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NATO’s Summit in Warsaw and US Aggressiveness

NATO’s aggressive actions at the Warsaw Summit continue a pattern of US aggressive behaviour towards Russia.

Eric Zuesse

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Submitted by Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

All NATO leaders are meeting together at a crucial July 8th-9th Summit meeting in Warsaw, to agree regarding what to do to Russia, about which U.S. General Philip Breedlove, then the Supreme Commander of NATO, said earlier this year

“Russia has chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat to the United States and to our European allies and partners.”

The main purpose of this meeting will be to achieve unity on the Russian problem. It will be difficult to do. The 28 member nations are not, and have not been, unified on the matter. The U.S. is seeking a more aggressive stand.

Did you know that in 2004, the U.S. itself had already crossed the nuclear red line against Russia, by nuclear missiles right on Russia’s border, even worse than, in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet dictatorship had threatened to cross America’s nuclear red line, by the Soviets’ plan at that time to place nuclear missiles there 90 miles from the U.S. border? And did you know that, finally, in 2016, Russia is being surrounded so hostilely by the U.S., that their President Vladimir Putin is now issuing vague threats that Russia will strike before the U.S.? (The second side to launch its missiles will likely receive the lesser amount of damage in the resulting nuclear exchange — who strikes first will largely determine the ‘winner’ of any World War III.)

Instead of the U.S. government’s and press’s “Duck and cover!” and build-your-bombshelters campaigns in 1962, the people who are terrified this time around are actually the Russians; but, would you know about this widespread fear in Russia, from the ‘reporting’ in the U.S. ’news’ media? It’s not being reported. And it won’t be the topic at NATO, because NATO is the alliance against Russia, not against America.

The international aristocracy, which own more than half of the world’s wealth, own especially the newsmedia, and so the facts that they’re the most inclined to hide from their public (besides how untrustworthy they are), are the facts that are the most important to hide by the international corporations (including corporations such as Lockheed Martin), which also are owned by them, and which advertise the most in the newsmedia. Thus, foreign affairs is the topic that receives the most-distorted, the most propagandistic, ‘news’ coverage of all, in fake ‘democracies’ such as today’s U.S.

America’s hyper-aggressive foreign policy is not actually designed to protect the American public (such as the ‘Defense’ Department and its millions of military contractors say), but to further enrich America’s billionaires, by conquering the world’s most-resource-rich nation, Russia (starting by ousting foreign leaders who are friendly toward Russia, such as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddaffi, Viktor Yanukovych, and Bashar al-Assad), as a consequence of which ‘domino-war’ against Russia, the only international poll that was ever done on the question of “Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?” produced the remarkable and little-publicized finding, that overwhelmingly the nation which is considered worldwide to be the most dangerous of all, is the United States. This was an open-ended question, and the 67,806 global respondents who answered it, named many different countries as being the “greatest threat,” but the clear #1 there was the U.S., named by 24%; #2 was Pakistan, named by 8%; #3 was China, named by 6% — and the nation that U.S. President Barack Obama identifies as being the world’s most dangerous country, Russia, was #12 on that list, with only 2% of global respondents naming it. Is this because the foreign press are underplaying how aggressive Russia is? Or is it instead because the U.S. press are overplaying how peaceful the U.S. is, and are also overplaying how aggressive Russia is?

Back in early 1990, when the last President of the Soviet Union and the first President of the post-Soviet independent nation of Russia, Mikhail Gorbachev, was negotiating, with the representatives of U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush, the terms for the USSR and its military alliance of the Warsaw Pact to come to an end (the supposed end of the Cold War, which ended only on Russia’s side, but actually continued on and has now become a hot war against Russia on the U.S. side), Gorbachev was assured that NATO would not move “one inch to the east”, and so Gorbachev thought that the U.S. was satisfied that communism and the Warsaw Pact would be terminating, and that the U.S. would therefore henceforth cease its “Cold War” against the now-rump, remaining, post-Soviet nation, Russia, and there would really be peace between the two countries, at last. That’s why Gorbachev agreed to do it — to end the Cold War. But as soon as he committed himself, Bush told his people not to follow through on the promise that they all had just made on Bush’s behalf. Bringing his agents together privately at Camp David on 24-25 February 1990, Bush told his people, “To hell with that! We prevailed, they didn’t.” They followed through on that instruction from him, even though it made liars of them all.

