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Detailed analysis of US white paper on Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack

The US government’s white paper fails to make a compelling case that the Syrian military was responsible for the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack.

Alexander Mercouris

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In the days following the US missile strike on Al-Shayrat air base in Syria, the US National Security Council published a four page white paper purporting to set out the evidence that the chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun – the reason for the missile strike – was carried out by the Syrian military.

Before discussing this document I am going to say something about the absurdity of this whole situation.

The chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun is alleged to have taken place on 4th April 2017.  The President of the United States declared within hours of that attack that the Syrian President and the Syrian military were responsible.  This was before any investigator had visited the site of the attack, and before any investigation could be carried out.

A missile strike on Al-Shayrat air base followed on 6th April 2017.

The US then produced – days after the missile attack – its white paper which it says is its evidence of the Syrian President’s and of the Syrian military’s responsibility.

It then agreed to an international investigation of the incident by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (the OPCW).

That this completely reverses what in any sane world ought to be the proper order – an investigation first, the publication of the evidence, a finding of who is responsible, and then a decision by the appropriate body (the UN Security Council) of what to do – is obvious.  It reminds me of a passage from Alice

“No, No!” said the Queen.  Sentence first – verdict afterwards”.

“Stuff and nonsense!” said Alice loudly. “The idea of having the sentence first!”

It is barely conceivable that any analyst however brilliant in Langley or anywhere else in the US could have undertaken a proper and full assessment of what happened in a remote far away corner in Syria’s Idlib province within hours of the attack sufficient to say with absolute certainty who was responsible.   Such a rapid and conclusive assessment does not happen in crime investigations even when there are investigators actually on the scene gathering the forensic evidence and interviewing the witnesses.  Yet that is what we are asked to believe happened in this case.  I don’t believe it, and I doubt anyone else truly does.

In reality what probably happened is that the analysts in Langley rushed out a preliminary assessment based one suspects largely on subjective presumptions of President Assad’s guilt.   This was then treated by the President as a definitive assessment, and on the strength of it he launched his missile strike.

People with contacts in the US intelligence community such as the journalist Robert Parry and the former CIA official Philip Giraldi speak of the anger of US intelligence officers at the speed with which what can only have been a preliminary assessment was acted upon.  Though some of the details of what Robert Parry and Philip Giraldi say may be be open to challenge, of the anger of the US intelligence community’s field workers at the action taken in response to such a rushed assessment I have no doubt.

Having however now so publicly pronounced President Assad and the Syrian military guilty of the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack – and killed people on that basis – the US and the other Western Powers are now stuck with this claim, and this inevitably is going to prejudice the conduct of any future investigation carried out by the OPCW.

It is in this light that the claims in the four page white paper must be read.

The entirety of the information in the white paper is actually summed up in these two paragraphs

The United States is confident that the Syrian regime conducted a chemical weapons attack, using the nerve agent sarin, against its own people in the town of Khan Shaykhun in southern Idlib province on April 4, 2017.  According to observers at the scene, the attack resulted in at least 50 and up to 100 fatalities (including many children), with hundreds of additional injuries.

We have confidence in our assessment because we have signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence, laboratory analysis of physiological samples collected from multiple victims, as well as a significant body of credible open source reporting, that tells a clear and consistent story.  We cannot publicly release all available intelligence on this attack due to the need to protect sources and methods, but the following includes an unclassified summary of the US Intelligence Community’s analysis of this attack.

The rest of the white paper consists of an account of the attack as the US intelligence community has reconstructed it, and of a long and rather strange discussion seeking to rebut various alternative theories about what happened which have been floated by the Russians.

Briefly, the account is that a single bomb containing sarin was dropped by a Syrian air force SU-22 fighter bomber over the course of an air attack on Khan Sheikhoun commencing at 6:55 am local time on 4th April 2017 and continuing for around 20 minutes.

The supposed proof for this is a combination of videos and witness statements published on the day of the attack, scientific reports supposedly confirming that the cause of the fatalities was a nerve agent, and a small crater which is said to mark the impact point of the bomb which contained the sarin, whose location is pinpointed in the middle of a street in the northern part of the town.

Is this account and this evidence as open and shut as the white paper claims?

The first thing to say is that the US claims in the white paper to possess ‘proof’ of its assertions in the form of evidence it cannot disclose.

This is something which happens repeatedly in cases of this sort and at this point I repeat my longstanding objection to this practice.

The US and British governments said the same thing in connection with Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction, during the Litvinenko affair, following the Ghouta chemical attack of 2013, after the MH17 shoot-down, and following the attack on the humanitarian convoy in Idlib province in September 2016.

On the occasions when the US and British governments were pressed to produce this ‘secret evidence’, they either refused to do so (as in the case of Litvinenko affair, the attack on the humanitarian convoy, and MH17), or when it was produced it turned out to be wrong (as in the case of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction).

In the case of the Ghouta chemical attack of 2013 we now know because no less a person than President Obama has told us that the evidence was actually inconclusive.

It is a gross abuse of intelligence to use it in this way.  If the US and British governments possess evidence which they cannot publish, then they should not disclose its existence.  All doing so does is hopelessly prejudice subsequent investigations of a case.

I would add that whenever this has become the practice in criminal cases, especially in terrorist cases, the result has been a chain of miscarriages with individuals found guilty on the strength of evidence which because it was withheld from them they could not challenge but which afterwards all too often turned out to be wrong.  There is no reason to think that in cases involving governments it is any different.

The second thing to say is that one must distinguish between two entirely separate facts which far too many people are conflating.  These are (1) the attack by the Syrian air force on Khan Sheikhoun on 4th April 2017; and (2) the alleged release of chemicals during the attack.

There is no doubt that the Syrian air force did carry out an air attack on Khan Sheikhoun on 4th April 2017.  After some contradictory statements – almost certainly the result of confusion and panic and almost certainly not made with any intention to deceive – the Syrian military admitted as much, and this has also been confirmed by the Russians.  There is also no doubt the air attack was launched from Al-Shayrat air base, and that SU-22 fighter bombers were involved.

It does not however follow that because the Syrian air force carried out an air attack on Khan Sheikhoun that it was responsible for the release of chemicals that allegedly took place during the attack.  One cannot say that conclusively until investigators have examined all the evidence.

I say this because there is a tendency to treat evidence of the air attack – the fact of which no-one disputes – as proof of the Syrian military’s responsibility for the chemical release.  The US government’s white paper does this very thing.

The one is not proof of the other, and should not be treated that way.

Turning to the unclassified evidence in the white paper, it appears to me to divide into two parts

(1) Evidence that there was a chemical attack

This is provided by (1) videos and witness accounts of the incident; and (2) forensic discovery of samples of nerve agent in some of the individuals allegedly affected; and

(2) Evidence the Syrian air force carried out the chemical attack

This is provided by (1) videos and witness accounts of the incident; (2) the bomb crater; and (3) the presence of Syrian army officers known to have been previously involved in Syria’s chemical weapons programme at Al-Shayrat air base on the eve of the attack (there is what looks like a subsequent attempt at confirmation that this evidence was obtained through signals intelligence).

