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‘US withdraws from the world’ is Trump making it great or irrelevant again?

The US is becoming increasingly isolated from the world

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Donald Trump promised Americans he would make the US great again, a center of a world that is becoming increasingly multipolar, yet the US appears to be withdrawing from the world at an alarming rate.

The US has found itself increasingly alienated from its traditional allies (and some would say vassals) in the EU.

Vassals no longer: Merkel, Macron advocate European sovereignty

This was likely in no small part due not only to Trump’s unpredictable nature, but to the dangerous US Nationalism and Exceptionalism displayed by administration officials.

American Exceptionalism: Mike Pompeo says Americans must believe in the “essential rightness” of the USA

The US has withdrawn from the internationally lauded Iran deal, gotten into trade wars with even “close allies” such as Canada, and is generally making radical changes, including withdrawals from international bodies.

Some think the way the US withdraws from treaties is a sign of strength, but many, including Philip Giraldi at the Journal of Strategic Culture, and The Duran’s Frank Sellers feel it is a sign of weakness.

Giraldi in particular, used the example of Trump’s withdrawal from the United Nations 47-member Human Rights Council (UNHRC), as well as the UN cultural body UNESCO, as an example of the US weakening its own influence in the world.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley cited the reasons for the withdrawal from the Human Rights Council which were that the U.S. felt the council has “unfairly and critically focused on Israel”. In the same light, Giraldi writes that the US withdrew from UNESCO:

Last October…when the organization named the city of Hebron on the West Bank a Palestinian World Heritage site, which Israel declared to be unacceptable.

There are, in fact, two important things to note here. First of all, the Administration is so clearly following the will of Israel in these two examples, like a slave, rather than an independent state.

I understand, if some would argue, that Israel has long had influence over US policy, this is totally true, the difference is the open, and some would say tactless, way that Trump does not even bother to hide his Israel apologetics.

President Obama, for example, at least attempted to create the illusion of protocol, and US Humanitarianism – even if anyone paying attention realized that Obama was just as much carrying out the Zionist mandate in Syria and the Middle East, as did Bush.

The difference is, Trump is so brazen in this, that he is almost proudly signaling that the real power is in Tel-Aviv, and he is happy to obey Netanyahu’s orders. Perhaps he does not see it this way, but, from an outsider’s perspective, Trump seems to be withdrawing from international bodies – mainly for the sake of Israel’s interests.

And withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council happened along the same lines. To be clear, I find it very odd that a “Human Rights Council” allows Saudi Arabia, where women can be executed for “Witchcraft”, to be a member.

I am not a “hater” of President Trump, nor a lover of globalism, or a person obsessed with the UN. The fact still remains, nations, including Russia, participate with international bodies, first and foremost, because it is the civilized thing to do. That is what the majority of the earth’s states do.

There are some things, for example, wearing a suit and tie to formal events, that politicians simply do, because it is expected, and in line with universal tradition. Indeed, powerful trendsetting Empires can build their own rules and tradition, but only when proper leverage exists.

When the US withdraws from an organization, and everyone else remains a part of it, it does not appear like the US is strong, it appears that the adults are conducting diplomacy, while someone is crying in the corner that people don’t respect their authority.

United States alone against the world?

Another reason it would be in the interest of the US, to participate with the world, is that it would grant the US a platform to spread its voice. This is not something that matters to me, I have heard enough war-mongering, but for the US, and any person really, it is important to have your voice heard.

Instead, the US withdraws because they feel Israel isn’t being respected – which should have no bearing on the US. From a political perspective, the only reason to leave an important organization only because an ally leaves, is if that ally is actually your overlord, and you are their vassal.

As the US withdraws from the world, Ron Paul feels US influence is waning.

Former Congressman Ron Paul remarks on declining American global influence

When someone looks at the map of UNESCO members, and sees those in green, who are members, and those in orange, who are not, they don’t say: “Wow…those countries who left are brave trendsetters!” they would instead say “Wow, those countries are really isolated from the rest of the world.”

It is somewhat like failing to embrace the far superior and scientific Metric System, which the entirety of the civilized world uses, and instead, using a primitive and backward measurement system that the rest of the world can’t be bothered to learn. What would prompt people to do that?

It is almost juvenile.

Speaking of juvenile actions, look at how Niki Haley responded to this question, as to whether or not the US is simply blocking Palestinian appointments simply because they are Palestinian.

