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NORTH KOREA: A threat and an olive branch to the US

A great deal now depends on how carefully the US reads the North Korean statement and how much it is willing to trust China, Russia and South Korea.

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On the day after South Korean President Moon Jae-in made a strong statement indicating his wish to see “no more war” on the Korean peninsula, North Korean media outlet KCNA released a lengthy statement regarding the stand-off with the US. The tone of the statement is confident and patriotic, but crucially it is one which offers the US a would-be ‘escape clause’ from any actual confrontation. In many ways it is as if North Korea is claiming victory in what thus far as been limited to a highly tense war of words.

The entire statement is reproduced below with the section where Pyongyang offers the United States the ‘escape clause’ highlighted in bold.

“Respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un inspected the Command of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) on Aug. 14.

He waved back to enthusiastically cheering service members and posed for a picture with them.

He went round historical mementoes and data displayed at the Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism Study Hall.

Going round them, he looked back with deep emotion on the great leadership feats of the brilliant commanders of Mt. Paektu, recorded on every page of the history of the KPA Strategic Force displaying its might with the strength unprecedented in the world as a powerful strike service, symbolic of the dignity and power of Korea.

Then he listened to General Kim Rak Gyom’s decision on the Strategic Force’s plan for an enveloping fire at Guam at the command post.

He examined the plan for a long time and discussed it with the commanding officers in real earnest.

He praised the KPA Strategic Force for drawing up a close and careful plan as planned and intended by the Party and examined the firing preparations for power demonstration.

After listening to the commander of the Strategic Force that it is waiting for the order of the Party Central Committee after rounding off the preparations for the enveloping fire at Guam, he said with great satisfaction that the spirit of Hwasong artillerymen is very high and he was freshly determined, seeing by himself the combat preparedness and the sky-high spirit of the Hwasong artillerymen of the large combined unit.

He said that the U.S. imperialists caught the noose around their necks due to their reckless military confrontation racket, adding that he would watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees spending a hard time of every minute of their miserable lot.

He said that he wants to advise the U.S., which is driving the situation on the Korean peninsula into the touch-and-go situation, running helter-skelter, to take into full account gains and losses with clear head whether the prevailing situation is more unfavorable for any party.

In order to defuse the tensions and prevent the dangerous military conflict on the Korean peninsula, it is necessary for the U.S. to make a proper option first and show it through action, as it committed provocations after introducing huge nuclear strategic equipment into the vicinity of the peninsula, he said, adding that the U.S. should stop at once arrogant provocations against the DPRK and unilateral demands and not provoke it any longer.

He said that if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity, testing the self-restraint of the DPRK, the latter will make an important decision as it already declared, warning the U.S. that it should think reasonably and judge properly not to suffer shame that it is hit by the DPRK again.

He said that if the planned fire of power demonstration is carried out as the U.S. is going more reckless, it will be the most delightful historic moment when the Hwasong artillerymen will wring the windpipes of the Yankees and point daggers at their necks, underlining the need to be always ready for launching to go into action anytime once our Party decides.

Looking round a military training school and gymnasium, he called for firmly establishing Juche in education and steadily improving the quality of military training and thus preparing all the artillerymen of the large combined units to be fighters capable of waging campaign of brains, who perfectly mastered the modern military science and technology, the enemy’s changed war methods and Korean-style war methods against them.

He underscored the need to certainly establish the system of reeducating commanding officers and technicians of the Strategic Force in line with the modernization and upgrading of ballistic rockets.

Going round the supply service facilities of the large combined unit including the dining hall of sub-unit, he took warm care of the solders’ life as their real father would do.

He enjoyed a performance given by the art squad of the large combined unit at the solders hall.

He expressed satisfaction over the good performance given by members of the art squad through numbers vividly representing the operational mission and features of the Strategic Force and desire, thoughts and feelings of the Hwasong artillerymen, and gave precious teachings for performance.

The Strategic Force has a very important position and duty in carrying out the strategic plans of the Workers’ Party of Korea, he said, stressing the need for the Strategic Force to firmly establish the monolithic leadership system, command and management system of the Supreme Commander over the nuclear force and further complete the Juche-oriented rocket strike methods.

Giving teachings of great trust that he remains confident thanks to the KPA Strategic Force, reliable treasured sword guaranteeing the everlasting future of the country and nation, he expressed expectation and belief that all the officers and men of the Strategic Force would bring about a fresh turn in rounding off combat preparations, bearing in mind the important mission they have assumed before the Party, the country and the people.

The officers and men of the KPA Strategic Force, who received great trust from him, were firmly determined to score the final victory in the standoff with the U.S. by scorching with super strong strike the targets in south Korea, Japan, operational area in the Pacific and the U.S. mainland, flying the sacred red flags of the Party and flags of the supreme commander at every matchless launching pad once he gives an order.

