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Goodbye ‘President’ Trump; hail ‘President’ Mattis

US Defense Secretary Mattis takes effective charge of US foreign policy, but leads US down a blind alley

Alexander Mercouris

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Back on 16th February 2017, shortly after the forced resignation of President Trump’s first National Security Adviser General Flynn, I spoke of the extraordinary power that US Defense Secretary General Mattis appeared to be wielding within the Trump administration

General Mattis is becoming a dominant figure within this administration.  As a much decorated former combat officer who is also considered to be a genuine intellectual, Mattis appears to have quickly asserted his authority over the Joint Chiefs of Staff with whom civilian Defense Secretaries have previously often had uneasy relationships…..

All in all General Mattis appears to be gathering more and more of the threads of power into his hands.  If this trend continues, and if he uses his position skilfully, Mattis could end up becoming one of the most powerful Defense Secretaries the US has had since the Second World War.  Whether such a concentration of power in the hands of a soldier is a good thing is another matter.

These comments were written in anticipation of Vice-Admiral Bob Hayward, a military officer known to be close to General Mattis, being appointed President Trump’s National Security Adviser in place of General Flynn.

In the event Admiral Hayward declined the post, but the person who obtained it instead – General H.R. McMaster – is yet another military officer who seems to be working as closely with General Mattis as Admiral Hayward was expected to do.

Since the appointment as White House Chief of Staff of General Kelly, like General Mattis a former Marine officer, General Mattis’s influence extends not just to the National Security Council but to the White House staff.

As I have discussed recently, with the ousting of Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former Chief Strategist, and the purge of officials associated with Steven Bannon from the staff of the National Security Council, there appears to be no significant figure within the White House staff or the National Security Council who is capable of standing up to the military.

In the context of the Trump administration rule by the military means rule by General Mattis, who not only now has friends in charge at the White House, the National Security Council, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but who also heads the Department of Defense, the only department of the US government concerned with national security and foreign policy which is functioning properly.

This is because the two other agencies that traditionally have a big input on US foreign and security policy – the State Department and the CIA – are essentially crippled; the State Department because President Trump and Secretary of State Tillerson have still not filled most of the vacancies caused by the clear-out of State Department staff which took place at the start of the year, and the CIA because it is distracted and locked in conflict with President Trump over the Russiagate affair.

The result is that the foreign policy of the US is being decided to an extent unique in US history by a former military officer – General Mattis – who does not hold elected office, but who does sit on top of the US’s gigantic defence and national security bureaucracy.

That it is General Mattis who is increasingly deciding matters is becoming increasingly clear from the direction US policy is taking.  Here are some examples:

(1) Middle East

That it is General Mattis who now all but runs US policy in the Middle East is shown by the fact that he is the senior official of the US government who far more frequently than any other visits the Middle East.  By way of example, General Mattis has just completed another in his seemingly endless series of fact finding trips to the region, this time to Jordan and Turkey.

In this case the fact that General Mattis has pushed out the civilians is actually on balance a good thing.

As a trained soldier it is clear that General Mattis has no time for regime change adventures in Syria which might result in a military confrontation with the Russians, and that he is unenthusiastic about confronting Iran, a policy which also comes with very high risks.

Back in June two Flynn holdovers in the National Security Council – Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Derek Harvey – are known to have pushed for the US to “confront” Iran and its “proxy forces” in Syria, a proposal which had it been implemented would have risked a head on clash in Syria with the Russians.

General Mattis would have none of it, and both Cohen-Watnick and Harvey have now been sacked.

Harvey incidentally was also one of the strongest voices within the Trump administration in favour of the missile strike on Syria’s Al-Shayrat air base in April.

The end result is that the Trump administration has not backed out of the nuclear agreement with Iran as many expected, whilst in Syria General Mattis has quietly redirected the US effort away from trying to achieve regime change towards its stated goal of destroying ISIS.

(2) Afghanistan

If General Mattis is what passes in the US for a ‘realist’ on the Middle East in that he wants to avoid a head-on confrontation with Iran and Russia there, on Afghanistan he is a hawk.

He has pressed for all constraints on US military operations in Afghanistan previously imposed by the Obama administration to be lifted, and for the US military campaign in Afghanistan to be continued indefinitely, with no end date, and even escalated.

The “new strategy” for Afghanistan the US announced on Monday shows that once again it is the views of General Mattis which have prevailed.  President Trump’s own original strategy – the one on which he was elected – of pulling out of Afghanistan, has been dropped.

