Our translation from RIA Novosti, preceded by our commentary.
Quote by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov:
“We … consider it necessary to fully implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). If they want to discuss some other issues concerning Iran; this should be done with its mandatory participation and by consensus, and not by ultimatums.” [NSS highlighting]
The US’ ingrained habit of treating all other countries like school children who need spanked is not a function of the so-called Deep State. It is an integral part the psyche of the US citizen, imparted by peers, msm, higher and public education and government officials and candidates for higher office. Many Americans feel betrayed by officials who compromise with foreign countries to keep the peace and avoid confrontation. Such officials are “weak,” even when their actions are necessary to avoid war.
This habit will not be broken by Americans themselves. Any meaningful change must come from without. The EU, which has been badly stung by US sanctions and interference with its foreign trade, is now one of the challengers.
The end of the alliance: Europe and Russia have come out together against the US for the first time
Ivan Danilov, for RIA Novosti
Earlier this week, an extraordinary event occurred: the ambassador of the European Union in the US criticized the actions of US President Trump, accused the US of compromising principles and promised that the EU would sabotage US attempts to introduce new international sanctions against Iran. A very tough approach by the European diplomat was clearly coordinated with Brussels and Berlin and indicates that transatlantic solidarity on key issues of international politics has already come to an end. Now that Sergei Lavrov has once again expressed opposition to US actions against Iran, a paradoxical situation has emerged: the European Union and Russia are a united front against American policy in a strategically important direction. Whether a major Middle East war begins this year depends on whether Trump is ready to go ahead to satisfy the ambitions and phobias of his sponsors in the United States and the Middle East.
David O'Sullivan, the EU ambassador to the United States, held a special meeting at the Washington office of the Bloomberg agency with representatives of the American media to explain to them why the European Union is sharply against President Donald Trump's desire to disrupt the so-called Iranian nuclear deal and impose international sanctions against Iran. “The Iranian nuclear deal” is a 2015 agreement signed by Iran with the permanent members of the UN Security Council - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France, as well as with Germany and the European Union. In fact, the agreement provides for Iran to abstain from developing a military nuclear program and consent to international monitoring of compliance with this abstinence in exchange for lifting the UN sanctions imposed on the country. The “Iran nuclear deal” was signed by President Obama, despite the protests of many American and Israeli politicians who insisted on continuing pressure on Iran or even on military intervention against Tehran. Donald Trump, during the election campaign, spoke very negatively about the Iranian deal and demanded the return of anti-Iran sanctions, combined with the cancellation of all existing agreements.
The American president’s position proposes a much more rigid version of the Iranian deal, which looks more like the most humiliating capitulation of Tehran than an agreement. The rigidity of the demands of the US administration gives the impression that Washington is not looking for a new compromise, but an excuse to start the economic strangulation of Iran, and then move on to military intervention. The US is being pushed into the power option by a rather influential segment of the American political elite.
The EU ambassador to the United States clearly outlined the dissenting position of Brussels on the reintroduction of anti-Iran sanctions and the cancellation of the nuclear deal: “This, in my opinion, will not work. We lifted the sanctions, and this was part of the agreement, and we cannot in good conscience enter sanctions again without a good reason,” the ambassador said, clearly hinting that the desire of the US military-industrial complex to earn money and Trump's political ambitions are not on the list of “valid reasons.”
In a similar vein, the head of Russian diplomacy Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference following the talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Dreen:
“We, like France, consider it necessary to fully implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). If they want to discuss some other issues concerning Iran, this should be done with its mandatory participation and by consensus, and not by ultimatums.”
Now the Trump administration faces an unpleasant choice, which consists of three bad choices. First, he can try very hard to pressure the European Union and demand that Brussels, Berlin and Paris change their position. As an argument, he can try to use a threat to impose sanctions against European companies that work with Iran, as well as the accusation that the EU countries have mercantile interests related to investments in the Iranian economy. This would make Europe betray the ideals of transatlantic unity and turn a deaf ear to the demands of Washington and Tel Aviv, insisting on the need for decisive measures against Iran. The problem of this approach is that the European Union has already demonstrated a categorical rejection of the threats of sanctions influencing its companies and moreover it is prepared to respond with retaliatory accusations against Washington:
“There is a whole mythology in the US, in certain circles, and this mythology is that we are only interested in trade with Iran and are ready to sell our souls for the opportunity to sell a few cars or planes. For example, the way Boeing is doing it,” said O'Sullivan, hinting that the US corporation is trying to sell planes to Iran for $20 billion. "We do not sell principles for a few contracts," the European diplomat stressed.
The second option involves the introduction of sanctions and the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, despite the disapproval of the European Union, Russia and the PRC. This approach seems attractive only at first glance, since unilateral US sanctions do not harm Iran in any way, which can fully meet all its economic and technological needs through cooperation with countries that do not support American sanctions. Attempts by the US to impose sanctions against European companies working with Iran will lead to retaliatory actions on the part of the European Commission, and most likely the White House will abandon them in the same way as they failed to punish European companies investing in Nord Stream-2. The impotence of Washington’s sanctions badly affects the image of the world hegemon, and if the conflict is immediately transferred to the military plane, then there is a serious risk that the European Union will use such arbitrary behaviour as a pretext for reducing the level of military cooperation with the United States. Moreover, the European Union is already creating its own military structure, which British and American experts perceive as a “European alternative to NATO.”
The third option seems to be the most rational - to try to solve the Iranian problem on the diplomatic level. However, this approach is extremely undesirable for Trump's team for several reasons. The abandonment of sanctions and military pressure on Iran will be perceived as a sign of American weakness - and the weak, as we know, get beat. What’s more, the diplomatic restraint of the Trump administration will be perceived as a betrayal of some Middle Eastern allies of the United States, for whom the US military intervention against Iran is the last chance to compete for regional domination. The fate of traitors to such influential interest groups is very unenviable.
Good ways out of the situation into which the Trump team has gotten itself, have not yet been seen, and this is a rather positive situation from the standpoint of Russian interests. Our Washington opposition had a zugzwang - and now it is up to us to derive the maximum benefit from their inevitable mistakes.
The following is NSS’ translation from Russkaya Gazeta preceded by our commentary.
