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Russia threatens American dominance says US general

Russia’s influence in the Central Asian countries is “problematic,” as that could “limit US engagement options” and endanger NATO’s supply lines into Afghanistan.

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As America seeks to preserve its hegemony, in this case in the Middle East, it has more and more  continued to run into obstacles that have either directly or indirectly been erected by Russia’s activity in the region through its policy to eradicate ISIS and to provide stability to the Syrian nation in helping to preserve its territorial integrity.

These interests, however, are not Russia’s alone, but are shared both by Iran and Turkey, and therefore are also considered by the US general as a threat to America’s dominance in the region, as well as its regional interests, a perspective that is also expounded in the new military doctrine that was released at the beginning of this month.  RT reports:

The US is seeking to contain Iran’s rising influence in the Middle East and fend off challenges to Washington’s hegemony posed by Russia and China, the top general commanding US forces in the region told Congress.

General Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), briefed the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) on Tuesday on the efforts against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and the wars in Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen. All of which fall under the purview of CENTCOM, “the only geographic combatant command executing active combat operations,” Votel pointed out.

The US has partitioned the globe into six combatant commands. Under this arrangement, CENTCOM’s area of responsibility extends from the Libyan border with Egypt to Pakistan’s border with India, and from Kazakhstan’s border with Russia to Sudan

From Votel’s 45-page prepared testimony, it was apparent that the US regards Iran as the biggest challenge in the region, followed by Russian and Chinese efforts to chip away at Washington’s hegemony.

“An increase in Russian surface-to-air missile systems in the region threatens our access and ability to dominate the airspace,” Votel complained at one point, discussing Syria.

Unlike the US forces present in that country, Russian forces are in Syria at the invitation of the government in Damascus. Votel argued that the legal basis for the presence of US troops was the “collective self-defense of Iraq” from IS.

“The principle reason we are in Syria is to defeat ISIS, and that remains our sole and single task,” Votel told the lawmakers, echoing last week’s remarks by President Donald Trump.

Declaring the IS largely defeated, Votel cautioned that “Sunni populations remain vulnerable to identity-based recruitment”into terrorist groups, adding that “impressionable youth in this tumultuous region, seeking community and justice, are highly susceptible to extremists’ teachings.”


Votel made no acknowledgment of any role Russia’s intervention in Syria has played in the demise of IS. Rather, the general had some harsh words for Moscow, accusing Russia of playing “arsonist and firefighter,” fueling the conflict in Syria and then “claiming to serve as an arbiter to resolve the dispute.” As Votel explained, Moscow was offering diplomatic alternatives to “Western-led political negotiations” in Syria and Afghanistan.

Russia’s influence in the Central Asian countries that were formerly parts of the Soviet Union is “problematic,” as that could “limit US engagement options” and endanger NATO’s supply lines into Afghanistan, Votel said.

The general described Russia and Iran as “historic rivals” who nonetheless share interests, “including an overarching desire to sideline, if not expel, the US from the region.” The Russian and Persian empires did fight a series of wars over the Caucasus from 1651 to 1828. Iran was an ally of Washington from the 1953 CIA coup to the 1979 Islamic revolution, at which point the two countries became bitter enemies.

This is reflected in Votel’s testimony, in which he refers to common Washington tropes about Iranian imperialism and the “Shia crescent” from Iran to Lebanon. However, the CENTCOM chief seemed to backtrack from the previous narrative about the war in Yemen being instigated by Iran, choosing to describe it as a civil war in which Iran intervened to harm its regional rival Saudi Arabia.

“The conflict in Yemen has opened opportunities for Iran, which continues to provide support to the Houthis with the aim of building a proxy to pressure the Saudi-led coalition and expand its sphere of influence,” Votel said. He also revealed that the US has increased the number of advisers to the Saudi military over the past year, which should “help mitigate incidents of avoidable civilian casualties in Yemen.”

The Saudi-led coalition has been fighting in Yemen since March 2015, without much success.

Though Votel explicitly denied that Washington’s mission in Syria is to counter Iran, he said that the US should “build [a] strong relationship” with the Iraqi military and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) “to impede Iran’s objectives in establishing lines of communications in these critical areas.”

Intervention by the US-led coalition and “regional powers” – by which Votel presumably meant Turkey – has already “blocked Assad’s ability to recapture major portions of northern Syria,” the general said, referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

He also talked about “ad-hoc democratic organizations” that have been established in territories liberated from IS by the SDF, which rely on US and coalition funding for survival. Continued funding would “help them maintain popular support and set conditions for enduring, stable governance,” said Votel.

