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Russia or the Neocons: Who endangers American democracy?

What is behind the US election cycle Russophobia?

Vladimir Golstein

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Political discourse of American mass media is inundated with another wave of Russophobia and fear mongering. Besides the obvious military threat (Russia’s nuclear arsenal), or the challenges to the US foreign policy (the conflicts in Ukraine or Syria), a new fear has been introduced into the news: the US political system is endangered by Russia’s computer hacking, informational warfare, and its support of Donald Trump.

The newspaper titles sound like a commercial for the upcoming Invasion of the Body Snatchers sequel. The Washingon Post announces: “Russia Is Now a Threat. The US Should Treat It Like One.” Time magazine raises the stakes: “Russia Wants to Undermine Faith in the U.S. Election.”

Atlantic warns of the “The Dangers of the Putin-Trump relationship,” articulating the already familiar litany of complaints: “Russia is directly interfering in the US elections … it is a dangerous escalation that threatens the integrity of the US electoral process.” While US Today allows notorious neocon named Max Boot to discover not just the threat, but an actual war. His “Time to Get Real About Russia Cyber War,” is rather blunt: “Our democracy is under attack by Russia, but almost no one is treating the situation with the gravity it deserves.”

Well, nobody treats the situation with the gravity it deserves because they are treating it with much greater gravity. In fact, some of the commentators are so grave, that they are ready to give in already. Zack Beauchamp concludes his tirades against Russian hacking in the following manner: “Russia’s strategy is even more dangerous that it appears. Not only does it undermine democracy using the press but it actually gets the press to undermine itself. And there’s not much we can reasonably do about it, either.”

Reading all this, one might think that the former Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, has been resurrected along with his 1949 battle-cry: “The Russians are coming. The Russians are coming. They’re right around. I’ve seen Russian soldiers.”

What is behind this Russophobia? A real Russian threat? A smokescreen intended to cover failed policies of recent administration? The meeting between the Russophobic minds of a particular candidate (Hillary Clinton) and a particular group of voters (neocons)?

I believe that these Joe McCarthy type accusations against both Russia and Trump seem to pursue only one goal: to give the veneer of respectability to the neocons’ and other Republican luminaries’ desertion of their own party. Thus, endless “confessions” of reformed Republicans and hardcore neocons, expressing their born-again zeal for the Democratic Candidate, Hillary Clinton.

The neocons are not switching parties because they’ve seen the light. They are enamored with Hillary Clinton’s record of foreign policy and her willingness to embrace the US globalist claims. As reported by Rania Khalek in Intercept, Robert Kagan, one of the leading neocons, the co-founder of the notorious PNAC (Project for the New American Century, the blueprint of the recent policies of aggression and regime change intended to cement US hegemony in world affairs), has been on the record for quite some time: “I would say all Republican foreign policy professionals are anti-Trump,” Kagan told …at a “foreign policy professionals for Hillary” fundraiser… –I would say that a majority of people in my circle will vote for Hillary.”

The neocons are very public about their desertion, and bear it as a badge of honor. Dubious honor, since in their pursuit of an ideal candidate for their agenda, neocons do not just betray their former party, but the very foundations of American democracy: the two party system.

Their desertion reveals that American political system has finally internalized Francis Fukuyama proud words about the end of history. We’ve reached the consensus; there is no need to argue or challenge, history has ended, the truths are revealed and they are now the property of the elites united into one globalist Imperial party bent on equating American prosperity with the American hegemony over world affairs.

To any objective observer it is clear that is not Russia that endangers US democracy but the political corruption, the rule of 1% oligarchy, and mad pursuit of PNAC policies. Even greater danger to democracy lies in the neocons’ desertion to the Hillary camp.

Unsavory as the corporate rule and globalism might be, one can argue for and pursue these goals, provided they leave the room for the alternative vision. It is this neocons’ dismissal of the alternatives that betrays the very foundations of democracy, at least, in the way, a political philosopher Karl Popper formulated them in his celebrated 1945 treatise, Open Society and Its Enemies.

