report issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI on Dec. 29 met widespread criticism in the technical community. Worse still, some of the advice it offered led to a very alarmist false alarm about supposed Russian hacking into a Vermont electric power station.

Advertised in advance as providing proof of Russian hacking, the report fell embarrassingly short of that goal. The thin gruel that it did contain was watered down further by the following unusual warning atop page 1: “DISCLAIMER: This report is provided ‘as is’ for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”

Also, curiously absent was any clear input from the CIA, NSA or Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Reportedly, Mr. Clapper will get a chance on Friday to brief an understandably skeptical Donald Trump, who has called the briefing delay “very strange,” even suggesting that top intelligence officials “need more time to build a case.”

Clapper’s Checkered History

Mr. Trump’s skepticism is warranted not only by technical realities, but also by human ones, including the dramatis personae involved. Mr. Clapper has admitted giving Congress on March 12, 2013, false testimony regarding the extent of the National Security Agency’s collection of data on Americans. Four months later, after the Edward Snowden revelations, Mr. Clapper apologized to the Senate for testimony he admitted was “clearly erroneous.” That he is a survivor was already apparent by the way he landed on his feet after the intelligence debacle on Iraq.

Mr. Clapper was a key player in facilitating the fraudulent intelligence. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld put Mr. Clapper in charge of the analysis of satellite imagery, the best source for pinpointing the location of weapons of mass destruction — if any.

When Pentagon favorites like Iraqi émigré Ahmed Chalabi plied U.S. intelligence with spurious “evidence” on WMD in Iraq, Mr. Clapper was in position to suppress the findings of any imagery analyst who might have the temerity to report, for example, that the Iraqi “chemical weapons facility” for which Mr. Chalabi provided the geographic coordinates was nothing of the kind. Mr. Clapper preferred to go by the Rumsfeldian dictum: “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” (It will be interesting to see if he tries that out on the President-elect Friday.)

A year after the war began, Mr. Chalabi told the media, “We are heroes in error. As far as we’re concerned we’ve been entirely successful.” By that time it was clear there were no WMD in Iraq. When Mr. Clapper was asked to explain, he opined, without adducing any evidence, that they probably were moved into Syria.

With respect to the alleged interference by Russia and WikiLeaks in the U.S. election, it is a major mystery why U.S. intelligence feels it must rely on “circumstantial evidence,” when it has NSA’s vacuum cleaner sucking up hard evidence galore. What we know of NSA’s capabilities shows that the email disclosures were from leaking, not hacking.

Here’s the difference:

Hack: When someone in a remote location electronically penetrates operating systems, firewalls or other cyber-protection systems and then extracts data. Our own considerable experience, plus the rich detail revealed by Edward Snowden, persuades us that, with NSA’s formidable trace capability, it can identify both sender and recipient of any and all data crossing the network.

Leak: When someone physically takes data out of an organization — on a thumb drive, for example — and gives it to someone else, as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning did. Leaking is the only way such data can be copied and removed with no electronic trace.

Because NSA can trace exactly where and how any “hacked” emails from the Democratic National Committee or other servers were routed through the network, it is puzzling why NSA cannot produce hard evidence implicating the Russian government and WikiLeaks. Unless we are dealing with a leak from an insider, not a hack, as other reporting suggests. From a technical perspective alone, we are convinced that this is what happened.

Lastly, the CIA is almost totally dependent on NSA for ground truth in this electronic arena. Given Mr. Clapper’s checkered record for accuracy in describing NSA activities, it is to be hoped that the director of NSA will join him for the briefing with Mr. Trump.