However, US efforts to work with the Kurds in northern Syria have been threatened by the recent Turkish military incursion into the Kurdish-held district of Afrin. While the Kurdish militia that are there are not part of the US-backed SDF, there are family and tribal ties between them.

“Our alliance with Turkey is paramount,” Votel said, “but we must continue to urge restraint as their actions have clearly increased risk to our campaign to defeat ISIS.“

The CENTCOM chief also argued that Moscow and Tehran are seeking an end to the Syrian war because they are pouring “billions of dollars” in aid into Damascus.

Yet, in the same hearing, he argued that Russia “has to admit it is not capable or that it doesn’t want to play a role in ending the Syrian conflict,” and that Moscow’s role was “incredibly destabilizing.” No explanation was offered for the discrepancy.

Clearly, then, in Votel’s view, Russia’s actions in the region, both military and diplomatic in nature, serve only to counter American interests in the region. These American interests, the general argues, could much more efficiently be realized if Russia wasn’t stirring things up over there.

Even though it is now well known that America is funding and training militaristic terrorist organizations in the region that continue to threaten stability in Syria, and beyond, the general bills Russia as the one who is throwing fuel on the flames of instability and violence.

This is, then, a very clear case of projection on the part of the general, who is knowingly lying to Congress about what America is doing, and with regard to the part that Russia is playing with its legal actions and efforts to eradicate terrorism and establish safety and security in the region.

In a recent testimony before the same congressional committee, Admiral Herry Harris, head of US Pacific Command, a similar such position was articulated relative to China and its activities in the South China Sea as the reason why America should be prepared for war against China. In keeping with the new military doctrine, America’s top brass is very concerned for American hegemony and vehemently argues for “necessary preparations” and strategic activities pursued in order to preserve it as well as to counter these new threats, namely Russia and China.

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New York Times hit piece on Trump and NATO exposes alliance as outdated and obsolete (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 61.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at the New York Times hit piece citing anonymous sources, with information that the U.S. President dared to question NATO’s viability.

Propaganda rag, the NYT, launched its latest presidential smear aimed at discrediting Trump and provoking the establishment, warmonger left into more impeachment – Twenty-fifth Amendment talking points.

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Via The American Conservative


The New York Times scored a serious scoop when it revealed on Monday that President Trump had questioned in governmental conversations—on more than one occasion, apparently—America’s membership in NATO. Unfortunately the paper then slipped into its typical mode of nostrum journalism. My Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “nostrum” as “quack medicine” entailing “exaggerated claims.” Here we had quack journalism executed in behalf of quack diplomacy.

The central exaggerated claim is contained in the first sentence, in which it is averred that NATO had “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is wrong, as can be seen through just a spare amount of history.

True, NATO saved Europe from the menace of Russian Bolshevism. But it did so not over 70 years but over 40 years—from 1949 to 1989. That’s when the Soviet Union had 1.3 million Soviet and client-state troops poised on Western Europe’s doorstep, positioned for an invasion of Europe through the lowlands of Germany’s Fulda Gap.

How was this possible? It was possible because Joseph Stalin had pushed his armies farther and farther into the West as the German Wehrmacht collapsed at the end of World War II. In doing so, and in the process capturing nearly all of Eastern Europe, he ensured that the Soviets had no Western enemies within a thousand miles of Leningrad or within 1,200 miles of Moscow. This vast territory represented not only security for the Russian motherland (which enjoys no natural geographical barriers to deter invasion from the West) but also a potent staging area for an invasion of Western Europe.

The first deterrent against such an invasion, which Stalin would have promulgated had he thought he could get away with it, was America’s nuclear monopoly. By the time that was lost, NATO had emerged as a powerful and very necessary deterrent. The Soviets, concluding that the cost of an invasion was too high, defaulted to a strategy of undermining Western interests anywhere around the world where that was possible. The result was global tensions stirred up at various global trouble spots, most notably Korea and Vietnam.

But Europe was saved, and NATO was the key. It deserves our respect and even reverence for its profound success as a military alliance during a time of serious threat to the West.

But then the threat went away. Gone were the 1.3 million Soviet and client-state troops. Gone was Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Indeed, gone, by 1991, was the Soviet Union itself, an artificial regime of brutal ideology superimposed upon the cultural entity of Mother Russia. It was a time for celebration.

