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Germany begs Russia to pick up the torch that US has dropped

This is American exceptionalism in action. It means, ‘except’ America. 

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Germany’s Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, who has a history of expressing anti Russian rhetoric relevant to Russia’s presence in Syria as well as an alleged cyber attack on the German Foreign Ministry which Maas says that he ‘has to assume stemmed from Russia’, has turned an about face. He has traveled, for the first time, to Moscow to discuss international diplomacy, the Iran nuclear deal, peace talks on Ukraine, and Syria.

Maas met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, where he encouraged Russia to leverage its influence with Iran to help spur the Middle Eastern state in remaining committed to the nuclear deal, which Trump abandoned earlier in the week.

Maas then declared that Germany was interested in bringing back the peace talks on the Ukraine, together with other European partners. Maas also pointed out that the Syrian conflict can’t be settled without Russia, before contributing a wreath to the tomb of the unknown soldier, which is a dedication to Russian soliders who died fighting the Germans in WW2.

Deutsche Welle reports:
Germany’s top diplomat Heiko Maas and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov both called for the nuclear deal with Iran to be upheld on Thursday, during Maas’ first official visit to Russia. The appeal marks a rare moment of unity between Moscow and Berlin just days after US walked out on the 2015 accord.

In Moscow, Maas urged Russia to influence Tehran and make it stick to the deal, which aims to limit Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons. The German foreign minister also said he was seeking details from the US on its plans for future sanctions against Iran.

US President Donald Trump has shrugged off pressurefrom allies to keep the deal in place and called the accord “defective at its core.” However, leaders of the UK, France, and Germany all contacted Iranian President Hasan Rouhani in the attempt to salvage the accord.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel called Rouhani on Thursday to reaffirm Germany’s commitment to the deal “as long as Iran continues to fulfil its obligations,” said Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert. Merkel also said she was ready to negotiate about Iran’s ballistic missiles and involvement in Syria and Yemen.

Angela Merkel is also set to visit Russia next week.

New start on Ukraine?

Visiting Moscow on Thursday, Germany’s top diplomat Maas suggested reviving the peace talks between Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia on the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Lavrov responded by saying Russia was “ready to consider” this offer.

Maas also called for “honest dialogue” with Moscow and for Russia to be included in global diplomacy, despite its differences with Berlin. Maas admitted that the conflict in Syria “cannot be solved without Russia.”

The German diplomat also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, which is dedicated to the Soviet soldiers killed during World War II.

Lavrov said on Thursday that he “appreciated” Maas’ traveling to Russia so soon after becoming foreign minister. He said talking face to face was much better than “microphone diplomacy,” in an apparent jibe at Maas’ comments on Russia in an interview with news magazine Der Spiegel.

Maas tough on Russia

Maas has struck a more forceful tone on Russia than his predecessor and fellow Social Democrat, Sigmar Gabriel.

In the Spiegel interview, he has called Russia an “aggressor” and accused the Russian government of being “increasingly hostile,” which has been met with criticism from his SPD party.

Also in a bid to get Russia to assume a leadership position relative to preserving the nuclear deal, and by extension, the European economy, Merkel got on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin, where he mutually voiced his concern over Trump’s action, and where Merkel also came forward about the situation in Syria. i24News International reports:

Putin has previously voiced “deep concern” over US President Donald Trump’s decision and Russian officials have said they would work with European partners to preserve the agreement.

“The importance of preserving the deal from a point of view of international and regional stability was highlighted,” the Kremlin said in a statement following a call between Putin and Merkel.

The two leaders also discussed the situation in Syria as well as Merkel’s planned working visit to Russia next week, Moscow said Merkel has previously said Germany and its European partners would “do everything” to ensure Iran remains in the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Coinciding with Trump’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear development, and western sanctions relative thereto, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’s visit to Moscow and German Chancellor Angela’s phone call with Putin, the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier, is set to travel to Moscow next week to discuss European, particularly German, energy cooperation efforts with Russia, notably the Nord – Stream 2 project, as the insecure future of the Iran nuclear deal and the resumption of American sanctions introduces some uncertainty for the future of the German energy sector.

TASS reports:

BERLIN, May 11. /TASS/. Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier has confirmed that he will visit Moscow at the beginning of the next week, he said in an interview with German radio station Deutschlandfunk released on Friday.