“Is it this administration’s position that support for Israel and support for the appointment of a well-qualified individual of Palestinian nationality to an appointment at the U.N. are mutually exclusive?” A journalist asked. Haley responded yes, that the administration is “supporting Israel” by blocking every Palestinian.

Blocking members of a certain race from joining an international body is meant to promote peace, because you support a group which is bombing and killing them. How very racist.

Giraldi at the Journal of Strategic Culture writes:

Complete withdrawal from the United Nations is not unthinkable in the current climate, though the Democrats and some moderate Republicans would no doubt strongly resist such a move. In my opinion, the United Nations is a dystopian mess but it is better to have it than not as it provides a forum where nations that otherwise cannot meet are able too do so and discuss transnational issues. And it should be conceded that the U.N.’s inability to actually function is largely both structural and bureaucratic due to the veto power given to the Security Council’s five permanent members, a function that Nikki Haley has repeatedly used to stop resolutions that might be offensive to the United States or Israel…

Beyond that, Haley’s constant citation of concern for Israel gives strength to the suggestion that there is something unnatural about its bilateral “special” relationship with the United States. In the Middle East in particular, Israel would seem to be driving U.S. policy, particularly vis-à-vis Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

Israel is intent on continuing political chaos in Syria lest there be a threat to its continued occupation of the Golan Heights and has warned about possible preemptive action in Lebanon to punish Hezbollah. It also wants the United States to deal decisively with Iran. By all accounts, those agendas are proceeding very well as Washington has been regularly threatening Iran and last week vowed to take military action if Damascus seeks to recover territory in the Syrian southwest that until recently was held by terrorists.

It is difficult to discern what the joint United States-Israeli strategy might be towards the United Nations and other international bodies. Neither has recognized the authority of the International Criminal Court in The Hague for fear that its own senior officials might be arrested and tried for war crimes.

To be sure, both countries are protected against any serious challenges in the U.N. itself by the American veto power over the Security Council, which alone has the authority to mandate sanctions or peacekeeping operations.

But the U.S. withdrawal from U.N. agencies is, if anything, a sign of weakness rather than strength. If Washington were indeed confident in its own brand of international leadership it would welcome the opportunity to sit on panels and help shape the views of other countries with which it has a politically neutral or adversarial relationships. That it does not choose to do so suggests that there is an understanding that what Washington is selling no one is buying.

The complete isolation of the United States at the United Nations and also elsewhere, to include G-7, was exhibited recently during June 1st votes at the U.N. Security Council. A resolution sponsored by Kuwait seeking an inquiry into the Israeli killing of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza and a motion by Haley seeking to blame Hamas for the deaths both were voted on.

Haley’s was the only vote against the former and the only vote in favor of the latter. She predictably commented afterwards that “Further proof was not needed, but it is now completely clear that the U.N. is hopelessly biased against Israel.”

In conclusion, Trump said he would make America great again, but it seems many of his policies are making the nation more isolated. This is emphasized in the way Trump seems to prefer bilateral agreements, over international treaties.

He is the legendary “deal maker”, he thinks everything is negotiable, there is always a deal to be cut. This is a product of capitalism, where everything, including culture, values, and morals, is for sale, for the right price.

Trump and his supporters often feel the way he summarily and unilaterally withdraws from treaties, cancels meetings, and handles bilateral negotiations are a sign of strength. They say he is showing his strength when he cancels his North Korean meetings, or Iran deals, and in the short term, this is true. It is a good tactic, especially as the CEO of a company, but a terrible strategy for a statesman.

Indeed, Trump is displaying strength on a bilateral level, but when he makes these “tough decisions” and breaks agreements, he seems like an unreliable partner and an unstable player. World leaders say “We can’t deal with this!”

Trump’s strategies worked well in business, no one doubts his business skills, but one thing fiscal conservatives always fail to realize is, being a good businessman, and good at running a company, does not guarantee you can run an economy, much less a country.

In order to run a nation, you must be a strong leader with a great will, prepared to guide the masses to greatness and defend the interests of the state. You must also be compassionate, reliable, and responsible, like Putin. Everyone knows when Putin says something, he means it.

While Trump closes doors, Putin opens them, Pt 2

To run a nation, you must care about your fellow people, and to conduct international diplomacy, you must care about the world.

In business, to be a truly powerful business person, you don’t care about others. The capitalistic mindset does not teach one to be concerned for the well being of humanity, but rather to use and manipulate everything around you to achieve your own wealth, your own power, your own success. It is all about the individual.