The evidence can therefore be summed up as follows:

(1) videos and witness accounts of the incident’

(2) the samples of nerve agent found in some of the individuals allegedly affected;

(3) the bomb crater;

(4) the presence of certain Syrian army officers at Al-Shayrat air base before the raid.

What can we say about this evidence?

We now have the evidence of two authoritative expert witnesses who are challenging at least parts of this evidence, and who are casting doubt on the whole story. They are President Assad of Syria and Professor Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

President Assad is the commander in chief of the Syrian armed forces and is quite possibly the single best informed and most knowledgeable expert in the world about the political and military situation in Syria.  Moreover since the US has declared him the prime suspect what he says carries particular weight.  In any remotely impartial inquiry of a incident like this what is said by the prime suspect should carry at least equal weight to what is being said against him by his accusers.  Any other approach is biased and wrong.

Professor Postol is a foremost forensic expert with a proven track record of correctly assessing technical evidence in incidents of this sort.  He played a key role in debunking some of the erroneous claims that were made at the time of the sarin attack on Ghouta in Syria in August 2013.

What I now propose to do is go through the evidence in the white paper, testing it whenever possible against the evidence provided by President Assad and Professor Postol,  and against any other evidence that is available.

(1) Motive

I will first consider the vexed question of motive because it has featured so much in discussions of the case.

I should say that this is a departure from the usual method followed by investigators.  The claim that investigators consider motive first and conduct their investigations on that basis (“cui bono”) though commonly made is actually wrong.  Investigators rarely concern themselves with motive simply because motive is so difficult to guess, and guesses can so easily lead an investigation astray.

However in this case it is possible to make an exception because the US government in its white paper is claiming that the alleged chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun was intentional.  If so then the Syrian military must have had some motive to do it.

The US in the white paper claims the air attack was carried out in connection with the Jihadi offensive in Hama.

This is undoubtedly correct.  I have made this point myself previously.  What reason did the Syrian military however have to make this attack a chemical attack?

President Assad is the expert on this question and his answer is none.  This is what President Assad says

For example, less than two weeks, around ten days before that attack, the terrorists were advancing in many fronts, including the suburbs of Damascus and Hama which is not far from Khan Sheikhoun, let’s suppose we have this arsenal, and let’s suppose that we have the will to use it, why didn’t we use it when we were retreating and the terrorists were advancing? Actually, the timing of that attack or alleged attack was when the Syrian Army was advancing very fast, and actually the terrorists were collapsing. So, why to use it, if you have it and if you have the will, why to use it at that timing, not when you were in a difficult situation, logically? This is first.

Second, if you want to use it, if you have it and if you want to use it – again, this is if we suppose – why to use it against civilians, not to use it against the terrorists that we are fighting? Third, in that area, we don’t have army, we don’t have battles, we don’t have any, let’s say, object in Khan Sheikhoun, and it’s not a strategic area. Why to attack it? What’s the reason? Militarily, I’m talking from a military point of view. Of course, the foundation for us, morally, we wouldn’t do it if we have it, we wouldn’t have the will, because morally this is not acceptable. We won’t have the support of the public. So, every indication is against the whole story, so you can say that this play that they staged doesn’t hold together. The story is not convincing by any means.

It is difficult to argue either with the facts or with the logic of this, and interestingly no one has convincingly done so.  Instead we have nebulous claims that President Assad was looking to test President Trump’s resolve (why should he?) or that his army is ‘tired’ (unlikely, since it is on the offensive and winning the war) or that he is stupid (contradicted by the fluency of his comments) or that he is a barbarian (why would he carry out a purposeless attack even if he was one?).

Even Britain’s Foreign Minister Boris Johnson has been forced to admit that President Assad had no discernible motive to carry out the attack

It is in some ways bizarre that Bashar al-Assad should be so reckless. It seems mystifying that he should now raise the stakes by so blatantly murdering so many of his own people with chemical weapons. Indeed, there is a sense in which it would frankly be more convenient for the outside world to pretend that it did not happen.

What of the argument that is also sometimes made that this was a rogue operation ordered by some Syrian commander on his own initiative?  Here is what President Assad has to say about that

Even if you have a rogue element, the army doesn’t have chemical materials. This is first. Second, a rogue army cannot send an airplane at their will, even if they want. It’s an airplane, it’s not a small car to take it from place to place or a small machine gun to use it. You can talk about somebody who has been using his pistol on his behalf the way he wants and break the law, that could happen anywhere in the world, but not an airplane. This is second.

Third, the Syrian Army is a regular army, it’s not a militia. It’s a regular army, it has hierarchy, it has very clear way of orders, so this kind of “rough personnel tried to do something against the will of the leadership of the army” never happened during the last six years of the war in Syria.

In other words this was not and could not have been a rogue operation, and President Assad not only denies ordering a chemical attack but says he had no logical reason to do so.

Here it is also fair to point out that President Assad also categorically denies that Syria is any longer in possession of chemical weapons since it gave up its chemical weapons arsenal following the Ghouta chemical weapons attack in August 2013.

This claim is now being bitterly contested, but here is what President Assad had to say about it

We don’t have an arsenal, we’re not going to use it.

(2) Videos and witness accounts of the incident

Since the videos and witness statements were made in Syria, more often than not by people who are Syrians, President Assad is again the undisputed expert on their reliability and provenance.  Moreover since he is the prime suspect and the videos and the witness statements make accusations against him, what he says about them deserves particular attention

As you know, Khan Sheikhoun is under the control of al-Nusra Front, which is a branch of Al Qaeda, so the only information the world have had till this moment is published by Al Qaeda branch. No-one has any other information. We don’t know if the whole pictures or videos that we’ve been seeing are true or fabricated. That’s why we asked for investigation to what happened in Khan Sheikhoun. This is first….

As I said, the only source is Al Qaeda, we cannot take it seriously. But our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand in glove with the terrorists. They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack, It wasn’t an attack because of what happened in khan Sheikhoun. It’s one event, its stage one is the play that we saw on the social networking and on TVs, and the propaganda, and the stage two is the military attack. That’s what we believe is happening because it’s only few days – two days, 48 hours – between the play and the attacks, and no investigations, no concrete evidence about anything, the only thing were allegations and propaganda, and then strike…..

The allegation itself was by Al Qaeda, al-Nusra Front, so we don’t have to investigate who, they announced it, it’s under their control, no-one else. About the attack, as I said, it’s not clear whether it happened or not, because how can you verify a video? You have a lot of fake videos now, and you have the proof that those videos were fake, like the White Helmets for example, they are Al Qaeda, they are al-Nusra Front who shaved their beards, wore white hats, and appeared as humanitarian heroes, which is not the case. The same people were killing Syrian soldiers, and you have the proof on the internet anyway. So, the same thing for that chemical attack, we don’t know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhoun? Were they dead at all? Who committed the attack if there was an attack? What’s the material? You have no information at all, nothing at all, no-one investigated.

We can contrast this with what the US government’s white paper has to say about these videos and witness statements

We are certain that the opposition could not have fabricated all of the videos and other reporting of chemical attacks.  Doing so would have required a highly organized campaign to deceive multiple media outlets and human rights organizations while evading detection.  In addition, we have independently confirmed that some of the videos were shot at the approximate times and locations described in the footage.