“I will follow my colleague [German Foreign Minister Heiko] Maas, who attended negotiations in Moscow yesterday. I will be there on Monday and Tuesday, and Chancellor [Angela Merkel will visit Sochi – TASS] during the week,” Altmaier said.

German news agency DPA earlier reported that Altmaier plans to visit Ukraine and Russia on May 13-14 and chiefly discuss energy issues there, in particular the implementation of the Nord Stream – 2 project and Ukraine’s role as the a transit corridor for Russian gas to Europe.

The issue of German-Russian economic cooperation will dominate the Moscow visit. DPA reported that there is uncertainty in German business circles regarding the sanctions policy. Altmaier will also discuss in Moscow preparations for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Sochi on May 18, where she is due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Altmaier earlier headed the German Chancellery and is believed to be one of Merkel’s most trusted advisors.

Meanwhile, Merkel has not only reiterated Germany’s commitment to the nuclear deal, but also its word in multilateral agreements. Speaking to the Catholic Convention in Münster, she stated the importance of standing by international agreements while echoing her disappointment with the Trump withdrawal from the JCPOA.

Deutsche Welle reports:

She’s the most high-profile guest of the “Katholikentag,” Germany’s Catholic Convention: Chancellor Angela Merkel came to the five-day event in Münster as it turned its attention to international politics on Friday.

Merkel called the US decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal “a cause of great concern,” in a panel discussion and emphasized the role of international cooperation when confronting crises.

“If we always step away from multilateral agreements as soon as we don’t like something about them, that would be a bad message for the world. We want to strengthen multilateralism,” the chancellor said.

She said the US decision was a “serious incident” but not a reason to call the entire transatlantic relationship into question, adding that she would “continue to support transatlantic partnership.”

All of this, of course, in a lead up to Merkel’s visit to Sochi on the 18th with a view to urging Moscow to take up the leadership that Trump has abdicated on the international playing field by working out a way to save the nuclear deal as well as confidence in multilateral agreements. As a bonus, Merkel is promising to revive constructive diplomacy between Europe and Moscow, notably as it relates to energy cooperation, the Syria situation, and peace talks over the Ukraine.

Deutsche Welle observes:

German-Russian relations had soured because of alleged Russian cyberattacks and the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea. But the US President’s hardline policy on around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for Iran has intensified the search for common ground in Berlin and Moscow. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on May 18, and on Friday morning the two spoke on the telephone.

“The importance of preserving the deal from a point of view of international and regional stability was highlighted,” the Kremlin said in a statement following the call.

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said that the two leaders had agreed to push for the other signatories to the deal — France, the UK and China — to continue abiding by it. Merkel also touched on the future of the agreement in remarks she made in the city of Münster on Friday.

“I believe it is not right that a deal which was agreed, which was voted upon in the UN Security Council and unanimously approved, should be unilaterally terminated,” Merkel said, adding that the US decision “damages trust in the international order.”

The foreign ministers of Germany, France and the UK will meet with their Iranian counterpart next Tuesday in Brussels. But equally important, if the JCPOA is to survive, would be coordination with Russia and China, since those two nations can offer Tehran the biggest incentives to stay in the nuclear deal. …In Sochi, Merkel is likely to lobby Putin to give Tehran guarantees of future economic cooperation in return for abiding by the provisions of the JCPOA.

…Trump’s unilateralism — and in particular a brusque tweet by the new US ambassador to Germany — have been interpreted as attempts by Washington to impose its policy and law beyond its borders. That has led some commentators to diagnose a breakdown in solidarity between the US and Western Europe.

The Financial Times newspaper postulated that Tuesday “may be remembered as the day the US abandoned its belief in allies.” Those sentiments were echoed by Elmar Brok, a conservative German Member of the European Parliament.

“We have to acknowledge that on these and other issues that Western unity is crumbling, and there is no partnership,” Brok told a German radio station. “This means that we now have to try, together with the Chinese and the Russians, to keep the Middle East free of nuclear weapons.”

Trump, in pushing his ‘America First’ campaign is doing the exact opposite. In reality, it translates to ‘America alone’, as his maneuver on the Iran deal demonstrates that America is not only concerned with its own interests first, while it possesses a position of global influence, but that this means that America’s interests are of priority, even if that means chopping off cooperation with its allies with moves that are detrimental to their interests.