Instead the US will continue and will escalate the war, and will even spread it to Pakistan, whilst any negotiations to end the war with the Taliban will be conducted purely on US terms.

The objective is less to achieve victory – something which Secretary of State Tillerson says is impossible, as General Mattis surely also knows – but to avoid even the appearance of defeat.

The motivation has been brilliantly explained by the Canadian academic Paul Robinson

So, the strategy is to use military power to create the conditions for a political settlement with the Taleban, even though it has so far utterly failed to achieve that, and even though ‘nobody knows if or when that will ever happen.’ And this is what constitutes ‘grown-up’ thinking? At the end of the day, Trump’s announcement amounts merely to a statement that withdrawing will bring untold disaster, and therefore we have to persist, because, well, you know, it will be bad if we don’t. There is nothing in this announcement which suggests how Trump or his advisors imagine that this war will end. They are as clueless as Obama and  Bush before them, and so are just carrying on doing the same thing over and over.

Why do they do this? The answer is that the financial costs of the war are dispersed over a vast number of people, so that nobody actually notices them, while the human costs are concentrated in a small segment of the population – the military – which the rest of the people can safely ignore (and at the current tempo of operations, the number of Americans dying in Afghanistan is quite low). Politically speaking, continuing the war is relatively cost-free. But should America withdraw, and something then goes wrong, Trump and those around him will be held to blame. It is better therefore to cover their backsides and keep things bubbling along as they are until the problem can be passed onto somebody else. This is a solution in terms of domestic politics, but it’s not a solution in terms of the actual problem.

Put another way, General Mattis does not want to be remembered as the soldier who presided over the US’s biggest defeat since Vietnam.  To that end he will keep the war in Afghanistan going indefinitely in the hope that something turns up.

(3) Europe

Though General Mattis grudgingly cooperates with the Russians in Syria – where the risks are too great to confront them head-on – he shows a positive eagerness to confront them in Europe, where he presumably believes that the risks of confronting them are minimal.

Thus in diametric contradiction to the policies advocated by President Trump during last year’s election, General Mattis not only outspokenly supports NATO but is pressing ahead with the anti-ballistic missile deployments in eastern Europe and with the provocative and unnecessary parades of token NATO forces on Russia’s borders.

As a military officer General Mattis surely knows that these forces are too small either to threaten Russia or to defend themselves in the event of a Russian attack (see the comments of retired US Colonel Douglas Macgregor in this article in Politico).  The fact that General Mattis is however pressing ahead with these provocative displays – deeply infuriating as they are to the Russians, to whom they serve as a constant reminder of the broken promises the US gave them when the USSR broke up – shows that despite all the overheated talk coming out of the US of ‘Russian aggression’ he does not believe that a war in Europe is imminent.

In an indication of how far General Mattis is prepared to go in provoking the Russians in Europe, that he is now talking openly of the possibility of sending arms to the Maidan regime in Ukraine, reversing the previous policy not to send arms, which was agreed upon by both Barack Obama and by Donald Trump.  Indeed Trump – the US’s constitutionally elected President – famously even deleted the proposal to send Ukraine arms from the Republican Party’s platform during the Republican Party’s Convention last year.

In floating this extraordinarily bad idea General Mattis is of course also ignoring the public opposition to it of the US’s most powerful ally, the German government.

The fact that sending arms to Ukraine will not change the military balance there (see the Saker’s excellent discussion of this subject), but does greatly increase the risk of war, appears not to worry General Mattis at all given that Ukraine is a theatre where the US is not directly involved.

(4) North Korea

Amidst all the overheated rhetoric of the last few weeks about a possible war with North Korea, it has gone almost unnoticed that General Mattis has ruled it out.

Again as a trained soldier General Mattis knows what the dangers of a war against a nuclear armed North Korea backed by China would be, and he has no intention of risking them.

That it is General Mattis who is once again the key decision maker, and that his known opposition to war with North Korea effectively rules that option out, is shown by how talk of war against North Korea basically stopped the moment he spoke out against it.

(5) South China Sea

Just as General Mattis is happy to confront Russia in Europe, so he is happy to confront China in the South China Sea, moving elements of the US Seventh Fleet to within short distances of territory occupied by China and provocatively flying US military aircraft there.

Here again we see the same pattern at work as in Syria and Europe.  Just as General Mattis is not prepared to risk a head-on clash with the Russian military in Syria, but is willing to act in the most provocative way imaginable against Russia in Europe, so General Mattis is not prepared to risk a head-on clash with China in the Korean Peninsula, but is willing to act in the most provocative way imaginable against China in the South China Sea.

