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As His Regime Falters, Here Is Where Venezuela’s Maduro May Seek Asylum

Anybody who believes the demise of the Maduro regime is imminent should take another look at what happened in Syria during the wake of the Arab Spring.

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Via Zerohedge


As US sanctions on Venezuelan oil restrict one of the last lifelines for the embattled regime of Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro, talk of all-out civil war has intensified (one US admiral even suggested that the US could dispatch ground forces to the ailing socialist republic if it feels its diplomatic personnel are being threatened). And with opposition leader Juan Guaido winning the support of a growing share of the international community, his government will soon benefit from more financial support in the form of escrow accounts that will be seeded with revenues from Venezuelan oil.

Last month, John Bolton tweeted that he sincerely hopes Maduro will abandon his claim to power and flee to “a nice beach somewhere far from Venezuela.”

Though he declined to name names, Elliott Abrams, the State Department’s special envoy to Venezuela, said that countries other than Russia and Cuba “have come to us privately and said they’d be willing to take members of the current illegitimate regime if it would help the transition.”

And Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores, reportedly has been pressuring her husband to have a “Plan B” ready

With Maduro’s fate looking ever more tenuous (though, to be sure, despite a wave of defections, he still commands the loyalty of the Venezuelan military), Bloomberg on Monday offered a comprehensive look at all of the countries where Maduro and the senior ranks of his government could end up seeking asylum.

To be sure, offering safe haven to Maduro could carry risks both for the Venezuelan dictator and the country involved. Still, the locations reportedly under discussion include both unsurprising candidates (Cuba) and surprising ones (…the Vatican?).

Here’s a quick roundup, sourced from BBG:

Cuba:

The Cuban Communist regime led by Miguel Diaz-Canel has been both an ideological ally to Maduro’s Bolivarian Republic and a source of financing during times of stress. But taking in Maduro could put Cuba “back on the US radar” after President Trump has done surprisingly little to roll back the detente ushered in by the Obama Administration.

Russia

Moscow has been one of the Maduro regime’s most outspoken backers (its state-controlled oil company Rosneft has sunk billions of dollars in investments into Venezeula’s state-run oil company). Still, Russian lawmakers insisted they would rather see Maduro remain in power in Venezuela. One Russian lawmaker said he believes Maduro and his allies would sooner take to the hills and become guerillas before leaving the country.

Moscow is not fond of Maduro, but has little choice in the matter, according to a person with knowledge of the internal discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Kremlin won’t encourage him to flee unless there is a clear alternative — and for Moscow that is not Guaido, the person said.

“He is not planning to go anywhere,” Russian lawmaker Andrey Klimov, deputy head of the upper house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said by phone. He dismissed talk of Maduro’s evacuation as “psychological warfare” aimed at “sowing panic and hysteria.

“I think Maduro and his people are more likely to become guerrillas and make a second Vietnam of Venezuela,” he said. Russia, he added, is “talking to Maduro in order to ease tensions inside the country and abroad. But we can’t command him.”

Still, Russia said it doesn’t “give up on its own”, suggesting that if Maduro was truly desperate, he could turn to Moscow.

If Maduro turned to Russia, President Vladimir Putin would give him refuge, said Andrey Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, a research organization set up by the Kremlin. “It’s not in our rules to give up our own – and he is still one of ours,” he said.
Russia, however, thinks Maduro can survive the crisis, according to Kortunov. “I believe Maduro has boltholes closer than Russia,” he said. “But this is still premature. So far, the regime has shown some resilience.”

Mexico

Another likely contender is Mexico, which has a long tradition of taking in leftist exiles and also the Shah of Iran. After his falling out with Stalin, Leon Trotsky, the infamous Soviet revolutionary, fled to Mexico, where he was welcomed proudly by the country’s leftist leader (though he was later murdered by agents of Stalin). Lazaro Cardenas, the leader who took in Trotsky, is a hero for AMLO, Mexico’s current leader. Mexico has remained one of the few countries in Latin America to continue to recognize Maduro as Venezuela’s legitimate ruler.