The list of neocons and other prominent Republicans rushing toward one party system has been compiled by Eleanor Clift in Daily Beast at the end of June, and had obviously grown since then. Some of them, Max Boot in particular, are pretty explicit about the reasons for his desertion: in his May 8, 2016, article in LA Times, Boot announces simply that, “The Republican Party is Dead.”

Why?  Because it is no longer led by the likes of McCain, Rubio and Romney, for whom Boot served as foreign policy advisor, but by Donald Trump, “the ignorant demagogue” intending to break up “the most successful alliance in history — NATO.” Furthermore, Trump has “kind words for tyrants such as Vladimir Putin.” Indeed, how can anyone in the US political establishment have kind words for Putin? We keep our kind words only for “our SOBs.”      

The simplicity if not poverty of this argumentation makes it difficult to distinguish it from exaggerations, simplification, or ignorance, for which neocons consistently fault Trump. But neocons were never friends of irony; otherwise, they would not make statements about NATO’s spectacular success with a straight face.

The alliance that followed every whim of its paranoid members, such as Baltic Republics or Poland, and which intended to drag Ukraine into NATO pushing the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation? If this is success, how does one define failure? And talking about exaggerations: “The risk of Trump winning, however remote, represents the biggest national security threat that the United States faces today.”

As if being “dead” is not bad enough, Boot feels the need to drive a stake into the heart of the Republican Party: the party is stupid. Writing for NYT, the publication that never misses a chance to print something nasty about Republicans, Boot bemoans Republican complicity with Donald Trump phenomenon: “How the Stupid Party’ Created Donald Trump.”

Why can’t there be an alternative to the neocons’ doctrines of world domination in the form of a populist, nationalist movement that wants Americans to take care of Americans first, before overextending the country’s economic and military reach? And should this alternative be immediately called stupid?

Yet, for many neocons, it is Hillary or bust. James Kirchik  goes out of his way trying to convince his fellow conservatives that it is Clinton who is a true conservative, and therefore, the last American hope: “It’s come to this: Hillary Clinton is the one person standing between America and the abyss.”

Referring to a profound conservative thinker, Michael Oakeshott, Kirchik observed that Oakeshott “defines the conservative disposition as one that ‘prefers small and limited innovations to large and indefinite’ ones and ‘favors a slow rather than a rapid pace, and pauses to observe current consequences and make appropriate adjustments.’ … Clinton is the candidate of the status quo, something that conservatives, by definition, are supposed to uphold.”

Kirchick fails to mention, however, that it is Clintons’ and Obama’s implementation of neocons’ policies which is nothing short of revolutionary. Military adventures, drastic regime changes, alliance redrawing, the willingness to sacrifice American lives and money in their pursuit, all these misguided policies that meet no political resistance –that’s what revolutionary.

Trump’s realism and pragmatic approach to politics appears as revolutionary only to the ideologues who refuse to pause in their drive to reshape the modern world according to their childish dreams.  

This radical reworking of democratic and conservative process of slow incremental improvements into the hegemony of corporate sponsored elites is indeed revolutionary: a modern day version of Lenin’s hegemony of proletariat and its avant-garde, the elite party, all over again.

Hillary Clinton is as conservative as Brezhnev, who, in his failure to modify or change the radical agenda set up by the party of Lenin and Stalin, was indeed, a conservative. Only an intellectual of Kirchick’s magnitude can see something Oakeshottian in this embrace of one party system.  

As someone who lived under one party rule in the former Soviet Union, I fully appreciate Popper’s rather minimalistic, but fundamental view of democracy, as the society that boasts a two party system and which guarantees the ease of deposing a ruling party in case of its failures.

Karl Popper insisted on the necessity and practical usefulness of the two-party system, so that the loss of power would lead to self-scrutiny and therefore improvement. While the two parties and their loyal press try to police each other, they keep each other busy, allowing the rest of the citizens to live in peace and pursue their goals without too much interference or control.

