Trump Has Murdered Over 40,000 Venezuelans with Sanctions
Apr 25, 2019
A new study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) has found that tens of thousands of Venezuelans have died as a direct result of Trump administration sanctions put into effect in August 2017, and that tens of thousands more are expected to die as a result of additional sanctions put into place in January of this year.
Some noteworthy points:
The sanctions are “depriving Venezuelans of lifesaving medicines, medical equipment, food, and other essential imports.”
The sanctions “reduced the public’s caloric intake, increased disease and mortality (for both adults and infants), and displaced millions of Venezuelans who fled the country as a result of the worsening economic depression and hyperinflation.”
The sanctions “have inflicted, and continue to inflict, very serious harm to human life and health, including an estimated more than 40,000 deaths from 2017–2018.”
That means 2019 deaths haven’t been added to this estimate. The year’s nearly half over, and more aggressive sanctions went into effect this past January.
Because of the sanctions, “some 22,000 doctors — about one third of the total — have left the country.”
“The loss of so many billions of dollars of foreign exchange and government revenues was very likely the main shock that pushed the economy from its high inflation, when the August 2017 sanctions were implemented, into the hyperinflation that followed.”
The massive number of already highly at-risk Venezuelans hurting from the 2017 sanctions “virtually guarantee that the current sanctions, which are much more severe than those implemented before this year, are a death sentence for tens of thousands of Venezuelans. This is especially true if the projected 67 percent drop in oil revenue materializes in 2019.”
“The United Nations finds that the groups most vulnerable to the accelerating crisis include children and adolescents (including many who can no longer attend school); people who are in poverty or extreme poverty; pregnant and nursing women; older persons; indigenous people; people in need of protection; women and adolescent girls at risk; people with disabilities; and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex.”
The sanctions “would fit the definition of collective punishment of the civilian population as described in both the Geneva and Hague international conventions, to which the US is a signatory.”
To be clear, this unforgivable atrocity rests predominantly on the shoulders of the Trump administration. It is true that Venezuela has had deep economic troubles for years due to declining oil prices and other issues, and it is true that the sanctions in question follow a longstanding agenda of previous administrations and were built on the foundation of an Obama policy declaring the Venezuelan government an “extraordinary threat to national security”. But the report is clear in its assessment that what took the nation’s economy from a state of high inflation to hyperinflation was the August 2017 sanctions, and that’s what’s been causing these high numbers of deaths which will get even worse due to the January 2019 sanctions.
To put this in perspective for Trump supporters, 40,000 is also the number of people said to have died as a result of the disastrous Obama/Clinton interventionism in Libya. And, again, that number only covers 2017 and 2018, and death tolls are predicted to accelerate this year.
This would be the same President Trump, by the way, who recently vetoed a congressional bill to end the role of the United States in facilitating Saudi Arabia’s war crimes in Yemen. Research from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project indicates that up to 80,000 people had been killed in this war as of the end of last year. This number applies to deaths by military violence only, not to the other untold tens of thousands who have died of starvation and cholera as a result of Saudi Arabia’s inhuman blockades on imports and its deliberate targeting of farms, fishing boats, marketplaces, food storage sites and cholera treatment centers with airstrikes. Just for children under the age of five, the death toll due to starvation alone is believed to be over 85,000.
Is America great yet?
Sanctions are the only form of warfare where it’s considered perfectly acceptable and legitimate to deliberately target a nation’s civilian population with lethal force. The human corpses it creates are just as dead as the human corpses created by overt military violence, but because this form of violence happens in slow motion it’s not treated like the same kind of horrific assault as if Trump had ordered the carpet bombing of Caracas. The distinction makes no difference to the dead and no difference to their loved ones, but it makes all the difference in the world when it comes to manufacturing public consent for murderous acts of interventionism.
The way sanctions are discussed by the western political/media class, they can even get away with blaming the deaths on the government being targeted. They’ll say things like, “Maduro is starving his people by not stepping down.” That tactic would never work with other forms of lethal force. Imagine if Trump deployed a barrage of Tomahawk missiles onto the most impoverished parts of a densely populated city in Venezuela, then hearing anyone say “Well Maduro actually exploded those people, because he wouldn’t do what we told him to do.” It doesn’t work. Sanctions are a slower and more gruelling weapon of war than bombs and missiles, but they’re vastly superior when it comes to the matter of keeping the public asleep through depraved acts of mass slaughter. Which is why everyone’s yammering about Joe Biden’s presidential campaign announcement right now instead of talking about this new CEPR report.
To this day I still run into defenders of Trump’s Venezuela interventionism (easily the most obnoxious and intellectually dishonest political group I’ve ever encountered, for the record) who insist that the sanctions are laser-targeted only at Venezuela’s elites, having no impact on the suffering of the Venezuelan people. This is exactly as stupid as believing that American bombs only kill bad guys. Attacking an economy hurts the people who depend on that economy to feed themselves and their children. Sanctions are an act of war which kill civilians just as dead as any other, and this latest report helps make that a stark and undeniable reality for us all.
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New Silk Strategies has posted a Spanish-language translation of this article at Quora:
This question reflects one of the many narratives used by the US Establishment and its satellites in the Western world to convince otherwise innocent and decent citizens that the US coalition and NATO must step in and slaughter thousands more civilians to protect them from leaders who refuse to accept “our” political and economic system.
First it is important to consider that there is nothing even remotely resembling a democracy in the US. I have made a list of the members of a cabal that tightly controls the US. Here it is at Quora:
So if the person asking this question is referring to “democracy” as the political system that other countries do not emulate, then this is not a relevant question because the state doing the accusing is not a real democracy.
Let me remind the reader that the media virtually control the minds of the US populace and the citizens of its satellite states. The situation is reaching critical mass these days with the unlawful arrest of Julian Assange, who has provided the world with important news about the misdeeds of people in positions of power and who is admired and defended by people everywhere, including Trump supporters (although Trump was one of the first to call for his illegal extradition – illegal because he was not charged with a crime). I would also remind you that the social media are now censoring posts and barring users who express ideas that the operators and owners of these media do not agree with. I also note that Congress is trying to pass a law that would cut into Americans’ First Amendment free speech by prohibiting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to organize, for example, a boycott of products made in illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine. This is perhaps the most egregious example of law turned on its head because in essence it not only protects illegality but in fact, absurdly, makes it illegal to oppose illegality. I explained on Quora why the US gives the country in question a pass: https://www.quora.com/Why-does-the-United-states-hold-unwavering-support-for-Israel-and-not-Palestine/answer/Vince-Dhimos
As you can see from that answer, the offending country is practicing atrocities against the Palestinians and denying them basic rights. This country, which calls itself “the only democracy in the Middle East,” is not a democracy, and is wholeheartedly supported in its crimes by another country that falsely calls itself a democracy and pretends to be exporting democracy when in fact it is only punishing countries that refuse to bow to its wishes by slaughtering hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, absurdly claiming to save them from imagined despots.
Let’s look at some of the states that the US – ie, both politicians and msm – claim are non-democratic. First let us take North Korea. In this one case, the US is right. North Korea is not in any way democratic. Elections are not held there.
How about Syria? The US is flat out lying when it calls Assad a dictator. Assad was democratically elected and is probably more popular than any Western leader. So that is false. They also call his government a regime, another suggestion that it is a dictatorship. Not true.
Pretty much the same applies to Venezuela, which is accused of being a dictatorship, despite the fact that it was supervised by international observers, some of whom recently wrote a letter attesting to the fairness of the election, as shown here: https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/13899
How about Saddam Hussein, whom the US overthrew with military means that killed over 100,000 mostly civilians? Saddam did indeed seize power following a coup that saw the execution of the then dictator Abd al-Karim Qasim – who had also seized power through a coup against the Libyan king. Saddam did not become president but served as the president al-Bakr’s deputy, during which time he built up the infrastructure and instituted social programs that made Iraq prosperous.
Quote from https://www.biography.com/dictator/saddam-hussein:
“During al-Bakr’s presidency, Saddam proved himself to be an effective and progressive politician, albeit a decidedly ruthless one. He did much to modernize Iraq's infrastructure, industry, and health-care system, and raised social services, education, and farming subsidies to levels unparalleled in other Arab countries in the region.”
Saddam then held elections in 1995, but the results were preposterous, giving Saddam 96.96% of the vote, clearly a fraud.
So yes, Saddam was not democratically elected and, as in the US, the elites, not the people, held the reins of power.
Libya was also ruled by Gadaffi, who had seized power with the overthrow of the Libyan kingdom.
As for the economics of these states, Assad presides over a capitalist economy, which was rather prosperous until the US and its allied terrorists attacked illegally and without invitation to support Islamic radicals, including fighters from over 80 countries. Now the US has a base at Deir Ezzor, the most oil-rich area. The ideas is to seize the oil belonging to the Syrian people in an attempt to plunge them into poverty and poor health, thanks also to the illegal and criminal US sanctions. The idea is to bring them “democracy.”
Saddam Hussein ruled over an economy in which the oil industry was state-controlled and very well run, making the country the most prosperous in the region. The US was not happy because it lost its economic interests in Iraqi oil. However, there was an efficient health care system that provided health care to all citizens – unlike the US, where health care is extravagantly priced and private, and if you can’t afford it, well, you are out of luck. It’s called “freedom.”
And how about Saudi Arabia? Let’s see. When was the last election there? Yes, that was sarcasm. The US media and politicians (at least before the Kashoggi affair) almost never call this state a “dictatorship,” calling it a kingdom. Yet it is the biggest state supporter of terror (even though the US has falsely assigned that title to Iran, which is a democracy) and is responsible for financing, arming and transporting ISIS and Al-Qaeda to Iraq and Syria.
Do you get the impression the US is constantly pulling the wool over our eyes?
From that standpoint, it would be appropriate to call the US a deceptocracy, a state ruled by deceit.
After years covering the "main battlefield in World War III," Narwani says everything you think you know is wrong
By Patrick Lawrence
April 22, 2019 - When the war in Syria was recently declared decisively over, there were few correspondents or witnesses to turn to for a credible look at exactly what happened during eight years of conflict. The questions were many, but I could count on one hand those worth putting them to. Among these was Sharmine Narwani, whose work I have long counted distinctly thorough and honest amid coverage that — in her view as well as mine — hit a new low by way of collapsed professional standards and abandoned ethics. Narwani’s pieces, written for a variety of publications, consistently reflect her hard work on the ground — work nearly no one else did. She is eyes wide open and beholden to no national interest or media slant.
Narwani brings impressive credentials to the craft. After earning a masters in journalism from Columbia, she was for four years (2010–14) a senior associate at St. Antony's College, Oxford. It was during those years that she began to make her mark covering the Middle East from her bureau-of-one in Beirut. Her accounts of the war as it truly unfolded have opened many eyes over the years, mine included.
Having witnessed the Syrian war from start to finish, she now casts it in a usefully broad context. “The Syrian conflict constitutes the main battlefield in a kind of World War III,” she said during our lengthy exchange. “The world wars were, in essence, great-power wars, after which the global order reshuffled a bit and new global institutions were established.” This, in outline, is what Narwani sees out in front of us, now that the Western powers’ latest “regime change” operation has failed.
Narwani and I conducted our exchange via email, Skype and WhatsApp over a period of several weeks in late March and early April. In this, the first of two parts, Narwani dissects the role of various constituencies — radical jihadists and the nations that backed them, the Western press, the NGOs — in prolonging a war that, in her view, could have ended far sooner than it did. I have edited the transcript solely for length. Part 2 will follow. You returned from Syria just last week — this after going in several times last year. The intervening months were important, given the war has just ended. What have you been seeing on the ground?
My trips last year took place in May and June, in the weeks before the battle for the south of Syria began. I visited Daraa, Suweida and Quneitra, the three southern governorates most critical to the upcoming battle. It was fascinating. It dispelled a number of myths about the conflict for me. One of these was the discovery that al–Qaida was smack in the middle of the fight in Daraa, indistinguishable from Western-supported militant groups in all the main theaters. Another shocker was when I interviewed former al–Nusra and FSA [Free Syrian Army] fighters near the Lebanese border: They told me their salaries had been paid by the Israelis for the entire year before they surrendered, around $200,000 per month from Israel to militants in the town of Beit Jinn alone.
The southern battle was very swift, and since then all focus has moved to the north — to Idlib, where the most extreme militants have amassed in their final stronghold, and in the northeast, where U.S. troops have begun a slow withdrawal, without having yet ceded those territories back to the Syrian state…. Last week, I visited Idlib to see what I could glean about the timing of the upcoming battle, but nothing much has changed. There has to be a political decision first; some hope this will come after Russia, Iran and Turkey meet in late April. Idlib is different from Daraa because the militancy there is probably around 80 percent al–Qaida, and the rest, its allies. But Turkey and the Western powers — including the U.S. — continue to protect it for the moment.
What is the latest you have on reconstruction efforts, plans for a new constitution, and a political settlement? Russia, Iran and Turkey are said to be trying to establish a constitutional mechanism of some kind at the U.N. Russia and Turkey have summited with Germany and France on reconstruction plans — not that we’ve seen a word about it in the American press. Where is all this headed, in your estimation?
We need to put what is commonly called the Syrian “political process” into perspective. Syria, Russia and Iran won. Turkey is crippled by its Syria losses and is desperately seeking a new geopolitical equilibrium. France and Germany are very worried about more refugees — and extremists — flooding their borders, and they are willing to break with the U.S.’ goals in Syria over this issue.
In short, the “political process” is whatever Syria, Russia and Iran want it to be. Their meetings in Astana [the Kazakh capital, where a series of peace talks have taken place] demilitarized the hotspots in Syria and placed them back under government control. And their meetings in Sochi [the Russian resort city] managed to get Syrians of all walks together, in a room talking. So these three countries will figure out the constitutional process. Just expect it to be mostly under the victor’s terms. Major concessions to Western interests — in exchange for reconstruction funds — will be unlikely because the whole Middle East now knows the U.S. doesn’t stick to its agreements. Syria isn’t betting on Western funds anyway, contrary to what media reports suggest.
I predict that the endgame will take Syria back to where it was in 2011, right after Assad passed unprecedented reforms that the international community decided to ignore.
That’s a very interesting observation. In your writing, you previously suggested that the 2016 peace talks in Geneva would lead to the same thing. Very few people in the West know that Assad proposed numerous reforms in response to the initial unrest in 2011. Some of them are strikingly liberal by any standard. Please tell us about these, and why you think Assad’s 2011 proposals are where things will finish up now.
When the Syrian government introduced reforms in 2011 and 2012, the only thing we ever really heard about them was “it’s too late” and “they’re window-dressing.” But these reforms were far-reaching and significant. So much carnage could have been avoided had they been given the time and space to take hold.
Starting in 2011, Assad issued decrees suspending almost five decades of emergency law that prohibited public gatherings. This was a big deal, as other Arab leaders were doing the opposite in response to their “uprisings.” Other decrees included the establishment of a multi-party political system, term limits for the presidency, the suspension of state security courts, prisoner releases, amnesty agreements, decentralizing down to local authorities, sacking controversial political figures, introducing new media laws that prohibited the arrest of journalists and provided for more freedom of expression, investment in infrastructure, housing, pension funds, establishing direct dialogue between populations and governing authorities, setting up a committee to dialogue with the opposition — many of whom turned down the offer.
You could feel these reforms unfolding in Damascus by early 2012. I would drive into the city from Beirut, call up opposition figures on their mobile phones, go to their homes, talk to regular folks about politics. I could even access Twitter and Facebook in Syria — platforms that had been banned for years.
What was the reaction among Syrians? Mixed, I gather. You’ve written that some Syrian dissidents were also critical of these reforms.
Many people were skeptical about reforms initially. The narratives against the Syrian state were very pervasive, and folks were confused with all the competing information. Most domestic opposition figures were certain that Assad was going to be gone within a few weeks, so that impacted their readiness to dialogue with his government or support reforms publicly. At the same time, these figures — many of whom had languished in Syrian prisons for years — rejected foreign intervention, the imposition of sanctions, and the militarization of the conflict. In early 2012, the dissidents I met mostly scoffed at reforms, but when massive bombs tore apart Damascus that summer, I saw a marked shift in their positions.
In terms of the general population, I think sentiments were split — not so much on the reforms themselves, but on whether they would actually be implemented. One way to gauge public support would be to look at how many Syrians turned out for the constitutional referendum. Many boycotted it, but the participation rate was just under 60 percent, so I would argue that a modest majority of Syrians were willing to put their trust in the reforms.
What is your assessment of the U.S. plan to withdraw from Syria? I think you suggested in one piece you wrote some time ago that the U.S. effectively ceded Syria to Russia as far back as the first Russian air sorties in September 2015.
Yes, in September 2015 the U.S. lost the conflict to Russia and its allies. The reason is very simple. The Russian intervention provided the Syrian army and its ground allies with the necessary cover to do their jobs effectively. He who dominates the air and the ground wins the war.
To be fair, it also seemed highly unlikely that Obama was prepared to turn this into a full-on U.S. air war. He was happy to do “regime change” in that passive-aggressive way Democrats do it: all “humanitarian intervention” and marketing spin and tragic soundbites. But the Nobel Peace Prize winner was not going to put U.S.–piloted planes in Russian-dominated airspace over Syria in any significant way — not after Iraq and Afghanistan, certainly, and not after the Russians and Chinese blocked Obama’s U.N. Security Council route to war by vetoing all resolutions that might legitimize intervention.
To what extent do you think Syria changed the U.S. position in the Middle East as a whole? It seems as if we are coming out of an important passage in the long story of American involvement in the region.
The U.S. was already exiting the Middle East before the so-called “Arab uprisings” kicked off. Whoever in the U.S. national security apparatus made the decision to stick around and redirect these uprisings against regional adversaries made a colossal mistake. I want to write about this one day because it’s important. I believe the Syrian conflict constitutes the main battlefield in a kind of World War III. The world wars were, in essence, great-power wars, after which the global order reshuffled a bit and new global institutions were established.
Look around you now. We have had a reshuffle in the balance of power in recent years, with Russia, China, Iran in ascendance and Europe and North America in decline. That’s not to say that Washington, London or Paris don’t have levers left to pull: They do. But it is on the back of the Syrian conflict that a great-power battle was fought, and in its wake, new international institutions for finance, defense and policymaking have been born or transformed.
I’m not just talking about the strengthening of the BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa], the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Eurasian Union, etc. I mean the world’s networks are shifting hands, too. What will happen to Western-controlled shipping routes now that Asia has started to build faster, cheaper land routes? Will the SWIFT [bank messaging] system survive when an alternative is agreed upon to bypass U.S. sanctions everywhere? There are so many examples of these shifts. It’s not to say that they are due to events in Syria, but rather that Syria triggered the great-power battle that unleashed the potential of this new order much more quickly and efficiently.
Keep in mind that World War III was never going to be like the other two conventionally fought wars…. It was always going to be an irregular war that would escalate on multiple fronts — not just regime change events, but financial pressures, sanctions, propaganda, political subversion activities, destabilization, increased terrorism, proxy fights and so on. The battle for global hegemony really began to unfold over Syria, though, when the Russians, Iranians and Chinese decided to draw a line and put up a fight. The world changed after that.
As you’ve just suggested, Syria has long seemed to be a different kind of war, a new kind — a war fought with images, information and disinformation, true and false portrayals of events, people, organizations, and so on. Based on what you’ve written over many years — and from inside Syria, on the ground — I would think you agree with this.