It is important to know some background when reading and discussing conferences like this involving many participants from various parts of the world, especially Middle Eastern countries.
For example, the foreign ministers of both Syria and Egypt are quoted herein and it is important to note that, while Egypt is often seen in the West as a close Saudi ally, it also has very close ties to Russia and leans more toward that country. This is a clue as to Egypt ally Saudi Arabia’s susceptibility to pressure from China to start accepting yuan in payment for its oil – a game changer that threatens the fate of the US dollar and hence the US’ ability to keep buying weapons and threatening global security like there is no tomorrow. If it happens, US military power will follow US prestige down the drain.
Recently, Putin came back from a visit with Egypt’s president Al-Sisi where a signing ceremony was held for an agreement regarding a nuclear facility to be built in that country. The meeting between the two presidents was reported in Arabic-language news site Al-Mustqbal, which mentioned that a Russian industrial park was also to be built along the Suez Canal. While Bloomberg also reported on both the nuclear plant and the industrial park, a seemingly minor detail was embedded in the Al-Mustaqbal report that was not to be found in Western or any English-language reports. During Putin’s remarks with reporters present, he happened to mention that he had just returned from a meeting with Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. He told President Al-Sisi in front of the gathering, that he would share with Al-Susi the details of this meeting with Assad. This is anything but a minor detail. It tells us that Putin has such a high degree of confidence in Al-Sisi that he can share confidential details concerning Syria’s future and Russia’s role therein, and further, that Al-Sisi in no way opposes the Russian-mediated settlement of this all-important issue. In fact, it is probably safe to assume from this that Al-Sisi approves that Russia, and not the US, will mediate the Syrian future and that he, like Putin, would like to see the US leave Syria. This, along with the fact that almost all MENA (Middle East and N. African) countries have recently purchased large amounts of Russian arms (even Saudi Arabia seems to be wrapping up an agreement for shipments of Russian S-400 air defence systems – against the hysterical objections from the US), is a clear indication that the Middle East is not America’s oyster any more.
Anyone who knows how to read between the lines knows that Russia, not the US, will be the arbiter of MENA’s fate in the near future, and there is no stopping this trend.
Valdai Club Members discussed how Russia "plays in all fields"
Russkaya Gazeta, February 19, 2018
by Evgeny Shestakov
The United States wants to "rob" Russia in Syria and to this end is prepared to unleash a war of attrition in the region. The question is what Moscow will undertake in order to avoid a negative scenario for itself and give a positive impetus to the Syrian settlement. Many participants of the Middle East conference of the Valdai International Discussion Club, which opened on Monday, spoke about Washington’s destructive role during the Syrian conflict.
Experts, political scientists and politicians from 34 countries were interested in what Russia intends to do in the future as a key player in Syria and, more broadly, in the Middle East. The role of our country was discussed in the context of the conflicts in Yemen and Libya, and in assessing the prospects of the Palestinian-Israeli settlement and the fate of the Kurdish enclaves. According to the participants of the conference, the status of the state, confirmed by Moscow based on diplomacy and military force, capable of playing on all the fields of the region as an "honest broker," requires that Russia articulate what it is seeking. Therefore, many Valdai guests came to Moscow in search of what the executive chairman of the Beirut Institute Ragid Dergam called “a strategy that was not articulated by Russia.”
In his speech at the forum, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke about the significant risks that, along with the unconditional successes (the creation of de-escalation zones, the holding of the Syrian national dialogue in Sochi), remain on the Syrian track. Foremost of these are the actions of American partners aimed at undermining the territorial integrity of Syria. “I urge colleagues in the United States not to play with fire - this has already led to an aggravation of the situation,” the head of the Russian foreign ministry was quoted as saying by many news agencies. [NSS’ highlighting]
And another quote from Lavrov: “The success of the Syrian settlement depends on what the US will not yet do." The desire of the US administration to manipulate the Syrian map according to its own geopolitical interests has a destructive effect on the peace process and encourages separatist forces. According to the vice-president of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, Alexander Aksenenka, the West wants to help Syria without helping its president Bashar Assad. The natural outcome of this scenario was the de facto division of the Arab Republic, although de jure no one speaks aloud about it.
Most of the participants at the Valdai forum of experts, from both the Russian side and from the Arab countries, stressed that Moscow is not in a position to singlehandedly cut the Syrian knot and needs allies.
One of them was Iran [we remind the reader, however, that Iran is not an Arab country—NSS], whose Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also took part in the Middle East Valdai conference. Teheran, according to Zarif, is trying to “get away from the paradigm of conflicts.” As the head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry put it, we need to leave behind the old ideas of alliances and blocs - they do not work. Russia and Iran are in favour of forming in the region a comprehensive security network. Rather than individual unstable alliances Zarif outlined measures to build trust between countries of the Middle East - military visits, non-aggression pacts, tourism and joint investment. These steps, from his point of view, “pave the way for a real dialogue.”
For his part, Lavrov recalled that Russia is promoting in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific region an initiative to create an indivisible, comprehensive security system. The same principle can be applied as the basis of the security system for the countries of the Middle East.
According to Egyptian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamed El Badri, despite the often fierce criticism, Moscow is working with all sides in the Middle East region – with those it agrees with and with those it does not agree with.
Using a variety of methods, from military to diplomatic, Russia has gained authority and respect in the Middle East, where many global players were defeated. And the military presence in the region has become an important lever of influence, allowing the Kremlin to pursue a multi-vectorial policy. But this state of affairs imposes a great responsibility on the Russian side, as the Egyptian diplomat did not fail to recall. He listed in particular what is expected of Moscow in the Middle East. The list was impressive - Russia, in El-Badri’s view, must take into account the interests of regional players, support national systems, defend the principle of non-interference on international platforms, not impose their will on other countries and help regional players to form an atmosphere of trust.
However, the very fact of the list of geopolitical wishes addressed to Moscow bespeaks unconditional recognition of our country’s potentials on the Middle East track, where the situation remains explosive, and in a number of “hot spots” tends to deteriorate. Alexander Aksenenok, vice-president of the Russian Council for International Affairs, compared the current stage of the Syrian settlement with the “great slalom,” where for a successful descent down the mountain it is necessary to go around a lot of poles and the athlete’s performance directly depends on his agility as he detours obstacles that suddenly appear in his way.
