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Who will pay the $250+ billion reconstruction cost in Syria?

The United States Government says that Syria’s Government caused the U.N.-estimated “at least $250 billion” cost to restore Syria from the destruction that Syria’s war produced, and so Syria’s Government should pay those reconstruction costs.

Eric Zuesse

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That link is to a New York Times article, which explicitly blames Syrian “President Bashar al-Assad’s ruthless triumph” — which was won against all of the jihadist groups (which the U.S. and its allies had brought into Syria to overthrow and replace Assad’s Government) — for having caused the devastation in Syria; the U.S. and its allies say they aren’t to blame for it, at all, by their having organized and armed and trained and manned that 6-year invasion of Syria; and, so (they say, and the NYT article implicitly assumes it to be true), if the invaders-occupiers of Syria might ultimately agree to pay some portion of these $250B+ reconstruction costs, then this would be sheer generosity by the U.S. and its allies — nothing that these governments are obligated to pay to the surviving residents in Syria.

It would be charity — not restitution — according to them. The way that this NYT news-report presents this case is, first, to ask rhetorically, regarding the U.S. and its allies in the invasion of Syria, “Can they afford to pour money into a regime that has starved, bombed and occasionally gassed its own people?” and then promptly to proceed by ignoring this very question that they have asked, and instead to provide a case (relying heavily on innuendos) for the immorality of the U.S. and its allies to provide restitution to Syria’s Government to restore Syria. That’s how this Times’s news-report argues for the U.S. Government, against Syria’s Government, regarding Syria’s postwar reconstruction:

The Times news-report repeatedly simply assumes that Syria’s Government is evil and corrupt, and is to blame for the destruction of Syria, and thus shouldn’t receive any money from good and honest governments such as ours. It implicitly accepts the viewpoint of the U.S. Government — a viewpoint which blatantly contradicts the actual history of the case, as will here be documented by the facts:

America’s Government (including its press, such as the NYT) simply refuses to recognize the legitimacy of Syria’s Government (even after the first internationally monitored democratic election in all of Syria’s history, which was held in 2014, and which the incumbent candidate Bashar al-Assad (whom the U.S. alliance has been trying to overthrow) won, by 89%), and the U.S. Government has, itself, evilly been trying to conquer Syria (a country that never threatened the U.S.), ever since at least 1949, when the CIA perpetrated a coup there (the new CIA’s 2nd coup, the first one having been 1948 in Thailand — and here is the rest of that shocking history) and ousted Syria’s democratically elected President; but, then, in 1955, Syria’s army threw out the U.S.-imposed dictator, and restored to power that democratically elected Syrian President, who in 1958 accepted Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s offer to unify the two countries (Syria and Egypt) into the United Arab Republic (UAR), in order to protect Syria against a then-imminent invasion and attempted take-over by NATO member Turkey (which has traditionally been hostile toward Syria). It was a peaceful and voluntary transfer of power, to Nasser.

However, Nasser became an unpopular President in Syria, as the nation’s economy performed poorly during the UAR; and, so, on 28 September 1961, Syria’s army declared Syria’s secession from the UAR; and it then installed-and-replaced seven Presidents over the next decade, until 22 February 1971, when General Hafez al-Assad resigned from Syria’s military and was promptly endorsed by the Army for the Presidency; and, soon thereafter, on 12 March 1971, a yes-no national referendum on whether Assad should become President won a 99.2%”Yes” vote of the Syrian people. President Assad initiated today’s Syria, by assigning a majority of political posts to secular Sunnis, and a majority of military posts to secular Shiites. All of the Sunnis that he allowed into the Government were seculars, so as to prevent fundamentalist-Sunni foreign governments — mainly the Sauds — from being able to work successfully with America’s CIA to again take over Syria’s Government.