As is the case in Europe, this is because General Mattis presumably doesn’t believe that the risk of an armed clash with China in the South China Sea is a real one.

This strange mix of policies – backing off from confronting the Russian and Chinese militaries in Syria and Korea where the risks are real, but aggressively seeking confrontation with Russia and China in Europe and the South China Sea where no risks are thought to exist, is exactly what one would expect of a US soldier.

They combine the extreme risk-aversion characteristic of today’s US military, with its longstanding habit of aggressive posturing where the risks of doing it appear to be minimal.

What is wholly absent is any sense of a larger strategy.

In no sense does General Mattis seem to have a policy either for Russia or China or for dealing with the separate crises in Afghanistan, Korea or the Middle East.

Instead he improvises reactively – as might be expected of a soldier – in each case doing so without any sense of the interconnections between the various crises which confront him, or of the paradox of the US seeking Russia and Chinese help in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula whilst simultaneously striking against Russian and Chinese interests in Europe and the South China Sea.

Needless to say, in respect to Grand Strategy – thinking about the Chinese-Russian alliance and looking for ways to respond to it – General Mattis can come up with nothing at all.  So far as he is concerned, it is enough that China and Russia are adversaries of the US, so he sets out in each case to confront them where he feels he can, without giving any thought to how this may make them work more closely together against US interests.

In my previous discussion of the rise of the US military to a position of effective political leadership in the US I pointed out that the closest parallel was with Germany in the run up to the First World War, where the dysfunctional political system also left the military in a position of de facto leadership.

In the case of pre First World War Germany the military also adopted an essentially technical piecemeal approach to Germany’s problems, alternating extreme aggressiveness with botched and ill thought out attempts at conciliation.  The result was that in 1914 Germany found that all the other important Great Powers of Europe except for Germany’s Habsburg satellite were ranged against it.

Under the de facto leadership of General Mattis the same appears to be in the process of happening to the US.

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Voltaire
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Voltaire

When I listen to Mahtis, I get the impression that he has difficullty even speaking….he smurs all his words….

Is he punch drunk?

Did the Marine Corps beat all the life out of him?

It is thus hardly surprising that he has no strategic vision and is keen on grandstanding and leading from behind while lying through his teeth?

The United States proves yet again that is has become a ROGUE STATE….

Anon
Guest
Anon

He’s from the South and has its typical drawl. No need for xenophobic statements.

Hamletquest
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Hamletquest

Since when was “punch drunk” a xenophobic phrase?

Neil
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Neil

This ‘Anon’ is a US troll. His comments are always very weak.

Anon
Guest
Anon

Not a troll and not American.

Neil
Guest
Neil

But your comments are weak.
You are obviously a paid troll.

Anon
Guest
Anon

Yes, I am “obviously a paid troll” because I pointed out that making fun of Mattis’ Southern accent is xenophobic. Indeed, I am paid by Soros himself.

Neil
Guest
Neil

Yes.
I have noticed two comments from you asserting the Syrian government is not legitimate and therefore foreign powers are right to meddle there, which is of course nonsense: only the UN can decide if a government is legit, not you. You also described the war in Syria as a civil war, whereas in reality it’s a proxy war started by US.
You certainly act like a paid propagandist.

Anon
Guest
Anon

The civil war began in 2011, due to poor rural folks moving into the cities to look for jobs, lack of democracy, and a very bad drought. This is well-known. The CIA only began its intervention in 2013, a full two years after the civil war began.

It has been a civil war from the beginning.

As for the Syrian government, the ICC needs to be allowed by the U.N.S.C. to judge the Syrian civil war. That is my view.

Don’t conflate having a different opinion with being a “paid propagandist”.

Neil
Guest
Neil

A civil war would be a war fought by people from within the country. The war in Syria has been fought largely by foreign-armed and foreign-funded proxies from the start. US has had plans to topple Assad for decades. General Wesley Clark mentioned this in 2001. There is plenty of evidence that this is yet another US regime-change operation. The protests in 2011, where foreign-armed militants opened fire on the unarmed police, were organised and funded by US NGOs. CIA operation Timber Sycamore started in 2012. It was never a civil war. It was always a proxy war, another regime-change… Read more »

Anon
Guest
Anon

No, the Syrian civil war was fought by Syrians from the start. Unless you are claiming most of the rebels are foreigners? Which would be a lie. As for Wesley Clark, his comments do not disprove whatsoever that Syrians had legitimate grievances against the Assad dynasty and began the civil war in 2011. As I already stated, the CIA began its assistance to the rebels two full years after the civil war began. As for your claim about the protests being “funded by US NGOs”, that is a claim without proof. And lastly, claims of “bias” are a cheap way… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

