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From Feudalism To The Future: How the “Red Prince’s” “Revolution” could modernize The Monarchy

The “Red Prince” Mohammed Bin Salman is trying to do the seemingly unthinkable — modernize Saudi Arabia through an anti-feudalist “revolution” — but he’s going to face a lot of resistance every step of the way, and his possible failure would inevitably doom the Kingdom to future destruction.

Andrew Korybko

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman flawlessly executed what can only be described as an anti-oligarchic Bolshevik “deep state” coup over the weekend in preemptively thwarting a pro-US royalist plot to unseat him in response to the socio-economic and religious reforms that he initiated as part of his ambitious Vision 2030 program, as well as his newfound game-changing Great Power partnerships with China and Russia.

Mohammed Bin Salman: The Unlikely Anti-Oligarchic Bolshevik?

He’s not just trying to preserve his own power in the ultimate Machiavellian “Game of Thrones” environment of Saudi royal politics, but to save Saudi Arabia from what would otherwise be its impending collapse with time if the old order of business is allowed to continue. The absurdly wealthy Kingdom has been bleeding billions of dollars due to the disastrous (and very expensive) War on Yemen that he unwisely commenced roughly two and a half years ago, and falling oil prices during that time have made it impossible for the country to recoup its massive expenses from this ongoing campaign.

Not only that, but Saudi Arabia ridiculously boasts over a million public sector employees and an uncomfortably high 12,5% unemployment rate in a country where 70% of the population is under the age of 30. In addition, the Kingdom’s macroeconomic riches are largely concentrated in the hands of the royal family, whereas the rest of the country mostly trudges onward in a state of semi-feudalism where wealth has never truly “trickled down” to them.

To make matters even worse, the Wahhabi extremists that Saudi Arabia has always exported from its own population and simultaneously cultivated abroad are already boomeranging back into the Kingdom with the imminent defeat of Daesh in the Mideast. On top of that, historic state suppression of the sizeable Shiite minority in the oil-rich Eastern Province and the relatively liberal cravings of the majority youthful population are setting Saudi Arabia up for future sectarian and generational clashes.

Riyadh arrogantly believed that it could throw money at all of its problems and continue to buy time in indefinitely staving off this impending domestic disaster, but this irresponsible policy was never sustainable in the first place, and the situation is clearly approaching the brink of a serious crisis in the coming years given how state expenses are dangerously running way above the budget’s resource-dependent replenishment rate.

None of the royals really seemed to care, however, since in typical oligarchic and globalist fashion, they don’t have any loyalty to their homeland and figured they could just easily relocate somewhere else if everything started to fall apart. The only influential member of the monarchy that does care is Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who cleverly muscled his way to the top of the Kingdom’s power structure in the span of just a few years by breaking all of the country’s previously sacred succession traditions.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Mohammed Bin Salman is a “radical” in every sense of the word since he’s not only poised to undertake the Bolshevik-like takeover of approximately $800 billion in oligarchic assets to fund his Vision 2030 public works projects, but he’s also totally smashed the previous power hierarchy in the Kingdom and is slated to soon set his sights on its infamous Wahhabi clerics as well. The Crown Prince is, relatively speaking, carrying out a rapid across-the-board “revolution” in modernizing his feudalist Kingdom in order to save it, and the key to understanding it all is to appreciate the grand strategy behind Vision 2030.

For the pressing economic-structural reasons described above, Saudi Arabia urgently needs to transition from its oil-dependent economy to a real-sector one, and the $130 billion in investments that it secured from China over the past year during two separate deal-signing ceremonies in April and August will go a long way to jumpstarting this initiative, but it’s still far from enough. That’s why Mohammed Bin Salman moved to purge his country’s “deep state” before it could act against him first, since he knew from the inside-out just how badly Saudi Arabia needed a comprehensive “regime reboot” otherwise the best-intended and most visionary plans were inevitably bound to fail because of the Kingdom’s cesspool of corruption.

Having “cleaned house” and holding onto power with the help of the military and internal security services who support his patriotic mission to save Saudi Arabia from itself, the Crown Prince must now take out or sideline the Wahhabi clerics who had shared power with the monarchy due to a pre-unification arrangement between the Houses of Saud and Wahhab. There’s no way that this influential bastion of Takfiri power will let the modernizing young ruler reverse society’s gender segregations and bestow more liberties to women without making a stand to oppose what they and their older generation supporters may have come to believe is a future “infidel” King.