Unlike most Western states, Russia does not have a colonial past in the Middle East. This gives Moscow a chance to act as an impartial mediator in the settlement of old conflicts and conflicts newly formed in the Arab Spring, whether it be searching for solutions in the stalled Palestinian-Israeli dialogue or in “gathering” into a single state what has become, according to Lavrov, the “black hole” of Libya.
NSS translation and commentary by Vince Dhimos
There are many otherwise intelligent and “educated” Americans who have bought into the Neocon myth that Russian authors are sneaky KGB types who only seek to deceive the West. They simply can’t believe that anything written by a Russian could possibly be worthwhile or informative. Yet much of the information New Silk Strategies publishes in translation from Russian sites, for example, is based on information gleaned from US publications. For example, Russian weapons analysts, including those that we publish in translation, rely to a great extent on the US publication National Interest, which tends to show that Russian weapons are superior to and cheaper than their US counterparts or are innovations that have no analogues in the West. The Russian authors didn’t make that up. They cited US sources.
The following is our translation of an analysis from Ria Novosti which is based largely on a book by a US professor and former deputy secretary of state. We expect that this too will be treated as pure propaganda by many Americans steeped in anti-Russian myths. But if Russian authors are relying heavily on US analysts for their data, why bother reading them?
Because Russians know Russians better than anyone and their insight is valuable in assessing the current situation. Example from our translation:
“Russia cannot be broken by applying crude, straightforward pressure on it. If it breaks down, as we know from our history, it is only because of internal conflicts and confrontations. So, in the medium term, external pressure can only consolidate Russian society and power.”
Shortly after I discovered and read this gem, I happened to stumble across an article in Russia Insider which also expounds on the “Thucidides trap” mentioned by former deputy secretary of state Graham Allison in his book warning of the threat of war posed by a waning super power challenged by the Chinese upstart.
Both analyses lead to the conclusion that as long as Russia stands firm in its strategic partnership with China, all the Western machinations aimed at bringing down China and Russia are in vain.
The very fact that China has the wherewithal to challenge the US in all the ways that count – economically, militarily, diplomatically, monetarily and so forth – is due in large part to the eagerness of US lawmakers to weaken Russia. It was thought back then that China could be induced to become a reliable partner of the US and be manipulated into turning against Russia. The manipulators really should have known better.
China will force the US to change its mind about Bashing Russia
Andranik Migranyan, for RIA Novosti
The escalation of the confrontation between the United States and Russia for more than ten years, with the memorable Putin speech in Munich, remains a topic for speculation. Both American and Russian experts have long imagined that new presidents would eventually come to power in the United States (or that certain changes are about to occur in Russia), and relations between the two countries would soon be normalized. There were hopes for Obama, then for Trump. However, in practice, these relations are getting worse and worse.
This raises a natural question: is the nature of these relations the result of the evil will of the presidents Bush, Jr., Obama, Trump, or of Putin's toughness and tenacity - or are there deeper-lying reasons that do not depend on the personal and leadership qualities of the two countries’ leaders?
I can immediately answer this poignant question. We should not expect in the foreseeable future to improve relations between the US and Russia, regardless of who takes the helm of these states. The nature of this relationship is determined by more-global processes, where the relationship between Russia and the US is derived from the nature of the relationship between the still dominant US and the growing China, which challenges America and purports to be a new world leader. I will not burden readers with figures that show that China has in many respects outstripped the United States in economic, scientific, technological, military-political development or will do so in the very near future. This creates a situation that the renowned Harvard professor Graham Allison, a former US Deputy Secretary of Defence, calls "Thucydides’s trap." It is about the famous ancient essay on the Peloponnesian War (between Sparta and Athens).
Thucydides writes that Sparta, the dominant power in Ancient Greece, that made a decisive contribution to the defeat of the Persians who invaded Greece in the fifth century BC, began to feel anxiety and tension because of the growing strength and influence of Athens. Sparta believed that Athens was trying to challenge her supremacy in the ancient world. Started in 435 BC, the war lasted almost thirty years, and ended in the defeat of Athens, but debilitated both powerful states of the Ancient World.
Graham Allison, in his recently published book, "Destined for War: Can the US and China Escape Thucydides's Trap," analyses the five hundred year history of the West, highlighting 16 cases in which an ascendant state challenged the then dominant power in the world – and 12 of the 16 cases ended in war. Allison’s main conclusion: China's growth is unstoppable. It will challenge America's leadership not only in the regions of East Asia, the Indian and Pacific basins, but also in international relations in general. If this conclusion is correct and the centuries-old history shows the repeatability of "Thucydides's trap," then an escalation of the confrontation between the US and China is only a matter of time.
The US is no longer a superpower: Washington's nuclear strategy tells us this.
By now, the United States has already adopted a deterrence strategy with respect to Beijing and methodically pursues a policy of encircling the PRC with the help of its partners and allies. China has with almost all its neighbours conflicts and problems that the US traditionally skilfully uses to create an anti-China coalition. Countries that can form its core include Japan, India, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia. Over time, other states may join them.
... And now - the most important thing. Against the backdrop of a possible battle between the two giants in the foreseeable future, Russia's role and significance are incredibly increasing. Obviously, having huge nuclear-missile potential, vast spaces and immense resources, Russia can, with its participation on the side of one of the giants in the battle, decide the fate of the confrontation.
I personally get the impression that Washington strategists understand this perfectly. However, they do not believe that by improving relations with Moscow, they can make it a reliable ally in the case of a head-on confrontation with China. And because the future destiny of the United States is at stake, facing an impending existential challenge, any miscalculation can prove fatal.
This is why Washington has adopted a strategy of bashing Russia. The US wants to break our country and withdraw it from the game, deprive it of sovereignty and subjectivity in world politics, as was the case in the 1990s, so that at the hour of the decisive clash, Russia was not an independent player capable of making decisions based on its interests. Thus, the minimum and maximum goals of the US are pursued: the first is to neutralize Russia, and since today it reliably covers China’s rear, create threats for China from the Russian direction. The second is to establish a power in Moscow that would act together with Washington against China in a decisive battle. In recent years, we have seen elements of the implementation of this strategy. These are sanctions in Ukraine, attempts at financial and economic strangulation, involvement in mediated wars and a new arms race in order to provoke a split in elite Russian circles, and between the masses and the leader - in order to ruin Putin's power and establish a puppet regime in Russia.