Assad’s Ba’athist democratic socialist Party chose his son Bashar, to succeed Hafez as President, upon Hafez’s death on 10 June 2000; and, when Barack Obama became U.S. President in 2009, Obama carried forward the CIA’s plan to overthrow Bashar al-Assad and to install a Saud-allied fundamentalist-Sunni Syrian government to replace the existing non-secular, but Iran-allied, Ba’athist Government. However, since Bashar had built upon Hafez’s secular, non-sectarian, governmental system, the old CIA plan, to apply fundamentalist Sunnis to destroy the basically non-sectarian state (which is the basis of the Assads’ political support), ultimately failed; and, so, America’s Government and media are trying to deal with the consequences of their own evil, as best they can, so as to have only Syria and its allies suffer the Syrian war’s aftermath. U.S. President Donald Trump has been continuing President Obama’s policy, and he loaded his Administration with rabidly anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian people.

In the American Government’s view, the least that Syria’s Government should now do is to pay all the costs for the consequences of America’s lengthiest-ever effort against Syria — or, if Syria’s Government won’t do that, then the U.S. Government will continue its occupation of Syria, and won’t help the Syrian people at all, to recover from the devastation, which they blame entirely on Assad (who never threatened the U.S.).

However, the Syrian Government says that the countries which invaded it with their weapons and their jihadists and their organization — not only the United States and its weapons-supplies to the jihadists, but also Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Turkey, UK, France, and other U.S. allies, the entire U.S. coalition who organized and supplied the six-year international jihadist invasion against Syria — are to blame for the destruction of Syria; and, “If you break it, you own it, and need to replace it.” So, Syrians think that the invaders — and not the people of Syria — must pay the reconstruction cost.

The U.S. Government blames Syrian President Bashar Assad for everything. That charge is, however, quite problematic, given the facts in the case. The U.S. CIA was behind the “Arab Spring” movements to overthrow and replace Assad and other Arab leaders who dissatisfied the U.S. regime, and it then fed into Syria the ‘rebels’ until now. Few of them are still remaining under U.S. protection — which is mostly east of the Euphrates River, where America’s Kurdish proxy-forces are in control, after having finally defeated, with American air power, Syria’s ISIS.

That NYT article used the word “rebel” six times to refer to the jihadists who were fighting against Syria’s Government, and didn’t even once use the word “jihadist” or “terrorist” or anything like that, to refer to even a single one of them. However, almost all of the anti-Assad fighters were, in fact, jihadists (or, some people call them, instead, “radical Islamic terrorists”).

Western-sponsored opinion polls have been taken of the residents of Syria, throughout the war, and they have consistently shown that Bashar al-Assad would easily win re-election there in any free and internationally monitored election, and that the Syrian people overwhelmingly (by 82%) blame the United States for having brought the tens of thousands of foreign fighters into Syria to overthrow and replace their nation’s Government.

Consequently, if Syrians will end up bearing the estimated $250B+ reconstruction cost of a war that 82% of them blame on the U.S., then the Syrian people will become even angrier against the U.S. Government than they are now. But, of course, the U.S. Government doesn’t care about the people of Syria, and won’t even allow in any of them as refugees to America; so, Syrians know whom their friends and enemies are. America’s absconding on its $250+B reparations-debt to them wouldn’t surprise them, at all. It’s probably what they’re expecting.

Some U.S. propaganda-media, such as Britain’s Financial Times, have field-tested an alternative, a blame-Russia approach, in case the U.S. team can’t get the blame-Syria story-line to gain sufficient international acceptance. For example, that newspaper’s Roula Khalaf headlined on 1 March 2017,  “The west to Russia: you broke Syria, now you fix it”, but most of the reader-comments were extremely hostile to that designation of villain in the case. Here were the most-popular comments:

COMMENTS, Most recommended:
Newest | Oldest | Most recommended 
Nomad_X Mar 1, 2017 What dreadful ‘analysis’ …. Russia finished the Syrian war because they had to. Syria was an artificial proxy war instigated by the USA, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – the Iranians and Russians joined in after the west tried to remove Assad, and failed. The UN also said publicly that Syria was not a civil war – it was a war of foreign mercenary groups trying to overthrow the Assad regime. Russia had no choice but to be there – Putin said publicly there was over 500 Russian nationals involved, and they would be going home once they were finished in Syria. Syria is another US foreign policy disaster which someone else had no choice but to clean up – it essentially created and legitimized ISIS and now we ALL have to pay for it …. ReportShare54Recommend
Reply Airman48 Mar 1, 2017 The usual Bogus Russian troll perspective that is devoid of the truth. Syria has been a Russian client state in the 1960s when Hafez al Assad invited the Soviets in. Russia took ownership of the Syrian Civil War the minute it intervened and deployed Military forces to that country and after waging a brutal campaign of indiscriminate bombing that killed many hundreds of innocent Syria Non combatants it now expects the West to pay to reconstruct Syria. Read the title of the article again “The West to Russia. You broke it, you FIX it” ReportShare35Recommend

Reply Nomad_X Mar 1, 2017 @Airman48 Some facts for your viewing pleasure – 1. Syria being a client state is not new news – just because they bought their weapons does not mean they wanted a war. 2. Russia cleaned up and finished the war – they did not initiate it – the USA did. 3. The title is a misnomer – the USA, Saudi Arabia and Turkey broke Syria. ReportShare27Recommend 

Although some readers, such as “Airman48,” seemed eager to blame anything on Russia, most of the readers, even at that rabidly anti-Russian, neoconservative-neoliberal (or, to use old terminology, pro-imperialist) publication, seemed to be somehow uncomfortable with that view. Perhaps that view would have been popular in 1900 (America and UK were proudly imperialistic at that time), but it seems to be unpopular today.

It’s not as easy to fool the American and British people into an invasion as it was, for example, when we invaded and destroyed Iraq on the basis of lies, in 2003. Barack Obama managed to win public support for a repeat of that performance in Libya in 2011, and, of course, for the anti-Syria campaign, and also for a very bloody coup overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected government in 2014 — a trifecta of U.S. invasions on the basis of lies (and all of which were invasions of countries that never endangered U.S. national security) — but the bipartisanship of that U.S. hyper-aggressiveness (first with the Republican Bush, and then with the Democratic Obama) has made clear to many Americans, that the U.S. Government itself is the problem, that this is not a partisan problem; it is a problem with the Government itself, by both Parties, which is evil in what it is bipartisan about (such as supporting invasions by lies, against countries that never threatened us).

Voice of America is no more propagandistic than all of America’s major media are, even though it’s openly a U.S. Government medium; and it headlined on 30 December 2017, “Pentagon Preparing for Shift in Syrian Strategy”and reported the latest variant of the U.S. regime’s plan to dump all the costs of the invasion of Syria, onto the Syrian people. Secretary of ‘Defense’ James Mattis said, “What we will be doing is shifting from what I call an offensive, terrain-seizing approach. … You’ll see more U.S. diplomats on the ground.” The article continued, “‘When you bring in more diplomats, they’re working that initial restoration of services.

They bring in the contractors. That sort of thing,’ the defense secretary said. ‘There’s international money that’s got to be administered so it actually does something and doesn’t go into the wrong people’s [the Syrian Government’s] pockets.’” He wants U.S. international corporations to be placed into position to skim off some of that reconstruction-money. (Some of this cash might then become recycled into Republican political campaign donations, which would please the Republican U.S. President, and Republicans in Congress. But the Democrats in Congress are ‘patriotic’, and so will not resist Republicans’ effort to continue crushing Syria.)

Mattis was threatening Syrians with America’s absconding with all the damages it left behind, unless Syria’s Government will give America’s Government at least some of what it wants (but never earned). This VOA article said, “There are questions about how the initial recovery efforts will work, given that much of Syria is now under the control of forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” The implication there is that America has a right to overthrow Syria’s Government; and, that, unless Syria’s Government will bend at least part-way in recognizing this right, the U.S. Government will abscond totally from this matter. The U.S. regime is blaming everything on Assad, and expects him to be grateful for any financial assistance that the U.S.

Government, in its kindness and generosity, provides, to his land, which it has destroyed. (Of course, Syria’s Government has also bombed targets in Syria, but the only alternative that was available for President Assad would have been to surrender Syria to the jihadists whom the U.S. team had brought into and armed there.) However, VOA’s presumption that Syria’s Government is to blame and that the invading jihadists aren’t, isn’t likely to be accepted by any nations except some of America’s allies.