In some ways, Syria wasn’t that different. All modern Western wars have been fought with manipulated imagery and disinformation. We call it propaganda and accuse the Nazis and Soviets of doing it, but the U.S. does it better than anyone. It’s literally the main tool in America's military kit: Otherwise, Americans would never accept the never-ending wars. There used to be laws forbidding the U.S. government from propagandizing the American people. The Obama administration undid many of those legal barriers. If you ever have a chance to read the U.S. Special Forces’ Unconventional Warfare manual, you will see how fundamental propaganda is to U.S. efforts to maintain hegemony. Everything starts and ends with “scene-setting” and “swaying perceptions” to prepare a population to support invasion, occupation, drone wars, “humanitarian interventions,” rebellion, regime change.
It was no different in Syria. The U.S. government imposed key narratives from day one — that Assad was indiscriminately killing civilians in a popular, peaceful revolution. Was this true? Not particularly. Eighty-eight soldiers were killed across Syria in the first month of protests. You never heard that in the Western media. That information would have altered your perception of the conflict, wouldn’t it?
The Syrian opposition used to burn tires on the tops of buildings to simulate shelling for TV cameras. Did you see that footage here? The only reason Syria seems like a “different kind of war” is because we had Twitter and Facebook and alternative media punching holes in Washington’s storyline every day — and because Syrians had the audacity to resist for eight years. You can’t keep up an act for eight years. People catch on.
Let’s focus on a few topics that you’ve argued very effectively were key factors in prolonging and, as you say, “weaponizing” the conflict. The first of these is the question of casualty counts — “the casualty count circus,” I think you called it in one of your pieces. Can you summarize what you found and how you came to be so at odds with mainstream reporting?
I first investigated the Syrian death toll 10 months into the conflict. In that month, January 2012, the U.N.’s figure for casualties in Syria was around 5,000 dead. The U.N.’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria issued its first report two months later, in March, stating that 2,569 Syrian security forces had been killed in the first year. Right there we know that half of the dead were neither civilians nor with the opposition. Half of the Syrian dead were security forces, which also informed us that the opposition was, in fact, armed, organized, and very, very lethal.
How about the other half of the death toll — the remaining 2,431 casualties? I found that they were a mixture of pro-government civilians, pro-opposition civilians, and opposition gunmen in civilian clothing. The “rebels” were not wearing military gear, so they were indistinguishable from civilians. Mainstream media just didn’t want to know this obvious stuff. They asked no questions, they investigated nothing.
A year later, one of the main opposition casualty counters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which the Western media quote all the time, told me it was hard to differentiate rebels from civilians because “everybody hides it.” By then, in year two, the Syrian death toll had increased tenfold and the U.N. released a casualty analysis that included the information that 92.5 percent of the dead were male. That is not a death toll representative of a “civilian population.”
The point is, why wasn’t there a single other journalist out there asking the question, “Who is killing and who is dying?” If they had asked that elementary question, the way we view this conflict would have been very, very different. There was, at the very least, parity in the killing, which also means the Syrian government’s response to opponents was not at all disproportionate.
Another area of interest is the question of when and how the opposition — supposedly unarmed at the start — came to be armed. The question of proportionate responses to violence comes into this, as you’ve just suggested.
Elements of the opposition were armed from the very start of the conflict. We have visual and anecdotal evidence of weapons caches, armed gunmen infiltrating the Lebanese border, and “foreign” gunmen appearing in Daraa, the city [in southern Syria] where protests first manifested. In the early days, it was hard to prove this because efforts were made to hide evidence that the opposition had weapons — and anyone claiming so was instantly marginalized. But then the Arab League (which had suspended Syria and was therefore viewed as an impartial body) sent in an observer team that produced a stunning report — one you did not read about in the Western press. The observer mission detailed the opposition’s bombings and terrorism and attacks on infrastructure and civilians.
I also know the opposition was armed from the start [March 2011] because of my own investigation and discovery that 88 Syrian soldiers were ambushed and killed across Syria in the first month of the conflict…. I have their names, ages, ranks, birthplaces — everything. Then in June 2011, over 100 Syrian soldiers were murdered in Jisr Shughour, in Idlib Province, many with their heads cut off, and nobody could dispute this anymore. Yet we continued to hear “the opposition is unarmed and peaceful” in the media for a good long while.
But you asked about proportionality, and to that I would simply ask: What if there were armed men in Washington who killed a few cops in the last week of December? In January, these unknown shooters began a campaign of ambushing American servicemen coming and going from their bases in Fairfax, Newport News, Arlington, killing 88 in total. Then, in March, over 100 U.S. soldiers are killed in a single day, half with their heads cut off. What is a “proportionate” response for you…? That answer about proportionality will be different for different people, I can assure you.
The next question is obvious. Who armed the opposition? Are we able to say?
We know today the U.S., U.K., France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Turkey are the main countries that armed, trained, financed and equipped the militants, and that they found intricate ways to avoid detection, especially at the beginning. Weapons came into Syria from all five border countries at different parts of this conflict — Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Israel — but I would say the most weapons probably arrived via Turkey, arms transfers that were very much coordinated with its NATO partners.
When, why, and how did groups such as al–Nusra become involved? What were or are their relations with the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian Democratic Forces?
The Nusra Front is the Syrian franchise of al–Qaida. Bombings in Damascus in December 2011 and January 2012 were the first actions publicly attributed to al–Qaida, and these were shortly followed by a viral video of AQ chief Ayman al–Zawahiri urging fellow jihadists to flood into the Syrian theater. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the declassified 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document on AQ? This paper shows that the U.S. and its allies had identified AQ as the strongest, most capable fighting force in Syria against the Assad government, that these extremists had intent to create a “Salafist principality” on the Syrian–Iraqi border, and that the U.S. and its allies basically supported this. Many tried to play down this document, but then Obama sacked Michael Flynn as head of the DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency], and Flynn came out and said the document was correct, that the U.S. had “willfully” supported this whole mess.
The FSA was a shitshow from the start — no central authority, no chain of command, no cohesion, etc. “FSA” became the whitewashed moniker for any militant fighting the Syrian army. Many FSA fighters joined AQ and ISIS during this conflict. The FSA often gave or sold its U.S.–provided weapons to al–Qaida — and the Pentagon knew about this all along. When I asked a CENTCOM [U.S. Central Command] spokesman in 2015 why so many U.S. weapons supplied to their trainee fighters were showing up in al–Qaida’s hands, he actually said: “We don’t ‘command and control’ these forces. We just ‘train and equip’ them.”
Here’s the bottom line. During my trip to Daraa last year, just before the battle to oust militants from Syria’s south, I discovered that al–Qaida was in every major strategic area alongside the 54 Western-backed militant factions preparing to fight the Syrian army. If you looked at any U.S. think tank map before the big battle for the south, you would have seen three colors: red for the Syrian army, green for the “rebels,” and black for ISIS. So where was al–Qaeda? They were smack right alongside the green “rebels.” That’s how indistinguishable AQ has been from U.S.–backed forces in this conflict.
You made an effort at one point to get the State Department to name even a single “moderate rebel” group. They couldn’t or wouldn’t, as you reported it. Please tell us about that episode.
I used to ask the State Department to name the so-called “moderate rebels” they supported in the Syrian conflict. They always refused to answer, claiming that info could compromise the security of rebel groups.
Here’s my takeaway: The reason the U.S. won’t name the militant groups they funded and armed is because the moment they do, we will find atrocity videos and snuff films made by that group. The liability issues are huge. But mostly the issue is that the U.S. basically armed extremist groups in the Syrian conflict, and they don’t need the public knowing who these people are.
What degree of support for the Assad government did you find? And from which sectors of the Syrian population?
First of all, let me say that Syria is not Tunisia or Egypt — those populations had pretty much zero connection to their leaders, not on the domestic front, not in terms of worldview. The Syrian state is not wealthy, yet it provided basic services, plus education, health care, food staples for its population. And it very much shared a worldview with its population — anti-imperialist, anti–Zionist, resistance against interventionist powers, independence, etc.
In a nutshell, Assad always maintained support from some very key constituencies. These are the major urban hubs of Aleppo and Damascus, the business class and elites, the armed forces (very significant), the minority groups (Alawites, Christians, Druze, Shia, etc.), and the secular Sunnis. The [governing] Baath Party has around 3 million members, and they’re mostly Sunni. That’s a big chunk of core support right there. And then, as living conditions deteriorated and political violence escalated, many opponents fled to government-controlled areas and gave up on the fight.
Let’s stay with Syria a little longer before dilating the lens. There were two factors in the war that played decisive roles in constructing and maintaining the narrative, as you say. At a certain point they intersected, but let’s take them one at a time.
First, please describe your impressions of how the Western media performed. You’ve called them “ridiculously sycophantic” in one of your pieces. I’d like to hear from you on this. Were they, for example, purposely complicit in “perception management,” as they say, or simply dupes? Maybe professional standards have just plain collapsed since my years in the field.
Mainstream Western media were absolutely complicit in disseminating disinformation about the Syrian conflict to serve the political agendas of their respective governments…. We are living through an era of full-on information warfare, and what is interesting is that populations recognize this at some gut level, because people are turning off their media and searching for alternative sources of information.
Journalists were not dupes in this conflict. Western journalists covering Syria were, for the most part, believers in the liberal order, U.S. exceptionalism, interventionism — these people are hiredbecause they think that way. They quote their governments’ statements unquestioningly, despite the lies of Iraq, Libya, Vietnam, etc. They are fundamentally uninterested in the legalities of warfare — the U.S. and U.K. bombardment of Syria, the establishment of military bases there, the funding and arming of terrorist groups — all of it illegal under international law.
A number of Western journalists who dared to probe deeper were sacked, silenced or smeared. I know a couple of journalists who lost their jobs. The Huffington Post stopped publishing my work once I started reporting from inside Syria — and then a year or so later, they quietly removed my entire archive from their site. Other mainstream journalists who questioned the Syria narratives were badly smeared — by their colleagues, quite shockingly — which made more than a few of them back down, write less, tweet differently. The intimidation tactics by our peers have been relentless in the coverage of Syria.
In short, Western media helped to stage and grow this conflict. I no longer think journalists should be treated with a special kind of immunity when they get a story this wrong, repeatedly, and people die in the process. I prefer to call them “media combatants,” and I think that is a fair and accurate description of the part they play in wars today.
Now let’s go to the Western NGOs — Human Rights Watch and the like — or the Syrian Observatory, for that matter. What was their role? Was it principled, as most Westerners assume? They were primary sources for the Western press while, as Patrick Cockburn pointed out [in The London Review of Books], they were staffed by anti–Assad activists. Not exactly “reliable sources,” I’d say.
It’s actually quite interesting the role NGOs played in the spinning of this conflict. You’re right, they were entirely one-sided and pro-opposition. They would put out statements and reports based on the loosest definition of sourcing I’ve ever seen, their Western journalist pals would then bullhorn this rubbish across the world media, and then governments would react in outrage and cite the NGO and press reports as fact.
Most of their interviews of Syrians on the ground were coordinated by liaisons connected with the militant opposition — many were conducted via Skype. How do you know who you’re speaking to? How do you know if they’re telling the truth? Who introduced you to this “source?” Do they have a motive? NGOs — local and international — were the source of most of the information we learned about chemical weapons attacks, cluster munitions, massacres, civilian casualties of air attacks, etc.
The most ubiquitous of these is, of course, the Western-funded White Helmets “rescue team,” who worked only in areas with the most extreme militant groups and played witness to so many of the alleged chemical attacks in Syria. But troll Facebook for a while and you will find photos of dozens of these White Helmets guys flaunting weapons and posing next to al–Qaida and ISIS fighters. Despite this kind of evidence from their own pages and websites, media consistently used this group as a source, and still do.
In this line, you wrote a piece following the alleged gas attack in Eastern Ghouta — in the spring of last year, I think — that was especially fine. I was pleased to cite it at length in one of my Salon columns. You actually found and photographed a jihadist-held farmhouse filled with U.S.–supplied chemical weapons equipment. Nobody else had it.
Can you talk about that experience? How, generally, do you manage to get so much closer to the ground than other correspondents, especially the Beirut-dwelling Westerners? And as that story demonstrates, closer to the truth.
I have no particular advantage over other foreign journalists traveling to Syria. I have to wait just as long to receive a visa, and each visit is limited to four days, though that can be extended in-country with permission from the Ministry of Information.
When I was in Damascus last March, the ministry put out a call to reporters about a laboratory they’d discovered the day before while liberating some Ghouta farmlands…. It turns out the facility was not that secure and we had to duck and weave through some very bumpy fields on foot, with mortars and gunfire going off just meters away. I’m not a war reporter and I have no training whatsoever in that very specialized, madman’s niche, so it wasn’t pleasant in the least. The facility itself was a laboratory of sorts run by a militant, Saudi-backed faction called Jaysh al–Islam. It was clear that something was being produced there that had military applications, but since the lab had only just been discovered, it wasn’t yet clear what that was.
I never wrote that it was a chemical weapons lab, by the way. You could see in the photos the level of sophistication of the equipment, the large compression units, the pipes going from the laboratory upstairs to the heavier devices below. The one thing I did conclude from this discovery is that Syrian militants clearly had the means to access sanctioned, foreign — even American — equipment with dual-use technologies, that they were able to create production lines in the middle of war zones, that they were able to procure toxic substances. Chlorine was found in rows of containers at the front of the facility. Before this, the narrative was that the “rebels” couldn’t possibly be responsible for chemical weapons attacks because they couldn’t make or buy them. This facility showed they could make them….
Interesting. Your account prompts another question. I take it you were led to the site by Syrian officials. Were you able to conclude with confidence it wasn’t a put-up job on the government’s part?
Yes, two other media crews — TV outlets — and I were taken to the location by Syrian soldiers, with permission from the defense ministry. There are several things that made me fairly confident I wasn’t walking into a set-up. The facility had been shelled fairly extensively — there was debris and dust covering most of the equipment, so this stuff wasn’t “brought in” the day before for staging. There was so much gunfire and shelling still going on in the area that I still can’t believe the army had the gall to call this “liberated land.” With war still raging mere meters away, one could not reasonably believe the Syrian army moved in equipment for staging, carried it across the furrowed fields to this lab, then dusted it just-so with realistic looking debris from mortar hits.
Finally, the militant group that occupied this lab, the Saudi-backed Jaysh al-Islam: Not only didn’t they deny they ran this lab; they have previously admitted to using toxic agents in the Syrian conflict — against Kurds in the Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood of Aleppo.
To me the episode in Ghouta, which ended in U.S., British and French missile bombardments of Damascus, was the second-clumsiest of them all. First place goes to the August 2013 incident, when U.N. chemical weapons inspectors had just settled in their Damascus hotels — at Assad’s invitation — and there’s a gas attack in, once again, Ghouta. On cue, the U.S. instantly blamed Assad. Preposterous. False-flag and “psy-ops” just aren’t what they used to be. Or maybe in our media-saturated age, we can simply see more.
Were all these incidents in Syria faked or staged? Are you in a position to judge this conclusively?
I am not in a position to judge anything conclusively, but based on my experience I do have some opinions on this subject. In the early days, it seemed that on the eve of every U.N. Security Council meeting on Syria — or before an “international team” was about to arrive in the country — something violent and horrific would happen. You could almost time these massacres and chemical weapons attacks according to the politically significant event that was about to take place in a Western capital. It was hard not to notice this pattern and even harder not to get cynical about “massacres.” ...
I did some early deep dives on the chemical weapons attacks, including the 2013 Ghouta incident. I can’t tell you exactly what happened, but here’s what I do know about that incident. A Jordanian journalist was on the ground in Ghouta the next day and he interviewed residents, militants and their families. He wrote a piece with an AP reporter explaining that militants had taken shipment of some new and unknown container weapons from the Saudis that they had mishandled and which caused the deaths. Then, we had one of the most senior U.N. officials on Syria tell us, off the record: “Saudi intelligence was behind the attacks and unfortunately nobody will dare say that.” This official, we know, gave the same information to at least two other Western reporters — who did not report it….
This is a pattern you see in most of the other attacks — evidence manipulated, unknown chain of custody, controlled and limited access for investigators. Most of the attacks happen in militant-controlled areas, so the opposition is in complete control over access and flow of information. I do not believe you could prosecute the Syrian government in an impartial court and win convictions in any of these cases. Logically, the Syrian state is the entity that least benefits from any of these CW or massacre incidents. It had no motive to launch these attacks. Why use highly controversial chemical munitions when you can do more damage with conventional ones — and escape censure?
As I hinted a moment ago, your reporting is very distinctive for its granular detail. In Syria you’re more or less in a class by yourself in this respect. One of your sources especially intrigued me, Father Frans van der Lugt, the Dutch priest who lived many years in Homs. Tell us about him. I should mention for readers’ sake, he was killed in Homs in the spring of 2014.
I never interviewed Father Frans, though I did go to his church gravesite during a visit to Homs shortly after he was killed. Through his writings, this Dutch priest gave us some rare, objective insights into what took place in the early days of the crisis — events he witnessed first-hand.
In September 2011 he wrote: “From the start there has been the problem of the armed groups, which are also part of the opposition… The opposition of the street is much stronger than any other opposition. And this opposition is armed and frequently employs brutality and violence, only in order then to blame the government.”
And then in January 2012 he expanded: “From the start, the protest movements were not purely peaceful. From the start I saw armed demonstrators marching along in the protests, who began to shoot at the police first. Very often the violence of the security forces has been a reaction to the brutal violence of the armed rebels.”
The 75-year-old Father Frans was shot at point-blank range by a gunman while sitting in a church garden in the rebel-occupied part of Homs...
Patrick Lawrence is Salon’s foreign affairs columnist. A longtime correspondent abroad, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune and The New Yorker, he is an essayist, critic, editor and contributing writer at The Nation. His most recent book is “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century”. Follow him on Twitter. Support him at Patreon.com. His web site ispatricklawrence.us.
"Christian" Zionism sells war to spiritually non-discerning Evangelicals, but it is not Biblical.
Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
Why does the United states hold unwavering support for Israel and not Palestine?
The US supports Israel unwaveringly for two reasons:
AIPAC, the Israel lobby, which wields enormous power and influence over Congress and the White House and can ruin any candidate’s chances of winning an election by either withholding funding and funding the opposing candidate or by smearing the dissident candidate in the media (AIPAC: The Israeli Lobby) (a historic change is happening now as Democrat candidates fight back for the first time ever. Trump’s shameless bowing and scraping before Netanyahu has caused a powerful backlash).