In another sign that Mexico could offer asylum to Maduro,  Jorge Rodriguez, Venezuela’s communications minister, traveled to Mexico last month while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was also in the country. Talks between the various parties reportedly focused on Mexico’s utility as a conduit for talks between Maduro and the opposition.

Turkey

President Erdogan has praised Maduro, and officials in his government have suggested that Maduro could seek asylum there, though only as a last recourse.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Maduro last month to assure him of his support, addressing him as “my brother!” The destination for tons of Venezuelan gold, Turkey has offered to take in Maduro, although only as a last recourse, according to a person familiar with the discussions. Any decision would be taken by Erdogan directly, and right now the priority is on backing him at home, a senior Turkish official said.

The Vatican

Last month, Guaido appealed to Pope Francis for help in acting as a mediator between Guaido and Maduro, though the Vatican remains an unlikely source of respite for Maduro and members of his regime.

One factor that could complicate a Maduro exit is his vice president, Diosdado Cabello, who has been under investigation by US prosecutors since at least 2015 for his alleged involvement in cocaine trafficking.

* *  *

Still, anybody who believes the demise of the Maduro regime is imminent should take another look at what happened in Syria during the wake of the Arab Spring. Back in 2011, almost every analyst quoted in Western media predicted that Assad’s downfall would take a matter of weeks, not months or years, according to BBG.

Nearly eight years later, not only is Assad still in power, but he is stronger than ever before. The same could very well hold true for Maduro, who also enjoys the backing of Russia and Iran.

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Olivia KrothigorJustin TauaIt is I onlyDarryl Secret Recent comment authors
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Olivia Kroth
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Venezuela’s Government with President Maduro does not “falter” but stands strong. He does not seek “asylum” anywhere but will remain in Venezuela, his home country.

teles
Guest

Telesur English:

Venezuelans sign for peace and non-interference in Venezuela

Olivia Kroth
Guest

President Nicolas Maduro’s “evacuation” from Venezuela not on Kremlin’s agenda, says Putin’s spokesman Russian Politics & Diplomacy February 07, 12:49 UTC+3 MOSCOW, February 7. /TASS/. No work is underway in the Kremlin on the potential evacuation of President Nicolas Maduro from Venezuela because of the domestic political crisis, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “This issue has not been raised,” he said. “There isn’t any exchange of views with the United States regime. Moscow is not holding any consultations with other countries, including Uruguay.” Speaking on the exchange of views on the Venezuelan settlement, the Kremlin spokesman assured that… Read more »

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Caracas has the support of influential allies, says Venezuelan top brass World February 12, 11:00 UTC+3 MOSCOW, February 12. /TASS/. Venezuela’s authorities are not isolated and have backing from influential allies amid the crisis in the Latin American country, head of the Operational Strategic Command (CEOFAN) of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela Remigio Ceballos said on VTV channel live on Monday. “We are not in isolation , we have influential allies,” Ceballos said. There are “more than 180 countries that support Venezuela in the current situation” in the country, he said. Ceballos also affirmed that the National Bolivarian… Read more »

Stunned_at_Sunset
Guest
Stunned_at_Sunset

I can understand why Russia is loathe to witness yet another “Deep State” regime change operation in Venezuela but we have to face the fact that Maduro’s “regime” was DOA the day he allowed the Venezuelan mobsters to take over the management of the people’s prosperity, safety, property, and security. It’s not that the people want a Capitalist Economy. They don’t seem to want that as they keep voting these socialist yahoos into power. The problem is that the people don’t want mobsters running their lives and Maduro behaves like the quintessential “Don” parsing out fiefdoms to the loyal “lieutenants”… Read more »

Jane Karlsson
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Jane Karlsson

Please provide references for your statements about Venezuelan corruption. I have come across many accusations on this subject but no evidence. Perhaps there is indeed massive corruption. But until I see incontrovertible evidence I will reserve judgement.

teles
Guest

As the US regime falters, here is where US mafiosi Bolton and Pompeo may seek Asylum: in North Korea, in Iran, in Syria, in Cuba. Of course, they may also commit suicide in the CIA bunker of Langley, Virginia.

