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Educating Trump: Putin’s task for their G20 meeting

The most valuable thing President Putin can do at his forthcoming G20 meeting with President Trump is school an inexperienced US President in the proper conduct of international relations.

Alexander Mercouris

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The US and Russia have confirmed that the first face-to-face meeting between US President Trump and Russian President Putin will take place during the G20 summit in Hamburg on 7th July 2017.

Though elements of the US bureaucracy in alliance with the US media have been working overtime to prevent this meeting from taking place, it seems that it will be a proper meeting, with Trump and Putin having comprehensive discussions with each other, and not the kind of short, tense and cursory discussion which is what meetings between Obama and Putin had become.

The fact that this will be a proper meeting between the two Presidents is in contrast to the recent brief encounter President Trump had with Ukrainian President Poroshenko.

Poroshenko contrived that meeting with Trump during his recent trip to Washington.  Not only was that meeting however extremely brief, with the media present throughout it, but there was no subsequent joint press conference, showing that nothing of substance was discussed.

It seems that Poroshenko – more one suspects for propaganda reasons than for any others – wanted to stage an encounter with Trump before Trump met with Putin.  Though that objective was achieved, Trump will almost certainly have been irritated, and his lack of enthusiasm for his Ukrainian guest was all too obvious.

Notwithstanding that the meeting between Trump and Putin will be a proper full-scale meeting, with Trump still dogged by Russiagate it is difficult to see how anything substantive in terms of actual agreements can come out of the meeting.  The best that can be hoped for is that Trump and Putin will at least reach some understanding on Syria, where the US and Russian militaries are simultaneously helping their proxies fight ISIS whilst simultaneously shadow-boxing with each other.  That is hugely distracting and draining of energy, and the only beneficiary from it is ISIS.

The trouble is that even if Presidents Trump and Putin do come to some agreement on Syria, it is far from clear that President Trump is in any position to enforce it on his bureaucracy, some elements of whom are all but guaranteed to want to sabotage it.  Nonetheless it is the only area where any actual progress looks possible.

In my opinion the best thing that might come from the summit is for Trump and Putin to establish a personal relationship with each other which might evolve into something which is altogether much more important.

In his recent expose of the Khan Sheikhoun attack and the US strike on Syria’s Al-Shayrat air base Seymour Hersh conveyed from his sources the opinion of President Trump that is started to form within the highest levels of the US defence and security establishment.  This is that President Trump is “not stupid and not unkind”, but that because of his inexperience and lack of self-confidence he is also simultaneously wilful, stubborn and easily led.

That is very much my opinion of President Trump also.  I would go further and add that on key international questions – including relations with Russia, and his wish to prioritise US interests over the neocons’ dangerous world hegemonic project – his instincts are far better (and bring him much closer to the American people) than is true of the elements in the bureaucracy who are fighting him.

The problem is that President Trump has come to the Presidency with a complete lack of foreign policy experience.   He has made some intelligent picks for his foreign policy team.  Secretary of State Tillerson looks like being the most capable foreign minister the US has had for a long time, and whilst Generals Mattis and McMaster are hardly men of genius (as they are sometimes made out to be), they at least come across as as competent and loyal. In addition Trump’s habit of speaking directly to other world leaders rather than holding himself aloof from them (as Barack Obama did) cannot be commended too strongly.  However it is clear that because of his lack of experience President Trump doesn’t known how to evaluate the information and advice he is given and that as a result he is all too easily manipulated, as he was over the Khan Sheikhoun attack, and as he was by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his recent trip to Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately it is also clear that this proud and grossly abused man has become deeply suspicious of those around him, which in view of what he has had to put up with over the last year (including from before he was elected President) in no way surprises me.

What this situation urgently calls for is someone whom Trump is able to trust and like, and who is not afraid of being sacked by him, to be available for Trump to turn to in moments of decision and crisis to talk things through.

Unfortunately none of the US’s traditional allies has a leader who comes close to filling that role.

In Europe the strongest leader is Angela Merkel who has made no secret of her hostility to Trump, and who – as her record has repeatedly shown – cannot be trusted anyway.   Macron – arrogant, manipulative and inexperienced – is in no position to fulfil that role either, whilst Britain is currently sunk in political crisis with its Prime Minister Theresa May to whom Trump seems instinctively to have first looked to for help turning out to be a broken reed.