No, your logic is awful so don’t accuse me of lying, please. I’m saying the proxies are largely foreign, foreign-funded, foreign-armed, foreign-trained. Saudi, Israhell, Qatar, Turkey, US, UK have been funding, arming, training these proxies since 2011 and before. These foreign powers want to achieve various things including: toppling the governments of Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Russia; building a gas pipeline from Qatar to Europe through Syria; and expanding Israhell. Bashar’s father may heve been a brutal man, but Bashar is a gentleman, and is very popular. Most of the Syrian rebels fighting against him are Saudi-inspired Wahabis. They want… Read more »

Anon
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Anon

What you say does not prove your prior statements, that the conflict is not a civil war. It absolutely is a civil war. Civil wars have historically always attracted foreign intervention. This includes Russian civil war in 1917, the American civil war, etc. If you were to analyze all civil wars over the past few hundred years, you would find that most contained foreign intervention.

That, however, does not mean those conflicts were not civil wars. Thus, is is your logic that is flawed, not mine.

Neil
Guest
Neil

‘Unless you are claiming most of the rebels are foreigners? Which would be a lie.’ I didn’t say that, so your logic was flawed. The definition of ‘civil war’, involving only local fighters: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/civil+war The definition of ‘proxy war’: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/proxy+war This is obviously a proxy war, fought over global and regional issues, not local ones. Do you deny US, Israhell, Saudi, Turkey have played a part? That would be absurd! So, why are you so biased if you’re not a paid troll? Why visit The Duran, as you’re so biased? Why not use your name or something less anonymous? Do… Read more »

Anon
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Anon

Please stop with the childish troll accusations. I’d like to have a civil discussion here.

Now, with regards to the definitions you gave, what matters is the degree of participation of foreign states. For example, Russia helps the rebels in E. Ukraine, but that doesn’t mean there is no civil war there. Ditto for Syria.

Neil
Guest
Neil

You are so obviously paid to write this propaganda: nobody could seriously believe what you write. It is so one-sided.
There has been a very high degree of foreign involvement in Syria since before the start of the proxy war. It is absolutely absurd to say otherwise.
Look at the propaganda war against Assad’s government! Look at the Clinton, Google, Al Jazeera plot in 2012! These global powers worked together to encourage defection from Syria’s government and army. Search ‘clinton google al jazeera syria’.

Anon
Guest
Anon

Once again, please stop with the childish ‘ur a payd tr0ll” accusations. If you can’t even engage is simple discussion without resorting to insults, then the person who is a troll certainly isn’t me. Now, regarding the civil war in Syria: it may have foreign involvement, but the factors behind the war certainly originate in Syrian society. There have always been legitimate grievances Syrian society has had towards the government. Again, research how a severe drought was partially responsible for the initial unrest. Also, most of the rebels are Syrians. It’s a civil war, regardless who is funding them. As… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

This is just absurd.
There is no better example of a proxy war than the war in Syria. It isn’t much about local issues, but about global and regional ambitions of major powers. This is so clear.
I’ve been wasting my time trying to explain simple things to you. As they say: you can’t wake someone who is pretending to be asleep.

Anon
Guest
Anon

And as I already said, civil wars tend to involve foreign intervention. Most Syrian rebels are Syrian citizens. A severe drought caused many urban dwellers to move to the city, many of them young males. When they couldn’t find proper employment, they began protesting, and everything unraveled.

What has been regrettable is your continued use of petty insults. Regardless, I am glad we had this conversation. Good day.

Neil
Guest
Neil

Good evening, Mr. Absurd!
Your trolling is weak!

Nofearorfavor
Guest
Nofearorfavor

Neil tell him…. seven countries in five years .. Syria was one of them and Iran still is…

Anon
Guest
Anon

He was making fun of General Mattis’ Southern accent.

fasteddiez
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fasteddiez

he’s from washington state

Nancyrcockerham
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Nancyrcockerham

Google is paying 97$ per hour! work for few hours and have longer with friends & family!
On tuesday I got a Smart new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
:!ap112d:
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Nofearorfavor
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Nofearorfavor

Yes, but Mattis is part of the Pentagon outfit — not so? (hawks) — Kelly and McMaster at the White House? (bit more moderate)… Asking because I am trying to keep track, they come and go so fast …. (laughing). Also how does Dunford (hawk too?) fit into this lot? Or is he history too?

