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Peter Lavelle: Guess what? Vladimir Putin is actually a moderate

When it comes to Russia, the West is squandering an important lost opportunity.

Peter Lavelle

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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is probably the most famous and recognized politician in the world. Though this fame and recognition is for very different reasons. The west demonizes him as evil incarnate, while much of the rest of the world admires him as some kind of 21st century super-hero staring down the American Empire. The fact is there are two public personifications of the man – and both are largely wrong.

The west’s portrayal of Putin is cartoonish. He is a “dictator,” “a strong man,” and full of “anger and desires of revenge.” He also – we are told – hates democracy and western values. Putin is said to be undermining western institutions and backing plans to destabilize western security. Apparently he is hacking everyone’s emails and subverting America’s presidential election. And even more sinister he wants to undermine the U.S. around the world and recreate the Soviet Union.

Pretty scary stuff!

The juxtaposition view of Putin in many parts of the world is that he is an anti-western (read: anti-American or anti-Western Consensus) crusader. This characterization is also somewhat cartoonish. From this perspective, Putin leads a resurrected Mother Russia designed to slay the American-led Satan. Thus, Russia should probe for western weakness – within their own countries and afar – and then later strike. This mindset thus accepts that what is bad for the U.S. and the west is good for the rest of the world. In many ways this is an exact mirror of those who demonize Russia-Putin, though for very different reasons of course.

It sounds nice and great for many, but is it simply not true.

Having studied the Soviet Union and Russia most of my life and lived in Russia for the last 18 years, I would say without a doubt Putin is a very moderate politician – at home and in foreign policy.

Consider the following:

Russia’s domestic politics reflect moderation almost to the point of boredom. In the recent parliamentary elections the most moderate political party won – United Russia. The Communist didn’t win a great victory, the socialists didn’t, and the despised liberals didn’t either.

Russian media is all over the place. Putin’s government is savaged endlessly for many of its economic and social policies. But there are no calls for any kind of revolution. What is most talked about is how the government needs to be responsible for everyday needs of the average person. There is nothing radical about that – it is actually rather moderate and normal.

Turning to foreign policy: Russians have an intense aversion to war. The U.S. and the EU started the fiasco in Ukraine. Though Russia has been made to pay for that gross miscalculation. Nonetheless, Russia did not and will not invade Ukraine. Putin is intensely criticized for being too moderate at home – many Russians demand he take a harder line. But he hasn’t and won’t. Such an approach is not in Russia’s national interest. Moderation and patience will benefit more than any policy of bombast and resentment.

On Syria, Russia is defending its national interest and international law. Russia really doesn’t want to be in Syria and has very limited and well defined goals in its defense of Syrian sovereignty. Another failed state in the Middle East threatens the EU and Russia. A failed state in Syria would most likely see Russia’s southern Islamic populated republics infected with the same extremists the Damascus government has had to deal with for the past five years. Again Russia’s is moderate and restrained.

What is amiss in the propagandist-infected western media is the fact Russia is a status quo power. Putin’s Russia is all about modernizing at home and protecting itself from aggression from the west. This is why Putin’s moderation at home works and is effective.

The west’s propaganda media machine hates Putin. Little does this machine realize Putin is the best deal the west can hope for. There are ideas and forces within Russia’s power circles and society who would like to take a much harder line. The west is squandering an important lost opportunity.

Peter Lavelle is host of RT’s political debate program CrossTalk. His views may or may not reflect those of his employer.

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

RT

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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