Will the Americans succeed in implementing their strategy? This is highly doubtful, despite the enormous resources that the collective West, led by the United States, can mobilize. First, the Western world and the States are not experiencing the best of times. America has overextended itself over almost the past two decades in a series of endless wars and external adventures. Secondly, Russia cannot be broken by applying crude, direct pressure on it. If it breaks down, as we know from our history, it is only because of internal conflicts and confrontations. So, in the medium term, external pressure can only consolidate Russian society and power.
Third. The history of the White House’s pressure on North Korea suggests that this huge country cannot cope even with this small state, which has taken a firm stand.
Fourth. The solidarity of Western countries with the United States also has its limits. They are unlikely to become willing hostages to the confrontation of the US vs Russia, and then the US vs China.
And lastly, I like to hope that in Beijing they understand (or very soon will realize) that the main target of the States is not Russia. Thus, the Kremlin is now resisting the White House both for itself and, as we used to say in the USSR, for the other guy.
And it seems to me that if in this confrontation China more vigorously defends Russia, then it is likely that the US will understand the hopelessness of the strategy of bashing Russia and change the paradigm of its policy. Otherwise, they themselves are at risk of being broken because of the exorbitant imperial overstrain.
No wonder Patrick Buchanan, one of the most astute patriarchs of American politics and analysts of US foreign and domestic policy, published a few years ago a book with the very characteristic title "Suicide of a superpower: will the US survive until 2025?"
RIA Novosti https://ria.ru/analytics/20180219/1514877102.html
Translation and commentary by NSS
Here is another example of why reading the non-Western press (or NSS) is the only way to know what is happening in the world.
CNN was one of the participants in the Januarly press conference held by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. CNN spun it into a rebuke of Trump, stating:
“Lavrov criticized the US for issuing regular "threats" in relation to events in North Korea and Iran, saying they had ‘further destabilized’ the global situation.
“He did not mention President Donald Trump by name, but the US President has issued stern threats to North Korea and Iran, sending a series of fiery Twitter posts attacking the leadership in both nations.”
The important part is what CNN omitted, namely, that states around the world are stockpiling arms to counter US aggression, that the US is stuck on military force as the response to all ills, and that the US is planning to break up Syria by isolating vast territory at the border with Iraq and Turkey. Perhaps the CNN reporters were taking potty breaks during these statements. Ya think? Russia ought to know about countries arming themselves: They sold a record amount of arms to Middle Eastern and North African countries last year – countries which themselves or whose neighbours had been devastated by the US and its allies over the past few years.
Our translation of a report by TASS. Note the difference from the CNN report.
Lavrov: Russia will continue to seek justice in the world, despite growing tension
Politics January 15
An increasing number of states are betting on building up military power, wherein they "see almost the only guarantee of preserving their sovereignty," said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
MOSCOW, January 15. / TASS /. Russian diplomacy will continue to uphold the principles of fair and equitable cooperation in 2018 and oppose the world's slide into chaos and confrontation, despite the growing tension surrunding such key international issues as the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the nuclear deal with Iran, as well as the general tendency to increasingly resort to military power. This was the message of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a major press conference on Monday.
As expected, the main issues raised by media representatives were: Russia's relations with the United States, the situation in Syria, Ukraine and the Korean Peninsula, the prospects for the JCPA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action relating to the Iranian nuclear program). There were also unexpected questions, for example, a Finnish journalist asked about who started the Soviet-Finnish war of 1939-1940. Lavrov advised him to consult with historians.
Another unusual issue was not about foreign policy, but about the future plans of the minister in connection with the forthcoming presidential elections in March. "for my part, I'm not used to doing anything except ensuring the maximum efficiency of our ministry, this is my main task now," he said, advising him to consult the Russian Constitution for further answers on the formation of the future government.
Major press conference
The Russian Foreign Minister traditionally meets with journalists in early January. The main topic of the press conference is a summary of the past year’s results. However, the minister, as a rule, assigns only a small part of his speech to the results of the efforts of Russian diplomacy during the previous 12 months and prefers to answer questions from the press, who are interested not in past Russian foreign policy but in its current tasks and approaches, and in its plans for the future. This time the introductory part took less than 10 minutes of a press conference lasting about two and a half hours.
About 100 journalists from Russian and foreign media attended the press conference. A total of about 30 questions were asked on various issues of international relations. Among the journalists were UNIAN, BBC, CNN, and Estonian media.
According to the journalist of the newspaper Kommersant, Elena Chernenko, a significant interest in the press conference is due to the fact that "I always want to hear what results the minister personally sums up for himself over the past year, and what he will say about plans for the future." "Such events give an opportunity to analyze the foreign policy results of the past year in general and for themselves," she added. "That's why they cause such excitement, and there are always a lot of people here."
The difference from previous years was the serious tone of the press conference. Lavrov had never missed the opportunity to joke about an acute international issue, but this time he did so only once: answering the question of the journalist of the TV channel Rossiya 24 about what phrases, in his opinion, characterize the past year, the minister said that they will not be called, "otherwise they will not understand".
Staking everything on force
The situation in the world, as Lavrov described it, leaves little room for jokes. "We are witnessing the devaluation of international law, the weakening of the role of multilateral institutions, we are also seeing the desire of an increasing number of states to build up military power, which they see, in the current situation, as almost the only guarantee of preserving their sovereignty.”
Responsibility for this situation, in his opinion, rests with the United States and its allies who "still want to conduct business solely on the basis of dictates and ultimatums, do not want to listen to the views of other centres of geopolitics and, in fact, do not want to recognize the reality of an emerging multipolar world." Their methods are the deployment of a global missile defence system, unilateral sanctions, extraterritorial application of legislation, and a desire to "solve any international problem exclusively according to their own scenario, without stopping at anything, including the use of brute military force."
Special tension in the situation in recent months, as the minister noted, is caused by Washington's threatening statements on the DPRK and the Iranian nuclear deal. The situation is sliding towards confrontation and chaos, the minister said, and Russia will make efforts to prevent this.