Interesting read …

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/08/31/2012-new-world-order-remaking-of-president.html

richardstevenhack
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richardstevenhack

The problem is that Mattis is only one guy. If he intends to keep the US out of war with Iran, China, Russia and North Korea, he’s going to have a problem. That problem is the military-industrial complex and the Deep State all want at least one war somewhere. And since he’s only one guy – and we’ve seen how Trump can be manipulated into firing almost anyone, including close associates, i.e., Trump has ZERO LOYALTY – it’s only a matter of time before Mattis is kicked out as well. We all remember Admiral William Fallon, under Bush, who said… Read more »

Gonzogal
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Gonzogal

With the new Trump policy on Afghanistan, in effect they are confronting Russia, China and Iran all in the same place, since ALL have interests there…..whats the expression “killing 3 birds with one stone”?

Hamletquest
Guest
Hamletquest

To use Alexander’s phrase, “as might be expected of a soldier”, giving orders and receiving orders without reason or question is the modus operandi.

What has taken place in the US appears to have been a soft coup. What we might call the Brass Revolution?

The military brass taking unelected power.

I think we can safely say that at this point of history democracy is dead in the US of A…

Галина Дадонова
Guest
Галина Дадонова

Inflated bubbles of general James Мэттиса Cowardly ЧМО avoids direct collisions with Russia in Syria, but provokes Russia, in relation to Ukraine, promising to put a deadly weapon to the майдановскому mode. Thus yet Barack Obama set embargo on these deliveries. Мэттис opens out the anti-missile bases of the USA in Europe, not having, here, not the least idea about untiing of war, knowing that forces against Russia not хватит Europe. By such actions, he turns against the USA even Germany, former faithful ally in Europe. He has no another strategy, except as подразнить and make angry the Russian bear.… Read more »

Галина Дадонова
Guest
Галина Дадонова

James Mattis – War Criminals “I experienced the storm of Fallujah on my own skin,” – Dahr Jamael. Evidence of this is his command of the marines in Iraq, his commentary on the pleasure he experienced during the hostilities in Afghanistan from the fact that “… to shoot at some people is such a pleasure, it’s so cool …”. The role of Mattis in the massacre in Hadit Thus, in November 2005, marines in Iraq committed the massacre of 24 unarmed civilians. This massacre, during which unarmed men, women, children and the elderly were shot at point-blank range, became revenge… Read more »

ajokete
Guest
ajokete

I feel sorry for the ordinary Americans, they seem to be the most incapacitated citizens in the whole world. It does not matter how they vote they always get screwd. With all the hope they invested in Trump just like they did in Obama, this is what they get again! To be sure, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush would have been worse. I think the whole system needs to be overthrown by a revolution. Unfortunately that might not happen for a long time.

Keith Smith
Guest
Keith Smith

Will probably get slated for this, but i have faith in Trump

Ian Shears
Guest
Ian Shears

I am perplexed. In a way I see the point that is being made – Mattis up; President Trump down. But I fail to see how a mere Secretary-in-Cabinet can gain the upper hand. He needs to be holding the Nuclear Codes and have the confidence of the missile commanders. Does Gen. Mattis really have Marine sympathies and also missile officer sympathies? The US military (from my understanding of Field Marshall Sir Alanbrooke’s experiences in WW 2) is not at all unified Service-to-service or Intra-service and specifically in Alan Brooke’s time Pacific/Atlantic Fleets. I personally think he is not enough… Read more »

Freethinking Влади́мир
Guest
Freethinking Влади́мир

I agree that the military is more or less taking over a failed state to uphold it’s international business of keeping tensions and wars. Eventually all these retired two and three star generals want cross over to the commercial military industry where the big money is waiting for them. Especially three star flags are welcome because of their previous special access. However, not understanding Mattis’ modus of operations does not mean he doesn’t know what he’s doing. The public seem to confuse his slurred speech and his unclear tactics with incompetence, and that is outright idiotic. Instead of judging a… Read more »

Screwloose
Guest
Screwloose

He also has an alternative future – if he wants it – standing for President.

Place him alongside the hopeless-16 Republican contenders. He’d have walked it.

Freethinking Влади́мир
Guest
Freethinking Влади́мир

Fun angle. Might actually be true, but I don’t know if he wants that responsibility. Remember that his current position is a non-elective one, which is far more comfortable.

Latest

US continues to try to corner Russia with silence on Nukes

Moscow continues to be patient in what appears to be an ever more lopsided, intentional stonewalling situation provoked by the Americans.

