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5 reasons American foreign policy is insanely dangerous and dangerously insane

US foreign policy is so detached from reality that it has become literally insane to a worrying degree.

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The United States is starting to live up to the ancient Greek stereotypes about the Achaemenid Persian Empire, namely that in spite of its strength, its rulers are brash, unrefined, thirsty for blood and tactically unsophisticated.

This stereotype, largely taken from the words of the historian Herodotus was never fully true, but from a philosophical standpoint, the idea that the Greeks and the Athenians in particular were a more refined society than their Persian enemy can readily be applied to the dichotomy between  Russia and China on one hand and America on the other. This is in no way meant to be an insult to modern Iran which is clearly on the side of civilisation against the forces of western barbarism.

In foreign relations the United States has largely invented its own gods and shibboleths, it adheres to its own mythical conception of reality as though it was divine truth and operates on the principle that can increasingly be defined as “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength”.

In this sense, modern America is one part Herodotus’s conception of the ancient Achaemenid Persians and one part George Orwell’s bleak view of a distopian future.

Under the Donald Trump administration, America’s foreign policy has retained the smug exceptionalism of the Obama years while it has adopted a patronising and condescending tone towards other powerful nations, including the other super-powers of the world. While the tone is grating, the over-all conclusion as well as the means of America’s foreign policy making are looking not only barbaric but also insane in a literal sense. They are detached from reality so much so that one could summarise US foreign policy by imagining a doctor proscribing full leg amputation to a patient diagnosed with a broken finger when in reality the patient’s only ailment is that the doctor himself has hit the patient’s hand with a sledgehammer.

Before moving on, it is necessary to say that I am a Trump supporter. In domestic affairs and in terms of his personality, I admire the man and his accomplishments. But in terms of the foreign policy which has transpired under his administration, I am deeply sickened. My wish is not for Trump to be discarded but for him to understand why in terms of foreign policy his country has lost the plot entirely. Whether he can actually do anything about it is another matter.

Here are five examples of just how dangerously insane and insanely dangerous US policy has become:

1.  Sanctions are an act of war and an act of brutality 

Just as chemical weapons, including mustard gas were banned after the First World War, something even Adolf Hitler acknowledged and adhered to, it is high time to internationally ban the use of  sanctions, the uncontrollable killer of the current age.

One need only to look at the US led sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s to realise that sanctions are not a means of preserving a difficult peace, but instead a means of conducting atrocities without having to waste bullets.

The sanctions on Iraq during the 1990s led to the death of more Iraqi children than any war in the 20th century history of Iraq. Only the 2003 illegal US-UK war on Iraq killed more. The sanctions crippled a wealthy state leading to hunger where there was never hunger, a lack of medicine in a nation that could easily afford the world’s best medicines and suffering where even at the height of the dreadfully ill-advised (western advised) Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, Iraqis continued to live normally by comparison to the 1990s.

Today in Syria, the real humanitarian crisis is caused less by al-Qaeda, FSA and ISIS, bad though these jihadist groups are, than that which is being caused by US imposed sanctions. Syria can, even now, afford medicines and food, but much of this is out of reach only because of US sanctions.

No geo-political goal can justify these crimes against humanity and as it is, the US goal of replacing a secular, tolerant, pluralist government in Syria with one led by Salafist barbarians is far from a noble goal to say the least. The fact that such a regime change is against international law is simply extra-credit on the exam of morality that the US has clearly flunked.

But not content with having sanctioned Iraq and sanctioning Syria, now the United States wants to sanction and starve North Korea.

Ironically, according to the US, North Korea is already starving, a factually untrue statement, but by sanctioning North Korea further, the US could in fact begin to starve North Korea. This is one of the reasons that Russia and China oppose sanctions, it is about morality as much as it is about respectful diplomacy for a country which hasn’t engaged in a single active armed conflict during an era when the United States has engaged aggressively in over 10.