And, Bush’s successor Bill Clinton followed through likewise on that double-cross of Gorbachev, by ending Clinton’s own Presidency with admitting Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, into NATO, in 1999 (at around the same time as he was ending FDR’s AFDC protections of poor children, and FDR’s Glass-Steagall protections of the public taxpayers so they wouldn’t be charged to reimburse Wall Street gambling-losses in the event of an economic crash (such as did occur in 2008) — Clinton became the anti-FDR ‘Democratic’ President). But that NATO act of Clinton didn’t cross Russia’s nuclear red line, it only caused then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s military to draft a policy saying that if the Baltic republics — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, right on Russia’s border and under ten minutes missile-striking time away from Moscow — were ever to become admitted into NATO, Russia should launch its missiles (not wait for the U.S. to do so first, from so nearby, which would eliminate Russia’s missiles faster than Russia’s missiles could even be launched at all).

On 29 March 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush crossed the Russian military’s nuclear red line, by admitting into NATO: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Bush the son was at that time crossing Russia’s red line — and then some.

Here is an account (translated from the Russian) that a highly respected Russian journalist, Aleksandr Lyasko, provided, regarding what Russian President Yeltsin’s military, in the Fall of 1995 (after Clinton started the process of admitting his three nations into NATO), had advised Yeltsin to be established as Russia’s nuclear red line that must not be crossed by NATO (the U.S.):

“The military department’s next sensational idea involves dramatic action in connection with NATO’s expansion. As regards Poland and the other countries of Eastern Europe, Russia is currently unable to stop this process by force. However, the plan [“I learned from reliable sources that some time ago the General Staff completed its formulation of a version of Russia’s new defense doctrine”] presupposes that if NATO agrees to admit the Baltic Republics [right on Russia’s border: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania], Russian Federation armed forces will immediately be moved into Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Any attempt by NATO to stop this will be viewed by Russia as the prelude to a nuclear world catastrophe. …

According to the high-ranking General Staff officer, the preliminary outlines of the defense doctrine formulated by General Grachev’s department have been cautiously approved by the minister himself and his first deputy and constitute the military’s response to the lack of any consistent policy by the Foreign Ministry and presidential structures on questions of military security. According to some of Grachev’s statements following his talks with Yeltsin in Sochi, the army is ready to begin erecting a nuclear shield over the besieged fortress, which is how it sees Russia. … The authors of the draft by no means lack allies in the Duma and within the Kremlin Walls.”

That report had the additional imprimatur of its having been cited as an authority on Russian policy, by Zbigniew Brzezinski, a key (and passionately anti-Russian) foreign-policy advisor to U.S. Presidents Carter, Clinton, and Obama. (Brzezinski’s family, when he was a boy, were Polish nobility who became dispossessed by the Russians, and he hated Russians ever after.)

However, Vladimir Putin was now the Russian President who needed to make the final decision as to whether to launch World War III. He decided not to. That’s why we’re all here today, even reading this. But NATO says that Russia is the problem.

U.S. President Barack Obama came into office in 2009 with no clear indication that he was intending to intensify Russia’s isolation, by removing from office even more of the few remaining Russia-friendly leaders of nations. Just like Clinton had waited till his second term before making clear his actual conservatism, Obama had gone so far as to mock his 2012 re-election opponent Mitt Romney for having said, during the 2012 campaign

“Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe. They – they fight every cause for the world’s worst actors. … Russia is the – the geopolitical foe.”

