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The mainstream media that cried wolf: how the liberal elite let Trump off the hook for foreign policy blunders

Now that Trump appears to be off the rails or otherwise out of his depth, the world needs a whistleblower to tell the truth about the Trump administration. Mainstream media reports cannot be relied upon as such sources have lost all credibility by crying wolf over Trump before he even entered the White House.

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Donald Trump has confirmed what has cryptic “calm before the storm” remark meant, after he and other administration figures previously refused to clarify what Trump was referring to after a recent meeting with top military figures.

According to Trump, when asked by Fox what he meant, the US President replied that he was referring to North Korea. This puts into question the received wisdom that Trump was implying US preparations to withdraw from the JCPOA (Iran deal), although further provocations against both Pyongyang and Tehran may still be equally on the cards.

Indeed, during a recent interview with RT (not available on line), I was asked what I believe the chances are that Trump is actually planning to withdraw from the JCPOA. I replied that because received wisdom throughout the world is that Trump is planning to de-certify the deal, my own view is that chances for withdrawal are “50/50”.

I explained that Trump’s much vaunted “element of surprise” tactic means that he often throws curve balls at the general public and apparently foreign governments as well. The particular JCPOA threat has united China, Russia, Iran, Germany, France, Britain and many EU states, including Austria, in a firm, and very public defence of the deal. Specifically, Austria seeks to guarantee that the deal holds among its other signatories, in the event of a Trump withdrawal.

Austria says JCPOA (Iran deal) will remain even if US withdraws

Whether Trump is banking on an ‘element of surprise’, his administration is as chaotic as it would appear at face value, or a combination of both, is at this stage, a moot point. There is a difference between creating suspense on a reality tv series and irresponsible government. In respect of his foreign policy statements, Trump has certainly crossed the line into the territory of deeply irresponsible government, even if his remarks are a calculated act of self-defined genius.

Recently, I compared and more poignantly contrasted Donald Trump’s apparently “moronic” (to quote an alleged statement by Rex Tillerson) statements with Richard Nixon’s calculated ‘mad man theory’. I noted,

“Richard Nixon was many things, but he was certainly not a “moron”. He may have been the most intelligent US President of the 20th century. One of Nixon’s ploys was known as the mad man theory. According to this theory, which was often put into practice by the Nixon White House, statements that Nixon had apparently made indicating his willingness to use extreme force, including nuclear weapons, even in the seemingly most mundane situations, were purposefully leaked to foreign powers.

Dovetailing onto the idea of mutually assured destruction, Nixon’s mad man image was said to force other powers to the negotiating table, for fear that anything less would mean a Nixon pressing the nuclear button.

While the mad man theory defies the laws of ethics and of transparency, it is a classic case of extreme brinkmanship that was common during the Cold War and which Nixon mastered so much that he actually managed to achieve both detente with the Soviet Union as well as opening up western diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

Many have proffered the idea that Donald Trump’s public image as a trigger happy leader with no real knowledge of world affairs, is a giant bluff in order to try and bring others to the table. While it is not beyond the realm of the possible that Donald Trump’s objectively idiotic remarks on world affairs, his threatening rhetoric and apparent disorderly administration are in fact contrived measures designed to scare others into some sort of negotiating, this theory, even if true, is highly misguided.

During the Nixon era, it was clear what the United States wanted from the powers which the ‘mad man theory’ was tested upon. In respect of Donald Trump, apart from levying more sanctions on Iran, something that would infuriate America’s EU allies, there is little else that Trump could achieve apart from provoking Iran into war which even many in the Pentagon admit would be a disaster.

In respect of North Korea, brinkmanship has already failed. The more the US threatens Pyongyang with war and the more unilateral sanctions the US passes, the more North Korea retorts with further threats and with further weapons tests. China has already made clear that it will not allow a preemptive US led attack on North Korea and Pyongyang for its part, is always careful to temper its threats with statements indicating that North Korea would never be the first to strike against the US or allied target. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also warned the US that the North Koreans would rather “eat grass” than surrender to the United States. Where the Iraqi army ran away during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, North Korea would likely fight to the death, with every weapon and man at its disposal.

As for America’s proxy wars directly primarily against China but also Russia, there is also little that a “moron theory” could do other than entrench the Sino-Russian alliance more so than it already is.

To put it bluntly, while the “moron theory” may work on certain domestic issues, it is not, has not and almost certainly will not work in foreign affairs”.

