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What Is Trump’s Motivation Behind the Recognition of Guaido as Venezuelan President?

The current Venezuelan constitution was written during the Chavez era itself and yet is still fundamentally Western.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Tim Kirby via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Sadly we do not always get what we vote for. Donald Trump has decided to acknowledge the self-appointed leader of a particular foreign country in spite of it already having an elected leader, which sounds like the type of meddling that Trump said he was against. But, on the plus side at least this is better than the usual invasion + nation-building scenario we have seen in the past and that Trump promised to stop.

The country in question is Venezuela. Mr. Trump officially recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the nation’s new interim president instead of the elected Nicolas Maduro. The motivations behind such a move can be both overt and conscious but often it is what is in the subconscious that we ourselves do not even notice that is actually the key motivating factor in our decisions. There is a very emotional/ideological side to Venezuela that may be influencing “The Donald’s” decision.

After Israel/Palestine, Venezuela is one of the most emotionally divisive nations in the world for Westerners. People really strongly project their own values, beliefs and personal identity to certain political situations in certain nations.

When it comes to Israel, Western Liberals sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians who have been “colonized” by “white” people and are being systematically oppressed. For them this view of the situation confirms the victim culture that they hold so dear.

On the opposite side, Republicans identify with the Israelis as an oasis of Westerness in a desert of heathens. They see the Israelis like some sort of cowboys taming the Wild Mid-East.

This ability to identify with or project one’s identity onto the Israeli/Palestinian question is what makes people get into fiery internet arguments over an issue that they know nothing about having never been to Israel, speaking a local language and being only informed by the “objective” mainstream media.

Israel is a nation/narrative that speaks to many but for vastly different reasons.

Venezuela is not as “big” as Israel in terms of provoking online emotions from naive Westerners but it could be a close second. The quasi-Communist visuals, and “fight the man” attitude of the Chavez|Maduro era are repulsive to dog-eat-dog Republican types whereas the Starbucks swilling Liberal crowd in their Che Guevara T-shirts has tons of sympathy for the “poor victims of colonization” that are just trying to fight back against “oppression”.

For example, influential and respected conservative media giant Alex Jones calls Venezuela “Communist and Socialist” and more or less blames the country’s current struggles on their lack of Westernness. Venezuela does not act like “us” so they are clearly bad and poor because of it.

And, of course, on the other side “The Young Turks” pretty much blame American “Imperialism” for all the problems in Venezuela claiming that the failures of Venezuelan Socialism do not count because of American interference.

We can see the left/right, Liberal/Conservative dichotomy in action when Caracas is in question. But there is one thing the Mainstream Media and Youtubers seem to not understand.

Systemically, Venezuela is not very different from the majority of the countries in the world including the West.

Despite all this talk of Communism and wearing red berets the only thing that is uniquely Soviet about the nation’s constitution is a right to work and housing which were featured in the Stalin constitution of 1936. However, in the very same “Communist” Venezuelan document, when speaking about workers rights we see…

“Article 89.4: Any measure or act on the part of an employer in violation of this Constitution is null and void, and of no effect.”

Yes the word “employer” meaning employer in the Capitalist sense. In fact nowhere do we see anything about “seizing the means of production” or giving rights to “the working class” as we did with the Stalin constitution. Additionally if you even bother to open Google maps you will see there are Western capitalist businesses all over the nation including good ole McDonald’s. You can package a product anyway you want but it doesn’t change the core product and most of this “Socialism” that divides Western thought on Venezuela is merely window dressing. Attention Western pundits, journalists and bloggers!

Venezuela is NOT COMMUNIST.

That nation has a Liberal constitution founded on individual rights in the Western tradition. What it does have is some “workers’ liberation” propaganda and a few government projects smeared on top of this solid Liberal cake. The current Venezuelan constitution was written during the Chavez era itself and yet is still fundamentally Western. In fact all over the EU we see Liberal constitutions with Socialist window dressing. Venezuela is hardly unique in this position.

The key reason for this dissonance has to do with the fact that what is appealing to the Venezuelan people is not very appealing to Washington. Latin America has a lot of gripes with the US for brutality and regime changes during the Cold War. “Fighting the big evil oppressor” and having a country “for the people” are things that commoners can rally around. This marketing strategy worked fantastic for Chavez giving him the popularity of a demigod. However, this sort of red banner quasi-Marxist marketing does not suit President Trump. It is exactly the type of advertising to make the current US leader despise you.

