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7 reasons why by comparison with the USSR the US is losing in Afghanistan

The US is waging at inordinate cost a war in Afghanistan in which it has failed to come up with an achievable objective

Alexander Mercouris

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Today, shortly after admitting that the war in Afghanistan is being lost, US President Trump is wrapping up a strategy session with his top military and political advisers at Camp David to decide the strategy to turn the situation round.

Present will be the entire foreign policy team which following the recent purges of top officials is slowly shaping up as the definitive foreign policy team of the Trump administration: Generals Kelly, McMaster and Mattis, Secretary of State Tillerson, and the heads of the US intelligence community, DNI director Dan Coats and CIA chief Mike Pompeo.

These people are all without exception conservative establishment figures, and with the sole possible exception of Secretary of State Tillerson – who has shown a certain independence of mind on some issues – their approach to questions of war and peace can be summed up with the words: more of the same.

It is probably not a coincidence that the one senior Trump administration official who is known to have held different views about Afghanistan – former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon – was forced to quit just before the session.

That makes it a virtual certainty that the policy that is going to be announced for Afghanistan within the next few hours will be ‘more of the same’, apparently in the form of 4-5,000 extra US troops to ‘stabilise’ the situation there.

Needless to say any suggestion of talks with the Taliban to end the war – an idea now being actively promoted by the Russians as the only viable one – is being ruled out.

Steve Bannon for his part is known to have advocated a total pullout from Afghanistan, with the country being left to take of itself.  Needless to say, that option is being ruled out as well.

At this point a brief discussion of comparisons between the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the US war in Afghanistan, which has been going on continuously since 2001, is useful.

The differences are in fact profound and many, and here they are

(1) the USSR intervened in 1979 to stabilise the existing government of Afghanistan; the US intervened in Afghanistan in 2001 to overthrow its government;

(2) the Soviet presence in Afghanistan lasted a total of 9 years; the US presence in Afghanistan has now lasted for 16 years and is still continuing;

(3) the Jihadi rebels who fought the USSR and the Afghan government in the 1980s (the so-called “Mujahedeen”) were strongly backed by the US and by a coalition of US allies including Pakistan, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.  They were provided with secure base areas in Pakistan and were also abundantly supplied with often sophisticated weapons including famously Stinger anti aircraft missiles.

By contrast the Taliban has received no overt support from any foreign government and has fought the US and the US led coalition largely on its own;

(4) The total number of Soviet troops who passed through Afghanistan in the 1980s is put at 620,000, though the actual number present in Afghanistan at any one time was never more than 80-104,000 (the latter is the absolute peak figure).

The total number of US troops who have passed through Afghanistan is surprisingly difficult to come by; however the peak number of US troops in Afghanistan at any one time seems to have been around 30,000.  To these of course should be added the various troop contributions made by various US allies, though these have varied widely both in number and effectiveness.

(5) Total irrecoverable losses of Soviet personnel in Afghanistan are put at 14,453.  US military deaths in Afghanistan as of 18th October 2016 are put at 2,386 military deaths and 1,173 US civilian contractor deaths.

Note however that these figures may not be exactly comparable.  The US figure apparently reports combat related deaths in the area of conflict (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan).

Apparently the Soviet figure includes deaths of wounded personnel outside ‘the area of conflict’ (ie. in hospitals in the interior of Russia) and also the significant number of non-combat caused deaths caused by accidents and above all by sickness of which there were apparently many because of the partial failure of the Soviet logistic system in Afghanistan, especially in the early years of the Soviet intervention there.

To arrive at figures that would be fully comparable losses suffered by US allies in Afghanistan should also be added to the US totals.  Britain has for example reported 454 deaths as of 24th July 2015.

The total number of deaths suffered by the US coalition in Afghanistan was put at 3,407 in October 2015 inclusive of the US combat deaths the method of calculation of which is discussed above.

