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I Sure Hope That I am Wrong, But…

The Saker’s full analysis of the forthcoming Trump–Putin meeting.

The Saker

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The talk of the week is the upcoming meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin on the sidelines of the G20 conference this Friday. There have been some very good articles already written on this topic, I particularly recommend Adam Garrie’s “5 obstacles Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin will have to address in their meeting” for The Duran and Israel Shamir’s “What Would Putin Tell Trump?” for The Unz Review. It is undeniable that the fact that these two men will finally meet is an event of immense significance and importance for the future not only of US-Russian relations, but even for the future or mankind.

Or is it?

I have to be honest here and say that my expectations are pretty close to zero. Oh sure, they will smile, probably a lot, and some minor issues, such as the seizure of the Russian diplomatic residence in the US, will be resolved. Probably. There might even be some kind of positive sounding sounds about “reaffirming the Minsk Agreement” or “fighting ISIS in Syria”, but compared to long list of truly vital issues which need to be urgently discussed and resolved, this will, I am afraid, be as close to nothing as it can get. Why do I say that?

First, we should all stop kidding ourselves, Russia and the USA do not have “disagreements”. The sad and frightening reality is that we are now closer to war than during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not only are Russian and US servicemen now deployed in the same war zone (the Americans totally illegally), but unlike what happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis we have a US President who terminally lacks the willpower to deal with the crazies on the US side, I am talking about the Neocons, of course. In fact, under Kennedy there were no real Neocons to tackle to begin with. Now they are running the White House while Trump serves them coffee or watches TV in another room (I am joking of course, but just barely). In this context, to meet on the “sidelines” of a G20 conference is bordering on the criminally irresponsible. What the world would need is for Trump and Putin to meet in a “Camp David” like format for at least 3-5 days with all their key advisors and officials. Even if we assume 100% good will on both sides, meeting on the “sidelines” of an already big conference just won’t make it possible to get anything done. In the very best of cases Lavrov and Tillerson could have done most of the hard work away from the public eye, but the truth is that the Russians say that so far the two sides have not even agreed upon an agenda.

Second, it is absolutely clear that the US Ziomedia and Congress will declare any, any, positive outcome from the meeting as “Trump caved in to Putin” and try to get a pound of political flesh out of Trump for it. So for Trump any external success will mean an internal disaster. And we already know that the man does not have what it takes to deal with such attacks. Frankly, his only “tactic”, so to speak, to deal with the Neocons has been to try to appease them. So short of Trump asking for political asylum in Russia and joining Snowden somewhere in Russia, I don’t see him ever taking any independent action.

Third, if we look at the people around Trump it is pretty clear that the only intelligent and rational person in the White House is Rex Tillerson. The rest of them are lunatics, maniacs and imbeciles – the current US what shall I call it—“actions” (can’t call it a “policy”) towards Syria clearly prove that the Executive Branch is completely out of control. We now can clearly see that Mattis and McMaster are not these military geniuses presented to us by the Ziomedia but that, in fact, they are both phenomenally incompetent and that their views of the conflicts in Syria and even Afghanistan can only be characterized as totally lacking anything remotely resembling any kind of vision. Yet these two “geniuses” seem to be in charge. For all his intelligence, Tillerson can’t even rein in this Nikki idiot at the United Nations. We should stop kidding ourselves and stop pretending like there is anybody to talk to for the Russians. At best, they are dealing with a Kindergarten. At worst, they are dealing with an evil Kindergarten. But either way, there is nobody to talk to on the US side, much less so somebody to begin solving the many issues that need solving.

I will admit that I did have high hopes for Trump and his apparent willingness to sit down and have an adult conversation with the Russians. I was especially inspired by Trump’s repeated rejection of the Ziomedia’s narrative about Russia and by what appeared to me as his “no nonsense” approach towards getting things done. I wrote many articles for this blog saying that having hopes (not expectations!) for Trump was the right thing to do. And, frankly, I think that at the time it was. Last Fall I even wrote an entire chapter on this topic in the book “If I were King: Advice for President Trump“. The big difference is that before his election we could only judge Trump by his words. Now, however, we can judge him by his words and his actions and the latter show us a consistent pattern of supine subservience to the Neocons and their demands, from the betrayal of his friend and key advisor Flynn, to the recent threats to bomb Syria for, allegedly, “preparing” to use chemical munitions against civilians.