The Evangelical church, the biggest block of Trump voters (the following is not intended as a primarily religious commentary although it applies to Christians as well as others. My aim is to persuade people to stop supporting war and regime change in the Middle East based on a misreading — not a misinterpretation — of the scriptures). About 80% of Evangelical pastors teach that Christians must support Israel. They are in effect “Christian” Zionists (but don’t often use the term), which is a contradiction in terms. Using the word “Christian” in that expression would in fact be blasphemous to a non-Zionist Biblical Christian (though such are in the minority) because Jesus never once taught his followers to support a secular state calling itself Israel. In fact, while these Israel worshippers claim that restoration of Israel, and especially the temple in Jerusalem, is key to the Second Coming, Jesus not only never even hinted at this but in fact had only words of sharp criticism for the high priests of His time and even prophesied the destruction of the temple, which actually happened in 70 AD. Now, one of the far-fetched arguments of most Evangelical pastors is that the anti-Christ is prophesied to sit in this temple and if the temple is not built, then the anti-Christ cannot come, and since that is to happen before Christ can return, well, then, you see, it is up to Christians to make sure the anti-Christ has a throne to sit on as he blasphemes Christ and persecutes Christians. Isn’t that nice? In other words, good Evangelicals are supposed to help usher in the anti-Christ! I am not making this up, folks. Linked below is just one of many sites propounding this utter absurdity and – if you are a Christian and independent close reader of the Bible – blasphemy: Time to Build the Third Temple - Endtime Ministries | End of the Age | Irvin Baxter
The fact is, as Jesus stood at the temple in Jerusalem on one of the last days of His earthly life, he said, addressing Jerusalem and by extension all of Israel:
“For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" Matthew 23:39
And Jesus intentionally said this in the presence of His disciples so that they could recall these words and jot this down for posterity. In other words, He clearly hoped his followers would evangelize among the Jews (in a loving way of course). Instead, today most US Evangelicals support the gifting of lethal arms to a secular country calling itself Israel so that it can defy the commandment in its own Torah to love their neighbour as themselves (Leviticus 19:9–18). Somehow, this got transformed into murder of Arabs, and Evangelicals mostly do not notice and do not care.
Note that Jesus did not say “you will not see me again until Israel becomes a nation as prophesied and until the third temple is built.” And yet, roughly 70% of Evangelicals apparently think Jesus wants them to help build the anti-Christ’s temple.
Again, this is not intended as a primarily theological or religious commentary. I write this to show how a peculiar fanaticism based on a clear distortion of the Bible threatens to plunge the world into war again. To my knowledge, none of these Zionist mega-pastors have ever protested that their government is leading its people into war after war in the Middle East and that it sends $4.5 billion a year free and clear to a government that has a policy of shooting to maim and kill unarmed protesters in Gaza and kill Iranians in Syria who are there to fight the terror that the US has not sincerely fought in its fake War on Terror. (The Israel connection with US-waged wars is illustrated in the video linked at the top of the page. The latest example of IDF brutality is described at the Israeli site Haaretz.) The scary thing about Christian Zionism is the sense of invulnerability it confers to its adherents. It is akin to the Chiliastic Christians during the Peasants War in Europe, who believed that they could enter the thick of a battle and emerge unscathed thanks to divine protection. Almost all of their leaders wound up burned at the stake. But modern Zionist Chiliasts will not hesitate to plunge the world into the same scenario, one that could end life on earth.
Many Evangelicals accept the policies and statements of the Israeli government as divinely inspired. An Evangelical friend of mine was surprised when I told her Netanyahu was not a Christian. She said “are you sure?” This is brain washing done right and proper.
As for their belief that modern Israel is the Israel prophesied in Ezekiel 37, there is a major hitch in that chapter. Verse 24 says this Israel resurrected from the dry bones will be “obedient to God’s decrees.” So what’s the hitch?
A Gallup poll shows that 65% of Israelis have no religion at all! (Israel among the least religious countries in the world). Thus it is clearly not Ezekiel’s Israel! Some will say “well then how do you explain Ezekiel’s prophecy?” Excuse me. I don’t owe anyone an explanation for it – although I do have a theory, which is beyond the scope of this analysis. My thrust is just to give it a proper reading, that's all.
I write these words in hopes that eventually this message will filter down to the Evangelicals who are supporting the instability in the Middle East in the steadfast but misguided belief that they are doing the will of the Almighty.
So far the main argument against this dangerous theology has been that Evangelicals are too literal in their interpretation of the Bible, but the truth is just the opposite as you can see. They are sadly lacking in their reading skills.
Trump’s moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and his recognition of the Syrian Golan Heights as Israeli territory suggest very strongly that Trump is a true believer in this dangerous theological hokus-pocus.
Our translation below is from rueconomics.ru (Economics Today), with commentary by Vince Dhimos.
It is easy to understand Russia’s interest in North Korea. The US position is the thorny one. Even though the US is willing to deal with China, another country with an economy that is not entirely market, the US position on North Korea is based on the fact that it refuses to be a US vassal and on the fact that the country is small and weak, and therefore easier to push around. Apologists of US foreign policy like to point out that the Soviet Union held Eastern Europe captive after the war and that this mistreatment fully justifies the fears of these nations that Russia might just take them over. The problem with this position is that in Soviet days, Russia did not come as an enemy causing death and destruction in the sense that the Germans did. The Germans completely bombed out the old city in Warsaw, for example. I witnessed the reconstruction efforts in the early 70s. They were building over the rubble, not just refurbishing damaged architecture. Germany came as an implacable enemy, killing vast numbers of especially Polish Jews. The Soviet Union held these territories as a buffer for fear that another Hitler could arise and invade again. The Soviets rebuilt over the ruins left by the Germans. And yet, incredibly, the Poles – like all the peoples of Eastern Europe – have long forgiven and forgotten the Holocaust and the atrocities of the Germans against the Poles, but still remember with resentment the Soviets who rebuilt their cities and gave them jobs, lifting them out of the economic crisis into which the Germans had plunged them.
Therefore, there is only one explanation for this double standard, and that is, US and NATO propaganda to keep alive the anti-Russian hostility that reigns in these nations. And that hostility has its origin in the fact that Russia refuses to treat the US as a superior. Ditto North Korea.
However, Russia seems to be counting on North Korea to eventually loosen up its command control of the economy and join the rest of the world, at which point Russia will be in a position to deal with it – a better position than the West enjoys. It looks like Putin has finally grasped that Kim Jong-un will never give up his nuclear program because in his view, it is the only thing standing between survival and another possible invasion of the kind that wound up killing a significant percentage of its population and destroying almost every settlement in his country in the 50s. It was not Russia or China that committed this near-genocide but the USA. If we can just keep that in mind, we can better understand Kim’s position. But Westerners must first overcome years of conditioning to understand the more rational viewpoint of the East.
QUOTE FROM BELOW:
“North Korea sees nuclear weapons as the main and only guarantee of the security for the ruling class, and therefore Pyongyang will never give up developments in this area. Its goal is to achieve the Indian version of events. That is, the country creates nuclear weapons, the whole world secretly recognizes them as a nuclear power and continues to trade, with political contacts and equal dialogue.”
“First we observed a rather long history of Kim's talks with US President Donald Trump, where each was playing his own game and actively saber-rattling. As a result, the dialogue failed.”
Putin’s detailed conversation with Kim Jong-un was a signal to the West
25 April 2019 Vladivostok
It is not for nothing that Putin called the conversation with Kim Jong Un thorough, and both Moscow and Pyongyang achieved their goals in the first dialogue at the summit level. This opinion was expressed ed by Vasily Mikheev, chief researcher and head of the group of the IMEMO (Institute of World Economy and International Relations) at the Russian Academy of Sciences in a conversation with FBA Economics Today [rueconomics.ru].
“Initially, Kim Jong-un’s visit to Russia did not promise practical results - it was a visit to determine negotiating positions. That is why the parties did not prepare joint projects and agreements for official signing - the goal was completely different. They didn’t quite correctly identify one of the main topics of the talks - denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula although it is worth talking about the nuclear disarmament of North Korea, and here it must be said that this is an impossible task.
North Korea sees nuclear weapons as the main and only guarantee of the security for the ruling class, and therefore Pyongyang will never give up developments in this area. Its goal is to achieve the Indian version of events. That is, the country creates nuclear weapons, the whole world secretly recognizes them as a nuclear power and continues to trade and maintain political contacts and equal dialogue. Nobody encroaches on the state, as everyone is afraid of the bomb,” the expert notes.
Negotiations between the delegations of Russia and North Korea (DPRK), led by their leaders Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un, were held on Russky Island in Vladivostok. The one-to-one dialogue between the two heads of state lasted more than two hours, and then there was an extended meeting. The Russian president spoke about the topics of conversation. “Of course, we also talked about the situation on the Korean Peninsula, exchanged views on how and what needs to be done to ensure that the situation has good prospects for improvement,” Putin said.
"North Korea is a closed country, its economy is not a market economy, and the state has no money. Therefore, at a certain stage, Kim Jong-un began to bargain with world powers - first of all, over parts of its nuclear program, but without aiming at the complete disarmament of the state. Initially, we observed a rather extended history of Kim's talks with US President Donald Trump, where each was playing his own game and actively saber-rattling. As a result, the dialogue failed.
After that, Pyongyang tried to negotiate with South Korea, but that country is following the American policy, and therefore, there was no breakthrough. China pointedly and strictly adheres to UN sanctions against North Korea, so Kim’s last year’s dialogue with PRC leader Xi Jinping was fairly formal. Russia also complies with UN sanctions, but, nevertheless, Pyongyang is also trying to find support in Moscow for its actions. Putin’s dialogue with Kim is important for both sides,” the expert emphasizes.
The Russian leader called the conversation with the head of the DPRK "quite thorough."
"We were able to talk about the history of our interstate relations, and about the present day, the prospects for the development of bilateral relations," said Vladimir Putin after the meeting with the North Korean leader. Kim Jong-un, in turn, expressed the hope that his dialogue with Putin, which had begun in a constructive manner, would continue in the same spirit.
Until April 2018, Kim had not only never left his country, but had not met with any other foreign head of state. Negotiations with Xi Jinping in Beijing were the first summit-level dialogue of his life. In Russia, the DPRK leader was met at the border station Hassan, and then in Vladivostok - just like his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, in 1948, and his father, Kim Jong Il in 2001. The visit of the third North Korean leader to the Russian Federation will last until Friday.
"North Korea seeks to show the world that Russia is becoming its serious partner. Moscow has nothing against such a position. It is equally important for the Russian side to demonstrate that we remain in the global game that has been going on around the Korean Peninsula for more than half a century. Therefore, Putin’s meeting with Kim was mostly declarative - there simply could be no serious decisions at the first stage of the dialogue.
On the other hand, Moscow is not hiding its economic interests in rapprochement with Pyongyang. It has been stated more than once that the Russian Federation is interested in building a gas pipeline that will run from Russia through the North to the South of Korea. Of no less interest is the project of connecting the Korean railways with the Russian railways for organizing large freight shipments from South Korea to Europe. In both cases, North Korea appears rather as a transit country, but these initiatives will benefit everyone.
You can assess these initiatives as a look into the future in the long term. In the near future these projects will hardly be able to be realized - two factors interfere. First of all, North Korea needs to become an open market economy in order to be able to fully work with it without the existing risks. Secondly, Pyongyang still needs to solve the country's security problems, and taking into account the positions of the West, this is unlikely to happen soon, "concludes Vasily Mikheev.
Below is our translation of an analysis from RIA Novosti on how Russia has seized control of OPEC. Commentary and notes in [brackets] are by Vince Dhimos.
We had posted previously about the sudden shift in the Saudis’ attitude toward their erstwhile Washington masters. Two items rocked the financial world:
1) Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Fatih had warned the US not to keep on sanctioning Russia
2) Unnamed Saudi officials had told Reuters that the Saudis were prepared to use the nuclear option, ie, start charging non-dollar currencies for their oil, should Congress pass the NOPEC bill curtailing the decision-making power of OPEC. As we mentioned in that article, such a move on their part would have the potential to turn the financial world upside down, causing a major slide in the US dollar and stymying investment in Treasuries. The fact that they would even dare to mention this already suggested that a geopolitical plate shift was already in the works.
QUOTE FROM THE TRANSLATION:
“Now it’s clear that with the new ally, Russia, Saudi Arabia no longer belongs to Washington."
Please note: The above quote is not from the Russian author of our article but is quoted from WSJ. When WSJ writes something like this, it is time to sit up and take notice!
It is now just a matter of time. Now might be a good time to invest in precious metals or perhaps even rouble-denominated bonds. [not advice but it is what I would do if I had money]
Finally, the author mentions US shale oil. I had posted a while back a critical analysis on the US economy, and I pointed out that shale oil was turning out to be a bad bet. I had said that the cost of extracting gas and oil from shale was high because it required fracking. Sure enough, reports came in months later that shale oil producers were paring back their investments due to lacklustre results.
Now oddly, Trump keeps saying he wants low oil prices. Perhaps he is being sly. If he really wants to encourage shale oil production, he could not sincerely want low oil prices. Perhaps what he really wants is to tell his gullible constituents that he wants low oil prices so they’ll think he is on the consumer’s side. He must know that shale drillers need high prices. At any rate, Putin and MBS are for the moment, giving him what he needs if not what he wants since they are targeting high prices by cutting back production.
Now if I were Putin, I think I would be more than disgruntled with the US, including Trump, for its anti-Russian moves, ie, sanctions, tariffs, the near-bankrupting of the aluminium company Rusal, and the sanctions on Venezuela and threats of war against that country as well as the total lack of cooperation on Syria and the threat of war on Iran, the support for Israel’s illegal annexation of the occupied Golan Heights, etc.
If Putin were vindictive (he may be above vindictiveness, of course), I think he might play a little cat and mouse game in tandem with the Saudis. That is, he would keep the crude prices at a high enough level to attract investments in shale oil, and when enough US companies had invested again in expensive equipment and exploration, he would spring the trap, allowing prices to fall just to levels that are unprofitable to the US oil companies but acceptable to OPEC (because for the most part, their extraction costs are lower), and he would leave the prices at that level just long enough to make them lose money and curtail their investments. This would seriously hurt US shale oil production.
But even if Washington richly deserves a come-uppance for the shabby way it has treated Russia, could Putin be that vindictive?
On the other hand, perhaps this diabolical scheme will be his solution to the dilemma posed as follows:
QUOTE from below:
“According to Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Anton Siluanov, Russia does not intend to cede the market to American shale companies. "There is a dilemma: we either continue to lose the market occupied by the Americans, or withdraw from the OPEC + agreement," Siluanov said.”
Rescue and control: US tells how Russia controls OPEC
April 19, 2019
MOSCOW, April 19 - RIA Novosti, Natalia Dembinskaya. In December, OPEC was practically on the verge of collapse: cartel participants could not agree on production cuts, although in just a month and a half oil quotations fell by 30 percent. Russia played a decisive role in resolving this crisis, and Moscow not only strengthened ties with the cartel, but also gained unlimited influence on the world oil market, The Wall Street Journal writes. RIA Novosti tells how it was possible.
By December, the situation on the oil market had worsened to the limit. Prices had fallen by almost 30 percent, as investors reacted to a record increase in the volume of commercial stocks of crude in the United States and an actual increase in production by OPEC countries. The situation could be saved only by an agreement on production cuts, but not everyone was willing.
Iran, Venezuela and Libya rejected the agreement. Qatar actually announced its withdrawal from OPEC, explaining that it wanted to focus on LNG production.
However, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), citing high-ranking Qatari officials, the discontent of the major exporter of natural gas was due to the fact that the cartel "had become what the Saudi prince Mohammed and his friend Vladimir Putin wanted it to be."
At the same time, Donald Trump was pressuring Saudi Arabia to keep prices low. The fact that, under pressure from the Saudis, OPEC decided not to cut production, seemed to be a reality. Accordingly, the market was threatened with oversupply, and prices risked falling to the lows of 2014.
According to WSJ, Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, asked Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Zangeneheh, to reduce production, and in response the latter accused the Saudis of trying to seize Iran’s oil market share.
The organization of oil exporting countries was on the verge of collapse. As the newspaper notes, Russia saved OPEC, although it is not a member of the cartel.
According to WSJ, "President Vladimir Putin agreed to cut production in conjunction with OPEC, but on condition that Iran be allowed to keep its production at the same level.” As a result, Iran, Venezuela and Libya were allowed not to reduce production, since Washington had imposed sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, and Libya faced a new round of civil war.
At the December meeting, the cartel actually recorded what Russia and Saudi Arabia agreed upon. OPEC + reduced production by 1.2 million barrels per day: 800,000 by OPEC itself, and 400,000 by countries that are not part of the cartel.
"Now Putin is able to significantly influence the Middle East and the entire global oil market amounting to $1.7 trillion," points out the WSJ.
Independent experts confirm the findings of the WSJ. As stated to the periodical by the global head of commodity strategy of RBC Capital Markets, Helima Croft, "Russia actually acted as the attending physician of OPEC."
Forming a relationship
However, observers note that it is not so much about “therapy,” but about cartel management, and OPEC+ is increasingly affecting the world market. Russia and Saudi Arabia - the key parties to the OPEC+ agreement and the largest oil-producing countries - almost completely determine the decisions of the organization: whatever Moscow agrees to with Riyadh will be done.
Analysts say the main weakness of OPEC+ is the lack of a formal agreement on cooperation and compliance with commitments. Therefore, the next step for Russia and Saudi Arabia could be a new global alliance of the largest oil exporters, which will replace OPEC. The question of reforming the cartel is expected to be the focus of the May OPEC summit.
"For decades, the United States perceived Saudi Arabia as one of the closest geopolitical allies, an important stabilizing force in the Middle East. They sold weapons to Riyadh. In response, Washington expected stable oil supplies to world markets to avoid price spikes and damage to the economy, writes WSJ. “Now it’s clear that with the new ally, Russia, Saudi Arabia no longer belongs to Washington."
Anticipating a warning to the Saudis against rapprochement with Moscow, Congress is preparing to discuss the proposed No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act, approved in February by the legal committee of the House of Representatives. This document declares as illegal any decisions of OPEC, as well as any joint actions of the governments of other countries (except the USA), aimed at restricting oil production and regulating the prices of crude.
But the Saudis do not give in to pressure: Riyadh warned Washington that if the bill is passed, Saudi Arabia will refuse to pay in dollars when selling oil, thereby undermining the international position of the American currency.
Moscow, for its part, is already pointing out to the cartel that it may be time to halt production cuts. According to the Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister Anton Siluanov, Russia does not intend to cede the market to American shale companies. "There is a dilemma: we either continue to lose the market occupied by the Americans, or withdraw from the OPEC+ agreement," Siluanov said.
The US military is a mercenary force in the hire of the Saudi dictatorship
Israel and Saudi jioned at the hip and writing failed US policies
Vince Dhimos answered a question in German at Quora. Translation:
Who is to blame for the Migration crisis in Europe?
Before we can answer this, we must establish that there is a migration crisis. Some Europeans say there is a crisis, others say there is none.
Fine. But how many of us understand that the real crisis is not the impact that this migration has on Europeans, especially Germans, but rather the heart-wrenching tragedy that it represents in the lives of the migrants themselves, many of whom have left their homes and families behind in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Africa? The majority of Western people are seeing the crisis through ethnocentric eyes – that is, in terms of their own comfort or discomfort. They largely ignore the plight of the refugees themselves.
And who is to blame for the fact that Iraqis, Libyans and Syrians were forced to leave their homes?
The blame must be laid at the feet of the US and its allies, including NATO, who supported the Arab Spring and the revolutions, which were foolishly described by naive Western people as “democratic.” These revolutions caused nothing but chaos and death because the leaders were radical Islamists, not sincere activists seeking Western style democracy.