(6) A February 1987 a US intelligence assessment calculated the total financial cost of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan to the USSR as 15 billion roubles, which would have been about the same amount in 1980s US dollars.  Note that this includes both military and civilian spending including economic assistance.  This is now known to have been an overestimate based on an over-high calculation of Soviet casualties (assumed to be 30,000).

The total financial cost of the US intervention in Afghanistan has been officially estimated at $1 trillion as of October 2015 (unofficial estimates put the cost much higher, though other estimates pitch it lower at $780 billion).

According to official US government estimates the US is spending $4 million an hour on the military side of its war in Afghanistan.

An independent British study has estimated the total financial cost of the British intervention in Afghanistan to Britain as £37 billion.

(7) The USSR withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989 after the Soviet backed government there had been stabilised and when it was in secure control of all of Afghanistan’s main towns and cities.

Contrary to widespread predictions the Afghan government survived the Soviet withdrawal and only finally collapsed in the spring of 1992, several months after the USSR had itself collapsed, and only after Soviet aid to Afghanistan was stopped.

Even then the final collapse of the Soviet backed government was not caused by a Mujahedeen military victory but by factional infighting within the government which led to an internal coup.

The current US backed government is said to be losing control of more and more of the territory of Afghanistan despite the continued presence of US troops there, and clearly is not expected by the US to survive a full US withdrawal, as shown by the expected US decision to commit more US troops to fight there.

To summarise:

The war the USSR fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s was shorter and far more intense, with the Soviet army having to fight an enemy strongly supported by outside powers.

The result was that on any calculation the Soviet casualty and death rate was much higher, with the USSR forced to deploy to Afghanistan large numbers of troops who were required to engaged in regular combat operations.

However by 1988-1989 the Soviet backed Afghan government, which in 1979 had appeared to be on the brink of collapse largely because of factional infighting, had been fully stabilised as the Soviets had intended, enabling the USSR to withdraw its troops from the country.

The US since 2001 has been in Afghanistan much longer.  It has deployed fewer troops there than the USSR did against an enemy who has lacked overt foreign support. As a result it has suffered far fewer combat losses.

However it has made up for this by spending on its war far more than the USSR ever did.  Indeed the financial cost to the US of its war totally dwarfs the financial cost to the USSR of its war.

It seems moreover that most of this cost has been caused by the prodigious use of inordinately expensive weapons and logistics support rather than in providing Afghanistan with economic support, though in purely monetary times (though possibly not effectiveness) the economic support the US has provided Afghanistan has also completely dwarfed what the USSR provided Afghanistan in the 1980s.

However despite this colossal commitment of resources, in the time since the US intervened the government it created and imposed on the country has not stabilised, is said to be riddled with corruption, and apparently lacks legitimacy, whilst the enemy the US is fighting, far from being defeated, is gaining territory and appears to be growing stronger, despite having no overt external support.

What conclusions can be drawn from this?

The Soviet decision to intervene in Afghanistan was a disastrous error of which the USSR repented at leisure.  Having however made – and recognised – their mistake, the Soviets nonetheless went on to make the best of a bad job, waging war in Afghanistan effectively in a way that by 1989 meant that the mission – to stabilise and save the Soviet backed government – was successfully done.

It is a fundamental error – though one Western commentators can never resist making – to think that because the Soviet backed government eventually collapsed some months after the USSR had itself collapsed, that the USSR was defeated in Afghanistan and that the collapse of the Soviet backed government of Afghanistan was inevitable once the USSR withdrew.

On the contrary there is every reason to think that if the USSR had survived and continued to support Afghanistan’s Soviet backed government with arms and supplies at the same level that it did up to the moment of its own collapse, that the Soviet backed government which the USSR in 1979 intervened in Afghanistan to save would also have survived, in which case it would probably still be the government of Afghanistan now.

The US decision to intervene in Afghanistan in 2001 was also a disastrous error, though it has never in the US been officially recognised as such.