Seraphim Hanisch

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TASS reported on March 17th that despite Russian readiness to discuss the present problem of strategic weapons deployments and disarmament with its counterparts in the United States, the Americans have not offered Russia any proposals to conduct such talks.

The Kremlin has not yet received any particular proposals on the talks over issues of strategic stability and disarmament from Washington, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS on Sunday when commenting on the statement made by US National Security Adviser John Bolton who did not rule out that such talks could be held with Russia and China.

“No intelligible proposals has been received [from the US] so far,” Peskov said.

Earlier Bolton said in an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis aired on Sunday that he considers it reasonable to include China in the negotiation on those issues with Russia as well.

“China is building up its nuclear capacity now. It’s one of the reasons why we’re looking at strengthening our national missile defense system here in the United States. And it’s one reason why, if we’re going to have another arms control negotiation, for example, with the Russians, it may make sense to include China in that discussion as well,” he said.

Mr. Bolton’s sense about this particular aspect of any arms discussions is correct, as China was not formerly a player in geopolitical affairs the way it is now. The now all-but-scrapped Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, was a treaty concluded by the US and the USSR leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, back in 1987. However, for in succeeding decades, most notably since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has been gradually building up weaponry in what appears to be an attempt to create a ring around the Russian Federation, a situation which is understandably increasingly untenable to the Russian government.

Both sides have accused one another of violating this treaty, and the mutual violations and recriminations on top of a host of other (largely fabricated) allegations against the Russian government’s activities led US President Donald Trump to announce his nation’s withdrawal from the treaty, formally suspending it on 1 February. Russian President Vladimir Putin followed suit by suspending it the very next day.

The INF eliminated all of both nations’ land based ballistic and cruise missiles that had a range between 500 and 1000 kilometers (310-620 miles) and also those that had ranges between 1000 and 5500 km (620-3420 miles) and their launchers.

This meant that basically all the missiles on both sides were withdrawn from Europe’s eastern regions – in fact, much, if not most, of Europe was missile-free as the result of this treaty. That is no longer the case today, and both nations’ accusations have provoked re-development of much more advanced systems than ever before, especially true considering the Russian progress into hypersonic and nuclear powered weapons that offer unlimited range.

This situation generates great concern in Europe, such that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on both Moscow and Washington to salvage the INF and extend the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, or the New START as it is known.

“I call on the parties to the INF Treaty to use the time remaining to engage in sincere dialogue on the various issues that have been raised. It is very important that this treaty is preserved,” Guterres said at a session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Monday.

He stressed that the demise of that accord would make the world more insecure and unstable, which “will be keenly felt in Europe.” “We simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War,” he said.

Guterres also urged the US and Russia to extend the START Treaty, which expires in 2021, and explore the possibility of further reducing their nuclear arsenals. “I also call on the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called New START Treaty before it expires in 2021,” he said.

The UN chief recalled that the treaty “is the only international legal instrument limiting the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals” and that its inspection provisions “represent important confidence-building measures that benefit the entire world.”

Guterres recalled that the bilateral arms control process between Russia and the US “has been one of the hallmarks of international security for fifty years.”

“Thanks to their efforts, global stockpiles of nuclear weapons are now less than one-sixth of what they were in 1985,” the UN secretary-general pointed out.

The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers. The new START Treaty obliges the parties to exchange information on the number of warheads and carriers twice a year.

The new START Treaty will remain in force during 10 years until 2021, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement. It may be extended for a period of no more than five years (that is, until 2026) upon the parties’ mutual consent. Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay the issue of extending the Treaty.

 

 

 

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Trump witch hunt dots connected: CNN to Steele to John McCain (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss documents released which show that Christopher Steele admitted to using posts by ‘random individuals’ on the CNN community website ‘iReport’ in order to back up his fabricated Trump dossier.

President Trump took note of Steele’s use of CNN citizen journalist posts, in a twitter tirade that blasted the British ex-spy for running with unverified community generated content from a now now-defunct ‘iReports’ website as part of his research.

Trump the proceeded to rip into late neocon Arizona Senator John McCain, tweeting that it was “just proven in court papers” that “last in his class” McCain sent the Steele’s dossier to media outlets in the hopes that they would print it prior to the 2016 US election.

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Via The Daily Caller

A federal court unsealed 43 pages Thursday of a deposition that former British spy Christopher Steele gave as part of a lawsuit over his infamous anti-Trump dossier.

To the disappointment of many observers, the full deposition was not unsealed in Thursday’s motion. Instead, portions of Steele’s interview, which he gave in London on July 13, 2018, were unsealed in separate court filings submitted in the lawsuit.