2. Using the UN to enshrine global Apartheid

The Charter of the United Nations remains one of the noblest documents written in the modern age. The aims and goals of the document are to prevent war and ensure the best possible peace for all men, women and children and for all nations.

The fact of the matter is that the United States and its increasingly small number of allies have turned the UN into a body that can either rubber stamp America’s singular vision of world dominance or else be permanently paralysed.

When America is able to force one-sided resolutions through the UN, the US hides behind these resolutions even when they justify American violence rather than any objective understanding of peace. When the US does not get its way, the US says the UN has no credibility. Shame clearly isn’t a word that American ‘diplomats’ are familiar with.

In her recent remarks on North Korea, America’s Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley spoke of the UN’s credibility being in jeopardy if it does not act on North Korea. When Haley says ‘act on North Korea’ she means rubber stamp American imposed sanctions with the additional threat of war against a country that does not objectively threaten anyone. Of the two competing states on the Korean peninsula, only one allows a country with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several hundred times over to place weapons of mass destruction on its soil (the THAAD missile system) and that country is not North Korea.

That being said, South Korea is not stupid enough to reignite the Korean War and nor is North Korea. America by the admission of Nikki Haley is stupid enough to take military action on the Korean peninsula, something which would de-facto mean the end of the ceasefire in Korea which has held since 1953.

What kind of world is one living in when one country and its few lackeys can turn a body designed to preserve the peace into one designed to rubber stamp war and savage sanctions? This is not world government as some on the American anti-war right say but nor is it peaceful diplomacy. It is American led global Apartheid where there is one rule for the US and its allies and another for everyone else. For those on the American anti-war right complaining about how much the US pays to the UN, if paying to get what you want is how one measures a good deal, America ought to be happier than a pig swimming in excreta.

3. Speaking down to fellow-superpowers 

While most US foreign policies have remained the same under Trump as they were under Obama, one thing has changed and it is not an improvement. America now patronises and condescends to the other two world superpowers more so than under the Obama regime and that is really saying something.

Donald Trump’s Tweets demanding China fix the ‘North Korea problem’ and on America’s terms no less, fail to acknowledge that both China and North Korea are sovereign states, neither of whom share each other’s vision for the world let alone America’s vision for the world.

China is rightly incensed by this attitude as any nation would be.

To add insult to injury, now US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stated that Russia has a “special responsibility” to insure peace in Syria.

This is not only an insult to Syria’s sovereignty and to Syria and Russia’s partner Iran, but it is an insult to Russia. Russia’s responsibility is only to Russia and her voluntary partnership with Syria is a matter of bilateral security, not America’s perverse metaphysical vision for the universes.

What is this, kindergarten? “Johnny, because Billy is mentally retarded you have a special responsibility to make sure he doesn’t make a mess in the school lavatory”.

This is not a way to speak to a sovereign nation, let alone a nuclear superpower.

Making things more awkward, Tillerson actually believes that the US and Russia could create a joint no-fly zone. Of course, America’s conception of a no fly zone is one in which only American an allied planes would be allowed to fly. If America and Russia were to create this mythical no-fly zone, whose planes would be grounded? Would Syrian planes by grounded in Syria at the insistence of a Syrian partner? Would Russia also work with the US to ground the planes of its Iranian partner in the war against terrorism in Syria? What about the only planes currently flying in Syrian airspace illegally, those of the US, its allies and the unilateral air movements of Turkish and Israeli jets, who would ground them?

This idea of a joint Russian-US no fly zone is not only patronising and insulting to Russia and her allies, it is downright absurd.

When Donald Trump said he wanted to work with Russia, if he meant Russia submitting to America’s increasingly preposterous terms, he was simply deluded, perhaps a victim of bad advice or a victim of lack of experience in foreign affairs.

4. God complex meets Orwell complex 

The increasingly unhinged Nikki Haley has repeated that threatening North Korea with sanctions and war will help the North Korea people.