Strengthening US presence
One of the leitmotifs in Lavrov's speech was the strengthening of the US presence, including military, in various regions of the Earth and in outer space. In particular, the minister expressed his fears that the US will have access to the management of Aegis Ashore missile defense complexes after their deployment in Japan, and in connection with Washington's plans for the militarization of outer space. In Central Asia, in the format of C5 + 1 (the United States, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), there is as yet no talk of a military presence, although the minister believes that geopolitical goals may be hidden behind the declared interests of economic interaction.
The minister drew attention to the fact that Washington does not always act honestly in achieving its goals, including in matters of energy, the military-industrial complex, the media and sports. But Moscow has a response: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation has finished preparation for judicial procedures in a lawsuit over the situation concerning Russian diplomatic property at the instructions of President Vladimir Putin, Lavrov said.
The threat to Syria’s integrity
Washington's actions have a dangerous impact on the situation in Syria. "Now the actions that we are observing show that the United States does not want to preserve the territorially integrated Syria," Lavrov said. "Just yesterday, a new initiative was announced whereby the US wants to help the so-called the Syrian Democratic Forces create certain border security zones. By and large this means the isolation of a vast territory along the borders with Turkey and Iraq."
For years now, anyone who has dared publicly criticise the warlike policies of Israel and that country’s flagrant abuses of Palestinians’ rights, even of its children, who are often shackled, tried and imprisoned for the “crime” of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers illegally patrolling Palestinian streets (see this video for details) and entering homes at random, has been attacked mercilessly in the msm as anti-Jewish. This is nonsense since Israel’s most strident opponents are Jewish groups that point out the flagrant violations of the Torah, which they see as God’s law, taking place in Israel daily, and also the fact that Israel is home to groups, parades and gatherings that make a mockery of traditional marriage. It is beyond amazing that American “Christians” ignore these things in Israel that in their own countries, they fiercely oppose.
We have already warned here about the way the Israel lobby is encroaching on your freedom of speech by dictating to US legislators and actually writing US legislation in a blatantly unconstitutional practice that has been commonplace for decades.
Now our favourite site Russia Insider reports here that the US and Israel governments (both de facto one and the same) have long been pressuring social media to ban messages and web sites critical of Israel. This must be vigorously opposed as an affront to the US Constitution.
During his campaign, the now-US president spoke before this same lobby and essentially promised it that he would grovel before it like a dog if elected. He is now doing just that, declaring, at variance with international law, that Jerusalem, which is legally split between Palestine and Israel but where the Eastern part is illegally occupied by Israel, belongs entirely to Israel and is its capital. (We showed you here what Jesus had to say about Jerusalem in the clearest of terms (Matt 23:39), and His words are the diametric opposite of this ill-advised policy.)
Showing his contempt for the First Amendment, this same president has said he wanted Edward Snowden imprisoned for the “crime” of exposing the NSA’s unconstitutional spying on virtually all US citizens; has said he is ok with extraditing Julian Assange to the US even though Assange has not been accused of any crime against the US; and is critical of the commuting of Chelsea Manning’s sentence.
The three individuals mentioned above are impugned not because they have committed crimes but because they have exposed crimes. But after all, it is unconstitutional to arrest anyone for whistle-blowing because whistle-blowing is by definition the public exposure of a crime, and we know intuitively that no one can be arrested for exposing a crime.
Yet there are numerous US officials who are eager to illegally and unconstitutionally charge these whistle-blowers with non-existent crimes. These officials are, in promoting this policy, all in flagrant violation of the Constitution and if it were not for the absurd claim that their demand to have these whistle-blowers arrested is motivated by a desire to “protect” the public, they themselves would be universally condemned and drummed out of office.
Far from being protected, people everywhere, not just the US the public, are in grave danger of having their God-given rights trampled by the current outlaw government.
Now, since these renegade officials have accused the whistle-blowers of harming the public when in fact, they are courageously protecting the public by warning it of the dangers of an abusive runaway government, we can say that these outlaw officials are in fact bringing false charges, or in other words, doing what the Old Testament calls “bearing false witness.”
And since the US government has vowed to let Israel shape its policies, based on what it considers Biblical principles (principles that Vahan Bogdasarian has competently debunked in his three part series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, showing they are not at all Biblica), then to be consistent, it must apply Biblical principles to all of its laws and policies. This being the case, it must apply the law applying to false witness, namely, that the false witness be subjected to the same punishment as the falsely accused would have suffered if they had been guilty.
18 And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother;
19 Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you.
The application of this law to all US government officials who are demanding the arrest of whistle-blowers would require the arrest of Donald Trump, Vice-President Pence, James Clapper, John McCain and many others, and a jail sentence for them of as many years as the falsely accused would have served had they been guilty of the crime imputed to them. Since these officials are accusing three innocent individuals of somehow “harming the public” by exposing crimes of the government, then the total number of years of their sentence would probably amount to life in prison.
But since it is unconstitutional to apply any principles to the US government based on religion, this is not the correct solution. Instead, what is needed is a return to the Constitution in all areas of law both domestically and in foreign policy, including policies toward Israel. Thus, instead of allowing Israel to define US laws and intervene in US elections as it does now (as described here), a two-state solution must be sought, with Israel and the US each adopting an autonomous government, neither of which could interfere with the other without the consent of the governed, obtainable by popular referendum. Thus if the people of either country decided they wanted to be muzzled, they could have their muzzling. But no government could ram this muzzling down their throats. Further, in such a system, should Israel decide, for example, to go to war against Iran, it could no longer require Americans to contribute blood and treasure as they do now, eg, in their rage against Iran. It would have to use its own resources to fight the presumed enemy. Nor could it legally demand of US internet companies that they suppress the accounts of social networking users that criticise Israeli policies.
Just imagine living in a free and sovereign country where no other person or country could tell you what you may or may not say in public or force you to fight its wars, and where you would never have your Facebook or YouTube account closed for criticising your own or another government.
Let’s see, what could we call such a free and sovereign country whose government obeys the will of the people?
How about America? The America they tell us used to be great. Funny, though, no one seems to know when that was...