TravelAbout
Guest
TravelAbout

LOL, I’d vote for the last option!

bsamsin
Guest
bsamsin

yeah, but you know where they’d really run to … (as flag bearers for Israeli policy)

Von drexler
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Von drexler

Fuck you daran fuck you!Venezuela is not a regime so fucking stop saying it…….

Olivia Kroth
Guest

I agree. This term is not correct. The Government of Venezuela has been demoxratically elected, international observers (even from the USA) were present as observers.

“Regime” has a negative connotation. Therefore I have started calling the US government a “regime”, and the current French government under Macron is also a “regime”. One might as well call them dictatorships.

Paddy Jameson Power
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Paddy Jameson Power

Who writes this nonsense? Pres Maduro is the democratically elected president of Venezuela. Only someone deluded by US propaganda would refer to him as a dictator. This is what we have come to expect from US shills and propagandists.
And Pres Maduro is going nowhere.

Nikolaiki
Member
Nikolaiki

‘Embattled regme of Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro’…….that where I stopped reading! Maduro has been democratically elected president of Venezuela.

HelenB
Guest
HelenB

It’s BBC rubbish via ZeroHedge. Why The Duran would put its name anywhere near it is surprising.

bsamsin
Guest
bsamsin

actually, it’s not that surprising, since Mercouris talked on video about Russia doing a deal with Guaido, which was a bit of a head scratcher.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

What Mr. Mercouris said about Russia dropping Venezuela is not true. Actually, it is quite the opposite. Russia supports Venezuela in difficult times. Mr. Mercouris sayd in his interview that he does not know much about Venezuela and has never been there. I wonder where his ideas about Venezuela come from. TASS REPORTS: Venezuela thanks Russia for support in current situation Society & Culture February 12, 19:13 UTC+3 Venezuela’s ambassador in Moscow Carlos Rafael Faria Tortosa said that “our people, our government and our President Nicolas Maduro are very grateful to you and the Russian government” MOSCOW, February 12. /TASS/.… Read more »

Olivia Kroth
Guest

DURAN has a lot of texts from Zerohedge. It might be better if the editors started writing their own.

craig watson
Guest

Maduro is going nowhere. He’s a Venezuelan, and a patriot. He’ll die there fighting before fleeing, like all courageous honest leaders. Russia and China are arranging their own proxies to stave off the USA’s NGO’s, CIA and proxies from Colombia and elsewhere. Here is where the USA finally hits the wall and crashes. And here is where China and Russia defend their $billions invested in Venezuela as well as elsewhere in South America. It will probably get ugly, but maybe not, can’t tell yet. America is on the warpath but clueless as ever.

HelenB
Guest
HelenB

Sourced from the BBC? Really?

thraxite
Guest
thraxite

Why does the author continuously call President Maduro a dictator? If he doesn’t know they’ve had 25 elections in the past 20 years and last years were found free and fair by international observers, he shouldn’t be given the opportunity to spread his rubbish! This seems like he’s in competition with a certain German journalist who got caught making things up recently. Seems this was as well researched as those articles. Boo!

notlurking
Guest
notlurking

Something stinks to high heaven here…..yea this article….

Olivia Kroth
Guest

The DURAN is taking a strange turn. Somehow it seems to have been “hijacked”. I wonder by whom ….

jrkrideau
Guest
jrkrideau

Should not this article have discussed where Juan Guaidô is planning as his new home. Given the USA’s record, he probably wants to have several alternatives available.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

The Venezuelan coup perpetrator could hibernate in Trump’s golf club of Mar-a-Lago, Florida. Maybe he’ll get a rentfree apartment in the Trump tower later? (If Trump is not too stingy for this sort of give-away to a failed puppet of his faltering regime ….)

