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Russia, China, India and Iran: The Magic Quadrant That is Changing the World

The bombing and destruction of Yugoslavia was the final step in the assault on the Russian Federation following the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


With the end of the unipolar moment, which saw Washington dominate international relations, the richest and most powerful Eurasian countries are beginning to organize themselves into alliance structures and agreements that aim to facilitate trade, development and cooperation.

At the height of the US unipolar moment, Bill Clinton was leading a country in full economic recovery and the strategists at the Pentagon were drawing up plans to shape the world in their own image and likeness. The undeclared goal was regime change in all countries with unapproved political systems, which would allow for the proliferation of us-made “democracy” to the four corners of the earth. Clearly Eurasian countries like Russia, India, China and Iran were on top of the to-do list, as were countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The bombing and destruction of Yugoslavia was the final step in the assault on the Russian Federation following the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Yeltsin represented the means by which Western high finance decided to suck all Russia’s wealth, privatizing companies and plundering strategic resources.

China, on the other hand, saw a rebirth as a result of American and European manufacturing companies relocating to the country to take advantage of the cheap labor it offered. India, historically close to the USSR, and Iran, historically averse to Washington, were struggling to find a new balance in a world dominated by Washington.

Tehran was clearly in an open conflict with the United States because of the 1979 Islamic revolution that liberated the country from Western submission under the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. India understood the new reality, laying the foundations for a close cooperation with Washington. Previously, the use of jihadism in Afghanistan, through the coordination between Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States, had severely undermined relations between India and the United States, remembering that New Delhi was an important ally of Moscow during the Cold War.

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the commencement of the unipolar era, India, Russia, China and Iran started down their paths of historical rebirth, though starting from very different positions and following different paths. India understood that Washington had immense economic and military power at its disposal. Despite the early embraces between Clinton and Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, relations between New Delhi and Washington reached unexpected heights during the Bush era. A series of factors helped to weld the bond. There was, firstly, the reality of India’s great economic growth. Secondly, India offered the opportunity of counterbalancing and containing China, a classic geopolitical scenario.

During this delicate unipolar period, there were two highly significant events for Russia and China that represented the beginning of the end for Washington’s plans to dominate the planet. First of all, Putin became president of the Russian Federation on December 31, 1999. Secondly, Beijing was accepted into the World Trade Organization (WTO). Today’s Chinese economic power took flight thanks to the Western industrial companies relocating their manufacturing to China so as to see their dividends triplicate and costs more than halve. It was a winning model for the capitalist, and a loser for the Western factory worker, as we would come to see 20 years later. The strategic thinking of the newly elected Putin was geopolitically visionary and had at its base a complete revamp of Russia’s military doctrine.

China and Russia both initially sought to follow the Indian path of cooperation and development with Washington. Moscow attempted a frank dialogue with Washington and NATO, but the decision by the US in 2002 to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) marked the beginning of the end of the Western dream of integrating the Russian Federation into NATO. For Beijing, the path was more downhill, thanks to a vicious circle whereby the West relocated to China to increase profits, which were then invested into the US stock market, multiplying the gains several times. It seemed like the Americans were onto something until, 20 years later, the entire middle and working classes found themselves being reduced to penury.

In this period following September 11, 2001, Washington’s focus shifted rapidly away from confronting rival powers to the so called “fight” against terrorism. It was an expedient way of occupying tactically important countries in strategically important regions of the planet. In Eurasia, US forces settled in Afghanistan on the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban. In the Middle East, they occupy Iraq for the second time and have made it an operational base from which to destabilize the rest of the region in the decades since.

While India and China mainly pursued peaceful growth as a means of economically empowering the Asian region, Russia and Iran early understood that Washington’s attention would eventually fall on them. Moscow was still considered the deadly enemy by the neoconservative Cold War warriors, while the Islamic revolution of 1979 was neither forgotten nor forgiven. In the decade following 9/11, the foundations for the creation of a multipolar order were laid, generating in the process the huge transitional chaos we are currently experiencing.

India and China continued on their path to becoming economic giants, even as there is a latent but constant rivalry, while Iran and Russia continued on their path of military rejuvenation in order to ensure a deterrent sufficient to discourage any attacks by Israel or the US respectively.

The breaking point for this delicate geopolitical balance came in the form of the “Arab Spring” of 2011. While India and China continued their economic growth, and Russia and Iran grew to become regional powers that were difficult to push around, the US continued its unipolar rampage, bombing Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq after having earlier bombed Yugoslavia, as the Pentagon devising light-footprint operations in the Middle East with the help of the Saudis, Israelis, Brits and French, who aided and armed local jihadis to wreak havoc. First Tunisia, then Egypt, and finally Libya. More dead, more bombs, more chaos. The warning signs were apparent to all regional powers, from China and Russia to India and Iran. Even if the synergies were still not in place, it was clear to everyone what had to be done. US destabilization around the world had to be contained, with particular focus on Eurasia, the Middle East and North Africa.

Slowly, and not without problems, these four countries began a military, economic, political and diplomatic cooperation that, almost a decade later, allowed for the ending of the US unipolar moment and the creation of a multipolar reality with different centers of power.