Venezuela’s internal advertising could be forgiven if it were not such an “uppity” nation that actually tries to pursue an independent policy. This stands in direct contradiction to what some see as Trump’s “Fortress America” policy of trying to pull bring American influence and interests back to the Western Hemisphere while at the same time completely and unquestioningly dominating it.

So motivation behind the Trump recognition of Guaido really boils down to three points.

1. Trump finds the Chavez-Maduro “narrative/marketing” repulsive.

2. Venezuela is too uppity and too independent in its politics.

3. Leaders like Maduro are a direct barrier to building “Fortress America”.

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graeme pedersenfredGerald FalkensteinOlivia KrothWayne Fee Recent comment authors
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Olivia Kroth
Guest

Whether Trump endorses Miss Piggy Guaido or not, is irrelevant. The Venezuelan military and Russia will make sure that democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro will stay in power in Venezuela.

Vera Gottlieb
Guest
Vera Gottlieb

No, ‘democratically elected’ is not quite correct. Maduro has impeded many from voting (sound familiar?)and the official opposition in the Asamblea General has been has been rendered powerless.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Other countries might have different approaches and thoughts about what is “democratic” and what is not. The Anglo-American world certainly does not own the copyright to this word or idea. It is not an Anglo invention. The idea of democracy was “invented” in ancient Greece, long before the USA was even founded. Now the US and the whole holy “West” want to tell the world what is democratic and what is not? Most people laugh about those pretentions.

Platowasright
Guest
Platowasright

Agreed. No government today is as ‘democratic’ as it was in Ancient Athens where the men voted their leaders directly into power. There were no lobbyists, political parties, and no CONNEDgress. It was assumed that if you were allowed to vote you would be sufficiently educated to do so correctly and responsibly. And by education I’m referring to the ability to recognise fallacies, rhetoric and logic. Vastly different to today’s ignorant, petulant and narcissistic population that has never been properly educated in higher thinking and doesn’t even know it.

nomange
Guest
nomange

No one told the opposition to boycott the elections. They had their chance but didn’t have the votes. And what about the years of attempted coups, and sanctions, and currency wars, and sabotage of Venezuela’s oil infrastructure by the the U.S. You’re spouting nonsense Vera.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

I agree.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro and his wife Cilia Flores do not give a damn about Miss Piggy Guaido and US concerns about “democracy”. They were seen dancing Salsa and Maduro playing the bongo drum, on January 26 in Caracas. Bravo! Adelante!

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Venezuela has learned a lot from Turkey, Iran, Russia and China.
Expelling US diplomats is not so good, the US might take it as a starting point for war.

The Venezuelan Government could take assymetric measures: shut off electric power to US embassy in Caracas, or at least frequent power failures. Shut off water, or even better: send in dirty water from the Caracas sewers. Plug up the sewer system to embassy, shut down the internet of the embassy, etc …

Maybe the Wagner contractors, who recently arrived from Cuba, will have some new ideas?

Wayne Fee
Guest
Wayne Fee

Refusing to put yourself forward is not being impeded.

fred
Guest
fred

(sound familiar?)like the Ukraine where they immediately declared the people that voted for Yanukovych where terrorists and exclude tem from voting and political parties where forbiden from
participating or the US where in many states people that did
prison time can’t vote or people have to work and can’t afford a day off because they need the money or lose their job?

Maduro has impeded many from voting
and that is US propaganda also known as a lie

graeme pedersen
Guest
graeme pedersen

6 candidates competed in the last Presidential election in Venezuela on May 20, 2018. Maduro won by a wide margin, with 67.84% of the vote, beating his closest rival by more then 3 to 1 margin. Henri Falcon came in second place, with 20.93% of the vote. Elections were observed by 150 officials and journalists, including 14 electoral commissions and 2 technical electoral commissions from 8 countries. None of the participating candidates contested the results. No evidence of fraud was ever presented.

Shaun Ramewe
Guest
Shaun Ramewe

Political meddling and resource theft ~ what else!! Like every other Zio-liar ZOG-Yank Deep-State NWO-Swamp puppet President.

Jane Karlsson
Guest
Jane Karlsson

Excellent article. Suddenly I see what the war against Venezuela is all about. Absolutely nothing. Might have guessed.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

There is no US war against Venezuela because the Russian military is there. Against the Russians, the coward US duck down. Loudmouthed bullies, that’s what they are. Lots of shouting and threatening, zero results.

fred
Guest
fred

economic war and supporting/creating a so called opposition is

Vera Gottlieb
Guest
Vera Gottlieb

But then the US has always viewed governments not willing to bow to it’s orders as un-democratic.