The clerics don’t just hate what Mohammed Bin Salman has already done, but they also deeply despise what he wants to do, and that’s increase the participation of women in the workforce and therefore diminish their traditional role in the family, something which is almost as “haram” as one can get in Saudi Arabia. The Crown Prince knows that Vision 2030 won’t succeed so long as most women are kept cloistered in the home and out of work, and however reluctant some Saudis might be to recognize this, the objective economic fact is that their country’s women will have to eventually “modernize” in the Western sense if the Kingdom is to survive the coming decade, let alone this century.

Mohammed Bin Salman won the first “deep state” battle when he detained the oligarchs and confiscated their wealth on an anti-corruption pretext, but the war isn’t over so long as the Wahhabi clerics remain in positions of power and influence, though truth be told, he’s already jailed quite a few of them over the past couple of months in order to instill fear in their hearts and set an unforgettable example. Still, this might not be enough, and if this “deep state” faction isn’t put under control and effectively neutralized, then they’ll eventually agitate against him sooner than later.

This task is admittedly much easier said than done, since the legacy of the past 80 years has left an indelibly extremist mark on the country’s psyche, and even if Mohammed Bin Salman “drains the Wahhabi swamp”, his security forces are going to forever remain on the defensive in guarding against “lone wolf” and “sleeper cell” attacks, whether homegrown or inspired/boomeranged from abroad. In any case, if by some auspicious chance he can score a Herculean victory in this “deep state” war while still retaining the loyalty of the military, the Crown Prince will then have to begin the painful process of implementing “shock therapy” to structurally modernize Saudi Arabia’s socio-economic situation.

It’s not known at this point how fast he would move on the social front, but this aspect of his country is inevitably bound to change alongside the economic one that he’ll probably most directly focus on at first. As was mentioned, the Crown Prince’s planned incorporation of women into the country’s workforce can’t take place without their liberation from restrictive Wahhabi standards first, hence why he’s already begun to implement piecemeal but relatively (for his country) radical reforms such as allowing women to drive and permitting gender mixing in sports stadiums.

The next step will be to incentivize them to get jobs, most likely in the service and administrative sectors, and it’s here where his majority-youthful and comparatively more “liberal” base can help him by standing behind his moves and opposing the older “conservative” generation’s resistance to this unprecedented reform. Women always end up in the workforce whenever a feudal society transitions to capitalism, but the strict socio-religious traditions that have been pervasive in Saudi Arabia for centuries suggest that a generational-culture clash of some degree is inevitable, which again underscores the necessity of the military’s loyalty to him personally but also more importantly to the patriotic understanding of how Vision 2030 is so necessary for preserving the Kingdom’s future survival.

All told, Saudi Arabia isn’t just in the midst of a power-grabbing (counter-)coup, but in the throes of a modernizing “revolution” that’s only just begun to play out under the stewardship of the Stalinist-like “Red Prince” Mohammed Bin Salman. Despite not being an actual communist, this young royal is no less “revolutionary” in that he’s robbed his country’s oligarchs of billions in order to fund his expensive socio-economic programs for transitioning his feudal country towards a capitalist model, with all of the profound socio-religious implications that this entails.

Just like all revolutions, however, this one is bound to come across resistance from the endangered elite, their foreign patrons, and the masses under their “conservative” ideological spell, but economic and demographic facts are on the “Red Prince’s” side, though he is admittedly making a somewhat risky bet that the latter are “liberal” enough to both support him and accept the all-encompassing lifestyle changes that his “revolution” will inevitably result in.

It’s too early to know whether Mohammed Bin Salman will succeed, let alone if he’ll even live another day after de-facto expropriating the mind-boggling sum of at least $800 billion from some of the world’s most powerful oligarchs, but it’s becoming clear that the “Red Prince” is carrying out his “revolution” not just for the sake of pure power, but to patriotically save Saudi Arabia from itself and ensure its continued existence in the future.

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.

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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

RT

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Via RT…


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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