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NATO Wants To End Russia’s Independence – Not Just Prolong its Own Existence

Statements by Western leaders clearly show they are driven by an ideology of Western “exceptionalism” which is why they seek to confront Russia.

Alexander Mercouris




Seth Farris has recently written an interesting and insightful piece for The Duran discussing NATO policy towards Russia. 

In it he argues that the confrontational line NATO is taking towards Russia is driven by NATO’s need to justify its existence.   Since the USSR collapsed, the argument goes, NATO has lapsed into pointlessness and therefore seeks a confrontation with its old Cold War enemy Russia to persuade the European public of the need for its continued existence.

In making this argument Seth Farris makes strong and valid points.  However this argument in my opinion suffers from the fundamental flaw of all arguments that look for rational and pragmatic explanations for US and Western policies.  This is that there is in fact little about the policies that is either pragmatic or rational, and that on the contrary the facts point to current Western ideology providing the reason for the West’s actions.

The starting point in any discussion of Western policy should be what Western leaders actually say.    This point should be obvious but it is too often overlooked.  If one takes this approach then it becomes immediately obvious that US and Western leaders never say anything even in private or to each other that even remotely hints at the essentially bureaucratic reasons for their actions that Seth Farris discusses.  

Is there anything else to suggest Western leaders are nonetheless motivated by the sort of concerns Seth Farris discusses even though they never express them?

I have to say that the answer seems to me to be no. I get no sense Western leaders are worried about NATO or that they feel they have a need to justify its existence to the European public.  To the extent the European public worries about NATO, it has always seemed to me that those worries get fanned by a NATO confrontation with Russia rather than by a policy of friendly co-existence with it.

That has been the consistent pattern since the Second World War, for example during the Berlin crisis of 1961, during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, in response to NATO plans to deploy cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe in the 1980s, during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, and most recently during the Ukrainian crisis when European opinion opposed the sending of arms supplies by the US and NATO during the fighting in the winter of 2014-2015.

Recent opinion polls – which have caused great alarm in NATO circles – tend to bear this out.  They show majorities in most European countries opposing their countries going to war with Russia to defend other NATO partners, with the majority opposed in Germany (the key state) being as high as 57%.

That points to a policy of calming tensions in Europe as the best way to perpetuate NATO, rather than one of cranking them up.

It is NATO’s doubts about the unity of the European public’s support for NATO in the  event of a confrontation with Russia rather than a plan to mobilise European opinion behind NATO by conjuring up a threat from Russia such as Seth Farris discusses that in my opinion explains the current hysteria over the Baltic States.

The Baltic States present NATO with an insoluble problem.  By admitting them into NATO NATO committed itself to defending them in case of invasion by Russia.  Tiny and unable to defend themselves, their location on the Russian border and at the very edge of NATO’s eastern fringe where Russian power is overwhelming they are however militarily undefendable.  To compound the trouble the relentlessly anti Russian policies of their governments and their discriminatory policies towards their own Russian speaking populations not only provokes Russia but make NATO’s defence of them potentially unattractive.

Realistically, if Russia were to invade the Baltic States there would be nothing NATO militarily could do short of threatening Russia with a world war to defend them.  A world war with Russia to defend another NATO country is however precisely what opinion polls show the European public is most adamantly opposed to.  Abandoning the Baltic States to their fate would however cancel NATO’s treaty commitment to defend its members, threatening the whole alliance with collapse.

The hysteria over the Baltic States is not therefore because NATO leaders want to whip up fears of Russian aggression.  It is because they know the guarantee NATO has given them is a bluff, and one which as relations with Russia deteriorate they increasingly fear might be called.  The ineffective steps they have taken, which Seth Farris discusses, merely emphasise the point.

If maintaining good relations with Russia, not seeking confrontation with Russia, is the best way to preserve NATO, why do US and Western leaders constantly seek confrontation with it?  Why have they pursued so relentlessly policies of NATO and EU expansion which can only provoke Russia?

The answer is to be found in what Western leaders – especially US leaders – say and in the vast literature their media and think-tanks produce.

Time and again when Western leaders talk about Russia they explain the West’s dispute with Russia in terms of “values”.  Supposedly it is because Russia does not share the West’s “values” that the West is in confrontation with it.

As to what those “values” are, Western leaders – especially US leaders – are never shy about that: they are the set of ideas that taken together form the liberal Atlanticist late capitalist consensus that now rules the West.

These ideas combine post modern post Christian anti religious ultra liberal social ideas and policies of a sort rejected by most people in the West just a generation ago – but which the West now insists are mandatory for all its members – with a set of economic ideas and policies which are sometimes called “laissez faire” or “neo-classical” or even “neo-liberal” but which in reality are best described as essentially oligarchic.

A key point to understand about these “values” is that the West simultaneously considers them its property and demands they be accepted by everyone else as universal.  The West and especially the US thereby give themselves the right to impose them on everyone else.

What that means in practice is – since the US is by far the most powerful Western state – that when Western leaders talk about Western “values” what they are actually talking about is US power.

It is because Russia refuses to subordinate itself to US power but insists on following its own course both in its foreign and domestic policies that the Western powers challenge it.  For them any state that insists on going its own way is denying the universal reach of their power and ideology, which for them is unacceptable and represents a challenge they cannot tolerate. 


That is why the West and Russia are in confrontation with each other.  The fact Russia also happens to be a very large and very powerful country in de facto alliance with China – the main challenger to the US led order – is what lends this conflict its urgency.

Obviously in such a conflict bureaucratic self-interest of the sort discussed by Seth Farris plays a role.  However one should not give this factor undue weight.  Ultimately this is a conflict which is ideological and geopolitical not bureaucratic.

Russia’s very existence as an independent state is what is at stake.  This is an existential issue, not one to be seen as a byproduct of a bureaucratic conflict.  It is dangerous to be complacent about it



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



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



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.



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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