Diplomacy, is, however, all about the collective.

Trump may win battles via his deals, as he is a skilled business person and negotiator, but you can’t conduct international diplomacy with the mentality of bilateral deals.

You may appear tough, and that toughness may grant you a win dealing with one individual, but if the international community sees how you act, and considers you unreliable or unpredictable, they may choose to make deals with or without you, or with your enemies.

‘With friends like Trump, who needs enemies?’, says EU Council President

This is a man who once joked that he could shoot a person and still win an election. Of course, he was joking! But those kinds of immature jokes, as well as his misogynistic and immoral remarks demeaning women do not distinguish a statesmen.

 

Likewise, after meeting Kim Jong Un, he casually said he trusts him, and if things go wrong? Look at how he addressed this possibility, when he said:

“I may be wrong, I mean I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey I was wrong.’

That was not the worst part, the part that was so ridiculous. That was when he casually paused and with a joking tone, said immediately after:

“I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.”

I will admit, when I heard that, I laughed hysterically. It’s so Trump. That is the kind of joke that a friend can make, and would cause a person to laugh. But that is not how a leader should talk. He is openly parodying the fact, that he won’t take responsibility for his actions.

I am a simple Russian Orthodox Christian, not a brilliant political analyst, so perhaps I do not understand the complexity of 4D Chess, as some call it, but to the eyes of a simple person, the ability to take responsibility for your actions and not make excuses are an important trait that children must learn, let alone someone who commands several thousand nuclear warheads.

Even if it’s a joke, it is a joke that is totally irresponsible and unpresidential, hilarious, yes, but not the way of a statesman.

I wish to stress that I do not wish to hate on President Trump, he is WORLDS better than insane war-mongering Hillary, who has not found a war she does not support. I am only disappointed, when I feel his behavior reminds me of the globalists many believed he would resist. When he bombs countries like Syria, who did nothing wrong, and blatantly supports Zionism, which kills innocent people.

I simply want to live in a world, where all nations, Russia, the Middle Eastern nations, the USA, the EU states, China and the Far East can finally live in peace. I fear that Trump, however intentional or unintentional, does not inspire in world leaders or people that he will reasonably achieve this.

This is what Trump does not seem to understand. He is a powerful dealmaker, tough in a one on one situation, but his aforementioned style also scares away foreign leaders on the international level. It isolates the US, while driving division among the nations of the earth.

People are beginning to wonder, is Trump making the US great, or simply irrelevant, again?

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HappyCynicAndré De KoningSPQRNightcrawler136Vera Gottlieb Recent comment authors
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HappyCynic
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HappyCynic

And yet the US economy is 5 times the size of Germany and 6 times the size of France and the UK, and the GDP growth rate of the US is bigger than any other of the top 10 GDP countries. Economics is more important than the virtue signalling practiced by other countries. It’s not Trump’s job to make the US “relevant” in the world – it’s his job to improve the living standards of Americans. If he has to annoy unimportant little countries like Canada and Germany to do this, so be it – that’s his job. Clearly the… Read more »

André De Koning
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André De Koning

De-dollariization is the main justice as the US has been profiting form this for decades and this will come to an end. Trump does a good job to return nation to their sovereignty and remove themselves from the US reserve currency (as it is not a reserve at all).

SPQR
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SPQR

A great America is also an irrelevant America. The less influence this nation of psychotic gunslingers has on the world the better off we, including Americans, will all be. May Trump be to the US what Gorbachev was to the Soviet Union.

Nightcrawler136
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Nightcrawler136

The author seems to have missed the point, Trump is the wrecking ball that the US will never recover from!

Vera Gottlieb
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Vera Gottlieb

And even without the US, planet Earth will keep revolving around the sun…The US has caused enough destruction and misery all over the planet. Enough!

Guy
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Guy

This is such a good article and exactly how I feel about it also.This quote also says a lot about Trump.
“‘Europe should be grateful by President Trump, because thanks to him we have got rid of old illusions’” .Illusions about the indispensable nation.