William Binney (williambinney0802@comcast.net) worked for NSA for 36 years, retiring in 2001 as the technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and reporting; he created many of the collection systems still used by NSA. Ray McGovern (rrmcgovern@gmail.com) was a CIA analyst for 27 years; he briefed the president’s daily brief one-on-one to President Reagan’s most senior national security officials from 1981-85. [This article previously appeared in The Baltimore Sun at  http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-hacking-intelligence-20170105-story.html]

Lächerlicher Geheimdienstbericht zu „Putin beeinflusste die US Präsidentenwahl 2016“

geheimdienstbericht-zu-putin-beeinflusst-wahl

Unprofessioneller Bericht, der mit falschen Zahlen operiert. Die Zahlen zu RT und CNN z.B. auf youtube lassen sich leicht selbst überprüfen. Die CNN Zahlen sind dabei falsch und entprechend auch der Balken dazu. CNN hat rund 1.7 Mio Subscribers!

Die Sprache ist ebenfalls vage: we assess = wir schätzen  z.T ergänzt mit „wir glauben mit hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit“.

Die Geheimdienste und die Regierung halten offenichtlich die eigene Bevölkerung für „dumm wie Brot“.

Artikel zum Report aus the Intercept:

After President Obama and Donald Trump were briefed on a classified report explaining the United States Intelligence Community’s belief that Russia hacked the Democratic Party, the public has received its own, declassified version. Unfortunately for us, it appears virtually anything new and interesting was removed in the redaction process, leaving us without the conclusive, technical evidence we were hoping for — and that the American people are owed. Failing a last minute change of heart, the next best (and perhaps last) hope for the government to show us its work would be a formal, bipartisan probe.

FILE - In this June 14, 2016 file photo, people stand outside the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in Washington. The computers of the House Democratic campaign committee have been hacked, an intrusion that investigators say resembles the recent cyber breach of the Democratic National Committee for which the Russian government is the leading suspect. (AP Photo/Paul Holston, File)

This June 14, 2016, file photo shows the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in Washington.

Paul Holston/AP

The immensely confident report, based on the combined findings of the NSA, CIA, and FBI, includes virtually no new details about why the nation’s intelligence agencies attributed the attacks to the Russian government (and in some cases, directly to Vladimir Putin), other than a reference to the involvement of the “Guccifer 2.0″ hacker persona, a fact they had been open about since the hacked documents first started spreading. Instead, we’re left with this, which does not move the evidentiary ball forward even an inch:

We assess with high confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election, the consistent goals of which were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.

We don’t even get an allusion to NSA SIGINT, or a brief reference to the existence of more evidence — the report is all confidence, no justification. That confidence and consensus has meaning on its own — and, certainly, the claims are serious — but it is no substitute for some public understanding of what caused that confidence.

When it comes to the assessment that “Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him,” all three agencies are in agreement, though the NSA believes it with only a “moderate” level of confidence. For this and a thousand other reasons, it would be tremendously helpful to know what led them to these conclusions, the severity of which will likely shape U.S.-Russian relations for decades. Presumably, the classified version presented to the the president, president-elect, and certain members of Congress, would include at least some of the technical material behind the claims. But we can’t see that version, the report explains:

The Intelligence Community rarely can publicly reveal the full extent of its knowledge or the precise bases for its assessments, as the release of such information would reveal sensitive sources or methods and imperil the ability to collect critical foreign intelligence in the future. Thus, while the conclusions in the report are all reflected in the classified assessment, the declassified report does not and cannot include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence and sources and methods.

This is a satisfying explanation if you work for the NSA, CIA, or FBI, where the sanctity of “sources and methods” trumps all other epistemological concerns, but less so outside of the intelligence community. Even Susan Hennessey, a former NSA attorney turned blogger and Brookings Institute fellow, criticized the emptiness of the report:

Before the intelligence community briefers left Washington for New York to share their findings with Trump, there was a briefing for the so-called Gang of Eight, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate and of the Intelligence Committees.

Immediately after hearing the classified evidence, Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic Leader, called the presentation, “really quite a stunning disclosure.”