This might be his, shall we call it, “Las Vegas culture” – but Trump is all about form over substance and appearance over facts. Just look at his frankly pathetic threats (with no less than 3 aircraft carrier strike groups!) against the DPRK or his half-assed missile strike on the Syrian airbase: it’s all a big show, nothing more. No wonder the man likes “tweeting” – he seems to think in 140 character long “thought clusters”…

None of that would be too bad if the US, and the West generally, had a halfway decent media and a Legislative Branch worthy of its name. In theory, these could raise hell and demand that the President either resign or begin doing his job. But, of course, they don’t and they won’t. They hate Trump, of course, but they also own him. He can make fun of them in “tweets” in his free time, but in terms of his policies he does exactly what they want. And the very last thing they want is any kind of “detente” with Russia. At most, they will impeach Trump just to humiliate him, but that’s about it. They don’t even need to play their “Pence” card – Trump is what is colloquially known in US ghettos as their “punk-ass bitch”.

Ever since the ill-fated “GWOT” more or less petered out, Russia has become the indispensable bogeyman to terrify the public and justify multi-billion dollar corruption schemes. Not only that, but a “resurgent Russia” is the cornerstone justification of the AngloZionist paranoia about a need to spend more on the war state, the police state and, of course, on corporate greed. The powers that be are even re-heating old, Cold War era, scaring techniques:

The Defense Intelligence Agency has recently released a “Russian Military Power 2017” report. Since it is pretty well written, I actually recommend that you download and read it: it is a mix of pretty good information about the Russian Armed Forces and the garden variety nonsense about Russian hackers and their cyber-threat to US and its allies. Just set aside the clearly politically-induced nonsense and you are left with a rather well made summary of what the Russian Armed Forces are up to these days.

I have to thank the DIA for this report: it made me feel young again, like I was in the 1980s when all the students of warfare and of the Soviet military were reading these annual “Soviet Military Power” reports with great interest. But other than making some of us feel young, the real purpose of this document is clear and it is the very same one behind the Cold War era “Soviet Military Power” series: to justify an increase in “defense” (i.e. “aggression”) spending by showing how scary these evil Commies/Russkies were/are.

This would all be rather funny, and nostalgic in a way, if it did not show the total lack of imagination of the folks at the Pentagon. Far from coming up with anything novel or interesting, they are bringing back into service stuff which for years had been collecting dust in the memories of now mostly retired Cold Warriors. It is rather pathetic, really.

Over the past 30 years or so, Russia went from being the Soviet Union, to being a Somalia-like “democratic hell” during the 1990s, to becoming a completely new entity – a “New Russia” which is dramatically different from the Soviet Union of the 1980s. In contrast, the US got completely stuck in its old patterns, except for this time they are “the same, but even worse”. If the US did not have nukes that would almost be okay (after all, the world can let “Uncle Sam” slowly lose his sclerotic brain, who cares?) but when a nuclear superpower is acting like an out-of-control rogue state, this is very, very, scary.

So back to our G20 meeting again. The first thing which needs to be said is that Trump is weak, extremely weak: he goes in with the Ziomedia and Congress hating him and with a basically treacherous White House team clearly controlled by Pence, Kushner and the rest of the Neocon crazies. To make things worse, Trump can offer the Russians absolutely nothing they would want or need.

