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Trump’s deal-making skills have just scored him another defeat

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

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On June 12, United States President Donald J. Trump was supposed to be the first POTUS to get the Korean leadership to sit down at the table of a possible peace treaty and nuclear disarmament. Getting this far into the process has been viewed as historic and unprecedented, which, in a way, it truly is, but has been somewhat of a rocky road and not entirely due to foreign parties.

Trump’s ‘Art’ of Deal Making

Trump has been hailed as the ‘deal maker’, whose use of suspense, pressure, threats, economic knife twisting, and unilateral ‘offers’ as means to threaten the Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, and his regime, has spurred them into opening up and making peace. Trump has issued even more sanctions against North Korea, threatened it with nuclear annihilation on multiple occasions, threatened to walk away from a summit with Kim, if he didn’t think that he would get the results that he wanted (a win for America, or, better put, the better end of the stick), leaving both Kim and the rest of the world in suspense as to whether a peace agreement could be brokered by the Trump administration at all.

But this, of course, took for granted the solidity of the foundations upon which the North Korean resolve for peace and security rested. Here, Trump was under the impression that he could use the threat of nuclear destruction and economic aggression, and suspense about just what he was going to do to try to ‘get the upper hand’ at a potential peace talks summit, and that his tactics and actions wouldn’t have any negative reverberations at any point.

Then, to back it all up, he goes about practicing war on North Korea with military drills right on their border, together with threatening to overthrow Kim’s government after the style of humanitarian regime change that was employed, by the peace loving Americans, in Libya. We could waste lots of ink and pen out thousands of words on the various threats that Trump has made to the DPRK and its leadership, but that’s hardly necessary.

The Bolton Factor

Many analysts are going about laying the blame for the North Korean response to these statements at Bolton’s feet, as if he held the blame for the present down spiral of this process all on his lonesome, and the North Koreans just took his ‘off the cuff’ statements a little too seriously. That might have some grounds if that’s all we heard here, but that’s not the case at all.

Trump and Pompeo were of a similar such sentiment, and Trump issued his remarks mirroring Bolton (sure, he probably got the idea from Bolton in the first place since Trump probably didn’t know what Libya was before Bolton brought it up). As I pointed out last week, Trump echoed Bolton’s statements while seated right next to him during a White House press gathering, saying

“The Libyan model isn’t a model that we have (in mind) at all when we’re thinking of North Korea. If you look at that model with Kadhafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him. Now, that model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely. But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong Un is going to be very, very happy.”

If we wanted to take this out of Trump’s mouth, and put into Bolton’s, and cast all the blame at Bolton, then maybe the blame for the collapse in the process up to this point could be blamed on his ill chosen and ill timed comments. Maybe it could be argued that Bolton just gave him the idea, and so it’s still not really Trump’s screw up, but it was instead Bolton’s because he originated the ‘Libya model’ comments. But surely Trump has a brain of his own, right? He can decide whether to echo his security advisor’s opinion or whether to persevere with expressing his own intentions on the subject. After all, Bolton isn’t the one that gets to call the shots; it’s Trump’s signature that makes and, much more often, breaks international agreements, not Bolton’s.

Now, why are ‘Bolton’ comments about the ‘Libya model’ so important, here? Well, that has to do with the fact that Trump basically iterated in his letter to Kim Jong Un, in which he decided not to try to settle out a peace deal, that he was upset at Kim because the DPRK let out a harsh response to the reference to the ‘Libya model’ that Bolton mentioned, and  which Trump, having nothing really original to contribute, decided would be cool to use as a part of his pressure cooking campaign to make the North Koreans crack and give in. So, Trump basically said ‘because you said mean things, I won’t meet with you’. Hence, where we stand today.

The Blame Game

The concern over who said what is essentially all about trying to find some where to lay the blame that doesn’t mean admitting that Trump simply isn’t competent enough to be the one to carry out such high level, qualified, diplomatic arrangements. It wants to defend him against the reality of the situation, and to give him credit that he simply isn’t due.