For example, Poland might back it, in order to retain the U.S. regime’s support, which is especially important to the Polish regime, because their support from some of the other European regimes has been fraying recently, and because beggars (such as Poland is, when it becomes widely criticized by the rest of the EU) can’t be choosers. Apparently, the Trump regime believes it can assemble a sufficient number of such regimes, so as to win its way.

Trump has the support of the entire U.S. aristocracy on this. A leading voice of the U.S. aristocracy (and funder of its agents — such as U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner — when they are in the revolving door between government-service and Wall Street or other private agencies of the aristocracy) is America’s Council on Foreign Relations, which publishes Foreign Affairs magazine, which is perhaps the chief public voice of America’s billionaires, concerning international relations. On 4 October 2017, it published an article, “Don’t Fund Syria’s Reconstruction: The West Has Little Leverage and Little to Gain”, which presumed that “The West” is democratic and its governments represent their publics, and that Syria’s Government isn’t and doesn’t; so, “The West” has a supposed right to ignore the plight it caused in Syria (and which “The West” constantly lies to deny that it caused, and to blame Syria’s Government for the devastation that “The West”s hirees actually produced there).

Here are key excerpts from this CFR Foreign Affairs article, showing the position that America’s billionaires collectively argue for, on this matter — displaying their guidance on this issue, for their vassal aristocracies, in America’s allied countries:

Now that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has successfully defeated or neutralized much of the insurgency in his country, domestic and international attention has begun to turn toward stabilization and reconstruction. …

Yet large sections of the international community — including, critically, key donor countries — continue to reject the legitimacy of Assad and his regime. …
There is a less complicated solution: Do not fund the reconstruction of Assad’s Syria. …
Syria’s reconstruction cannot be dictated or meaningfully shaped by Western donors — at least not to any satisfactory political ends. …

The cost of Syria’s reconstruction will be immense — between $200 billion and $350 billion, depending on the estimate. These sums are far beyond the capacity of Syria, or the willingness of its Iranian and Russian allies, to pay. The burden of reconstruction, then, is expected to fall on the United States, members of the EU, and Japan, as well as on multilateral institutions that are likely to take cues from their major Western donors, such as the World Bank. …

On September 21, a meeting of “like-minded” actors (including Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the EU) announced that “recovery and reconstruction support for Syria hinges on a credible political process leading to a genuine political transition that can be supported by a majority of the Syrian people.” Reconstruction funding is “the biggest lever” the United States and its allies have to push for a credible political process, said David Satterfield, a U.S. State Department official, after the meeting. And according to British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, “We have one big card left to play in a pretty poor hand and that is the cash we can provide for the reconstruction of Syria.”. …

The country, in other words, cannot be put back together by working around the regime that tore it apart. …
Some analysts believe that the West can use funding to win concessions short of regime change. …
The regime will end up trading away “things that don’t matter,” said one European diplomat. “But it will hold out for so long, they’ll seem like concessions when you get them. If there’s something that Damascus has that most others don’t, it’s time.”

Donors will not be permitted to do an end run around Assad. …

Westerners who want to drive a hard bargain will find that they have less leverage than they thought. To begin with, the international community — and the universe of possible donors and investors — is not limited to the West. Syrian officials are keen to advertise the country’s nascent economic recovery and attract investment, but they have also said that they will give priority to investors from countries that stood by Damascus. …

Western donors should not finance the regime-led reconstruction effort. …

The West does not get unlimited tries to remove Assad or to dictate Syria’s politics. Thinking otherwise will be an expensive delusion.

Or, in short: America’s billionaires view the entire question as a business deal between themselves and the ‘regime’ that they have hired the U.S. Government since 1949 to overthrow and control; and the advice that they are giving to their vassal aristocracies is: “The West does not get unlimited tries to remove Assad or to dictate Syria’s politics”; and, so, “The West” should just walk away from the matter: there shouldn’t be any deal — Syria should just become a failed state, such as Libya, or Afghanistan.

