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US senators are even more neoconservative than Trump’s appointees

The confirmation hearings for the members of incoming President Donald Trump’s national-security team show that neoconservatism dominates the U.S. government today.

Eric Zuesse

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Published with the permission fo the author. First published on strategic-culture.org.

Neoconservatism didn’t end after George W. Bush’s alleged certainty that «Saddam’s WMD» existed in 2002, turned out to have been merely an excuse —not an authentic reason — to invade Iraq, and so to spread death and mass-misery (as every invasion does). Today’s confirmation hearings are, in fact, making clear that virtually all of Congress is neoconservative — at least as much as was the case back in 2002, when Congress authorized the President to invade Iraq before weapons inspectors finished their work (and so Bush was able to order them out, and to invade Iraq).

These hearings are displaying 100% neoconservative U.S. Senators — no Senator who isn’t a neoconservative. These Senators, of both Parties, in their questioning and comments, are all far to the right of the incoming President, Donald Trump. (Democrats might be to the ‘left’ of Republicans on some domestic matters, but both Parties are neoconservative, which is a far-right foreign-affairs ideology.)

This fact is shown clearly, as the Senators probe each appointee with questions that challenge him (since all of these nominees are males) as being insufficiently hostile toward Russia, and also (though to a lesser extent) insufficiently hostile toward Iran, and toward other countries (especially Syria and China) that have friendly relations with Russia. This obsessive hatred of Russia is the standard neoconservative position — neoconservatism’s defining reality, regardless of whether neoconservatives admit to being haters at all, of anything.

Each one of these nominees has, in turn, provided responses which indicate that he, too, is far to the right of Trump. The Senators are apparently satisfied with each one of the nominees, on that basis — a neoconservative basis.

Also, each one of the Senators is probing the nominee, in order to make certain that the interviewee favors steep increases in ‘defense’ spending (another essential mark of neoconservatism — unlimited military spending), even if other federal spending is required to stay the same or else be reduced. Even the Democratic Senators want ‘defense’ spending increased even if domestic spending gets reduced. Democratic Senators on the panel are showing themselves as being just as emphatically in favor of abolishing existing limits on ‘defense’ spending as the Republican ones are.

If what U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower in 1961 had referred to as «the military-industrial complex» owns all of Congress today, then the results of these interviews with nominees still couldn’t be any more neoconservative than they have, in fact, been.

Great pressure is thus being placed, by the interviewers, upon each nominee, to increase greatly U.S. ‘defense’ spending, and to exhibit hostility toward Russia and the other countries that are the standard ‘enemies’ in the view of neoconservatives. Regardless of whether Trump wants unlimited ‘defense’ spending (and is merely pretending to want to cut programs like the scandalous F-35), Congress certainly does.

Neoconservatism can, very practically, be defined by the nations that it places unquestioningly as being America’s ‘friends’ (Israel, Europe — especially the parts that were formerly communist — Japan, and all of the fundamentalist-Sunni Gulf Cooperation Council [Arab monarchy] nations); and as being America’s ‘enemies’ (Russia, Iran, China, and any nation that’s allied with one or more of those three). Nothing that either a ‘friend’ or an ‘enemy’ nation does is actually pertinent to a neoconservative’s national favors or hatreds: each of these nations is permanently what it is; and, for example, Russia being no longer communist and no longer the Soviet Union, doesn’t really affect a neoconservative’s hatred of Russia. Neoconservatism is — in that sense — ethnic, tribal: rigidly loyal to labeled ‘friends’, and also rigidly hostile to labeled ‘enemies’. It’s permanent war for perpetual ‘peace’, because to stop trying to conquer the ‘enemies’ is viewed as ‘immoral’, actually shameful and maybe even ‘cowardly’ — no matter how few the aristocracy actually are who benefit from all this mass bloodshed, crippling, refugees, and destruction. It’s an upside-down ‘morality’.