Vince Dhimos
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Vince Dhimos

“If Washington were indeed confident in its own brand of international leadership it would welcome the opportunity to sit on panels and help shape the views of other countries with which it has a politically neutral or adversarial relationships.” You have come closer to the truth about Trump than any commentor I have read so far. If you substitute “confident in” with “articulate about” you reflect my sentiment, because it is not a lack of confidence that he displays. It is much worse. Trump not only is NOT in any way articulate but even if he were, he would have… Read more »

my2Cents
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my2Cents

Never mind our antiquated measuring system rather than the metric one. How about our Colonial, very political Justice system that every former colony still uses with the exception of Quebec. Common Law with uncodified law vs Civil Law with Codified laws. Try and get a hold of your State’s Statute Book and read these incredibly stupid laws written by 9-year olds, all of which mean nothing until a “judge” (a lawyer politically appointed to judge) reads it, interprets it…either throws it out or “translates it into legalese. That then becomes case law on which various and sundry are judged for… Read more »

Bill Spence
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Bill Spence

Talking about US leadership makes no sense because of its reliance on military threats and bribery. The reliance on blackmail and bribery imply weakness.

John R. Nolan
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John R. Nolan

“I wish to stress that I do not wish to hate on President Trump, he is WORLDS better than insane war-mongering Hillary, who has not found a war she does not support.” Remember, Killery is a rampant, raging satanist, a power crazed being motivated only by greed, medicated insanity, who still lusts after destruction of all decency, sanity, freedom, of the populace, just like Chump, and it is Amazia who is, and has been for many years, the greatest threat to humanity. Rest assured, it will be Amazia who brings about the final global carnage, and it will be Russian… Read more »

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Whose Money Stoked Religious Strife in Ukraine – and Who Tried to Steal It?

Was $25 million in American tax dollars allocated for a payoff to stir up religious turmoil and violence in Ukraine?

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via Strategic Culture:


Was $25 million in American tax dollars allocated for a payoff to stir up religious turmoil and violence in Ukraine? Did Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (unsuccessfully) attempt to divert most of it into his own pocket?

Last month the worldwide Orthodox Christian communion was plunged into crisis by the decision of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Constantinople to recognize as legitimate schismatic pseudo-bishops anathematized by the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is an autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church. In so doing not only has Patriarch Bartholomew besmirched the global witness of Orthodoxy’s two-millennia old Apostolic faith, he has set the stage for religious strife in Ukraine and fratricidal violence – which has already begun.

Starting in July, when few were paying attention, this analyst warned about the impending dispute and how it facilitated the anti-Christian moral agenda of certain marginal “Orthodox” voices like “Orthodoxy in Dialogue,” Fordham University’s “Orthodox Christian Studies Center,” and The Wheel. These “self-professed teachers presume to challenge the moral teachings of the faith” (in the words of Fr. John Parker) and “prowl around, wolves in sheep’s clothing, forming and shaping false ideas about the reality of our life in Christ.” Unsurprisingly such groups have embraced Constantinople’s neopapal self-aggrandizement and support for the Ukrainian schismatics.

No one – and certainly not this analyst – would accuse Patriarch Bartholomew, most Ukrainian politicians, or even the Ukrainian schismatics of sympathizing with advocacy of such anti-Orthodox values. And yet these advocates know they cannot advance their goals if the conciliar and traditional structure of Orthodoxy remains intact. Thus they welcome efforts by Constantinople to centralize power while throwing the Church into discord, especially the Russian Church, which is vilified in some Western circles precisely because it is a global beacon of traditional Christian moral witness.

This aspect points to another reason for Western governments to support Ukrainian autocephaly as a spiritual offensive against Russia and Orthodoxy. The post-Maidan leadership harp on the “European choice” the people of Ukraine supposedly made in 2014, but they soft-pedal the accompanying moral baggage the West demands, symbolized by “gay” marches organized over Christian objections in Orthodox cities like AthensBelgradeBucharestKievOdessaPodgoricaSofia, and Tbilisi. Even under the Trump administration, the US is in lockstep with our European Union friends in pressuring countries liberated from communism to adopt such nihilistic “democratic, European values.”

Perhaps even more important to its initiators, the row over Ukraine aims to break what they see as the “soft power” of the Russian Federation, of which the Orthodox Church is the spiritual heart and soul. As explained by Valeria Z. Nollan, professor emerita of Russian Studies at Rhodes College:

‘The real goal of the quest for autocephaly [i.e., complete self-governing status independent of the Moscow Patriarchate] of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a de facto coup: a political coup already took place in 2014, poisoning the relations between western Ukraine and Russia, and thus another type of coup – a religious one – similarly seeks to undermine the canonical relationship between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Moscow.’