Paddy Jameson Power
Guest
Paddy Jameson Power

Rubbish! Why is the Duran publishing this puerile nonsense? Can’t you get someone to discus Venezuela in a more adult, reality based manner?

Olivia Kroth
Guest

The author writes:
” … this sort of red banner quasi-Marxist marketing does not suit President Trump. It is exactly the type of advertising to make the current US leader despise you.”

Venezuela and lots of other countries do not give a fig about what suits Trump. They follow their own agenda, and they have a right of doing so. They could not care less, whether Trump despises them or not.

Who is Trump? Just one more in a long series of US Presidents, nothing more, nothing less. Today in power, tomorrow gone.

fred
Guest
fred

truth is puerile nonsense?

Vera Gottlieb
Guest
Vera Gottlieb

Looking to add another ass kisser to the Yankee collection. I don’t fully agree with Maduro but still, it is an internal affair. But of course, how can the US miss a chance to meddle…

Normski
Member
Normski

It may be an internal affair but it is wholly the creation of US sanctions against Venezuela. USA is directly responsible for the dire economic situation in Venezuela and not Maduro!.

Normski
Member
Normski

In short, Trump’s motivation is the same as all other presidents that have preceded him – stealing another country’s natural resources for the benefit of USA!.

Raymond Comeau
Guest
Raymond Comeau

Normski, you have summed it up concisely. Thank you!

TheCelotajs
Guest
TheCelotajs

For example, influential and respected conservative media giant Alex Jones calls Venezuela “Communist and Socialist” and more or less blames the country’s current struggles on their lack of Westernness. Venezuela does not act like “us” so they are clearly bad and poor because of it. This is so true I have seen it myself when visiting Northern Europe. The American people look down their noses at the local people.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Lack of “westernness”?
Cuba is also a part of the so-called “West”, and it has a Communist government. US citizens being intolerant and looking down their noses at people who are different, this is exactly what makes them so unpleasant and unwelcome most everywhere. If they cannot stand how other people live, they should stay home – and build a wall all around the USA quickly, so nobody “different” can come in.

nomange
Guest
nomange

The manufactured crisis and attempted coup in Venezuela is following the same pattern as Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador, except with more violence- and on the path to becoming another Ukraine, or worse- namely Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan or Yemen. As an American, I’m angry and embarrassed that our so-called ‘democratic’ political system gives such power to the elites and the leaders they appoint, and that they cause such damage to the rest of the world. I support everyone who tries to fight that system and their resistance, but at the same time realize that we must take responsibility for the… Read more »

Regula
Guest
Regula

The author ignores the most obvious point on the dissonant feelings for Venezuela in the US: the fear of socialism and communism runs so deep in America that nobody takes the trouble to first find out exactly what communism and socialism are. That is largely the fault of earlier US admins that made “fighting communism” their agenda and vilifying socialism a means to placate the deprived masses. A better way would be to first ask the question why would they do it that way (the communist or socialist way) and find out what is positive and what is negative about… Read more »

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Dissonant feelings for Venezuela in the US is their prerogative but dissonant meddling in internal affairs of Venezuela is forbidden. If the US government does not understand this, Russian bomber jets, stationed in the Venezuelan island of La Orchilla, and Wagner military, recently arrived in Venezuela, will have to show the US meddlers the way out … Nothing to see here, gentlemen, keep moving. Go home and stay behind your big, tall, long, strong wall. Whether the US likes communism or not is their own affair. It does not give the US government the right to coerce Venezuela to adopt… Read more »

fred
Guest
fred

compare to capitalism the capitalists don’t want that lest the working clas in their own countries realise there is a better alternative for capitalism

Gerald Falkenstein
Guest

Israel is sitting in our congress, all the congress people have been paid big money to do what Israel wants and to make it unlawful to criticize Israel, Trumps buddies because his son in law is a first class Jew. Trump does some good things but he also does some rotten stuff too.

fred
Guest
fred

the self-appointed leader of a particular foreign country
more like a US-appointed leader

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Airline wars heat up, as industry undergoes massive disruption (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 145.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the global commercial airline industry, which is undergoing massive changes, as competition creeps in from Russia and China.

Reuters reports that Boeing Co’s legal troubles grew as a new lawsuit accused the company of defrauding shareholders by concealing safety deficiencies in its 737 MAX planes before two fatal crashes led to their worldwide grounding.