Obviously, all this goes down the drain with one party system of globalists and the elites, the party that mocks and dismisses as ridiculous or deplorable anyone who happens to challenge it.  

In his The Open Society and its Enemies Popper proposes a rather paradoxical, yet extremely sensible theory of a democratic society. What is important for Popper, is not the discovery of a perfect government, but a much more mundane and pragmatic question: how to avoid the blatantly bad ones. And democracy does it better than any other system. Insisting on this pragmatism, Popper highlights the following syllogism:

“And we do not base our choice on the goodness of democracy, which may be doubtful, but solely on the evilness of a dictatorship, which is certain. Not only because the dictator is bound to make bad use of his power, but because a dictator, even if he were benevolent, would rob all others of their responsibility, and thus of their human rights and duties. This is a sufficient basis for deciding in favor of democracy—that is, a rule of law that enables us to get rid of the government. No majority, however large, ought to be qualified to abandon this rule of law.”

Popper wrote this elucidation for The Economist; where he explains his paradoxical thought in the following manner: “In ‘The Open Society and its Enemies’ I suggested that an entirely new problem should be recognized as the fundamental problem of a rational political theory… how can we best avoid situations in which a bad ruler causes too much harm?

When we say that the best solution known to us is a constitution that allows a majority vote to dismiss the government, then we do not say the majority vote will always be right. We do not even say that it will usually be right.”

For Popper, the two-party system is a requirement not because any of these parties possesses the truth, but because they can lose, be removed from power, and thus given a chance to think things through and improve.  Consequently, it is the very possibility of losing, and therefore improving, that makes democracies dynamic and progressive:

“From the point of view of the new theory, Election day ought to be a Day of Judgment. As Pericles of Athens said in about 430 BC, ‘although only a few may originate a policy, we are all able to judge it.’ Of course, we may misjudge it; in fact, we often do. But if we have lived through a party’s period of power and have felt its repercussions, we have at least some qualifications for judgment…In order to make a majority government probable, we need something approaching a two-party system…. for such a system encourages a continual process of self-criticism by the two parties.”

For Popper, the two –party system is preferable since “an inclination to self-criticism after an electoral defeat is far more pronounced in countries with a two-party system than in those where there are several parties.” It is this self-criticism of a losing party; this desire to reform and modernize that provides healthy development for democracies.

The rule of the last two decades did not improve the economic life of the majority of Americans; in fact, it resulted in the drastic redistribution of wealth. It didn’t bring peace to the world stage. In fact, we are standing on the threshold of nuclear confrontation.

Yet, in the manner of the Germany in 1930s, we are rapidly overstepping democratic principles for the sake of one party and its global ambitions, of the consensus formulated by the PNAC, Council of Foreign Affairs, Atlantic Council, and other think tanks, along with the State Department, and the press, all of whom argue for the same policies all over again. Even now, weeks before the elections, we are reading about the same bureaucrats in Pentagon, CIA, or State Department, haggling for the place in the future Hillary cabinet.  

It is those rascals that can be sent home, who are worthy of being voted in. And conversely, it is those rascals, who want to stay in power no matter how wrongheaded, dangerous, or unpopular their policies are that should be thrown out.

There is no absolute truth in politics, there is no end of history, and there is no one size fits all. Popper understood it much better than Fukuyama. History never ends: parties should continue to lose, and thus given a chance to come up with better policies for the next election. Only when Democratic Party is forced to take a back seat, it will contemplate on how it can improve, and offer new policies for the country.

Propping up Hillary as the best embodiment of the failed policies, allowing the same bankers, diplomats, and generals to metastasize into next election and hold the same key positions in the Pentagon, the State Department, CIA or Treasury, is ultimately, the embrace of one party system; it provides a profound disservice to the United States and its democratic tradition.