Another prominent institutional voice of America’s billionaires is the similarly solidly neoconservative-neoliberal (or pro-imperialistic) Brookings Institution, whose Steven Heydemann headlined on 24 August 2017, “Rules for reconstruction in Syria”, and he wrote:

For the Assad regime, however, reconstruction is not seen as a means for economic recovery and social repair, but as an opportunity for self-enrichment, a way to reward loyalists and punish opponents, and as central to its efforts to fix in place the social and demographic shifts caused by six years of violent conflict. Assad himself affirmed this intent in a speech he delivered to mark the inauguration of the Damascus Exhibition. Thanking Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah, Assad said that Syria had “lost its best youth and its infrastructure,” but had “won a healthier and more homogenous society.” The prominent Arab [Qatari-Palestinian-Israeli] political analyst Azmi Bishara described Assad’s claim as “Hitlerian” and as confirmation of the “genocidal” intent of the regime’s policies of displacement.

Thus, a statement by Assad expressing satisfaction that Syria has even a smaller percentage of its citizens who support jihadists today than it had prior to the U.S.-Saudi-UAE-Qatari-Turkish importation of the world’s jihadists into Syria, was there being called “Hitlerian.” America’s billionaires (or at least their policy-propagandists) view Assad’s loathing of jihadists as bigotry, just like Hitler’s loathing of Jews was.

Furthermore, Bishara, who was being cited there by Brookings as an authority about Assad, was a big supporter of the U.S. coalition against Syria: for example, he said about Assad’s Government, at 2:17 in this 20 May 2013 telecast on Syria’s enemy Qatar’s Al Jazeera television in Arabic (Al Jazeera is pro-jihadist in its Arabic broadcasts, but anti-jihadist in its English ones), “Now, it’s shelling its own people, ferociously, an ongoing massacre, and yet the people resist. They haven’t stopped.” He didn’t mention “jihadists” or “terrorists” at all (because he represents their backers).

There is no available evidence as to whether Bishara is being paid by the CIA, or perhaps by the Thani family who own Qatar, but Brookings’s failure to disclose information like that (Bishara’s statement’s falsely implying that Assad is anti-Syrian instead of anti-jihadist), in such a context as this passage by Heydemann, indicates the extent to which Brookings should be presumed to be merely an extension of the same international aristocratic group that ultimately controls the CIA, CFR, etc. (Bishara then went on there to use the phrase “we, the Israelis”; so, maybe he instead represents Israel’s Mossad. But that’s just as bad, and maybe even the same thing as the rest of them.)

The argument by America’s billionaires (via their agents), regarding restitution to the Syrian people, for the catastrophe that those billionaires (via their political contributions) spearheaded against Syrians, is: If anyone should pay it, then Syria’s Government should.

Apparently, “The West” intends simply to keep on destroying nations and leaving behind more and more failed states.

Of course, that long war to get rid of Russia’s allies might be a profitable policy for the owners of corporations such as Lockheed Martin, but there are big downsides to this policy, for the billions of people whom “The West” seems to care nothing about, such as in Syria, and in Libya, and in Ukraine. And this evil policy is also bad even for the American people, who are increasingly coming to loathe the Government that America’s billionaires have increasingly bought and impose upon us.

America’s corruption deserves a Nobel Prize, like was won by Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama; but, this one should be called the “Hypocrisy Prize” and awarded directly to the U.S. Government — an invoice, “amount due,” totaling the damages done by this Government to all of the governments that had posed no threat to U.S. national security but that the U.S. Government nonetheless overthrew, starting with Thailand in 1948. Of course, the rogue U.S. Government would not pay it, but the bill should still be presented, because that bill would be the first Hypocrisy Prize, and it would show what hypocrisy can amount to.

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Damaged goods Saudi Crown Prince MbS remains political thorn in Trump’s side (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 20.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Donald Trump said his administration plans to stand by Saudi Arabia amid the Khashoggi crisis.