But Pelosi, who has called for a bipartisan congressional investigation of the matter, also expressed some frustration with how little of the evidence the intelligence community was willing to make public. “I would hope that we could get more” of the report declassified, she said. “I know we have to respect sources and methods,” she added, “but I think that even Congress has the right to know more than they want to disclose to Congress, beyond the Gang of Eight.”

The national conversation about the attack on the Democratic party is becoming increasingly locked in absolutism. At one end of the spectrum there are those who credulously claim there’s no conceivable doubt the Russian government hacked the Democrats this summer — at the other, those who fatuously deny any possibility Russia did so. No matter where you fall (I personally believe the Russian government is most likely responsible in some way), you should agree on one thing: Making the discussion as public as possible (and reasonable) is in the national interest.

The value of independent, bipartisan probes was raised at this week’s cybersecurity hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, when Tim Kaine harkened back to another, now-quaint burglary of the DNC:

“That small event lead to one of the most searching and momentous congressional inquiries in the history of this country. It was not partisan. … It was not an investigation because something affected the election. The 1972 presidential election was the most one-sided the modern era. But it was a high moment for Congress because Congress in a bipartisan way stood for the principle that you couldn’t take efforts to influence a presidential election and have no consequence.”

This came only one day after a group of intelligence and foreign policy veterans, including Leon Panetta and Madeleine Albright, urged Congress to form a Watergate-style probe:

To understand fully and publicly what happened, how we were so vulnerable, and what we can do to protect our democracy in future elections, we the undersigned strongly encourage the Congress to create an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate efforts by the Russian Federation to influence or interfere with the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

Shortly after the declassified report was published, Senator Dianne Feinstein produced a statement saying she’s working to create such a commission:

“I have joined with Senators Cardin and Leahy to introduce a bill that would create an independent commission, modeled after the 9/11 Commission, to investigate Russian hacking. This issue must not be politicized—all Americans should be outraged at Russia’s actions, and we must hold them accountable.”

In the spirit of the Warren Commission and the 9/11 Commission, we need an independent, resolute inquiry into an apparent attempt to undermine our democracy, as has already been proposed (with little support) by Reps Eric Swalwell and Elijah Cummings. It’s hard to imagine who could object to this in good faith: If you believe Russia was set up, the victims of an elaborate ruse, this would be your vindication. Likewise, if you believed steadfastly that Russia was responsible before there was any evidence at all, you should welcome an independent inquiry that would bolster your position. If, like our next president, you simply can’t be bothered to think or care about any of this, a congressional investigation would provide an official body to do the thinking and caring for you. And if, like so many Americans, you are confused by the technical opacity of these events and don’t believe you should ever be satisfied when the CIA says Just trust us, such a probe would be working to bring you clarity, to push back against an intelligence community too much in love with its classification system, too covetous of its sources and methods.

 

Unkonventioneller Krieg: Aussehen, Wirkung, Effizienz

The Fourth-Generation War

By David Galland | The Passing Parade | January 05, 2017

Dear Paraders,

Welcome to 2017. As with every new year, or any stretch of 365 days into the future, we can expect surprises. Some good and some bad.

Of course, we can’t know the future. Therefore, we are left to our expectations and, I suppose, aspirations. For example, I await the arrival of President Trump with high hopes and an almost silly level of anticipation.

Oh, how I hope he continues deriding the political class so firmly attached to the carotid artery of the American people. Derision is all they deserve, and Trump does derision particularly well.

Just ask poor “low energy” Jeb Bush or “Lying Ted” Cruz.

Even so, Trump is only human and therefore capable of a wide range of actions. He could be everything those of us who are tired of the perfect-world meddlers might hope for. Or he could sell out.

That said, there’s one indicator we won’t see politics as usual. Namely, Trump’s refusal to attend the daily national security briefings organized to prepare him for his role as Commander in Chief.

In case you’re not familiar with these briefings, here’s a quote from the Washington Post:

The President’s Daily Brief, as the classified document is known, is designed to provide a summary of key security developments and insights from all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, as well as an update on covert programs being run overseas by the CIA. It is typically delivered each morning by intelligence analysts selected because of their experience and expertise for the prestigious job.