Please don’t buy this sanctions canard. The damage these sanctions could do they have already done. The simple truth is that Russia has already survived the sanctions and come out even stronger, this is confirmed by international organizations and by the private sector. In fact, removing the sanctions right now would hurt the Russian economy far more, especially the agricultural sector, which has greatly benefited from the de-facto protectionist protection provided to the Russian economy by these sanctions. Likewise, the Russian defense industry has successfully adapted to the total severance by the Ukronazi regime of all the defense contracts with Russia and now 100% Russian military systems and parts are being produced in Russia at a cheaper price and of a higher quality. Besides, since Congress and UN Nikki have made it pretty darn clear that sanctions will remain in place until Russia agrees to return Crimea to the Ukraine, nothing will change until the current Ukraine finally breaks into three or four parts.

Trump could, in theory, offer the Russians to stop sabotaging the peace process in Syria and the Russians would surely welcome that. But since the US policy of illegal air and missile strikes combined with a deployment of US forces on the ground in Syria is failing anyway, see here and here, the Russians are going to get what they want whether the US wants it or not.

As for the Ukraine, the situation there is so bad that an increasing number of specialists are saying that even the US has lost control of Banderastan and that now it’s going to be all about intra-Ukie power plays: the social, political, military, cultural and economic disaster has reached what I would call an “escape velocity” when the various processes taking place are basically chaotic, unpredictable and unmanageable. I am personally very dubious that the Americans would have anything to offer the Russians.

How about the other way around? What could the Russians offer Trump?

Again, I am afraid that nothing much either.

Russian foreign policies are all centered around the development of a multi-polar world and Putin is now extremely busy dealing with some seriously important matters. So what can Putin offer Trump? A promise not to invade Lithuania? Trump knows that there never was any such threat to begin with. It’s not like Putin can agree to pretend not to see the constant inflow of NATO forces and equipment into eastern Europe as the latter constitute a serious threat to Russian national security. Could the Russian promise that they won’t fly over the Baltic without their transponders on? Hardly, since the first ones to switch off their transponders were the Americans. What about a Russian promise not to intercept Secretary of Defense Mattis’ civilian transport aircraft over international waters? But wait – that was the other way around, it’s NATO (a Polish F-16 actually) which intercepted Shoigu’s aircraft over the Baltic Sea during a long announced and official trip from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad (and who then ran away as soon as a Russian SU-27 showed the missiles it was carrying under it’s wings which by convention means “get the hell out of here or I shoot you down“), so its not the Russians, but the American who need to rein in their yapping poodle.

[Sidebar: I have never been a big admirer of Polish politicians, but now Poland is reaching truly historical lows in terms of cowardice, dishonor and plain stupidity; from their “war on statues“, to their idiotic accusation that the Russian ATC deliverately crashed an official Polish aircraft ( resulting from their categorical inability to accept that their own politicians gave a stupid order to their pilots) to Prime Minister Kazinsky’s war on “cyclists and vegetarians“, to the resurrection of the extremely dangerous “Three Seas” plan – Poland is constantly up to the no good and self-deafeningly stupid. But then, what are we to expect from a country which considers a character like Pilsudksi as a national hero? Sadly, Poland is repeating its worst historical mistake: the one of constantly trying to trigger a conflict between the West and Russia (apparently, history has taught them nothing). So now, the tiny Polish poodle is barking at the Russian Bear convinced that Uncle Sam and the West will protect him if the bear comes down charging. Truly, human stupidity is limitless].

I think I can guess what the Americans want: a partition of Syria, if not de jure then de facto. I don’t think that this will work. For one thing, the Americans are (yet again) overlooking the fact that the main actor in Syria is not Russia but Iran and Iran has no reason whatsoever to agree to any such partition. Neither do the Russians, of course. The only ones truly interested in a partition of Syria are,who else, the Israelis and since they are now back in charge of the White House, they are the ones pushing for this “solution”. But that is something Turkey and Iran cannot accept as this would not only create a “Wahabistan” in eastern Syria, but also some kind of Kurdistan in the north – hardly a recipe for peace. And, finally, let’s not forget the Syrians themselves. They perfectly understand that any partition of their homeland would leave them squeezed between Israel in the southwest and some kind of crazy Daesh pretend-caliphate in the northeast – why would they ever accept such a rotten and, not to mention, unsustainable deal?