Romney said this after having heard from Wolf Blitzer on CNN, that Obama had just then privately told Putin’s agent Dmitry Medvedev, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” Obama told Putin (via Medvedev) this in the context of Putin’s objections against the continued expansions of NATO, and against the threat, by several recent U.S. Presidents, to position in those NATO nations a U.S. missile system that would be able to neutralize or eliminate Russia’s ability to strike back against a blitz nuclear attack from the U.S.: it’s called the anti ballistic missile or ballistic missile defense (ABM or BMD) system. Obama was privately telling Putin: Don’t worry, we’re not trying to conquer Russia.

Obama fooled everyone (not only his voters). Actually, at that very moment, Obama was already well into his plan to remove from power the Russia-allied leader of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, and was very soon to organize, starting by no later than 1 March 2013 in the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, the overthrow of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych — whose country has the longest border with Russia of any European country (and which country has been called by Brzezinski the most important steppingstone to defeating Russia).

And then, when Obama carried out his Ukrainian coup in February 2014 (almost a year after his starting to organize the coup in the U.S. Embassy there), Putin responded to that by allowing the people of Crimea — who had voted nearly 80% for the man Obama had just overthrown — to re-enter as being part of Russia, of which Crimea had been a part until the Soviet dictator in 1954 transferred Crimea from Russia to Ukraine.

For Putin’s doing this, Obama slapped economic sanctions against Russia, and then sicced the NATO dogs against Russia, by quadrupling U.S. weapons and soldiers on Russia’s borders, in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania, and by starting the installation of the “Aegis Ashore” ABM/BMD system, which Putin had warned Obama not to install.

Now, after the coup in Ukraine, the approval-rating of the post-coup President is even lower than the approval-rating of the pre-coup one was (and even lower than that if the separatist regions, Crimea and Donbass — both of which had voted heavily for the President whom Obama overthrew — had been included in the polling: those regions would have given Obama’s Ukrainian government a near-0% approval-rating).

The global poll that had asked people “Which country do you think is the greatest threat to peace in the world today?” and that found 24% of people worldwide were saying the U.S. was, had been taken only months before the coup in Ukraine; and, in Ukraine, 33% said “U.S.” and only 5% said “Russia.” The massive bloodshed there after Obama’s coup can only be confirming Ukrainians’ opinion. But America’s ‘news’ media blame it on Russia.

And that’s the Russian problem, which NATO will be meeting to resolve.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  Christ’s Ventriloquists: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Airline wars heat up, as industry undergoes massive disruption (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 145.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the global commercial airline industry, which is undergoing massive changes, as competition creeps in from Russia and China.

Reuters reports that Boeing Co’s legal troubles grew as a new lawsuit accused the company of defrauding shareholders by concealing safety deficiencies in its 737 MAX planes before two fatal crashes led to their worldwide grounding.

The proposed class action filed in Chicago federal court seeks damages for alleged securities fraud violations, after Boeing’s market value tumbled by $34 billion within two weeks of the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX.

*****

According to the complaint, Boeing “effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty” by rushing the 737 MAX to market to compete with Airbus SE, while leaving out “extra” or “optional” features designed to prevent the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes.

It also said Boeing’s statements about its growth prospects and the 737 MAX were undermined by its alleged conflict of interest from retaining broad authority from federal regulators to assess the plane’s safety.

*****

Boeing said on Tuesday that aircraft orders in the first quarter fell to 95 from 180 a year earlier, with no orders for the 737 MAX following the worldwide grounding.

On April 5, it said it planned to cut monthly 737 production to 42 planes from 52, and was making progress on a 737 MAX software update to prevent further accidents.

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Via Zerohedge…

Step aside (fading) trade war with China: there is a new aggressor – at least according to the US Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer – in town.

