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The NYT’s latest Russiagate story on George Papadopoulos is not believable. Here’s why

Attempt to distance Russiagate investigation from discredited Trump Dossier fails on Papadopoulos’s inherent unreliability as a witness

Alexander Mercouris

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As confidence in Robert Mueller’s investigation crumbles there have been the inevitable leaks intended to suggest that the Russiagate investigation is still on track and that despite the increasing appearances to the contrary there is actually some reality to the case it is investigating.

The leaks take the form of claims that Mueller is planning to issue a “supplemental indictment” of Paul Manafort supposedly fleshing out the tax evasion and money laundering claims he has brought against him, and more information about the strange case of George Papadopoulos.

I will not take up time discussing the ‘supplemental indictment’ against Paul Manafort.  The case against Paul Manafort does not touch on the collusion allegations which are the focus of the Russiagate affair, and by all accounts the new ‘supplemental indictment’ will not change that.

What the fact that Mueller is now preparing a ‘supplemental indictment’ against Manafort shows is that what I and many others have said previously is true: the original indictment against Manafort was rushed and unprepared, probably because it was rushed out to counter criticism of Mueller which was appearing in the Wall Street Journal.

Of much more interest is the new information which has been published about George Papadopoulos.  The information appears in an article in the New York Times which reads in part as follows

During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.

Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.

This information has clearly been published in order to counter the increasingly widely circulating claim that it was the Trump Dossier which triggered the Russiagate investigation.

This is made absolutely clear by the following paragraphs in the New York Times article

The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired…..

The hacking and the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign may have had inside information about it were driving factors that led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia’s attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump’s associates conspired.

The information that Mr. Papadopoulos gave to the Australians answers one of the lingering mysteries of the past year: What so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign months before the presidential election?

It was not, as Mr. Trump and other politicians have alleged, a dossier compiled by a former British spy hired by a rival campaign. Instead, it was firsthand information from one of America’s closest intelligence allies.

Is this however really so?

The drunken bragging of a twenty eight year old man in a London bar presumably with attractive young women present is not usually considered grounds to initiate a top secret investigation resulting in the secret surveillance of people against whom no other evidence of wrongdoing exists.

The known timeline of the Russiagate inquiry anyway strongly argues against this claim

The DNC emails were published by Wikileaks on 22nd July 2016.  The FBI launched the Russiagate inquiry in late July 2016, probably after the DNC emails were published.

This was however after the FBI had interviewed Christopher Steele, the compiler of the Trump Dossier, in early July 2016.  The Trump Dossier’s first two entries are dated 20th June 2016 and 19th July 2016 – ie. before publication of the DNC emails – and it is likely that before the FBI launched the Russiagate inquiry in late July 2016 it had seen them.

The New York Times says that the FBI received the information about Papadopoulos’s bragging in front of the Australian High Commissioner after the DNC emails were published.  However the FBI did not actually interview Papadopoulos until 27th January 2017.

What seems to have happened is that after the Russiagate inquiry was launched the FBI went through all the information it received which might touch on the inquiry.  At some point the Australian High Commissioner’s report about Papadopoulos’s bragging in May 2016 in the London bar came up and a decision was taken to interview him.

However – contrary to what the New York Times says – the FBI cannot have accorded this any great importance since though the Russiagate inquiry was launched at the end of July 2016 the FBI did not interview Papadopoulos until 27th January 2017 ie. six months later.

That makes it all but inconceivable that it was – as the New York Times claims – the report from Australia about what Papadopoulos said in the presence of the Australian High Commissioner in the London bar rather than the Trump Dossier which triggered the Russiagate inquiry.

As it happens the rest of the New York Times article, though outlining at fantastic length the nature of Papadopoulos’s Russian contacts provides no evidence of collusion illegal or otherwise between the Russians, Papadopoulos or anyone else in the Trump campaign.

What the New York Times article does show is who Papadopoulos’s Russian contacts were.

It turns out that they were senior people in the Valdai Discussion Club, which is not at all surprising given that Professor Mifsud, the Maltese professor who was Papadopoulos’s contact, is known to have participated in a Valdai Discussion Club panel on 19th April 2016.

The Valdai Discussion Club for those who do not know is a Russian NGO which regularly hosts discussions between top level Russian officials and senior people from around the world.  It is sometimes spoken of as the Russian equivalent to Davos.  This page from its website gives an idea of its activities and of the very senior people from around the world who have been involved in it,

In other words when Papadopoulos and Professor Mifsud got to know each other Professor Mifsud simply put Papadopoulos in touch with the Russian organisers of the meeting he was attending.