Further afield, Netanyahu of Israel though worldly and highly intelligent already has a dangerously excessive influence in Washington, and his interests are anyway regional rather than global. Shinzo Abe of Japan, though also highly intelligent and worldly, simply does not have the international stature to fulfil such a role.  Modi of India in his country’s interests is altogether too calculating to speak to Trump with the forthrightness that such a role requires, and can be ruled out as well.

That leaves President Putin of Russia as the obvious person to fulfil this role.  Putin’s experience, intelligence, worldliness and forthrightness, qualify him perfectly for it.

Putin here has an advantage over China’s Xi Jinping.  One of the reasons the Mar-a-Lago summit between Trump and Xi Jinping has gone awry is because instead of talking to Trump with straightforward frankness Xi Jinping addressed him with his typical courtesy.

Here it is important to put aside ethnicist stereotypes.  As anyone who has had dealings with the Chinese can vouch, they can speak with complete frankness when the need requires them to, which is what Xi Jinping has repeatedly done in the several telephone conversations he has had with Trump since the Mar-a-Lago meeting.

However it remains true that China remains something of a ‘face’ culture, and the whole circumstances of the Mar-a-Lago summit – with Trump lavishly entertaining Xi Jinping in his private home, and introducing Xi Jinping to his family there – would have acted to make Xi Jinping want to pull his punches.

The result is the misunderstandings between the two Presidents which I have previously written about.

In Russia by contrast the quality most valued is forthrightness.  Putin exemplifies it, which is why his relations with the likes of Obama, Merkel, Cameron and Hollande – all unused to being spoken to in that way – have become so bad.

What that means is that Trump can always rely on Putin to say it to him exactly as it is, always with respect and courtesy, but invariably so and in all circumstances.

Arguably that is exactly what Trump needs as he gradually finds his way, and everything that is known about him suggests that unlike Obama, Merkel, Cameron, Hollande and the rest, he actually likes it and appreciates it.

Saying that Putin is the person Trump should look to to discuss international questions is of course all very well.  Unfortunately the mere suggestion that the President is looking to the Russian leader for advice is probably the single thing which would be most calculated to raise a storm in Washington.  The wholly artificial indeed nonsensical storm which was stirred up following Trump’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in the Oval Office back in May gives a good foretaste of the likely reaction.

Nonetheless the establishment of some sort of dialogue between Putin and Trump is not only the best way to bring some order to international relations and to stabilise the situation in Syria in particular, but it is also arguably the best way forward for the Trump Presidency itself, helping an inexperienced President to become in the best sense a genuinely transformative President.

Moreover though there would be intense hostility to such a move within the US from the usual suspects in the US bureaucracy and the media, the pattern of recent elections in the US suggests that many people there would welcome it, whilst recent articles in the US’s massive academic media suggests it has a fair amount of elite support as well.

Whether these hopes will be fulfilled or will be stillborn depends ultimately on the evolution of the domestic political situation in the US.  Events in recent weeks however show that Trump’s political position within the US is much stronger than many – including possibly he himself – have realised, whilst there are what may be the first tentative signs that the preposterous Russiagate scandal may be starting to collapse under the weight of its own absurdity.

If so, then despite all the pessimistic forecasts and the likely absence of any substantive agreements, the coming Trump-Putin meeting on 7th July 2017 could plant a seed with the potential to grow into something highly fruitful, not just for the future of international relations but for the Trump Presidency itself.

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Clinton-Yeltsin docs shine a light on why Deep State hates Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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Bill Clinton and America ruled over Russia and Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Yeltsin showed little love for Russia and more interest in keeping power, and pleasing the oligarchs around him.

Then came Vladimir Putin, and everything changed.

Nearly 600 pages of memos and transcripts, documenting personal exchanges and telephone conversations between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, were made public by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dating from January 1993 to December 1999, the documents provide a historical account of a time when US relations with Russia were at their best, as Russia was at its weakest.

On September 8, 1999, weeks after promoting the head of the Russia’s top intelligence agency to the post of prime minister, Russian President Boris Yeltsin took a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The new prime minister was unknown, rising to the top of the Federal Security Service only a year earlier.

Yeltsin wanted to reassure Clinton that Vladimir Putin was a “solid man.”

Yeltsin told Clinton….

“I would like to tell you about him so you will know what kind of man he is.”