This is far from being a comprehensive refutation of President Assad’s points.  On the contrary the words “we are certain that the opposition could not have fabricated all of the videos” seem to at least concede the possibility that “the opposition” might have fabricated some of the videos.

The most worrying point however is that the white paper falsifies who was actually in control of Khan Sheikhoun at the time of the attack, and who was therefore in control of the territory where the videos and the witness statements were produced.  As President Assad says, it was Al-Qaeda operating through one of the kaleidoscope of names it uses to conceal its identity, with the name it is now using in Syria being “Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham”.

Al-Qaeda’s current name “Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham” replaces its previous name “Jabhat Al-Nusra”.  However it remains the same organisation, which continues to be classified by the US as a terrorist group.  It is “Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham” – ie. Al-Qaeda – which launched the recent offensives in Damascus and in northern Hama, the latter being the cause as the US white paper admits of the Syrian air force attack on Khan Sheikhoun.  It is this same group – Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham ie. Al-Qaeda – which controls Khan Sheikhoun.

The fact the white paper falsifies Al-Qaeda’s involvement by referring to the group in control of Khan Sheikhoun merely as “the opposition” must inevitably cast doubt on this part of the white paper.

Would Al-Qaeda be capable of organising “a highly organized campaign to deceive multiple media outlets and human rights organizations while evading detection”?  I suspect that most people – if they knew Al-Qaeda was involved – would answer yes.

In this case there is also the further factor that “the multiple media outlets and human rights organizations” are strongly biased against the Syrian government, which might make them all too easy to deceive.

As it happens any number of people have studied the videos and have cast doubt on what they purport to show.  A good example is the independent investigation carried out by the Lebanese journalist Abdel Karim previously published by The Duran.

In conclusion though the videos and the witness evidence make a circumstantial case, the way the white paper treats them shows that they are far from conclusive, and the fact that the white paper both falsifies their provenance and concedes at least the possibility of some fabrication is a sign that even the US has doubts about them.

(3) Nerve gas samples

The evidence for this is sketchy, and relies on corroboration from tests supposedly made in Turkish hospitals and from samples obtained by British scientists.  Until more details of this evidence are provided it is impossible to say much about it.  However I would make two points:

(1) though the video and witness statements cannot be treated as conclusive as to who carried out the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun, they do provide at least a circumstantial case that a chemical attack of some sort happened.  However one should not fall into the error of treating proof of the one (the fact of the chemical attack indicated by the videos and the witness statements and allegedly confirmed by the samples) as proof of something else (that the Syrian military was responsible for the attack).

(2) The Russian Defence Ministry is now saying that no one has asked for antidotes or medicines around the location of the attack, which suggests that if an attack did take place it was not particularly severe and may have been staged.  This would of course support criticism of the video evidence made by Abdel Karim and others.  However it might also point to disorganisation and to a relatively small attack by the Syrian air force, consistent with only one chemical bomb being dropped.

(4) The bomb crater

The US government’s white paper refers to ‘geospatial intelligence’ amongst the evidence which cannot be disclosed, and it is a reasonable guess that this includes satellite evidence of the crater.  If so then that is surprising because numerous photographs of this crater have now been released.

This evidence has now been strongly challenged by Professor Postol.  His conclusion is as follows

I have located this crater using Google Earth and there is absolutely no evidence that the crater was created by a munition designed to disperse sarin after it is dropped from an aircraft. The Google Earth map shown in Figure 1 at the end of this text section shows the location of that crater on the road in the north of Khan Shaykhun, as described in the White House statement. The data cited by the White House is more consistent with the possibility that the munition was placed on the ground rather than dropped from a plane. This conclusion assumes that the crater was not tampered with prior to the photographs. However, by referring to the munition in this crater, the White House is indicating that this is the erroneous source of the data it used to conclude that the munition came from a Syrian aircraft. Assessment of White House April 17, 2017 Intelligence Report of April 11, 2017 Page 2 of 14 Pages Analysis of the debris as shown in the photographs cited by the White House clearly indicates that the munition was almost certainly placed on the ground with an external detonating explosive.

This is consistent with the current claim of the Russian and Syrian governments that the chemical attack was deliberately staged as a ‘false flag’.

The white paper discusses at great length an early Russian claim that the deaths in Khan Sheikhoun were caused by an escape of gas from a warehouse where gas canisters were being stored by the Jihadis, which was targeted by the Syrian air force during the air strike.  That initially appeared to me and to many other people to be the most likely explanation of what happened.  The white paper does not say such a thing was technically impossible; only that it did not happen that way.

What the writers of the white paper do not seem to know is that the Russians themselves – almost certainly as a result of their own assessments of the evidence – have come to the same conclusion.  This became clear on 11th April 2017 when President Putin said that the chemical release at Khan Sheikhoun was a ‘false flag’ ie. not an accidental release of gas from a bombed warehouse.

On a number of occasions the fact that the Russians have floated different theories about particular incidents (eg. the MH17 shoot-down) is taken as proof of their guilty knowledge of what happened.  It is far more likely that it is simply the product of ignorance.

This is the most likely explanation in this case.  Initially the Russians believed the incident happened because they knew a warehouse was the target of the Syrian air strike.  Later, as more information came to light, they changed their assessment.

I am not in a position to say whether Professor Postol is right or wrong.  That is something for the OPCW investigators to decide.  All that can be said for now is that one of the foremost forensic experts in the world is disputing the white paper’s claims about this evidence.

(5) the presence of the Syrian officers at Al-Shayrat air base

This evidence has to be considered in combination with evidence provided by our old friend the ‘anonymous senior US official’ to CNN in a report dated 12th April 2017.  Here is what this report says

The US military and intelligence community has intercepted communications featuring Syrian military and chemical experts talking about preparations for the sarin attack in Idlib last week, a senior US official tells CNN.

The intercepts were part of an immediate review of all intelligence in the hours after the attack to confirm responsibility for the use of chemical weapons in an attack in northwestern Syria, which killed at least 70 people. US officials have said that there is “no doubt” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the attack.

The US did not know prior to the attack it was going to happen, the official emphasized. The US scoops up such a large volume of communications intercepts in areas like Syria and Iraq, the material often is not processed unless there is a particular event that requires analysts to go back and look for supporting intelligence material.

This almost certainly is the signals intelligence the white paper mentions but which it says cannot be disclosed.

Since this evidence has not been disclosed it is impossible to assess it fully.  All I would say is that signals intelligence depends heavily on interpretation, which has often proved to be mistaken.

For example in the run up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq the US claimed to have signals intelligence of Iraqi officers bragging to each about how they had managed to fool the UN inspectors, and following the August 2013 Ghouta attack it claimed to have signals intelligence of a senior Syrian military officer confirming the attack.

On both occasions the interpretation of the signals intelligence is now admitted to have been wrong.

It is not in itself surprising that Syrian military officers should be present at a Syrian air force base.  If the US intercepted messages from them confirming that a chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun was about to occur, then it is strange that this fact is not mentioned in the white paper but has instead been leaked anonymously to CNN.  That may suggest that there are some doubts about it.