That does not argue for Professor Mifsud’s “high level contacts” within the Russian government; it argues against it.

As it happens no Russian government official appears to have been directly involved in the discussions between the various members of the Valdai Discussion Group and Papadopoulos.

The New York Times says that Igor Ivanov, who was Russia’s foreign minister from 1998 to 2004, was consulted by Papadopoulos’s Russian contacts.  Ivanov is presumably the “Russian MFA Connection” referred to in Papadopoulos’s indictment.  However Ivanov is a retired official not an active one, and his Wikipedia profile suggests that he is now mainly involved in academic work and in the work of various international NGOs. As such he would have been an obvious person for members of the Valdai Discussion Club to consult, and was not in any sense a representative of the Russian government.

As for the subject matter of the discussions between Papadopoulos and his Russian contacts, there is no hint in the New York Times article of any conspiracy between Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign and the Russians concerning the election or any other matter.

Instead we are told – again at inordinate length – about Papadopoulos’s already known but ultimately futile efforts to arrange a summit meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, which Papadopoulos persisted in even after he was told to stop them.

As has by now become typical of the New York Times’s Russiagate coverage, its latest article about Papadopoulos also states as facts things which are in fact strongly disputed.

For example it states as flat facts that it was Professor Mifsud who falsely claimed to Papadopoulos that Olga Polonskaya – one of Papadopoulos’s Russian contacts – was President Putin’s niece, and that it was Professor Mifsud who told Papadopoulos during a hotel meeting in London in April 2016 that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

Professor Mifsud however has publicly denying telling Papadopoulos either of these things, and the only evidence he did so is that Papadopoulos says he did.

On the subject of the false claim that Polonskaya was Putin’s niece, it is intrinsically far more likely that this is an invention of Papadopoulos’s and not of Professor Mifsud’s.  Why after all would Mifsud  – presumably in cooperation with the Russians – seek to pass off Polonskaya as Putin’s niece when a five minute internet search would establish that Putin has no niece?  What would be the purpose of such a thing?

The only confirmed reference to Polonskaya being Putin’s niece other than Papadopoulos’s statements to the FBI is an email Papadopoulos sent to the Trump campaign describing her as such.

It is Papadopoulos not Professor Mifsud who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.  Papadopoulos’s behaviour in fact clearly points to him being a young man out of his depth and given to fantasising.  Even the New York Times calls him “brash, boastful and underqualified”.

It turns out that Papadopoulos even publicly reprimanded British Prime Minister David Cameron in a May 2016 interview with The London Times which he was not authorised by the Trump campaign to give, and for which he was subsequently severely reprimanded, and it is also known that he persisted in trying to arrange with the Russians a summit meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin even when told to stop doing so.

Given that Papadopoulos is a known loose cannon with a record of bragging and a conviction for lying why assume that on any subject  – eg. the false claims about Polonskaya – it is Papadopoulos who is telling the truth and that it is Professor Mifsud who is lying?  Surely the opposite is far more likely to be true?

In the case of Polonskaya the New York Times has to pretend that it is Papadopoulos not Professor Mifsud who is telling the truth because if it were confirmed that it was Papadopoulos who invented the story about Polonskaya being Putin’s niece then that would expose him as a fantasist, which would discredit the whole elaborate scenario the New York Times is trying to spin around him.

That shows why it is dangerous to assume that Papadopoulos is telling the truth on any point when those who have a vested interest in the Russiagate story say he is.  On the contrary Papadopoulos is an inherently unreliable witness and must always be treated as such.

Does the information in the New York Times article however tell us anything we didn’t previously know about the core issue in the case: the “dirt” Papadopoulos says Professor Mifsud told him that the Russians have on Hillary Clinton?

Firstly, despite the New York Times’s painstaking attempts to link the boasts which Papadopoulos blurted out in a London bar to the DNC and Podesta emails, it seems that Papadopoulos whilst he was bragging in the London bar did not in fact refer to those emails.

The relevant paragraph in the New York Times article on this point needs to be read carefully

During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

(bold italics added)

This words “political dirt on Hillary Clinton” are almost certainly copied from the Australian High Commissioner’s report to his government, which was subsequently passed on to the FBI, and which forms the basis of the story in the New York Times.

What these words show is that Papadopoulos was boasting in the London bar that the Russians had “political dirt about Hillary Clinton”, not that they had the DNC or Podesta emails.