But it was also a time to contemplate the precise nature of the change that had washed over the world and to ponder what that might mean for old institutions—including NATO, a defensive military alliance created to deter aggression from a menacing enemy to the east. Here’s where Western thinking went awry. Rather than accepting as a great benefit the favorable developments enhancing Western security—the Soviet military retreat, the territorial reversal, the Soviet demise—the West turned NATO into a territorial aggressor of its own, absorbing nations that had been part of the Soviet sphere of control and pushing right up to the Russian border. Now Leningrad (renamed St. Petersburg after the obliteration of the menace of Soviet communism) resides within a hundred miles of NATO military forces, while Moscow is merely 200 miles from Western troops.

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has absorbed 13 nations, some on the Russian border, others bordering lands that had been part of Russia’s sphere of interest for centuries. This constitutes a policy of encirclement, which no nation can accept without protest or pushback. And if NATO were to absorb those lands of traditional Russian influence—particularly Ukraine and Georgia—that would constitute a major threat to Russian security, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to emphasize to Western leaders for years.

So, no, NATO has not deterred Russian aggression for 70 years. It did so for 40 and has maintained a destabilizing posture toward Russia ever since. The problem here is the West’s inability to perceive how changed geopolitical circumstances might require a changed geopolitical strategy. The encirclement strategy has had plenty of critics—George Kennan before he died; academics John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, and Robert David English; former diplomat Jack Matlock; the editors of The Nation. But their voices have tended to get drowned out by the nostrum diplomacy and the nostrum journalism that supports it at every turn.

You can’t drown out Donald Trump because he’s president of the United States. And so he has to be traduced, ridiculed, dismissed, and marginalized. That’s what the Times story, by Julian Barnes and Helene Cooper, sought to do. Consider the lead, designed to emphasize just how outlandish Trump’s musings are before the reader even has a chance to absorb what he may have been thinking: “There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” Translation: “Take that, Mr. President! You’re an idiot.”

Henry Kissinger had something interesting to say about Trump in a recent interview with the Financial Times. “I think Trump may be one of those figures in history,” said the former secretary of state, “who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretenses.” One Western pretense about Russia, so ardently enforced by the likes of Julian Barnes and Helene Cooper (who, it may be safe to say, know less about world affairs and their history than Henry Kissinger), is that nothing really changed with the Soviet collapse and NATO had to turn aggressive in order to keep that menacing nation in its place.

Trump clearly doesn’t buy that pretense. He said during the campaign that NATO was obsolete. Then he backtracked, saying he only wanted other NATO members to pay their fair share of the cost of deterrence. He even confessed, after Hillary Clinton identified NATO as “the strongest military alliance in the history of the world,” that he only said NATO was obsolete because he didn’t know much about it. But he was learning—enough, it appears, to support as president Montenegro’s entry into NATO in 2017. Is Montenegro, with 5,332 square miles and some 620,000 citizens, really a crucial element in Europe’s desperate project to protect itself against Putin’s Russia?

We all know that Trump is a crude figure—not just in his disgusting discourse but in his fumbling efforts to execute political decisions. As a politician, he often seems like a doctor attempting to perform open-heart surgery while wearing mittens. His idle musings about leaving NATO are a case in point—an example of a politician who lacks the skill and finesse to nudge the country in necessary new directions.

But Kissinger has a point about the man. America and the world have changed, while the old ways of thinking have not kept pace. The pretenses of the old have blinded the status quo defenders into thinking nothing has changed. Trump, almost alone among contemporary American politicians, is asking questions to which the world needs new answers. NATO, in its current configuration and outlook, is a danger to peace, not a guarantor of it.


Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington journalist and publishing executive, is the author most recently of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century

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Nigel Farage To Back Another “Vote Leave” Campaign If UK Holds Second Brexit Referendum

Nigel Farage said Friday that he would be willing to wage another “Vote Leave” campaign, even if he needed to use another party as the “vehicle” for his opposition.

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Via Zerohedge


Pro-European MPs from various political parties are pushing back against claims made by Prime Minister Theresa May’s government that a second Brexit referendum – which supporters have branded as a “People’s Vote” on May’s deal – would take roughly 14 months to organize, according to RT.

But while support for a second vote grows, one of the most notorious proponents of the original “Vote Leave” campaign is hinting at a possible return to politics to try and fight the effort.

After abandoning UKIP, the party he helped create, late last year, Nigel Farage said Friday that he would be willing to wage another “Vote Leave” campaign, even if he needed to use another party as the “vehicle” for his opposition. Farage also pointed out that a delay of Brexit Day would likely put it after the European Parliament elections in May.

“I think, I fear that the House of Commons is going to effectively overturn that Brexit. To me, the most likely outcome of all of this is an extension of Article 50. There could be another referendum,” he told Sky News.