Accompanying him were KPA Vice Marshal Hwang Pyong So, director of the KPA General Political Bureau, and Kim Jong Sik, vice department director of the C.C., the Workers’ Party of Korea”.

At first glace, the statement would appear to be a further threat to the United States as it confirms that North Korea is ready and able to strike at the US territory of Guam. However, on closer inspection, the statement, in spite of its dramatic language, actually presents the United States with an opportunity to withdraw from its own military plans to strike North Korea, plans which the US has stated in terms as explicit as North Korea and return to a dialogue based peace process which is advocated by China, Russia, South Korea and also Philippines.

The United States, particularly under Donald Trump, will almost certainly be unwilling to de-escalate the crisis without its own face-saving dramatic rhetoric on the subject.  However, events from June and July of 2017 do attest to the fact that under certain conditions, the Trump administration is able to engage in a geo-political climb-down while still affording Trump the much coveted ‘victory lap’ designed for domestic consumption.

Just over a week prior to Donald Trump’s scheduled meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, the United States through Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley threatened Syria with preemptive military action for a chemical weapons attack that never happened and objectively never could happen.

The entire story vanished once Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin agreed to jointly enforce a ceasefire in a new de-escalation zone in south western Syria, along with Jordan.

Thus the Trump administration went from a position of seemingly inevitable strikes against Syrian Arab Republic targets to a position in where the US became integrated into a largely Russian authored Syrian peace process.

There exists the possibility that the Trump administration could now do something similar in respect of North Korea. After weeks of dramatic threats, could it now be possible for the US to agree on the commencing of  multi-party talks between Pyongyang, Seoul, Beijing and Moscow?

It is entirely possible, but there remains a possibility that if the seemingly inexperienced Trump administration misreads the North Korean statement as a fully-fledged new threat, things could continue to de-escalate.

It all depends on how much America is willing to read between the lines of Pyongyang’s statement and how much America is wiling to do in East Asia what it did in southern Syria, namely, surrender the initiative to parties whose knowledge, experience and vested interests in the conflict is more relevant and more informed than that of the United States.

 

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Putin Keeps Cool and Averts WWIII as Israeli-French Gamble in Syria Backfires Spectacularly

Putin vowed that Russia would take extra precautions to protect its troops in Syria, saying these will be “the steps that everyone will notice.”

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Authored by Robert Bridge via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


By initiating an attack on the Syrian province of Latakia, home to the Russia-operated Khmeimim Air Base, Israel, France and the United States certainly understood they were flirting with disaster. Yet they went ahead with the operation anyways.

On the pretext that Iran was preparing to deliver a shipment of weapon production systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israeli F-16s, backed by French missile launches in the Mediterranean, destroyed what is alleged to have been a Syrian Army ammunition depot.

What happened next is already well established: a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft, which the Israeli fighter jets had reportedly used for cover, was shot down by an S-200 surface-to-air missile system operated by the Syrian Army. Fifteen Russian servicemen perished in the incident, which could have been avoided had Israel provided more than just one-minute warning before the attack. As a result, chaos ensued.

Whether or not there is any truth to the claim that Iran was preparing to deliver weapon-making systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon is practically a moot point based on flawed logic. Conducting an attack against an ammunition depot in Syria – in the vicinity of Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base – to protect Israel doesn’t make much sense when the consequence of such “protective measures” could have been a conflagration on the scale of World War III. That would have been an unacceptable price to achieve such a limited objective, which could have been better accomplished with the assistance of Russia, as opposed to NATO-member France, for example. In any case, there is a so-called “de-confliction system” in place between Israel and Russia designed to prevent exactly this sort of episode from occurring.

And then there is the matter of the timing of the French-Israeli incursion.

Just hours before Israeli jets pounded the suspect Syrian ammunition storehouse, Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan were in Sochi hammering out the details on a plan to reduce civilian casualties as Russian and Syrian forces plan to retake Idlib province, the last remaining terrorist stronghold in the country. The plan envisioned the creation of a demilitarized buffer zone between government and rebel forces, with observatory units to enforce the agreement. In other words, it is designed to prevent exactly what Western observers have been fretting about, and that is unnecessary ‘collateral damage.’

So what do France and Israel do after a relative peace is declared, and an effective measure for reducing casualties? The cynically attack Syria, thus exposing those same Syrian civilians to the dangers of military conflict that Western capitals proclaim to be worried about.

Israel moves to ‘damage control’

Although Israel has taken the rare move of acknowledging its involvement in the Syrian attack, even expressing “sorrow” for the loss of Russian life, it insists that Damascus should be held responsible for the tragedy. That is a highly debatable argument.

By virtue of the fact that the French and Israeli forces were teaming up to attack the territory of a sovereign nation, thus forcing Syria to respond in self-defense, it is rather obvious where ultimate blame for the downed Russian plane lies.