What this paragraph also shows is that Papadopoulos in May 2016 was bragging about his high position in the Trump campaign and about his contacts with the Russians, and was doing so openly in the presence of no less a person than the Australian High Commissioner, whose identity he cannot have been unaware of.

This sort of wild indiscretion all but proves that Papadopoulos was not involved in a secret criminal conspiracy with the Russians.  Of course the rest of the New York Times article and the text of his indictment provides no evidence that he was.

In fact it is possible to make some educated guesses about the Papadopoulos affair based on this new information, which leads to diametrically opposite conclusions to the ones reached by the New York Times.

In May 2016 Papadopoulos was clearly on a high, giving foolish interviews to The London Times and bragging in front of the Australian High Commissioner in a London bar about his high level position in the Trump campaign and about his contacts with the Russians.

That strongly points to his boast in the London bar that the Russians had ‘political dirt’ on Hillary Clinton being his own invention.

Subsequently, when he was asked about it by the FBI – long after the Russiagate scandal broken out – he panicked and blamed the whole thing on Professor Mifsud who he said told him about it during their meeting in the London hotel in April 2016.

Note that the wording of the indictment shows that Papadopoulos was vague about what precisely Professor Mifsud was supposed to have told him

On or about April 26, 2016, defendant PAPADOPOULOS met the Professor for breakfast at a London hotel.  During this meeting, the Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS that he had just returned from a trip to Moscow where he had met with high-level Russian government officials.  The Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS that on that trip he (the Professor) learned that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on then-candidate Clinton.  The Professor told defendant PAPADOPOULOS, as defendant PAPADOPOULOS later described to the FBI, that “They [the Russians] have dirt on her”; “the Russians had emails of Clinton“; “they have thousands of emails“.

(bold italics added)

The words “the Russians had emails of Clinton” make it clear that the emails supposedly discussed by Professor Mifsud and Papadopoulos in the London hotel in April 2016 were not the DNC and Podesta emails but Hillary Clinton’s own 33,000 emails deleted from her private email server.  Had Papadopoulos referred to the DNC and Podesta emails in his interview with the FBI the indictment would surely have said so.

In May 2016 – the month when Papadopoulos was drunkenly bragging in the London bar – the scandal around Hillary Clinton’s misuse of a private email server for her State Department emails was at its height, with the Inspector General of the State Department publishing an 83 page report and with speculation rife about the progress of the FBI’s investigation into the affair.

Possibly Papadopoulos was thinking about Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails when he was bragging in the London bar.  More likely he referred to these emails when he tried to explain away his comments in the London bar to the FBI.

By the time the FBI interviewed him Papadopoulos would have known that any reference to the DNC and Podesta emails would have exposed him to suspicion of involvement in a far greater conspiracy.  Frightened and searching for ways to get himself out of trouble, and perhaps realising that he would not be believed if he admitted that he had been lying when he had been bragging in the London bar, he brought up the subject of Hillary Clinton’s emails instead, and involved Professor Mifsud in the story to give himself cover.

Regardless, the fact that Papadopoulos’s recollection of what Professor Mifsud is supposed to have told him is so vague points to what is almost certainly the truth: Papadopoulos is making it all up.

Not only does this seem to me a far more plausible explanation of the Papadopoulos affair than the one suggested by the New York Times, but there is one obvious point which for me confirms it.

Nothing Papadopoulos says about this episode can be independently confirmed.

His account of his meeting in April with Professor Mifsud is disputed by Professor Mifsud who is the only other witness.

Apart from his bragging in the London bar there is no other evidence dating from the time that Papadopoulos had any knowledge that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.  None of his very numerous communications to the Trump campaign refer to the fact.

To those who say that Papadopoulos would wish to keep his reports about this secret, all I would say is that Papadopoulos cannot have thought of it as being so very secret since in May 2016 he was openly bragging about it in front of the Australian High Commissioner in a London bar.

All this taken together makes it highly likely that Papadopoulos is inventing the whole story, just as he is almost certainly the person who invented the story of Polonskaya being Putin’s niece.

In summary the New York Times story, far from lending credence to the Russiagate collusion allegations actually provides further reason to doubt them.

As for Papadopoulos, far from being a star ‘smoking gun’ witness, he comes across as a boastful fantasist who is not telling the truth.

What the article does highlight is the pressure the FBI and the Mueller investigation are under as the doubts about the Trump Dossier grow.

It is the Trump Dossier which remains however the key to the affair.  This latest attempt to deny the fact and to distract from it does not refute it.  On the contrary it confirms it.