In a statement on the USTR’s website published late on Monday, the US fair trade agency announced that under Section 301 of the Trade Act, it was proposing a list of EU products to be covered by additional duties. And as justification for the incremental import taxes, the USTR said that it was in response to EU aircraft subsidies, specifically to Europea’s aerospace giant, Airbus, which “have caused adverse effects to the United States” and which the USTR estimates cause $11 billion in harm to the US each year

One can’t help but notice that the latest shot across the bow in the simmering trade war with Europe comes as i) Trump is reportedly preparing to fold in his trade war with China, punting enforcement to whoever is president in 2025, and ii) comes just as Boeing has found itself scrambling to preserve orders as the world has put its orderbook for Boeing 737 MAX airplanes on hold, which prompted Boeing to cut 737 production by 20% on Friday.

While the first may be purely a coincidence, the second – which is expected to not only slam Boeing’s financials for Q1 and Q2, but may also adversely impact US GDP – had at least some impact on the decision to proceed with these tariffs at this moment.

We now await Europe’s angry response to what is Trump’s latest salvo in what is once again a global trade war. And, paradoxically, we also expect this news to send stocks blasting higher as, taking a page from the US-China trade book, every day algos will price in imminent “US-European trade deal optimism.”

Below the full statement from the USTR (link):

USTR Proposes Products for Tariff Countermeasures in Response to Harm Caused by EU Aircraft Subsidies

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has found repeatedly that European Union (EU) subsidies to Airbus have caused adverse effects to the United States.  Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) begins its process under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to identify products of the EU to which additional duties may be applied until the EU removes those subsidies.

USTR is releasing for public comment a preliminary list of EU products to be covered by additional duties.  USTR estimates the harm from the EU subsidies as $11 billion in trade each year.  The amount is subject to an arbitration at the WTO, the result of which is expected to be issued this summer.

“This case has been in litigation for 14 years, and the time has come for action. The Administration is preparing to respond immediately when the WTO issues its finding on the value of U.S. countermeasures,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.  “Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft.  When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional U.S. duties imposed in response can be lifted.”

In line with U.S. law, the preliminary list contains a number of products in the civil aviation sector, including Airbus aircraft.  Once the WTO arbitrator issues its report on the value of countermeasures, USTR will announce a final product list covering a level of trade commensurate with the adverse effects determined to exist.

Background

After many years of seeking unsuccessfully to convince the EU and four of its member States (France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom) to cease their subsidization of Airbus, the United States brought a WTO challenge to EU subsidies in 2004. In 2011, the WTO found that the EU provided Airbus $18 billion in subsidized financing from 1968 to 2006.  In particular, the WTO found that European “launch aid” subsidies were instrumental in permitting Airbus to launch every model of its large civil aircraft, causing Boeing to lose sales of more than 300 aircraft and market share throughout the world.

In response, the EU removed two minor subsidies, but left most of them unchanged.  The EU also granted Airbus more than $5 billion in new subsidized “launch aid” financing for the A350 XWB.  The United States requested establishment of a compliance panel in March 2012 to address the EU’s failure to remove its old subsidies, as well as the new subsidies and their adverse effects.  That process came to a close with the issuance of an appellate report in May 2018 finding that EU subsidies to high-value, twin-aisle aircraft have caused serious prejudice to U.S. interests.  The report found that billions of dollars in launch aid to the A350 XWB and A380 cause significant lost sales to Boeing 787 and 747 aircraft, as well as lost market share for Boeing very large aircraft in the EU, Australia, China, Korea, Singapore, and UAE markets.

Based on the appellate report, the United States requested authority to impose countermeasures worth $11.2 billion per year, commensurate with the adverse effects caused by EU subsidies.  The EU challenged that estimate, and a WTO arbitrator is currently evaluating those claims

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Mueller report takes ‘Russian meddling’ for granted, offers no actual evidence

RT

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Via RT…


Special counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ report has cleared Donald Trump of ‘collusion’ charges but maintains that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. Yet concrete evidence of that is nowhere to be seen.

The report by Mueller and his team, made public on Thursday by the US Department of Justice, exonerates not just Trump but all Americans of any “collusion” with Russia, “obliterating” the Russiagate conspiracy theory, as journalist Glenn Greenwald put it.