However the stated objective of the intervention – to achieve the capture of Osama bin Laden – was fully achievable diplomatically, with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and elements of the Taliban all committed to helping the US achieve it.  It was the US decision to intervene in Afghanistan militarily that made that impossible, facilitating Osama bin Laden’s escape, and ensuring his survival for a further ten years.

Since then the US has failed to hit on a coherent or achievable objective for the war it is continuing to fight in Afghanistan.  However it has continued to fight the war in its usual way, by trying to minimise casualties by fighting the war at astronomic financial cost.

The result is that no discernible objective is being achieved because the US has never come up with one.  Instead, in the absence of an achievable objective the US can realistically focus on and work towards, the US position in Afghanistan is all too predictably sliding towards defeat and crisis.

I am completely unable to see how ‘more of the same’ is going to change any of that, but judging from what we are hearing coming out of Camp David, that is what we are going to get.

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Shakesvshav
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Shakesvshav

Similar view here: http://www.statecraft.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/NATO Papers 3 Lessons from the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.pdf

Simon
Guest
Simon

Fair enough on all the negatives, but unlike the Soviet intervention the US version has been an absolute godsend for the high-end Dubai and Doha property markets, and as for the global opium trade…well, what can you say….just phenomenal results.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

I am so tired of hearing about “our values”

GeorgeG
Guest
GeorgeG

The US spent easily 1 trillion $ on its own “war on poverty” and failed; it spent (and is still spending) 1 trillion-plus $ on the “war against Al Qaeda” in Afghanistan, and failed. In both cses, corruption and drug-profits soared. Seems there is a lesson there.

Franz Kafka
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Franz Kafka

On the plus side, the US does seem to have won its undeclared war on Reality.

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

They don’t care how much they spend – just adding trillions dollars to US deficit. Monkey money.

Franz Kafka
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Franz Kafka

A magisterial assessment by Alexander Mercouris, as always.
Is it just me, or do the Americans look like total fkng retards?
That may have something to do with it.

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

Of course, we look demented. Our parasites are killing the host, ourselves.

BobValdez
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BobValdez

The us “mari-annes” are “kill on command” zombified retards who will obey orders without question and be cannon fodder at request. It is said they are so dumb, they will salute a lamp post if unsure.

FlorianGeyer
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FlorianGeyer

Indeed they do, from top to bottom 🙂

samo war
Guest
samo war

Woorld is crazy game cia mosad kgb ?
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZEmj0USgf4

Vera Gottlieb
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Vera Gottlieb

I don’t need any number of reasons – seems to be the new fad, numbering everything. There is only one outcome: losing.

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

There is no way our military can beat the Russians. Our military and its suppliers are one big scam, while for the Russians they are for the defense of the country. Our vampires have captured the government. If they don’t get to feed on the rest of the world all the time, they are at least feeding on us.

richardstevenhack
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richardstevenhack

You answer your own question, Alexander, when you point out the COST of the US war.

It’s all about the MONEY. Wars have to be paid for and someone gets that money. It’s that simple.

seby
Guest
seby

bush the III obviously agrees with cnn that US militarism keeps Americans in “jobs”.

Hamletquest
Guest
Hamletquest

So Trump has announced his capitulation to the MIC as Alexander Mercouris and others predicted. So more money will be poured into the pockets of the unproductive economy. It has taken 8 months for total capitulation of the POTUS elect. Obama capitulated to the Bankers within weeks, also pouring infinitesimal amounts US dollar into the unproductive sector. The Peace Laureate also capitulated on the WAR front too. So it looks like whoever the poor people of Amerika vote for they get the same creed of greed the 1% who would bleed their mothers dry running the whole circus. It’s very… Read more »

Bankotsu
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Bankotsu

“…the Jihadi rebels who fought the USSR and the Afghan government in
the 1980s (the so-called “Mujahedeen”) were strongly backed by the US
and by a coalition of US allies including Pakistan, Britain, Saudi
Arabia and Egypt.”