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The US-Turkey Crisis: The NATO Alliance Forged in 1949 Is Today Largely Irrelevant

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via American Herald Tribune:


There has been some reporting in the United States mass media about the deteriorating relationship between Washington and Ankara and what it might mean. Such a falling out between NATO members has not been seen since France left the alliance in 1966 and observers note that the hostility emanating from both sides suggests that far worse is to come as neither party appears prepared to moderate its current position while diplomatic exchanges have been half-hearted and designed to lead nowhere.

The immediate cause of the breakdown is ostensibly President Donald Trump’s demand that an American Protestant minister who has lived in Turkey for twenty-three years be released from detention. Andrew Brunson was arrested 21 months ago and charged with being a supporter of the alleged conspiracy behind the military coup in 2016 that sought to kill or replace President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has asserted that the coup was directed by former political associate Fetullah Gulen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, but has produced little credible evidence to support that claim. In the aftermath of the coup attempt, Erdogan has had himself voted extraordinary special powers to maintain public order and has arrested 160,000 people, including 20 Americans, who have been imprisoned. More than 170,000 civil servants, teachers, and military personnel have lost their jobs, the judiciary has been hobbled, and senior army officers have been replaced by loyalists.

Gulen is a religious leader who claims to promote a moderate brand of Islam that is compatible with western values. His power base consists of a large number of private schools that educate according to his curriculum, with particular emphasis on math and sciences. Many of the graduates become part of a loose affiliation that has sometimes been described as a cult. Gulen also owns and operates a number of media outlets, all of which have now been shut by Erdogan as part of his clamp down on the press. Turkey currently imprisons more journalists than any other country.

It is widely believed that Erdogan has been offering to release Brunson in exchange for Gulen, but President Donald Trump has instead offered only a Turkish banker currently in a U.S. prison while also turning the heat up in the belief that pressure on Turkey will force it to yield. Washington began the tit-for-tat by imposing sanctions on two cabinet-level officials in Erdogan’s government: Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul. Ankara has now also been on the receiving end of a Trump tweet and tariffs have been placed on a broad range of Turkish products, to include steel and aluminum.

The view that economic pressure will force the Turks to yield could be mistaken and demonstrates that the Administration does not include anyone who knows that Americans have been unpopular in Turkey since the Gulf War. The threats from Washington might actually rally skeptical and normally pro-western Turks around Erdogan but U.S. sanctions have already hit the Turkish economy hard, with the lira having lost 40% of its value this year and continuing to sink rapidly. Foreign investors, who fueled much of Turkey’s recent economic growth, have fled the market, suggesting that a collapse in credit might be on the way. Those European banks that hold Turkish debt are fearing a possible default.

It is a spectacle of one NATO member driving another NATO member’s economy into the ground over a political dispute. Erdogan has responded in his autocratic fashion by condemning “interest rates” and calling for an “economic war” against the U.S., telling his supporters to unload all their liquid valuables, gold and foreign to buy the plummeting lira, a certain recipe for disaster. If they do that, they will likely lose everything.

Other contentious issues involved in the badly damaged bilateral relationship are conflicting views on what to do about Syria, where the Turks have a legitimate interest due to potential Kurdish terrorism and are seeking a buffer zone, as well as Ankara’s interest in buying Russian air defense missile systems, which has prompted the U.S. to suspend sales of the new F-35 fighter. The Turks have also indicated that they have no interest in enforcing the sanctions on Iran that were re-imposed last week and they will continue to buy Iranian oil after the November 4th initiation of a U.S. ban on such purchases. The Trump Administration has warned that it will sanction any country that refuses to comply, setting the stage for a massive confrontation between Washington and Ankara involving the Turkish Central Bank.

In terms of U.S. interests, Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, is of strategic value because it is Muslim, countering arguments that the alliance is some kind of Christian club working to suppress Islam in the Middle East. And it is also important because of its geographic location close to hot spots where the American military is currently engaged. If the U.S. heeds Trump’s call to cut back on involvement in the region, Turkey will become less valuable, but currently, access to the Incirlik Airbase, near Adana and the Syrian border, is vital.

Indeed, Incirlik has become one of the flashpoints in the argument with Washington. Last week, a group of lawyers connected politically to Erdogan initiated legal action against U.S. officers at Incirlik over claimed ties to “terrorists” linked to Gulen. The “Association for Social Justice and Aid” has called for a temporary halt to all operations at the base to permit a search for evidence. The attorneys are asking for the detention of seven named American Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels. General Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command based in Germany is also cited. If the lawyers are successful in court, it will mean a major conflict as Washington asserts the rights of the officers under the Status of Forces Agreement, while Turkey will no doubt insist that the Americans are criminals and have no protection.

