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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
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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
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Nofearorfavor

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

Anon
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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
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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
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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.

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Russian Il-20 downed by Syrian missile. Russia blames Israel. Israel blames Syria (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The unthinkable has happened in Syria.

The world now teeters on the brink of all out war in Syria as a Russian Il-20 was downed by Syrian missile after Israeli F-16s used it as cover during attack, according to statements made by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

President Vladimir Putin, answering a reporter’s question during a press conference with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, said the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane looks like “a chain of tragic circumstances.” 

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the tripwire triggered that has the potential to tip the fragile balance in Syria towards conflict between Russia, Iran and Israel.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel

The Russian military says an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its Il-20 plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said…

“Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation. We received a notification via a hotline less than a minute before the strike, which did not allow the Russian aircraft to be directed to a safe zone.”

The statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said that four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean.

The Israeli warplanes approached at a low altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region.”

The statement further said that 15 Russian military service members have died as a result…

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile.”

According to reports from RT, the Russian military said that the French Navy’s frigate ‘Auvergne,’ as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area during the Israeli operation.

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.

The Russian ministry said the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, but this did not stop them from executing “the provocation.” Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came just a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,”the statement said.

The statement gives a larger death toll than earlier reports by the Russian military, which said there were 14 crew members on board the missing Il-20. It said a search and rescue operation for the shot-down plane is underway.

A later update said debris from the downed plane was found some 27km off the Latakia coast. The search party collected some body parts, personal possessions of the crew, and fragments of the plane.

Meanwhile Israel has come out to blame the Syrian government for the downing of the military plane, according to an IDF statement.

Israel said that it “expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members” of the Russian plane. However, it stated that the government of Bashar Assad “whose military shot down the Russian plane,” is “fully responsible” for the incident.

Israel further blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the incident.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) explained that its jets were targeting a Syrian facility “from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Israel claimed that the weapons were “meant to attack Israel.”

Via RT

The IDF assumed that the Syrian anti-air batteries “fired indiscriminately” and didn’t “bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.” The Israelis said that when the Syrian military launched the missiles which hit the Russian plane, its own jets were already within Israeli airspace. “During the strike against the target in Latakia, the Russian plane that was then hit was not within the area of the operation.”

According to the Israeli military, both IDF and Russia have “a deconfliction system,” which was agreed upon by the leadership of both states, and “has proven itself many times over recent years.” The system was in use when the incident happened, the IDF stated. The IDF promised to share “all the relevant information” with Russia “to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”

The military presented a four-point initial inquiry into events in Latakia. It insisted that “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian anti-aircraft fire caused the Russian jet “to be hit and downed.”

The Russian Il-20 aircraft, with 15 crew on board, went off radar during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province late Monday. Later on Tuesday the Russian Defense Ministry said that an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile.

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Trump Orders Immediate Release Of All Text Messages, Carter Page FISA Application From Russia Investigation

Trump has ordered the DOJ to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions.

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Via Zerohedge

President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions, of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also released will be specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The statement reads in full:

“At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr

***

As we reported last Monday, Trump had been expected to release the documents any time – with specific attention to the Page documents and the “investigative activities of Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr” – who was demoted twice for lying about his extensive relationship  with Christopher Steele – the former MI6 spy who assembled the sham “Steele Dossier” used by the FBI in a FISA surveillance application to spy on Page.

Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees believe the declassification will permanently taint the Trump-Russia investigation by showing the investigation was illegitimate to begin with. Trump has been hammering the same theme for months.

  • They allege that Bruce Ohr played an improper intermediary role between the Justice Department, British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that produced the Trump-Russia dossier, funded by Democrats. (Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS on Russia-related matters during the presidential election — a fact that Ohr did not disclose on federal forms.)
  • And they further allege that the Obama administration improperly spied on Carter Page — all to take down Trump. –Axios

Ohr, meanwhile, met with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in 2015 to discuss helping the FBI with organized crime investigations, according to The Hill‘s John Solomon. The meeting with the Putin ally was facilitated by Steele.

Last month Trump called Ohr a disgrace, while also tweeting: “Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions  “Justice” Department? A total joke!”

Trump’s threat came one day after two tweets about Ohr, noting a connection to former FBI agent Peter Strzok, as well as a text sent by Ohr after former FBI Director James Comey was fired in which Ohr says “afraid they will be exposed.”

According to emails turned over to Congressional investigators in August, Christopher Steele was much closer to Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie than previously disclosed.

Steele and the Ohrs would have breakfast together on July 30, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., days after Steele turned in installments of his infamous “dossier” on July 19 and 26. The breakfast also occurred one day before the FBI formally launched operation “Crossfire Hurricane,” the agency’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.

“Great to see you and Nellie this morning Bruce,” Steele wrote shortly following their breakfast meeting. “Let’s keep in touch on the substantive issues/s (sic). Glenn is happy to speak to you on this if it would help.”

“After two years of investigations and accusations from both sides of the aisle about what documents indicate, it is past time for documents to be declassified and let the American people decide for themselves if DoJ and FBI acted properly,” Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows told Axios earlier Sunday.

In early August, journalist Paul Sperry tweeted that Trump may use his presidential authority to declassify “20 redacted pages of a June, 2017 FISA renewal, “and possibly” 63 pages of emails and notes between “Ohr & Steele,” and FD-302 summaries of 12 interviews.”

President Trump threatened to declassify documents two weeks ago – one day after the New York Times allegedly published an anonymous Op-Ed claiming to be from a White House official claiming to be part of an unelected “resistance” cabal within the Trump administration.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted earlier this month, adding: “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

Trump’s threat comes as calls by frustrated GOP legislators to release the documents have hit a fevered pitch. Spearheading the effort are Republican Reps. Meadows, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Lee Zeldin – who have repeatedly asked Trump to declassify more of the heavily redacted FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in late 2016.

In June, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee asked President Trump to declassify key sections of Carter Page’s FISA warrant application, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

Carter Page, the DOJ/FBI’s person of interest, weighed in on the matter in late August, tweeting: “The Corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNC and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016.”

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Via Strategic Culture

This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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