At first glance, not attending these briefings seems a strange decision. I mean, shouldn’t the Commander in Chief have a full grip on the threats to the nation’s security?

Yet, there’s an interesting backstory I learned years ago from a former cog in the national security apparatus. The backstory is that, in the Daily Brief, the various intelligence services try to outdo each other by amplifying the most dramatic threat scenarios their agencies are working on.

In other words, they try to scare the hell out of the president so he’ll keep the taps wide open on the funding for their respective agencies.

After a week or so of these briefings, the neophyte president begins to turn into the equivalent of a fear-biter, primed to strike out at the real or, in many cases, sensationalized bogeymen the 16 intelligence agencies conjure up.

Did you ever wonder how it was that Obama, supposedly the candidate of peace (hey, he even won the Nobel Peace Prize!) came to authorize the first of many drone strikes on January 23, 2009—just three days after being sworn in?

The answer is the President’s Daily Brief. The very same brief that Trump is so ambivalent about being subjected to every morning.

I can only guess why he came to that decision, though I hope it’s because he understands the conflicts of interest inherent in the briefing. Conflicts of interest designed to keep billions of dollars flowing into the military-industrial complex by creating an “all war, all the time” attitude at the highest levels of the US government.

I also hope that, as any good businessperson would do, Trump plans to surround himself with competent individuals, then leave it to the pros to come up with solid guidance on the real threats requiring his attention as president.

Alternatively, maybe Trump had to choose between regularly scheduled golf matches and the President’s Daily Brief, and the briefings came in second. Which is not a bad reason for taking a pass either.

That said, there’s no question there are threats.

The Fourth-Generation War

For most people, the term “4GW” will conjure visions of a new and improved data service for their mobile devices. For members of the military and intelligence community, 4GW means something entirely different: Fourth-Generation Warfare, a form of warfare where the lines between civilians and combatants, political and military goals, and even the weapons to be used in fighting the war are blurred.

Smudged to the point where even identifying the warring parties is difficult.

To understand the 4GW, look no further than last month’s attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany.

  • Instead of using a bomb, gun, or even a knife, the attacker used a commercial truck.
  • The attacker was from Tunisia, a country with no clear grievances against the Germans.
  • He was an adherent of Islam (natch). Given the attack was directed against innocent bystanders at a Christmas market, we assume—but don’t know—that it was motivated by a religious goal. But to what end? We can have no idea.
  • And why Germany, the country that had provided succor to the man and his family as refugees? Was the attack part of a broader strategy to complete the Islamization of Germany? All of Europe?
  • Or was it to force the Europeans to withdraw from the Middle East—even though the European footprint in the Middle East is barely visible compared to the US and Russia?
  • Perhaps it was just a target of convenience—in which case, what’s the point(s) the attacker was trying to make?
  • And who, exactly, is the enemy the “West” is fighting against? Is it ISIS, which took credit for the attack? We think that’s right, but really can’t know. Maybe the ISIS spokesperson was just being opportunistic in taking credit for an act of an individual who had become overly emotional as a result of indoctrination by a radical mullah?
  • Who does Germany retaliate against? They could lob missiles into ISIS strongholds, but as those strongholds are not citadels, but rather cities populated by innocents—captives even—how effective can that be?
  • Alternatively, whom does Germany negotiate with to bring an end to the hostilities?

I could go on, but I think the point is clear: 4WG warfare is so distributed—between weapons, tactics, cultures, places, ideologies, and leadership—that dealing with it requires an entirely different approach.

Trying to get a handle on how one counters such an amorphous enemy, because it is unlikely the attacks will stop anytime soon, and maybe not in our lifetime, I reached out to Scott Taylor, publisher and editor of Esprit de Corps magazine. Scott has extensive experience in the Middle East, as a soldier, author, and war correspondent.