He’s not some grand chess master, meticulously planning and strategizing every little minute detail in order to carry out some master program to accomplish amazing feats. No, if that were the case then he wouldn’t have made the snap decision to strike Syria on such flimsy grounds as an unverified tweet and withdrawn from the Iran deal, or thrown trade tariffs around like confetti. His other blunders were being overlooked by most of the world on the basis that he hadn’t sufficiently messed enough things up to the degree that it literally threatened the present world order, but lately, that’s just what he’s been doing.

If other members of the Trump campaign, whether it’s Bolton, Pompeo, Haley, or Mattis, are steering Trump on issues this important, and he is really this gullible, clueless, and without a strategy to approach them, then one really has to admit that he’s purely not competent enough to carry out his duties as the POTUS and to exercise America’s influence across the globe and everywhere America’s tentacles reach.

So, trying to cast blame around at other members of the Trump cabinet doesn’t exonerate Trump from having some role of incompetence here. If we take Trump as his word, that he cancelled the meeting because someone, somewhere, half the world away, said something mean, then he’s showing that he doesn’t have a thick enough skin to really handle the responsibilities of his job, and the criticism that necessarily will and does daily come forth. In politics, you can’t exist without triggering a critical response from someone, somewhere, and that’s just how it is. Therefore, the blame game doesn’t really change the facts of the matter.

The American Deep State and the Status Quo Incentive

In reality, however, while Trump may indeed be that naive and gullible, and this was probably really part of his logic for bucking the process so far, the American deep state likely had other reasons for seeing this process collapse, and is ‘highly likely’, to use Theresa May’s infamous words, responsible, at least for some part, for this turn of events.

Here, one might speculate that maybe it was the US’s famed military industrial complex, that wants to maintain the status quo in order to keep selling weapons, conducting military drills, constructing more military bases, around the DPRK, and, by extension, Russia, to justify the bloated US defense budget and the missile defense net aimed at ‘defending’ against Russian ‘aggression’, while preserving America’s military hegemony and presence in the region.

The China angle

Given Trump’s remarks about suggesting that China was steering the DPRK on movements throughout this process, we may here be able to glean that Washington, or the Deep State, or however one wants to perceive it, as has already revealed on multiple occasions, perceives China as a security and economic threat to America’s global economic hegemony, and believes that China is playing too big of a role, one that could result in America not getting the biggest and best part of the deal.

But it’s really kinda hard to argue here that America could or even should get a ‘better’ part of the arrangement, since America openly has the least to be gained by a peace agreement being brokered on the peninsula at all. All America really gets is a decreased threat of a nuclear strike and the opportunity to allow a peace treaty to manifest, but would likely have to withdraw its military presence from the area. This may mean that America just doesn’t see the military and political value in resolving the tensions between the Koreas and a nuclear disarmament by the DPRK.

China, however, has a lot more to gain by seeing peace develop here. It gets to realize a decreased risk of nuclear violence, originating with the North Korean regime, the possibility to gain market access to North Korea and a land route with the South, providing a generous economic opportunity, and the ability to incorporate the Korean peninsula into its panAsian economic initiatives.

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

But rather than make that possibility less of a potential reality by withdrawing from the peace process, in much the same manner as was pursued in the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord, the JCPOA, Trump is effectively leaving the way wide open for the Chinese, and the Russians, who would also be a part of such initiatives, to walk in and help broker a deal.

If this were to happen, it could be orchestrated without the input of the American deep state, and without the need to credit Trump with achieving something that is essentially a northeast Asian affair, both economically and politically. Therefore, rather than potentially scoring himself a landmark victory here, Trump is effectively ensuring a diplomatic defeat by allowing his geopolitical rivals the open opportunity to do what he has now refused.