In a statement on Tuesday, Trump said he intends to maintain Washington’s strong ties to Saudi leaders, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), despite the “unacceptable and horrible crime” committed against Jamal Khashoggi.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at Trump’s decision to stand by the House of Saud and the Crown prince, as US lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and mainstream media outlets, have denounced Trump’s statement.

Meanwhile a G20 summit looms in Argentina, where MbS will be in attendance sitting side-by-side with other G20 leaders.

Within the Saudi Kingdom Prince Ahmed, King Salman’s only surviving full brother, has returned to Riyadh after 2-1/2 months abroad, in what many analysts believe to be a bid by the exiled brother to wrestle away the throne from the Crown Prince.

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Read Trump’s full statement below:

America First!

The world is a very dangerous place!

The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” Iran is considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.

After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!

The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body.

Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!

That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!

I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction – and they are free to do so. I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America. After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world. As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!

Via The Middle East Eye


Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan called Trump’s comments a “betrayal” of American values, accusing the president of putting his personal relationships and “commercial interests” above US interests.

Ryan said the White House should make public any evidence it may have that would contradict an earlier CIA conclusion that bin Salman ordered the assassination of Khashoggi.

“An innocent man, brutally slain, deserves better, as does the cause of truth and justice and human rights,” Ryan said in a statement Tuesday.

He also called on the US Congress to act where Trump has apparently failed. “In this failure of leadership from President Trump, it now falls to Congress to stand up for America’s true values and lasting interests,” Ryan said.

Washington Post editor Karen Attiah, who edited Khashoggi’s columns at the newspaper, called the White House’s statement “juvenile” and “clumsy”.

She also condemned the US president for repeating a “Saudi lie” in his statement, which Trump used to convey Saudi assertions that Khashoggi was “an enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, claims the journalist’s family has refuted as baseless.

In a column published on Tuesday afternoon, Attiah went on to say that Trump’s handling of the crisis emboldens repression and endangers journalists around the world.

“If the administration continues down this path, it will further destroy whatever is left of America’s moral credibility on global human rights and freedom of expression,” she wrote. “It puts truth-seekers and journalists who dare challenge the Saudi regime and other intolerant governments in grave danger, no matter where they live.”

US lawmakers call for MBS to be held accountable

Several members of the US House of Representatives and the US Senate also expressed their dismay at the president’s vow to stand alongside Saudi Arabia despite Khashoggi’s killing.

Bob Corker, the retiring Republican chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, accused Trump of acting like a public relations agent for the Saudi government.

The incoming US House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff, said Trump’s statement harms Washington’s standing in the world.

“To say ‘maybe he did and maybe he didn’t,’ or that we are incapable of finding out the truth, or that knowing the truth our silence can be bought with arms sales, undermines the Presidency, credibility of our intelligence professionals, and our role as a champion of human rights,” the congressman said on Twitter.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, said she was “shocked” by the president’s decision not to impose consequences on the Saudi crown prince, also known as MBS, for the murder.

“I plan to vote against any future arms sales and appropriation to Saudi Arabia. I also believe that the United States should consider sanctions against the crown prince and that the Saudi ambassador to the United States should not be allowed to continue in that role,” Feinstein said in a statement.

Left-wing Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also condemned Trump’s “rambling and dishonest” statement.

Sanders dismissed the White House’s assertion that Tehran, not Riyadh, is to blame for the war in Yemen.

“Trump is clearly very afraid of the prospect of the Senate delivering a serious rebuke to his policy by voting to end U.S. support for the Yemen war. But that is exactly what we will do when we vote on SJ Res 54 next week,” Sanders wrote on Twitter.

Senior Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said although international diplomacy requires dealing with “bad actors and imperfect situations,” the US should not lose its “moral voice” at the world stage.

“While Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally, the behavior of the Crown Prince – in multiple ways – has shown disrespect for the relationship and made him, in my view, beyond toxic,” Graham wrote on Twitter.

“I firmly believe there will be strong bipartisan support for serious sanctions against Saudi Arabia, including appropriate members of the royal family, for this barbaric act which defied all civilized norms.”