However, it asserts that Russian “interference” in the election did happen, and says it consisted of a campaign on social media as well as Russian military intelligence (repeatedly referred to by its old, Soviet-era name, GRU) “hacking” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the DNC, and the private email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

As evidence of this, the report basically offers nothing but Mueller’s indictment of “GRU agents,” delivered on the eve of the Helsinki Summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in what was surely a cosmic coincidence.

Indictments are not evidence, however, but allegations. Any time it looks like the report might be bringing up proof, it ends up being redacted, ostensibly to protect sources and methods, and out of concern it might cause “harm to an ongoing matter.”

‘Active measures’ on social media

Mueller’s report leads with the claim that the Internet Research Agency (IRA) ran an “active measures” campaign of social media influence. Citing Facebook and Twitter estimates, the report says this consisted of 470 Facebook accounts that made 80,000 posts that may have been seen by up to 126 million people, between January 2015 and August 2017 (almost a year after the election), and 3,814 Twitter accounts that “may have been” in contact with about 1.4 million people.

Those numbers may seem substantial but, as investigative journalist Gareth Porter pointed out in November 2018, they should be regarded against the background of 33 trillion Facebook posts made during the same period.

According to Mueller, the IRA mind-controlled the American electorate by spending “approximately $100,000” on Facebook ads, hiring someone to walk around New York City “dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask,” and getting Trump campaign affiliates to promote “dozens of tweets, posts, and other political content created by the IRA.” Dozens!

Meanwhile, the key evidence against IRA’s alleged boss Evgeny Prigozhin is that he “appeared together in public photographs” with Putin.

Alleged hacking & release

The report claims that the GRU hacked their way into 29 DCCC computers and another 30 DNC computers, and downloaded data using software called “X-Tunnel.” It is unclear how Mueller’s investigators claim to know this, as the report makes no mention of them or FBI actually examining DNC or DCCC computers. Presumably they took the word of CrowdStrike, the Democrats’ private contractor, for it.

However obtained, the documents were published first through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 – which the report claims are “fictitious online personas” created by the GRU – and later through WikiLeaks. What is Mueller’s proof that these two entities were “GRU” cutouts? In a word, this:

That the Guccifer 2.0 persona provided reporters access to a restricted portion of the DCLeaks website tends to indicate that both personas were operated by the same or a closely-related group of people.(p. 43)

However, the report acknowledges that the “first known contact” between Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks was on September 15, 2016 – months after the DNC and DCCC documents were published! Here we do get actual evidence: direct messages on Twitter obtained by investigators. Behold, these “spies” are so good, they don’t even talk – and when they do, they use unsecured channels.

Mueller notably claims “it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks” (the rest of that sentence is redacted), but the report clearly implies the investigators do not actually know how. On page 47, the report says Mueller “cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.”

Strangely, the report accuses WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange of making “public statements apparently designed to obscure the source” of the materials (p.48), notably the offer of a reward for finding the murderer of DNC staffer Seth Rich – even though this can be read as corroborating the intermediaries theory, and Assange never actually said Rich was his source.

The rest of Mueller’s report goes on to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with anyone even remotely Russian and to create torturous constructions that the president had “obstructed” justice by basically defending himself from charges of being a Russian agent – neither of which resulted in any indictments, however. But the central premise that the 22-month investigation, breathless media coverage, and the 448-page report are based on – that Russia somehow meddled in the 2016 election – remains unproven.

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Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote.

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington’s claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but “all options are on the table.” Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly ten times as much on “defense.”

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a “foreign terrorist organization” and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 per cent of the American people.

A current bill originally entitled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019,” is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will “…require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world’s best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as “…comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.”

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today’s Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” Menendez noted that “President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress” while Graham added that “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.” Cardin contributed “Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad” and Shaheen observed that “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order.”

The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as “foreign terrorist organizations” is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

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