Summary

In summary the white paper claims the Syrian military carried out a chemical weapons attack on the strength of (1) certain videos and witness statements of which – in part because of their provenance with people associated with Al-Qaeda – it clearly has doubts, (2) a crater one of the world’s foremost forensic experts says it misrepresents, and (3) the presence of certain Syrian military officers at a Syrian air base who an anonymous US official says the US overheard discussing the attack before it happened, something which the white paper however does not itself say.

The white paper claims the attack was intentional but provides no coherent explanation of what precisely it was intended to achieve, and the person who it says was responsible – President Assad – has forcefully challenged this logic.

This is not a compelling case.  Certainly it is not one that should be used to justify a missile attack on a Syrian air force base made without Congressional approval and without permission from the UN Security Council, especially when that missile attack has caused people to die.

It is not impossible that the Syrian air force did for some unfathomable reason known only to itself carry out a chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun.  Though the evidence is circumstantial and open to challenge, it cannot be said that there is no evidence at all for such an attack.

However the case is far from proved, and the possibility that this was a staged attack certainly exists, and has received strong backing from the claims about the crater made by Professor Postol

If the question is of whether the Syrian government committed a crime on 4th April 2017 in Khan Sheikhoun, then on the strength of the contents of the white paper that claim is open to challenge.

The same cannot however be said about the US government’s subsequent action.  That the US government committed a crime when it launched a missile attack on Al-Sharyat air base on 6th April 2017 without lawful permission which killed people on the strength of what is by any measure a shaky and incomplete case is not open to doubt.

As of now, that is all that can be said about this case.  A more complete assessment depends on the results of the OPCW’s investigation.

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The Trump Miracle and the Logical End of US Democracy: What Happened?

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I don’t wish to dine with a Clinton Snowflake.

And a Clinton Snowflake would rather see me off to San Quentin, the Deplorable that I am.

Something happened under Obama-Clinton rule that has never happened before, not even in the heat of passions culminating in the Civil War. The country polarized, splitting into two groupings. Forever.

Obama’s, Grand Canyon divide was cemented, subsequently, by Clinton’s “Deplorables” gaff interpreted as disdain and disrespect for the working, one-half of the country. Millions of Americans will never accept her and her Snowflakes and vice versa. “Never say never,” it’s said, often enough. But, this time, “never,” is an unequivocal: “Never!”

Quite simply, the Obama-Clinton regime politicized that which should never be politicized, namely, core beliefs and values, starting with God.

Debate is one thing, but the regime followed up with direct and indirect actions, which some writers call rainbow fascism. “You won’t bake a wedding cake for two gays out of some fossilized belief in scripture? We’ll shut you down.”

The regime’s aggression against the Church, the family, and the infant in the womb is dynamite inserted into the foundation on which the country stands.

Along with compassion and sensitivity to opposing views, compromise used to help mend political wounds. It allowed the nation to move on after an election. However, when religious tenets are challenged by a political Party with executive order power, the door on possible compromise slams shut. Obama-Clinton politicized the sacred and the Holy, a big no-no considering that politics divide. It wasn’t done out of ignorance, disrespect, or plain arrogance. It was a conscience, systematic attack by the Godless against God-fearing Christians.

God either exists or He doesn’t – no compromise, here. That is, “He might exist,” placates neither the believer nor the atheist. The Bible is either the Word of God as delivered through His prophets or it isn’t. No compromise possible.

Abortion-on-demand is another issue without compromise considering the commandment: Thou shalt not kill (murder). There is also common sense compassion, which makes us human and says that abortion is wrong. You’re either for murder of the defenseless or against it.

A partial birth abortion, despite the insinuation of compromise in the term, is actually a viler variant of infanticide because it’s performed in the last trimester, at 5-7 months. The well-developed, living infant is pulled out of the womb, legs first. The medical executioner then plunges a probe with a catheter into the living brain in order to suction out a bloody slurry and collapse the skull. Is it murder of the defenseless or a “woman’s right” as Snowflakes call it?

Clinton claims: “Fetuses feel no pain and have no rights.” Curiously, Himmler leaned on a nearly identical contention to justify ghoulish, medical experiments on pregnant women in Konzentrationslager. Is there a difference? Indeed, there is. Clinton is a woman, making her serial murders more of a monstrosity.

The Holy Bible is either the Word of God or it isn’t. It’s not a book to be adapted to one’s whims or sexual lusts. Scripture strictly condemns male homosexuality in at least three passages and, implicitly, in some one-half dozen others. Nonetheless, Obama-Clinton attached the promotion of LBGTq-ism to the Democratic plank, overriding scripture. Clinton informed one audience that Christians would have to change their beliefs on some issues.

Hold on! “I’m getting my musket,” as more than one American has said.

I used to enjoy dialogue. But a sour aftertaste remains from the last time that I waded, innocently enough, into an after-dinner, back-and-forth. The topic was the upcoming primaries.

Dodging a flurry of leftism hooks from a New York Cityite at a Hamptons hideaway, I smiled through early-round attacks recalling how Mohammed Ali used to taunt opponents and cockroaches until they lost their cool. It worked. My opponent promptly tangled himself up in the ropes of his emotions.

It became apparent, in the ensuing minutes, that the Achilles heel of the Left was the absence of a viable candidate. That is, one who could be liked – a leader with charisma with a realistic chance winning.

Hillary was the only figure looming big on the horizon. After flying about on her crooked broom, peddling influence and laundering bloody cash from terrorism-sponsoring sheiks, wads of cash stuffed her Pampers. The Wicked Witch of the West, as victims of her foreign policy still address her, apparently, had it all. Except likeability. Or, something new to offer millions of working Americans beyond the scandals, a world in flames, and the same old corrupt things, starting with her foundation, which kept the cash but forgot Hattian children.

Deep-down inside, my opponent knew that getting excited about Hillary would be a daunting task. It’s precisely Hillary’s inability to generate enthusiasm that eventually metamorphosed into, “What Happened?” It wasn’t Russia; it wasn’t the dog that ate her homework.

As Secretary of State, Clinton’s role in creating and sponsoring head-choppers, baby burners, and heart-eating fanatics in ISIS’s jumpsuits was already well-established for anyone who was interested in looking beyond the hyaluronic acid smile and the praise of her attendant, media handlers.

Propagandists led by CNN and MSNBC did their best to sequester her “Arab Spring” fiascos. Her ties and support of the Muslim Brotherhood, apparently, inspired by live-in aide and right-hand woman, Huma Abedin were off limits for the press. Lesbian lover or not, the real issue is the between-the sheets confidences of one woman, holding one of the highest positions in the US Government and another with connections to jihadist circles inspired by Sayyid Qutb, the godfather of al Qaeda. What would have been made of it by the press if Trump had a mistress whose grandfather was Osama bin Laden?

Clinton’s connivance, her intrigue, and her use of the sword to overthrow foreign governments constituted the essence of her foreign policy. Now, the rich, sweet thing is crying over supposed, Russian interference that she claims cost her the election! No proof of Russian involvement has been found, despite massive efforts and the wasteful expenditure of millions of dollars. Even so, in her warped sense of reality, it’s inconceivable that American voters chose a vulgar, thrice-married, casino operator who trash talks instead of her. Curiously, it was Christians, in particular – Catholics, Protestants and the Orthodox – fearing a de facto Obama third term, who voted in droves for Trump.