In furthering these twin objectives (morally, the degrading of Orthodox Christianity; politically, undermining the Russian state as Orthodoxy’s powerful traditional protector) it is increasingly clear that the United States government – and specifically the Department of State – has become a hands-on fomenter of conflict. After a short period of appropriately declaring that “any decision on autocephaly is an internal [Orthodox] church matter,” the Department within days reversed its position and issued a formal statement (in the name of Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, but clearly drafted by the European bureau) that skirted a direct call for autocephaly but gave the unmistakable impression of such backing. This is exactly how it was reported in the media, for example, “US backs Ukrainian Church bid for autocephaly.” Finally, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo weighed in personally with his own endorsement as did the US Reichskommissar for UkraineKurt Volker.

The Threat…

There soon became reason to believe that the State Department’s involvement was not limited to exhortations. As reported by this analyst in October, according to an unconfirmed report originating with the members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (an autonomous New York-based jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate), in July of this year State Department officials (possibly including Secretary Pompeo personally) warned the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (also based in New York but part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate) that the US government was aware of the misappropriation of a large amount of money, about $10 million, from estimated $37 million raised from believers for the construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York. The State Department warning also reportedly noted that federal prosecutors have documentary evidence confirming the withdrawal of these funds abroad on the orders of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. It was suggested that Secretary Pompeo would “close his eyes” to this theft in exchange for movement by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in favor of Ukrainian autocephaly, which helped set Patriarch Bartholomew on his current course.

[Further details on the St. Nicholas scandal are available here, but in summary: Only one place of worship of any faith was destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attack in New York and only one building not part of the World Trade Center complex was completely destroyed. That was St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, a small urban parish church established at the end of World War I and dedicated to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, who is very popular with Greeks as the patron of sailors. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, and following a lengthy legal battle with the Port Authority, which opposed rebuilding the church, in 2011 the Greek Archdiocese launched an extensive campaign to raise funds for a brilliant innovative design by the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava based on traditional Byzantine forms. Wealthy donors and those of modest means alike enthusiastically contributed millions to the effort. Then – poof! In December 2017, suddenly all construction was halted for lack of funds and remains stalled to this day. Resumption would require having an estimated $2 million on hand. Despite the Archdiocese’s calling in a major accounting firm to conduct an audit, there’s been no clear answer to what happened to the money. Both the US Attorney and New York state authorities are investigating.]

This is where things get back to Ukraine. If the State Department wanted to find the right button to push to spur Patriarch Bartholomew to move on the question of autocephaly, the Greek Archdiocese in the US is it. Let’s keep in mind that in his home country, Turkey, Patriarch Bartholomew has virtually no local flock – only a few hundred mostly elderly Greeks left huddled in Istanbul’s Phanar district. (Sometimes the Patriarchate is referred to simply as “the Phanar,” much as “the Vatican” is shorthand for the Roman Catholic papacy.) Whatever funds the Patriarchate derives from other sources (the Greek government, the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches), the Phanar’s financial lifeline is the ethnic Greek community (including this analyst) in what is still quaintly called the “Diaspora” in places like America, Australia, and New Zealand. And of these, the biggest cash cow is the Greek-Americans.

That’s why, when Patriarch Bartholomew issued a call in 2016 for what was billed as an Orthodox “Eighth Ecumenical Council” (the first one since the year 787!), the funds largely came from America, to the tune of up to $8 million according to the same confidential source as will be noted below. Intended by some as a modernizing Orthodox “Vatican II,” the event was doomed to failure by a boycott organized by Moscow over what the latter saw as Patriarch Bartholomew’s adopting papal or even imperial prerogatives – now sadly coming to bear in Ukraine.

…and the Payoff

On top of the foregoing, it now appears that the State Department’s direct hand in this sordid business may not have consisted solely of wielding the “stick” of legal threat: there’s reason to believe there was a “carrot” too. It very recently came to the attention of this analyst, via an unsolicited, confidential source in the Greek Archdiocese in New York, that a payment of $25 million in US government money was made to Constantinople to encourage Patriarch Bartholomew to move forward on Ukraine.

The source for this confidential report was unaware of earlier media reports that the same figure – $25 million – was paid by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to the Phanar as an incentive for Patriarch Bartholomew to move forward on creating an independent Ukrainian church. Moreover, Poroshenko evidently tried to shortchange the payment:

‘Peter [Petro] Poroshenko — the president of Ukraine — was obligated to return $15 million US dollars to the Patriarch of Constantinople, which he had appropriated for himself.