3 reasons why Donald Trump is defying world opinion over Iran

Indeed, if Trump is issuing “moronic” statements on purpose, it not only serves no clear purpose for the US when dealing with countries on the other side of international geo-politics vis-a-vis the US (Russia, China, Iran, DPRK, Syria), but it is also fully alienating former allies including Pakistan, Turkey and possibly even Saudi Arabia.

As for typically stalwart allies, Trump’s Iran rhetoric is exposing a clear schism between the EU (including the pro-Israel British regime) and Tel Aviv. If Trump is bluffing about withdrawing from the JCPOA, Israel will feel that it was being publicly led on and consequently humiliated. Inversely, if Trump pulls out of the JCPOA, almost all of Europe will be entirely against him and may even work with Iran in a move to shelter Tehran from the effects of an American decision that would represent almost total isolation in terms of global opinion. I personally do not believe that the EU or Israel have anything remotely close to an ethical nor moral foreign policy, but in terms of how to treat allies, Trump’s rhetoric is a textbook example of how to lose trust among close allies. That being said, a schism between the EU and Israel would be a breath of fresh air for the multi-polar world. The fact however remains, that the US is still more powerful than a united Europe and thus, Iran may ultimately care more about what comes out of Washington than Brussels and Berlin.

So barring, a poorly thought out “moron theory”, what if Rex Tillerson said what he is reported to have said and what if he was correct?

A recent report in Vanity Fair suggests that not only is Trump a “moron”, but that he is literally losing his cool and even losing his mind.

The report in question states,

“At first it sounded like hyperbole, the escalation of a Twitter war. But now it’s clear that Bob Corker’s remarkable New York Times interview—in which the Republican senator described the White House as “adult day care” and warned Trump could start World War III—was an inflection point in the Trump presidency. It brought into the open what several people close to the president have recently told me in private: that Trump is “unstable,” “losing a step,” and “unraveling.”

The conversation among some of the president’s longtime confidantes, along with the character of some of the leaks emerging from the White House has shifted. There’s a new level of concern. NBC News published a report that Trump shocked his national security team when he called for a nearly tenfold increase in the country’s nuclear arsenal during a briefing this summer. One Trump adviser confirmed to me it was after this meeting disbanded that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron.”

In recent days, I spoke with a half dozen prominent Republicans and Trump advisers, and they all describe a White House in crisis as advisers struggle to contain a president who seems to be increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods. Trump’s ire is being fueled by his stalled legislative agenda and, to a surprising degree, by his decision last month to back the losing candidate Luther Strange in the Alabama Republican primary. “Alabama was a huge blow to his psyche,” a person close to Trump said. “He saw the cult of personality was broken.”

According to two sources familiar with the conversation, Trump vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” (A White House official denies this.) Two senior Republican officials said Chief of Staff John Kelly is miserable in his job and is remaining out of a sense of duty to keep Trump from making some sort of disastrous decision. Today, speculation about Kelly’s future increased after Politico reported that Kelly’s deputy Kirstjen Nielsen is likely to be named Homeland Security Secretary—the theory among some Republicans is that Kelly wanted to give her a soft landing before his departure.

One former official even speculated that Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have discussed what they would do in the event Trump ordered a nuclear first strike. “Would they tackle him?” the person said. Even Trump’s most loyal backers are sowing public doubts. This morning, The Washington Post quoted longtime Trump friend Tom Barrack saying he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by Trump’s behavior.

While Kelly can’t control Trump’s tweets, he is doing his best to physically sequester the president—much to Trump’s frustration. One major G.O.P. donor told me access to Trump has been cut off, and his outside calls to the White House switchboard aren’t put through to the Oval Office. Earlier this week, I reported on Kelly’s plans to prevent Trump from mingling with guests at Mar-a-Lago later this month. And, according to two sources, Keith Schiller quit last month after Kelly told Schiller he needed permission to speak to the president and wanted written reports of their conversations”.

If these reports are true, it is a clear indication that Trump truly is unfit for office (not that there are any realistically good replacements to hand). The problem is that, Vanity Fair, like all mainstream media outlets, simply cannot be trusted. The sources for the damning report on Trump could either be fake, massaged to fit a narrative or taken out of context. The fact that such reports cannot be trusted is no one’s fault but the mainstream media outlets themselves.