Jonathon Van Maren writes: “…Christians are having conversations around the dinner table about what do if the government forces curricula on them that they cannot accept, because their own government is increasingly indicating that Christian parents are too homophobic and too hateful to teach their own children.”

Fear is setting in at both ends of the political spectrum. Meltdown, weep-in snowflakes fear Trump yet he and Christians are not forcing the LGBTq groupings etc., to make lifestyle changes. In contrast, Obama-Clinton’s Rainbow Fascism demands core value changes, or else! It’s already ruining the lives of those who cannot compromise religious tenets. What’s next? Obviously, children must be taken away from homophobic and irresponsible parents. It’s already happening in Norway and Sweden.

Curiously, WaPo’s entire editorial board endorsed her. Isn’t endorsement of Clinton’s terrorism by proxy tantamount to being a terrorist? Can WaPo be trusted, again? Another liberally slanted paper, the NY Times largely swept Clinton’s sordid past under the carpet, with about 90 percent of its articles casting her in a positive light. In contrast, it was open season on Republicans and, soon enough, on Trump.

“Considering her international war crimes record, if you vote for her, as I’m sure you’ll end up doing, you’re going to be an accomplice. Of terrorism,” I sighed. “So unfriend me now, please.”

Swinging, aimlessly – now, a bug in my web – my opponent’s accusations turned Archie-Bunker-personal – “You’re a SOB, M#*/!er. All you do is criticize but you haven’t done squat! Do something in the community instead of blaming everything on Obama and Clinton.

“Some time ago, I saw little, practical sense in it,” I replied. “That is, in wasting time to change the system.”

If it was ever possible to improve matters on a local level, those days are gone. Plato, Socrates and Aristotle did not consider the rule of money to be compatible with democracy. After three, consecutive, two-term geniuses steering the US Titanic – Clinton, Bush, Obama – the scraping sounds of hitting the iceberg are all-too-audible. The mass media orchestra plays on yet the waterline has reached the nation’s gunwales.

“Sorry, trends are apparent enough. Liberty, freedom of expression – all on the wane. Government as well as media controls are tightening! Prisons are full. Stalin has been outdone. His maximum Gulag stay was 15 years regardless of the charge. What’s ours? A life sentence for being in a romantic relationship with a drug smuggler? Common sense is being pushed aside by nonsense. Sorry, I find little sense building sandcastles at ebbtide.”

My opponent had had enough. Spilling whisky to get away from me, he spewed more venom and parted the room. Forever.

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How American propaganda bypasses the Constitution

While the First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, this amendment only guarantees the government will not manage the news.

Seraphim Hanisch

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We are in a propaganda war unlike anything anyone ever expected in the United States. As recently as the 1970’s and 1980’s, the common knowledge even among young elementary school students was that the Government of the United States cannot restrict the operation of a free press. Freedom of speech was taught and vaunted as one of our most precious rights, and the Soviet Union’s history of oppression was the catalyst by which love of the right of free speech was protected.

Do not let go of this freedom, or we will become like them, we were told.

But the most recent couple of years we are seeing media control in very clear obvious ways.

On October 11, Facebook’s internal news site noted that it was removing what it calls “inauthentic news sites”:

11 October 2018

Removing Additional Inauthentic Activity from Facebook

Today, we’re removing 559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior. Given the activity we’ve seen — and its timing ahead of the US midterm elections — we wanted to give some details about the types of behavior that led to this action. Many were using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names and posted massive amounts of content across a network of Groups and Pages to drive traffic to their websites. Many used the same techniques to make their content appear more popular on Facebook than it really was. Others were ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate.

But on October 20th, with this information known, Google searches on “Facebook fake news midterm” elections first revealed absolutely nothing any earlier than August, and nothing related to the recent developments in October.

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In research for this piece, one known article on The Duran was found and brought up. By use of the specific search term “removing additional inauthentic activity from Facebook”, we were then able to get the Facebook news page. Subsequent searches on “Facebook midterms fake news” revealed quite a different response:

Oh! There it is! But several Google searches made before directly fingering the information yielded nothing, just as though the news of FB’s efforts didn’t exist.

We already know that Facebook has a core corporate culture that leans left. We also know that many groups have been removed for suspicions of being dishonest or fake news.

What we may not get is how well intertwined the majority of information services on the Internet are, and how they cooperate to manage information.

Google was the search engine used in this research. And indeed, the big four major purveyors of information and social media are Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These sites are so widely used that they are easy to consider the first stop, the last stop and the only stop for anyone seeking information from the Internet about anything.

The absence of a search result is often enough to lead one to believe the story doesn’t really exist, or that it is a rumor. After all, if it is real news it must be on Google, right?

Wrong.

This would seem to fly in the face of the First Amendment, but it doesn’t, because the Amendment applies only to a limit of powers on the Federal Government. It cannot touch private industry, and indeed, the First Amendment actually protects the rights of individuals and companies to make any statements they wish, or to not make them.

Think of it this way: A newspaper that supports the conservative party writes and publishes news and opinion in such a manner as to bolster support for that party. The paper and its staff are entirely within their First Amendment rights to do so because the Constitution never said anything about reporting the truth. It only says that the press’ freedom cannot be abridged by the government.

So if a liberal paper wants to report the same news and give its editorial bias that supports its own causes, it may. There is not a soul in government that can stop them. But the owners of the company can.

However, those owners and editors can certainly be influenced by hidden efforts. While there is no law restricting free speech in the US, there is certainly a lot of power and money that can accomplish the same thing.

A sweetheart deal between a company CEO and his or her senator or congressman can subtly change the balance. There is no law to break involved here, though such efforts can rightly be called “collusion.” Collusion happens all the time, though, and it is always a cooperative effort so there is very little that can be done to stop it. It is not illegal in most situations, either.

Conservatives know this. They have seen the slant of mainstream media lean unerringly to the side of secular humanism, suppression or humiliation of traditional values and lifestyles, and the crazy, psychotic mixture of pacifism or warmongering as best suits the desires of the Left. We have observed this in stark fashion just this year, as critics hysterically railed at President Trump for his tough stance with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and as they hysterically railed at President Trump for going against his promise to get out of Syria, and then again for not attacking them, and sanctioning Russia even more.

The reasoning behind the Left’s attacks was simple: If Mr. Trump wanted it, they didn’t. This is simple reasoning, indeed but it is also hysterical reasoning, which means it is insane.

The most recent outburst of media control came during the Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination and confirmation events. The eleventh-hour attacks alleging that Brett Kavanaugh was a drunken would-be rapist and the testimonies of Dr Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnik were reported with a heavy emphasis on “believe the women” and they were also tailored for a time to target Judge Kavanaugh for his anger in his response, with CNN heads saying that this anger shows that the Judge is unhinged.

Conservative media efforts to give the truth to this story were certainly going full force on Fox News and with conservative media hosts like Rush Limbaugh, but they were heading for failure. The reason for this was that the conservative arguments were not fielded on mainstream media, so they were not heard or read.

The Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation might not have gone through because of this. But one move saved this nomination.

President Trump began talking about it in his rallies, which the media had to cover. When Mr. Trump noted in clear language that none of these allegations were corroborated by anyone, most significantly the named witnesses of Dr Ford’s, the widespread dissemination of that news (because the press had no choice) helped turn that debacle into the nothing-burger it always was.

When news gets around that someone is trying to suppress a story, that often can result in the story getting much bigger. Social media networks have to give the appearance of fairness, after all, and refusing to report a huge story because it runs counter to the political opinion of the network is a risk no network (except maybe CNN) is willing to take.

The First Amendment means the government cannot control our news media. But this also means that the responsibility lies with the American people to control it, to uphold its freedom and to uphold the freedom of speech, be it risky or offensive or politically perilous. There is a good reason for that need.

The most risky, offensive and politically perilous pieces of news are quite often the truth.

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How other jurisdictions view Constantinople’s actions in Ukraine

Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro puts the present Orthodox dispute in simple and understandable terms while not demonizing anyone.

Seraphim Hanisch

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This piece is reprinted almost entirely from its original posting on orthochristian.com. We hope it offers a clear perspective that shared across the Orthodox Christian world regarding the recent moves by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, in regards to the legitimization of two canonically schismatic church communities in Ukraine.   
A note for US or Western European readers:While Western culture regards church affairs as something middling at best, and “not in touch with the ‘real world'”, the Orthodox Christian world takes the opposite view. These matters of how the Church’s faith and practice are handled are extremely important to millions of believers. The aforementioned actions are profoundly difficult events for Orthodox Christians and have great repercussions that extend into the geopolitical realm of secular politics.

It is for this reason that this story is being followed closely on The Duran.Recently, Metropolitan Archbishop Amfilohije of Montenegro gave an interview with Russian Channel One about the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, to grant canonical status to two schismatic communities in Ukraine, pursuant to the creation of a national Ukrainian independent Orthodox Church in that region.This particular set of events also has a geopolitical basis, as the reader will discover as they peruse the interview. Any emphasis in bold is added strictly for the ease of comprehension.


The decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew and his Synod concerning the Ukrainian issue, are, in my opinion catastrophic, both for the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and for resolving the Church question in Ukraine, as well as for the unity of the Orthodox Church. We in our Church are simply shocked at how the Ecumenical Patriarch—an expert on the canons—made such a decision, which is without a doubt uncanonical,” said His Eminence Amfilohije, Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral, and Brda, Archbishop of Cetinje, and Exarch of the Throne of Peć in an interview with the Russian Channel One.

Commenting on the canonical aspects of the latest decision of the Patriarch of Constantinople and his Synod, Archbishop Amfilohije explained that the Patriarch of Constantinople “in this decision refers, as other bishops of the Patriarchate of Constantinople have recently referred to, the right to appeal to the Patriarch of Constantinople from other Local Churches. This is the so called “Ekkliton.[1]

The body of the interview follows, with all the text except the Interviewer being the speech of Met. Amfilohije:

Whenever a problem arises in any of the Local Churches between individual bishops, it is alleged that they have the possibility of appealing to Constantinople, and then Constantinople could make its decision on the matter.

“However, do they actually have this right of appeal? Especially in the spirit in which Denisenko applied to it now? The Ecumenical Patriarch validates this with some historical facts, and certain Church canons. For example, the 9th, 17th, and 28th Canons of the Fourth Ecumenical Council, which were written in antiquity, and therefore, which relate to the status of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and its role at that time.

“On what basis then, was this right given? First of all, this right concerns the Metropolises under the canonical administration of the Patriarch of Constantinople. It did not apply to the whole Church. Secondly, this right is based on the canons of the Ecumenical Council, according to which the Ecmenical Patriarch received this status as the Bishop of the City of Byzantium—Constantinople—on the grounds that this city, in which this bishop is located, is the Imperial City—the residence of the emperor and the Imperial Council.

“Now, however, the imperial capital no longer exists. Constantinople ceased to be the imperial capital in 1453. And therefore, this right to which the Patriarch of Constantinople is referring is questionable. The Orthodox Church does not question its status as the first in honor in the Orthodox church, but this does not give him the right to interfere in this way in the life of any other Local Church, including the Russian Orthodox Church.

“The Patriarch is referring here to a certain decision in 1686, in which by economia[2] the right to ordain (appoint) the Metropolitan of Kiev was given to the Patriarch of Moscow, provided that the Metropolitan of Kiev commemorates the Constantinople Patriarch first at the Liturgy.

“However, Kievan Rus’[3], and Vladimir Rus’[4], and Muscovite Rus’[5] were one and the same Rus’ at that time; so it is impossible to separate Kievan Rus from Muscovite or Vladimir Rus’.

“300 years have passed since then, and Constantinople had never raised the question that it had ecclesiastical authority in Ukraine. He first raised this question just now, and it is absolutely impossible to accept.

“I am amazed at how the negative reaction of all the Local Churches did not stop him; the ancient Patriarchates of the East—Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch. The Patriarch of Antioch was just recently with us. I am sure that he will give his assessment.

“[The Patriarch of Alexandria] recently visited Odessa, and spoke there, together with the Metropolitan of the Polish Orthodox Church, who also quite clearly expressed his opinion.

“In general, all the Local Churches—and our Local Church—expressed at a council, a very documented letter in connection with this issue. Constantinople did not respond to our letter concerning this.

“Our Patriarch just met with the Ecumenical Patriarch in Thessaloniki. Our Patriarch gave him the position of our Church, and unfortunately, Constantinople answered as they answered.

“As it is, however, this decision, as I have already said, is catastrophic, including for the resolution of this important issue of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. It does not solve this question, but only complicates it. It creates a radical problem of interference in the life of another Local Church, and not only for the Russian Church, but for absolutely everyone.

“This at the same time calls into question the very unity of Orthodoxy. This has already affected Orthodoxy, especially the Orthodox diaspora, after that the conferences of Orthodox Bishops. According to my information, the bishops in Latin America already refuse to participate in pan-Orthodox conferences, and its going the same way in Europe[6]. I am sure that this will happen in the USA. It has partially already begun.

“But the role of the first among the patriarchs is not to separate the others, but to unite.

“By such actions, the Patriarch of Constantinople in fact separates. He does not solve this problem, but only pushes the problem deeper into the Orthodox Church.

“Recently, a lot has been said about the interference in the internal affairs of the Orthodox Church by the great world powers. Can you elaborate on which powers people are talking about, and what these power are trying to accomplish?

“Now it is seen in Ukraine itself. It is in fact the Ukrainian government that is the main player in the question of granting autocephaly to a Ukrainian church[7]. It should not be overlooked that the state would previously intervene—in other words, there was cooperation, the so called symphonia” of the state and the Church in Orthodoxy.

“But in those days, this was with regards to Christian states, and Christian rulers. In those days, the state itself defended the Orthodox Christian faith. Rulers, from the Byzantine Emperor to the Tsar of Moscow, to our kings were Orthodox Christians. The statutes of Montenegro even prescribed that the successor of King Nikola I would be an Orthodox Christian.