And China.

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Skripal and Khashoggi: A Tale of Two Disappearances

Two disappearances, and two different responses.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Two disappearances, and two very different responses from Western governments, which illustrates their rank hypocrisy.

When former Russian spy Sergei Skripal went missing in England earlier this year, there was almost immediate punitive action by the British government and its NATO allies against Moscow. By contrast, Western governments are straining with restraint towards Saudi Arabia over the more shocking and provable case of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The outcry by Western governments and media over the Skripal affair was deafening and resulted in Britain, the US and some 28 other countries expelling dozens of Russian diplomats on the back of unsubstantiated British allegations that the Kremlin tried to assassinate an exiled spy with a deadly nerve agent. The Trump administration has further tightened sanctions citing the Skripal incident.

London’s case against Moscow has been marked by wild speculation and ropey innuendo. No verifiable evidence of what actually happened to Sergei Skripal (67) and his daughter Yulia has been presented by the British authorities. Their claim that President Vladimir Putin sanctioned a hit squad armed with nerve poison relies on sheer conjecture.

All we know for sure is that the Skripals have been disappeared from public contact by the British authorities for more than seven months, since the mysterious incident of alleged poisoning in Salisbury on March 4.

Russian authorities and family relatives have been steadfastly refused any contact by London with the Skripal pair, despite more than 60 official requests from Moscow in accordance with international law and in spite of the fact that Yulia is a citizen of the Russian Federation with consular rights.

It is an outrage that based on such thin ice of “evidence”, the British have built an edifice of censure against Moscow, rallying an international campaign of further sanctions and diplomatic expulsions.

Now contrast that strenuous reaction, indeed hyper over-reaction, with how Britain, the US, France, Canada and other Western governments are ever-so slowly responding to Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case.

After nearly two weeks since Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, the Saudi regime is this week finally admitting he was killed on their premises – albeit, they claim, in a “botched interrogation”.

Turkish and American intelligence had earlier claimed that Khashoggi was tortured and murdered on the Saudi premises by a 15-member hit squad sent from Riyadh.

Even more grisly, it is claimed that Khashoggi’s body was hacked up with a bone saw by the killers, his remains secreted out of the consulate building in boxes, and flown back to Saudi Arabia on board two private jets connected to the Saudi royal family.

What’s more, the Turks and Americans claim that the whole barbaric plot to murder Khashoggi was on the orders of senior Saudi rulers, implicating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The latest twist out of Riyadh, is an attempt to scapegoat “rogue killers” and whitewash the House of Saudi from culpability.

The fact that 59-year-old Khashoggi was a legal US resident and a columnist for the Washington Post has no doubt given his case such prominent coverage in Western news media. Thousands of other victims of Saudi vengeance are routinely ignored in the West.

Nevertheless, despite the horrific and damning case against the Saudi monarchy, the response from the Trump administration, Britain and others has been abject.

President Trump has blustered that there “will be severe consequences” for the Saudi regime if it is proven culpable in the murder of Khashoggi. Trump quickly qualified, however, saying that billion-dollar arms deals with the oil-rich kingdom will not be cancelled. Now Trump appears to be joining in a cover-up by spinning the story that the Khashoggi killing was done by “rogue killers”.

Britain, France and Germany this week issued a joint statement calling for “a credible investigation” into the disappearance. But other than “tough-sounding” rhetoric, none of the European states have indicated any specific sanctions, such as weapons contracts being revoked or diplomatic expulsions.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “concerned” by the gruesome claims about Khashoggi’s killing, but he reiterated that Ottawa would not be scrapping a $15 billion sale of combat vehicles to Riyadh.

The Saudi rulers have even threatened retaliatory measures if sanctions are imposed by Western governments.

Saudi denials of official culpability seem to be a brazen flouting of all reason and circumstantial evidence that Khashoggi was indeed murdered in the consulate building on senior Saudi orders.