Prior to Trump entering office and while Trump was still expressing desires to engage in detente with Russia, pull out of Afghanistan and not hinder Syria’s war against jihadist terrorism, the mainstream media were still out for Trump’s throat and the evident bias in pieces that were supposedly reportage, meant that the mainstream media rendered their entire output to being nothing more than thinly veiled opinion pieces on Trump, which were unethically disguised as factual reportage.

Of course there is nothing wrong with instinctively thinking Trump is crazy, or stupid, even without direct evidence, but as ethnics dictates, the mainstream media should have said ‘this is our opinion’. Instead they acted as though they were proffering fact.

The truth was then as it is now, that the mainstream media is more focused on style than on substance. Before Trump had any policy making track record, the mainstream media damned him because those in charge of CNN, NBC, BBC, CBS, NYT and WaPo don’t like a man who eats fast food, has a sense of humour and says words like “pussy” to acquaintances. I personally don’t care about any of that, I care about issues of war and peace and Trump was certainly more inclined towards peace than Hillary Clinton, whose blood soaked track record and her pride in such a thing, was uniquely disgusting.

Now though, Trump’s policy statements have become little more than declarations of aggression and some would say that in the case of North Korea, all out declarations of war. But where responsible journalists should be asking whether Trump is crazy, stupid, a bit of  both, or simply playing a Nixonian game without the Nixonian panache or clearly defined goals, instead we simply get more of the same: conclusions based on preexisting biases.

From the likes of NBC, there are just more anonymous leaks indicating that Trump’s team thinks he is stupid. From his political rivals such as Bob Corker we get legitimate criticism, but criticism which is ultimately still opinion that preaches to a choir. Even beyond mainstream media, from Steve Bannon’s Breitbart there is little more than conjecture about a ‘political revolution’ being needed to ‘unleash Trump’ and from InfoWars, there is little more than hyperbolic name calling. It’s a desert of information.

What is needed is a genuine whistleblower to get verified information out to journalists. The seemingly ‘on the edge’ nature of the Trump administration begs for someone to do what Snowden did to the NSA, Manning did to the US military and what Seymour Hersh did in respect of the My Lai Massacre.

The problem is that Barack Obama has made life so difficult for genuine whistleblowers, that many seem to have conducted a cost-benefit analysis and in so doing have decided that unverified sources, combined with making things up as one goes along, is just as good as the truth.

The fact is that it is not good enough. Furthermore, when such an attitude coalesces with a mainstream media crying wolf over Trump, there is a clouding of any real discourse over just what is going on in an administration that appears to be in the hands of generals who alternatively answer to and answer for a President who is totally off the rails.

The mainstream media, in lambasting Trump over style, has made any objective reporting on Trump’s actual state of mind, impossible…that is unless a whistleblower comes forward with raw, unfettered facts.

Because the mainstream media made Trump’s presidency about personality, Trump can mouth-off about war without the level of criticism being turned up any louder than when he was caught saying “pussy” in 2005. He won the “pussygate” battle and now has carte blanche to provoke North Korea, Iran, Russia, China and Syria without facing any meaningful scrutiny from the loudest media voices in the United States.  Such a shameful lack of priorities, is mainstream media’s cross to bear, so long as Trump is in office and maybe even beyond.

In some ways, the best thing that could happen, short of a whistleblower coming forward, would be for Rex Tillerson, a seemingly sane non-military voice from within the administration, to come clean. It might mean losing his job, but if he really did call Trump a moron, his job is probably on thin ice anyway, as many have indicated. Again, this is a calculated risk as Tillerson’s sane voice is needed, but if it is being ignored, there is little point in him sticking around.

In short:

Dear Secretary Tillerson, 

Did you call Trump a moron and if so, please tell us just how genuinely moronic he is. World peace may depend on having such information to hand. 

Kind regards, 

Everyone who has lost trust in mainstream media.

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Rod Rosenstein resigns from his post before President Trump can fire him

Rosenstein’s comments about secretly recording the President backfire, and resignation may throw the Mueller Russiagate probe into question.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Washington Times broke the story that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein resigned from his post. He submitted his resignation to Chief of Staff John Kelly.  At present the breaking story says the following:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is out at the Department of Justice.

Axios reported that Mr. Rosenstein verbally resigned to White House Chief Of Staff John Kelly, but CNN said that he is expecting to be fired.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Department of Justice spokeswoman, declined to comment on the reports.