He is also one of the few people to have been kidnapped by Islamists and lived to tell about it. Here’s a biographical sketch from the Esprit de Corps website.

For more than 25 years, Taylor has reported from numerous global hot spots, including Kuwait, Cambodia, Western Sahara, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo, Iraq, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, Libya and Afghanistan. In 1996, Taylor won the prestigious Quill Award and in 2008 he was named Press TV’s “Unembedded Journalist of the Year.” In 2011, Taylor won a Telly Award for the CPAC documentary Afghanistan: Outside the Wire.

On September 7, 2004, while reporting on the U.S. occupation, Taylor was taken hostage in Northern Iraq by Ansar al-Islam Mujahadeen. Taylor and his Turkish colleague were subjected to torture and severe abuse before being released five days later. That harrowing ordeal was recreated by National Geographic Channel in an episode of the popular series Locked Up Abroad.

With Scott’s bonafides established, here are my questions and his answers.

Q. Are there any historical precedents for the current conflict being fought between the Islamists and the Western world?

First of all, we need to stop misidentifying the current conflict as Islam versus the West. The vast majority of the blood being spilled in all of these theatres (Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Turkey) is Muslim vs. Muslim.

The simplistic division of sides is Sunni versus Shiite, but that further divides into secular versus fundamentalist, and then again into ethnic factions (example: Kurd versus Turk, Arab versus Kurd). Much like the Crusades of old, it is the West’s interference in their territorial squabbles that makes us a target for retaliation.

Q. Is there any sort of prevailing theory about how a government can fight back given the lack of any clear enemy or even stated objective for the attacks?

The current tactic of Western security forces appears to be the mounting of large shows of force after a terrorist attack has taken place. Hordes of heavily armed police with armored vehicles appear at all major transit hubs and public spaces to present the appearance of an armed camp.

However, given the randomness of the targets, the variety of weapons employed (simply driving a truck into a crowd, for instance), and the apparent willingness for the attackers to die for their cause, makes these attacks all but impossible to defend against.

Q. The Israelis, which arguably have the most experience in fighting a 4GW conflict, have used retribution against family members of the terrorists— including the controversial policy of destroying family homes—as a countermeasure. Any thoughts?

If the Israelis and Palestinians were presently cohabitating in a state of mutual bliss, I would say that they were on the right track. However, as Israel remains in a state of perpetual threat of attack, I would say that employing retaliatory attacks against a culture steeped in revenge (an eye for an eye) is not a smart move.

If Trump starts attacking terrorist families, the violence cycle will only accelerate… and become far more personal.

Q. Any sense of how this all ends? Or is this conflict likely to be with us for the foreseeable future?

Humankind is the most self-destructive species on the planet. Historically, we continue to invest in ever more creative ways to kill our fellow humans… and to protect ourselves from evolving threats.

The map of the Middle East will need to be redrawn to recognize the existing ethnic divisions (as opposed to the arbitrary colonial boundaries drawn up by Britain and France in 1917). The abject poverty and illiteracy of Afghanistan will condemn it to decades more bloodshed, and countries such as Libya will need to be reunified by force and subdued for a generation before they can once again enjoy stability and prosperity.

Q. Do you believe the US should stop meddling in the Middle East? Having read a fair bit on the history of the Crusades, it is revealing that so many cities regularly under attack back then are again under attack now. And, per your comments, invariably by other Muslims. Given that history, one can only ask, „Why would any outside nation want to deal with that mess?“

If the US could divest itself of the need to import oil, they could afford to ignore events in the Middle East. It may sound crazy, but a huge opportunity was missed in the aftermath of 9/11 when Americans might have accepted (or been forced to accept) wartime rationing of fuel. This would have hurt the automobile industry but at the same time created a massive boom for alternative modes of transportation, such as production of e-bikes and mass transit systems.

America, like Canada, is protected by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Our “defense” departments should be correctly called “war departments.”