At the last presidential debate this electoral season, Hillary Clinton pretended to be appalled by Trump’s hypothetical refusal to accept the results of the November elections. Mass media echo chambers went into the override mode bemoaning Trump’s disrespect for the venerable political tradition of peaceful transition of power. Trump was never in power, however.

What is truly appalling is the real, not the hypothetical threat of turning US into a one party system, the system which is so entrenched that it can only mock, dismiss, and conspire to denigrate its opponents. Maybe Mr. Forrestal was right after all. Russians, or rather Soviets, are here, but they do not hack the emails, they write them.

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The mainstream media does not want you to think [Video]

It is difficult to tell if recent reports like this really represent a realization for the media, but this interview rings true nonetheless.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Several recent stories on Fox, Breitbart, and here on The Duran all address the increasingly obvious bias of the mainstream media with regard to news reporting. We discussed on The Duran how Chris Wallace of Fox News refused to hear details from White House Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller about why the recently declared National Emergency is in fact legitimate.

This piece revealed that the media is very actively trying to control and direct what information they want the public to hear, rather than truly reporting the news, or interviewing people to get their takes on things, and to perhaps fully interview all sides in a controversy and then let the American public decide for themselves what to think.

This used to exist in more gentlemanly debate programs in some fashion, such as with the TV debate program Point Counterpoint, but now, the bias of the reporter or of the network is the primary operator in determining the outcome of the interview, rather than the information that is available about the story.

This has helped create a news and information culture in the United States that is truly insane. As examples, consider these paraphrased headlines, all occurring within the last few years:

All of these are probably familiar to most readers. Many of them are still repeated and acted on as if they were real. But the articles we linked to behind most of these ledes are examples of the disproof, usually 100% disproof, of these. They are hoaxes, or reports built on circumstantial evidence without any proof, or in the worst cases, pure slander and propaganda.

One reporter for CBS news, 60 Minutes anchor Lara Logan, discussed this in an interview with retired Navy SEAL Mike Ritland, for his own podcast program, which was picked up by the MediaIte website. The video of her interview is quite lengthy but starting at about 02:14:00 there is a particular segment that the MediaIte writers called to attention. We include this segment in the video.

PARENTAL ADVISORY: The video is unrestricted in regards to language and there is some profanity. Parents, please listen first before letting your children watch this video.

A major point Mrs Logan makes here is that 85% of the employ of the mainstream media in the USA consist of registered Democrats. She also speaks forcefully against the use of stereotypes, and suggests the best place to start is actual facts. This means that most journalists are coming into this work with a bias, which is not set aside for the sake of the facts of the story.

Probably the most key point comes at 2:18:20 in the video is how Lara Logan is taught the way to discern whether or not someone in journalism is lying to you:

“Someone very smart told me a long time ago, that, ‘how do you know you are being lied to?’, ‘how do you know you are being manipulated?’, ‘how do you know there is something not right with the coverage?’, when they simplify it all, and there is no gray. There is no gray. It’s all one way.

“Well, life isn’t like that. If it doesn’t match real life, it is probably not. Something is wrong.”

Lara Logan then pointed out the comparison of the mainstream media’s constant negative coverage of President Trump against the reality of his work, that, regardless of one’s own personal bias, it does not match that everything the President does is bad. She also highlighted the point that one’s personal views should not come into how to report a news story.

Yet in our days, it not only comes into the story, it drives the narrative for which the story just becomes an example of “proof” that the narrative is “true.” 

Tucker Carlson talked vividly about the same characteristic on his program Monday night on Fox News.

He points out that the 3,000 yearly shooting in Chicago get very little news coverage, but that is because these are not as “useful” as the Jussie Smollett story is.

This is an example of using an event or a person’s actions to satisfy a politically biased propaganda narrative, rather than report the news.

This is not occasional, as the list of news headlines given above show. This is a constant practice across most of the mainstream media. Probably no one who gives interviews on the major networks is exempt, for even Mr. Carlson often resorts to cornering tactics when interviewing liberals in an apparent attempt to make the liberal look ridiculous and the point of view he espouses to look vindicated through that ridiculousness.