The proposed class action filed in Chicago federal court seeks damages for alleged securities fraud violations, after Boeing’s market value tumbled by $34 billion within two weeks of the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX.

*****

According to the complaint, Boeing “effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty” by rushing the 737 MAX to market to compete with Airbus SE, while leaving out “extra” or “optional” features designed to prevent the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes.

It also said Boeing’s statements about its growth prospects and the 737 MAX were undermined by its alleged conflict of interest from retaining broad authority from federal regulators to assess the plane’s safety.

*****

Boeing said on Tuesday that aircraft orders in the first quarter fell to 95 from 180 a year earlier, with no orders for the 737 MAX following the worldwide grounding.

On April 5, it said it planned to cut monthly 737 production to 42 planes from 52, and was making progress on a 737 MAX software update to prevent further accidents.

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Via Zerohedge…

Step aside (fading) trade war with China: there is a new aggressor – at least according to the US Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer – in town.

In a statement on the USTR’s website published late on Monday, the US fair trade agency announced that under Section 301 of the Trade Act, it was proposing a list of EU products to be covered by additional duties. And as justification for the incremental import taxes, the USTR said that it was in response to EU aircraft subsidies, specifically to Europea’s aerospace giant, Airbus, which “have caused adverse effects to the United States” and which the USTR estimates cause $11 billion in harm to the US each year

One can’t help but notice that the latest shot across the bow in the simmering trade war with Europe comes as i) Trump is reportedly preparing to fold in his trade war with China, punting enforcement to whoever is president in 2025, and ii) comes just as Boeing has found itself scrambling to preserve orders as the world has put its orderbook for Boeing 737 MAX airplanes on hold, which prompted Boeing to cut 737 production by 20% on Friday.

While the first may be purely a coincidence, the second – which is expected to not only slam Boeing’s financials for Q1 and Q2, but may also adversely impact US GDP – had at least some impact on the decision to proceed with these tariffs at this moment.

We now await Europe’s angry response to what is Trump’s latest salvo in what is once again a global trade war. And, paradoxically, we also expect this news to send stocks blasting higher as, taking a page from the US-China trade book, every day algos will price in imminent “US-European trade deal optimism.”

Below the full statement from the USTR (link):

USTR Proposes Products for Tariff Countermeasures in Response to Harm Caused by EU Aircraft Subsidies

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has found repeatedly that European Union (EU) subsidies to Airbus have caused adverse effects to the United States.  Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) begins its process under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to identify products of the EU to which additional duties may be applied until the EU removes those subsidies.

USTR is releasing for public comment a preliminary list of EU products to be covered by additional duties.  USTR estimates the harm from the EU subsidies as $11 billion in trade each year.  The amount is subject to an arbitration at the WTO, the result of which is expected to be issued this summer.

“This case has been in litigation for 14 years, and the time has come for action. The Administration is preparing to respond immediately when the WTO issues its finding on the value of U.S. countermeasures,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.  “Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft.  When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional U.S. duties imposed in response can be lifted.”

In line with U.S. law, the preliminary list contains a number of products in the civil aviation sector, including Airbus aircraft.  Once the WTO arbitrator issues its report on the value of countermeasures, USTR will announce a final product list covering a level of trade commensurate with the adverse effects determined to exist.

Background

After many years of seeking unsuccessfully to convince the EU and four of its member States (France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom) to cease their subsidization of Airbus, the United States brought a WTO challenge to EU subsidies in 2004. In 2011, the WTO found that the EU provided Airbus $18 billion in subsidized financing from 1968 to 2006.  In particular, the WTO found that European “launch aid” subsidies were instrumental in permitting Airbus to launch every model of its large civil aircraft, causing Boeing to lose sales of more than 300 aircraft and market share throughout the world.

In response, the EU removed two minor subsidies, but left most of them unchanged.  The EU also granted Airbus more than $5 billion in new subsidized “launch aid” financing for the A350 XWB.  The United States requested establishment of a compliance panel in March 2012 to address the EU’s failure to remove its old subsidies, as well as the new subsidies and their adverse effects.  That process came to a close with the issuance of an appellate report in May 2018 finding that EU subsidies to high-value, twin-aisle aircraft have caused serious prejudice to U.S. interests.  The report found that billions of dollars in launch aid to the A350 XWB and A380 cause significant lost sales to Boeing 787 and 747 aircraft, as well as lost market share for Boeing very large aircraft in the EU, Australia, China, Korea, Singapore, and UAE markets.

