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The Hague clears Slobodan Milosevic over Bosnia, what about Vladimir Putin over Ukraine?

Hague Tribunal confirms Western allegations about former Serb President Milosevic’s role in the Bosnian war were untrue. What about the identical observations made about Putin’s role in the Ukrainian war?

Alexander Mercouris

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Those of us with memories that extend back to the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s will remember the way Western governments and the Western media cast Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic as the villain of the piece.

Milosevic was made out to be a fascistic ultra nationalist presiding over a corrupt and authoritarian regime in Serbia who regularly murdered his opponents, tyrannised the people of Kosovo, and who orchestrated wars in Bosnia and Croatia as part of a megalomaniac ethnicist project to create a Greater Serbia.  He was made out to be the puppet master behind the Serbs in the long Bosnian war, and was accused of committing genocide both in Bosnia and in Kosovo. 

When Milosevic eventually fell from power following Western backed protests against him, he was put on trial before an international war crimes tribunal in The Hague on all these charges.  Though he died whilst the trial was underway, the Western media from time to time continues to repeat these charges as if they had been proved to be true. Anyone who has ever questioned these charges, or who has suggested that there might be more to the wars in Yugoslavia than an evil plot by Milosevic and his associates, is regularly denounced as an apologist for “ethnic cleansing” and genocide, and as a stooge of Milosevic or at best a “useful idiot”.

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It is therefore very interesting to see how over a succession of trials the international tribunal in The Hague, as well as other investigations and tribunals, have comprehensively rejected the entire case against Milosevic as Western governments and the Western media have told it.

The process actually began in Kosovo where investigators quickly discovered that claims made during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 that hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered there on Milosevic’s orders were simply untrue.  It continued with Milosevic’s trial when – as discussed brilliantly by the British writer John Laughland in his book Travesty – despite the prosecution using every conceivable dodge to convict him, the case against Milosevic essentially unravelled.  There was then a Judgment in the International Court of Justice made shortly after Milosevic’s death, which confirmed that neither he nor Serbia had any role in the Srebrenica affair.  And it has now concluded with a lengthy discussion of Milosevic’s role in the Bosnian war in the international tribunal’s Judgment against the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.  Rather than discuss this Judgment in detail I will confine myself to reproducing Andy Wilcoxson’s excellent summary of it:

“The March 24th Karadzic judgment states that “the Chamber is not satisfied that there was sufficient evidence presented in this case to find that Slobodan Milosevic agreed with the common plan” to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb claimed territory.

The Karadzic trial chamber found that “the relationship between Milosevic and the Accused had deteriorated beginning in 1992; by 1994, they no longer agreed on a course of action to be taken. Furthermore, beginning as early as March 1992, there was apparent discord between the Accused and Milosevic in meetings with international representatives, during which Milosevic and other Serbian leaders openly criticised Bosnian Serb leaders of committing ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘ethnic cleansing’ and the war for their own purposes.”

The judges noted that Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic both favored the preservation of Yugoslavia and that Milosevic was initially supportive, but that their views diverged over time. The judgment states that “from 1990 and into mid-1991, the political objective of the Accused and the Bosnian Serb leadership was to preserve Yugoslavia and to prevent the separation or independence of BiH, which would result in a separation of Bosnian Serbs from Serbia; the Chamber notes that Slobodan Milosevic endorsed this objective and spoke against the independence of BiH.”

The Chamber found that “the declaration of sovereignty by the SRBiH Assembly in the absence of the Bosnian Serb delegates on 15 October 1991, escalated the situation,” but that Milosevic was not on board with the establishment of Republika Srpska in response. The judgment says that “Slobodan Milosevic was attempting to take a more cautious approach”

The judgment states that in intercepted communications with Radovan Karadzic, “Milosevic questioned whether it was wise to use ‘an illegitimate act in response to another illegitimate act’ and questioned the legality of forming a Bosnian Serb Assembly.” The judges also found that “Slobodan Milosevic expressed his reservations about how a Bosnian Serb Assembly could exclude the Muslims who were ‘for Yugoslavia’.”