Darryl Secret
Guest
Darryl Secret

The regime change attempt is over.
The U$A/Canada has failed spectacularly.

Get rid of U$ Guantanamo, put those S-400’s and Pantisirs in Venezuela and Cuba, and they may yet be safe.

Justin Taua
Guest
Justin Taua

So Tyler Durden deliberately choses to use the Authoritarian “Regime” word, that is associated with; US-supported military dictatorships; to denigrate Venezuela and Cuba. His “Communist” and “Regime” association of Cuba, is about his hateful desire to taint a “Workers State” with the “Regime” label that better fits; the tyrants who have been the lapdogs of US-led oppression around the World. For that reason, it’s the job of every well informed person on the planet; to accurately describe the USA as a, “Military Regime” (The Deep State). We call it a “Junta.” The “US-Deep State”, ain’t some ghostly play on words;… Read more »

Olivia Kroth
Guest

“Tyler Durden” is a pen name for a Bulgarian refugee or refugee spawn, living under the US regime, and obviously doing quite well there, since he does not want to return home. All of the “Tyler Durden” texts are tainted by his new habitat (the US regime). You can find more about this on Wikipedia: Daniel Ivandjiiski is the “zerohedge” founder and editor From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Born Daniel Krassimirov Ivandjiiski November 8, 1978 (age 40) Sofia, Bulgaria Residence Mahwah, New Jersey, U.S. Nationality Bulgarian Other names Tyler Durden (on Zero Hedge) Education American College of Sofia (1997) Alma… Read more »

Justin Taua
Guest
Justin Taua

Thanks a lot mate From Aotearoa/New Zealand. Cheers!

It is I only
Guest
It is I only

As His Regime Falters, Here Is Where Venezuela’s Maduro May Seek AsylumHumm ??
If I remember correctly didn’t you said that about Assad some years ago, you & the “respected” media, the mulatto faggot et al ??

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Yes, the US regime always likes to talk about others “faltering”. I hope the US regime will falter soon, once and for all.

igor
Guest
igor

Why publish garbage like this

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Yes, why indeed? Has THE DURAN no better articles to offer? How sad.

igor
Guest
igor

trash article

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Airline wars heat up, as industry undergoes massive disruption (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 145.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the global commercial airline industry, which is undergoing massive changes, as competition creeps in from Russia and China.

Reuters reports that Boeing Co’s legal troubles grew as a new lawsuit accused the company of defrauding shareholders by concealing safety deficiencies in its 737 MAX planes before two fatal crashes led to their worldwide grounding.

The proposed class action filed in Chicago federal court seeks damages for alleged securities fraud violations, after Boeing’s market value tumbled by $34 billion within two weeks of the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX.

*****

According to the complaint, Boeing “effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty” by rushing the 737 MAX to market to compete with Airbus SE, while leaving out “extra” or “optional” features designed to prevent the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes.

It also said Boeing’s statements about its growth prospects and the 737 MAX were undermined by its alleged conflict of interest from retaining broad authority from federal regulators to assess the plane’s safety.

*****

Boeing said on Tuesday that aircraft orders in the first quarter fell to 95 from 180 a year earlier, with no orders for the 737 MAX following the worldwide grounding.

On April 5, it said it planned to cut monthly 737 production to 42 planes from 52, and was making progress on a 737 MAX software update to prevent further accidents.

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Via Zerohedge…

Step aside (fading) trade war with China: there is a new aggressor – at least according to the US Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer – in town.