 

 

 

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European Court of Justice rules Britain free to revoke Brexit unilaterally

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Britain can reverse Article 50.

RT

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Via RT…


The UK is free to unilaterally revoke a notification to depart from the EU, the European Court has ruled. The judicial body said this could be done without changing the terms of London’s membership in the bloc.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) opined in a document issued on Monday that Britain can reverse Article 50, which stipulates the way a member state leaves the bloc. The potentially important ruling comes only one day before the House of Commons votes on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.

“When a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification,” the court’s decision reads.

By doing so, the respective state “reflects a sovereign decision to retain its status as a Member State of the European Union.”

That said, this possibility remains in place “as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that Member State has not entered into force.” Another condition is: “If no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU.”

The case was opened when a cross-party group of British politicians asked the court whether an EU member such as the UK can decide on its own to revoke the withdrawal process. It included Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, Scottish MPs Joanna Cherry Alyn Smith, along with Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer.

They argued that unilateral revocation is possible and believe it could provide an opening to an alternative to Brexit, namely holding another popular vote to allow the UK to remain in the EU.

“If the UK chooses to change their minds on Brexit, then revoking Article 50 is an option and the European side should make every effort to welcome the UK back with open arms,” Smith, the SNP member, was quoted by Reuters.

However, May’s environment minister, Michael Gove, a staunch Brexit supporter, denounced the ECJ ruling, insisting the cabinet will not reverse its decision to leave. “We will leave on March 29, [2019]” he said, referring to the date set out in the UK-EU Brexit deal.

In the wake of the landmark vote on the Brexit deal, a group of senior ministers threatened to step down en masse if May does not try to negotiate a better deal in Brussels, according to the Telegraph. The ministers demanded that an alternative deal does not leave the UK trapped within the EU customs union indefinitely.

On Sunday, Will Quince resigned as parliamentary private secretary in the Ministry of Defense, saying in a Telegraph editorial that “I do not want to be explaining to my constituents why Brexit is still not over and we are still obeying EU rules in the early 2020s or beyond.”

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Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


On November 25, two artillery boats of the Gyurza-M class, the Berdiansk and Nikopol, one tugboat, the Yany Kapu, as well as 24 crew members of the Ukrainian Navy, including two SBU counterintelligence officers, were detained by Russian border forces. In the incident, the Russian Federation employed Sobol-class patrol boats Izumrud and Don, as  well as two Ka-52, two Su-25 and one Su-30 aircraft.

Ukraine’s provocation follows the advice of several American think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, which have been calling for NATO involvement in the Sea of Azov for months. The area is strategically important for Moscow, which views its southern borders, above all the Sea of Azov, as a potential flash point for conflict due to the Kiev’s NATO-backed provocations.

To deter such adventurism, Moscow has deployed to the Kerch Strait and the surrounding coastal area S-400 batteries, modernized S-300s, anti-ship Bal missile systems, as well as numerous electronic-warfare systems, not to mention the Russian assets and personnel arrayed in the military districts abutting Ukraine. Such provocations, egged on by NATO and American policy makers, are meant to provide a pretext for further sanctions against Moscow and further sabotage Russia’s relations with European countries like Germany, France and Italy, as well as, quite naturally, to frustrate any personal interaction between Trump and Putin.

This last objective seems to have been achieved, with the planned meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires being cancelled. As to the the other objectives, they seem to have failed miserably, with Berlin, Paris and Rome showing no intention of imposing additional sanctions against Russia, recognizing the Ukrainian provocation fow what it is. The intention to further isolate Moscow by the neocons, neoliberals and most of the Anglo-Saxon establishment seems to have failed, demonstrated in Buenos Aires with the meeting between the BRICS countries on the sidelines and the bilateral meetings between Putin and Merkel.

On November 30, following almost two-and-a-half months of silence, the Israeli air force bombed Syria with three waves of cruise missiles. The first and second waves were repulsed over southern Syria, and the third, composed of surface-to-surface missiles, were also downed. At the same time, a loud explosion was heard in al-Kiswah, resulting in the blackout of Israeli positions in the area.