The judgment notes that in meetings with Serb and Bosnian Serb officials “Slobodan Milosevic stated that ‘[a]ll members of other nations and ethnicities must be protected’ and that ‘[t]he national interest of the Serbs is not discrimination’.” Also that “Milosevic further declared that crime needed to be fought decisively.”

The trial chamber notes that “In private meetings, Milosevic was extremely angry at the Bosnian Serb leadership for rejecting the Vance-Owen Plan and he cursed the Accused.” They also found that “Milosevic tried to reason with the Bosnian Serbs saying that he understood their concerns, but that it was most important to end the war.”

The judgment states that “Milosevic also questioned whether the world would accept that the Bosnian Serbs who represented only one third of the population of BiH would get more than 50% of the territory and he encouraged a political agreement.”

At a meeting of the Supreme Defense Council the judgment says that “Milosevic told the Bosnian Serb leadership that they were not entitled to have more than half the territory in BiH, stating that: ‘there is no way that more than that could belong to us! Because, we represent one third of the population. […] We are not entitled to in excess of half of the territory – you must not snatch away something that belongs to someone else! […] How can you imagine two thirds of the population being crammed into 30% of the territory, while 50% is too little for you?! Is it humane, is it fair?!’”

In other meetings with Serb and Bosnian Serb officials, the judgment notes that Milosevic “declared that the war must end and that the Bosnian Serbs’ biggest mistake was to want a complete defeat of the Bosnian Muslims.” Because of the rift between Milosevic and the Bosnian-Serbs, the judges note that “the FRY reduced its support for the RS and encouraged the Bosnian Serbs to accept peace proposals.””

In other words there was no Greater Serbia project on the part of Milosevic, Karadzic or anyone else, Milosevic (and Karadzic) wanted to hold Yugoslavia together (as Western leaders at the time also professed they wanted to do), Milosevic was not the puppet master of the Bosnian war and had only limited influence over the Bosnian Serb leadership led by Karadzic with whom he was on increasingly bad terms, and so far from being committed to violent solutions, war crimes or ethnic cleansing Milosevic always spoke out against them and at all times strove for peace.

Needless to say the Western media has failed to report this Judgment.  Nor have any of the Western politicians or journalists who monstered Milosevic during the 1990s come forward to admit that what they said about him – which was used to justify the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 – was untrue.  On the contrary I expect them to ignore this Judgment and go on saying what they said about Milosevic before, just as the media in the West ignores or fails to report other court Judgments or investigations that contradict its chosen narrative, such as the succession of Judgments confirming that the Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky was a fraudster that the European Court of Human Rights has made, or the Tagliavini report which has established that it was Georgia not Russia that began the war in South Ossetia in 2008.

To those of us however who pay more attention to such things, it is impossible to avoid drawing comparisons between the West’s treatment of Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990s and the West’s treatment of Vladimir Putin today.  Almost identical claims about Putin’s role in the wars in Ukraine are being made today as were made in the 1990s about Milosevic’s role in the wars in Yugoslavia.  Those of us who question these claims find ourselves called “Putin apologists” or “useful idiots”, just as those who question the claims made about Milosevic’s role in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s find themselves called “Milosevic apologists” or “useful idiots”.  Hopefully this time it will not take 20 years before these claims, like those once made against Milosevic, are properly examined and found to be untrue.

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It’s Official: ‘Britain’s Democracy Now At Risk’

It’s not just campaigners saying it any more: democracy is officially at risk, according to parliament’s own digital, culture, media and sport committee.

The Duran

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Via True Publica, authored by Jessica Garland – Electoral Reform Society:


Britain’s main campaign rules were drawn up in the late 1990s, before social media and online campaigning really existed. This has left the door wide open to disinformation, dodgy donations and foreign interference in elections.