Kicking Russia in the groin involves, in addition to pretending they interfered with the last presidential election, for example, slapping sanctions on them intended to kill their gas business and bring them to their knees economically. However, the EU Commission finally grew a pair and in a historic first, stood up to the US and fought back against the sanctions, declaring that the US was only trying to sell its overpriced LNG. It would have cost Europe a fortune and hurt their energy security if the sanctions had been allowed to do their dirty work. The sanctions therefore did not stop the laying of the Nord Stream II pipeline. But the Empire was not done with Russia. Bowing to US pressure, the cowardly Olympic Committee banned Russia from the Olympics, claiming the state had been involved in a doping scheme – with no proof, as usual except for the testimony of an unscrupulous ex member of the Russian Olympic committee who even admitted he had helped dope athletes. He is now wanted in Russia. The fact is, doping is worse in several other countries, but the West is just out to get Russia. Nothing new.
Meanwhile, new sanctions have been imposed on other Russian individuals as part of the witch hunt.
So why the virulent Russia bashing?
Election time is coming up and Putin it running again. The fools think they can keep him from being elected by making his presidency uncomfortable for the Russian people. But they don’t understand that the Russians know what the Empire is up to and will loyally fight back.
Here is New Silk Strategy's translation, from Ria Novosti, showing how the US slaps Russia in the face and then begs it to help save its hide from the N. Koreans. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic:
Trump asks Putin to help "strangle" North Korea
by Ivan Danilov, author of the blog Crimson Alter
President Donald Trump told the press he would like to receive help from Vladimir Putin in the North Korean issue, the subject of one of their recent telephone conversations. In the American leader’s statement there were slight notes of resentment. "The main point was the talks on North Korea, because we would very much like to get it [Putin’s help] in North Korea. China is helping but Russia is not helping. We would like to have Russian help," said Trump.
Trump said that Putin could help the US resolve the crisis surrounding the DPRK.
From a practical point of view, "help," the absence of which makes Trump so sad, suggests active participation on the part of the Russians in the economic isolation of the DPRK and the adoption of measures that drastically reduce Pyongyang's foreign exchange income. Judging by the demands voiced by the representatives of the State Department at the UN, it is assumed that Russia should at least expel North Korean citizens from its territory who are considered "slaves" by the US. It is easy to see that the measures that Washington insists on go far beyond the sanctions imposed at the UN level with the support of China and Russia. In other words, Beijing and Moscow are invited to introduce unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang and organize actual economic isolation, the effect of which may well be classified as a humanitarian disaster.
In this context, it is worthwhile to cite Vladimir Putin's answer to the question of the Associated Press journalist, who was interested in Russia's help in overcoming the North Korean crisis. Putin: "Your congressmen and senators look so good, they have beautiful suits, shirts, they look like clever people. They put us on a par with North Korea and Iran, while at the same time pushing the president (the United States) to persuade us together with you to solve the problems of North Korea and Iran. Are you normal people?"
Judging by the ongoing efforts of the American side to attract Kremlin assistance with North Korean, there are justifiable suspicions that the Russian president's answer to the question can be considered negative.
The mere fact of recognizing the desirability or even the need for Russian assistance to solve an international problem is a grave violation of one of the key taboos of US policy.
Opinion: The White House in the Korean issue fell into its own trap
Because of this public travesty of political taboos, Americanophiles around the world and many US experts are now experiencing severe cognitive dissonance. The chief dogma of the political class of the United States is the proposition of American exclusivity, implying that Washington has the right and the means to adopt and implement any decision in relation to any country in the world.
"We came, we saw, he died!" - the mocking paraphrase of the Roman motto in the performance of Hillary Clinton, who marked thusly the death of Muammar Gaddafi, is the actual credo of all American policy. The very thought of the US's inability to liquidate a foreign leader who challenged them, whether Putin, Castro or Kim Jong-un, causes some American politicians emotional and perhaps physical pain. Against this background, the position of Trump, who calmly states that the US needs the help of China and Russia, looks like the height of rational pragmatism.
Of course, the US can use force against the DPRK and win the war simply because of its total military superiority. You’d thimk that for the American president, who desperately needs foreign policy victories to solve internal political problems, war with the DPRK would be perfectly welcome, but practice shows that the Trump administration is reluctant to resort to military escalation.
Political scientist: in relations with the DPRK, the US is inclined to intrigue
A military defeat of the DPRK, although it would solve the problem of the "North Korean threat", would inflict unacceptable damage on the US. I don’t mean even the risk that a North Korean missile with a nuclear warhead could successfully fly to Guam or even to the continental US (to accurately assess the probability of this scenario is very problematic). The problem is that damage of another kind is guaranteed. In August, Trump strategist Steve Bannon admitted that "there is no military solution to the Korean problem." In an interview with The American Prospect, Bannon said: "No military solution, forget it, until someone solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million Seoul residents would die in the first 30 minutes due to the use of conventional weapons." Steve Bannon is no longer working in the White House, but the reality has not changed. The mass casualties of South Korean civilians and the destruction of a significant part of South Korea's economy in the context of US military intervention would mean the end of the most important element of the "American myth" that vassal-like dependence on the US is a guarantee of security. A military victory over the DPRK would be guaranteed to have catastrophic side effects for the US in the form of a mass drive of the vassals to get out from under the American "roof."
Where can the DPRK missiles fly to?
Henry Kissinger is credited with a cynical, but precise formula: "Being an enemy of the US can be dangerous, but being a friend can be fatal." It is based on this logic that the EU is creating its "parallel NATO" without the participation of the States and Britain, Japan is arming, and South Korean officials state that they "can not accept" a military solution to the North Korean crisis. If Washington resorts to a military conflict under these conditions, its victory will be a Pyrrhic one and accelerate the elimination of the monopolar world order.
Proceeding from the above-stated reasons and due to the failure of all attempts at a military bluff using aircraft carrier groups and large-scale exercises, Washington is forced to shift to the tactics of "economic strangulation" of the DPRK, which is combined with proposals for direct talks on the Washington-Pyongyang line. Trump's problem is that to get the necessary impact on the North Korean economy he needs China and Russia to help. Even with the assistance of the Chinese side (Trump not in vain mentioned that "China is helping"), the opportunity to negotiate through Russia radically strengthens the DPRK's resistance to American pressure.