For the Americans, of course, it’s the other way around: since they could not get the black flag of Daesh to fly over Damascus they see the partition of Syria as the only acceptable outcome. They will therefore oppose any peace process, especially one crafted by Russia, Iran and Turkey, with every ugly trick in their bag.

So, will the upcoming meeting yield nothing, nothing at all?

It will yield the fact that the two leaders spoke to each other, face to face. That is not unimportant. I also have some hopes for some type of ‘deconfliction’ agreements between Russia and the US/NATO (switch their bloody transponders on again!). If we can get resumption of some kind of talks between NATO and Russia it would also be a good thing, even if nothing much concrete is achieved by this. I suspect that Trump would love the ditch the Ukraine, but he can’t do that for political reasons. If the Russians can con the Americans to endorse, even just verbally, the Astana talks on Syria that would be good because it would make it marginally harder for the Pentagon and/or the CIA to engage in false flag chemical attacks or any other such nonsense. Am I missing something? Yeah, probably some kind of “cultural exchanges” (that’s when diplomats are truly desperate and have nothing else to offer) or a common plan to protect polar bears (thank God for small things all the same!).

The Russians will probably try to get Trump into agreeing to some kind of new UN Resolution on Syria, but since we all know that the US disregards UN resolutions anyway, it won’t be much of a victory, even if it will feel good for a while.

I hope I am wrong, really wrong, totally wrong even. I will be watching the (hopefully joint) press conference of Trump and Putin on Friday with a tiny leftover and paradoxical spark of hope that maybe, just maybe, Trump has something good left inside him. But I won’t be holding my breath. They say that hope dies last. Maybe. I will find out on Friday.

Originally published at unz.com

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BREXIT chaos, as May’s cabinet crumbles (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 18.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the various scenarios now facing a crumbling May government, as the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is forcing cabinet members to resign in rapid succession. The weekend ahead is fraught with uncertainty for the UK and its position within, or outside, the European Union.

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If Theresa May’s ill-fated Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is eventually rejected this could trigger a vote of no confidence, snap elections or even a new referendum…

Here are six possible scenarios facing Theresa May and the UK (via The Guardian)

1 Parliament blocks Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement and political declarations

May faces an enormous task to win parliamentary approval, given that Labour, the SNP, the DUP and 51 Tories have said they will not vote for it.

If the remaining 27 EU member states sign off the draft agreement on 25 November, the government will have to win over MPs at a crucial vote in early December.

If May loses the vote, she has 21 days to put forward a new plan. If she wins, she is safe for now.

2 May withdraws the current draft agreement

The prime minister could decide that she will not get the draft agreement through parliament and could seek to renegotiate with the EU.

This would anger Tory backbenchers and Brussels and would be seen as a humiliation for her government. It might spark a leadership contest too.

3 Extend article 50

May could ask the European council to extend article 50, giving her more time to come up with a deal that could be passed by parliament – at present, the UK will leave on 29 March 2019.

Such a request would not necessarily be granted. Some EU governments are under pressure from populist parties to get the UK out of the EU as soon as possible.

4 Conservative MPs trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister

If Conservative MPs believe May is no longer fit for office, they could trigger a no-confidence vote.

Members of the European Research Group claim that Graham Brady, the chair of the powerful 1922 Committee, will receive the necessary 48 letters this week.

A vote could be held as soon as early next week. All Tory MPs would be asked to vote for or against their leader. If May wins, she cannot be challenged for at least 12 months. If she loses, there would be a leadership contest to decide who will become prime minister.

5 General election – three possible routes

If May fails to get support for the current deal, she could call a snap general election.

She would table a parliamentary vote for a general election that would have to be passed by two thirds of MPs. She would then set an election date, which could be by the end of January.

This is an unlikely option. May’s political credibility was severely damaged when she called a snap election in 2017, leading to the loss of the Conservative party’s majority.

Alternatively, a general election could be called if a simple majority of MPs vote that they have no confidence in the government. Seven Tory MPs, or all of the DUP MPs, would have to turn against the government for it to lose the vote, triggering a two-week cooling-off period. May would remain in office while MPs negotiate a new government.