But it’s not just America’s European allies who recognize this. As American belligerence continues to develop ever more aggressively against those regimes which America possesses little dominance over, those nations have further begun to ban together to work with each other as they become further ostracized by the West.

America has decided to conduct a trade war with China, and threatened actual war, hence China as developed its One Belt One Road initiative to unify the region in trade matters, and is presently implementing its own petroyuan to rival the dominance of the American dollar in the oil trading business.

America has decided that it doesn’t want to be friends with Russia, hitting it with multiple rounds of sanctions and threats, hence, Russia is therefore developing its options out with its neighbors.

America has decided that it will punish the Venezuelans for having their own oil sector and refusing American domination, hence they are developing a crypocurrency to conduct trade with Russia, and potentially China.

It’s a foreign policy of narcissism, where America perceives its ‘exception’ as if its own interests are the only ones that matter at all, and to hell with everyone else. This mode of action not only harms allied interests, but is pushing them into the zone of those which America is at opposition, namely, China and Russia. Once America pushes someone out of the way, they begin looking around for other options, to pursue their interests with or without America, and this time, for Europe, particularly in this case Germany, without America.

This is American exceptionalism in action. It means, ‘except’ America.

As America abandons its position of leadership on the global playing field, it is opening up the way for Russia take up the torch and bring peace and stability where America brings division and destabilization.

 

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New York Times hit piece on Trump and NATO exposes alliance as outdated and obsolete (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 61.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at the New York Times hit piece citing anonymous sources, with information that the U.S. President dared to question NATO’s viability.

Propaganda rag, the NYT, launched its latest presidential smear aimed at discrediting Trump and provoking the establishment, warmonger left into more impeachment – Twenty-fifth Amendment talking points.

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Via The American Conservative


The New York Times scored a serious scoop when it revealed on Monday that President Trump had questioned in governmental conversations—on more than one occasion, apparently—America’s membership in NATO. Unfortunately the paper then slipped into its typical mode of nostrum journalism. My Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “nostrum” as “quack medicine” entailing “exaggerated claims.” Here we had quack journalism executed in behalf of quack diplomacy.

The central exaggerated claim is contained in the first sentence, in which it is averred that NATO had “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is wrong, as can be seen through just a spare amount of history.

True, NATO saved Europe from the menace of Russian Bolshevism. But it did so not over 70 years but over 40 years—from 1949 to 1989. That’s when the Soviet Union had 1.3 million Soviet and client-state troops poised on Western Europe’s doorstep, positioned for an invasion of Europe through the lowlands of Germany’s Fulda Gap.

How was this possible? It was possible because Joseph Stalin had pushed his armies farther and farther into the West as the German Wehrmacht collapsed at the end of World War II. In doing so, and in the process capturing nearly all of Eastern Europe, he ensured that the Soviets had no Western enemies within a thousand miles of Leningrad or within 1,200 miles of Moscow. This vast territory represented not only security for the Russian motherland (which enjoys no natural geographical barriers to deter invasion from the West) but also a potent staging area for an invasion of Western Europe.

The first deterrent against such an invasion, which Stalin would have promulgated had he thought he could get away with it, was America’s nuclear monopoly. By the time that was lost, NATO had emerged as a powerful and very necessary deterrent. The Soviets, concluding that the cost of an invasion was too high, defaulted to a strategy of undermining Western interests anywhere around the world where that was possible. The result was global tensions stirred up at various global trouble spots, most notably Korea and Vietnam.

But Europe was saved, and NATO was the key. It deserves our respect and even reverence for its profound success as a military alliance during a time of serious threat to the West.

But then the threat went away. Gone were the 1.3 million Soviet and client-state troops. Gone was Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Indeed, gone, by 1991, was the Soviet Union itself, an artificial regime of brutal ideology superimposed upon the cultural entity of Mother Russia. It was a time for celebration.

But it was also a time to contemplate the precise nature of the change that had washed over the world and to ponder what that might mean for old institutions—including NATO, a defensive military alliance created to deter aggression from a menacing enemy to the east. Here’s where Western thinking went awry. Rather than accepting as a great benefit the favorable developments enhancing Western security—the Soviet military retreat, the territorial reversal, the Soviet demise—the West turned NATO into a territorial aggressor of its own, absorbing nations that had been part of the Soviet sphere of control and pushing right up to the Russian border. Now Leningrad (renamed St. Petersburg after the obliteration of the menace of Soviet communism) resides within a hundred miles of NATO military forces, while Moscow is merely 200 miles from Western troops.