While this is emotionally invigorating for the Carlson fan who wants to see him “eviscerate” the liberal, it is very bad journalism. In fact, it is not journalism at all; it is sensationalism in a nasty sense.

It also insults the viewer, perhaps without them knowing it, because such reporting is the same as telling the viewer “WE ARE IN CONTROL!” and that the viewer must simply go along with the narrative given.

It is very bad when what should be information reporting, policy discussion, or debate becomes infected with this. Ideas, the product of (hopefully) rational and discursive reasoning, are pushed aside by pure emotion and mass sensationalism. Put metaphorically, it is the new look of bread and circuses, keeping the masses entertained while anything else might be happening.

Sometimes the motive for this is not so sinister. After all, we have a 24 hour news cycle now. In the 1970’s we didn’t. And in those times, the calibre of news reported was much higher. Reporting was far more careful. The Pulitzer Prize winners  Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did their incredible exposé on the doings of President Richard Nixon under the directorship of the Washington Post editor, which demanded triple-checking of everything, making sure that all information was factual, accurate and genuine. While the story was indeed sensational, more importantly, it was true.

Now we have a lot of sensation, but very little to zero truth. As an example, every one of the ledes linked above is not proven to be true, in fact the truth in many of these stories is the opposite of what the headline says.

This would not be much of a problem if the media lies were not absorbed and reacted on by their readers, listeners and viewers. But the fact is that there are a significant number of consumers of mainstream media news that do react to it. The Covington High School incident showed this in perhaps the most frightening way, with open calls for violence against teenagers and high school students, requested by professionals, people that are supposed to be adults, such as Kathy Griffin, Reza Aslan, and GQ writer Nathaniel Friedman, who called for these kids to be “doxxed”, which as we reported, is an action that can be deadly.

We are in the times where the love of many has gone cold, and all is about expediency and selfishness. While there are a few outlets and a few journalists that still retain interest in recording and disseminating the truth, the reality is that most of what is out there is tainted by the drive for attention and sensationalism.

The media that engages in such behavior is actually hurting people, rather than informing and helping them.

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Russia and China Are Containing the US to Reshape the World Order

China and Russia are leading this historic transition while being careful to avoid direct war with the United States.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Fortunately the world today is very different from that of 2003, Washington’s decrees are less effective in determining the world order. But in spite of this new, more balanced division of power amongst several powers, Washington appears ever more aggressive towards allies and enemies alike, regardless of which US president is in office.

China and Russia are leading this historic transition while being careful to avoid direct war with the United States. To succeed in this endeavor, they use a hybrid strategy involving diplomacy, military support to allies, and economic guarantees to countries under Washington’s attack.

The United States considers the whole planet its playground. Its military and political doctrine is based on the concept of liberal hegemony, as explained by political scientist John Mearsheimer. This imperialistic attitude has, over time, created a coordinated and semi-official front of countries resisting this liberal hegemony. The recent events in Venezuela indicate why cooperation between these counter-hegemonic countries is essential to accelerating the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar reality, where the damage US imperialism is able to bring about is diminished.

Moscow and Beijing lead the world by hindering Washington

Moscow and Beijing, following a complex relationship from the period of the Cold War, have managed to achieve a confluence of interests in their grand objectives over the coming years. The understanding they have come to mainly revolves around stemming the chaos Washington has unleashed on the world.

The guiding principle of the US military-intelligence apparatus is that if a country cannot be controlled (such as Iraq following the 2003 invasion), then it has to be destroyed in order to save it from falling into Sino-Russian camp. This is what the United States has attempted to do with Syria, and what it intends to do with Venezuela.

The Middle East is an area that has drawn global attention for some time, with Washington clearly interested in supporting its Israeli and Saudi allies in the region. Israel pursues a foreign policy aimed at dismantling the Iranian and Syrian states. Saudi Arabia also pursues a similar strategy against Iran and Syria, in addition to fueling a rift within the Arab world stemming from its differences with Qatar.