So, what’s the new administration to do?

Carry On

Per Scott’s comments, I think it behooves us to accept the reality that there may be little, and maybe nothing, the nation-states with all their intelligence services and blunt military power can do to stop the 4GW enemies.

Repurposing the prescient words of John F. Kennedy on the topic of assassins, „If anyone wants to do it, no amount of protection is enough. All a man needs is a willingness to trade his life for mine.“

Time and again, the Islamic terrorists have shown a willingness to trade their lives to carry out their dastardly deeds. That’s just how they roll.

If there is good news, it is that the damage these terrorists do is typically limited. Returning to the Christmas attack in Berlin, that attack took the lives of 12 people. Approximately the number of people who die every day and a half in German automobile accidents. So while the attack was unsettling, especially for the victims or someone close to the victims, it poses no existential threat to the German nation.

Even 9/11—the apex of success as far as these attacks go—adds up to just 31 days of traffic fatalities in the US.

Could the jihadists someday succeed in getting their hands on nukes? Or blow up a liquid petroleum depot near a population center? Anything is possible. However, governments around the world are acutely aware of the threats and take measures to guard the targets with the potential for causing mass destruction. It will take more than a maniac driving a truck or wielding an AK-47 to breach one of the more sensitive installations.

As a consequence, the path of least resistance suggests the 4GW will continue to unfold mostly as low-level attacks that, in the overall scheme of things, do little physical damage.

Keep in mind that, on average, 43 people are murdered every day in the US and 93 die in car accidents. By comparison, in the 16 years since 2000, there have been a total of 3,064 people killed by terrorists in the United States, but of that number, 2,997 died in the 9/11 attacks.

Doing the math, outside of that horrific event, there have been a total of 67 people killed in the US by terrorists over the past 16 years. Which means that over the period, death by terrorism in the US doesn’t add up to even a single day of automobile fatalities.

To be clear, my purpose here is to provide perspective about the fourth-generation war. That perspective is necessary given how energetically the mainstream media sensationalizes every attack, even if it only involves a single stabbing. By doing so, they have effectively turned the entire nation into fear-biters.

That’s not to say that terrorism isn’t a concern. It’s just, per Scott’s comments above, that most of it involves fighting between Muslim sects in a very limited number of countries. This from a comprehensive report on global terrorism by the US State Department:

Although terrorist attacks took place in 92 countries in 2015, they were heavily concentrated geographically. More than 55% of all attacks took place in five countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nigeria), and 74% of all deaths due to terrorist attacks took place in five countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, and Pakistan).

Here’s a tip: Don’t live in Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Syria, or Pakistan.

While incidents like the truck attacks in Nice and in Berlin get a lot of media attention, when viewed from an actuarial perspective, they are gnats on an elephant. And it’s important to keep this in perspective, because overblown fears within the population provide license to the state to expand its powers and trample the rights of the individual in pursuit of a perfect level of security that simply cannot be attained.

It is worth noting that since 9/11, the United States has spent over $7.5 trillion in defense and homeland security, much of which cannot even be accounted for.

And that tally is just the thin edge of the cost of overreacting to the terrorists, a cost that includes the loss of personal freedom and the creation of indelible bureaucracies that grow in power every day.

Remain vigilant, sure. But above all, as the Brits like to say, “Keep calm and carry on.”

Here Come the Clowns

The $15 Million Cat. Sticking with the theme of the intelligence agencies, did you hear about the recently declassified document revealing that back in the 1960s, the CIA undertook a series of extensive experiments to see if they could rig up a cat with eavesdropping equipment and then train it to spy on people?

Unfortunately, we can never know whether the experiment could have proved effective, because during a trial run in a Washington DC park, the kitty was run over by a taxi. Here’s the story.

And with that, and with our wishes for a most excellent New Year, I will sign off until next week.

David Galland
David Galland
Managing Editor, The Passing Parade