Another trial balloon being floated by Erdogan is even more frightening in terms of the demons that it could be unleashing. Abdurrahman Dilipak, an Islamist columnist writing in the pro-government newspaper Yeni Atik, has suggested that there might well be a second terrorist attack on the United States like 9/11. Dilipak threatened that if Trump does nothing to reduce tension “…some people will teach him [to do] that. It must be seen that if internal tensions with the United States continue like this that a September 11 is no unlikely possibility.” Dilipak also warned that presumed Gulenist “U.S. collaborators” inside Turkey would be severely punished if they dared to go out into the streets to protest in support of Washington.

If recent developments in Turkey deteriorate further it might well suggest that Donald Trump’s instinct to disengage from the Middle East was the right call, though it could equally be seen as a rejection of the tactic being employed, i.e. using heavy-handed sanctions and tariffs to compel obedience from governments disinclined to follow Washington’s leadership. Either way, the Turkish-American relationship is in trouble and increasingly a liability for both sides, yet another indication that the NATO alliance forged in 1949 against the Soviet Union is today largely irrelevant.

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Is This The Most Important Geopolitical Deal Of 2018?

After more than 20 years of fraught diplomatic efforts, the five littoral Caspian nations agreed upon a legal framework for sharing the world’s largest inland body of water.

The Duran

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Authored by Olgu Okumus via Oilprice.com:


The two-decade-long dispute on the statute of the Caspian Sea, the world largest water reserve, came to an end last Sunday when five littoral states (Russia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan) agreed to give it a special legal status – it is now neither a sea, nor a lake. Before the final agreement became public, the BBC wrote that all littoral states will have the freedom of access beyond their territorial waters, but natural resources will be divided up. Russia, for its part, has guaranteed a military presence in the entire basin and won’t accept any NATO forces in the Caspian.

Russian energy companies can explore the Caspian’s 50 billion barrels of oil and its 8.4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves, Turkmenistan can finally start considering linking its gas to the Turkish-Azeri joint project TANAP through a trans-Caspian pipeline, while Iran has gained increased energy supplies for its largest cities in the north of the country (Tehran, Tabriz, and Mashhad) – however, Iran has also put itself under the shadow of Russian ships. This controversy makes one wonder to what degree U.S. sanctions made Iran vulnerable enough to accept what it has always avoided – and how much these U.S. sanctions actually served NATO’s interests.

If the seabed, rich in oil and gas, is divided this means more wealth and energy for the region. From 1970 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1991, the Caspian Sea was divided into subsectors for Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan – all constituent republics of the USSR. The division was implemented on the basis of the internationally-accepted median line.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the new order required new regulations. The question was over whether the Caspian was a sea or a lake? If it was treated as a sea, then it would have to be covered by international maritime law, namely the United Nations Law of the Sea. But if it is defined as a lake, then it could be divided equally between all five countries. The so-called “lake or sea” dispute revolved over the sovereignty of states, but also touched on some key global issues – exploiting oil and gas reserves in the Caspian Basin, freedom of access, the right to build beyond territorial waters, access to fishing and (last but not least) managing maritime pollution.

The IEA concluded in World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2017 that offshore energy has a promising future. More than a quarter of today’s oil and gas supply is produced offshore, and integrated offshore thinking will extend this beyond traditional sources onwards to renewables and more. Caspian offshore hydrocarbon reserves are around 50 billion barrels of oil equivalent (equivalent to one third of Iraq’s total oil reserves) and 8.4 trillion cubic meters of gas (almost equivalent to the U.S.’ entire proven gas reserves). As if these quantities were not themselves enough to rebalance Eurasian energy demand equations, the agreement will also allow Turkmenistan to build the Trans-Caspian pipeline, connecting Turkmenistan’s resources to the Azeri-Turkish joint project TANAP, and onwards to Europe – this could easily become a counter-balance factor to the growing LNG business in Europe.

Even though we still don’t have firm and total details on the agreement, Iran seems to have gained much less than its neighbors, as it has shortest border on the Caspian. From an energy perspective, Iran would be a natural market for the Caspian basin’s oil and gas, as Iran’s major cities (Tehran, Tabriz, and Mashhad) are closer to the Caspian than they are to Iran’s major oil and gas fields. Purchasing energy from the Caspian would also allow Iran to export more of its own oil and gas, making the country a transit route from the Caspian basin to world markets. For instance, for Turkmenistan (who would like to sell gas to Pakistan) Iran provides a convenient geography. Iran could earn fees for swap arrangements or for providing a transit route and justify its trade with Turkey and Turkmenistan as the swap deal is allowed under the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA, or the D’Amato Act).