The foreign-policy decisions of Israel and Saudi Arabia have been supported by Washington for decades, for two very specific reasons: the influence of the Israel lobby in the US, and the need to ensure that Saudi Arabia and the OPEC countries sell oil in US dollars, thereby preserving the role of the US dollar as the global reserve currency.

The US dollar remaining the global reserve currency is essential to Washington being able to maintain her role as superpower and is crucial to her hybrid strategy against her geopolitical rivals. Sanctions are a good example of how Washington uses the global financial and economic system, based on the US dollar, as a weapon against her enemies. In the case of the Middle East, Iran is the main target, with sanctions aimed at preventing the Islamic Republic from trading on foreign banking systems. Washington has vetoed Syria’s ability to procure contracts to reconstruct the country, with European companies being threatened that they risk no longer being able to work in the US if they accept to work in Syria.

Beijing and Moscow have a clear diplomatic strategy, jointly rejecting countless motions advanced by the US, the UK and France at the United Nations Security Council condemning Iran and Syria. On the military front, Russia continues her presence in Syria. China’s economic efforts, although not yet fully visible in Syria and Iran, will be the essential part of reviving these countries destroyed by years of war inflicted by Washington and her allies.

China and Russia’s containment strategy in the Middle East aims to defend Syria and Iran diplomatically using international law, something that is continuously ridden roughshod over by the US and her regional allies. Russia’s military action has been crucial to curbing and defeating the inhuman aggression launched against Syria, and has also drawn a red line that Israel cannot cross in its efforts to attack Iran. The defeat of the United States in Syria has created an encouraging precedent for the rest of the world. Washington has been forced to abandon the original plans to getting rid of Assad.

Syria will be remembered in the future as the beginning of the multipolar revolution, whereby the United States was contained in military-conventional terms as a result of the coordinated actions of China and Russia.

China’s economic contribution provides for such urgent needs as the supply of food, government loans, and medicines to countries under Washington’s economic siege. So long as the global financial system remains anchored to the US dollar, Washington remains able to cause a lot of pain to countries refusing to obey her diktats.

The effectiveness of economic sanctions varies from country to country. The Russian Federation used sanctions imposed by the West as an impetus to obtain a complete, or almost autonomous, refinancing of its main foreign debt, as well as to producing at home what had previously been imported from abroad. Russia’s long-term strategy is to open up to China and other Asian countries as the main market for imports and exports, reducing contacts with the Europeans if countries like France and Germany continue in their hostility towards the Russian Federation.

Thanks to Chinese investments, together with planned projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the hegemony of the US dollar is under threat in the medium to long term. The Chinese initiatives in the fields of infrastructure, energy, rail, road and technology connections among dozens of countries, added to the continuing need for oil, will drive ever-increasing consumption of oil in Asia that is currently paid for in US dollars.

Moscow is in a privileged position, enjoying good relations with all the major producers of oil and LNG, from Qatar to Saudi Arabia, and including Iran, Venezuela and Nigeria. Moscow’s good relations with Riyadh are ultimately aimed at the creation of an OPEC+ arrangement that includes Russia.

Particular attention should be given to the situation in Venezuela, one of the most important countries in OPEC. Riyadh sent to Caracas in recent weeks a tanker carrying two million barrels of oil, and Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has taken a neutral stance regarding Venezuela, maintaining a predictable balance between Washington and Caracas.

These joint initiatives, led by Moscow and Beijing, are aimed at reducing the use of the US dollar by countries that are involved in the BRI and adhere to the OPEC+ format. This diversification away from the US dollar, to cover financial transactions between countries involving investment, oil and LNG, will see the progressive abandonment of the US dollar as a result of agreements that increasingly do away with the dollar.