This week a glitzy international investor conference in Saudi Arabia is being boycotted by top business figures, including the World Bank chief, Jim Yong Kim, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Britain’s venture capitalist Richard Branson. Global firms like Ford and Uber have pulled out, as have various media sponsors, such as CNN, the New York Times and Financial Times. Withdrawal from the event was in response to the Khashoggi affair.

A growing bipartisan chorus of US Senators, including Bob Corker, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Chris Murphy, have called for the cancellation of American arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as for an overhaul of the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Still, Trump has rebuffed calls for punitive response. He has said that American jobs and profits depend on the Saudi weapons market. Some 20 per cent of all US arms sales are estimated to go to the House of Saud.

The New York Times this week headlined: “In Trump’s Saudi Bargain, the Bottom Line Proudly Stands Out”.

The Trump White House will be represented at the investment conference in Saudi Arabia this week – dubbed “Davos in the Desert” by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He said he was attending in spite of the grave allegations against the Saudi rulers.

Surely the point here is the unseemly indulgence by Western governments of Saudi Arabia and its so-called “reforming” Crown Prince. It is remarkable how much credulity Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and others are affording the Saudi despots who, most likely, have been caught redhanded in a barbarous murder.

Yet, when it comes to Russia and outlandish, unproven claims that the Kremlin carried out a bizarre poison-assassination plot, all these same Western governments abandon all reason and decorum to pile sanctions on Russia based on lurid, hollow speculation. The blatant hypocrisy demolishes any pretense of integrity or principle.

Here is another connection between the Skripal and Khashoggi affairs. The Saudis no doubt took note of the way Britain’s rulers have shown absolute disregard and contempt for international law in their de facto abduction of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. If the British can get away with that gross violation, then the Saudis probably thought that nobody would care too much if they disappeared Jamal Khashoggi.

Grotesquely, the way things are shaping up in terms of hypocritical lack of action by the Americans, British and others towards the Saudi despots, the latter might just get away with murder. Not so Russia. The Russians are not allowed to get away with even an absurd fantasy.

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US-China trade war heats up as surplus hits record $34 Billion (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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According to a report by the AFP, China’s trade surplus with the United States ballooned to a record $34.1 billion in September, despite a raft of US tariffs, official data showed Friday, adding fuel to the fire of a worsening trade war.

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have soured sharply this year, with US President Donald Trump vowing on Thursday to inflict economic pain on China if it does not blink.
The two countries imposed new tariffs on a massive amount of each other’s goods mid-September, with the US targeting $200 billion in Chinese imports and Beijing firing back at $60 billion worth of US goods.

“China-US trade friction has caused trouble and pounded our foreign trade development,” customs spokesman Li Kuiwen told reporters Friday.

But China’s trade surplus with the US grew 10 percent in September from a record $31 billion in August, according to China’s customs administration. It was a 22 percent jump from the same month last year.

China’s exports to the US rose to $46.7 billion while imports slumped to $12.6 billion.

China’s overall trade — what it buys and sells with all countries including the US — logged a $31.7 billion surplus, as exports rose faster than imports.

Exports jumped 14.5 percent for September on-year, beating forecasts from analysts polled by Bloomberg News, while imports rose 14.3 percent on-year.

While the data showed China’s trade remained strong for the month, analysts forecast the trade war will start to hurt in coming months.

China’s export jump for the month suggests exporters were shipping goods early to beat the latest tariffs, said ANZ’s China economist Betty Wang, citing the bounce in electrical machinery exports, much of which faced the looming duties.

“We will watch for downside risks to China’s exports” in the fourth quarter, Wang said.

Analysts say a sharp depreciation of the yuan has also helped China weather the tariffs by making its exports cheaper.

“The big picture is the Chinese exports have so far held up well in the face of escalating trade tensions and cooling global growth, most likely thanks to the competitiveness boost provided by a weaker renminbi (yuan),” said Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics.