“The blame for the downing of the Russian plane and the deaths of its crew members lies squarely on the Israeli side,” Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said. “The actions of the Israeli military were not in keeping with the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership, so we reserve the right to respond.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, took admirable efforts to prevent the blame game from reaching the boiling point, telling reporters that the downing of the Russian aircraft was the result of “a chain of tragic circumstances, because the Israeli plane didn’t shoot down our jet.”

Nevertheless, following this extremely tempered and reserved remark, Putin vowed that Russia would take extra precautions to protect its troops in Syria, saying these will be “the steps that everyone will notice.”

Now there is much consternation in Israel that the IDF will soon find its freedom to conduct operations against targets in Syria greatly impaired. That’s because Russia, having just suffered a ‘friendly-fire’ incident from its own antiquated S-200 system, may now be more open to the idea of providing Syria with the more advanced S-300 air-defense system.

Earlier this year, Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached an agreement that prevented those advanced defensive weapons from being employed in the Syrian theater. That deal is now in serious jeopardy. In addition to other defensive measures, Russia could effectively create the conditions for a veritable no-fly zone across Western Syria in that it would simply become too risky for foreign aircraft to venture into the zone.

The entire situation, which certainly did not go off as planned, has forced Israel into damage control as they attempt to prevent their Russian counterparts from effectively shutting down Syria’s western border.

On Thursday, Israeli Major-General Amikam Norkin and Brigadier General Erez Maisel, as well as officers of the Intelligence and Operations directorates of the Israeli air force will pay an official visit to Moscow where they are expected to repeat their concerns of “continuous Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to the Hezbollah terror organization and to establish an Iranian military presence in Syria.”

Moscow will certainly be asking their Israeli partners if it is justifiable to subject Russian servicemen to unacceptable levels of danger, up to and including death, in order to defend Israeli interests. It remains to be seen if the two sides can find, through the fog of war, an honest method for bringing an end to the Syria conflict, which would go far at relieving Israel’s concerns of Iranian influence in the region.

 

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This Man’s Incredible Story Proves Why Due Process Matters In The Kavanaugh Case

Accused of rape by a fellow student, Brian Banks accepted a plea deal and went to prison on his 18th birthday. Years later he was exonerated.

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Authored by James Miller of The Political Insider:


Somewhere between the creation of the Magna Carta and now, leftists have forgotten why due process matters; and in some cases, such as that of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, they choose to outright ignore the judicial and civil rights put in place by the U.S. Constitution.

In this age of social media justice mobs, the accused are often convicted in the court of (liberal) public opinion long before any substantial evidence emerges to warrant an investigation or trial. This is certainly true for Kavanaugh. His accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, cannot recall the date of the alleged assault and has no supporting witnesses, yet law professors are ready to ruin his entire life and career. Not because they genuinely believe he’s guilty, but because he’s a pro-life Trump nominee for the Supreme Court.

It goes without saying: to “sink Kavanaugh even if” Ford’s allegation is untrue is unethical, unconstitutional, and undemocratic. He has a right to due process, and before liberals sharpen their pitchforks any further they would do well to remember what happened to Brian Banks.

In the summer of 2002, Banks was a highly recruited 16-year-old linebacker at Polytechnic High School in California with plans to play football on a full scholarship to the University of Southern California. However, those plans were destroyed when Banks’s classmate, Wanetta Gibson, claimed that Banks had dragged her into a stairway at their high school and raped her.

Gibson’s claim was false, but it was Banks’s word against hers. Banks had two options: go to trial and risk spending 41 years-to-life in prison, or take a plea deal that included five years in prison, five years probation, and registering as a sex offender. Banks accepted the plea deal under the counsel of his lawyer, who told him that he stood no chance at trial because the all-white jury would “automatically assume” he was guilty because he was a “big, black teenager.”

Gibson and her mother subsequently sued the Long Beach Unified School District and won a $1.5 million settlement. It wasn’t until nearly a decade later, long after Banks’s promising football career had already been tanked, that Gibson admitted she’d fabricated the entire story.

Following Gibson’s confession, Banks was exonerated with the help of the California Innocence Project. Hopeful to get his life back on track, he played for Las Vegas Locomotives of the now-defunct United Football League in 2012 and signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2013. But while Banks finally received justice, he will never get back the years or the prospective pro football career that Gibson selfishly stole from him.

Banks’ story is timely, and it serves as a powerful warning to anyone too eager to condemn those accused of sexual assault. In fact, a film about Banks’s ordeal, Brian Banks, is set to premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival next week.

Perhaps all the #MeToo Hollywood elites and their liberal friends should attend the screening – and keep Kavanaugh in their minds as they watch.