In what world has war ever helped anyone? War is a necessary evil to be used only in self-defence. The UN itself was created and its charter written after the biggest war in human history in order to prevent such suffering.

Russia could constantly take a position of moral superiority because it did the lion’s share of fighting against the fascist aggressor during the Great Patriotic War, but Russian diplomats do not do this. They honour their history but when it comes to foreign policy making and diplomatic engagement they live in the present.

What makes the United States feel that war is somehow a way to help people? This is literally insane. If a common criminal went before a judge and said, “I killed half of someone’s family in order to help the family”, the judge would transfer the man from a regular prison to a prison for the criminally insane.

The lesson of the Second World War/Great Patriotic War is that international mechanisms must be in place to foster cooperation and respect between nations in order to avoid mass murder on a global scale. Instead, the lessons that the United States takes is that preemptive war is somehow a magical solution to solving disasters which have not yet happened. Only Israel and some of America’s western European allies share such a delusional view of the lessons of history.

War is not peace, war is hell and this seems to be where America wants to send any country that doesn’t march to the rhythm of its war drum.

5. The power of positive thinking 

The American Protestant Minister Norman Vincent Peale once wrote a self-help book called ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’, which argued that a positive attitude can overcome depression and material despair.

The reality is that in modern America, there exists an attitude which suggests that realism is somehow negative thinking and that positive thinking is carte blanche allowing the positive thinker to do whatever the hell he or she wants.

This is not only deeply dangerous but it is un-Christian. Christianity teaches compassion for the weak, not violence towards the defenceless. Christianity is about fearing God, not having the confidence to play God. Christianity is about loving one’s neighbour, not bombing one’s neighbour. The idea that anything which gets in the way of one’s positive view of one’s self should be cast aside is more akin to the fascist conception of a master race than to Christ’s teachings of humility before God and Christ’s teachings of charity for one’s fellow man. Yet America thinks it has a monopoly on its own very perverse version of violent, intolerant Christianity too….how dreadfully pessimistic indeed.

America seeks to humble the world, but it is the US which ought to learn humility. Positive thinking has its limits. When one is behaving violently, irrationally and insanely, one cannot justify this using the power of optimism. One needs a thorough self-examination, something America looks increasingly incapable of.

Through all of this, America has become everything it was supposed to hate, a global imperial power whose own people are taxed to death in order to fund a violent war machine.

This piece is not an anti-American argument, it is the opposite. America is in a fortunate position in that by changing its barbaric foreign policy, it could help bring peace to the world and prosperity back to its own people. Far from being an unusual concept, it is one of the things Donald Trump campaigned on.

I still believe Donald Trump is a good man, but he is surrounded by idiots, bandits, lunatics and criminals. He ought to remember his famous catch phrase and say ‘You’re fired’ to such people. America needs to step back from its position of barbarism, it needs to act more like the Greeks as portrayed by Herodotus, rather than in the manner of their enemies.

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Rod Rosenstein resigns from his post before President Trump can fire him

Rosenstein’s comments about secretly recording the President backfire, and resignation may throw the Mueller Russiagate probe into question.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Washington Times broke the story that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resigned from his post. He submitted his resignation to Chief of Staff John Kelly.  At present the breaking story says the following:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is out at the Department of Justice.

Axios reported that Mr. Rosenstein verbally resigned to White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly, but CNN said that he is expecting to be fired.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, declined to comment on the reports.

Mr. Rosenstein’s departure immediately throws Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe into chaos.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, leaving Mr. Rosenstein in charge.

President Trump mulled firing the No. 2 at the Department of Justice over the weekend.

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This report came after Fox News reported that the Deputy AG was summoned to the White House. Fox reported a little more detail:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is heading to the White House expecting to be fired, sources tell Fox News, in the wake of a report that he suggested wearing a wire against President Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office last year.