America’s Congress is at least 90 % neoconservative, not only in the Senate, but also in the House. To judge by these hearings, the Senators are virtually united, that Russia is America’s #1 enemy (a key mark of neoconservatism is the demonization of Russia); and, while most seem to consider Iran to be enemy #2, some Senators and House members place China in that category (#2). North Korea is also mentioned by many.

Eliminating, or even reducing, jihadism, is definitely well below the second national-security priority (if it’s an authentic concern at all), for members of the U.S. Congress, with Russia certainly being the #1 enemy in their eyes. Furthermore, no member of Congress considers the Saudi government — the government that is owned by the Saud family — to be an «enemy» at all, nor do they consider, to be an enemy, any other of the fundamentalist-Islamic Arab royal families (such as the ones who own Qatar, or who own UAE, or who own Kuwait), even though the Saud family are the main funders of jihadist groups around the world, and those other royal Arabs provide most of the rest of the financing that makes jihadist terrorism possible. So, practically speaking, the U.S. Congress considers the chief financial backers of jihadist groups to be U.S. ‘allies’, not to be «enemies» of the U.S., at all.

For example: as one strong friend of the royal Arabs, Hillary Clinton has said in private:

«Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide».

Saudi Arabia is owned by the Saud family; so, she knew that they are the main funders of Al Qaeda etcetera (or, like Osama bin Laden’s former bagman said of Al Qaeda’s financing, «Without the money of the — of the Saudi, you will have nothing»). That family control the government, and all the rest of their aristocracy do whatever the Saud family tell them to do. Hillary wasn’t naive.

And, elsewhere (also in private), she referred to «the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region».

And she also devoted a lengthy cable to U.S. Embassies, to the desirability of dealing with this problem (their aristocracies’ funding of jihadist groups around the world) also in Kuwait, and UAE — two more U.S. ‘allies’.

And so, former U.S. Senator Clinton was simply a normal member of the U.S. Senate which is under display even now, as being even more neoconservative than President-elect Trump’s national-security appointees are.

For example, during the hearing on Thursday, January 12th, in which Trump’s choice to head the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department, James Mattis, was grilled by each member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the retired Marine General Mattis was pressed on whether he supports eliminating the ‘defense’ spending-cap that Congress in late 2012 imposed to begin on 1 January 2013, as the 2013 Budget Control Act, or «sequestration». General Mattis replied by calling the 2013 Budget Control Act a «self-inflicted wound». (He had already told this very same Senate Committee, on 27 January 2015, «The Senate Armed Services Committee should lead the effort to repeal the sequestration that is costing military readiness and long-term capability while sapping troop morale». So, they already knew that he’s a hard-liner about lifting the spending cap on the military — just not on the rest of the budget, because he had also said on 27 January 2015, «If we refuse to reduce our debt or pay down our deficit — …No nation in history has maintained its military power while failing to keep its fiscal house in order». So, these Senators are clear about removing the limit only on ‘defense’ spending.)

Mattis said in this January 12th confirmation hearing, that Russia «has chosen to be both a strategic competitor and an adversary» and «we still engage with the soviet union». (It’s common for high U.S. military, and even diplomatic, officials, to slip back into calling Russia «the Soviet Union», still 25+ years after the Soviet Union ended, and its Warsaw Pact of military allies ended, and their communism ended. This insanity is normal for America’s leaders.)

He was asked about Donald Trump’s having questioned whether NATO (the anti-Russia military alliance) needs to be continued, and Mattis said «If we did not have NATO today, we would have to create it. NATO is vital to our national interest».

He was questioned regarding whether he agrees with Trump’s having challenged President Obama’s campaign to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, and Mattis said that the real issue is only about the speed with which Assad must be removed. He said that what is needed is »a more accelerated campaign than the President-elect has called for» — in other words, he said that not only was President Obama too slow in this matter, but that Mattis will be advising Trump to reverse position on this and to out-do Obama on it. (A Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson of Florida, had asked those questions, and he seemed to be pleased with Mattis’s super-hawkish responses.)