There is a real need to close the loopholes when it comes to the online Wild West.

Yet in this year’s elections, it was legitimate voters who were asked to identify themselves, not those funnelling millions into political campaigns through trusts, or those spreading fake news.

The government trialled mandatory voter ID in five council areas in May. In these five pilot areas alone about 350 people were turned away from polling stations for not having their papers with them — and they didn’t return. In other words, they were denied their vote.

Yet last year, out of more than 45 million votes cast across the country, there were just 28 allegations of personation (pretending to be someone else at the polling station), the type of fraud voter ID is meant to tackle.

Despite the loss of 350 votes, the pilots were branded a success by the government. Yet the 28 allegations of fraud (and just one conviction) are considered such a dire threat that the government is willing to risk disenfranchising many more legitimate voters to try to address it. The numbers simply don’t add up.

Indeed, the fact-checking website FullFact noted that in the Gosport pilot, 0.4 per cent of voters did not vote because of ID issues. That’s a greater percentage than the winning margin in at least 14 constituencies in the last election. Putting up barriers to democratic engagement can have a big impact. In fact, it can swing an election.

In the run-up to the pilots, the Electoral Reform Society and other campaigners warned that the policy risked disenfranchising the most marginalised groups in society.

The Windrush scandal highlights exactly the sort of problems that introducing stricter forms of identity could cause: millions of people lack the required documentation. It’s one of the reasons why organisations such as the Runnymede Trust are concerned about these plans.

The Electoral Commission has now published a report on the ID trials, which concludes that “there is not yet enough evidence to fully address concerns” on this front.

The small number of pilots, and a lack of diversity, meant that sample sizes were too small to conclude anything about how the scheme would affect various demographic groups. Nor can the pilots tell us about the likely impact of voter ID in a general election, where the strain on polling staff would be far greater and a much broader cross-section of electors turns out to vote.

The Electoral Reform Society, alongside 22 organisations, campaigners and academics, has now called on the constitution minister to halt moves to impose this policy. The signatories span a huge cross-section of society, including representatives of groups that could be disproportionately impacted by voter ID, from Age UK to Liberty and from the British Youth Council to the Salvation Army and the LGBT Foundation.

Voters know what our democratic priorities should be: ensuring that elections are free from the influence of big donors. Having a secure electoral register. Providing balanced media coverage. Transparency online.

We may be little wiser as a result of the government’s voter ID trials. Yet we do know where the real dangers lie in our politics.

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Corrupt Robert Mueller’s despicable Paul Manafort trial nears end (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 79.

Alex Christoforou

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Paul Manafort’s legal team rested its case on Tuesday without calling a single witness. This sets the stage for closing arguments before the judge hands the case to jurors for a verdict.

Manafort’s defense opted to call no witnesses, choosing instead to rely on the team’s cross-examination of government witnesses including a very devious Rick Gates, Manafort’s longtime deputy, and several accountants, bookkeepers and bankers who had financial dealings with Manafort.

Closing arguments are expected on Wednesday. Jurors may begin deliberating shortly after receiving their final instructions from judge Ellis.

Manafort case has nothing to do with Mueller’s ‘Trump-Russia collusion witch-hunt’ as the former DC lobbyist is accused of defrauding banks to secure loans and hiding overseas bank accounts and income from U.S. tax authorities.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III denied a defense motion to acquit Manafort on the charges because prosecutors hadn’t proved their case.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the circus trial of Trump’s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, and how crooked cop Robert Mueller is using all his power to lean on Manafort, so as to conjure up something illegal against US President Donald Trump.

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Via Zerohedge

Prosecutors allege he dodged taxes on millions of dollars made from his work for a Ukrainian political party, then lied to obtain bank loans when cash stopped flowing from the project.

The courtroom was sealed for around two hours Tuesday morning for an unknown reason, reopening around 11:30 a.m. with Manafort arriving around 10 minutes later.

