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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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Macron cuts ski holiday short, vowing crack down on Yellow Vests (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 109.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the 18th consecutive week of Yellow Vests protests in Paris. Following last weeks lower participation, Saturday’s Yellow Vests in Paris gathered larger crowds, with various outbreaks of violence and rioting that has been blamed on extreme elements, who French authorities claim have infiltrated the movement.

“Act XVIII” of the protests has shown that the Yellow Vests have not given up. France’s Champs-Élysées boulevard was where most of the violence occurred, with the street being left in a pile of broken glass and flames.

One day after Paris was set ablaze, French President Emmanuel Macron cut his ski holiday short, returning to Paris and vowing to take “strong decisions” to prevent more violence.

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Via Zerohedge


Paris awoke on Sunday to smouldering fires, broken windows and looted stores following the 18th consecutive Saturday of Yellow Vest protests.

Around 200 people were arrested according to BFM TV, while about 80 shops near the iconic Champs Elysees had been damaged and/or looted according to AFP, citing Champs Elysees committee president Jean-Noel Reinhardt.

The 373-year-old Saint Sulpice Roman Catholic church was set on fire while people were inside, however nobody was injured. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

The riots were so severe that French President Emmanuel Macron cut short a vacation at the La Mongie ski resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées following a three-day tour of East Africa which took him to Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Macron skied on Friday, telling La Depeche du Midi “I’m going to spend two-three days here to relax, to find landscapes and friendly faces,” adding “I’m happy to see the Pyrenees like that, radiant, although I know it was more difficult at Christmas” referring to the lack of snow in December.

In response to Saturday’s violence, Macron said over Twitter that “strong decisions” were coming to prevent more violence.

Macron said some individuals — dubbed “black blocs” by French police forces — were taking advantage of the protests by the Yellow Vest grassroots movement to “damage the Republic, to break, to destroy.” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that those who excused or encouraged such violence were complicit in it. –Bloomberg

The French President has family ties in the Hautes-Pyrénées, including Bagnères de Bigorre where his grandmother lived. He is a regular visitor to the region.

Emmanuel Macron (2ndL), head of the political movement In Marche! (Onwards!) And candidate for the 2017 presidential election, and his wife Brigitte Trogneux (L) have lunch April 12, 2017 (Reuters)

 

 

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Vesti calls out Pompeo on lying about Russia invading Ukraine [Video]

Secretary Pompeo displayed either stunning ignorance or a mass-attack of propaganda about what must be the most invisible war in history.

Seraphim Hanisch

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After the 2014 Maidan revolution and the subsequent secessions of Lugansk and Donetsk in Ukraine, and after the rejoining of Crimea with its original nation of Russia, the Western media went on a campaign to prove the Russia is (/ was / was about to / had already / might / was thinking about / was planning to … etc.) invade Ukraine. For the next year or so, about every two weeks, internet news sources like Yahoo! News showed viewers pictures of tanks, box trucks and convoys to “prove” that the invasion was underway (or any of the other statuses confirming the possibilities above stated.) This information was doubtless provided to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Apparently, Secretary Pompeo believed this ruse, or is being paid to believe this ruse because in a speech recently, he talked about it as fact:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine an attempt to gain access to Ukraine’s oil and gas reserves.

He stated this at IHS Markit’s CERAWeek conference in Houston, the USA, Reuters reports.

Pompeo urged the oil industry to work with the Trump administration to promote U.S. foreign policy interests, especially in Asia and in Europe, and to punish what he called “bad actors” on the world stage.

The United States has imposed harsh sanctions in the past several months on two major world oil producers, Venezuela and Iran.

Pompeo said the U.S. oil-and-gas export boom had given the United States the ability to meet energy demand once satisfied by its geopolitical rivals.

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the Nord Stream 2 project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said, referring to a natural gas pipeline expansion from Russia to Central Europe.

Pompeo called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine an attempt to gain access to the country’s oil and gas reserves.

Although the state-run news agency Vesti News often comes under criticism for rather reckless, or at least, extremely sarcastic propaganda at times, here they rightly nailed Mr. Pompeo’s lies to the wall and billboarded it on their program:

The news anchors even made a wisecrack about one of the political figures, Konstantin Zatulin saying as a joke that Russia plans to invade the United States to get its oil. They further noted that Secretary Pompeo is uneducated about the region and situation, but they offered him the chance to come to Russia and learn the correct information about what is going on.

To wit, Russia has not invaded Ukraine at all. There is no evidence to support such a claim, while there IS evidence to show that the West is actively interfering with Russia through the use of Ukraine as a proxyWhile this runs counter to the American narrative, it is simply the truth. Ukraine appears to be the victim of its own ambitions at this point, for while the US tantalizes the leadership of the country and even interferes with the Orthodox Church in the region, the country lurches towards a presidential election with three very poor candidates, most notably the one who is president there now, Petro Poroshenko.

However, the oil and gas side of the anti-Russian propaganda operation by the US is significant. The US wishes for Europe to buy gas from American suppliers, even though this is woefully inconvenient and expensive when Russia is literally at Europe’s doorstep with easy supplies. However, the Cold War Party in the United States, which still has a significant hold on US policy making categorizes the sale of Russia gas to powers like NATO ally Germany as a “threat” to European security.

It is interesting that Angela Merkel herself does not hold this line of thinking. It is also interesting and worthy of note, that this is not the only NATO member that is dealing more and more with Russia in terms of business. It underscores the loss of purpose that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization suffers now since there is no Soviet Union to fight.

However, the US remains undaunted. If there is no enemy to fight, the Americans feel that they must create one, and Russia has been the main scapegoat for American power ambitions. More than ever now, this tactic appears to be the one in use for determining the US stance towards other powers in the world.

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Ariel Cohen explains Washington’s latest foreign policy strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

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While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

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