“Russia does not recognize the nuclear status of the DPRK,” Putin said.
Vladimir Putin said "we do not recognize the nuclear status of North Korea," but noted that "everything that is happening there is counterproductive." The proliferation of nuclear weapons on the planet is not in Russia's interests, but to help Trump solve the problem that several generations of US administration have contributed to is not in Moscow's interests either, at least not until American behaviour is corrected. As Churchill said, "you can always count on the Americans to do the right thing after they have exhausted all other options."
In this sense, the current president of the United States is a typical American: he began to seek the solution to the North Korean crisis with threats, continued to demonstrate military force, explores the sphere of sanctions, and will end, most likely, with negotiations yielding an unfavourable outcome for the United States. If Trump does not resort to the obvious stupidity in the form of military intervention, sooner or later it will come down to agreeing to a so-called double freeze, that is, to a plan involving North Korea's stopping nuclear tests and missile launches in exchange for the cessation of the US-led South Korean military exercises.
Expert: The situation with the DPRK is starting to get out of hand.
This will be a de facto recognition of US diplomatic defeat, but nothing will prevent Trump from holding a press conference and declaring that the US has won the entire hand, driven the DPRK to its knees, forced Russia and China to cooperate, and that in general the United States is number one in the world. We’ve already seen the debut of this PR approach in the case of Syria, where almost all Western media and think tanks recognized the defeat of the United States, but this did not affect the official position of the Washington administration, which solemnly attributed victory to itself. Such actions by Washington should not even offend anyone; on the contrary, they should be welcomed.
Public boasting by Trump is a very low price for the surrender of American positions at key points of the planet.
Once in control of Iraq, Bremer immediately took steps to punish the Iraqis for Saddam’s sins. Together with the prewar sanctions, the harsh policies he imposed on farmers, for instance, turned vast swaths of Mesopotamia – viewed by historians as the cradle of agriculture and in turn of civilization itself, into a desert. Most of the damage to this sacred territory, once home to the Garden of Eden, will never be healed. Salination has taken its toll.
Bremer destroyed Iraqi agriculture – and also most of the Iraqi economy, almost completely, primarily under his infamous Article 81.
The Rawabet Center reports in its Arabic language edition (our adaptation):
“In terms of agriculture, before 2003, Iraq had a central seed system, the so-called National Seed Bank. It was developing a seed industry with centralized control and a good variety of all the different kinds of seeds and wheat in the world. The farmers worked at preserving, sharing and re-planting them. The intention was to have cultivar lines that dated back thousands of years, ie, from the time of the early farmers. But after 2003, by order of Bremer, the scientific research and development institutions of Iraqi seeds were destroyed completely and deliberately. Now, seed supplies cover only 5%, according to a study conducted in 2005.
“Resolution 81 is important in that it destroyed Iraq's agricultural economy, significantly impacting Iraq under color of law, thanks to the Law on Patents, Industrial Designs, Confidentiality, Information, Integrated Circuits and Crop Diversity. Article 81 states: "Iraqi farmers shall be prevented from using protected seeds and any item mentioned in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 14, prohibiting Iraqi farmers to save seeds, share with others, or replant harvested seeds.”
A US researcher, Dalia Wasfi, who visited Iraq after the debacle, came back and testified before Congress of the misery caused by US involvement there.
Rawabet Center reported on this in its English-language edition. Some excerpts (edited for clarity by NSS):
“Wasfi was referring [in comments about who benefited from Article 81] to Monsanto, a multinational company engaged in agricultural biotechnology and the undisputed world’s largest producer of seeds (regular and genetically modified). It holds 70-100% of the world market share of various crop seeds in the world.
“The company uses these seeds for one harvest season, making farmers rely on the company to provide grain each year because it was genetically modified, and its seeds cannot be replanted.
“So here lies the interest of companies such as Dow, a multinational American chemical company, and Cargill grain company which work to reproduce and deal in the seed. These are the only companies that manufacture chemicals for seeds.”
Besides the infamous Order 81, there were other orders intended to benefit US entities at the expense of the beleaguered Iraqis.
Resolution No. 39 allows for privatization of 200 formerly state-owned companies to be transferred to foreign owners, national treatment for foreign companies, tax exemption for transfer of profits and other funds. This allows US companies operating in Iraq to be sole owners of any business, to work in the business and send all proceeds to the US without having to reinvest the money locally in the service of the Iraqi economy, with no need to hire Iraqi labor or provide benefits to workers.
Resolution No. 40 transformed the state-owned banking sector to a market-driven one overnight by allowing foreign banks to enter the Iraqi market and buy up to 50% of Iraqi banking.
Resolution No. 12 suspended all customs duties and taxes on imports and additional license fees for goods entering or leaving Iraq, and all other trade restrictions applying to such goods. This led to an immediate and dramatic inflow of cheap consumer products and eliminated national industry.
Resolution No. 17: grants foreign contractors, including private security firms, full immunity from Iraqi laws. Thus if a foreign contractor caused damage to a third party, eg, killing someone or causing environmental damage, eg, by disposal of toxic chemicals, or water intoxication, the injured party cannot resort to the Iraqi legal system, as it must submit charges to US courts.
Resolution 30 prevents many industrial products and raw materials from being exported from Iraq.
So far these laws are still on the books, preventing Iraq from rising out of poverty. The Iraqi lawmakers are mysteriously prevented from cancelling them. Minister of Industry and Minerals, Mohammad Darraji, said that “hidden entities work to keep the decisions of Bremer and prevent Iraq from exporting to eliminate Iraqi industry.”
Meanwhile, America keeps playing the only game it knows, dividing the world into black vs white, ie, those who are for it and those who are against it, while Russia has discovered nuances and shared interests that can help bring adversaries together despite their differences.
An article in Al-Monitor sums up the difference between the strategies of East and West:
“…while Putin choreographs each move with a wary and calculating eye on Iran and the ever-shifting regional landscape, the United States limits its options by seeing every Iranian move as adversarial and in zero-sum terms, which only serves to frustrate Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who prefers that the United States and Iran not play out their hostility in Iraq.”
The best hope for Iraq is Russia and the Iraqis know it.