In Syria, this revolution ushered in the invasion of the IS and the unspeakable horrors they caused – beheadings, forced conversions, seizure of territories where tolerance once reigned and imposition of harsh Shariah law on people who had grown accustomed to freedom and tolerance. Bashar al-Assad was democratically elected but was falsely called a “dictator” by cynical Western politicians and media. He and his father Hafez presided over the most tolerant of all the nations in the Middle East, where any Syrian considered it impolite even to ask another Syrian what his religion was. Christians, Shiites, Yazidis and Sunnis lived in relative harmony. It is true that Hafez Assad did in fact put down by force a rebellion of jihadists who were intent on “liberating” territory by means of terror. But somehow, the Western world, led by the US, has assumed the attitude that Islamic radicals must be tolerated while democratically elected tolerant leaders are dictators and must be overthrown by the US, US allies and NATO. This is best illustrated by the famous long lines of IS Toyota trucks freely entering Syria from Iraq while the US was supposedly waging a war on terror. These long lines of invaders prove that the War on Terror was clearly a fake. It is amazing how many Western people accepted this illogical assumption and supported the US invasions of the Middle East that ultimately led to the invasion of Syria, Iraq and Libya by terrorists.
The main source of arms and financing given to IS and Al-Qaeda was Saudi Arabia, the closest Arab ally of the US, which collaborated with the Saudis in supporting the terrorists. The US also shipped arms to terrorists, as reported by the brave Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva. Zero Hedge reports:
If you view the situation from the standpoint represented above, you can easily see who is to blame for the fact that millions of Middle Easterners lost their homes and were forced to flee. And even if you maintain that there is no crisis for Europe, there is indeed a great heartbreak for the migrants themselves.
As for the African migrants, many of them were forced to flee because of terrorist groups like al-Hijra and al-Mujajiroun in Kenya; Boko Haram and Wilayat Gharb Afriqiyah in Nigeria; Jama’at Nusrat al Islam and affiliates in Mali and Burkina Faso, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya and many more. These terrorists were inspired by the initial success of IS and Al-Qaeda in the Middle East – and again, we have the US and its allies to thank for that. The African migrants were driven from their homes not only directly by these terrorists but also by the instability of governments caused by them.
Without the intervention of the US and its allies, there would no doubt be an influx of migrants into Europe, but there would be no major migrant crisis.
In the following is our translation of an analysis from RIA Novosti, with commentary by Vince Dhimos. No, Folks, you can’t call it Russian propaganda. All facts are from US and international sources. It’s about how the Boeing lobby managed to send hundreds of people to their death in aircraft that were improperly certified thanks to the efforts of Mitch McConnell, who receives more free money from Boeing than anyone else in Congress, and his wife Elaine Chao, who has the very important title of US Secretary of Transportation and the very important task of overseeing the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) even though her educational background is in banking and humanities. Would it be gauche of me to remind the reader that a person with no background in aviation would never be considered for such a post in Russia? Just to make sure I was right about that after writing it (I was prepared to delete it), I looked up the credentials of Alexander Neradko, the head of the Russian Federal Air Navigation Service. It turns out he is a graduate of the Moscow Institute of Civil Aviation Engineering with an aviation engineering background. A guy like that would never make it in the US bureaucracy where people with technical and scientific competence are automatically disqualified in favour of well-connected and influential incompetents. Feel safer now, fellow passengers?
One of my pet peeves is hypocrisy. The US is so obsessed with alleged “corruption” in Venezuela that it is prepared to invade, killing thousands of Venezuelans to “save” them. The same officials screaming corruption have never given concrete examples of said corruption in Venezuela, which they know little to nothing about, because they’re just winging it in an effort to start another war for oil.
Now in US vernacular, lobbying is not considered corruption. By definition, the fact that Elaine Chao’s husband gets tons of free money from Boeing falls under the heading of lobbying, and that can never be conflated with corruption by the US definition. Definitions are definitions. So why complain? Mitch and Elaine are untouchable. In fact, the US Establishment tries people for crimes when they tell the truth about things like this. Ask Julian.
But let’s get real for a second and admit that when bureaucrats get paid by Big Business to slough off on their oversight and people die in aircraft that were not properly certified, then their actions are equal to, if not identical to, crimes. High crimes. And this is the very definition of corruption. Hence, lobbying of the kind where big bucks from Big Business pass into the hands of officials and legislators responsible for safety certification, is corruption. If your loved one had died in that 737 MAX in Ethiopia or the one in Indonesia, you’d be vigorously nodding in the affirmative. And while Russia has its government relations specialists, much of the legislation passes through the office of the president, providing a filter. More importantly, the ministries involved in technical matters are run by competent technical people, who cannot be conned in technical matters by industry representatives. In Russia, a non-technical person like Elaine would not be making key decisions about civil aviation safety.
And there’s the difference: professionalism and seriousness vs carelessness and incompetence.
But there is always a catch for the cheaters, and this case illustrates it. While the bureaucracy can neglect its duty with impunity in the Exceptional USA, the consequences in the real world can’t be ignored, and while the bureaucracy refuses to do its job because it is unaccountable, people everywhere now know that two airliners crashed, and they know why and who is responsible.
On March 25, The Telegraph reported that China is buying $35 billion worth of mostly airliners from Airbus. The Ethiopian 737 MAX had crashed 15 days earlier, and the Chinese knew this was the second crash of this plane since November. So who would expect them to buy from Boeing? See, the US officials at the FAA and the Boeing officials liaising with them think they are getting away with something when they cheat on safety. But they forget that the media will always report airliner crashes and investigative reporters will dig up relevant facts about congressional lobbying. They can’t put a lid on that. Result:
QUOTE FROM BELOW:
“According to estimates by JP Morgan chief economist Michael Feroli, the refusal of airlines to acquire the Boeing 737 MAX will cause more damage to the US economy than the recent 35-day government shutdown.
“’If Boeing is forced to stop production of the 737 MAX, GDP growth will slow down by 0.6% on an annualized basis,” Feroli calculated.’”
QUOTE FROM BELOW:
“Boeing has spent more on congressional lobbying in the last twenty years than any other defence or aviation industry company. In 2018 alone, lobbying costs amounted to $ 15.1 million.
The largest recipient of these funds was the Republican "Senate Leadership Fund," created by Senator Mitch McConnell. His wife, Elaine Chao, is Secretary of the Department of Transportation and oversees the FAA.
On March 13, Acting Director of the Federal Aviation Administration, Dan Elwell, told reporters that the FAA’s decision regarding the certification of Boeing MAX aircraft was made "as a result of ongoing consultations with Elaine Chao." [relying on her extensive knowledge of humanities and banking]
Your flight is over: Boeing sends the US economy into a nosedive
March 28, 2019
MOSCOW, March 28 - RIA Novosti, Maxim Rubchenko. Interruptions in the release of the Boeing 737 MAX are capable of reducing US GDP, investment bank JP Morgan warned clients. Airlines are already refusing to purchase the problem aircraft and are demanding compensation for the cancellation of 737 MAX flights. How it all can end for Boeing and the global aviation industry – published by RIA Novosti.
According to estimates by JP Morgan chief economist Michael Feroli, the refusal of airlines to acquire the Boeing 737 MAX will cause more damage to the US economy than the recent 35-day government shutdown.
“If Boeing is forced to stop production of 737 MAX, GDP growth will slow down by 0.6% on an annualized basis,” Feroli calculated.” For comparison: according to the Congressional Budget Office, the longest government recess in US history ended Jan. 25, cutting GDP by 0.4 percentage points."
JP Morgan analysts emphasize that orders for the Boeing 737 MAX account for about a quarter of total aircraft production in the United States. "Even if the release of 737 MAX proceeds, the problems of the airline will still negatively affect the American economy due to the slowdown in investment and the decline in the country’s gross exports," Feroli warns.
JP Morgan’s alarming predictions are coming true. This week, Indonesia’s national airline Garuda Indonesia cancelled an order for 49 Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliners worth five billion dollars.
“Garuda passengers have lost confidence in this aircraft and do not want to fly it,” explained I Gusti Ngurah Askhara Danadiputra, president of the airline.
Experts say that the largest orders for 737 MAX have been placed by Norwegian, SpiceJet, Ryanair, Jet Airways, Lion Air, Flydubai, and Southwest, and they are wondering if the Garuda Indonesia decision will cause a domino effect.
This is quite realistic, given that the same Norwegian company expressed its intention to demand compensation from Boeing for the down time due to the global ban on 737 MAX flights.
“I see no reason why we would not have to send a bill for unused machines to the manufacturer,” said the Norwegian company president Bjørn Kjos in a video message to Norwegian passengers.
Plans to seek compensation from Boeing were also announced by the Polish charter airline Enter Air and Indian SpiceJet. Lion Air, apparently, is waiting for the completion of the official investigation of the October catastrophe to assert a hefty claim against the aircraft manufacturer.
According to experts, compensation for forced downtime is at least $250,000 per month per aircraft. And American Airlines alone on Sunday announced the cancellation of 90 flights a day "at least until April 24" because of the ban on Boeing 737 MAX flights.
Yesterday, Boeing Corporation held a meeting with representatives of the airlines at the plant in Renton. It invited more than 200 pilots and technicians from around the world, as well as officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States.
Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines (a Boeing 737 MAX of this airline crashed on March 10 near Addis Ababa) declined to participate in the event. Like Garuda Indonesia, it said that the invitation from Boeing came too late.
The aircraft manufacturer introduced customers to a new version of the software for the Boeing 737 MAX, which more smoothly reacts to the nose lift of the plane. In addition, the re-triggering of the angle of attack correction system (MCAS), the failure of which is unanimously considered by experts to be the main cause of the plane crashes in Indonesia on October 29 and in Ethiopia on March 10 (although official investigations have not been completed), is ruled out.
As New York Times journalists found out in conversations with the staff of the aviation corporation, Boeing sought to prevent a lag relative to its main competitor Airbus, which launched the 2011 line of Neo models - more economical than the previous aircraft.
To maintain leadership, there were two options: either work on a new model from scratch, spending $32 billion on the project, or equip the Boeing 737 with new engines with an increased turbine diameter that promised twenty percent fuel savings. Of course, they chose the latter.
However, due to the larger size, it was impossible to install new engines in their place - they had to be carried forward and secured higher. As a result, the alignment was disrupted and the plane began to balk.
To correct this defect, Boeing specialists developed a special computer program MCAS, which automatically lowered the nose when it was lifted too much. The system turned out to be quite defective - it tripped even during normal flight mode. And, as reported, it lowered the nose of the aircraft four times more than envisaged. That is, MCAS did not straighten the plane’s position. It sent it into a nosedive.
"Not corruption. Lobbying"
Even if the new software actually corrects the MCAS distortions, the problems will not end there. The two air crashes attracted a great deal of attention from the public and law enforcement agencies to the working methods of the aircraft manufacturer.
First of all, questions arose as to how such a poor system was certified by the FAA. Investigations into this issue are the purview of the Federal Prosecutor's Office, the inspector general of the Ministry of Transport and the congressional commission, and the FBI has even opened a criminal investigation.
The first answer is already there: It turns out that the leaders of the Federal Aviation Administration transferred part of the certification process to Boeing Corporation itself. The FAA refers to financial problems: they say, due to lack of funds, there are not enough employees to carry out full-scale certification on their own. However, observers point to something else.
As the American Centre for Responsive Politics notes, Boeing has spent more on congressional lobbying in the last twenty years than any other defence or aviation industry company. In 2018 alone, lobbying costs amounted to $ 15.1 million.
The largest recipient of these funds was the Republican "Senate Leadership Fund", created by Senator Mitch McConnell. His wife, Elaine Chao, is Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and oversees the FAA.
On March 13, Acting Director of the Federal Aviation Administration, Dan Elwell, told reporters that the FAA’s decision regarding the certification of Boeing MAX aircraft was made "as a result of ongoing consultations with Elaine Chao." [My highlighting. Elaine Chao studied banking and humanities, not science or aviation]
It is not surprising that the Ethiopian government sent the black box of a crashed Ethiopian Airlines plane to France, although European experts usually investigate Airbus crashes, while American specialists are normally involved in Boeing crashes.
Experts and the media have come to an unequivocal conclusion: there is no longer any trust in the United States Federal Aviation Administration in the aviation community. This is confirmed by recent statements by the European Union and Canada regarding their intention to conduct their own examination of all security updates that are being implemented by Boeing.
This threatens to significantly delay the return of the Boeing 737 MAX to the sky, and to disrupt all schedules of aircraft deliveries to customers.
The competitors win
However, the biggest aggravation for American aircraft manufacturers are the Chinese. Last week, during a European tour of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Paris, a contract was signed for the delivery of 300 Airbus aircraft to China.
After that, the government-related Internet portal Guncha published a lot of material under the mocking headline "US Dominance collapsed like Boeing."
“If Americans are smart enough, they will see that the Boeing incident is not just a plane crash, it is a clear sign that the United States is at risk of losing dominance in the world,” the article notes. “This country has long been at the top in the world, and it continues to indulge in the benefits of this position, refusing to innovate in favour of profit maximization; a predetermined historical replacement will be made that will not be subject to human will: Boeing airplanes will descend from heaven to earth, and the US will inevitably fly off its throne.”
The Chinese aviation market is rightfully considered one of the most promising in the world. According to the Boeing forecast, the needs of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] in civilian aircraft for the next 20 years will amount to 7,240 new aircraft with a total value of more than 1.1 trillion dollars. Moreover, the share of narrow-body aircraft like the Boeing 737 will garner three-quarters of the potential demand. But now it will be very difficult for Americans to gain a foothold in this market.
Recall that the PRC is developing its own narrow-body aircraft C919, which should compete with the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 at a more attractive price ($50 million against 70-120 million). The start-up of mass production is planned in 2021, after which the Chinese market for foreign aircraft in this segment will close.
But the airlines of other developing countries are watching with increasing interest the new Russian MS-21 as an alternative to the problematic Boeing 737. Last week, the Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov discussed the purchase of these aircraft with representatives of Indonesia. According to him, the MS-21-300 has now successfully passed certification. "Certification in accordance with Russian and European standards and the start of operation will help intensify the promotion of the aircraft in Southeast Asia and other regions," Manturov stressed.
Vince posted at Quora:
What are your thoughts on the EU rethinking its economic policy toward China?
Europe is clearly trying to please Donald Trump and is not acting of its own accord. However, It is probably too late for Europe – or the US – to be thinking about restraining China.
The crucial time to act was in the 1980s when Congress first debated the pros and cons of granting this hostile communist nation most favoured nation status. America’s mistake was in granting China power over the US even though America held all the cards. Sort of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The Chinese immediately demanded that the US rescind recognition of Taiwan, a loyal friend and ally that had provided profitable trade relations for decades. The decision to pull the US embassy from Taiwan was a betrayal of a friend and was grossly immoral and unethical. It was not the first time America had sold its soul and it set the stage for China’s dominance of the world and the West. Washington’s fatal mistake has always been acting as though there is no such thing as morality. There is a real price for this and the US is paying dearly. The negotiators at that time could have said they would be glad to trade with China but that they would never betray Taiwan because that would be unethical. The Chinese, with their long history of respect for harmony among people and nations, would have respected that. Since that time, however, they have been treating the US with the disrespect it deserves.
But now Trump is trying to set the clock back and that will not work (Trump had promised his tariffs would reduce the trade deficit. Instead they gave the US a record high deficit).
China has made many advances and much of this was done independently of the US, though the US is loath to admit it.
China is trending to surpass the US and Europe in technology not because it steals our technology (which it may or may not be doing) but because it has taken steps in education to achieve technological dominance, by promoting science and technology. The methods are too harsh to be contemplated in the West. When students are still in secondary school they are competing fiercely to gain entry into the most prestigious universities. Those who fail to make the grade are eliminated mercilessly. Your rich daddy can’t donate money to the university of your choice because the university is funded solely by the government. Thus corruption of the US kind is eliminated. It is a meritocracy. In the long run such a system will win over a “democratic” system. The die was cast at the founding of America.
If the first mistake was made by allowing China to dictate terms in the 80s, the second mistake was behaving like a drowning man and trying to wind back that mistake by getting “tough” on China. The BRI is not a fire-breathing dragon set to devour the West. It is a business opportunity that the West threw away. The BRI was open to all investors, but the Washington elites allowed their false pride to overcome their business sense.
The third mistake was betraying Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. The Russian Federation was their best chance of escaping Chinese domination. Again, their pride dictated to the US elites that they must be like the Most High – the Exceptional and Indispensable nation. In adopting this attitude, they relinquished their chance to be strong and prosperous in cooperation with other nations, and not as an adversary. Nothing has changed since then. Trump is taking this folly to new heights.
There was a brief rapprochement with Russia in the nineties but the elites squandered the opportunity to benefit from it by treating Russia fairly. Instead they plundered its resources. They did to Russia what they had done to Taiwan. They betrayed it and worse, they tried to imbue in Westerners a deep-seated hatred and mistrust of Russia. Although James Baker had promised Gorbachev that NATO would not expand into the Warsaw Pact states, NATO did just that and extended right up to the Russian border, threatening and provoking with its massive military drills and spy places as if trying to start a war with this country that wanted peace.
As a result, Russia and China, now realizing the treacherous nature of their “partner,” were virtually driven into each others’ arms. Thus if China should ever threaten the US, Washington can never more count on Russia for help.
As we can see from the above, unlike Russia and China, Washington is indifferent to the notion of actually prospering and becoming a stable economy like these two. Its interest lies apparently not in true economic strength on a traditional foundation of hard work and targeted planning but in proving that the traditional values of its grassroots, such as loyalty and honesty, are obsolete and not needed in their brave new world. Of course, they are proving just the opposite.
I had written on this previously at Quora in response to a similar question:
Behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?"
He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself."
He said to him, "You have answered correctly. Do this, and you will live."
But he, desiring to justify himself, asked Jesus, "Who is my neighbor?"
— Luke 10:25–29, World English Bible
Jesus then went on to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is well known in the Western world.
So why did Jesus choose a Samaritan for his story of a good neighbour who gave generously to save a stranger?
Because the Samaritans were generally hated by the Jews – just the Palestinian Arabs are hated by the Zionists today. Jesus was simply saying stop the hate. The key to the story is the word “neighbour,” which can have various meanings in Hebrew – which was not the language they were speaking at the time, although in the Greek of the New Testament, the word πλησίον (plisíon) has the same ambiguity. It can mean generally anyone close to you. But Jesus made sure the lawyer understood that your neighbour includes a person from a hated minority as well.
Note that in this case, Jesus did not tell the lawyer he had to believe in Jesus. And He discussed a text from the Jewish Torah, clearly showing He was not promoting a new religion.
Jesus knew this man was out for blood and wanted to trap him, so he was being very cautious.
Further, in so doing, Jesus was being as inoffensive as possible. And to be inoffensive, public figures say things that are universally accepted. Jesus was uttering a universal truth. It is telling that Jesus was talking about the Old Testament with its tangle of do’s and don’t’s but chose – like his interlocutor—not one of the do’s or don’t’s but a truth that no one could deny. In so doing, he was not talking about a new religion called Christianity, he was talking about a universal truth from Leviticus.
Today, preaching universal love would not offend a devout Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist or an atheist, although it would offend the Pentagon, the State Department, the arms manufacturers, the Zionists and the millionaire TV mega-preachers who want you to believe in the plastic bobble-head they blasphemously pass off as Jesus.
The men who behead non-believers in Syria and Iraq are not Muslims, they are Wahhabists, whom every decent Muslim rejects.
The politicians and officials who planned and promoted the invasions in Kosovo, Libya and Iraq and imposed crippling and murderous sanctions on the people who live there – and on the Venezuelans today – are not Christians or devout Jews or Muslims, they are Satanists. Some of these politicians have boldly proclaimed in public “I stand with Israel.” As for the Westerners who believed the vicious lie that these wars were keeping America or Europe safe, God will judge them.