Saudi officials have repeatedly denied that the crown prince had any knowledge of the plan to murder Khashoggi or cover up the crime. Still, human rights groups, journalists, UN experts and others have pointed the finger at MBS, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, saying it’s impossible the crown prince was not involved.

Former CIA chief John Brennan, meanwhile, urged the US intelligence agency to release its finding on the murder, criticising Trump’s dishonesty.

“Since Mr. Trump excels in dishonesty, it is now up to members of Congress to obtain & declassify the CIA findings on Jamal Khashoggi’s death. No one in Saudi Arabia – most especially the Crown Prince – should escape accountability for such a heinous act,” he wrote on Twitter.

Brennan has been an outspoken critic of Trump, and previously had his security clearance revoked by the White House.

Iran’s foreign minister weighs in

Trump also used his statement on Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia Tuesday to criticise the Iranian government, saying strong ties between Washington and Riyadh were necessary in “the fight against Iran”.

Shortly after the US president’s comments were made public, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Trump’s decision to bring Tehran into the crisis was “shameful”.

“Mr. Trump bizarrely devotes the FIRST paragraph of his shameful statement on Saudi atrocities to accuse IRAN of every sort of malfeasance he can think of,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.

Zarif then made a dig at Trump’s suggestion – which came over the weekend after a massive, deadly wildfire ravaged parts of California – that Finland prevents wildfires by raking leaves.

“Perhaps we’re also responsible for the California fires, because we didn’t help rake the forests – just like the Finns do?” the Iranian foreign minister asked sarcastically.

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The Geopolitical Strategy Of The US’ Global Hegemony By A Notorious Russophobe Zbigniew Brzezinski

The achievement of a New World Order after 1990 is being tested for some time in Washington.

The Duran

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Authored by Vladislav Sotirovic via Oriental Review:


If we have to use force, it is because we are America.

We are the indispensable nation.

(Madeleine K. Albright, February 1998)[1]

Madam Secretary

As a matter of very fact, regardless to the reality in global politics that the Cold War was over in 1989, Washington continued to drive toward the getting the status of a global hyperpower at any expense for the rest of the world. The Balkans undoubtedly became the first victim in Europe of the old but esthetically repacked American global imperialism. The US’ administration is a key player during the last 25 years of the Balkan crisis caused by the bloody destruction of ex-Yugoslavia[2] in which Washington played a crucial role in three particular historical cases:

  1. Only due to the US’ administration (more precisely due to the last US’ ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmermann), a Bosnian-Herzegovinian President Alija Izetbegović (the author of the 1970 Islamic Declaration) rejected already agreed Lisbon Agreement about peaceful resolution of the Bosnian crises which was signed by the official representatives of the Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks in February 1992. Alija Izetbegović was one of those three signatories. The agreement was reached under the auspices of the European Community (the EC, later the European Union) that was represented by the British diplomat Lord Carrington and the Portuguese ambassador José Cutileiro. However, under the US’ protection, a Bosnian-Herzegovinian Bosniak-Croat Government declared independence on March 3rd, 1992 which local Serbs decisively opposed. Therefore, two warmongers, Warren Zimmermann and Alija Izetbegović pushed Bosnia-Herzegovina into the civil war which stopped only in November 21st, 1995 by signing the Dayton Accords in Ohio (Slobodan Milošević, Bill Clinton, Alija Izetbegović and Franjo Tuđman).[3]
  2. It was exactly the US’ administration which crucially blessed the ethnic cleansing of the Serbs from the Republic of Serbian Krayina committed by Croatia’s police and army forces (including and neo-Nazi Ustashi formations) on August 4−5th, 1995. For the realization of this criminal operation (under the secret code Storm/Oluja) Washington gave to Zagreb all logistic, political, diplomatic and military support. As a consequence, around 250,000 Croatia’s Serbs left their homes in two days which were quickly occupied by the Croats.[4]
  3. South Serbia’s Autonomous Province of Kosovo-Metochia was firstly occupied in June 1999 by the NATO/KFOR’ forces and later in February 2008 politically separated from its motherland when Albanian-dominated Kosovo’s Parliament proclaimed the formal independence primarily as a direct consequence of the Serbophobic policy by the US’s administration of President Bill Clinton and his warmongering hawk Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. Today, Kosovo, except its northern part, is ethnically cleansed from the Serbs[5] and transformed into a mafia state with a silent blessing by Washington and the rest of the Western gangsters from the NATO and the EU who recognized its quasi-independence.[6]