Mr. Rosenstein’s departure immediately throws Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe into chaos.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, leaving Mr. Rosenstein in charge.

President Trump mulled firing the No. 2 at the Department of Justice over the weekend.

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This report came after Fox News reported that the Deputy AG was summoned to the White House. Fox reported a little more detail:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is heading to the White House expecting to be fired, sources tell Fox News, in the wake of a report that he suggested wearing a wire against President Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office last year.

This is a developing story, however one major factor that comes under consideration is the fate of Robert Mueller and his Russiagate investigation, which was authorized by Rosenstein. CNBC had this to say in their piece:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is resigning Monday, according to Axios, which cited a source familiar with the matter.

NBC News’ Pete Williams, however, reported that Rosenstein would not resign of his own accord, and that he will only depart if the White House fired him. He will refuse to resign if asked to do so, Williams added.

Rosenstein was at the White House when Williams reported this on the air. However, President Donald Trump is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

Bloomberg later reported that the White House accepted Rosenstein’s resignation, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Rosenstein’s expected resignation will immediately raise questions about the fate of the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

Rosenstein’s job security was called into question after The New York Times reported last week that the No. 2 DOJ official had discussed invoking the 25th amendment to remove Trump, and had also talked about surreptitiously recording the president.

Rosenstein oversees the special counsel investigation, and has appointed Mueller to run the Russia probe last year, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the case.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment on the report.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Axios’ report. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s inquiry.

Trump has repeatedly blasted Mueller’s inquiry, which also is focused on possible collusion with Russia by members of the Trump campaign.

He has called the investigation a “witch hunt,” and has repeatedly vented frustration about Sessions’ recusal, which directly led to Mueller’s appointment by Rosenstein.

Rosenstein’s expected departure comes on the heels of a guilty plea by Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort to conspiracy charges related to his consulting work in Ukraine, which predates his role on the campaign.

As part of the investigation, Mueller’s team has been locked in an ongoing back-and-forth with Trump’s legal team over an in-person interview with the president.

Trump’s lawyers, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have signaled that Trump is unwilling to sit for an interview, calling it a “perjury trap” and setting up a potential challenge for Mueller to subpoena the president.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

 

 

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European Council crushes Theresa May’s soft Brexit dream (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May hoped that the European Council was ready to see things her way, in terms of proceeding with a soft Brexit, which was essentially no Brexit at all…at least not the hard Brexit that was voted on in a democratic referendum approximately two years ago.

Much to May’s surprise, European Council President Donald Tusk delivered a death blow verdict for May’s Brexit, noting that EU leaders are in full agreement that Chequers plan for Brexit “will not work” because “it risks undermining the single market.”

Without a miracle compromise springing up come during the October summit, the UK will drift into the March 29, 2019 deadline without a deal and out of the European Union…which was initially what was voted for way back in 2016, leaving everyone asking, what the hell was May doing wasting Britain’s time and resources for two years, so as to return back to the hard Brexit terms she was charged with carrying forward after the 2016 referendum?

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss what was a disastrous EU summit in Salzburg for UK PM Theresa May, in what looks to be the final nail in May’s tenure as UK Prime Minister, as a hard Brexit now seems all but certain.

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Via Zerohedge

Tusk was speaking at the end of an EU summit in Salzburg, where the leaders of the 27 remaining states in the bloc were discussing Brexit. He said that while there were “positive elements” in May’s Chequers plan, a deal that puts the single market at risk cannot be accepted.

“Everybody shared the view that while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, the suggested framework for economic co-operation will not work, not least because it is undermining the single market,” Tusk said. He also said that he could not “exclude” the possibility that the UK could exit the EU in March with no deal.

May has been urging her European counterparts to accept her controversial Chequers plan which has split both the Conservative party and the broader UK population after it was thrashed out back in July. However, despite the painfully-slow negotiation process, which appears to have made little headway with just a few months left, the UK is set to leave the EU on March 29 2019 – with or without an exit deal.

The main sticking point that has emerged, and left May and the EU at loggerheads, has been how to avoid new checks on the Irish border. May has claimed that her proposals were the “only serious, credible” way to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. She said during a press conference after the Salzburg meeting that she would not accept the EU’s “backstop” plan to avoid a Northern Ireland hard border. She said the UK would shortly be bringing forward its own proposals.