If the surface water will be in common usage, all littoral states will have access beyond their territorial waters. In practical terms, this represents an increasingly engaged Russian presence in the Basin. It also reduces any room for a NATO presence, as it seems to be understood that only the five littoral states will have a right to military presence in the Caspian. Considering the fact that Russia has already used its warships in the Caspian to launch missile attacks on targets within Syria, this increased Russian presence could potentially turn into a security threat for Iran.

Many questions can now be asked on what Tehran might have received in the swap but one piece of evidence for what might have pushed Iran into agreement in its vulnerable position in the face of increased U.S. sanctions. Given that the result of those sanctions seems to be Iran agreeing to a Caspian deal that allows Russia to place warships on its borders, remove NATO from the Caspian basin equation, and increase non-Western based energy supplies (themselves either directly or indirectly within Russia’s sphere of geopolitical influence) it makes one wonder whose interests those sanctions actually served?

By Olgu Okumus for Oilprice.com

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America’s Militarized Economy

At some point, the West will have to recognize Crimea’s right to self rule.

Eric Zuesse

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Authored by Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Unz Review:


Donald Trump’s biggest success, thus far into his Presidency, has been his sale of $400 billion (originally $350 billion) of U.S.-made weapons to the Saudi Arabian Government, which is owned by its royal family, after whom that nation is named. This sale alone is big enough to be called Trump’s “jobs plan” for Americans. It is also the biggest weapons-sale in all of history. It’s 400 billion dollars, not 400 million dollars; it is gigantic, and, by far, unprecedented in world-history.

The weapons that the Sauds and their friends, the 7 monarchies that constitute the United Arab Emirates, are using right now, in order to conquer and subdue Yemen, are almost entirely made in America. That’s terrific business for America. Not only are Americans employed, in strategically important congressional districts (that is, politically important congressional districts), to manufacture this equipment for mass-murdering in foreign lands that never threatened (much less invaded) America, but the countries that purchase this equipment are thereby made dependent upon the services of those American manufacturers, and of the taxpayer-funded U.S. ‘Defense’ Department and its private military contractors such as Lockheed Martin, to maintain this equipment, and to train the local military enforcers, on how to operate these weapons. Consequently, foreign customers of U.S. military firms are buying not only U.S. weapons, but the U.S. Government’s protection — the protection by the U.S. military, of those monarchs. They are buying the label of being an “American ally” so that the U.S. news media can say that this is in defense of American allies (regardless of whether it’s even that). American weapons are way overpriced for what they can do, but they are a bargain for what they can extract out of America’s taxpayers, who fund the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department and thus fund the protection of those monarchs: these kings and other dictators get U.S. taxpayers to fund their protection. It’s an international protection-racket funded by American taxpayers and those rulers, in order to protect those rulers; and the victims aren’t only the people who get slaughtered in countries such as Afghanistan, and Iraq, and Libya, and Syria, and Yemen, and Palestine, but also (though only financially) are the American public, who get fleeced by it — the American public provide the bulk of the real funding for this operation to expand the lands where America’s allies rule, and so to serve both America’s aristocracy and the aristocracies that are America’s allies.

This is how today’s America enforces its ‘democracy’ around the world, so that America can spread this ‘democracy’, at gunpoint, and at bomb-point, like America’s allies, those Kings and Emirs, and the apartheid regime in Israel, are doing, to the people whom they kill and conquer, with help from the taxpayer-funded American military — funded to protect those aristocrats, against their respective publics, and to further enrich America’s own aristocrats, at the expense of America’s own public.