In a statement on the USTR’s website published late on Monday, the US fair trade agency announced that under Section 301 of the Trade Act, it was proposing a list of EU products to be covered by additional duties. And as justification for the incremental import taxes, the USTR said that it was in response to EU aircraft subsidies, specifically to Europea’s aerospace giant, Airbus, which “have caused adverse effects to the United States” and which the USTR estimates cause $11 billion in harm to the US each year

One can’t help but notice that the latest shot across the bow in the simmering trade war with Europe comes as i) Trump is reportedly preparing to fold in his trade war with China, punting enforcement to whoever is president in 2025, and ii) comes just as Boeing has found itself scrambling to preserve orders as the world has put its orderbook for Boeing 737 MAX airplanes on hold, which prompted Boeing to cut 737 production by 20% on Friday.

While the first may be purely a coincidence, the second – which is expected to not only slam Boeing’s financials for Q1 and Q2, but may also adversely impact US GDP – had at least some impact on the decision to proceed with these tariffs at this moment.

We now await Europe’s angry response to what is Trump’s latest salvo in what is once again a global trade war. And, paradoxically, we also expect this news to send stocks blasting higher as, taking a page from the US-China trade book, every day algos will price in imminent “US-European trade deal optimism.”

Below the full statement from the USTR (link):

USTR Proposes Products for Tariff Countermeasures in Response to Harm Caused by EU Aircraft Subsidies

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has found repeatedly that European Union (EU) subsidies to Airbus have caused adverse effects to the United States.  Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) begins its process under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to identify products of the EU to which additional duties may be applied until the EU removes those subsidies.

USTR is releasing for public comment a preliminary list of EU products to be covered by additional duties.  USTR estimates the harm from the EU subsidies as $11 billion in trade each year.  The amount is subject to an arbitration at the WTO, the result of which is expected to be issued this summer.

“This case has been in litigation for 14 years, and the time has come for action. The Administration is preparing to respond immediately when the WTO issues its finding on the value of U.S. countermeasures,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.  “Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft.  When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional U.S. duties imposed in response can be lifted.”

In line with U.S. law, the preliminary list contains a number of products in the civil aviation sector, including Airbus aircraft.  Once the WTO arbitrator issues its report on the value of countermeasures, USTR will announce a final product list covering a level of trade commensurate with the adverse effects determined to exist.

Background

After many years of seeking unsuccessfully to convince the EU and four of its member States (France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom) to cease their subsidization of Airbus, the United States brought a WTO challenge to EU subsidies in 2004. In 2011, the WTO found that the EU provided Airbus $18 billion in subsidized financing from 1968 to 2006.  In particular, the WTO found that European “launch aid” subsidies were instrumental in permitting Airbus to launch every model of its large civil aircraft, causing Boeing to lose sales of more than 300 aircraft and market share throughout the world.

In response, the EU removed two minor subsidies, but left most of them unchanged.  The EU also granted Airbus more than $5 billion in new subsidized “launch aid” financing for the A350 XWB.  The United States requested establishment of a compliance panel in March 2012 to address the EU’s failure to remove its old subsidies, as well as the new subsidies and their adverse effects.  That process came to a close with the issuance of an appellate report in May 2018 finding that EU subsidies to high-value, twin-aisle aircraft have caused serious prejudice to U.S. interests.  The report found that billions of dollars in launch aid to the A350 XWB and A380 cause significant lost sales to Boeing 787 and 747 aircraft, as well as lost market share for Boeing very large aircraft in the EU, Australia, China, Korea, Singapore, and UAE markets.

Based on the appellate report, the United States requested authority to impose countermeasures worth $11.2 billion per year, commensurate with the adverse effects caused by EU subsidies.  The EU challenged that estimate, and a WTO arbitrator is currently evaluating those claims

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Mueller report takes ‘Russian meddling’ for granted, offers no actual evidence

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Special counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ report has cleared Donald Trump of ‘collusion’ charges but maintains that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. Yet concrete evidence of that is nowhere to be seen.

The report by Mueller and his team, made public on Thursday by the US Department of Justice, exonerates not just Trump but all Americans of any “collusion” with Russia, “obliterating” the Russiagate conspiracy theory, as journalist Glenn Greenwald put it.