Another route to a general election would be for the government to repeal or amend the Fixed-term Parliaments Act which creates a five-year period between general elections. A new act would have to be passed through both the Commons and the Lords – an unlikely scenario.

6 Second referendum

May could decide it is impossible to find a possible draft deal that will be approved by parliament and go for a people’s vote.

The meaningful vote could be amended to allow MPs to vote on whether the country holds a second referendum. It is unclear whether enough MPs would back a second referendum and May has ruled it out.

 

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Brexit Withdrawal Agreement may lead to Theresa May’s downfall (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou

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The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been published and as many predicted, including Nigel Farage, the document is leading to the collapse of Theresa May’s government.

During an interview with iTV’s Piers Morgan, remain’s Alistair Campell and leave’s Nigel Farage, were calling May’s Brexit deal a complete disaster.

Via iTV

Alastair Campbell: “This doesn’t do remotely what was offered…what is the point”

“Parliament is at an impasse”

“We have to go back to the people” …”remain has to be on the ballot paper”

Nigel Farage:

“This is the worst deal in history. We are giving away in excess of 40B pounds in return for precisely nothing. Trapped still inside the European Union’s rulebook.

“Nothing has been achieved.”

“In any negotiation in life…the other side need to know that you are serious about walking away.”

“What monsieur Barnier knew from day one, is that at no point did Theresa May intend to walk away.”

“Fundamental matter of trust to the electors of our country and those who govern us.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and why the deal is a full on victory for the European Union and a document of subjugation for the United Kingdom.

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Coming in at 585 pages, the draft agreement will be closely scrutinized over the coming days but here are some of the highlights as outlined by Zerohedge

  • UK and EU to use the best endeavours to supersede Ireland protocol by 2020
  • UK can request extension of the transition period any time before July 1st, 2020
  • EU, UK See Level-Playing Field Measures in Future Relationship
  • Transition period may be extended once up to date yet to be specified in the text
  • EU and UK shall establish single customs territory and Northern Ireland is in same customs territory as Great Britain

The future relationship document is less than seven pages long. It says the U.K. and EU are seeking a free-trade area with cooperation on customs and rules: “Comprehensive arrangements creating a free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition.”

The wording might raise concerns among Brexiters who don’t want regulatory cooperation and the measures on fair competition could amount to shackling the U.K. to EU rules.

As Bloomberg’s Emma Ross-Thomas writes, “There’s a clear sense in the documents that we’re heading for a customs union in all but name. Firstly via the Irish backstop, and then via the future relationship.”

Separately, a government summary of the draft agreement suggests role for parliament in deciding whether to extend the transition or to move in to the backstop.

But perhaps most importantly, regarding the controversial issue of the Irish border, the future relationship document says both sides aim to replace the so-called backstop – the thorniest issue in the negotiations – with a “subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.”

On this topic, recall that the U.K.’s fear was of being locked into the backstop arrangement indefinitely in the absence of a broader trade deal. The draft agreement includes a review process to try to give reassurance that the backstop would never be needed. Basically, the U.K. could choose to seek an extension to the transition period – where rules stay the same as they are currently – or opt to trigger the backstop conditions. In fact, as Bloomberg notes, the word “backstop,” which has been a sticking point over the Irish border for weeks, is mentioned only once in the text.

As Bloomberg further adds, the withdrawal agreement makes clear that the U.K. will remain in a single customs area with the EU until there’s a solution reached on the Irish border. It’s what Brexiteers hate, because it makes it more difficult for the U.K. to sign its own free-trade deals, which they regard as a key prize of Brexit.

Predictably, EU Commission President Juncker said decisive progress has been made in negotiations.

Meanwhile, as analysts comb over the documents, Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, has already written to Conservative lawmakers urging them to vote against the deal. He says:

  • May is handing over money for “little or nothing in return”
  • The agreement treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the U.K.
  • It will “lock” the U.K. into a customs union with the EU
  • It breaks the Tory election manifesto of 2017

The full document…

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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