“I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the nearly 600 pages of transcripts documenting the calls and personal conversations between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, released last month. A strong Clinton and a very weak Yeltsin underscore a warm and friendly relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Then Vladimir Putin came along and decided to lift Russia out of the abyss, and things changed.

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Here are five must-read Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges from with the 600 pages released by the Clinton Library.

Via RT

Clinton sends ‘his people’ to get Yeltsin elected

Amid unceasing allegations of nefarious Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, the Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges reveal how the US government threw its full weight behind Boris – in Russian parliamentary elections as well as for the 1996 reelection campaign, which he approached with 1-digit ratings.

For example, a transcript from 1993 details how Clinton offered to help Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by selectively using US foreign aid to shore up support for the Russian leader’s political allies.

“What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?” a concerned Clinton asked.

Yeltsin liked the idea, replying that “this kind of regional support would be very useful.” Clinton then promised to have “his people” follow up on the plan.

In another exchange, Yeltsin asks his US counterpart for a bit of financial help ahead of the 1996 presidential election: “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion,” he said. Yeltsin added that he needed the money in order to pay pensions and government wages – obligations which, if left unfulfilled, would have likely led to his political ruin. Yeltsin also asks Clinton if he could “use his influence” to increase the size of an IMF loan to assist him during his re-election campaign.

Yeltsin questions NATO expansion

The future of NATO was still an open question in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin provide an illuminating backdrop to the current state of the curiously offensive ‘defensive alliance’ (spoiler alert: it expanded right up to Russia’s border).

In 1995, Yeltsin told Clinton that NATO expansion would lead to “humiliation” for Russia, noting that many Russians were fearful of the possibility that the alliance could encircle their country.

“It’s a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? They ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this?” Yeltsin asked Clinton.

As the documents show, Yeltsin insisted that Russia had “no claims on other countries,” adding that it was “unacceptable” that the US was conducting naval drills near Crimea.

“It is as if we were training people in Cuba. How would you feel?” Yeltsin asked. The Russian leader then proposed a “gentleman’s agreement” that no former Soviet republics would join NATO.

Clinton refused the offer, saying: “I can’t make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO. I’ve always tried to build you up and never undermine you.”

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia turns Russia against the West

Although Clinton and Yeltsin enjoyed friendly relations, NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia tempered Moscow’s enthusiastic partnership with the West.

“Our people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO,” the Russian president told Clinton in March 1999. “I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that.”

Yeltsin urged Clinton to renounce the strikes, for the sake of “our relationship” and “peace in Europe.”

“It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons,” Yeltsin reminded his US counterpart.

But Clinton wouldn’t cede ground.

“Milosevic is still a communist dictator and he would like to destroy the alliance that Russia has built up with the US and Europe and essentially destroy the whole movement of your region toward democracy and go back to ethnic alliances. We cannot allow him to dictate our future,” Clinton told Yeltsin.

Yeltsin asks US to ‘give Europe to Russia’

One exchange that has been making the rounds on Twitter appears to show Yeltsin requesting that Europe be “given” to Russia during a meeting in Istanbul in 1999. However, it’s not quite what it seems.

“I ask you one thing,” Yeltsin says, addressing Clinton. “Just give Europe to Russia. The US is not in Europe. Europe should be in the business of Europeans.”

However, the request is slightly less sinister than it sounds when put into context: The two leaders were discussing missile defense, and Yeltsin was arguing that Russia – not the US – would be a more suitable guarantor of Europe’s security.

“We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles,” Yeltsin told Clinton.

Clinton on Putin: ‘He’s very smart’

Perhaps one of the most interesting exchanges takes place when Yeltsin announces to Clinton his successor, Vladimir Putin.

In a conversation with Clinton from September 1999, Yeltsin describes Putin as “a solid man,” adding: “I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

A month later, Clinton asks Yeltsin who will win the Russian presidential election.

“Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He’s a democrat, and he knows the West.”

“He’s very smart,” Clinton remarks.

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New Satellite Images Reveal Aftermath Of Israeli Strikes On Syria; Putin Accepts Offer to Probe Downed Jet

The images reveal the extent of destruction in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport.

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Via Zerohedge


An Israeli satellite imaging company has released satellite photographs that reveal the extent of Monday night’s attack on multiple locations inside Syria.