The Israeli attack was fully repulsed, with possibly two IDF drones being downed as well. This effectiveness of Syria’s air defenses corresponds with Russia’s integration of Syria’s air defenses with its own systems, manifestly improving the Syrians’ kill ratios even without employing the new S-300 systems delivered to Damascus, let alone Russia’s own S-400s. The Pantsirs and S-200s are enough for the moment, confirming my hypothesis more than two months ago that the modernized S-300 in the hands of the Syrian army is a potentially lethal weapon even for the F-35, forbidding the Israelis from employing their F-35s.

With the failed Israeli attack testifying to effectiveness of Russian air-defense measures recently deployed to the country, even the United States is finding it difficult to operate in the country. As the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War confirms:

“Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment. Russia can use these capabilities to mount the long-term strategic challenge of the US and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, significantly widen the geographic reach of Russia’s air defense network. Russia stands to gain a long-term strategic advantage over NATO through its new capabilities in Syria. The US and NATO must now account for the risk of a dangerous escalation in the Middle East amidst any confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe.”

The final blow in a decidedly negative week for Washington’s ambitions came in Buenos Aires during the G20, where Xi Jinping was clearly the most awaited guest, bringing in his wake investments and opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit, as opposed to Washington’s sanctions and tariffs for its own benefit to the detriment of others. The key event of the summit was the dinner between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump that signalled Washington’s defeat in the trade war with Beijing. Donald Trump fired the first shot of the economic war, only to succumb just 12 months later with GM closing five plants and leaving 14,000 unemployed at home as Trump tweeted about his economic achievements.

Trump was forced to suspend any new tariffs for a period of ninety days, with his Chinese counterpart intent on demonstrating how an economic war between the two greatest commercial powers had always been a pointless propagandistic exercise. Trump’s backtracking highlights Washington’s vulnerability to de-dollarization, the Achilles’ heel of US hegemony.

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn. The struggle between the Western elites seems to be reaching a boil, with Frau Merkel ever more isolated and seeing her 14-year political dominance as chancellor petering out. Macron seems to be vying for the honor of being the most unpopular French leader in history, provoking violent protests that have lasted now for weeks, involving every sector of the population. Macron will probably be able to survive this political storm, but his political future looks dire.

The neocons/neoliberals have played one of the last cards available to them using the Ukrainian provocation, with Kiev only useful as the West’s cannon fodder against Russia. In Syria, with the conflict coming to a close and Turkey only able to look on even as it maintains a strong foothold in Idlib, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States are similarly unable to affect the course of the conflict. The latest Israeli aggression proved to be a humiliation for Tel Aviv and may have signalled a clear, possibly definitive warning from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus to all the forces in the region. The message seems to be that there is no longer any possibility of changing the course of the conflict in Syria, and every provocation from here on will be decisively slapped down. Idlib is going to be liberated and America’s illegal presence in the north of Syria will have to be dealt with at the right time.

Ukraine’s provocation has only strengthened Russia’s military footprint in Crimea and reinforced Russia’s sovereign control over the region. Israel’s recent failure in Syria only highlights how the various interventions of the US, the UK, France and Turkey over the years have only obliged the imposition of an almost unparalleled A2AD space that severely limits the range of options available to Damascus’s opponents.

The G20 also served to confirm Washington’s economic diminution commensurate with its military one in the face of an encroaching multipolar environment. The constant attempts to delegitimize the Trump administration by America’s elites, also declared an enemy by the European establishment, creates a picture of confusion in the West that benefits capitals like New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran who offer instead stability, cooperation and dialogue.

As stated in previous articles, the confusion reigning amongst the Western elites only accelerates the transition to a multipolar world, progressively eroding the military and economic power of the US.

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Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

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Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

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