The men who shoot unarmed protesters in Gaza and the commanders who ordered this killing and maiming are not Jews, they are Zionists and, judging by their fruits, Satanists. As for the congress people and presidents who sent them the guns, fighter jets, tanks and munitions and sent them $billions to arm themselves and do their mischief, they too are Satanists. Not one of these same “Christian” Zionist politicians has ever stood up and publicly proclaimed “I stand for Jesus.” Because they don’t stand up for Jesus. They tacitly deny Him. As for grassroots American Evangelicals who support this killing in their hearts, they are at best fools who believe in a distorted version of the scriptures, ignoring the fact that Christ never taught His followers to support a secular state called Israel. He said instead, addressing Jerusalem: “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'" Matthew 23:39.
No TV pastor would dare preach a sermon based on this verse! And yet they preach that Christians can prepare for the second coming by supporting the secular Israel and the movement to make Jerusalem the capital of secular Israel – a doctrine cut from whole cloth without a shred of scripture tying it to the teachings of Jesus. In fact, in Bible times, a person without faith was not considered a Jew. A Gallup poll shows that 65% of Israelis consider themselves irreligious.
Whether you are a Christian or not, you can agree that if we want to get along in this world, we must extend our love and kindness toward every human being without exception. Jesus said if we do this we will live. The Jewish lawyer agreed.
How do you see United States politics evolving in the next 20 years?
Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
Answered 23h ago
Originally Answered: How do you see the political structure of the United States changing in the next 20 years?
In my answer to a similar question on Quora, I included an important detail about US “democracy,” namely, that it is not a democracy at all but is controlled by a cabal of individuals and organizations unrelated to the US grassroots and ignoring their interests:
This system has never shown any sign that it might change at some point. In fact, the grassroots seem to be getting more and more tightly controlled by the cabal. One recent indication of this is the arrest of Julian Assange, who has not even been charged with a crime at the time of his arrest. This tyrannical behaviour of the Cabal is reflected in the way social media cavalierly remove messages that, even if written politely, express views that do not pass muster with the cabal, even banning users for expressing these views, and by the bill before congress to make a boycott of Israeli illegal settlements illegal and even to criminalize speech or print that encourages people not to buy products from illegal settlements in Palestine. It is telling that illegality is not only legalized but is in fact protected by law in this way, thus reversing the Constitutional precepts and universal concepts of human rights.
As long as the demographics of the US remain as they are, there therefore seems to be little hope of a change.
For example, 80% of US Evangelicals can be described as “Christian” Zionists, who cling to a very specific interpretation of certain Bible verses that have been misread for over a century in both England and the US. The best example is Ezekiel 37, the prophecy of the dry bones that come together to form the nation of Israel. “Christian” Zionists generally unwaveringly insist that this prophecy refers to modern secular Israel. They ignore verse 24, which says that this resurrected Israel will be “obedient to God’s decrees.” A Gallup poll has shown that 65% of Israelis have no religious beliefs at all and therefore can hardly be deemed “obedient to God’s decrees” since they do not believe in the God of Abraham. This misinformed creed of “Christian” Zionism has much more influence on US foreign policy in the Middle East than any scholarly organization, think tank or political movement and is directly involved in the initiation and pursuit of wars, which are based on the Zionist policy of Greater Israel as enunciated by Theodore Herzl and Oded Yinon, which is being pursued in the Middle East with the full support of the US military.
So no, this will not change or else will change at an imperceptibly slow rate over the next 20 years.
The main source of any change will be from outside the US. Indeed the most significant change we have seen in Middle East affairs in the last 50 years has been the Russian incursion into Syria, which has stood on its head the situation where the US was the most trusted partner and the Russians were less trusted in the region. Polls show that the opposite is now true.
Russia and China will continue to make these fundamental changes, the main one being the de-dollarization of world trade, which will see the end of dollar hegemony, and hence the end of US ability to continue slaughtering civilians and imposing crippling sanctions on countries that do not toe the US line.
The grassroots will change not from within but from without. That is how I see it.
Vince answered a question on Quora.
Do you think economic sanctions are immoral as they hurt the innocent?
Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
Of course they are immoral. US-waged wars are also immoral. The harm sanctions cause in the Third World is far worse than Westerners imagine. The problem with US foreign policy is that the people who devise the policies are immoral and the US people do not make any moral challenges to the policies.
If you read, for example, sites like the Atlancic Council (NATO mouthpiece), you will probably never find an article mentioning the word “moral” or “morality.” When a country abandons all notions of morality, the policies are not only amoral but quickly become immoral. This is reflected in the fact that US wars since WW II have so far slaughtered an estimated 1.5 to 2 million people, mostly civilians who were minding their own business, and sanctions have also killed countless thousands of innocents.
The aftermath of the Iraq war left most of the country without electricity or drinking water. Under these conditions, people are forced to drink water from rivers, lakes and puddles left after rainfall. This means that most of the people who drink this water without boiling it first will get dysentery, which if left untreated (the sanctions also left them without medicine), also will kill the patient.
The irony of all this is that most of the US population consider themselves Christian. But Christian ethics and morals are, for some reason, not applied by these Christians to politics, especially foreign policy. While some Christian groups oppose abortion on moral grounds, none of the groups that do so oppose the immoral US sanctions and war. It all seems kind of superficial.
A very important fact is that the US waited 7 years after the end of the Iraq war in 2003 to lift the sanctions — in 2010. So what was their excuse I wonder? Did they think there were still WMDs? The Iraqi people had already suffered horribly during the war, mostly from US “humanitarian” bombing, which caused anywhere from 150,000 to 400,000 deaths (depending on who is doing the reporting), and then had to suffer 7 long years of excruciating sanctions. George Galloway said before the US Congress that 1 million Iraqis died as a result of sanctions.
During the Syrian war (NOT a civil war. The fighters, mostly terrorists, came from over 80 countries), the US also imposed sanctions, and now that the war is mostly over, the US is forbidding all countries to help rebuild the mess caused by mostly the US, and the sanctions continue.
Obviously there is no palpable morality in Washington. There is an unspoken racism and neo-colonialism in US policy as well. It is just the opposite of the foreign policies of Russia and China. A poll taken among young Arabs poll among young Arabs reflects a major loss of trust in the US and a major gain in trust of Russia among this group, which views the US as an enemy.
VINCE ON QUORA:
Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Alexander Grushko gave a lengthy interview to the news site RIA Novosti yesterday April 5, 2019. In this interview he described in detail the founding of NATO as a counterweight to the Soviet Union and the way its original raison d'être was grotesquely distorted in a desperate quest for a pretext to exist after that bloc collapsed.
He reminds that as a result of this search for a pretext, NATO has slid into complete lawlessness and has created monstrosities such as the failed Afghanistan mission that has lasted 2 decades and has only plunged that country into increasing hopelessness, where 40% of the country is controlled by the Taliban and opium is now at a record production level.
He reminds how NATO, by killing Ghadaffi, plunged the then-prosperous Libya into a state of lawlessness and poverty that continues today.
His words reflect what I had written previously at another venue:
“NATO’s immoral and illegal war on Serbia in 1998-1999 killed 13,500 Europeans while the Russian Federation never dropped a single bomb on Europe.
It was GW Bush who, in 2002, unilaterally abandoned the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty, which had been in effect since it was signed in 1972. Russia did not express any desire to abandon the treaty.
And yet the NATO alliance – the only organization to attack Europe militarily – cynically claims it is there to protect Europe from Russia! Amazingly, most Europeans swallow this line of blatant propaganda.”
It is in response to this question by the RIA Novosti interviewer that Grushko tells us how NATO went too far (my translation):
“- What are the prospects for Russian-NATO relations? NATO says that "business as usual" is no longer possible.”
“- In this, our points of view coincide with NATO. “Business as usual”, as we know it from 2002-2008 and 2010-2014, is no longer possible. NATO has gone too far in forging confrontation with Russia, and it is not yet clear when and where sanity will prevail. Paradoxically, today's NATO-Russia relations are just the most reminiscent of the “usual” state of affairs under which NATO was created - in the cold war. The Harmel doctrine of dialogue and deterrence. Only in this formula there is now a lot of deterrence and little dialogue.”
Actually, I would disagree with Grushko on this point. Dialogue has been stifled by the actions of irresponsible US politicians and their zeal to dig up evidence that Trump is colluding with Russia.
Pierre Harmel was a Belgian statesman who advocated for European disarmament. The NYT (https://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/world/europe/18harmel.html) describes the Harmel doctrine as follows:
On one hand it reaffirmed the original purpose of the alliance, that of a strong mutual defence; on the other, it advocated disarmament and active diplomatic engagement with the Soviet bloc nations.
Vince answered a question on Quora:
Who are the main contributors to the crises in Syria?
Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
Answered 8m ago
The main participants and influencers in the Syrian war are:
The US Evangelical church (an influencer, the most important one by far, though very few Westerners realize this)
Israel, which acts as both an influencer in the US government and an active participant in the hostilities. Israel has killed many Syrians and their Iranian allies, and Israeli lobby AIPAC (AIPAC: The Israeli Lobby) in the US promotes war and regime change through its lobbying in Washington . Israel is blindly supported by US Evangelicals, who see themselves as Zionists. But their Zionism is based on obvious misinterpretations of the Bible.
Saudi Arabia, which trained, financed, transported and armed most of the terrorists who fought – and are still fighting — in Syria
US presidents Bush, Clinton, Obama, Trump, all of whom pretend to fight terror but none of whom have sincerely fought IS and Al-Qaeda.
Turkey, which initially supported the Saudi goals but now has joined the Russian coalition and is also interested mostly in defeating the Kurds — contrary to the interests of the US, Russia and Syria.
ISIS and al-Qaeda and the latter’s rebrandings (e.g., Jabhat al-Nusra and Hay'at Tahir al-Sham (HTS), used by the US to overthrow Assad, destabilize Syria and control the Syrian oil fields
The Kurds, used as cannon fodder by the US, and also to provide a pretext for the US to stay in Syria, but they also fight terrorists
The US military, which has deceptively pretended since 2001 to wage a “War on Terror” but has deliberately avoided any sincere assault on terror. Under Obama, ISIS was allowed to invade Syria from Iraq in broad daylight with no resistance whatsoever from Obama’s air force. This failure to prevent ISIS from entering Syria was the most important event – or rather, non-event – of the war because it enabled the terrorists to mingle with civilians in Syrian cities, indirectly leading to the deaths of many civilians in the effort to defeat the terrorists. These deaths are falsely attributed to Assad by the deceitful Western media.
Russia, which is helping the Syrian people rid their country of terrorists.
Iran and Hezbollah, which provide boots on the ground to fight the terrorists. Iran is falsely accused by Washington and the US mainstream media of supporting terror, but all of the terrorist groups in Syria are Wahhabists, a Sunni sect. Iran is preponderantly Shia and opposes the Sunnis and especially the Wahhabists. This US accusation is a sleazy lie that is possibly intended to generate sentiment for a war against Iran.
This is an important question by Matthew Lowe. If you understand who contributed to the war in Syria (and other wars in the Muslim world) and if you investigate the motivation behind these wars, you will understand that none of these wars focus primarily on the interests of the US or Europe, with the exception of Washington’s interest in Syrian oil and gas. The pretexts were fabricated in each case. For example, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and there is no evidence that the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. And even if these accusations were true, they do not amount to war crimes nearly as egregious as those committed by the US in North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Kosovo and every country invaded by the armed forces of the US and NATO, where a total of about 2 million innocent civilians have been slaughtered, mostly by bombs dropped by the US air force. Thus the US does not have any moral authority to invade anyone.
We have direct contributions and indirect contributions to the Syrian war (which is portrayed as a “civil war” but is in fact an invasion by US-backed Saudi-financed Islamic terrorists – that is, jihadists – and by US and European forces). If the Syrian conflict were a civil war, there would be no need to import jihadists. They came from over 80 countries.
There were early indirect contributions on the part of the Israelis, the Americans and the Saudis.
Coincidentally, Global Research very recently published an update of a 2013 paper by Israel Shahak and Michel Chossudovsky entitled “Greater Israel”: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East.
"Greater Israel": The Zionist Plan for the Middle East - Global Research
This is a long article but very important because it shows that the Israel envisioned by Zionism’s founder Theodore Herzl in 1904 and by Rabbi Fischmann in 1947, though only dreams when first conceived, have been taking shape thanks to the intervention of the US and allies. The US is heavily influenced by its Evangelical population, about 80% of whom are Zionists who want their government to send lethal arms to Israel and to give Israel more and more land. This has led to the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, for example, where the IDF systematically shoots unarmed protesters. American Evangelicals think that God wants them to support this. In fact, without realizing it, they are the main driver of the wars, the deaths and destruction of the Middle East and North Africa. (To give you an idea how far from scriptural tenets they are, Ezekiel 37:24 — referred to as “proof” that Netanyahu’s Israel is Ezekiel’s Israel — prophesies that the resurrected Israel will be “obedient to God’s decrees,” but a Gallup poll shows that 65% of Israelis have no religion at all.)
The main idea was that Israel was to be the hegemon of the MENA (Middle East and North African) countries, which were to be broken up according to cultures and religions to create smaller territories that could be easily managed by Israel. Parts of these would be annexed by Israel to create a Greater Israel, essentially based on the original Biblical boundaries of ancient Israel. (BTW, Russia has spoiled this plan for good).
Almost all wars waged by the US were inspired in part by the Yinon Plan, promoted by Oded Yinon, which is a kind of blueprint for executing the ideas of Herzl and Firchman. It is outlined here: The Yinon Plan and the role of the ISIS.
However, Israel is not the only country that heavily influences US foreign policy.
In 1973 President Nixon and King Faisal concluded an agreement in which the parties agreed as follows:
1—the US agreed to “defend” the Saudi royal family (actually they are brutal dictators).
2—In exchange for this benefit, the Saudis agreed to charge only US dollars for their oil and to keep all of their cash reserves in US dollars.
In reality, the outcomes of all US wars waged in Muslim countries and regions (like Kosovo) prove beyond a doubt that the US was actually aiding the Saudis to reach their goal of foisting Sunni Wahhabism (Salafism) on the entire Muslim world. I detailed the argumentation of this hypothesis at Quora: What were the US and West's interests for the removal of Mr. Bashar al-Assad and the funding and arming of the groups that opposed him?
The US became not only a mercenary force but also, in a perverted and clandestine way, a missionary organization spreading the gospel of Wahhabism. However, we must bear in mind that in supporting the Saudis, the US was also generally supporting Israel in its fulfilment of the Yinon Plan and at the same time, the US was hoping to benefit from the oil and gas deposits in Syria (particularly in Deir Ezzor). These complex and tangled motivations make it quite difficult for analysts to arrive at an all-encompassing overview of the Syrian war. Most analysts are content to settle on just one issue or one influencer.
Amazingly, the goals of Israel according to the Yinon Plan coincided quite well – though not perfectly – with the goals of the Saudis. In fact, these two countries have become partners and both are more-or-less uniformly controlling US foreign policy.
In Syria, the Israeli goal of Balkanizing the country – that is, dividing it according to cultures, i.e., Kurdish, Sunni, Christian and Shia – coincides in large part with the Saudi goal of foisting Sunni religion on Syria. The Saudis have always chafed at the rule of Basher Assad and his father Hafez, who encouraged Christians, Sunnis and Shiites to get along with each other in harmony. These 2 leaders cultivated an atmosphere of tolerance not duplicated anywhere else in the Middle East. For example, Syrians who lived there before the war report that it was considered a lack of etiquette to ask another Syrian what religion he adhered to.
Finally, for the sake of completeness, in addition to the interests of Israel and Saudi Arabia, we need to recall Washington’s interest in benefitting from Syrian oil and gas deposits. The richest oil deposit is at Deir Ezzor. During the Obama administration, the US Air Force killed between 90 and 106 Syrian soldiers who were attempting to fight ISIS here. The US claimed that this was an accident but of course this was not true because it happened numerous times in oil-rich Deir Ezzor and only there. Later in the Trump administration, the US air force again killed about 100 Syrian soldiers in Deir Ezzor, as reported by BBC (US forces repel attack on Syrian allies), and they also killed over 100 Russian mercenaries, also at Deir Ezzor. Obviously, the US considers oil-rich Deir Ezzor its own territory. In holding Deir Ezzor, the US is not only trying to illegally claim these oil deposits for itself but is also causing the cash-strapped Syrian people great harm by preventing them from selling their own oil!
The US military has had many jihadist groups as allies, but in each case, the US was forced to distance themselves from these groups because it later became known publicly that each of them were committing atrocities. Finally, the US decided to ally itself with the SDF (Syrian Defence Force), which was essentially Kurdish and was not known to commit atrocities. The US pretended that it was helping the Kurds protect their territory. The problem is that the SDF was deployed mostly in Deir Ezzor. Anyone familiar with the geography and demographics of Syria, however, knows that, as shown in this map: How Syria Could Be Permanently Ripped Apart, In Two Maps, Deir Ezzor is not anywhere near the traditional Kurdish territory of Syria (I never find other analysts pointing out this important fact). Further, as reported in the Washington Post, the US even killed its own Kurdish allies at Deir Ezzor https://www.washingtonpost.com/, claiming that this too was an “accident.” The result was that the terrorists whom the SDF was fighting were able to seize more territory and 700 hostages, which the terrorists will use to force concessions from the Kurds. This too benefits the US because the terrorists freed from the grips of the SDF by the American “accident” will furnish the excuse needed by the US to keep its base at Deir Ezzor. Answer requested by Matthew Lowe
Vince Dhimos answered a question on Quora.
What would Israel be targeting in Syria?
Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
Answered 15m ago
It is good to have an overview of the Middle East when considering any issue concerning this region.
Israel has always hated Syria for various reasons and also is land-hungry (which is why it seized part of the Golan Heights after the Six-Day war in 1967. BTW, Trump does not have the authority to give this land to Israel. It belongs to Syria).
So it has these 2 motives for wanting to grab Syria.
It routinely attacks Syria claiming that Hezbollah and Iran have agents in the country who are involved in manufacturing and/or exporting missiles to Lebanon for use against Israel. It may be true that Iranians are there making missiles but it is unlikely that the sophisticate Iranian missiles are going to be used by Hezbollah to attack Israel because if they were to be used that way, Iran would become embroiled in a war that it cannot afford. Israel knows this but wants all Iranians out of Syria. The problem is, Israel has no authority whatsoever to decide who may or may not spend time in Syria at Syria’s request. So its “pre-emptive” attacks on the country are irregular, illegal and immoral.
Since Israel has also been complicit with the US in foreign policy, it is also doing Donald Trump’s bidding in killing Iranians. Trump and his followers claim he is anti-Establishment but in fact, he is very much a part of that Establishmen — often called the swamp or the Deep State by Trump fans, in that this cabal is intent on supporting Israel and making war in the Middle East — to appease both Israel and Saudi.
The US is ruled not by the US people but by a cabal that could be called the Deep State or the Establishment. I have listed the most important members of this cabal at Quora:
Israel has harboured a smouldering hatred of Syria for many years mostly because Syria refuses to recognize the country, considering its land to be stolen from Arabs, but also because Syria was one of the countries that fought Israel in the 6 Day war. Partly for this reason, one investigator (https://www.voltairenet.org/arti...) Jürgen Cain Külbel, claims, based on extensive research and cogent argumentation, that the assassination of Lebanon president Rafic Hariri in 2005 was actually the work of Mossad, though it was then promptly blamed on Bashar al-Assad in a kangaroo court of the UN that went out of its way to blame Assad, ignoring exculpatory evidence on Assad’s behalf and damaging evidence against Mossad (the pattern of the assassination was typical of Mossad, whereas Assad had never been known to perpetrate such an act and would only have hurt himself in so doing). Assuming it was Mossad, the motive would have been to end the occupation of Lebanon by Syrian peace keepers. Indeed, this assassination did end the occupation, answering the question “cui bono?”