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has absorbed 13 nations, some on the Russian border, others bordering lands that had been part of Russia’s sphere of interest for centuries. This constitutes a policy of encirclement, which no nation can accept without protest or pushback. And if NATO were to absorb those lands of traditional Russian influence—particularly Ukraine and Georgia—that would constitute a major threat to Russian security, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to emphasize to Western leaders for years.

So, no, NATO has not deterred Russian aggression for 70 years. It did so for 40 and has maintained a destabilizing posture toward Russia ever since. The problem here is the West’s inability to perceive how changed geopolitical circumstances might require a changed geopolitical strategy. The encirclement strategy has had plenty of critics—George Kennan before he died; academics John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, and Robert David English; former diplomat Jack Matlock; the editors of The Nation. But their voices have tended to get drowned out by the nostrum diplomacy and the nostrum journalism that supports it at every turn.

You can’t drown out Donald Trump because he’s president of the United States. And so he has to be traduced, ridiculed, dismissed, and marginalized. That’s what the Times story, by Julian Barnes and Helene Cooper, sought to do. Consider the lead, designed to emphasize just how outlandish Trump’s musings are before the reader even has a chance to absorb what he may have been thinking: “There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” Translation: “Take that, Mr. President! You’re an idiot.”

Henry Kissinger had something interesting to say about Trump in a recent interview with the Financial Times. “I think Trump may be one of those figures in history,” said the former secretary of state, “who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretenses.” One Western pretense about Russia, so ardently enforced by the likes of Julian Barnes and Helene Cooper (who, it may be safe to say, know less about world affairs and their history than Henry Kissinger), is that nothing really changed with the Soviet collapse and NATO had to turn aggressive in order to keep that menacing nation in its place.

Trump clearly doesn’t buy that pretense. He said during the campaign that NATO was obsolete. Then he backtracked, saying he only wanted other NATO members to pay their fair share of the cost of deterrence. He even confessed, after Hillary Clinton identified NATO as “the strongest military alliance in the history of the world,” that he only said NATO was obsolete because he didn’t know much about it. But he was learning—enough, it appears, to support as president Montenegro’s entry into NATO in 2017. Is Montenegro, with 5,332 square miles and some 620,000 citizens, really a crucial element in Europe’s desperate project to protect itself against Putin’s Russia?

We all know that Trump is a crude figure—not just in his disgusting discourse but in his fumbling efforts to execute political decisions. As a politician, he often seems like a doctor attempting to perform open-heart surgery while wearing mittens. His idle musings about leaving NATO are a case in point—an example of a politician who lacks the skill and finesse to nudge the country in necessary new directions.

But Kissinger has a point about the man. America and the world have changed, while the old ways of thinking have not kept pace. The pretenses of the old have blinded the status quo defenders into thinking nothing has changed. Trump, almost alone among contemporary American politicians, is asking questions to which the world needs new answers. NATO, in its current configuration and outlook, is a danger to peace, not a guarantor of it.


Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington journalist and publishing executive, is the author most recently of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century

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Nigel Farage To Back Another “Vote Leave” Campaign If UK Holds Second Brexit Referendum

Nigel Farage said Friday that he would be willing to wage another “Vote Leave” campaign, even if he needed to use another party as the “vehicle” for his opposition.

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Via Zerohedge


Pro-European MPs from various political parties are pushing back against claims made by Prime Minister Theresa May’s government that a second Brexit referendum – which supporters have branded as a “People’s Vote” on May’s deal – would take roughly 14 months to organize, according to RT.

But while support for a second vote grows, one of the most notorious proponents of the original “Vote Leave” campaign is hinting at a possible return to politics to try and fight the effort.

After abandoning UKIP, the party he helped create, late last year, Nigel Farage said Friday that he would be willing to wage another “Vote Leave” campaign, even if he needed to use another party as the “vehicle” for his opposition. Farage also pointed out that a delay of Brexit Day would likely put it after the European Parliament elections in May.

“I think, I fear that the House of Commons is going to effectively overturn that Brexit. To me, the most likely outcome of all of this is an extension of Article 50. There could be another referendum,” he told Sky News.

According to official government guidance shown to lawmakers on Wednesday, which was subsequently leaked to the Telegraph, as May tries to head off a push by ministers who see a second referendum as the best viable alternative to May’s deal – a position that’s becoming increasingly popular with Labour Party MPs.