The decision to rest their case without calling any witnesses follows a denial by Judge T.S. Ellis III to acquit Manafort after his lawyers tried to argue that the special counsel had failed to prove its case at the federal trial.

The court session began at approximately 11:45 a.m.:

“Good afternoon,” began defense attorney Richard Westling, who corrected himself and said, “Good morning.”

“I’m as surprised as you are,” Judge Ellis responded.

Ellis then heard brief argument from both sides on the defense’s motion for acquittal, focusing primarily on four counts related to Federal Savings Bank.

Federal Savings Bank was aware of the status of Paul Manafort’s finances,” Westling argued. “They came to the loans with an intent of doing business with Mr. Manafort.”

Prosecutor Uzo Asonye fired back, saying that that even if bank chairman Steve Calk overlooked Manafort’s financial woes, it would still be a crime to submit fraudulent documents to obtain the loans.

“Steve Calk is not the bank,” Asonye argued, adding that while Caulk may have “had a different motive” — a job with the Trump administration — “I’m not really sure there’s evidence he knew the documents were false.”

Ellis sided with prosecutors.

The defense makes a significant argument about materiality, but in the end, I think materiality is an issue for the jury,” he said, adding. “That is true for all the other counts… those are all jury issues.”

Once that exchange was over, Manafort’s team was afforded the opportunity to present their case, to which lead attorney Kevin Downing replied “The defense rests.

Ellis then began to question Manafort to ensure he was aware of the ramifications of that decision, to which the former Trump aide confirmed that he did not wish to take the witness stand.

Manafort, in a dark suit and white shirt, stood at the lectern from which his attorneys have questioned witnesses, staring up at the judge. Ellis told Manafort he had a right to testify, though if he chose not to, the judge would tell jurors to draw no inference from that. – WaPo

Ellis asked Manafort four questions – his amplified voice booming through the courtroom:

Had Manafort discussed the decision with his attorney?

“I have, your honor,” Manafort responded, his voice clear.

Was he satisfied with their advice?

“I am, your honor,” Manafort replied.

Had he decided whether he would testify?

“I have decided,” Manafort said.

“Do you wish to testify?” Ellis finally asked.

“No, sir,” Manafort responded.

And with that, Manafort returned to his seat.

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One more step toward COMPLETE de-dollarization

Over the past several months, sitting here in Moscow, it has become increasingly obvious that while the US Dollar is unquestionably the world’s leading and liquid reserve currency, it comes with an ever increasing high price (of sovereignty and FX) if you are not the USA.

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I have opined and written about the trend towards de-dollarization before, but with the latest US –Turkish spat it has hit the wallets, mattresses and markets of a number of countries, be they aligned with Washington or not. One thing they all have in common was that in this recent era of low cost available money, many happily fed at the US dollar trough.

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This serves as a further albeit loud example to many nations for the need to diversify to an extent away from the greenback, or risk being caught up in its volatile, sudden and unpredictably risky increasingly politicized directions.

The Dollar and the geopolitical winds from Washington are today as never before openly being used as policy, which can be called the “carrot and stick”, a distinctly Pavlovian approach. Sadly, few if any can make out where or what the carrot is in this recent US worldview branding.

Tariffs, sanctions, pressured exchange rates, the Federal Reserve loosening or tightening, trade agreements and laws ignored or simply trashed… there is a lot going on which seems to democratically affect America’s allies as well as those on Washington’s politically popular and dramatic “poo-poo” list.

Just now from a press conference in Turkey, I watched Russia’s foreign minister Lavrov say that through the actions shown by the US, the role of the US dollar as a secure global reserve currency for free trade will diminish as more countries switch to national currencies for international trade.