For the moment, Riyadh does not seem intent on losing US military protection. But recent events to do with Khashoggi, as well as the failure to list Saudi Aramco on the New York or London stock exchanges, have severely undermined the confidence of the Saudi royal family in her American allies. The meeting between Putin and MBS at the G20 in Bueno Aires seemed to signal a clear message to Washington as well as the future of the US dollar.

Moscow and Beijing’s military, economic and diplomatic efforts see their culmination in the Astana process. Turkey is one of the principle countries behind the aggression against Syria; but Moscow and Tehran have incorporated it into the process of containing the regional chaos spawned by the United States. Thanks to timely agreements in Syria known as “deconfliction zones”, Damascus has advanced, city by city, to clear the country of the terrorists financed by Washington, Riyadh and Ankara.

Qatar, an economic guarantor of Turkey, which in return offers military protection to Doha, is also moving away from the Israeli-Saudi camp as a result of Sino-Russian efforts in the energy, diplomatic and military fields. Doha’s move has also been because of the fratricidal diplomatic-economic war launched by Riyadh against Doha, being yet another example of the contagious effect of the chaos created by Washington, especially on US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Washington loses military influence in the region thanks to the presence of Moscow, and this leads traditional US allies like Turkey and Qatar to gravitate towards a field composed essentially of the countries opposed to Washington.

Washington’s military and diplomatic defeat in the region will in the long run make it possible to change the economic structure of the Middle East. A multipolar reality will prevail, where regional powers like Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran will feel compelled to interact economically with the whole Eurasian continent as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The basic principle for Moscow and Beijing is the use of military, economic and diplomatic means to contain the United States in its unceasing drive to kill, steal and destroy.

From the Middle East to Asia

Beijing has focussed in Asia on the diplomatic field, facilitating talks between North and South Korea, accelerating the internal dialogue on the peninsula, thereby excluding external actors like the United States (who only have the intention of sabotaging the talks). Beijing’s military component has also played an important role, although never used directly as the Russian Federation did in Syria. Washington’s options vis-a-vis the Korean peninsular were strongly limited by the fact that bordering the DPRK were huge nuclear and conventional forces, that is to say, the deterrence offered by Russia and China. The combined military power of the DPRK, Russia and China made any hypothetical invasion and bombing of Pyongyang an impractical option for the United States.

As in the past, the economic lifeline extended to Pyongyang by Moscow and Beijing proved to be decisive in limiting the effects of the embargo and the complete financial war that Washington had declared on North Korea. Beijing and Moscow’s skilled diplomatic work with Seoul produced an effect similar to that of Turkey in the Middle East, with South Korea slowly seeming to drift towards the multipolar world offered by Russia and China, with important economic implications and prospects for unification of the peninsula.

Russia and China – through a combination of playing a clever game of diplomacy, military deterrence, and offering to the Korean peninsula the prospect of economic investment through the BRI – have managed to frustrate Washington’s efforts to unleash chaos on their borders via the Korean peninsula.

The United States seems to be losing its imperialistic mojo most significantly in Asia and the Middle East, not only militarily but also diplomatically and economically.

The situation is different in Europe and Venezuela, two geographical areas where Washington still enjoys greater geopolitical weight than in Asia and the Middle East. In both cases, the effectiveness of the two Sino-Russian resistance – in military, economic and diplomatic terms – is more limited, for different reasons. This situation, in line with the principle of America First and the return to the Monroe doctrine, will be the subject of the next article.

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Nearly assassinated by his own fighters, al-Baghdadi and his caliphate on its last legs (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 178.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how the Islamic State has been rapidly losing territory over the last two years in Syria and Iraq, due to efforts by Russian and Syrian forces, as well as the US and their Kurdish allies.

The jihadist caliphate has lost most of its forces and resources, leading it to go into hiding.

Al-Masdar News is reporting that Daesh* leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reportedly attacked in a village near Hajin by some of the terrorist organisation’s foreign fighters in an apparent coup attempt, The Guardian reported, citing anonymous intelligence sources. Baghdadi reportedly survived the alleged coup attempt, with his bodyguards taking him into hiding in the nearby desert.