However, it asserts that Russian “interference” in the election did happen, and says it consisted of a campaign on social media as well as Russian military intelligence (repeatedly referred to by its old, Soviet-era name, GRU) “hacking” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the DNC, and the private email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

As evidence of this, the report basically offers nothing but Mueller’s indictment of “GRU agents,” delivered on the eve of the Helsinki Summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in what was surely a cosmic coincidence.

Indictments are not evidence, however, but allegations. Any time it looks like the report might be bringing up proof, it ends up being redacted, ostensibly to protect sources and methods, and out of concern it might cause “harm to an ongoing matter.”

‘Active measures’ on social media

Mueller’s report leads with the claim that the Internet Research Agency (IRA) ran an “active measures” campaign of social media influence. Citing Facebook and Twitter estimates, the report says this consisted of 470 Facebook accounts that made 80,000 posts that may have been seen by up to 126 million people, between January 2015 and August 2017 (almost a year after the election), and 3,814 Twitter accounts that “may have been” in contact with about 1.4 million people.

Those numbers may seem substantial but, as investigative journalist Gareth Porter pointed out in November 2018, they should be regarded against the background of 33 trillion Facebook posts made during the same period.

According to Mueller, the IRA mind-controlled the American electorate by spending “approximately $100,000” on Facebook ads, hiring someone to walk around New York City “dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask,” and getting Trump campaign affiliates to promote “dozens of tweets, posts, and other political content created by the IRA.” Dozens!

Meanwhile, the key evidence against IRA’s alleged boss Evgeny Prigozhin is that he “appeared together in public photographs” with Putin.

Alleged hacking & release

The report claims that the GRU hacked their way into 29 DCCC computers and another 30 DNC computers, and downloaded data using software called “X-Tunnel.” It is unclear how Mueller’s investigators claim to know this, as the report makes no mention of them or FBI actually examining DNC or DCCC computers. Presumably they took the word of CrowdStrike, the Democrats’ private contractor, for it.

However obtained, the documents were published first through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 – which the report claims are “fictitious online personas” created by the GRU – and later through WikiLeaks. What is Mueller’s proof that these two entities were “GRU” cutouts? In a word, this:

That the Guccifer 2.0 persona provided reporters access to a restricted portion of the DCLeaks website tends to indicate that both personas were operated by the same or a closely-related group of people.(p. 43)

However, the report acknowledges that the “first known contact” between Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks was on September 15, 2016 – months after the DNC and DCCC documents were published! Here we do get actual evidence: direct messages on Twitter obtained by investigators. Behold, these “spies” are so good, they don’t even talk – and when they do, they use unsecured channels.

Mueller notably claims “it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks” (the rest of that sentence is redacted), but the report clearly implies the investigators do not actually know how. On page 47, the report says Mueller “cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.”

Strangely, the report accuses WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange of making “public statements apparently designed to obscure the source” of the materials (p.48), notably the offer of a reward for finding the murderer of DNC staffer Seth Rich – even though this can be read as corroborating the intermediaries theory, and Assange never actually said Rich was his source.

The rest of Mueller’s report goes on to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with anyone even remotely Russian and to create torturous constructions that the president had “obstructed” justice by basically defending himself from charges of being a Russian agent – neither of which resulted in any indictments, however. But the central premise that the 22-month investigation, breathless media coverage, and the 448-page report are based on – that Russia somehow meddled in the 2016 election – remains unproven.

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Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote.

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington’s claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but “all options are on the table.” Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly ten times as much on “defense.”

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a “foreign terrorist organization” and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 per cent of the American people.

A current bill originally entitled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019,” is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will “…require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world’s best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as “…comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.”

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today’s Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” Menendez noted that “President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress” while Graham added that “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.” Cardin contributed “Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad” and Shaheen observed that “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order.”

The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as “foreign terrorist organizations” is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

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