May also said that there was “a lot of hard work to be done,” adding that the UK was also preparing for the eventuality of having to leave the EU without a deal. Tusk, meanwhile, said that the upcoming October summit would be the “moment of truth” for reaching a deal, and that “if the conditions are there” another summit would be held in November to “formalize” it.

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Russia makes HUGE strides in drone technology

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The US and Israel are universally recognized leaders in the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Thousands of American and Israeli UAVs are operating across the world daily.

The US military has recently successfully tested an air-to-air missile to turn its MQ-9 Reaper drone into an effective long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance unmanned spy aircraft capable of air-to-surface as well as air-to-air missions. This is a major breakthrough. It’s not a secret that Russia has been lagging behind in UAV development. Now its seems to be going to change with tangible progress made to narrow the gap.

Very few nations boast drones capable of high-altitude long endurance (HALE) missions. Russia is to enter the club of the chosen. In late 2017, the Russian Defense Ministry awarded a HALE UAV contract to the Kazan-based Simonov design bureau.

This month, Russian Zvezda military news TV channel showed a video (below) of Altair (Altius) heavy drone prototype aircraft number “03”, going through its first flight test.

Propelled by two RED A03/V12 500hp high fuel efficiency diesel engines, each producing a capacity of 500 hp on takeoff, the 5-ton heavy vehicle with a wingspan of 28.5 meters boasts a maximum altitude of 12km and a range of 10,000km at a cruising speed of 150-250km/h.

Wingspan: about 30 meters. Maximum speed: up to 950 km/h. Flight endurance: 48 hours. Payload: two tons, which allows the creation of a strike version. The vehicle is able to autonomously take off and land or be guided by an operator from the ground.

The UAV can carry the usual range of optical and thermal sensors as well as synthetic-aperture ground-surveillance radar with the resolution of .1 meter at the range of 35km and 1 meter at the range of 125km. The communications equipment allows real-time data exchange.

Russia’s UAV program currently underway includes the development of a range of large, small, and mid-sized drones. The Orion-E medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV was unveiled at the MAKS 2017 air show. Its developer, Kronstadt Technologies, claims it could be modified for strike missions. The one-ton drone is going through testing now. The Orion-E is capable of automatic takeoff and landing.

It can fly continuously for 24 hours, carrying a surveillance payload of up to 200 kg to include a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) turret, synthetic aperture radar and high resolution cameras. The drone can reach a maximum altitude of 7,500 m. Its range is 250 km.

The Sukhoi design bureau is currently developing the Okhotnik (Hunter) strike drone with a range of about 3,500km. The drone made its maiden flight this year. In its current capacity, it has an anti-radar coating, and will store missiles and precision-guided bombs internally to avoid radar detection.

The Kazan-based Eniks Design Bureau is working on the small T-16 weaponized aerial vehicle able to carry 6 kg of payload.

The new Russian Korsar (Corsair) tactical surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will be upgraded to receive an electronic warfare system. Its operational range will be increased from 150km to 250km. The drone was revealed at Victory Day military parade along with the Korsar unmanned combat helicopter version.

The rotary wing drone lacks the speed and altitude of the fixed wing variant, but has a great advantage of being able to operate without landing strips and can be sea-based. Both drones can carry guided and unguided munitions. The fixed-wing version can be armed with Ataka 9M120 missiles.

The first Russian helicopter-type unmanned aerial vehicle powered by hydrogen fuel cells was presented at the Army-2018 international forum. With the horizontal cruising speed of the drone up to 60 kph, the unmanned chopper can stay in the air at least 2.5 hours to conduct reconnaissance operations. Its payload is up to 5 kg.

Last November, the Kalashnikov Concern reported that it would start production of heavy unmanned aerial vehicles capable of carrying up to several tons of cargo and operating for several days at a time without needing to recharge.

All in all, the Russian military operate 1,900 drones on a daily basis. The multi-purpose Orlan-10 with a range of 600km has become a working horse that no military operation, including combat actions in Syria, can be conducted without. Maj. Gen. Alexander Novikov,
the head of the Russian General Staff’s Office for UAV Development, Russian drones performed over 23,000 flights, lasting 140,000 hours in total.

Russia’s State Armament Program for 2018-2027 puts the creation of armed UAVs at the top of priorities’ list. Looks like the effort begins to pay off. Russia is well on the way to become second to none in UAV capability.

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Via Strategic Culture

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