ImageSat International released them as part of an intelligence report on a series of Israeli air strikes which lasted for over an hour and resulted in Syrian missile defense accidentally downing a Russian surveillance plane that had 15 personnel on board.

The images reveal the extent of destruction on one location struck early in attack in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport. On Tuesday Israel owned up to carrying out the attack in a rare admission.

Syrian official SANA news agency reported ten people injured in the attacks carried out of military targets near three major cities in Syria’s north.

The Times of Israel, which first reported the release of the new satellite images, underscores the rarity of Israeli strikes happening that far north and along the coast, dangerously near Russian positions:

The attack near Latakia was especially unusual because the port city is located near a Russian military base, the Khmeimim Air Force base. The base is home to Russian jet planes and an S-400 aerial defense system. According to Arab media reports, Israel has rarely struck that area since the Russians arrived there.

The Russian S-400 system was reportedly active during the attack, but it’s difficult to confirm or assess the extent to which Russian missiles responded during the strikes.

Three of the released satellite images show what’s described as an “ammunition warehouse” that appears to have been completely destroyed.

The IDF has stated their airstrikes targeted a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” This statement came after the IDF expressed “sorrow” for the deaths of Russian airmen, but also said responsibility lies with the “Assad regime.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express regret over the incident while offering to send his air force chief to Russia with a detailed report — something which Putin agreed to.

According to Russia’s RT News, “Major-General Amikam Norkin will arrive in Moscow on Thursday, and will present the situation report on the incident, including the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the event and the pre-mission information the Israeli military was so reluctant to share in advance.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry condemned the “provocative actions by Israel as hostile” and said Russia reserves “the right to an adequate response” while Putin has described the downing of the Il-20 recon plane as likely the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances” and downplayed the idea of a deliberate provocation, in contradiction of the initial statement issued by his own defense ministry.

Pro-government Syrians have reportedly expressed frustration this week that Russia hasn’t done more to respond militarily to Israeli aggression; however, it appears Putin may be sidestepping yet another trap as it’s looking increasingly likely that Israel’s aims are precisely geared toward provoking a response in order to allow its western allies to join a broader attack on Damascus that could result in regime change.

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“Transphobic” Swedish Professor May Lose Job After Noting Biological Differences Between Sexes

A university professor in Sweden is under investigation after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded”

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Via Zerohedge


A university professor in Sweden is under investigation for “anti-feminism” and “transphobia” after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded” and that genders cannot be regarded as “social constructs alone,” reports Academic Rights Watch.

For his transgression, Germund Hesslow – a professor of neuroscience at Lund University – who holds dual PhDs in philosophy and neurophysiology, may lose his job – telling RT that a “full investigation” has been ordered, and that there “have been discussions about trying to stop the lecture or get rid of me, or have someone else give the lecture or not give the lecture at all.”

“If you answer such a question you are under severe time pressure, you have to be extremely brief — and I used wording which I think was completely innocuous, and that apparently the student didn’t,” Hesslow said.

Hesslow was ordered to attend a meeting by Christer Larsson, chairman of the program board for medical education, after a female student complained that Hesslow had a “personal anti-feminist agenda.” He was asked to distance himself from two specific comments; that gay women have a “male sexual orientation” and that the sexual orientation of transsexuals is “a matter of definition.”

The student’s complaint reads in part (translated):

I have also heard from senior lecturers that Germund Hesslow at the last lecture expressed himself transfobically. In response to a question of transexuallism, he said something like “sex change is a fly”. Secondly, it is outrageous because there may be students during the lecture who are themselves exposed to transfobin, but also because it may affect how later students in their professional lives meet transgender people. Transpersonals already have a high level of overrepresentation in suicide statistics and there are already major shortcomings in the treatment of transgender in care, should not it be countered? How does this kind of statement coincide with the university’s equal treatment plan? What has this statement given for consequences? What has been done for this to not be repeated? –Academic Rights Watch

After being admonished, Hesslow refused to distance himself from his comments, saying that he had “done enough” already and didn’t have to explain and defend his choice of words.

At some point, one must ask for a sense of proportion among those involved. If it were to become acceptable for students to record lectures in order to find compromising formulations and then involve faculty staff with meetings and long letters, we should let go of the medical education altogether,” Hesslow said in a written reply to Larsson.

He also rejected the accusation that he had a political agenda – stating that his only agenda was to let scientific factnot new social conventions, dictate how he teaches his courses.

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