In other words, Israel is serious about overthrowing Assad, as is the US. So it is likely that, while Israel is probably sincere in wanting to eliminate the Iranian presence in Syria, Assad’s presidency is also a target and these attacks are helping to destabilize the country, in keeping with Israeli-US wishes. So what’s the solution?
Behind the scenes, Putin has been trying to make inroads into Lebanon, with security-related deals and oil deals, and if Russia succeeds in gaining a foothold in the form of a naval base in that country, Israel’s position against Syria will be weakened. If that happens, Russia will undoubtedly set up S-400 batteries within range of the Israeli jets that illegally fire missiles at the Syrian targets from Lebanese airspace. This will put a bit of a damper on Israel’s aggressiveness. Russia may also supply S-300s or S-400s, Pantsirs and/or Russian fighter jets to the Lebanese military and that would be even more of a damper. But the advantage to Israel is that it would also discourage Hezbollah from any intentions to harm Israel. Russia has no taste for war and wants peace in the region.
4 Views · Answer requested by David Daniel Ball
Vince Dhimos answered a question on Quora.
DO YOU THINK WW III IS POSSIBLE IN 2019 GIVEN THE TENSION BETWEEN RUSSIA, THE STATES AND KOREA?
Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
If you do a search using the search term
WW III in 2019
you will find a rather surprising number of sites anticipating that World War 3 will occur in 2019. This explains why someone would want to ask this question.
First, let’s just forget about Korea, which is incapable of maintaining a war against the US for more than a week. It does not have the firepower. And neither China nor Russia would back it up if it started a war. Both have agreed with the US in its rejection of nuclear status for North Korea.
As for Russia, it is highly unlikely that this longsuffering country will fall into a trap due to a US provocation. Russia is patiently waiting for the US to destroy itself with its debt and to make more and more enemies with its brusqueness and bullying toward even allies like Germany, which the US ambassador tried to order around as if he were its colonial master. For ex, Trump and his thugs told Europe they should not allow the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 to be built and that they should buy the extravagantly expensive US LNG instead. For the sake of “energy security” (wink wink). No president has ever done anything this utterly sleazy. Europe is used to being treated with respect (although in honesty, all presidents expect it to obey Washington’s orders, but they use diplomacy to convey this message).
This behaviour has had at least 2 adverse effects for the US:
1—it has led to a drastic loss of trust in its allies and others.
2—It has induced sanctioned countries and countries threatened with sanctions, like Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and others, to seek ways to avoid using the US dollar in their foreign trade because the mechanism for enforcing these sanctions involves US banks and the SWIFT system, which is located in Belgium but controlled by the US. These entities deal only in dollars. The means of avoiding the dollar have become quite sophisticated and effective and include a SWIFT-like special purpose vehicle called INSTEX, devised and engineered in Europe to enable international trade with Iran without fear of sanctions.
Another mechanism for avoiding sanctions is the Shanghai oil futures exchange, which can, for ex, sell Iranian or Venezuelan oil in yuan (RMB). These sales cannot be traced via the US banking system.
Another consequence — the most serious one — is that Russia and China have been working very hard with diplomacy to bring Saudi Arabia over to their side. These efforts have paid off and recently Saudi oil minister Khalid al-Falih warned the US not to sanction Russia any more (http://vestnikkavkaza.net/news/Khalid-Al-Falih-warns-of-dangers-of-new-anti-Russian-sanctions.html). Though he was dimplomatic, he was hinting that they are capable of abandoning the petrodollar and starting to accept yuan, roubles or other currencies for their oil. Saudi wants very much to be China’s no. 1 supplier (Saudi Aramco looks to become China’s biggest crude supplier) and it knows that China would almost certainly allow this to happen IF Saudi were to start selling using the yuan.
If any of these means of weakening the dollar leads to the loss of dollar hegemony, Washington will no longer be able to abuse its power by waging senseless wars on phony pretexts and will become just another member of the multipolar world.
This is one reason why both Russia and China are avoiding war. As for Iran, it too is part of the de-dollarization scheme and, judging by its forbearance toward Israel — which routinely kills Iranians in Syria — it too is very patient and willing to wait. As a close associate of Xi and Putin, Rouhani definitely knows what they are up to and is also waiting for the US dollar to lose its status as the world reserve currency and the go-to currency for world trade settlements.
The end of the US dollar’s special status will be the defeat they are all waiting for. Not a shot need be fired.
Below is our translation from the Italian of an article and manifesto, NATO EXIT, that urges Europe to leave NATO. Commentary and notes in [brackets] are by Vince Dhimos. This article echoes my article, first published at Quora, essentially urging the same thing:
At the same time, the US publication National Interest is also calling for the US to leave NATO.
NATO’s immoral and illegal war on Serbia in 1998-1999 killed 13,500 Europeans while the Russian Federation never dropped a single bomb on Europe.
It was GW Bush who, in 2002, unilaterally abandoned the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty, which had been in effect since it was signed in 1972. Russia did not express any desire to abandon the treaty.
And yet the NATO alliance – the only organization to attack Europe militarily – cynically claims it is there to protect Europe from Russia! Amazingly, most Europeans swallow this line of blatant propaganda.
Counter-celebration in Florence of the 70th of NATO
by Manlio Dinucci
Political leaders gathered for NATO's 70th anniversary. At the same time President Trump, who did not take part in the celebration, proposed a partial nuclear disarmament to China and Russia, despite the contrary opinion of the Alliance. At the same time, some peace activists have called for a NATO exit; a position paradoxically close to that of Trump.
The 70th anniversary of the Atlantic Alliance was celebrated by a29 foreign ministers meeting not in NATO's headquarters in Brussels, but in the State Department in Washington.
Master of Ceremonies NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who merely announced the opening speech given by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. NATO explains - the State Department explains – it [NATO] is important because, "thanks to it, the United States can better address, globally and politically, global threats to their interests: NATO remains fundamental for US military operations in the transatlantic region (ie in Europe) and in other strategically critical regions, such as the Middle East and South Asia.” [highlighting is mine—Vince]
It is therefore the State Department itself that clearly tells us that NATO is an instrument of the United States. No political reaction in Italy. The only answer came from the Conference which, promoted by the No War No NATO Committee and by Global Research, a research centre headed by Michel Chossudovsky, brought together about 600 participants at the Odeon cinema-theater in Florence on 7 April. The conclusions are set out in the "Declaration of Florence," which reads as follows:
"The risk of a major war that, with the use of nuclear weapons could mark the end of Humanity, is real and is increasing, even if it is not perceived by public opinion, which is kept in the dark about the impending danger. A maximum effort to get out of the war system is of vital importance. This calls into question the membership of Italy and other European countries in NATO.
NATO is not an alliance. It is an organization under the command of the Pentagon, whose purpose is the military control of Western and Eastern Europe. The US bases in NATO member countries serve to occupy these countries, maintaining a permanent military presence that allows Washington to influence and control their politics and block real democratic choices.
NATO is a war machine that works for the interests of the United States, with the complicity of the major European power groups, staining itself with crimes against humanity.
The war of aggression conducted by NATO in 1999 against Yugoslavia opened the way for the globalization of military interventions, with the war against Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and other countries, in complete violation of international law. These wars are financed by member countries, whose military budgets are constantly growing at the expense of social expenses, to support colossal military programs such as the US $1.2 trillion nuclear program.
The US, violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty, deploys nuclear weapons in 5 non-nuclear NATO states, with the false motivation of the "Russian threat.” This compromises European security.
To get out of the war system that harms us more and more and exposes us to the imminent danger of a major war, we must leave NATO, affirming the right to be sovereign and neutral states. In this way it is possible to contribute to the dismantling of NATO and of any other military alliance, to the reconfiguration of the structures of the entire European region, to the formation of a multipolar world in which the aspirations of peoples for freedom and social justice are realized.
We propose the creation of an international NATO EXIT front in all the European countries of NATO, building an organizational network at the grassroots level capable of sustaining the hardest struggle to achieve this vital goal for our future.”
Manlio Dinucci Geografo. Latest published works: Laboratorio di geografia, Zanichelli 2014 ; Diario di viaggio, Zanichelli 2017 ; L’arte della guerra / Annali della strategia Usa/Nato 1990-2016, Zambon 2016; Guerra nucleare. Il giorno prima. Da Hiroshima a oggi: chi e come ci porta alla catastrofe, Zambon 2017; Diario di guerra. Escalation verso la catastrofe (2016 - 2018), Asterios Editores 2018.
We add to this our translation of an article from rueconomics.ru, showing that prominent Americans, in addition to Trump, have been urging the US to put an end to NATO.
US politicians urge US authorities to review anti-Russian strategy
April 12, 2019
Former US Secretary of State George Schulz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former Senator Samuel Nunn addressed the American President Donald Trump. They called for a revision of anti-Russian policy.
The aforementioned politicians believe that at the present time relations between Moscow and Washington are deadlocked. This, in their opinion, threatens dangerous confrontation, which can result in the use of nuclear weapons. They shared information about this in a joint article for the Wall Street Journal.
As the politicians said, the level of the current threat noticeably exceeds the danger to which the world was exposed during the Cold War. In this regard, they believe that the United States needs a new approach to relations with Russia.
American politicians want Putin and Trump to continue to develop mutual cooperation between countries. According to them, the beginning was made at the Helsinki summit, but the words did not go further than the words said there.
The author: Denis Davydov
VINCE ON QUORA: WHY 2 OIL-EXPORTING SOCIALIST COUNTRIES, NORWAY AND VENEZUELA, HAVE SUCH DIFFERENT ECONOMIES
Vince answered a question on (Spanish-language) Quora. Here is the English translation of the question and what he wrote:
Unlike Norway, Venezuela’s government has not run afoul of Washington, which has adopted the ideology of Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism, both of which do not tolerate the presence of a country in the Western hemisphere that labels itself as “socialist.” The problem is not so much with Venezuela’s socialism as it is with Chavismo’s blatant and open antagonism to what it perceives as Washington’s Neocolonialism.
Norway has not attracted the ire of Washington and has therefore not been subject to sanctions and boycotts.
I had previously posted at Quora an analysis of the reasons for the Venezuelan economic crisis:
Also, unlike Norway, Venezuelan oil is relatively difficult to extract and process. It is highly viscous and its extraction and processing require special equipment. Unfortunately, the Chavistas have apparently failed to maintain their equipment properly and it is operating at low efficiency.
However, Venezuela has had some bad luck. In 2015, world oil prices dropped drastically and Venezuela lost a lot of money. Further, that same year, Obama declared Venezuela a “threat to the national security” of the US. This was a fabricated charge but based on this pretext, he imposed sanctions on several Venezuelan persons. There were also coup attempts against Chavez and Maduro, starting in 2002 which damaged the country’s reputation and hurt investment. All of these things had a destabilizing effect.
Meanwhile, the Bolivarian governments made little attempt to diversify the economy. The most serious error was the lack of investment in agriculture, which made the country dependent on food imports, which became extremely expensive and contributed to the hyperinflation that continues to plague the country. This hyperinflation problem was compounded by Maduro’s refusal to float the bolivar against the dollar.
Russian intervention is helping to ease at least 2 of the problems. After a conference with Putin, Maduro decided to float the value of the bolivar and allow banks to exchange bolivars against the dollar at rates similar to those of the black market. Further, just last week, on Friday April 5, an intergovernmental conference was held between Venezuelan and Russian officials in Moscow at which conference 11 joint investment projects were signed. One of these investments was in the area of agriculture, and if this project bears fruit, it will greatly ease the problem of food availability and prices.
I normally do not post English translations of my foreign-language Quora contributions at NSS but this one started getting a lot of upvotes right away. It appears the Germans are very hungry for information about their world. Recent events and statements by prominent German leaders also suggest that Germany may be on the way to declaring its independence of the US and NATO.
Translation of Quora question and Vince’s answer:
Why are Syrians fleeing 4,000 kilometers to Europe when the rich Arab states are at their doorstep?
Vince Dhimos, editor-in-chief and geopolitical analyst at www.newsilkstrategies.com (2015-present)
The main reason for the migrant waves to Europe is the Saudis. The main terrorist groups, al Qaeda and ISIS, are based on the Saudi sect Wahhabism or Salafism, a Sunni sect that is the most violent and intolerant sect in the world. Most of the funding for these groups comes from Saudi Arabia as well. The religious principles of Wahhabism are based on coercion. That is, the Saudis, both the common people and the Saudi royal family, insist that the entire Muslim world must belong to the Sunni branch of Islam and to the Wahhabi sect of that branch. That is, all Muslims must be strict fundamentalists, and if they refuse to obey a very strict Shariah code of conduct, they must be punished or killed.
In 1973, President Nixon and King Faisal concluded an agreement that may be referred to as a petrodollar agreement. Under the agreement, the US promised to use its military to defend the Saudis, and in return, the Saudis agreed to support the US dollar by charging only US dollars for their oil and holding their cash reserves in US dollars.
The problem with this agreement is that the US side went too far in holding up their part of the deal. It seems that all the wars that the US has (outside the Americas) since 1973 have ONLY benefited the Saudis. In order to pay for these wars, the United States has incurred massive debts that are now completely unpayable. Not only the Saudis, but also the Saudi religious sect Wahhabism (Salafism) profited from all the wars.
Hundreds of thousands of people were killed by US bombs and by the knives of ISIS terrorists.
Since the Saudis had decided at the beginning of all these wars and regime changes (Arab Spring) not to accept any consequences for them, it goes without saying that the West had to accept the refugees. However, the US also refuses to accept many of the refugees they have created. Instead, it has inflicted them on Europe. Merckel was glad to have them at first because of Germany’s labour shortage. Later, she came under severe criticism when the guest list grew beyond all proportions.
Of course, Europe is not fully aware of this petrodollar agreement with the Saudis and sees the US as a partner. But this partner is deceptive.
END of answer
Below is our translation of an article from lenta.ru with commentary by Vince Dhimos.
Ironic, isn’t it? It was through the efforts of the only US black president that Libya is now the largest market for black African slaves in the world!
April 9, 2019
It was never like this under Gadaffi
Slavery, terror and death camps. New dictator is bringing order to Libya
Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his loyal soldiers are engaged in fierce battles on the outskirts of the country's capital, Tripoli. The commander is firmly determined to cleanse the homeland of the Islamists, who, in his opinion, have staged chaos and lawlessness in the country. Rush of terror, slave markets and death camps where refugees who want to move to Europe are robbed, raped and killed are the realities of today's Libya. “Lenta.ru,” decided to recall what the country had become after the overthrow of the dictator Muammar Gaddafi and predict where the victory of the new leader would lead her.
The text was first posted on the site in November 2017, today we publish it with relevant additions.
“Does anyone need a digger?” This is a big, strong man, he will dig well! ”Shouts a salesman in a slave market in Tripoli, extolling a stocky and muscular black man. Buyers gradually raise the price. The result - 600 Libyan dinars (about 440 US dollars at the official rate). Sold into slavery, he goes into the hands of his new owners. This seemingly insane scene for the 21st century is quite common in Libyan cities.
The fact that the slave trade is flourishing in the country is not news. The first documentary evidence appeared in April 2017. Slave markets operate in Zuvar, Kastelverde, Kabave, Gadamis, Sabha, Sabrat and several other cities. Living goods - refugees from Central African countries who were trying to get to Europe.
The scheme of turning people into slaves is extremely simple. The migrant turns to the carrier and pays him a certain amount for the trip to Europe. As a rule, from three to five thousand dollars. The refugees give up their last savings. When a migrant enters Libya, he is informed that the money paid is not sufficient, that he needs to pay more, and nobody guaranteed anything to the illegal. If a refugee refuses to pay extra and insists on his rights, demanding respect for the agreement, he/she is beaten or raped, or both. After this treatment, the unfortunate is, as a rule, put up for auction and sold.
For Libyans, trade in Africans from sub-Saharan countries is commonplace. “Discrimination and racism against blacks are rooted in Libyan society — the black trade flourished there until the 1940s. Now Libya plays host to armed militants from different groups, armed oppositionists, gangsters of all stripes, various criminal clans who have made a profitable business from the slave trade,” says Tunisian sociologist Monsef Owann.
“We are packed like matches in a box. We can’t sleep. Many suffer from various diseases. We do not have enough food, we did not take a shower for several months. We will all die if we do not escape from here. This is Golgotha. It is unbearable to live in a room where people lie on the floor and suffocate from the evaporation of urine and feces,” said one of the guests of the refugee camp set up with the EU. Now, the Department for Combating Illegal Migration of Libya (DCIM) is in charge of 19,500 people, although only two months ago there were no more than 7,000 refugees.
The guards constantly brutally beat refugees, using electric shockers as well. It is their response to requests for food, water and medical care.
One of the women refugees simply and casually said that once she was taken from the camp and taken to a house where there were three men: “They raped me. One of them was an employee of the DCIM [Directorate to Counter Illegal Migration (DCIM) of the National Accord government—note by the Russian author] [the National Accord government was set up by the UN—NSS note]. All of these camps are designed to reduce the flow of refugees to Europe. But everything looked good only on paper.
Libyan officials have established a profitable business. For a bribe, they release the refugee and send him to the carriers. As soon as a ship with migrants goes into neutral waters, the Libyan coast guard takes over. The boat is intercepted, and the migrants are returned to the camp.
UN observers, who visited several migrant accommodation centres in Tripoli earlier in the month, could not hide their horror from what they saw: “Thousands of emaciated and crippled men, women and children were locked in hangars without access to the most basic amenities, deprived of human dignity.”
“What was a difficult situation turned into a catastrophe (...) The international community can no longer close its eyes to the unimaginable horrors experienced by migrants in Libya, and pretend that the situation can be remedied only by improving conditions of detention,” said the Supreme Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Raad Al-Hussein. The European Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, at a press conference in Brussels, said that he took note of the UN’s comments.
The path to Europe - the road to ISIS
Some migrants manage to escape. Without money and documents, they are easy prey for the numerous gangs operating in Libya. And above all, these are militants one way or another affiliated with ISIS.
Victory over radical Islamists in Libya was solemnly announced after the storming of the city of Sirte in early December last year. However, then strange events began to occur.
For example, in January of this year, American B-2 strategic bombers attacked ISIS positions of 45 kilometers southeast of Sirte. In August, there was a report that terrorists attacked the Libyan National Army (LNA) [Khalifa Haftar’s army] checkpoint 500 kilometres south of the capital, Tripoli. Militants captured and decapitated nine soldiers and two civilians.
It was already impossible to hide the obvious. In late September, a senior official in the Prosecutor’s Office of Libya, Sadiq Al-Sur, admitted that there are ISIS training camps in the Libyan desert. According to the official, in fact, we are talking about the "desert army led by the Libyan fighter al-Mahdi Salem Dangou, also known as Abu Barakat.” “It consists of three brigades. This army was created after the liberation of the city of Sirte,” al Sur added. Militants even set up their own checkpoints on the roads leading to Sirte.