This is a developing story, however one major factor that comes under consideration is the fate of Robert Mueller and his Russiagate investigation, which was authorized by Rosenstein. CNBC had this to say in their piece:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is resigning Monday, according to Axios, which cited a source familiar with the matter.

NBC News’ Pete Williams, however, reported that Rosenstein would not resign of his own accord, and that he will only depart if the White House fired him. He will refuse to resign if asked to do so, Williams added.

Rosenstein was at the White House when Williams reported this on the air. However, President Donald Trump is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Bloomberg later reported that the White House accepted Rosenstein’s resignation, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein’s expected resignation will immediately raise questions about the fate of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

Rosenstein’s job security was called into question after The New York Times reported last week that the No. 2 DOJ official had discussed invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump, and had also talked about surreptitiously recording the president.

Rosenstein oversees the special counsel investigation, and has appointed Mueller to run the Russia probe last year, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the report.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Axios’ report. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s inquiry.

Trump has repeatedly blasted Mueller’s inquiry, which also is focused on possible collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign.

He has called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and has repeatedly vented frustration about Sessions’ recusal, which directly led to Mueller’s appointment by Rosenstein.

Rosenstein’s expected departure comes on the heels of a guilty plea by Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to conspiracy charges related to his consulting work in Ukraine, which predates his role on the campaign.

As part of the investigation, Mueller’s team has been locked in an ongoing back-and-forth with Trump’s legal team over an in-person interview with the president.

Trump’s lawyers, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have signaled that Trump is unwilling to sit for an interview, calling it a “perjury trap” and setting up a potential challenge for Mueller to subpoena the president.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

 

 

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European Council crushes Theresa May’s soft Brexit dream (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May hoped that the European Council was ready to see things her way, in terms of proceeding with a soft Brexit, which was essentially no Brexit at all…at least not the hard Brexit that was voted on in a democratic referendum approximately two years ago.

Much to May’s surprise, European Council President Donald Tusk delivered a death blow verdict for May’s Brexit, noting that EU leaders are in full agreement that Chequers plan for Brexit “will not work” because “it risks undermining the single market.”

Without a miracle compromise springing up come during the October summit, the UK will drift into the March 29, 2019 deadline without a deal and out of the European Union…which was initially what was voted for way back in 2016, leaving everyone asking, what the hell was May doing wasting Britain’s time and resources for two years, so as to return back to the hard Brexit terms she was charged with carrying forward after the 2016 referendum?

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss what was a disastrous EU summit in Salzburg for UK PM Theresa May, in what looks to be the final nail in May’s tenure as UK Prime Minister, as a hard Brexit now seems all but certain.

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Via Zerohedge

Tusk was speaking at the end of an EU summit in Salzburg, where the leaders of the 27 remaining states in the bloc were discussing Brexit. He said that while there were “positive elements” in May’s Chequers plan, a deal that puts the single market at risk cannot be accepted.

“Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it is undermining the single market,” Tusk said. He also said that he could not “exclude” the possibility that the UK could exit the EU in March with no deal.

May has been urging her European counterparts to accept her controversial Chequers plan which has split both the Conservative party and the broader UK population after it was thrashed out back in July. However, despite the painfully-slow negotiation process, which appears to have made little headway with just a few months left, the UK is set to leave the EU on March 29 2019 – with or without an exit deal.

The main sticking point that has emerged, and left May and the EU at loggerheads, has been how to avoid new checks on the Irish border. May has claimed that her proposals were the “only serious, credible” way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. She said during a press conference after the Salzburg meeting that she would not accept the EU’s “backstop” plan to avoid a Northern Ireland hard border. She said the UK would shortly be bringing forward its own proposals.

May also said that there was “a lot of hard work to be done,” adding that the UK was also preparing for the eventuality of having to leave the EU without a deal. Tusk, meanwhile, said that the upcoming October summit would be the “moment of truth” for reaching a deal, and that “if the conditions are there” another summit would be held in November to “formalize” it.