Responding to another Senator, Mattis said that there’s «an increasing number of areas in which we’ll have to confront Russia». We’re not doing it enough, he thinks.

He was asked whether he shares President-elect Trump’s distrust of the U.S. intelligence-services, and he replied, «I have a very very high degree of confidence in our intelligence community». The CIA and other people who were united in saying that Saddam Hussein had WMD in 2002 and that they needed to be immediately eliminated, are trusted by Mattis as much as they were trusted by Bush.

He was asked about Israel and said that it is eternally an ‘ally’ of America, and that Israel is «the only democratic nation in the Middle East». No Senator asked him whether apartheid South Africa was also a ‘democratic’ nation. On 13 January 2017, Brandon Turbeville headlined about the only secular nation in the Middle East, «Grand Mufti Of Syria Discusses Secularism In Syria – Human Beings Live In States, No Countries Based On Religion»; and, previously I have pointed out that even Western polling in Syria has consistently shown that the vast majority of Syrians want Assad to continue as the country’s leader, and that it was Barack Obama who was criticized by U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon for refusing to let the Syrian people determine, in a free and internationally monitored democratic election, whom the nation’s leader should be. (Obama knows that they would elect Assad; so, he doesn’t want democracy, there.)

Perhaps a lot of false ‘facts’ are in Mattis’s head, but he maintains them with consistency — and any falsehoods that he believes are of the type that would make his nomination to become the U.S. Secretary of ‘Defense’ all the more attractive to the members of the U.S. Congress.

In my previous article, «Trump Team Targets Iran», I documented that:

All four of the persons selected by U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump for the top U.S. national-security posts are committed to replacing the outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama’s #1 military target, Russia, by a different #1 military target, Iran. Iran has long been the #1 military target in the view of Michael Flynn, the chosen Trump National Security Advisor; and of James Mattis, the chosen Trump Secretary of Defense; and of Dan Coats, the chosen Trump Director of National Intelligence; and of Mike Pompeo, the chosen CIA Director.

So, although Trump’s appointees might be less neoconservative than the Senators, and less neoconservative than was Trump’s predecessor, Obama — and Trump is far less neoconservative than is Hillary Clinton — Trump still could turn out to be a neoconservative President. This isn’t because the American public are neoconservative (they definitely aren’t), but because the American aristocracy is. The U.S. government represents them — not the American public.

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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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Via RT


One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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Erdogan accepts Syria DMZ off-ramp, in deal with Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 111.

Alex Christoforou

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The deal struck in Sochi averts a large scale Syria’s offensive on Idlib, as Turkey gives it guarantee to monitor what will effectively become a demilitarized zone.

According to the agreement, troops from Russia and Turkey will enforce a new demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Idlib, from which ISIS/Al Qaeda rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of next month.

Speaking alongside Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the 15 to 20 km-wide zone would be established by October 15th. The DMZ would require a complete “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib, including the rebranded Al-Qaeda affiliated Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

Putin also noted that heavy weapons would be withdrawn from the DMZ by all opposition forces by October 10th, which is a move supported by the Syrian government.

The Russian President described the agreement as a “serious result” further saying that “Russia and Turkey have confirmed their determination to counter terrorism in Syria in all its forms”.

Erdogan said both his country and Russia would carry out coordinated patrols in the demilitarized zone:

“We decided on the establishment of a region that is cleaned of weapons between the areas which are under the control of the opposition and the regime.”

“In return, we will ensure that radical groups, which we will designate together with Russia, won’t be active in the relevant area.”

According to Al Jazeera Iran’s foreign minister has hailed an agreement between Turkey and Russia to avert an assault on the Syrian rebel-held Idlib province, as an example of “responsible diplomacy”.