NSS had shown in our piece our piece titled “East vs West: Who are the enlightened ones?,” that the US bases its foreign policies on an ideology reflecting the radical Enlightenment school that gave rise to the bloody French Revolution and the murderous rampaging of Bonaparte that almost destroyed Europe and Russia. This ideology – like all ideologies really – far from solving problems, did nothing but create chaos. It denied and even punished traditional thinking, common sense and nature while purporting to adopt science as its basis. Human compassion was not rewarded, it was punished.
What the US did to Iraq is a perfect example of this same ideology in action today having survived the centuries intact. Only time separates Americans from receiving the same kind of abuse themselves that they tolerated in faraway places against people of a different culture, language and religion. Where was the outrage of pro-life groups? Where were the mass marches on Washington? Clearly Christian love and compassion only extended from sea to shining sea.
Recently Rex Tillerson told the Iraqi government that the PMF (Popular Mobilization Force) should “go home” now that IS is under control in the country.
The irony of this was not lost on those who know the history of Iraq and of the PMF. Firstly, in 2015 the US had swung into Iraq to launch combat light against ISIS, allowing the terrorists to take over much of the country before taking this decision, allowing the terrorists to mingle with the civilian population and indirectly causing countless subsequent civilian deaths in the effort to extricate them. When it was Trump’s turn, he bombed Mosul almost into total oblivion, inspiring an article titled Trump's anti-ISIS war keeps killing huge numbers of civilians. Trump then insensitively claimed he had “liberated” the city. PM Al-Badi took the precaution to demand no US boots on the ground. Tillerson therefore had no authority to issue orders there. The pretext for Tillerson’s brash statement was that the PMF is supposedly Iran-backed. Now it can be assumed that Iran has clout in the PMF, as it does everywhere in the Shiite world and in Palestine, but this – originally volunteer – force is largely an eclectic group comprising Iraqi Sunnis, Shiites, Yazidis and Christians, among others. It is not an Iranian force, at variance with Neocon propaganda.
The point is, the US Establishment has created another of its famous myths designed for the express purpose of shoving another war down the public throat. This time the myth is supercharged by the fact that Donald Trump himself insists, absurdly, that Iran – which we know played a decisive role in defeating ISIS in both Syria and Iraq – is the “biggest state sponsor of terror” (despite the fact that all terrorist entities operating, for example, in Europe, are Sunni Wahhabists while Iran is Shiite-dominated) and that Trump enjoys the questionable reputation of being the president who is anti-Establishment and wants to “drain the swamp.”
The thing is, much of Trump’s support was also from Americans who were sick and tired of war, and yet his anti-Iran rhetoric sounds a lot like war mongering. Further, his chumminess with the Saudi dictators looks like the same old kowtowing to these supporters of Al-Qaeda and other terrorists that we have come to expect from US presidents. Yet, while nothing substantive has changed under Trump, we are assured that Trump has nothing to do with any of this warlike behavior. “They” have “got something on him” and “his hands are tied.” But that is not far from what we used to hear about GW Bush – until the disastrous results of the Afghan and Iraqi wars became too apparent to hide the stench any longer.
Speaking of Iraqi history, we need to keep in mind that for several decades now, it’s been dominated by Washington, DC, something that was not lost on the Iraqis.
The shapers of US war policies (under color of “fighting terror”) have firmly established a reputation of being heartless, having no reverence for life, for history and antiquity, for the intricacies of foreign cultures and traditions, for beauty and the achievements of the peoples whose homes it invades, and for their welfare. One of the first mishaps after the US “won” the Iraq war was the large-scale sack of a famous Baghdad museum, where priceless art treasures were lost forever. No effort was made the invaders to stop, apprehend or deter the authors of this senseless ransacking. Washington’s obtuse callousness was jolting.
However, none of this should come as a surprise, as recent leaked government documents show that the US and the Saudis were, as has long been expected, behind the terror that the US is now “fighting” in Iraq and Syria. Here are 3 examples of official statements and leaked official documents illustrating this:
A leaked NSA memo showing US-Saudi complicity with and prior knowledge of a terror attack on Damascus international airport.
Diplomatic flight records leaked to a Bulgarian reporter reveal arms shipments to terrorists from the US and Gulf countries.
The testimony of an ex Qatari prime minister indicates that the Saudis, Turkey and the US colluded to fund Al-Qaeda and destroy Syria.
The skullduggery had already started when the US supported Saddam Hussein in the war against Iran back in the early 80s, in the first attempt to avenge the US for the seizure of the Tehran US embassy and staff during the Islamic Revolution. One might say the US was justified in seeking revenge. But one would be forgetting the CIA’s obtuse meddling that led to the ouster of popular president Mosaddeq in 1954 and subsequent US backing of the unpopular Shah, whose repressive policies led to the brutal murder of many anti-regime protesters.
This US-backed invasion of Iran by Iraq and ensuing 8 years of war led to a debilitation of the Iraqi economy, which never recovered and was further exacerbated by the US occupation starting in 2003 at the end of the US-Iraq war.
At this point Bush appointed Paul Bremer to head the Coalition Provisional Authority. Estimated civilian war casualties of at least 200,000 civilians were small change for Washington policy makers. They dreamed of a country populated by the living dead, and Bremer was their go-to man.
Now whenever older people think of how America treats defeated nations, many of them immediately think of the leniency and generosity of US economic policy toward Germany and Japan after WW II. The Marshall Plan awarded postwar Germany the wherewithal not only to pick itself up but also to quickly become a booming economy, which, as a result, is now the no. 1 economy in Europe and the no. 2 exporter in the world after China. Japan recovered more slowly with US assistance but eventually became a leading powerhouse in Asia.
Those days of US largesse toward defeated enemies are most definitely over. Ironically, the US had shown its past leniency to countries that had in fact attacked US interests and allies. Ironically, now that the US has been attacking countries unprovoked, its generosity is gone, replaced by an irrational meanness that looks a lot like hate, and not just toward the leaders who refused to bow before the Washington and Wall Street elite – for their sin in each case was to run their economies and their public policies without consulting with Big Brother in Washington – but toward the hapless little people who by and large had nothing to do with the waywardness of their leaders vis-à-vis the US. This vengefulness is the MO of the people we have come to identify as Neoconservatives.