‘As reported by Izvestia, this occurred after the story about Bartholomew’s bribe and a “vanishing” large sum designated for the creation of a Unified Local Orthodox Church in Ukraine surfaced in the mass media.

‘As reported, on the eve of Poroshenko’s visit in Istanbul, a few wealthy people of Ukraine “chipped in” in order to hasten the process of creating a Unified Local Orthodox Church. About $25 million was collected. They were supposed to go to the award ceremony for Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for the issuing of a tomos of autocephaly. [A tomos is a small book containing a formal announcement.] However, in the words of people close to the backer, during the visit on April 9, Poroshenko handed over only $10 million.

‘As a result, having learned of the deal, Bartholomew cancelled the participation of the delegation of the Phanar – the residence of the Patriarch of Constantinople, in the celebration of the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia on July 27 in Kiev.

‘”Such a decision from Bartholomew’s side was nothing other than a strong ultimatum to Poroshenko to return the stolen money. Of course, in order to not lose his face in light of the stark revelations of the creation of the tomos of autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Peter Alexeevich [Poroshenko] had to just return those $15 million for the needs of Constantinople,” a trusted source explained to reporters.

‘For preliminary information, only after receiving the remaining sum, did Bartholomew finally give his consent to sending a delegation of the Phanar to Kiev … ‘

Now, it’s possible that the two identical figures of $25 million refer to two different pots of money (a cool $50 million!) but that seems unlikely. It’s more probable the reports refer to the same sum as viewed from the sending side (the State Department, the Greek Archdiocese) and the delivery side (Poroshenko, Constantinople).

Lending credibility to the confidential information from New York and pointing to the probability that it refers to the same payment that Poroshenko reportedly sought to raid for himself are the following observations:

  • When Poroshenko generously offered Patriarch Bartholomew $10 million, the latter was aware that the full amount was $25 million and demanded the $15 million Poroshenko had held back. How did the Patriarch know that, unless he was informed via New York of the full sum?
  • If the earlier-reported $25 million was really collected from “a few wealthy people of Ukraine” who “chipped in,” given the cutthroat nature of disputes among Ukrainian oligarchs would Poroshenko (an oligarch in his own right) have risked trying to shortchange the payment? Why has not even one such Ukrainian donor been identified?
  • Without going into all the details, the Phanar and the Greek Archdiocese have a long relationship with US administrations of both parties going back at least to the Truman administration, encompassing some decidedly unattractive episodes. In such a history, a mere bribe for a geopolitical shot against Moscow would hardly be a first instance or the worst.

As one of this analyst’s Greek-American connections puts it: “It’s easy to comprehend the Patriarchate bowing to the pressure of State Dept. blackmail… not overly savory, but understandable. However, it’s another thing altogether if Kiev truly “purchased” their autocephalous status from an all too willing Patriarchate … which would relegate the Patriarch to ‘salesman’ status and leave the faithful wondering what else might be offered to the highest bidder the next time it became convenient to hold a Patriarchal ‘fire sale’ at the Phanar?!”

To add insult to injury, you’d think Constantinople at least could pay back some of the $7-8 million wasted on the Crete 2016 debacle to restart the St. Nicholas project in New York. Evidently the Phanar has better things to spend it on, like the demonstrative environmentalism of “the Green Patriarch” and, together with Pope Francis, welcoming Muslim migrants to Europe through Greece. Of course maybe there’s no need to worry, as the Ukraine “sale” was consistent with Constantinople’s papal ambitions, an uncanonical claim to “universal” status, and misuse of incarnational language and adoption of a breathtakingly arrogant tone that would cause even the most ultramontane proponent of the Rome’s supremacy to blush.

Finally, it seems that, for the time being at least, Constantinople doesn’t intend to create an independent Ukrainian church but rather an autonomous church under its own authority. It’s unclear whether or not Poroshenko or the State Department, in such event, would believe they had gotten their money’s worth. Perhaps they would. After all, the issue here is less what is appropriate for Ukraine than what strikes at Russia and injures the worldwide Christian witness of the Orthodox Church. To that end, it doesn’t matter whether the new illegal body is Constantinopolitan or Kievan, just so long as it isn’t a “Moskal church” linked to Russia.

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EU Army: Fact or Fiction? (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 152.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and International Affairs and Security Analyst via Moscow, Mark Sleboda discuss the possibility, and feasibility, of putting together an EU army, as French President Macron is now boasting about.