An agreement to halt plans for an offensive on the last major rebel-held stronghold was announced in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday after a meeting between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On his Twitter account, Zarif wrote: “Intensive responsible diplomacy over the last few weeks-pursued in my visits to Ankara & Damascus, followed by the Iran-Russia-Turkey Summit in Tehran and the meeting (in) Sochi-is succeeding to avert war in #Idlib with a firm commitment to fight extremist terror. Diplomacy works.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the agreement reached in Sochi, which for now avoids full scale conflict in Idlib, Syria. Who won, who lost, and which interests were met with the DMZ agreement?

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Via Xinhuanet

An anticipated Syrian military offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib is on hold after Turkey and Russia reached a deal following Ankara’s guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, experts said.

The deal was reached Monday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, as the two sides agreed to create a demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib, the last rebel stronghold.

This agreement brings Turkey to a position of giving a guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, the experts said.

“Moscow is convinced that it would not be able to handle the burden of a humanitarian tragedy in case of a military offensive in Idlib,” said Metin Gurcan, a Turkish security analyst with the Istanbul Policy Center of Sabanci University.

Russia has also secured its airbases in northern Syria, including its airbase in Hmeymim as a guarantee by Turkey under the Sochi agreement, he said.

Gurcan recalled a trilateral summit of Turkey, Iran and Russia held in Iranian capital Tehran early September, which ended without agreement as Erdogan’s call for a ceasefire in Idlib was rejected by Moscow and Tehran.

Erdogan’s proposal for a ceasefire by all parties in Idlib was rejected by Putin on the grounds that those groups were not represented at the table there, he said.

“Now Turkey has given a guarantee on behalf of radical groups which Putin earlier said that ceasefire cannot be discussed because they were not represented at Tehran meeting,” Gurcan said.

Now everyone is curious how Turkey has given guarantee to Moscow and how will those radical groups accept a proposal for demilitarization by surrendering heavy weapons and withdrawing from the demilitarized zone, Gurcan noted.

“Ankara has given this promise relying on its military power on the ground and on its capacity to convince armed opposition groups,” he said.

Turkish army has reinforced its presence in Idlib in the past few months, and Turkey has 12 military outposts with 1,200-1,300 troops on the border line of the province separating the rebel stronghold from the pro-Iran militia-controlled South of Aleppo and the government-controlled southeast, Gurcan said.

Rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, in the region are gathered with Turkish backing under the banner of the “National Front for Liberation.”

Putin and Erdogan agreed on Monday in Sochi to create a 15-20 km buffer zone along the line of contact between rebels and regime troops by Oct. 15.

The agreement entails the “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib as well as “heavy weaponry from this zone,” Putin said at the joint press conference after signing the deal with Erdogan.

By the end of the year, transportation routes between the key port of Latakia and Aleppo as well as the city of Hama must be restored, Putin added.

The Russian leader also said all heavy weapons had to be withdrawn from the zone by Oct. 10, according to Erdogan’s proposal.

Ankara has been warning against any military offensive by Russia-backed Syrian regime forces in Idlib, warning that it would lead to a humanitarian crisis and refugee influx to the Turkish border.

Turkey and Russia, along with Iran, are guarantors of the Astana deal which declared ceasefire in four de-escalation zones in Syria, including Idlib.

Turkey will deploy more troops in Idlib province after the Sochi deal, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.

“We will need extra troop reinforcements. Turkey and Russia will patrol on the border areas. Civilians and moderate (opposition) will stay here,” Cavusoglu said.

Another outcome of the Sochi deal is that Turkey and Russia prevented a possible attack by the United States in Idlib, Naim Baburoglu from Aydin University said.

He recalled that the U.S. was giving signals that it wanted to intervene in the situation in Idlib, if Syrian government troops launch an assault on the rebel stronghold.

Washington recently threatened to take swift and decisive actions against any use of chemical weapons in Idlib.

“This agreement showed that the U.S. has room for maneuver only in the east of Euphrates and Manbij region,” Baburoglu said.