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Russia makes HUGE strides in drone technology

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The US and Israel are universally recognized leaders in the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Thousands of American and Israeli UAVs are operating across the world daily.

The US military has recently successfully tested an air-to-air missile to turn its MQ-9 Reaper drone into an effective long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance unmanned spy aircraft capable of air-to-surface as well as air-to-air missions. This is a major breakthrough. It’s not a secret that Russia has been lagging behind in UAV development. Now its seems to be going to change with tangible progress made to narrow the gap.

Very few nations boast drones capable of high-altitude long endurance (HALE) missions. Russia is to enter the club of the chosen. In late 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry awarded a HALE UAV contract to the Kazan-based Simonov design bureau.

This month, Russian Zvezda military news TV channel showed a video (below) of Altair (Altius) heavy drone prototype aircraft number “03”, going through its first flight test.

Propelled by two RED A03/V12 500hp high fuel efficiency diesel engines, each producing a capacity of 500 hp on takeoff, the 5-ton heavy vehicle with a wingspan of 28.5 meters boasts a maximum altitude of 12km and a range of 10,000km at a cruising speed of 150-250km/h.

Wingspan: about 30 meters. Maximum speed: up to 950 km/h. Flight endurance: 48 hours. Payload: two tons, which allows the creation of a strike version. The vehicle is able to autonomously take off and land or be guided by an operator from the ground.

The UAV can carry the usual range of optical and thermal sensors as well as synthetic-aperture ground-surveillance radar with the resolution of .1 meter at the range of 35km and 1 meter at the range of 125km. The communications equipment allows real-time data exchange.

Russia’s UAV program currently underway includes the development of a range of large, small, and mid-sized drones. The Orion-E medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV was unveiled at the MAKS 2017 air show. Its developer, Kronstadt Technologies, claims it could be modified for strike missions. The one-ton drone is going through testing now. The Orion-E is capable of automatic takeoff and landing.

It can fly continuously for 24 hours, carrying a surveillance payload of up to 200 kg to include a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) turret, synthetic aperture radar and high resolution cameras. The drone can reach a maximum altitude of 7,500 m. Its range is 250 km.

The Sukhoi design bureau is currently developing the Okhotnik (Hunter) strike drone with a range of about 3,500km. The drone made its maiden flight this year. In its current capacity, it has an anti-radar coating, and will store missiles and precision-guided bombs internally to avoid radar detection.

The Kazan-based Eniks Design Bureau is working on the small T-16 weaponized aerial vehicle able to carry 6 kg of payload.

The new Russian Korsar (Corsair) tactical surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be upgraded to receive an electronic warfare system. Its operational range will be increased from 150km to 250km. The drone was revealed at Victory Day military parade along with the Korsar unmanned combat helicopter version.

The rotary wing drone lacks the speed and altitude of the fixed wing variant, but has a great advantage of being able to operate without landing strips and can be sea-based. Both drones can carry guided and unguided munitions. The fixed-wing version can be armed with Ataka 9M120 missiles.

The first Russian helicopter-type unmanned aerial vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells was presented at the Army-2018 international forum. With the horizontal cruising speed of the drone up to 60 kph, the unmanned chopper can stay in the air at least 2.5 hours to conduct reconnaissance operations. Its payload is up to 5 kg.

Last November, the Kalashnikov Concern reported that it would start production of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying up to several tons of cargo and operating for several days at a time without needing to recharge.

All in all, the Russian military operate 1,900 drones on a daily basis. The multi-purpose Orlan-10 with a range of 600km has become a working horse that no military operation, including combat actions in Syria, can be conducted without. Maj. Gen. Alexander Novikov,
the head of the Russian General Staff’s Office for UAV Development, Russian drones performed over 23,000 flights, lasting 140,000 hours in total.

Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027 puts the creation of armed UAVs at the top of priorities’ list. Looks like the effort begins to pay off. Russia is well on the way to become second to none in UAV capability.

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Via Strategic Culture

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