Based on the appellate report, the United States requested authority to impose countermeasures worth $11.2 billion per year, commensurate with the adverse effects caused by EU subsidies.  The EU challenged that estimate, and a WTO arbitrator is currently evaluating those claims

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Mueller report takes ‘Russian meddling’ for granted, offers no actual evidence

RT

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Via RT…


Special counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ report has cleared Donald Trump of ‘collusion’ charges but maintains that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. Yet concrete evidence of that is nowhere to be seen.

The report by Mueller and his team, made public on Thursday by the US Department of Justice, exonerates not just Trump but all Americans of any “collusion” with Russia, “obliterating” the Russiagate conspiracy theory, as journalist Glenn Greenwald put it.

However, it asserts that Russian “interference” in the election did happen, and says it consisted of a campaign on social media as well as Russian military intelligence (repeatedly referred to by its old, Soviet-era name, GRU) “hacking” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the DNC, and the private email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

As evidence of this, the report basically offers nothing but Mueller’s indictment of “GRU agents,” delivered on the eve of the Helsinki Summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in what was surely a cosmic coincidence.

Indictments are not evidence, however, but allegations. Any time it looks like the report might be bringing up proof, it ends up being redacted, ostensibly to protect sources and methods, and out of concern it might cause “harm to an ongoing matter.”

‘Active measures’ on social media

Mueller’s report leads with the claim that the Internet Research Agency (IRA) ran an “active measures” campaign of social media influence. Citing Facebook and Twitter estimates, the report says this consisted of 470 Facebook accounts that made 80,000 posts that may have been seen by up to 126 million people, between January 2015 and August 2017 (almost a year after the election), and 3,814 Twitter accounts that “may have been” in contact with about 1.4 million people.

Those numbers may seem substantial but, as investigative journalist Gareth Porter pointed out in November 2018, they should be regarded against the background of 33 trillion Facebook posts made during the same period.

According to Mueller, the IRA mind-controlled the American electorate by spending “approximately $100,000” on Facebook ads, hiring someone to walk around New York City “dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask,” and getting Trump campaign affiliates to promote “dozens of tweets, posts, and other political content created by the IRA.” Dozens!

Meanwhile, the key evidence against IRA’s alleged boss Evgeny Prigozhin is that he “appeared together in public photographs” with Putin.

Alleged hacking & release

The report claims that the GRU hacked their way into 29 DCCC computers and another 30 DNC computers, and downloaded data using software called “X-Tunnel.” It is unclear how Mueller’s investigators claim to know this, as the report makes no mention of them or FBI actually examining DNC or DCCC computers. Presumably they took the word of CrowdStrike, the Democrats’ private contractor, for it.

However obtained, the documents were published first through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 – which the report claims are “fictitious online personas” created by the GRU – and later through WikiLeaks. What is Mueller’s proof that these two entities were “GRU” cutouts? In a word, this:

That the Guccifer 2.0 persona provided reporters access to a restricted portion of the DCLeaks website tends to indicate that both personas were operated by the same or a closely-related group of people.(p. 43)

However, the report acknowledges that the “first known contact” between Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks was on September 15, 2016 – months after the DNC and DCCC documents were published! Here we do get actual evidence: direct messages on Twitter obtained by investigators. Behold, these “spies” are so good, they don’t even talk – and when they do, they use unsecured channels.

Mueller notably claims “it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks” (the rest of that sentence is redacted), but the report clearly implies the investigators do not actually know how. On page 47, the report says Mueller “cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.”

Strangely, the report accuses WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange of making “public statements apparently designed to obscure the source” of the materials (p.48), notably the offer of a reward for finding the murderer of DNC staffer Seth Rich – even though this can be read as corroborating the intermediaries theory, and Assange never actually said Rich was his source.

The rest of Mueller’s report goes on to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with anyone even remotely Russian and to create torturous constructions that the president had “obstructed” justice by basically defending himself from charges of being a Russian agent – neither of which resulted in any indictments, however. But the central premise that the 22-month investigation, breathless media coverage, and the 448-page report are based on – that Russia somehow meddled in the 2016 election – remains unproven.

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Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote.

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington’s claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but “all options are on the table.” Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly ten times as much on “defense.”

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a “foreign terrorist organization” and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 per cent of the American people.

A current bill originally entitled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019,” is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will “…require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world’s best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as “…comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.”

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today’s Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” Menendez noted that “President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress” while Graham added that “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.” Cardin contributed “Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad” and Shaheen observed that “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order.”

The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as “foreign terrorist organizations” is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

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