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The west accepted Salafist “refugees” for decades, now it’s paying the price

There is no greater structural threat to a secular Muslim-majority country than Salafists, which is why the West welcomed those “fleeing” from the “political and religious repression” in their homelands in order to weaponize them for future Hybrid War use.

Andrew Korybko

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Brits have been struggling to figure out how their government dropped the ball and failed to prevent the Manchester suicide bombing when the attacker was already on their radar, but what many people are overlooking is the “politically incorrect” fact that it should have been obvious from the first day that the bomber’s family set foot in the UK that they’d end up being trouble. Lost amidst the flurry of media reports about this tragic incident is that the attacker’s family arrived on British soil as Libyan “refugees” decades before the 2011 NATO war devastated their country. It’s rather peculiar that they’d seek “refuge” from Libya because the Jamahiriya had the highest living standards in all of Africa during the time that they “fled” and hadn’t fought a conflict within its borders since World War II.

This means that his family didn’t leave because of any desperate material or military conditions, but because of socio-political ones which they disagreed with, namely that Libya was a secular socialist state that forbade Salafism. To bring the reader up to speed in case they’re not already aware, Salafism (colloquially called “Islamism” by many Westerners) is the school of thought which preaches that Muslims must live by an ultra-conservative interpretation of the Quran. Not only must they abide by strict socio-cultural and political standards, but Salafists also believe that it is their God-given duty to proselytize their way of life all across the world, even in the foreign civilizations which host them as migrants. This is the mindset of the bomber’s family, and true to kind, they raised their son the same way. The Manchester suicide bomber wasn’t radicalized on the internet or by Wahhabi imams, he was indoctrinated by his family since birth.

Liberal Double Standards

An individual’s religious beliefs are a personal affair, just like what a migrant does in their homeland, but when permanently relocating to and living in a totally different society than what they’re used to, people should abide by the socio-cultural standards of their hosts. Salafists, for example, should keep to themselves and respect that Westerners don’t want them to enforce civilizationally dissimilar practices onto the locals, as doing so will only prompt socio-cultural strife within the country which will inevitably lead to political tensions. This should all be common sense for everyone, but it’s unfortunately not followed by Salafist migrants because Western governments refuse to dissuade them from their public practices.

In line with the precepts of “multiculturalism”, the reason for this can be attributed to one of the many liberal double standards which have been employed the West for years, whereby foreigners (whether legal or illegal) are granted the freedom of religion to practice their beliefs however they see fit (especially if it’s Islam), but locals practicing traditional religions such as Christianity are pressured to respect everyone else’s freedom from religion in keeping the external display of their faith (ex: crosses) out of public sight. This particular double standard leads to a dysfunctional society which is either destined for full-scale Salafism or serious civil conflict, the latter scenario of which can only arise if the locals aren’t successfully guilt-tripped into thinking that any peaceful resistance against the imposition of foreign socio-cultural practices is “racist”, “fascist”, or “white supremacist”.

The state of affairs described above is very dangerous and the cause for heated debate within Western society right now, but a devil’s advocate would say that the said governments had no way to test the religious zeal of the Muslim migrants that they were allowing into their countries, which is factually true no matter if certain indicators could have obviously suggested the true level of their personal convictions. Therefore, as some leftist-liberal critics claim, it’s not fair to fault Western governments for who they let into their countries because they “might not have known any better”, and if anything, there’s nothing wrong – they say – with the large-scale influx of foreigners who refuse to assimilate and integrate into the host society. After all, Western society is all about “freedom”, so everyone’s “free” to do as they want, right?

Well, not necessarily, but that’s a different discussion for a different day.

The Hybrid War Weaponization Of Salafist “Refugees”

This article deals with those individuals who were without a doubt Salafists by virtue of them “fleeing” from secular and socialist Arab states in order to apply for “political/religious refugee” status in Western countries, the governments of which have no excuse in pretending that they didn’t know the level of these migrants’ religious zeal. I’m not inferring that all Salafists, Salafist migrants, or Salafist “political/religious refugees” from secular and socialist Arab states are terrorists, but just that the primary terrorist threat afflicting Western countries nowadays comes from people who fit one of these three descriptions. The irony, then, is that Western governments knowingly allowed these Salafists to come to their societies in the first place, especially in the case of “political/religious refugees” from secular and socialist Arab states, but there’s a cynical reason behind the short-sighted strategy leading to their civilizational demise apart from the “multicultural” explanation.