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Meanwhile European leaders are shocked at US President Trump’s ISIS ultimatum. Via Zerohedge

After President Trump’s provocative tweets on Sunday wherein he urged European countries to “take back” and prosecute some 800 ISIS foreign fighters as US forces withdraw from Syria, or else “we will be forced to release them,” the message has been met with shock, confusion and indifference in Europe. Trump had warned the terrorists could subsequently “permeate Europe”.

Possibly the most pathetic and somewhat ironic response came from Denmark, where a spokesperson for Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said Copenhagen won’t take back Danish Islamic State foreign fighters to stand trial in the country, according to the German Press Agency DPA“We are talking about the most dangerous people in the world. We should not take them back,” the spokesperson stressed, and added that the war in Syria is ongoing, making the US president’s statement premature.

Germany’s response was also interesting, given a government official framed ISIS fighters’ ability to return as a “right”.  A spokeswoman for Germany’s interior ministry said, “In principle, all German citizens and those suspected of having fought for so-called Islamic State have the right to return.” She even added that German ISIS fighters have “consular access” — as if the terrorists would walk right up to some embassy window in Turkey or Beirut!

Noting that the Iraqi government has also of late contacted Germany to transport foreign fighters to their home country for trial, she added, “But in Syria, the German government cannot guarantee legal and consular duties for jailed German citizens due to the armed conflict there.”

France, for its part, has already agreed to repatriate over 130 French Islamic State members as part of a deal reached in January with US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who are holding them, after which they will go through the French legal system. However, French Secretary of State Laurent Nuñez still insisted that the west’s Kurdish allies would never merely let ISIS terrorists walk out their battlefield prisons free.

“It’s the Kurds who hold them and we have every confidence in their ability to keep them,” Nuñez told French broadcaster BFMTV on Sunday. “Anyway, if these individuals return to the national territory, they all have ongoing judicial proceedings, they will all be put on trial, and incarcerated,” he said, in comments which appeared to leave it up to others to make happen.

And representing the Belgian government, Justice Minister Koen Geens charged Trump with blindsiding his European allies with the demand, which included Trump underscoring that it is “time for others to step up and do the job” before it’s too late. “It would have been nice for friendly nations to have these kinds of questions raised through the usual diplomatic channels rather than a tweet in the middle of the night,” Geens said during a broadcast interview on Sunday, according to the AFP.

Meanwhile in the UK the issue has recently become politically explosive as debate over so-called British jihadist bride Shamima Begum continues. The now 19-year old joined Islamic State in 2015 after fleeing the UK when she was just 15. She’s now given birth in a Syrian refugee camp and is demanding safe return to Britain for fear that she and her child could die in the camp, so near the war zone.

Conservatives in Britain, such as Interior Minister Sajid Javid have argued that “dangerous individuals” coming back to the UK from battlefields in the Middle East should be stripped of their British citizenship. He said this option has already been “so far exercises more than 100 times,” otherwise he also advocates prosecution of apprehended returning suspects “regardless of their age and gender.”

Identified as French nationals fighting within ISIS’ ranks, via Khaama press news agency

The UN has estimated that in total up to 42,000 foreign fighters traveled to Iraq and Syria to join IS — which appears a very conservative estimate — and which includes about 900 from Germany and 850 from Britain.

SDF leaders have previously complained about the “lack the capacity” for mass incarceration of ISIS terrorists and the inability to have proper battlefield trials for them. Recent estimates have put the number of ISIS militants in US-SDF battlefield jails at over 1000, though Trump put the number at 800 in his tweet.

However, even once they do return to Europe it’s unclear the extent to which they’ll be properly prosecuted and locked in prison by European authorities.

For example, another fresh controversy that lately erupted in Britain involved a 29-year old UK woman who traveled to join ISIS, and was convicted for membership in a terrorist group upon her return to Britain. She was jailed on a six year sentence in 2016, but is now already walking free a mere less than three years after her conviction.

 

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