“With global growth likely to cool further in the coming quarters and US tariffs set to become more punishing, the recent resilience of exports is unlikely to be sustained,” he said.

According to Bloomberg US President Donald Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement isn’t that different from the North American Free Trade Agreement that it replaced. But hidden in the bowels of the new trade deal is a clause, Article 32.10, that could have a far-reaching impact. The new agreement requires member states to get approval from the other members if they initiate trade negotiations with a so-called non-market economy. In practice, “non-market” almost certainly means China. If, for example, Canada begins trade talks with China, it has to show the full text of the proposed agreement to the U.S. and Mexico — and if either the U.S. or Mexico doesn’t like what it sees, it can unilaterally kick Canada out of the USMCA.

Although it seems unlikely that the clause would be invoked, it will almost certainly exert a chilling effect on Canada and Mexico’s trade relations with China. Forced to choose between a gargantuan economy across the Pacific and another one next door, both of the U.S.’s neighbors are almost certain to pick the latter.

This is just another part of Trump’s general trade waragainst China. It’s a good sign that Trump realizes that unilateral U.S. efforts alone won’t be enough to force China to make concessions on issues like currency valuation, intellectual-property protection and industrial subsidies. China’s export markets are much too diverse:

If Trump cuts the U.S. off from trade with China, the likeliest outcome is that China simply steps up its exports to other markets. That would bind the rest of the world more closely to China and weaken the global influence of the U.S. China’s economy would take a small but temporary hit, while the U.S. would see its position as the economic center of the world slip into memory.

Instead, to take on China, Trump needs a gang. And that gang has to be much bigger than just North America. But most countries in Europe and East Asia probably can’t be bullied into choosing between the U.S. and China. — their ties to the U.S. are not as strong as those of Mexico and Canada. Countries such as South Korea, Germany, India and Japan will need carrots as well as sticks if they’re going to join a U.S.-led united trade front against China.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the escalating trade war between the United States and China, and the record trade surplus that positions China with a bit more leverage than Trump anticipated.

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Via Zerohedge Trump Threatens China With More Tariffs, Does Not Seek Economic “Depression”

US equity futures dipped in the red after President Trump threatened to impose a third round of tariffs on China and warned that Chinese meddling in U.S. politics was a “bigger problem” than Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

During the same interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, in which Trump threatened to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia if the Saudis are found to have killed WaPo reported Khashoggi, and which sent Saudi stock plunging, Trump said he “might,” impose a new round of tariffs on China, adding that while he has “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and noting that Xi “wants to negotiate”, he doesn’t “know that that’s necessarily going to continue.” Asked if American products have become more expensive due to tariffs on China, Trump said that “so far, that hasn’t turned out to be the case.”

“They can retaliate, but they can’t, they don’t have enough ammunition to retaliate,” Trump says, “We do $100 billion with them. They do $531 billion with us.”

Trump was also asked if he wants to push China’s economy into a depression to which the US president said “no” before comparing the country’s stock-market losses since the tariffs first launched to those in 1929, the start of the Great Depression in the U.S.

“I want them to negotiate a fair deal with us. I want them to open their markets like our markets are open,” Trump said in the interview that aired Sunday. So far, the U.S. has imposed three rounds of tariffs on Chinese imports totaling $250 billion, prompting China to retaliate against U.S. products. The president previously has threatened to hit virtually all Chinese imports with duties.

Asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin’s alleged efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump quickly turned back to China. “They meddled,” he said of Russia, “but I think China meddled too.”

“I think China meddled also. And I think, frankly, China … is a bigger problem,” Trump said, as interviewer Lesley Stahl interrupted him for “diverting” from a discussion of Russia.