The global ‘aggressor’ has been identified by America’s previous President, Barack Obama, who won office like Trump did, by promising ‘a reset’ in relations with post-communist Russia, and by mocking Obama’s opponent (Mitt Romney) for having called Russia “the number one geopolitical foe” — which America’s aristocracy has historically considered Russia to be, ever since the aristocracy in Russia fled and were killed in 1917, which caused America’s and other aristocracies to fear and hate Russia and Russians, for having ousted its aristocracy, this being an act that aristocrats everywhere are determined to avenge, regardless of ‘ideology’. (Similarly, America and its pro-aristocracy foreign allies, seek to avenge Iran’s 1979 overthrow of the Shah.) As Obama’s own actions during his subsequent Presidency made clear, and as he already had started in 2011 (if not from day one of his Presidency) secretly to implement, he privately agreed with what Romney said on that occasion, but he was intelligent enough (which his opponent obviously was not) to recognize that the American public, at that time, did not agree with it but instead believed that Islamic terrorists and aristocrats such as the Sauds who finance them are that); and Obama took full advantage of his opponent’s blunder there, which helped Obama to win a second term in the White House (after having skillfully hidden from the public during his first term, his intention to weaken Russia by eliminating leaders who were friends or even allies of Russia, such as in Syria, and Ukraine).

This is American ‘democracy’, after all (rule by deceit, lies), and that’s the reason why, when Russia, in 2014, responded to the U.S. coup in Ukraine (a coup under the cover of anti-corruption demonstrations) which coup was taking over this large country next-door to Russia and thus constituted a deadly threat to Russia’s national security, Obama declared Russia to be the world’s top ‘aggressor’. Obama overthrew Ukraine and then damned Russia’s leader Putin for responding to Obama’s aggressive threat against Russia from this coup in neighboring Ukraine. Russia was supposedly the ‘aggressor’ because it allowed the residents of Crimea — which had been part of Russia until the Soviet dictator in 1954 had arbitrarily handed Crimea to Ukraine — to become Russian citizens again, Russians like 90% of them felt they still were, despite Khrushchev’s transfer of them to Ukraine in 1954. The vast majority of Crimeans felt themselves still to be Russians. But Obama and allies of the U.S. Government insisted that the newly installed Government of Ukraine must rule those people; those people must not be permitted to rule (or be ruled) by people they’ve participated in choosing.

Ever since at least 2011, the U.S. Government was planning to overthrow Ukraine’s democratically elected Government; and the plan started being put into action by no later than 1 March 2013 inside America’s Ukrainian Embassy. In preparation for this planned coup (“the most blatant coup in history”), a poll of Crimeans was funded by the International Republican Institute and USAID, in which Gallup scientifically sampled Crimeans during 16-30 May 2013, six months prior to the forced rejection on 20 November 2013 of EU membership by Ukraine’s democratically elected government — that’s six months prior to the Ukrainian Government’s rejection that Obama’s team were intending to use as being the pretext for the anti-Government demonstrations, which would start on Kiev’s Maidan Square the day after this forced rejection, on November 21st. The poll of Crimeans (which was made public on 7 October 2013) found (here are highlights):

p.14:
“If Ukraine was able to enter only one international economic union, which entity should it be with?”
53% “Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan”
17% “The European Union”

p.15:
“How would you evaluate your attitude to the following entities?”
“Russia”:  68% “Warm”;  5% “Cold”
“USA”:  6% “Warm”;  24% “Cold”

p.17:
“In your opinion, what should the status of Crimea be?”
“Autonomy in Ukraine (as today [under Crimea’s 1992 Constitution and as subsequently celebrated by RFE/RL on 20 January 2011)”:  53%.
“Common oblast of Ukraine [ruled under Ukraine’s 1991 Constitution]”:  2%.
“Crimea should be separated and given to Russia”:  23%.

In other words: prior to the U.S. State Department and CIA operation to steal Ukraine’s government from Ukraine’s citizens — including especially from the residents of the sole autonomously governed region in Ukraine, which was Crimea — 53% of Crimeans wanted continued autonomy, 23% wanted not only a total break away from the Ukrainian Government but their becoming again citizens of Russia, such as had existed until 1954; and only 2% wanted restoration of the situation in 1991 when Crimea was briefly a “common oblast” or regular region within Ukraine, a federal state within Ukraine just like all the other states within Ukraine were. And, obviously, after America’s coup in Ukraine, the percentage who wanted a total break away from Ukraine rose even higher than it had been before.

Consequently, the U.S. demand that the newly imposed Ukrainian regime, which Obama’s coup created, made upon Crimea subsequent to the coup, and which demand both Obama and his successor Trump insist must be imposed upon and obeyed by Crimeans if the anti-Russia sanctions are even possibly to end, is the demand that Crimeans, in that May 2013 poll, even prior to the bloody Obama coup and the takeover of Ukraine by rabidly anti-Crimean Ukrainian nazishad supported by only 2% (it was demanding reimposition of the brief 1991 Ukrainian relationship, which Crimeans had rejected in 1991), as compared to the 53% of Crimeans who favored continuation of Crimean “autonomy,” and the 23% who favored becoming Russians again.