The first confirmation of this new phase in international relations, favoured by historical ties, was the increasingly multifaceted cooperation between India and Russia. Another factor was China and Russia being drawn to the Middle East and North Africa as a result of the Obama administration’s actions in the Middle East with its Arab Springs, bombing of Libya and destabilization of Syria. They feared that prolonged chaos in the region would eventually have a negative effect on their own economies and social stability.

The final straw was the coup d’état in Ukraine, as well as the escalation of provocations in the South China Sea following the launch by the US of its so-called “Pivot to Asia”. Russia and China were thus forced into a situation neither had thought impossible for the previous 40 years: the joining of hands to change the world order by removing Washington from its superpower dais. Initially there were amazing economic agreements that left the Western planners stumped. Then came the military synergies, and finally the diplomatic ones, expressed by coordinated voting in the United Nations Security Council. From 2014 onwards, Russia and China signed important agreements that laid the foundations for a long-running Eurasian duopoly.

Obama’s legacy did not stop, with more than 100,000 jihadists unleashed on the country, financed by US and her allies. This led Moscow to intervene in Syria to protect its borders and obviate the jihadists’ eventual advance on the Caucasus, historically Russia’s soft underbelly. This move was hailed by the Pentagon as a new “Vietnam” for Russia. But these calculations were completely wrong, and Moscow, in addition to saving Syria and frustrating the plans of Washington and her confederates, greatly strengthened its relationship with Iran (not always a simple relationship, especially during the Soviet period), elevating it to the high level of regional cooperation.

Obama’s legacy was to inadvertently create a strategic triangle involving Iran, China and Russia and their development of high-level projects and programs for the region and beyond. It represents a disaster for US foreign policy as well as the unquestionable end of the unipolar dream.

Jumping forward a few years, we find Trump in the driving seat of the United States, repeating just one mantra: America First. From the Indian point of view, this has further aggravated the relations between the two countries, with sanctions and duties placed on India for what was a Western decision in the first place to shift manufacturing to low-wage India in order to further fatten the paychecks of the CEOs of Euro-American companies.

Modi’s India is forced to significantly increase its ties to Iran to guarantee its strategic autonomy in terms of energy supply, without forgetting the geographic proximity of the two countries. In this context, Russia and Iran’s victory against terrorism in the Middle East pacifies the region and stabilizes Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Libya, thereby allowing for the development of such new projects as the mega Silk Road 2.0 investment on which Beijing places considerable importance.

We could go on in this vein, detailing how even China and India have overcome their historical mistrust, well aware that divide and rule only benefits those who are on the other side of the ocean, certainly not two countries experiencing great economic growth with a common border spanning thousands of miles. The meetings between Modi and Xi Jinping, as well as those between Putin and Xi Jinping or Putin with Modi, show how the intention of these three leaders is to ensure a peaceful and prosperous future for their citizens, and this cannot be separated from a stronger union together with an abandonment of disputes and differences.

The synergies in recent years have shifted from the military and diplomatic arenas to the economic one, especially thanks to Donald Trump and his aggressive policy of wielding the dollar like a club with which to strike political opponents. One last step that these countries need to take is that of de-dollarization, which plays an important role in how the the US is able to exercise economic influence. Even if the US dollar were to remain central for several years, the process of de-dollarization is irreversible.

Right now Iran plays a vital role in how countries like India, Russia and China are able to respond asymmetrically to the US. Russia uses military power in Syria, China seeks economic integration in the Silk Road 2.0, and India bypasses the dollar by selling oil in exchange for goods or other currency.

India, China and Russia use the Middle East as a stepping stone to advance energy, economic and military integration, pushing out the plans of the neocons in the region, thereby indirectly sending a signal to Israel and Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are occasions for peacemaking, advancing the integration of dozens of countries by incorporating them into a major project that includes Eurasia, the Middle East and North Africa instead of the US and her proxy states.

Soon there will be a breaking point, not so much militarily (as the nuclear MAD doctrine is still valid) but rather economically. Of course the spark will come from changing the denomination in which oil is sold, namely the US dollar. This process will still take time, but it is an indispensable condition for Iran becoming a regional hegemon. China is increasingly clashing with Washington; Russia is increasingly influential in OPEC; and India may finally decide to embrace the Eurasian revolution by forming an impenetrable strategic square against Washington, which will shift the balance of global power to the East after more than 500 years of domination by the West.

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J_KantOlivia KrothShaun Ramewe Recent comment authors
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Shaun Ramewe

Time for BRICS to be changed to VRICS!! Venezuela for Brazil.

Olivia Kroth
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Brazil should be kep in, because that way its politics can be better controlled by Russia and China. Venezuela should be added to the list.

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Russia-China-India is a concept popular with Russophiles and utterly divorced from reality. Modi and Jinping may have all the pleasant photo-sessions in the world, that doesn’t change the essence of India-China relations. Duran writers and Counterpunch readers can remain as obsessed with US unipolarism as they want, it doesn’t affect India. India’s first strategic priority will remain defending itself against the China-Pakistan axis. It is spending billions of dollars to bolsters its northern border (particularly Tawang which China claims), and it has signed new defence cooperation agreements with the US & Japan to counter the spread of Chinese influence in… Read more »

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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

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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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