He clearly spoke for many nations when he said; “It will make more and more countries that are not even affected by US sanctions go away from the dollar and rely on more reliable, contractual partners in terms of currency use.” Putting the situation in a nutshell he went on to say “I have already said this about sanctions: they are illegal, they undermine all principles of global trade and principles approved by UN decisions, under which unilateral measures of economic duress are unlawful.”

Turkey, a long-standing NATO ally and a key line of western defense during the long cold war years fully agreed with his Russian counterpart. The Turkish foreign minister Mr. Cavosoglu openly warned that US sanctions or trade embargoes can and are being unilaterally imposed against any country at any time if they do not toe DC’s political line.

He said at the same press conference; “Today, sanctions are imposed on Turkey, and tomorrow they can be used against any other European state. If the United States wants to maintain respect in the international arena, then it is necessary for it to be respectful of the interests of other countries.”

What is happening in Turkey is symptomatic of the developed and emerging markets globally. When trillions of dollars of newly issued lucre was up for grabs, thanks to several developed country central banks, it was comparatively easy for governments and companies just like Turkey’s to borrow funds denominated in dollars and not their national currencies.

Turkey has relied on foreign-currency debt more than most EM’s. Corporate, financial and other debt denominated mostly in dollars, approximates close to 70% of it’s economy. Therefore as the Turkish lira plunges, it is very costly for those companies to repay their dollar-denominated loans, and even now it is patently clear many will not.

The concern rattling around the underbelly of the global markets is what can be reasonably expected for assets and economies that were inflated by cheap debt, the United States included. All this points not so much to a banking crisis as has happened eight years ago, but a systemic financial market crisis.

This is a new one, and I doubt if any QE, QT, NIRPs, or ZIRPs will make much of a difference, despite the rocket-high equity markets the US has been displaying.

One financial trader I spoke to, whom I have known since the early 1980’s (and I thought him ancient then) muttered to me “we’re gettin’ into the ecstasy stage, nothing but the high matters, everything else including the VIX is seen as boring denial, and not the warning tool it is. Better start loading up on gold.”

Meanwhile, de-dollarization is ongoing in Russia and is carefully studied by a host of countries, especially as the Russian government has not yet finished selling off US debt; it still has just a few billion to go. The Russian Finance Minister A. Siluanov said this past Sunday that Russia would continue decreasing holdings of Treasuries in response to sanctions.

The finance minister went on to say that, Russia is also considering distancing itself from using the US dollar for international trade, calling it an unreliable, conditional and hence risky tool for payments.

Between March and May this year, Russia’s US debt holdings were sold down by $81 billion, which is 84% of its total US debt holdings, and while I don’t know the current figure it is certain to be even less.

The latest round of tightening sanctions screws against Russia were imposed by the State Department under a chemical and biological warfare law and should be going into effect on August 22. This in spite of the fact that no proof was ever shown, not under any established national or international law, or with any of several global biochemical conventions, not even in the ever entertaining court of public opinion.

Whatever Russia may continue to do in its relationship with US debt or the dollar, the fact of the matter is that Russia is not a heavyweight in this particular financial arena, and the direct effects of Russia’s responses are negligible. However, the indirect effects are huge as they reflect what many countries (allied or unallied with the US) see as Washington’s overbearing and more than slightly unipolar trade and geopolitical advantage quests, be they Mexico, Canada, the EU, or anyone else on any hemisphere of this globe.

Some of the potential indirect effects over time may be a similar sell-off or even gradual reduction of US debt exposure from China or any one of several dozens of countries deciding to reduce their exposure to US debt by reducing their purchases and waiting for existing Treasuries to mature. In either case, the trend is there and is not going away anytime soon.

When Russia clears its books of US dollarized debt, then who will be next in actively diversifying their US debt risk? Then what might be the fate of the US Dollar, and what value then will be the international infusions to finance America’s continually growing debt, or fuel the funds needed for further market growth? Value and the energy of money has no politics, it ultimately trends towards areas where there is a secure business dynamic. That being said, looks like we are now and will be living through the most interesting of disruptive times.

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