“Southern Libya, with its vast, uncontrolled territories, is the main migration route from sub-Saharan Africa to northern Libya and Europe,” said Walid Naman, an expert on North Africa, in an interview with Gulf News. Consequently, ISIS can, on the one hand, receive replenishment, by recruiting or simply intimidating refugees, and on the other, it can easily take them prisoner and then sell them to the auctioneers in slave markets.
None are guilty and no one is accountable
That is the conclusion reached by the President of Guinea and part-time African Union president Alpha Condé. “How was it possible to ask a country in which there is no government to create a barrier to refugees? This is irresponsible! Those who suggested this knew that there was a power vacuum [in Libya] and there were no opportunities to provide decent conditions for migrants. The main culprits are here [in Europe],” lamented the politician on TV channel France 24.“ It is necessary that our friends [Europeans] admit their mistake,” he added. [bracketed comments were in original Russian text. – NSS]
The situation in Libya with refugees, their sale into slavery and recruitment into the ranks of ISIS became so acute that the UN took an unprecedented step. A group of refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan, a total of 25 people, were transported from Libya to Niger. This is just a drop in the bucket.
But in Europe, they were not in a hurry to admit their mistakes, repent, or even less curtail programs for filtering refugees. In particular, under the Department of Defence of the United Kingdom, the training of Libyan coast guard employees continued.
In 2019, we can say that the European efforts paid off: Libyans working for money from EU countries detain unlucky seafarers and send them to something on the order of concentration camps, where torture, rape and slave markets await them. There are about a million refugees in the country, and this number is constantly growing: European ships leave the frail craft on the open sea, and Libya, in distress, declines to take any more - Libyans invariably sail behind them and take them back by force.
This situation is sharply criticized by human rights defenders, but politicians are not in a hurry to respond to it: after all, the refugee problem is being solved, and the means to that end is not so important. The main thing is that voters are satisfied. The Libyan authorities are also happy with everything: stable funding allows conflicting Tripoli-based Islamist groups to continue to get rich at the expense of refugees. [Haftar is fighting these jihadists, while the UN-appointed Government of National Accord, does nothing to deter them.—Vince]
Meanwhile, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his loyal soldiers are advancing on the capital and on the main concenfortration points illegal immigrants. Since the beginning of 2019, they have managed to seize the richest oil-bearing areas of the country, driving out Islamists from there, and as a result, the situation in Tripoli has become unbearable: residents suffer from lack of money, unemployment, ruin and corruption. All this is complicated by the precarious power of Islamist groups, who have managed to unite only in the face of the threat from Haftar’s army.
In this situation, many residents of war-torn Libya miss the brutal, bloody, but stable times of Gaddafi - and it is possible that Haftar is inspired by the image of the "fraternal leader and leader of the revolution" and hopes to get full power in the country. For his part, however, it would be reasonable not to forget that it was the dictatorial style of government of Gaddafi that once pushed the country into civil war, and only through the UN-led peace process and only by taking into account the interests of all opposing sides - except the most radical - can the country have a chance for a peaceful and successful future.
Below is our translation of an article from the Russian-language version of RT. Commentary by Vince Dhimos.
Assange will be indicted and sentenced in the US for the same reason that Assad’s Syria was attacked by Tomahawks.
Trump, in his usual courageous fashion, had to “prove” that he was not in collusion with Russia – an endeavour that has occupied a goodly percentage of the Trump administration’s time and effort since the 2016 election. In his tweet prior to the attack, Trump wrote:
“Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”
This was political theatre at its sleaziest, not least because there was no evidence that a chemical attack had even happened (subsequent testimony before the OPCW in The Hague showed there was no attack at all). Worried about the possible outcome of the Mueller probe into his supposed “Russian collusion,” instead of standing tall and defending his position on Russia with cogent arguments (when has he ever been cogent?) and correctly stating that the collusion charge was nonsense and a plot by this political enemies, he pretended to be incensed by Russia’s involvement in the Syrian war – despite his campaign statements condemning Obama’s threats of attacks on Syria based on the excuse of chemical weapons.
Now, aware that these same enemies are lurking to pounce on him should he breathe a word in defence of Assange, who indirectly helped him win the presidency by telling the truth about Hillary, can we not expect more of the same craven behaviour? Already in a campaign speech he said he thought Assange should be extradited to the US but, true to form, he did not explain why, ie, on what charges. To this day, while demanding Assange’s extradition to the US, the Trump Justice Department refuses to tell the public – who by and large support Assange – what in heaven’s name the poor beleaguered publisher is to be charged with.
Trump has the power to call off the witch hunt, correctly insisting that Assange is protected by the First Amendment. He would win the admiration of the voters in 2020. But that is not his MO, which is to cave in to his accusers like a scared puppy and hunker down hoping they will just go away.
A man may languish in jail on fabricated charges, but perhaps, with a lot of luck, this lonely, sickly persecuted man’s trial and imprisonment will make Donald Trump look like a strong courageous guy willing to stand up fearlessly against the constitution and human rights in the interest of a higher cause. Re-election.
Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the international news agency Russia Today and RT, criticized CNN, Guardian and other Western media for their failure to produce a video of the detention of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Simonyan called the Western editions "the shameless hypocritical servant of their establishment."
“The most obvious indictment of the disgrace that the world media has turned into is that today only we have filmed Assange’s arrest. Although everyone was expecting his expulsion,” she wrote in her Telegram-channel.
According to Simonyan, major Western media are now obliged to broadcast footage shot by RT journalists. The editor-in-chief of the channel also told about calls from CNN and the Guardian with questions why it so happened that the arrest of Assange was filmed only by RT.
“Yes, because you are a shameless hypocritical attendant of your establishment, and not journalists. That's why it happened,” explained Simonyan.
Assange was detained on April 11 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been hiding since 2012. Simonyan called the arrest of the founder of Wikileaks a victory for “world hypocrisy,” and also told the story of her acquaintance with the journalist.
We are all Julian Assange
Don't extradite Assange! Sign the petition
Vince Dhimos answered a question on Quora in French.
Why does the US continue to provide support to Europe when it [Europe] does not pay its fair share of NATO, causing added expense to the US?
It is hard to believe that any European today, after witnessing the wanton slaughter of thousands of people in Serbia, would still think that NATO is “supporting Europe.”
The war that NATO waged on Serbia killed over 13,000 Europeans. After the war, around 200,000 Serbs, Romani and other non-Albanians fled Kosovo and many of the remaining civilians were victims of abuse (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosovo_War). Remember that Kosovo was the cradle of Serbian Orthodox Christianity. Today almost every church and Christian cemetery in Kosovo has been either destroyed or desecrated.
The few Serbs who remain in their homes are afraid to go out to the street in areas dominated by Albanians.
Saudi Arabia has built Wahhabist mosques and imported imams who teach violence and hate toward any non-Wahhabist. Kosovo is the region that has exported more jihaidsts per capita to Syria than any other European country. We can thank NATO for this situation.
Just before the war, the Western media disseminated the narrative that the Serbs were committing genocide or ethnic cleansing. The fact is, the Albanian Muslims in Kosovo were committing atrocities and the Serbian authorities were trying to curb this violence. The US and NATO cynically spun this self-defence effort of the Serbs as human rights abuses because they wanted war with Serbia and needed an excuse. After the war, the chief prosecutor of the UN criminal court, Carla del Ponte, led an investigation into the accusations of atrocities in Kosovo and found:
1) that the Serbs had not committed genocide (as NATO and the US had asserted as a pretext for the war)
2) that the Muslim Kosovars had committed atrocities and were, for example, murdering Serbs and selling their body parts.
NATO is a creation of the US originally intended to protect Europe and the US from the Soviet Union. According to newly declassified documents, during negotiations with Russia, Secretary of State James Baker promised Gorbachev that NATO would never be extended close to the Russian border (https://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/newly-declassified-documents-gorbachev-told-nato-wouldnt-23629).
The US broke this promise and NATO now poses a very real threat to Russia. NATO holds military drills practically at the Russian border, with thousands of troops, while the US and NATO send surveillance aircraft to the Russian border, which the Russians interpret as part of a plan to invade Russia. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the US ambassador to NATO, said last year at a NATO meeting that “we should take out Russian missiles” that the US insists – without evidence – violate the INF Treaty (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/02/world/europe/russia-missiles-nato-hutchison.html). If NATO had done this, the world would have been plunged into war. Russia is not a threat to Europe. The Kosovo War proved that the only military threat to Russia is the US-led NATO.
NATO has placed missile bases in Poland and Romania, with missiles aimed at Russia. As President Putin pointed out, this obliges Russia to target these bases to defend itself, thus endangering these countries. The only countries that have invaded European countries so far are European aggressor countries – France, Germany, Italy and NATO (in Kosovo). On the other hand, Russia has never invaded a Western European country. And yet, Western Europe and the US insist that Russia is the aggressor. How ironic! A Western European country caused 27 million deaths in Russia in WW II and another Western European nation invaded Russia in 1812, killing 289,000 Russians, and now Europe has the gall to call the Russian Federation – a nation that never invaded them – an aggressor.
NATO is helping the US convert Europe into a quasi-colony. European countries that refuse to obey orders of the US president or Congress are punished with sanctions or tariffs or threatened.
The US has threatened Europe with sanctions in the event it allows the Nord Stream 2 Russian pipeline project to be completed. Under pressure from the US, which wanted to sell its extravagantly expensive LNG, the foolish European parliament then issued a resolution to stop all work on the project even though it was ¾ finished (they later were forced to relent). The excuse it gave was that the pipeline would give Russia a means of pressuring the EU. It was nonsense! The US was the only country pressuring Europe and it was hurting the European economy. The Russia sanctions, imposed by Europe under pressure from the US, cost Europe $30 billion!
The only sensible move for Europe is to leave NATO and to make NATO leave Europe.
Hi. I’m Fareed Zacharia. Trump, who we Democrats, and good patriots like the departed John McCain, all hate, is not willing to risk the life of the planet to challenge the evil Putin, who refuses to accept sacred Western values, such as transsexuals in uniform. Unlike myself, he thinks life on earth is more important than keeping America tough and throwing our weight around like we always did. I strongly disagree with sissy Donnie. Our hero John F. Kennedy took Russia to the brink, risking nuclear war – the lives of every resident of planet earth – over the Cuban crisis. We need to do the same with Putin. See, we Democrats know that there is nothing more important than us ruling the planet and having the freedom to bomb hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians any time we please, overthrow governments and create conditions conducive to terror and chaos, all in defiance of international law, on behalf of freedom and democracy. That is our American freedom. I have just three words for Donald J. Trump: CHICKEN! CHICKEN! CHICKEN!
by Vince Dhimos
Yesterday was Venezuela’s best news day in decades. Official delegates from Venezuela and Russia pow-wowed in an intergovernmental conference in Moscow and made decisions regarding investments that should have been made two decades ago.
For all that time, Venezuelans have been obliged to buy most of their food from abroad. When Chavez first rose to power, Venezuelan oil was fetching handsome prices and the country was flush in US dollars. Importing food was no problem and people were eating well. There was no excuse for the people to rise up and for the US to use their disgruntlement as a pretext to grab their oil.
If Chavez, and later Maduro, had been clairvoyant, they would have encouraged the development of agriculture in the Bolivarian republic. But back then there seemed to be no reason to worry.
Nonetheless, hunger has been a problem for quite some time now and while Maduro didn’t see the cause of the crisis in time, Putin did. Russia has gone through the harshest economic sanctions of any other country, starting in 2015, when Russia committed the unpardonable crime of actually fighting terror in Syria, not just pretending the way the US was doing. But Putin didn’t cry over the sanctions. He went to work and encouraged food independence through import substitution. With government incentives, Russian farmers started raising food for the home market and stopped importing US and European foodstuffs. In Russia’s case, the motive was counter-sanctions to slap back at the US Russophobes. The reasoning was: if the US wants to sanction us (mostly via their European puppets), we’ll sanction them right back and stop buying European farm production (this tactic is similar to that used successfully by China to counter US sanctions on their exports, except that China simply substituted exporters). Russia was so successful in this that they started exporting food. As a matter of fact, Russia is now the number one wheat exporter in the world.
If Venezuela wants to eat again, they came to the right place – Moscow.
It wasn’t only agriculture. According to Telesur, citing sectorial vice-president of planning and planning minister Ricardo Menéndez, joint investment agreements were signed in the areas of oil, finances, agriculture, trade, culture, education and science & technology.
Similar texts were posted at Telesur in Spanish and, for example, by TASS in Russian, although the latter’s list of fields was more complete, citing joint investments in:
energy, agriculture, geological exploration, pharmaceuticals, information and communication technologies, nuclear medicine, military technology and other fields.
BTW, let’s not forget that Russian manufacturer Kalashnikov already has started construction of a new plant for the production of its top-of-the-line military rifles, which will start production at the end of this year.
But the news is not all rosy because Venezuela has a habit of not making payments on time. One item was missed by the Venezuelan journalist but was picked up in the Russian-language reports, eg, by Kommersant:
“Earlier, the Finance Ministry said that Venezuela was supposed to pay a tranche of the debt to Russia in March, but has not done so yet. The Russian government loan issued to Venezuela today amounts to about $3 billion. In addition, the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA owes Rosneft $2.3 billion as a prepayment for the supply of oil.”
But the debt had stood at $3.1 billion three months earlier, so not to worry yet.
The main worry at this point is that US sanctions keep pouring down like rain. Having run out of people and companies to sanction on shore, the US has turned its attention to ships.
According to the Russian language publication of RT, Mike Pence has announced:
“At the direction of President Donald Trump, the United States will impose sanctions on 34 vessels owned or used by PDVSA, as well as two companies that ship Venezuelan oil to Cuba,”
According to another report by Russian language RT, an expert has said these sanctions are bound to have an ill effect on the Venezuelans because they are biting the oil sector, which generates the lion’s share of income.
So if the US can keep its hands off Venezuela and allow the Russian – as well as the Chinese – investments to develop their positive effects on the economy. Venezuela could pull out of its malaise. It will be rough going at first. China has had its ups and downs with Venezuela, particularly in terms of getting paid on time. But they have not given up on Venezuela yet. After all, the country is a major supplier of oil to China. And consider the alternative. Look what the US did for Ukraine after instigating and promoting a violent illegal coup there in 2014. According to the IMF, Ukraine is now the poorest country in Europe, as I commented here.
Now these decisions can lead to prosperity if Russia guides the Venezuelans wisely and vigilantly, but there is a problem. If maniacs like Fareed Zacharia (see above video) keep pressuring Trump and claiming he is “too easy” on Russia, he is liable to give in to their suicidal demands and push back against Russia in a way that leads to war. And war with Russia is unthinkable. Because Russia will not be backed into a corner. They will not easily give up their sovereignty. It is nonsense to claim that Trump is weak on Russia. Under pressure from the opposition, he has been unreasonably tough on Russia in imposing an unprecedented number of sanctions on the country and approving extremely provocative NATO drills at the Russian border. His administration’s ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchinson actually discussed before NATO the possibility of a pre-emptive strike on Russia to “take out” missiles the US deems to be in violation of the INF Treaty! In other words, Trump and his cabinet are already dangerous and his adversaries want him to become even more dangerous. It is a game of chicken that can end badly. Trump set a trap for himself, as he often does, by naming Guaidó as the interim president and pressuring his allies to recognize this non-entity of whom little is known in Venezuela, and then threatening war on the country with sly statements like “all options are on the table.” When the Russians sent in military materiel and troops, Trump understood it was game over because he remembered Russia’s threat prior to the Tomahawk strike in Syria, namely, that if the missiles struck any Russian assets, Russia reserved the right to strike the platforms whence they came, and that meant US naval ships. Trump’s military were extra cautious not to touch Russian assets and from that time forward, Trump did not dare repeat that exercise. His statement in the televised meeting with the supposed interim first lady of Venezuela, namely, that “Russia must leave” was pure politics for consumption by his devotees and to keep his enemies off his back. For the moment.
This is where we stand today, with the US claiming superiority but behaving in a way consistent with a nation at an impasse. Because that's what it is. But the war-hawks in msm and politics are hammering away at Trump to force him into an even more precarious situation in which things could easily get out of hand.
Under these circumstances, the Russian deals with Venezuela are not entirely secure.
On top of that, both the Russians and the Chinese have acknowledged that Maduro is not the most reliable trading partner.
This is why the Venezuela situation is unpredictable and bears watching.
Video showing Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland admitting she squandered $5 billion on illegally overthrowing a perfectly functional government in Ukraine to install the current government that has made Ukraine the poorest country in Europe!
Vince Dhimos answered a leading, biased question on Quora. You can see Glenn Anderson’s answer to his own question at this site:
Why is anti-Ukrainian propaganda of hate so effective in Russia?
Vince Dhimos, Editor-in-Chief at New Silk Strategies (2016-present)
[I have added some details not included in my Quora response]
The asker of this question wrote his own answer based on the Ukrainian site StopFake - Борьба с неправдивой информацией о событиях в Украине. My comments below are based in part on this person’s comments.
A Russian TV channel supposedly spread a rumour that Urkainian veterans of wars are promised land and "2 slaves" on retirement. The channel is linked at the Russian language site Stop Fake (Фейк: Украинским военным обещают «кусочек земли и два раба») but the linked site does not contain the Russian word for slave and in fact does not relate to the topic. It relates to the history of Soviet troops liberating Kiev from the German fascists. Link: 70 лет назад Советские войска освободили Украину от фашистов. Новости. Первый канал. Thus, StopFake does not demonstrate that the Russian channel actually spread this rumour. I read Russian news daily in Russian and also view videos from this channel (the presenter is Vladimir Soloviev) and I have never read in Russian sites or heard on Russian TV anything that could be described as the “hate mongering” mentioned by the asker-answerer Glenn Anderson. [Some of the other respondents agreed with me on this.] In fact, the official Kremlin position is that Ukrainians are “Slavic brothers.” I have never read or heard anything similar in the Ukrainian press, which constantly slurs Russia. For the sake of completeness, let me note that Russian professor and philosopher Aleksander Dugin on one occasion said live on the radio, that the Ukrainian nationalists who shell neighbourhoods in Donbass ought to be killed. Dugin has been falsely identified as a mentor of President Putin – a laughable idea since Putin needs no mentors and in fact mentors others. The two actually never meet or confer. But because of this false association, Dugin’s foolish words about killing Ukrainians were taken as “evidence” that the Russian government advocated killing Ukrainians. I have in fact heard Putin strongly admonishing a guest on one of his public appearances who spoke harshly of Ukrainians, whose government is in fact virulently anti-Russian. Putin reminded him that Ukrainians are “our Slavic brothers.”
StopFake.org swears that said Russian TV channel – one of my favourites, BTW – has made the claim that the Ukrainians are spreading the rumour that Ukrainian vets of wars can get free land and “2 slaves” from the government. BTW, the land part is true. Vets who have seen action can get a tiny parcel from the government. But as I said above, I watch Vladimir Soloviev´s show quite often and I was pretty sure he had never made such an outlandish claim or allowed one of his guests to do so unchallenged.
I did a Russian language search using the search term in Russian for “two slaves and a parcel of land” (Два раба и клаптик земли) and found ONLY references to Ukrainian sites, NONE on Russian sites. (Many Ukrainian sites are written in Russian). This makes it appear as though the fake story may have originated in Ukraine, not Russia. No Russian alive today would believe that Ukrainian soldiers are receiving “2 slaves” as payment for their service and no serious Russian presenter would pass off such a story on his audience.