Salafists are the natural enemy of secularists, and this therefore makes them a strategic weapon to be wielded by the geopolitical opponents of former Libyan leader Gaddafi and Syrian President Assad, for example, both of whom were (and in the case of the latter, still are) opposed to the West. There is no greater structural threat to a secular Muslim-majority country than Salafists, which is why the West welcomed those “fleeing” from the “political and religious repression” in their homelands in order to weaponize them for future Hybrid War use. The Salafists couldn’t proselytize their interpretation of Islam inside of Libya or Syria because those governments didn’t tolerate even the slightest expression of it, though the liberal West had no such compunctions about their lifestyle owing to the double standard associated with granting foreigners (especially Muslim ones) the freedom of religion while hypocritically enforcing the locals’ freedom from religion when it comes to displays of their traditional Christian faith.

Libyan and other Salafist “political/religious refugees” quickly became even more comfortable in their new homes than in their old homelands because Western governments actually encouraged them to practice their strict lifestyle and proselytize as much as they wanted, though some of these people still longed to transform their countries of origin into the “Salafist paradise” that they constructed in what usually turned out to be Western ghettos. Remember, these people left their homelands precisely because they couldn’t set up a Salafist emirate there, and they know that there are certain limits to what they can do in expanding their “religious paradise” out of the ghetto and throughout the rest of their new country before they encounter heavy opposition. Therefore, it’s their dream to return back to Libya or wherever else they came from and overthrow their “dictators” so that everyone else can be “freed” from the “evils of secularism” and have a chance to finally build the Salafist state which the “pro-democracy fighters” always fantasized about.

Naturally, this aligns with Western geopolitical objectives, which is why these ideological individuals were allowed into their societies to begin with.

Turning A Blind Eye Always Backfires

It’s important at this point to understand that all Western governments could have stopped the Salafization of their Muslim ghettos but intentionally decided against it, though not all of them declined solely because they were scared of transgressing some sort of unstated but “sacred” liberal belief in permitting civilizationally dissimilar newcomers to aggressively practice their freedom of religion at the locals’ expense. Some, like the US and especially the UK, allowed this process to continue unabated because it was thought to provide valuable administrative training for the “political/religious refugees” who they planned to recruit as Hybrid War vanguards. These fighters would one day run their own nationwide caliphates, it was believed, so the experience in doing so on a smaller level inside of their Western neighborhoods could come in handy for the “victors” sometime in the future, as well as potentially ensure that they remain friendly to their former Western patrons who gave them the “freedom” to build a prototype of their desired society after they first “fled” from their homelands.

This also explains why so many terrorists nowadays were known to Western intelligence before they “went rogue” and attacked their handlers instead of their intended targets abroad. Take the Manchester suicide bomber, for example. His family reportedly returned back to Libya after the brutal public assassination of Gaddafi, ostensibly to take the Salafist administrative lessons that they perfected in their British neighborhood back to their original Libyan one in helping to build the “paradise” that they and their co-ideologists so desired. The attacker, however, stayed behind in Britain and eventually turned against his family’s one-time host and the land of his birth. It’s not unexpected that this would happen, which is why the article previously described the strategy of intentionally accepting Salafist “political/religious refugees” from secular and socialist Arab states as short-sighted. As President Assad wisely warned, “terrorists cannot be used as a political card, you cannot put it in your pocket, because it’s like a scorpion; it will bite you someday.”

Britain tragically found that out the hard way earlier this week.

The policy of actively encouraging Salafist immigration to the West backfired in another way aside from the expected terrorist blowback that’s been incurred, since it also contributed to the rise of Islamophobia among a broad segment of the native population. Many Westerners don’t have an objective understanding of what Islam is because their perception of the religion is distorted by the Salafist newcomers who came to their country across the past couple of decades. This shouldn’t be taken to mean that Salafists are the majority of Muslims, most Mideast-originating immigrants, or the bulk of Muslims living in the West for generations, but just that this particular group’s obnoxious public proselytizing disproportionately inflated their presence in the Western consciousness and led people to wrongly conflate them and their practices with all Muslims.

The average Muslim woman doesn’t necessarily wear a niqab, burka, or hijab, just as not all Muslim men have long beards and wear robes, though many Westerners probably wouldn’t believe this because the experience that they have within their own countries testifies to the opposite, or so they believe because of their perception (whether real, inaccurate, or manipulated). It’s doubtful that Westerners seriously care about whatever thoughts a stranger has in their head or holds in their heart, but they don’t want others acting on them in a way which disrupts the social standard that they’ve become accustomed to. Dressing in an Islamic style is the personal choice of an individual and doesn’t automatically make anyone a Salafist, though it’s reasonable that host countries should have the sovereign right to regulate this for legitimate security reasons if they so choose (e.g. making women take off the niqab for their ID pictures). What’s not acceptable to the vast majority of people, however, is an aggressive minority of a minority (the Salafists within the Muslim community) enforcing their religious culture on the local majority and intimidating them.