“In order to inform the discussions, a very short paper set out in factual detail the number of months that would be required, this was illustrative only and our position of course is that there will be no second referendum,,” May said. The statement comes as May has been meeting with ministers and leaders from all parties to try to find a consensus deal that could potentially pass in the House of Commons.

The 14 month estimate is how long May and her government expect it would take to pass the primary legislation calling for the referendum (seven months), conduct the question testing with the election committee (12 weeks), pass secondary legislation (six weeks) and conduct the campaigns (16 weeks).

May has repeatedly insisted that a second referendum wouldn’t be feasible because it would require a lengthy delay of Brexit Day, and because it would set a dangerous precedent that wouldn’t offer any more clarity (if some MPs are unhappy with the outcome, couldn’t they just push for a third referendum?). A spokesperson for No. 10 Downing Street said the guidance was produced purely for the purpose of “illustrative discussion” and that the government continued to oppose another vote.

Meanwhile, a vote on May’s “Plan B”, expected to include a few minor alterations from the deal’s previous iteration, has been called for Jan. 29, prompting some MPs to accuse May of trying to run out the clock. May is expected to present the new deal on Monday.

Former Tory Attorney General and pro-remainer MP Dominic Grieve blasted May’s timetable as wrong and said that the government “must be aware of it themselves,” while former Justice Minister Dr Phillip Lee, who resigned his cabinet seat in June over May’s Brexit policy, denounced her warning as “nonsense.”

As May pieces together her revised deal, more MPs are urging her to drop her infamous “red lines” (Labour in particular would like to see the UK remain part of the Customs Union), but with no clear alternative to May’s plan emerging, a delay of Brexit Day is looking like a virtual certainty.

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The National Security Agency Is A Criminal Organization

The National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Paul Craig Roberts

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Via Paul Craig Roberts…


Years before Edward Snowden provided documented proof that the National Security Agency was really a national insecurity agency as it was violating law and the US Constitution and spying indiscriminately on American citizens, William Binney, who designed and developed the NSA spy program revealed the illegal and unconstitutional spying. Binney turned whistleblower, because NSA was using the program to spy on Americans. As Binney was well known to the US Congress, he did not think he needed any NSA document to make his case. But what he found out was “Congress would never hear me because then they’d lose plausible deniability. That was really their key. They needed to have plausible deniability so they can continue this massive spying program because it gave them power over everybody in the world. Even the members of Congress had power against others [in Congress]; they had power on judges on the Supreme Court, the federal judges, all of them. That’s why they’re so afraid. Everybody’s afraid because all this data that’s about them, the central agencies — the intelligence agencies — they have it. And that’s why Senator Schumer warned President Trump earlier, a few months ago, that he shouldn’t attack the intelligence community because they’ve got six ways to Sunday to come at you. That’s because it’s like J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids. . . . it’s leverage against every member of parliament and every government in the world.”

To prevent whistle-blowing, NSA has “a program now called ‘see something, say something’ about your fellow workers. That’s what the Stasi did. That’s why I call [NSA] the new New Stasi Agency. They’re picking up all the techniques from the Stasi and the KGB and the Gestapo and the SS. They just aren’t getting violent yet that we know of — internally in the US, outside is another story.”

As Binney had no documents to give to the media, blowing the whistle had no consequence for NSA. This is the reason that Snowden released the documents that proved NSA to be violating both law and the Constitution, but the corrupt US media focused blame on Snowden as a “traitor” and not on NSA for its violations.

Whistleblowers are protected by federal law. Regardless, the corrupt US government tried to prosecute Binney for speaking out, but as he had taken no classified document, a case could not be fabricated against him.

Binney blames the NSA’s law-breaking on Dick “Darth” Cheney. He says NSA’s violations of law and Constitution are so extreme that they would have to have been cleared at the top of the government.

Binney describes the spy network, explains that it was supposed to operate only against foreign enemies, and that using it for universal spying so overloads the system with data that the system fails to discover many terrorist activities. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50932.htm

Apparently, the National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately for Americans, there are many Americans who blindly trust the government and provide the means, the misuse of which is used to enslave us. A large percentage of the work in science and technology serves not to free people but to enslave them. By now there is no excuse for scientists and engineers not to know this. Yet they persist in their construction of the means to destroy liberty.

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