Will an EU Army replace, rival, or fold into NATO? How will the US respond to Europe’s military initiative, and how will Russia deal an EU army?

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Via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


“Insulting” – that’s how US President Donald Trump sharply reacted to the idea of a “real European army” proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

And it was how Macron rationalized the need for an independent military force for Europe that perhaps most irked the American leader.

Speaking on a tour of World War I battlefields in northern France last week, Macron said that Europe needed to defend itself from “China, Russia and even the United States of America”.

It was a pretty extraordinary choice of words by the French leader. To frame the US among an array of perceived foreign enemy powers was a devastating blow to the concept of a much-vaunted transatlantic alliance.

Since the Second World War, ending 1945, the concept of an American-European alliance has been the bedrock of a supposed inviolable, mutual defense pact. That nearly seven-decade alliance is now being questioned more than ever.

Macron’s call for a European army was further backed up by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who also pointedly said this week that Europe can no longer rely on the US for its defense.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has welcomed the proposal for Europe to form its own military organization, independent from Washington. No doubt, Moscow views such a development as augmenting a move towards a multipolar international order, which Russia and China, among others, have been advocating in opposition to American ambitions of unipolar dominance.

When Trump arrived in Paris last weekend along with dozens of other world leaders, including Putin, to commemorate the centennial anniversary marking the end of World War I, there was a notable frostiness between Macron and the American president. Only a few months ago, Macron and Trump had appeared the best of friends in what some observers referred to as a “bromance”.

During the Paris events, Macron sought to placate Trump by saying that the European army proposal would have a “complementary” role to the US-led NATO military alliance. However, their relationship further soured when Macron later delivered a speech in which he made a veiled rebuke of Trump’s “nationalist” politics.

Days later, on returning to Washington, Trump then fired off a fusillade of angry tweets attacking Macron in very personal terms over a range of issues, including “unfair” economic trade and France’s alleged ungrateful attitude towards the US liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

The rift between the US and Europe has been brewing even before Trump’s presidency. For years, Washington has been carping that the Europeans need to spend more on military defense, claiming that the US has been shouldering the burden for too long. Trump has taken the griping to a new, higher level. Recall that he has threatened to pull out of NATO because the Europeans were “free loading” on American “protection”.

The irony is that now the French and German leaders are talking about setting up their own military defenses, Trump has blown a fuse.

Evidently, the American contention is not about “burden sharing” of defense. If Washington was genuinely aggrieved about supposedly defending Europe at too much of its own expense, then Trump, one would think, would be only too glad to hear that the Europeans were at last making their own military arrangements, and taking the burden off Washington.

This gets to the heart of the matter about the real purpose of NATO and presence of tens of thousands of US troops stationed in bases across Europe since 1945. American military presence in Europe is not about “protecting” its supposed allies. It is, and always has been, about projecting American power over Europe. In reality, American troops and bases in Europe are more functioning as an occupying force, keeping the Europeans in line with Washington’s strategic objectives of hegemony over the continent.

Macron and Merkel’s vision of a European army is probably fanciful anyway, without any real prospect of materializing. How such a new defense arrangement would work independently from the 29-member NATO alliance led by the US seems unwieldy and impractical.

But the latest tensions between Washington and European leaders over military organization demonstrate the real nature of America’s relationship to Europe. It is about domination by Washington over Europe and has little to do with partnership and protection.

When Trump and previous US presidents have urged greater military spending by Europe the ulterior agenda is for Europeans to pay more to underpin American military presence, not for Europeans to find their own independent defense arrangement.

Tensions in the transatlantic axis seem to be coming to a head, heightened by Trump’s nationalistic “America First” policy. Rivalries are sharpening over trade, US sanctions on Iran, Trump’s threats against European energy plans with Russia, the Paris Climate Accord, and squabbling over NATO expenditures.

There is nothing progressive about Macron or Merkel’s call for a European army. It is more to do with France and Germany wanting to assert themselves as great powers and to shake off American tutelage out of frustration with Trump’s domineering petulance.

Only last week, Macron caused controversy when he praised French military general Philippe Pétain who collaborated with Nazi Germany as leader of Vichy France (1940-44). Macron wants a European army to satisfy his own nationalistic ambitions of revamping French global power. This week, he spent the night onboard a refurbished French aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, from which he gave a media interview saying that being “an ally of America meant not being a vassal”. Touché!