Sharing The Blame

Unfortunately, the Salafists are largely responsible for why ordinary Westerns might hold a suspicious view about Muslims. That’s not at all to excuse those who are genuine Islamophobes and harbor nothing but fascist hatred for all Muslims, but to explain that the public and media aura which has been built around Western-based Salafists has created the perception – whether intentional or not, though nonetheless totally inaccurate – that all Muslims are cut from this same ideological cloth, and therefore a pressing security threat in the sense that they might resort to violence or even terrorism to enforce their strict socio-cultural standards on the majority non-Muslim population. It doesn’t matter if these Muslims are citizens born in a Western country or recent arrivals from overseas, what disturbs the masses and feeds into actual Islamophobia is that Salafist standards have become commonplace in some Muslim communities, and their co-confessionals aren’t doing enough to keep the aggressive proselytizers at bay.

Ultimately, however, the blame needs to be broadened from passive believers who turn a blind eye to the more radical elements of their communities and to the “multicultural”-brainwashed host governments themselves that actively recruited Salafist “political/religious refugees” from secular and socialist Arab states with the partial intent of one day dispatching them back to their homelands as Hybrid War weapons. It’s not a coincidence that it almost always turns out to be the case that Western intelligence knew about a terrorist before they “went rogue” and carried out an attack in Europe or North America, since these very same agencies usually worked with those individuals at one time or another, whether while training them in “freedom fighter” militancy or receiving briefings from them when they either (re)entered the country or informed on their co-confessionalists. It’s not suggested that the “deep state” tasked each and every one of them with carrying out their eventual attacks as false flags, but just that the permanent bureaucracy can’t control all of the Salafists within their country and lost track of monitoring the most dangerous ones as closely as they should have.

The unfortunate outcome of this decades-long failed policy is Salafist terrorism and Islamophobia, two evils which feed off of one another and further the “Clash of Civilizations” narrative within Western society. The public prominence of Salafists adds fuel to the Islamophobes’ exploitation of the populist zeitgeist favoring state sovereignty and a return to border-immigration controls within the EU, redirecting it towards actual hate speech and sabotaging its noble political goals. Relatedly, the Salafists exploit these minority viewpoints to paint all non-Muslims opposed to open borders and unregulated immigration as “racists”, “fascists”, “white supremacists”, and “Islamophobes”, which riles up the otherwise peaceful non-Salafist Muslim community. All in all, extremists from both the Muslim and non-Muslim camps try to hijack control of their respective communities’ narrative in order to militarize them against the other, thereby contributing to the self-perpetuating cycle of violence that’s broken out within Western society as of late.

Is There A Solution?

It’s difficult to prescribe the perfect solution for dealing with these interconnected problems because of how far they’ve already progressed, and there’s not much that the guilty governments can do in making up for the damage that their decades-long policies have wrought in instigating the “Clash of Civilizations” which is wreaking so much havoc within their societies. No peaceful minority group should ever be discriminated against or made to feel uncomfortable, but nor should any peaceful member of the majority either. Salafists shouldn’t infringe on the rights of their majority non-Muslim hosts, just as the latter shouldn’t take out their Salafist-inspired stress on regular Muslims.

Ideally, the most effective and sustainable way to deal with the existing tension which has built up over the years is for the state to promulgate and enforce legislation mandating strict anti-Salafist migration controls and ending the policy of offering “political/religious asylum” to those “fleeing” from the remaining secular Arab states of Algeria, Egypt, and Syria. The state also needs to crack down on Salafist hate speech, including within mosques. Just as equally, however, the government needs to keep an eye on the rising fascist sentiment within society and make moves to mitigate its growth and counteract its hateful narratives. However, this shouldn’t be abused to suppress pro-sovereignty populism and the peaceful expression of free speech.

Controlling fascism is just as important as controlling Salafism because each contributes to the spread of the other and foments a larger conflict which inevitably harms many more innocent people than it does any of its culprits. It’s naïve to pin all of one’s hope in the state, however, since time and again this has proven to be misplaced. Western governments either ignore both of these problems or selectively target troublemakers from each camp and never deal with the real underlying issues at hand, so the most realistic solution to the rising Salafism in the Western Muslim community and the reactionary trend of outright fascist Islamophobia in its populist counterpart is for both of their core constituencies to band together in “policing their own” and purging the ideological riffraff from their ranks.

Even so, it will probably still take a generation or two to successfully remove these destructive strains of thought from their communities, though the recent rise of reactionary fascism will probably be comparatively easier to contain than its primary trigger cause of Salafism, which has been strengthened over the decades and ironically aided by the very same host governments that are now threatened by it. If there’s a lesson to be learned from the Manchester suicide bombing, then it’s that the pro-Salafist immigration and “refugee” policies practiced by Western governments for years have utterly failed in their stated “multiculturalist” goals and clandestine Hybrid War ones, and that the resultant change of perception that many locals now have about the Muslim community at large is feeding into the rise of fascism and the literal “Clash of Civilizations” that’s unfolding across Europe.

 

DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution. 

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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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Via RT…


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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