“Now, everything is different. These are all secular states, especially those created after the collapse of the Soviet Union. So the Soviet Union gave birth to these contradictions within the Russian nation, within the Slavic peoples of the former Russian Empire. The theme of a so-called Ukrainian Orthodox Church[8] didn’t appear only now. It arose with the creation of Ukraine by the Soviet authorities in the 1920s. It was then that this topic appeared.

“Then the so-called “Self-Sanctifiers[9]” arose, who declared themselves Metropolitans of Kiev.

“And the [legitimate] Metropolitan of Kiev—Antony (Khrapovitsky), who was buried in Belgrade, was then a candidate for the position of Patriarch of Moscow. Having fallen asleep in the Lord in 1936, he along with more than thirty bishops were forced to leave Russia, and our Local Church helped them to create what was called the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which still exists today. This Church recently reunited with the Moscow Patriarchate.

“So it’s one thing—contemporary states, modern authority—and a totally different thing—the time when Constantinople was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, or when Moscow was the capital of the Russian Empire, as the successor of the Byzantine Empire.

“But this epoch, the epoch of the symbiosis of the Church and State, the so-called “Constantinian Age,” began with Emperor St. Constantine the Great, and it ended—in my, and not only in my opinion—with the murder of the Imperial Family in 1918.

“In other words, this imperial period of Christianity is dogmatically fixed in the West in the person of the Bishop of Rome—the Supreme Pontiff. In the East, it was and remains a temptation.

“However, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, there was no longer a Byzantine Emperor, who previously provided the Bishop of Constantinople with the status that he had possessed since the time of Emperor Constantine.

“And then this role of the Byzantine Empire passed through Kiev, and Vladimir, to Moscow—that is to say—to the Russian Tsars. But the Russian Tsar and his family were murdered in 1918. And this completed the epoch of Constantine in the history of the Church. It has ended.

“And now the Church must return to the pre-imperial structure, without imitating what was in past centuries, when there was a symbiosis of the state, Church, nation. It must return to the structure that existed before Emperor Constantine, respecting everything that has happened since then, but not being limited to historical experience.

“Thus, the first Rome fell away from the faith, the Second Rome fell, disappearing in 1453, and after the murder of the Imperial Family, the Third Rome had already lost that place in the life of the Church it had occupied in past centuries. Therefore, the way the Church lived and functioned in the imperial period should be left to the past.

“From this point of view, Constantinople committed what it had no right to do.

“First of all, this state—Ukraine—is the fruit of Leninist-Stalinist communist secularism. And this situation for the people of Ukraine, the Christian people is also the result of the unleashing of the Unia[10] on Ukrainians of the 16th century, and what happened with these people in the 1920s.

“It is necessary to keep in mind the meaning of the name itself—Ukraine (Ukraina). It is similar to our word Kraina: a krai / borderland[11]. The question is—the edge or border of what? On the one hand, Kiev was the former Mother Church of the Russian Church, then its center moved to Vladimir (during the period of Vladimir Rus’) and then to Moscow.

“It is this continuum of the Orthodox Church in Russia, which begins in Kiev, passes through Vladimir, and then ends in Moscow. This is an uninterrupted succession. So what point is there to now appeal to a status that existed in the 15th or 16th century? The Ukrainian question today cannot be resolved on that basis.

“In reality, it must be resolved on the basis of the modern structure of this state—a secular state, not dissimilar to all the modern secular states in the West. It’s a fundamentally different relationship between a state and a nation, moreover no longer a ‘Christian nation;’ a similar problem has now manifested itself in Macedonia.

“There, the secular authorities, the communists, also created a so-called Macedonian Orthodox Church. The communists, the heirs of the Tito regime, tried here too, in Montenegro, to create a so-called Montenegrin Orthodox Church. The authorities of Montenegro killed 129 priests here during the communist time; the communist authorities killed the Metropolitan of Montenegro Joanikije.

“It was these authorities who were first to raise the question of the so-called autocephalous Montenegrin Orthodox Church. The godless authorities, the atheistic powers, the secular authorities in a secular state, where the Church is separate from the state, are interfering in the internal affairs of the Church. The same thing is happening in Ukraine, and in other countries that emerged after the Bolshevik revolution.

“The Church should try to unite society, and thereby solve this painful issue for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

“There, under the guise of the “Ukrainian Church,” there exist the so-called Uniates—the Greek Catholics—and then the so-called Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church, and the self-proclaimed “church” of the “Kiev Patriarchate.”

“For the first time, Constantinople, on the basis of the alleged “right to appeal” (ekkliton)[12], the right to receive appeals in this way is interfering with the life of another Local Church, even over 300 years after Constantinople’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction over Ukraine ended.

“Thus, there is talk about these events as being an absolutely incomprehensible phenomenon. Until this very moment I still hope there is an opportunity to refrain from granting this Tomos, which cannot be issued without the consent of the canonical Church.

“Constantinople [previously] recognized only the Church of the Moscow Patriarchate as the canonical Church in Ukraine. But now, Constantinople has recognized bishops who were deposed from their positions and excommunicated from one of the Local Orthodox Churches. It’s simply inconceivable that the Ecumenical Patriarch could have gone through with this.

“As for these interventions, and I’d like to say that these are not only those from the Ukrainian authorities themselves, but it is clear that these interventions are directed against Russia, and in fact—against Orthodoxy.

“They were able to separate everyone in these krais[13] (borderlands/marches).[14] Only the Orthodox Church remained united. Now these forces, the demonic forces of this entire world are striving in the end to divide the Orthodox Church. For this they managed to use the ancient Church of Constantinople to apply a canon that belonged to it back in imperial times.

“In the battle for Ukraine—that is to say for undermining the foundation of Russia—the hand of America is visible.

“They speak about the supposed “Russian intervention,” but how can Russia intervene if Russia itself was born there? Kievan Rus’ was born there, and continuously developed for 1030 years. The fact that the Western powers, the EU, and above all, America are fueling and supporting fratricidal wars, as they did against us Serbs in Kosovo, reveals that what is happening in Ukraine is the second act of the tragedy of Kosovo: A group of evil-doers and criminals, who dishonor the worthy Albanian folk, have been made the rulers of Kosovo, and they recognized the so-called independent Kosovo—and the Orthodox Church of God, our age-old culture, and the Serbian people were expelled from there.

“What the communists began[15], the NATO bloc continued with their bombings of Serbia and Montenegro.

“What began in Russia with the arrival of the Bolsheviks and the assassination of the Imperial Family now brings such bitter fruit. I regret that the Patriarch of Constantinople did not understand how deep and serious these problems are.

“He went forth with good intentions—to unite—only this isn’t the road of unification, but only the deepening of the difficulties that seized Ukraine, as well as the creation of a deep schism in the Orthodox Church—which undoubtedly will not bring forth any good fruits if these efforts are continued.

“And this applies not only to Russians and Ukrainians, but also to us [Serbs]. After all, Denisenko[16]was the only one to recognize our Miraš Dedeić,[17] whom the Patriarch of Constantinople deposed and anathematized.