According to official government guidance shown to lawmakers on Wednesday, which was subsequently leaked to the Telegraph, as May tries to head off a push by ministers who see a second referendum as the best viable alternative to May’s deal – a position that’s becoming increasingly popular with Labour Party MPs.

“In order to inform the discussions, a very short paper set out in factual detail the number of months that would be required, this was illustrative only and our position of course is that there will be no second referendum,,” May said. The statement comes as May has been meeting with ministers and leaders from all parties to try to find a consensus deal that could potentially pass in the House of Commons.

The 14 month estimate is how long May and her government expect it would take to pass the primary legislation calling for the referendum (seven months), conduct the question testing with the election committee (12 weeks), pass secondary legislation (six weeks) and conduct the campaigns (16 weeks).

May has repeatedly insisted that a second referendum wouldn’t be feasible because it would require a lengthy delay of Brexit Day, and because it would set a dangerous precedent that wouldn’t offer any more clarity (if some MPs are unhappy with the outcome, couldn’t they just push for a third referendum?). A spokesperson for No. 10 Downing Street said the guidance was produced purely for the purpose of “illustrative discussion” and that the government continued to oppose another vote.

Meanwhile, a vote on May’s “Plan B”, expected to include a few minor alterations from the deal’s previous iteration, has been called for Jan. 29, prompting some MPs to accuse May of trying to run out the clock. May is expected to present the new deal on Monday.

Former Tory Attorney General and pro-remainer MP Dominic Grieve blasted May’s timetable as wrong and said that the government “must be aware of it themselves,” while former Justice Minister Dr Phillip Lee, who resigned his cabinet seat in June over May’s Brexit policy, denounced her warning as “nonsense.”

As May pieces together her revised deal, more MPs are urging her to drop her infamous “red lines” (Labour in particular would like to see the UK remain part of the Customs Union), but with no clear alternative to May’s plan emerging, a delay of Brexit Day is looking like a virtual certainty.

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The National Security Agency Is A Criminal Organization

The National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Paul Craig Roberts

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Via Paul Craig Roberts…


Years before Edward Snowden provided documented proof that the National Security Agency was really a national insecurity agency as it was violating law and the US Constitution and spying indiscriminately on American citizens, William Binney, who designed and developed the NSA spy program revealed the illegal and unconstitutional spying. Binney turned whistleblower, because NSA was using the program to spy on Americans. As Binney was well known to the US Congress, he did not think he needed any NSA document to make his case. But what he found out was “Congress would never hear me because then they’d lose plausible deniability. That was really their key. They needed to have plausible deniability so they can continue this massive spying program because it gave them power over everybody in the world. Even the members of Congress had power against others [in Congress]; they had power on judges on the Supreme Court, the federal judges, all of them. That’s why they’re so afraid. Everybody’s afraid because all this data that’s about them, the central agencies — the intelligence agencies — they have it. And that’s why Senator Schumer warned President Trump earlier, a few months ago, that he shouldn’t attack the intelligence community because they’ve got six ways to Sunday to come at you. That’s because it’s like J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids. . . . it’s leverage against every member of parliament and every government in the world.”

To prevent whistle-blowing, NSA has “a program now called ‘see something, say something’ about your fellow workers. That’s what the Stasi did. That’s why I call [NSA] the new New Stasi Agency. They’re picking up all the techniques from the Stasi and the KGB and the Gestapo and the SS. They just aren’t getting violent yet that we know of — internally in the US, outside is another story.”

As Binney had no documents to give to the media, blowing the whistle had no consequence for NSA. This is the reason that Snowden released the documents that proved NSA to be violating both law and the Constitution, but the corrupt US media focused blame on Snowden as a “traitor” and not on NSA for its violations.

Whistleblowers are protected by federal law. Regardless, the corrupt US government tried to prosecute Binney for speaking out, but as he had taken no classified document, a case could not be fabricated against him.

Binney blames the NSA’s law-breaking on Dick “Darth” Cheney. He says NSA’s violations of law and Constitution are so extreme that they would have to have been cleared at the top of the government.

Binney describes the spy network, explains that it was supposed to operate only against foreign enemies, and that using it for universal spying so overloads the system with data that the system fails to discover many terrorist activities. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50932.htm

Apparently, the National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately for Americans, there are many Americans who blindly trust the government and provide the means, the misuse of which is used to enslave us. A large percentage of the work in science and technology serves not to free people but to enslave them. By now there is no excuse for scientists and engineers not to know this. Yet they persist in their construction of the means to destroy liberty.

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