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Clinton-Yeltsin docs shine a light on why Deep State hates Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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Bill Clinton and America ruled over Russia and Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Yeltsin showed little love for Russia and more interest in keeping power, and pleasing the oligarchs around him.

Then came Vladimir Putin, and everything changed.

Nearly 600 pages of memos and transcripts, documenting personal exchanges and telephone conversations between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, were made public by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dating from January 1993 to December 1999, the documents provide a historical account of a time when US relations with Russia were at their best, as Russia was at its weakest.

On September 8, 1999, weeks after promoting the head of the Russia’s top intelligence agency to the post of prime minister, Russian President Boris Yeltsin took a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The new prime minister was unknown, rising to the top of the Federal Security Service only a year earlier.

Yeltsin wanted to reassure Clinton that Vladimir Putin was a “solid man.”

Yeltsin told Clinton….

“I would like to tell you about him so you will know what kind of man he is.”

“I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the nearly 600 pages of transcripts documenting the calls and personal conversations between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, released last month. A strong Clinton and a very weak Yeltsin underscore a warm and friendly relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Then Vladimir Putin came along and decided to lift Russia out of the abyss, and things changed.

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Here are five must-read Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges from with the 600 pages released by the Clinton Library.

Via RT

Clinton sends ‘his people’ to get Yeltsin elected

Amid unceasing allegations of nefarious Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, the Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges reveal how the US government threw its full weight behind Boris – in Russian parliamentary elections as well as for the 1996 reelection campaign, which he approached with 1-digit ratings.

For example, a transcript from 1993 details how Clinton offered to help Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by selectively using US foreign aid to shore up support for the Russian leader’s political allies.

“What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?” a concerned Clinton asked.

Yeltsin liked the idea, replying that “this kind of regional support would be very useful.” Clinton then promised to have “his people” follow up on the plan.

In another exchange, Yeltsin asks his US counterpart for a bit of financial help ahead of the 1996 presidential election: “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion,” he said. Yeltsin added that he needed the money in order to pay pensions and government wages – obligations which, if left unfulfilled, would have likely led to his political ruin. Yeltsin also asks Clinton if he could “use his influence” to increase the size of an IMF loan to assist him during his re-election campaign.

Yeltsin questions NATO expansion

The future of NATO was still an open question in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin provide an illuminating backdrop to the current state of the curiously offensive ‘defensive alliance’ (spoiler alert: it expanded right up to Russia’s border).

In 1995, Yeltsin told Clinton that NATO expansion would lead to “humiliation” for Russia, noting that many Russians were fearful of the possibility that the alliance could encircle their country.

“It’s a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? They ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this?” Yeltsin asked Clinton.

As the documents show, Yeltsin insisted that Russia had “no claims on other countries,” adding that it was “unacceptable” that the US was conducting naval drills near Crimea.

“It is as if we were training people in Cuba. How would you feel?” Yeltsin asked. The Russian leader then proposed a “gentleman’s agreement” that no former Soviet republics would join NATO.

Clinton refused the offer, saying: “I can’t make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO. I’ve always tried to build you up and never undermine you.”

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia turns Russia against the West

Although Clinton and Yeltsin enjoyed friendly relations, NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia tempered Moscow’s enthusiastic partnership with the West.

“Our people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO,” the Russian president told Clinton in March 1999. “I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that.”

Yeltsin urged Clinton to renounce the strikes, for the sake of “our relationship” and “peace in Europe.”

“It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons,” Yeltsin reminded his US counterpart.

But Clinton wouldn’t cede ground.

“Milosevic is still a communist dictator and he would like to destroy the alliance that Russia has built up with the US and Europe and essentially destroy the whole movement of your region toward democracy and go back to ethnic alliances. We cannot allow him to dictate our future,” Clinton told Yeltsin.

Yeltsin asks US to ‘give Europe to Russia’

One exchange that has been making the rounds on Twitter appears to show Yeltsin requesting that Europe be “given” to Russia during a meeting in Istanbul in 1999. However, it’s not quite what it seems.

“I ask you one thing,” Yeltsin says, addressing Clinton. “Just give Europe to Russia. The US is not in Europe. Europe should be in the business of Europeans.”

However, the request is slightly less sinister than it sounds when put into context: The two leaders were discussing missile defense, and Yeltsin was arguing that Russia – not the US – would be a more suitable guarantor of Europe’s security.

“We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles,” Yeltsin told Clinton.

Clinton on Putin: ‘He’s very smart’

Perhaps one of the most interesting exchanges takes place when Yeltsin announces to Clinton his successor, Vladimir Putin.

In a conversation with Clinton from September 1999, Yeltsin describes Putin as “a solid man,” adding: “I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

A month later, Clinton asks Yeltsin who will win the Russian presidential election.

“Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He’s a democrat, and he knows the West.”

“He’s very smart,” Clinton remarks.

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