“We relayed this to the Patriarch of Constantinople, but he has of yet not answered this question. Of course, he does not recognize Dedeić, but by this act—by accepting as a canonical organization those who support all kinds of schisms in other locations—it involuntarily strengthens schisms that undermine the unity of the Orthodox Church.[18]

“And furthermore, this is all based on ethnophyletism,[19] which was previously condemned by the Church. Even the Cretan Council (it’s a pity that the Moscow Patriarchate wasn’t present, but despite this, it’s decisions remain valid) confirmed the decisions of this great council in 1872, condemning ethnophyletism as heresy and serpentine venom, destroying the unity of the Church.

“Constantinople confirmed and signed this decision of a large synod, and now a church is created on the basis of the demands of those formed under the influence of Bolshevism (like Macarius[20]), and now worshipers of Bandera[21]—Ukrainian fascists and former Nazis.

“Is this normal? Of course not! Not to mention the fact that Denisenko strove, when he was Ukrainian Metropolitan, for the position of Patriarch of Moscow, and when he was not elected, he declared himself Patriarch [of Kiev].

“Such is his madness. How can this be declared normal, without the consent of the Mother Church? And the Mother Church of Ukraine is not the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but for more than 300 years the Moscow Patriarchate.[22]”

[INTERVIEWER]: Not long ago, Milo Đukanović (The President of Montenegro) said that the Russian Orthodox Church is the striking fist of Russian Imperial interests. What did he mean by this?

“You’ll have to ask him. He probably assumed that the Metropolis of Montenegro, which has existed here for over 800 years, still has connections to the Russian Church and to Russia, as it had for centuries, and especially during the time of Metropolitan Danil.

“Were it not for this “Imperial Russia,” as he puts it, there would be no Montenegro, neither in 1878, nor later. Russian Emperor Nicholas II saved Serbia and Montenegro in 1915 and 1916, when Montenegro was forced to capitulate, and King Petro with the entire Serbian army retreated through Kosovo to the Albanian coast. Then the Russian Tsar gave an ultimatum to the allies, threatening that if they did not help save the Serbian army (the Austro-Hungarian army was in pursuit of the Serbs), then Russia would conclude a separate peace treaty with Germany and Austro-Hungary. So the allies had to send ships for the Serbs.

“If Nicholas II had signed a separate peace treaty, he would not have been assassinated nor would his family have been murdered. The German Kaiser sent Lenin, who conducted a revolution in Petrograd in 1916-17. The Emperor and his family were murdered by the hands of the Bolsheviks, but in fact they were murdered by the Germans. The Imperial Family and tsarist Russia paid with their lives to save their brothers—Serbia and Montenegro.”

[INTERVIEWER]: So what is this all about; what is this “Imperialist Russia?”

“Montenegro, since 1700 and to this moment, was created through the efforts of Russia—it’s education, and the entire structure before King Nikola in 1918. The metropolia only continues the tradition. And no form of “Imperialist Russia” is interfering here. Russian Bishops visit us, with whom we recently erected a monument to the Royal Passion-Bearers at Duklevo monastery, on which their faces are carved. This may be the most beautiful monument to the Imperial Family. Is this what he calls imperialism?

“I sometimes say these are sanctions of the metropolia against Russia. Mr. Đukanović, in his fight against “Russian imperialism” has become a pawn in the hands of the Western European and American Empires, and the NATO bloc—those who bombed Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo, which was part of Montenegro when it was an independent Kingdom.

“Now Đukanović recognizes Kosovo, while the Russians tried to save the unity of our nation and state. Unfortunately, Russia was then ruled not by the one who rules today, but by his predecessor, who did not understand this.

“Therefore, I do not know what Đukanović implies when speaking of “imperialism.” If it’s about what I said, then yes.

“I would also add further about the decision of Constantinople: This decision is a catastrophe for the Constantinople Patriarchate and for the unity of the Orthodox Church. Therefore, we hope that in the near future, as called for by the Moscow Patriarchate and other Local Churches, which have the full right to do so, we will resolve this issue in a pan-Orthodox format.

“The Ukrainian Question cannot be resolved by any single Local Church, because this issue is so extensive that it requires the participation of all Local Churches. This question is more important than all that was discussed at Crete. Therefore, the position of Constantinople is shocking, as he had always turned to other Local Churches (for example, during the schism in the Bulgarian Church in 1994, Constantinople appealed to the representatives of other Local Churches to solve the issue of schism in a canonical way).

“And now there has been discussion that based on the Ukrainian precedent—invading the canonical territory of another Local Church—the issue with the Macedonian Orthodox Church could be resolved.

“The Ecumenical Patriarchate is prevented from doing so only because of his demand that they abandon the name “Macedonian Orthodox Church” (In Ukraine, the name “Ukrainian Orthodox Church” does not trouble him.[23] He is still a Greek, and I fear that this is how Hellenic ethnophyletism has manifested itself in light of the Macedonian issue.

“There is talk that this Macedonia goes back to the time of Alexander the Great and King Philip; that is to say, we are going back to the issue of communist myths. Just like in Montenegro, the neo-communists continue to develop them. They demanded that the Montenegrin Metropolis, that is to say, the Serbian Orthodox Church be re-registered, as if we existed only since yesterday.

“A 1987 law requires the registration of only new religious organizations, and not the registration of traditional Churches and religious organizations. But now our neo-communists have began to demand this, and almost begun persecutions. Russian monks and nuns live among us, and priests from the Republika Srpska[24], and from Serbia, and as they are not citizens of Montenegro they do not grant them residence permits. The same approach has been implemented in Macedonia.

“The so-called Metropolitan of Montenegro, who was created by the neo-communists—Dedeić—who was deposed by Constantinople, was recognized only by Philaret. For many years he served with him. And what will Constantinople do now if he recognizes Philaret who was deposed for violating the resolutions of the Moscow Patriarchate? Would it not follow that he would have to recognize someone who serves with Philaret, whom Constantinople himself had previously deposed from his position?

“This is how poorly our brothers in Constantinople have reasoned.

“I pray to the Lord, that He will help them.

“And we also pray that the Moscow Patriarchate and our brothers in Ukraine can overcome an unhealthy schism with patience and humility—a schism that is nothing but the fruit of all those political circumstances of the past, especially in the 1920s.

“The Church is the only force that united the nations created there, and now the demonic powers of this whole world, and destructive forces inside the Church, and the rulers of the world are carrying out the real imperialistic plans.

The war in Ukraine is already underway, and now Constantinople must confirm that this is in fact a war continuing against the Church, and the unity of the People of God—and against Russia as the largest-ever Orthodox country.

“This is not good, and there is nothing good here for Constantinople as well. He had no right to take such a step. There is still hope that people will still turn to reason and to the true canonical order.

“As I have already said, by such actions, Constantinople calls into question its primacy.

“I reiterate that he justifies his actions by saying that he is in the imperial capital, but that capital ceased to exist after the fifteenth century. It is no longer in Russia nor in Constantinople, and therefore there is no longer a Russian or Eastern Roman Empire, but the Church has remained, and it must function on a healthy evangelical foundation—just as it functioned prior to Emperor St. Constantine.”

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