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Pat Buchanan: “The Late Hit” On Judge Kavanaugh

Wha exactly is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org:


Upon the memory and truthfulness of Christine Blasey Ford hangs the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, his reputation and possibly his career on the nation’s second-highest court.

And much more. If Kavanaugh is voted down or forced to withdraw, the Republican Party and conservative movement could lose their last best hope for recapturing the high court for constitutionalism.

No new nominee could be vetted and approved in six weeks. And the November election could bring in a Democratic Senate, an insuperable obstacle to the elevation of a new strict constructionist like Kavanaugh.

The stakes are thus historic and huge.

And what is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

When she was 15 in the summer of ’82, she went to a beer party with four boys in Montgomery County, Maryland, in a home where the parents were away.

She says she was dragged into a bedroom by Brett Kavanaugh, a 17-year-old at Georgetown Prep, who jumped her, groped her, tried to tear off her clothes and cupped her mouth with his hand to stop her screams.

Only when Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge, laughing “maniacally,” piled on and they all tumbled off the bed, did she escape and lock herself in a bathroom as the “stumbling drunks” went downstairs. She fled the house and told no one of the alleged rape attempt.

Not until 30 years later in 2012 did Ford, now a clinical psychologist in California, relate, in a couples therapy session with her husband, what happened. She says she named Kavanaugh as her assailant, but the therapist’s notes of the session make no mention of Kavanaugh.

During the assault, says Ford, she was traumatized. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me.”

Here the story grows vague. She does not remember who drove her to the party. She does not say how much she drank. She does not remember whose house it was. She does not recall who, if anyone, drove her home. She does not recall what day it was.

She did not tell her parents, Ford says, as she did not want them to know she had been drinking. She did not tell any friend or family member of this traumatic event that has so adversely affected her life.

Said Kavanaugh in response, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Mark Judge says it never happened.

Given the seriousness of the charges, Ford must be heard out. But she also needs to be cross-examined and have her story and character probed as Kavanaugh’s has been by FBI investigators as an attorney for the Ken Starr impeachment investigation of Bill Clinton, a White House aide to George Bush, a U.S. appellate judge and a Supreme Court nominee.

During the many investigations of Kavanaugh’s background, nothing was unearthed to suggest something like this was in character.

Some 65 women who grew up in the Chevy Chase and Bethesda area and knew Kavanaugh in his high school days have come out and spoken highly of his treatment of girls and women.

Moreover, the way in which all of this arose, at five minutes to midnight in the long confirmation process, suggests that this is political hardball, if not dirt ball.

When Ford, a Democrat, sent a letter detailing her accusations against Kavanaugh to her California congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, Ford insisted that her name not be revealed as the accuser.

She seemingly sought to damage or destroy the judge’s career behind a cloak of anonymity. Eshoo sent the letter on to Sen. Diane Feinstein, who held it for two months.

Excising Ford’s name, Feinstein then sent it to the FBI, who sent it to the White House, who sent it on to the Senate to be included in the background material on the judge.

Thus, Ford’s explosive charge, along with her name, did not surface until this weekend.

What is being done here stinks. It is a transparently late hit, a kill shot to assassinate a nominee who, before the weekend, was all but certain to be confirmed and whose elevation to the Supreme Court is a result of victories in free elections by President Trump and the Republican Party.

Palpable here is the desperation of the left to derail Kavanaugh, lest his elevation to the high court imperil their agenda and the social revolution that the Warren Court and its progeny have been able to impose upon the nation.

If Kavanaugh is elevated, the judicial dictatorship of decades past, going back to the salad days of Earl Warren, William Brennan, Hugo Black and “Wild Bill” Douglas, will have reached its end. A new era will have begun.

That is what is at stake.

The Republican Senate should continue with its calendar to confirm Kavanaugh before Oct. 1, while giving Ford some way to be heard, and then Kavanaugh the right to refute. Then let the senators decide.

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