Steele’s full deposition totaled 145 pages. The portions published Thursday focus mainly on questions about the dossier’s claims about Aleksej Gubarev, a tech executive who Steele alleges took part in the hacking of Democrats’ computer systems.

Gubarev has vehemently denied the claim and sued Steele and BuzzFeed News, which published the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.

U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro, who handled the lawsuit, ordered a slew of previously sealed documents to be made public Thursday. Ungaro dismissed the lawsuit on Dec. 19 but did not weigh in on whether the dossier’s claims about Gubarev were accurate.

It is unclear whether Steele’s entire deposition will be released. A source familiar with Steele’s interview tempered expectations of any bombshells in the document, saying that Steele avoided going into detail about his efforts to create the dossier and his sources.

A deposition given by former State Department official David Kramer was perhaps the most enlightening document contained in the dump.

Kramer, a longtime associate of late Arizona Sen. John McCain, was BuzzFeed’s source for the dossier. Kramer shared the dossier with at least 11 other reporters, including CNN’s Carl Bernstein. (RELATED: John McCain Associate Gave Dossier To A Dozen Reporters)

Kramer obtained the dossier in late November 2016 after visiting Steele in London. Steele acknowledged that Kramer and McCain were picked as conduits to pass the dossier to then-FBI Director James Comey. McCain met with Comey on Dec. 9, 2016 and provided all of the dossier’s memos that had been written up to that point.

“I think they felt a senior Republican was better to be the recipient of this rather than a Democrat because if it were a Democrat, I think that the view was that it would have been dismissed as a political attack,” Kramer said in the deposition when asked why Steele and his business partners at Fusion GPS wanted McCain to meet with Comey.

Via Washington Examiner

Former British spy Christopher Steele admitted that he relied on an unverified report on a CNN website for part of the “Trump dossier,” which was used as a basis for the FBI’s investigation into Trump.

According to deposition transcripts released this week, Steele said last year he used a 2009 report he found on CNN’s iReport website and said he wasn’t aware that submissions to that site are posted by members of the public and are not checked for accuracy.

web archive from July 29, 2009 shows that CNN described the site in this manner: “iReport.com is a user-generated site. That means the stories submitted by users are not edited, fact-checked, or screened before they post.”

In the dossier, Steele, a Cambridge-educated former MI6 officer, wrote about extensive allegations against Donald Trump, associates of his campaign, various Russians and other foreign nationals, and a variety of companies — including one called Webzilla. Those allegations would become part of an FBI investigation and would be used to apply for warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

During his deposition, Steele was pressed on the methods he used to verify allegations made about Webzilla, which was thought to be used by Russia to hack into Democratic emails.

When asked if he discovered “anything of relevance concerning Webzilla” during the verification process, Steele replied: “We did. It was an article I have got here which was posted on July 28, 2009, on something called CNN iReport.”

“I do not have any particular knowledge of that,” Steele said when asked what was his understanding of how the iReport website worked.

When asked if he understood that content on the site was not generated by CNN reporters, he said, “I do not.” He was then asked: “Do you understand that they have no connection to any CNN reporters?” Steele replied, “I do not.”

He was pressed on this further: “Do you understand that CNN iReports are or were nothing more than any random individuals’ assertions on the Internet?” Steele replied: “No, I obviously presume that if it is on a CNN site that it may has some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site.”

When asked about his methodology for searching for this information, Steele described it as “what we could call an open source search,” which he defined as “where you go into the Internet and you access material that is available on the Internet that is of relevance or reference to the issue at hand or the person under consideration.”

Steele said his dossier contained “raw intelligence” that he admitted could contain untrue or even “deliberately false information.”

Steele was hired by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Fusion GPS was receiving funding at the time from the Clinton campaign and the DNC through the Perkins Coie law firm.

The series of memos that Steele would eventually compile became known as the “Trump Dossier.” The dossier was used in FISA applications to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

When asked whether he warned Fusion GPS that the information in the dossier might be “Russian disinformation,” Steele admitted that “a general understanding existed between us and Fusion … that all material contained this risk.”

Steele also described his interactions with Sen. John McCain’s aide, David Kramer, whose own deposition showed that he provided BuzzFeed with a copy of the dossier and had spoken with more than a dozen journalists about it.

“I provided copies of the December memo to Fusion GPS for onward passage to David Kramer at the request of Sen. John McCain,” Steele said. “Sen. McCain nominated him as the intermediary. I did not choose him as the intermediary.”