StopFake - Борьба с неправдивой информацией о событиях в Украине is a Ukrainian site. The Ukrainians have not shown any evidence at their site that the Russian channel ever floated the rumour about Ukrainian soldiers being promised free land and 2 slaves. If the site wants readers to believe there was such a story put out by Russia, they need to provide a link to the actual site containing this report, not just to the main page or another unrelated story.
Another example of “fake news” provided by Glenn Anderson, the person who asked and then answered the question, provides a link to StopFake Berdiansk Police Refuted Information about 22 Women being Raped and Killed, which in turn links to a Russian TV show (Soloviev’s again) that one is led to believe contains the “fake story” of Ukrainian soldiers raping 22 women in Donbass. But if you open the link to Soloviev’s show found in that StopFake feature (Вечер с Владимиром Соловьевым / Телеканал «Россия 1»), you find no hint of this story anywhere on that page. It is hardly credible to claim the Russians said something if you do not provide a link to the actual statement that they supposedly made. All of Soloviev’s shows are archived, so it would have been easy for the accuser to provide a link to the source of the supposedly fake story if the story has actually been broadcast. This pattern is typical of the StopFake - Борьба с неправдивой информацией о событиях в Украине features.
Another story that the Ukrainian site StopFake - Борьба с неправдивой информацией о событиях в Украине claims is fake relates to an interview with a Russian official who claims that an oubtbreak of Zika virus carried by a mosquito at an area about 100 miles from the US microbiological laboratory in Tbilisi, Georgia, may have been part of a plot or experiment by the US Army, which runs this lab. Russian sources have indeed aired this story, but even though StopFake claims this is fake news, they do not in any way show which part is fake, ie, did the Russian official NOT say this? Or was he lying when he said there was a US Army microbiology lab in Tbilisi (this is undisputed)? Or what? And StopFake does not rebut it at all, just relies on the gullible reader to assume it is fake, assuming that the US is a country that would never even think of unleashing bio weapons on Russians. The fact is, there is a US Army-operated microbiological lab, the Lugar lab, in Tbilisi, and there is indeed a controversy swirling about it, as reported here: Lugar Labs Controversy. The story comes NOT from a Russian but from former Minister of State Security of Georgia, Igor Giorgadze, regarding work of the Richard Lugar Public Health Research Centre – run by the US ARMY – and says they identified that "various types of ammunition needed for the provision of chemical and biological weapons are noted in a number of patents.” Well, who would know better than the health minister in charge of overseeing the lab? Admittedly a group of international observers visited the lab and said they saw nothing untoward. Of course, the operators of the lab are not about to trot out damaging evidence during such a sensitive visit, so the testimony of these observers means nothing. Thus StopFake has not stopped a fake, merely claimed it was fake without presenting any proof.
The only thing anyone can say for certain is that no one knows why the US Army needs a microbiological research lab this close to the Russian border. It would be like the Russian Defence Ministry running a microbiology lab in Tjuana. Americans would be justifiably nervous.
The asker-answerer refers to something he calls Russian “hate mongers” but does not show evidence of hate. He does present a list of things the Russians have said about Ukraine but they are true -- though the list is couched in emotional, subjective language not used by the Russians.
The asker-answerer also volunteers “Ukrainian success as a prosperous, pro-European, democratic state is Putin’s greatest fear,...”
Thanks to economic cooperation with Russia, Ukraine was moderately prosperous until the 2014 violent, illegal US-led Maidan coup, which threw the country into turmoil (you can’t deny US involvement when Asst. Secretery of State Nuland admitted the US spent $5 billion on the Maidan coup, here – and at the top of this page – at minute 7:46) [see last heading at bottom of page on why this intervention was illegal under international law]:
Here is what Reuters says about Ukrainian president Poroshenko, who won the presidency in 2014 thanks to US backing:
Trailing in polls, Ukraine's Poroshenko launches bid for second term
“The public has blamed a failure to fight corruption for the continuing fall of living standards in one of Europe’s poorest countries. The average monthly wage is around $380 compared to $450 in the year before Poroshenko took office.”
According to the Kyiv Post (Bne IntelliNews: IMF ranks Ukraine as Europe's poorest country | KyivPost - Ukraine's Global Voice), the IMF lists Ukraine as the poorest country in Europe, and attributes this to corruption, NOT to Russian interference or aggression.
The IMF is not, nor has it been accused of being, an organ of Russian propaganda.
36 Views · View Upvoters · Answer requested by Glenn Anderson
Here’s why the US intervention in Ukraine in the Maidan coup was illegal:
The events of this week, including the United States immediate recognition of the illegally self-declared Presidency of Juan Guaido, followed by those of Canada, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Costa Rica, the UK and Peru evidence a highly orchestrated international attempt to effect a coup d’etat. The U.S.’s announced refusal to follow President Maduro’s justifiable demand for 72-hour withdrawal of diplomatic personnel is a transparent attempt to provoke a military confrontation. In addition to the U.N. Charter, the International Court of Justice in its 1986 decision condemning U.S. interference in Sandanista-led Nicaragua
[a decision which the U.S. cavalierly refused to accept]has made it crystal clear that:
“[t]he principle of non-intervention involves the right of every sovereign State to conduct its affairs without outside interference; (ICJ Reports 1986, p. 106, para. 202)… “[T]he principle forbids all States or groups of States to intervene directly or indirectly in the internal or external affairs of other States” … “[A] prohibited intervention must accordingly be one bearing on matters in which each State is permitted, by the principle of State sovereignty, to decide freely. One of these is the choice of a political, economic, social and cultural system, and the formulation of foreign policy. Intervention is wrongful when it uses methods of coercion in regard to such choices, which must remain free ones. [ … ] the element of coercion [ ,,, ] defines, and indeed forms the very essence of, prohibited intervention” (para. 205).
In DRC V. Uganda (2005), the Court noted that Nicaragua had “made it clear that the principle of non-intervention prohibits a State “to intervene, directly or indirectly, with or without armed force, in support of the internal opposition within a State” (Emphasis added, ICJ Reports 2005, para. 164).
Our thanks to Telesur for the above linked video. This is the famous "peaceful opposition" the msm keep telling us about.
Below we present an article from Consortium News that fills in some of the blanks left by the US msm, which has long reduced itself to a propaganda machine. Commentary and [bracketed notes] are by Vince Dhimos.
You know, I can’t help but think of how Trump, during his campaign, kept complaining about “fake news.” This resonated with his supporters because it was mostly true. What most of his faithful fail to notice is that the pronouncement of all political movements – including the Trump movement – are predominantly propaganda, replete with fake news. The most dangerous narrative of Trump’s campaign was that the Iranians are the enemy (because it is part of the latest psychological warfare in preparation for real war, on behalf of Saudi and Israel). Nothing could be more false. The Iranian fighters like Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hezbollah and other volunteers did the job that the US was only pretending to do when it declared the phony War on Terror. Without these brave men’s contribution, it is not clear whether Syria and Russia could have ever have taken out ISIS to the extent that they have. It is a grievous injustice that the US political class and msm have for decades upheld and glorified the brutal and intolerant Saudis who supplied terrorists, training, arms and pay checks to terror while knifing the Iranians in the back. The latest Venezuela narrative blaming Maduro not only for his own failings but also for the poverty added by decades of anti-Venezuela US measures is another example of fake news that is issued and supported by both Trump and the establishment – both sides, mind you – even as his supporters insist that he is “anti-Establishment.” That is the Big Lie of our time. His regime change and invasion plans for Venezuela (not to mention his Tomahawk attacks on Syria for alleged but unproved “chemical attacks”) put him squarely in the ranks of GW Bush, Clinton and Obama. Can we stop pretending he is on the other team? There is only one team in US politics and that is the war/regime change team led by the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Saudi, Israel, the arms maker lobbies and the bankers.
The evidence that Guaidó and his henchmen in the “opposition” are behind the recent blackouts in Venezuela that threaten Maduro’s presidency is overwhelming.
1. In 2010, CANVAS, the US-funded NGO that trained Guaidó, distributed a memo recommending taking advantage of power outages as a way to stir up discontent aimed at overthrowing the president. They stopped short of endorsing sabotage but the hint was understood.
2. Incredibly, Juan Guaidó has made a virtual public confession of his masterminding the recent blackouts in Venezuela.
3. Back in 2002, during the attempt to overthrow Chavez, opposition supporters besieged the Cuban embassy in Venezuela. Translation of quote from this Wikipedia entry:
Some of the actions carried out against the embassy were destruction of diplomatic personnel’s autos and shut-off of the electricity and water supplies. (Algunas de las acciones tomadas contra la embajada fueron la destrucción de vehículos del personal diplomático y el cese del suministro de los servicios de electricidad y de agua.)
4. As suggested in item 3 above, the opposition was violent, not peaceful. Here is a video of the 2014 Guarimba violence by the opposition (the msm call this “peaceful” protest).
Text box from the above video:
Leopoldo López, the brains behind the death and injuries in Caracas. The State no longer has any excuses [not] to punish this murderer.
Leopoldo is a close associate of Juan Guaidó within the party Voluntad Popular (People’s Will). He urged “radicalize the opposition.” The opposition is extremely violent but the US press calls it “peaceful.” Although Lopez was indeed behind the death and violence of the guarimbas, he never went to prison to serve his sentence. He has been under house arrest instead. This lenience on the part of the Maduro government gives the lie to the msm narrative that Maduro runs a “brutal regime.” By far the bulk of the violence in the protests has been due to the thugs loyal to Lopez and Guaido.
5. Evidence of US involvement in the sabotage is overt and undisguised:
QUOTE FROM TEXT BELOW [highlighting is mine]:
In a tweet on March 8, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo framed the electricity outage as a pivotal stage in U.S. plans for regime change:
“The power outage and the devastation hurting ordinary Venezuelans is not because of the USA. It’s not because of Colombia. It’s not Ecuador or Brazil, Europe or anywhere else. Power shortages and starvation are the result of the Maduro regime’s incompetence.”
At noon on March 7, during a hearing on Venezuela at the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee, Sen. Marco Rubio explicitly called for the U.S. to stir “widespread unrest,” declaring that it “needs to happen” in order to achieve regime change.
“Venezuela is going to enter a period of suffering no nation in our hemisphere has confronted in modern history,” Rubio proclaimed. [Now how would he know about future suffering unless it was planned in coordination with US agents like Rubio? This is in keeping with Trump’s 2017 Borges-Trump embargo, which prevented ordinary Venezuelans from obtaining medicine and foods so that Maduro could then be blamed. It is truly diabolical. https://www.hispantv.com/noticias/venezuela/393053/maduro-bloqueo-eeuu-medicinas-alimentos-crisis-economica]
Around 5 p.m. [that same day! Coincidence? Really?], the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant experienced a total and still unexplained collapse. Residents of Caracas and throughout Venezuela were immediately plunged into darkness.
At 5:18 p.m., a clearly excited Rubio took to Twitter to announce the blackout [earlier that day, he had called for this to happen. Coincidence?] and claim that “backup generators have failed.” It was unclear how Rubio had obtained such specific information so soon after the outage occurred. According to Jorge Rodriguez, the communications minister of Venezuela, local authorities did not know if backup generators had failed at the time of Rubio’s tweet. [Now tell me this was NOT sabotage, and the Deep State was not in on it]
Back in Caracas, Guaidó immediately set out to exploit the situation, just as his CANVAS trainers had advised over eight years before. Taking to Twitter just over an hour after Rubio, Guaidó declared, “the light will return when the usurpation [of Maduro] ends.” Like Pompeo, the self-declared president framed the blackouts as part of a regime change strategy, not an accident or error.
Finally, significantly, the ringleaders of the opposition, including Guaidó and Lopez, were rich kids from the elite districts of Caracas who studied at high-ranking US universities. Their naming their party "Popular Will" is a cynical sham. They have never walked in the shoes of the poor who support Maduro. Their party should be called Oligarchs' Will.
The below March 2019 article from Consortium News adds detail.
US Regime Change Blueprint Proposed Venezuelan Electricity Blackouts as ‘Watershed Event’
March 12, 2019
The group that trained Juan Guaidó and his allies laid out plans for galvanizing public unrest in a 2010 memo, Max Blumenthal reports for Grayzone.
By Max Blumenthal
A September 2010 memo by a U.S.-funded soft power organization that helped train Venezuelan coup leader Juan Guaidó and his allies identifies the potential collapse of the country’s electrical sector as “a watershed event” that “would likely have the impact of galvanizing public unrest in a way that no opposition group could ever hope to generate.”
The memo has special relevance today as Guaidó moves to exploit nationwide blackouts caused by a major failure at the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant at Guri dam – a crisis that Venezuela’s government blames on U.S. sabotage.
It was authored by Srdja Popovic of the Center for Applied Non-Violent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), a Belgrade-based “democracy promotion” organization funded by the U.S. that has trained thousands of U.S.-aligned youth activists in countries where the West seeks regime change.
This group reportedly hosted Guaidó and the key leaders of his Popular Will party for a series of training sessions, fashioning them into a “Generation 2007” determined to foment resistance to then-President Hugo Chavez and sabotage his plans to implement “21st century socialism” in Venezuela.
In the 2010 memo, published by WikiLeaks, CANVAS’s Popovic declared, “A key to Chavez’s current weakness is the decline in the electricity sector.” Popovic explicitly identified the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant as a friction point, emphasizing that “water levels at the Guri dam are dropping, and Chavez has been unable to reduce consumption sufficiently to compensate for the deteriorating industry.”
Speculating on a “grave possibility that some 70 percent of the country’s electricity grid could go dark as soon as April 2010,” the CANVAS leader stated that “an opposition group would be best served to take advantage of the situation and spin it against Chavez and towards their needs.”
Flash forward to March 2019, and the scenario outlined by Popovic is playing out almost exactly as he had imagined.
On March 7, just days after Guaidó return from Colombia, where he participated in the failed and demonstrably violent Feb. 23 attempt to ram a shipment of U.S. aid across the Venezuelan border, the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant experienced a major and still unexplained collapse.
Days later, electricity remains sporadic across the country. Meanwhile, Guaidó has done everything he can “to take advantage of the situation and spin it” against President Nicolas Maduro – just as his allies were urged to do over eight years before by CANVAS.
Rubio Vows ‘Period of Suffering’
Venezuela has placed the blame squarely on Washington, accusing it of sabotage through a cyber-attack on its electrical infrastructure. Key players in the U.S.-directed coup attempt have done little to dispel the accusation.
In a tweet on March 8, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo framed the electricity outage as a pivotal stage in U.S. plans for regime change:
“The power outage and the devastation hurting ordinary Venezuelans is not because of the USA. It’s not because of Colombia. It’s not Ecuador or Brazil, Europe or anywhere else. Power shortages and starvation are the result of the Maduro regime’s incompetence.”
At noon on March 7, during a hearing on Venezuela at the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee, Sen. Marco Rubio explicitly called for the U.S. to stir “widespread unrest,” declaring that it “needs to happen” in order to achieve regime change.
“Venezuela is going to enter a period of suffering no nation in our hemisphere has confronted in modern history,” Rubio proclaimed.
Around 5 p.m. [that same day!], the Simon Bolivar Hydroelectric Plant experienced a total and still unexplained collapse. Residents of Caracas and throughout Venezuela were immediately plunged into darkness.
At 5:18 p.m., a clearly excited Rubio took to Twitter to announce the blackout and claim that “backup generators have failed.” It was unclear how Rubio had obtained such specific information so soon after the outage occurred. According to Jorge Rodriguez, the communications minister of Venezuela, local authorities did not know if backup generators had failed at the time of Rubio’s tweet. [Now tell me this was NOT sabotage, and the Deep State was in on it]
Back in Caracas, Guaidó immediately set out to exploit the situation, just as his CANVAS trainers had advised over eight years before. Taking to Twitter just over an hour after Rubio, Guaidó declared, “the light will return when the usurpation [of Maduro] ends.” Like Pompeo, the self-declared president framed the blackouts as part of a regime change strategy, not an accident or error.
Two days later, Guaidó was at the center of an opposition rally he convened in affluent eastern Caracas, bellowing into a megaphone: “Article 187 when the time comes. We need to be in the streets, mobilized. It depends on us, not on anybody else.”
Article 187 establishes the right of the National Assembly “to authorize the use of Venezuelan military missions abroad or foreign in the country.” [Ok, Article 187 says foreign military missions can be authorized in Venezuela, and Guaidó et al. invoke this article to justify US interference, but when it’s Russians the US msm screams it is unconstitutional! You can’t have it both ways.]
Upon his mention of the constitutional article, Guaidó’s supporters responded, “Intervention! Intervention!”
As Dan Cohen and I reported here at the Grayzone, Guaidó’s rise to prominence – and the coup plot that he has been appointed to oversee – is the product of a decade-long project overseen by the Belgrade-based CANVAS outfit.
CANVAS is a spinoff of Otpor, a Serbian protest group founded by Srdja Popovic in 1998 at the University of Belgrade. Otpor, which means “resistance” in Serbian, was the student group that worked alongside U.S. soft power organizations to mobilize the protests that eventually toppled the late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.
CANVAS has been funded largely through the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA cut-out that functions as the U.S. government’s main arm of promoting regime change. According to leaked internal emails from Stratfor, an intelligence firm known as the “shadow CIA,” CANVAS “may have also received CIA funding and training during the 1999/2000 anti-Milosevic struggle.” [Read about the CIA-based founding of NED at William Blum's blog.]
A leaked email from a Stratfor staffer noted that after they ousted Milosevic, “the kids who ran OTPOR grew up, got suits and designed CANVAS… or in other words an ‘export-a-revolution’ group that sowed the seeds for a NUMBER of color revolutions. They are still hooked into U.S. funding and basically go around the world trying to topple dictators and autocratic governments (ones that U.S. does not like ;).”
Stratfor subsequently revealed that CANVAS “turned its attention to Venezuela” in 2005, after training opposition movements that led pro-NATO regime change operations across Eastern Europe.
In September 2010, as Venezuela headed for a parliamentary election, CANVAS produced a series of memos outlining the plans they had hatched with “non-formal actors” like Guaidó and his cadre of student activists to bring down Chavez. “This is the first opportunity for the opposition to get back into a position of power,” Popovic wrote at the time.
In his memo on electricity outages, Popovic highlighted the importance of the Venezuelan military in achieving regime change. “Alliances with the military could be critical because in such a situation of massive public unrest and rejection of the presidency,” the CANVAS founder wrote, “malcontent sectors of the military will likely decide to intervene, but only if they believe they have sufficient support.”
While the scenario Popovic envisioned failed to materialize in 2010, it perfectly describes the situation gripping Venezuela today as an opposition leader cultivated by CANVAS seeks to spin the crisis against Maduro while calling on the military to break ranks.
Since the Grayzone exposed the deep ties between CANVAS and Guaidó’s Popular Will party, Popovic has attempted to publicly distance himself from his record of training Venezuela’s opposition.
Today, however, Popovic’s 2010 memo on exploiting electricity outages reads like a blueprint for the strategy that Guaidó and his patrons in Washington have actively implemented. Whether or not the blackout is the result of external sabotage, it represents the “watershed event” that CANVAS has prepared its Venezuelan cadres for.
Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of books including best-selling “Republican Gomorrah,” “Goliath,” “The Fifty One Day War” and “The Management of Savagery,” which will be published in March 2019 by Verso. He has also produced numerous print articles for an array of publications, many video reports and several documentaries including “Killing Gaza” and “Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie.” Blumenthal founded the Grayzone Project in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.