Furthermore, the May 2013 poll showed that only 17% of Crimeans favored becoming part of the EU, whereas 53% preferred to be part of the “Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan”; so, clearly, Crimeans, prior to the democratically elected Ukrainian Government’s having declined the EU’s offer, overwhelmingly wanted Ukraine’s democratically elected Government to do precisely what it did — to turn down the EU’s offer.

During the U.S. coup, and immediately after it, until the 16 March 2014 Crimean referendum on what to do about it, Crimeans saw and heard on television and via the other Ukrainian media, reports that could only have terrified them about the new Government’s intentions. Clearly the U.S. regime had no objection to placing nazis in charge, and Crimeans are intensely anti-nazi — not only anti-Nazi during Hitler’s time, but against nazism, the racist-fascist ideology, itself, regardless of which group it’s targeting; but, in their case, it targets Crimeans, and, more broadly, Russians.

A January 2015 poll of Crimeans was financed by the U.S.-allied Canadian Government, and never made public by them but released in early February only on an obscure site of the polling organization and never reported to the public in the Western press, and this poll found (probably to the sponsors’ enormous disappointment) that 93% of respondents did “endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea” and 4% did not. On 16 March 2015, the U.S. State Department issued a statement: “On this one year anniversary of the sham ‘referendum’ in Crimea, held in clear violation of Ukrainian law and the Ukrainian constitution, the United States reiterates its condemnation of a vote that was not voluntary, transparent, or democratic.” No evidence was provided for any of that assertion, simply the allegation. Four days later, the far more honest Kenneth Rapoza at Forbes headlined “One Year After Russia Annexed Crimea,” and he opened:

The U.S and European Union may want to save Crimeans from themselves. But the Crimeans are happy right where they are. One year after the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula in the Black Sea, poll after poll shows that the locals there — be they Ukrainians, ethnic Russians or Tatars are mostly all in agreement: life with Russia is better than life with Ukraine.

Little has changed over the last 12 months. Despite huge efforts on the part of Kiev, Brussels, Washington and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the bulk of humanity living on the Black Sea peninsula believe the referendum to secede from Ukraine was legit.  At some point, the West will have to recognize Crimea’s right to self rule.

The U.S. and its allies have a different idea than that. They reject Rapoza’s view.

The United States claims to support ‘democracy’. But it demands imposition upon Crimeans of a rabidly anti-Crimean Government. What kind of ‘democracy’ does the United States actually support? Has the U.S. Government answered that question in Crimea — and, in Ukraine — by its actionsthere? Obama supported this kind of ‘democracy’, and this kind. He wanted this kind of treatment of Crimeans. Trump hasn’t yet made clear whether he does, too; but his official representatives have made clear that they do.

America has a militarized economy. It also currently has the very highest percentage of its people in prison out of all of the world’s 222 countries and so certainly qualifies as a police state (which Americans who are lucky enough to be not amongst the lower socio-economic classes might find to be a shocking thing to assert). On top of that, everyone knows that America’s military spending is by far the highest in the world, but many don’t know that it’s the most corrupt and so the U.S. actually spends around half of the entire world’s military budget and that the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department is even so corrupt that it has been unauditable and thus unaudited for decades, and that many U.S. military programs are counted in other federal departments in order to hide from the public how much is actually being spent each year on the military, which is well over a trillion dollars annually, probably more than half of all federal discretionary (which excludes interest on the debt, some of which pays for prior wars) spending. So, it’s a very militarized economy, indeed.

This is today’s American ‘democracy’. Is it also ‘democracy’ in America’s allied countries? (Obviously, they are more democratic than America regarding just the incarceration-rate; but what about generally?) Almost all of those countries continue to say that America is a democracy (despite the proof that it is not), and that they are likewise. Are they correct in both? Are they allied with a ‘democracy’ against democracy? Or, are they, in fact, phonies as democracies? These are serious questions, and bumper-sticker answers to them won’t suffice anymore — not after invading Iraq in 2003, and Libya in 2011, and Syria right afterward, and Ukraine in 2014, and Yemen today, etc.

Please send this article along to friends, and ask for their thoughts about this. Because, in any actual democracy, everyone should be discussing these issues, under the prevailing circumstances. Taxpayer-funded mass-slaughter is now routine and goes on year after year. After a few decades of this, shouldn’t people start discussing the matter? Why haven’t they been? Isn’t this the time to start? Or is America so much of a dictatorship that it simply won’t happen? We’ll see.

—————

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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