When asked if he told Kramer that he couldn’t “vouch for everything that was produced in the memos,” Steele replied, “Yes, with an emphasis on ‘everything.'”

When asked why he believed it was so important to provide the dossier to Sen. McCain, Steele said: “Because I judged it had national security implications for the United States and the West as a whole.”

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Trudeau’s Top Bureaucrat Unexpectedly Quits Amid Growing Corruption Scandal

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

Published

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Via Zerohedge


Since it was exposed by a report in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper earlier this month, the scandal that’s become known as the SNC-Lavalin affair has already led to the firing of several of Trudeau’s close advisors and raised serious questions about whether the prime minister was complicit in pressuring the attorney general to offer a deferred prosecution agreement with a large, Quebec-based engineering firm.

And according to the first round of polls released since the affair exploded into public view…

…it could cost Trudeau his position as prime minister and return control to the conservatives, according to the CBC.

Campaign Research showed the Conservatives ahead with 37% to 32% for the Liberals, while both Ipsos and Léger put the margin at 36% to 34% in the Conservatives’ favour.Since December, when both polling firms were last in the field, the Liberals have lost one point in Campaign Research’s polling and four percentage points in the Ipsos poll, while the party is down five points since November in the Léger poll.

Meanwhile, as the noose tightens around Trudeau, on Monday another of the key Canadian government officials at the center of the SNC-Lavalin scandal has quit his post.

Michael Wernick, clerk of the privy council, the highest-ranking position in Canada’s civil service and a key aide to Justin Trudeau, announced his retirement Monday. Trudeau named Ian Shugart, currently deputy minister of foreign affairs, to replace him.

In a scathing letter to Trudeau, Wernick said that “recent events” led him to conclude he couldn’t hold his post during the election campaign this fall.

“It is now apparent that there is no path for me to have a relationship of mutual trust and respect with the leaders of the opposition parties,” he said, citing the need for impartiality on the issue of potential foreign interference. According to Bloomberg, the exact date of his departure is unclear.

As we reported in February, Canada’s former justice minister and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, quit following allegations that several key Trudeau government figures pressured her to intervene to end a criminal prosecution against Montreal-based construction giant SNC. Wernick was among those she named in saying the prime minister’s office wanted her to pursue a negotiated settlement.

Wernick has since twice spoken to a committee of lawmakers investigating the case, and during that testimony both defended his actions on the SNC file and warned about the risk of foreign election interference, as “blame Putin” has become traditional Plan B plan for most politicians seeing their careers go up in flames.

“I’m deeply concerned about my country right now, its politics and where it’s headed. I worry about foreign interference in the upcoming election,” he said in his first appearance before the House of Commons justice committee, before repeating the warning a second time this month. “If that was seen as alarmist, so be it. I was pulling the alarm. We need a public debate about foreign interference.”

Because somehow foreign interference has something to do with Wenick’s alleged corruption.

Incidentally, as we wonder what the real reason is behind Wernick’s swift departure, we are confident we will know soon enough.

Anyway, back to the now former clerk, who is meant to be non-partisan in service of the government of the day, also criticized comments by a Conservative senator and praised one of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers.

Wernick’s testimony was criticized as overly cozy with the ruling Liberals. Murray Rankin, a New Democratic Party lawmaker, asked the clerk how lawmakers could “do anything but conclude that you have in fact crossed the line into partisan activity?” Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said he seemed “willing to interfere in partisan fashion for whoever is in power.”

Whatever Wernick’s true motives, he is the latest but not last in what will be a long line of cabinet departures as the SNC scandal exposes even more corruption in Trudeau’s cabinet (some have ironically pointed out that Canada’s “beloved” prime minister could be gone for actual corruption long before Trump). Trudeau had already lost a top political aide, Gerald Butts, to the scandal. A second minister, Jane Philpott, followed Wilson-Raybould in quitting cabinet.

Separately, on Monday, Trudeau appointed a former deputy prime minister in a Liberal government, Anne McLellan, as a special adviser to investigate some of the legal questions raised by the controversy. They include how governments should interact with the attorney general and whether that role should continue to be held by the justice minister.

As Bloomberg notes, the increasingly shaky Liberal government hasn’t ruled out helping SNC by ordering a deferred prosecution agreement in the corruption and bribery case, which centers around the company’s work in Moammar Qaddafi’s Libya. Doing so would allow the company to pay a fine and avoid any ban on receiving government contracts. That decision is up to the current attorney general, David Lametti; of course, such an action would only raise tensions amid speculation that the government is pushing for a specific political, and favorable for Trudeau, outcome.

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