Shortly before an audacious speech by Mike Pence last weekend, in which the US vice president effectively declared a new cold war on Beijing (see “Russell Napier: Mike Pence Announces Cold War II”), Trump made similar accusations during a speech at the United Nations last month, which his aides substantiated by pointing to long-term Chinese influence campaigns and an advertising section in the Des Moines Register warning farmers about the potential effects of Trump’s tariffs.

Meanwhile, in a rare U.S. television appearance, China’s ambassador to the U.S. said Beijing has no choice but to respond to what he described as a trade war started by the U.S.

“We never wanted a trade war, but if somebody started a trade war against us, we have to respond and defend our own interests,” said China’s Ambassador Cui Tiankai.

Cui also dismissed as “groundless” the abovementioned suggestion by Vice President Mike Pence that China has orchestrated an effort to meddle in U.S. domestic affairs. Pence escalated the rhetoric in a speech Oct. 4, saying Beijing has created a “a whole-of-government approach” to sway American public opinion, including spies, tariffs, coercive measures and a propaganda campaign.

Pence’s comments were some of the most critical about China by a high-ranking U.S. official in recent memory. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo got a lecture when he visited Beijing days later, about U.S. actions that were termed “completely out of line.” The tough words followed months of increases tit-for-tat tariffs imposed by Washington and Beijing that have ballooned to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade.

During a recent interview with National Public Radio, Cui said the U.S. has “not sufficiently” dealt in good faith with the Chinese on trade matters, saying “the U.S. position keeps changing all the time so we don’t know exactly what the U.S. would want as priorities.”

Meanwhile, White House economic director Larry Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will “probably meet” at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in late November. “There’s plans and discussions and agendas” being discussed, he said. So far, talks with China on trade have been “unsatisfactory,” Kudlow said. “We’ve made our asks” on allegations of intellectual property theft and forced technology transfers, he added. “We have to have reciprocity.”

Addressing the upcoming meeting, Cui said he was present at two previous meetings of Xi and Trump, and that top-level communication “played a key role, an irreplaceable role, in guiding the relationship forward.” Despite current tensions the two have a “good working relationship,” he said.

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BREAKING: Explosion in Crimea, Russia kills many, injuring dozens, terrorism suspected

According to preliminary information, the incident was caused by a gas explosion at a college facility in Kerch, Crimea.

The Duran

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“We are clarifying the information at the moment. Preliminary figures are 50 injured and 10 dead. Eight ambulance crews are working at the site and air medical services are involved,” the press-service for the Crimean Ministry of Health stated.

Medics announced that at least 50 people were injured in the explosion in Kerch and 25 have already been taken to local hospital with moderate wounds, according to Sputnik.

Local news outlets reported that earlier in the day, students at the college heard a blast and windows of the building were shattered.

Putin Orders that Assistance Be Provided to Victims of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The president has instructed the Ministry of Health and the rescue services to take emergency measures to assist victims of this explosion, if necessary, to ensure the urgent transportation of seriously wounded patients to leading medical institutions of Russia, whether in Moscow or other cities,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said.

The president also expressed his condolences to all those affected by the tragic incident.

Manhunt Underway in Kerch as FSB Specialists Investigate Site of Explosion – National Anti-Terrorist Committee

The site of the blast that rocked a city college in Kerch is being examined by FSB bomb disposal experts and law enforcement agencies are searching for clues that might lead to the arrest of the perpetrators, the National Anti Terrorism Committee said in a statement.

“Acting on orders from the head of the NAC’s local headquarters, FSB, Interior Ministry, Russian Guards and Emergency Ministry units have arrived at the site. The territory around the college has been cordoned off and the people inside the building evacuated… Mine-disposal experts are working at the site and law enforcement specialists are investigating,” the statement said.

Terrorist Act Considered as Possible Cause of Blast in Kerch – Kremlin Spokesman

“The tragic news that comes from Kerch. Explosion. The president was informed … The data on those killed and the number of injured is constantly updated,” Peskov told reporters.

“[The version of a terrorist attack] is being considered,” he said.

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