A progressive challenge from Europe to American power would not involve setting up a new army. Instead it would involve Europeans pushing for the disbandment of NATO as an obsolete organization and for the withdrawal of US-led forces which are dangerously amassing on Russia’s border.

Nonetheless, the one positive thing to emerge from the transatlantic spat over military defenses is that it illustrates more than ever how European protection is not the real purpose of Washington’s relationship to the continent. The purpose is one of using Europe as a platform for projecting America’s power, in particular against Russia.

The recent announcement by the Trump administration that it is willing to rip up yet another nuclear arms control treaty – the INF following the ABM in 2002 – clearly shows that Washington, ultimately, has recklessly scant concern for Europe’s security with regard to a possible future war with Russia.

For Washington, despite all the chivalrous rhetoric, Europe is not a partner nor even an ally. It is a vassal. Admittedly, thousands of American troops died while bravely fighting wars in Europe. But they are distinct from the US ruling class. At bottom, Europe is merely a battlefield for American military power, just as it was in two previous world wars. One hundred years after the end of World War I, the same callous calculus for the imperial planners in Washington is at play.

European ideas for independent defense is why Washington has reacted so furiously. It’s not willing to give up its European front.

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Zuckerberg Clings To Power While Sandberg Claims Ignorance After Damaging NYT Report

The New York Times reported that Facebook hired GOP PR firm, Defenders, to smear liberal detractors as Soros operatives. 

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Facebook executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are battling backlash over an explosive investigation by the New York Times into Facebook’s mercenary damage control tactics in the wake of several major scandals.

Despite fresh calls from investors for Zuckerberg to step down in his dual role as CEO and chairman and appoint an independent director to oversee the board, the 34-year-old tech titan brushed off the suggestion during a Thursday call with journalists.

“A company with Facebook’s massive reach and influence requires robust oversight and that can only be achieved through an independent chair who is empowered to provide critical checks on company leadership,” said New York City comptroller, Scott Stringer.

Zuckerberg disagrees. “I don’t think that that specific proposal is the right way to go,” said the Facebook CEO when asked if he would consider stepping down, adding that other initiatives had been launched to “get more independence into our systems.”

The measures include creating an independent body to advise the company on decisions over whether controversial content should remain on the site.

Ultimately, he said Facebook is never going to eradicate mistakes. “We’re never going to get to the point where there are no errors,” he told reporters. “I’m trying to set up the company so that way we have our board, and we report on our financial results and do a call every quarter, but that also we have this independent oversight that is just focused on the community.” –Business Insider

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, meanwhile, is claiming ignorance – telling CBS This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell “we absolutely did not pay anyone to create fake news – that they have assured me was not happening.”

In their Wednesday exposé – the culmination of interviews with over 50 current and former company executives, lawmakers, government officials, lobbyists and congressional staff members,the New York Times reported that Facebook had hired GOP PR firm, Defenders, which smeared liberal detractors as Soros operatives – and worked with a sister company to create negative propaganda about competitors Google and Apple.

Mr. Kaplan prevailed on Ms. Sandberg to promote Kevin Martin, a former Federal Communications Commission chairman and fellow Bush administration veteran, to lead the company’s American lobbying efforts. Facebook also expanded its work with Definers.

On a conservative news site called the NTK Network, dozens of articles blasted Google and Apple for unsavory business practices. One story called Mr. Cook hypocritical for chiding Facebook over privacy, noting that Apple also collects reams of data from users. Another played down the impact of the Russians’ use of Facebook.

The rash of news coverage was no accident: NTK is an affiliate of Definers, sharing offices and staff with the public relations firm in Arlington, Va. Many NTK Network stories are written by staff members at Definers or America Rising, the company’s political opposition-research arm, to attack their clients’ enemies. –NYT

Meanwhile, Sandberg stressed that Facebook was undertaking new security measures, telling O’Donnell: “Our strategy was to shore up the security on Facebook and make major investments there,” and that the company had made significant investments in combatting fake news and foreign influence.

“It was not what I was doing nor was it the company’s strategy to deflect, to deny or to hire PR firms to do things. That’s not the strategy. And I was part of none of that. We’ve taken great steps, we’ve made huge investments. We’ve invested a ton in AI and technology and if you were following us before the election you saw those efforts pay off. We were able to take down lots of stuff over and over, over and over because we were now focused on this,” said Sandberg.

When asked if rank-and-file employees are confident in her, Sandberg replied: “Yes, I believe so.

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