Here is very important to stress that, basically, during the Bill Clinton’ administration, the US’ foreign policy in regard to the Balkans (ex-Yugoslavia) was primarily designed and directed by Madeleine K. Albright who became a chief US’ war criminal at the very end of the 20th century. Who was Mrs. Albright – the author of Madam Secretary: A Memoir, New York: Talk Miramax Books, 2003, 562 pages.[7] Madeleine K. Albright was born in Czechoslovakia in 1937. She was confirmed as the 64th US’ Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001. Her career in the US’ government included positions in the National Security Council and as US’ ambassador to the United Nations. The highest-ranking warmonger female hawk in the history of the US’ Government was telling an unforgetable whitewashed story of lies in her memoirs of the US’ imperialism at the turn of the 21st century. She was the first woman in the US’ history to be appointed to the post of Secretary of State (Minister of Foreign Affairs). For eight years during the first and second Bill Clinton’s terms, she succeeded drastically to ruin America’s image of a democratic and freedom fighting country mainly due to her direct and crucial involvement into the US-led NATO’s aggression on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (the FRY) in 1999 composed by Serbia and Montenegro that was the first aggression of this organization in its 50 years long history of the preparation for the invasion of Russia. The aggression lasted for 78 days from March 24th to June 10th, 1999 and was one of the most brutal and barbaric in the modern history of the world breaking all international laws, rules of war and, most important, the Charter and principles of the UNO. Madeleine K. Albright tried in her memoirs to whitewash her extremely important and even crucial participation in the post-Cold War US’ policy of imperialism but primarily her focal role in the preparation and conduction of the US/NATO’s unprecedented war on the FRY as being one of the most influential policy-makers in her adopted country. The Madam Secretary’s memoirs are firstly the story of a woman of great warmongering character with a fascinating talent to lie and whitewash the truth. Her memoirs are surely a valuable contribution to the political history of aggressive diplomacy of the project of the US’ global hegemony after the collapse of the USSR. But who was her mentor?

Former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright

If we are speaking about the US’ foreign policy, the fundamental question is what are the US policy’s interests and its implications in both the Balkans and Europe.

The US’ involvement in the Balkans and Europe

The achievement of a New World Order after 1990 is being tested for some time in Washington. We have to keep in mind that for some first 20 years after the end of the Cold War, the strongest military and economic power, the leaders of the NATO and the UNO, the initiators of the international peacekeeping missions and negotiations in the regions of „failed states“ in which they provoked the crises and wars, especially at the Balkans, the champions against the international terrorism and crime that was a reaction to their dirty foreign policy of unmasked imperialism and global hegemony, were the USA.[8] Nevertheless, the US’ interests in the Balkans cannot be understood apart from a larger picture of the American interests in Europe in general.

There are many American scientists and politicians who argued that a leadership in Europe will either be American or it will not be, since France and Germany (the axis-powers of the EU) were not too strong to take over and Germany was still in the 1990s too preoccupied with the consequences of its reunification (i.e., the absorption of the DDR). However, the recent (on November 11th, 2018) French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative to create a joint European Army shows that probably the Europeans finally became enough matured to maintain security in their own home by themselves but not anymore under the umbrella of the US-led NATO. The question, in essence, is not if, but what kind of leadership the US has and will have in the case that the current post-Cold War’s international relations are not going to be drastically changed? In this respect, the US need to be aware that the best leadership is the one shared with other partners, in this case with the EU/NATO, more specifically France, Germany, and Britain but, of course, Russia have to be seriously taken into the consideration too. With the involvement of Russia into a common European security system on the bases of equal reciprocity, friendship and partnership, the final aim will be to obtain a common vision and an efficient coordination in conflict management, as well as in political and economic cooperation. At such a way, the cases of violent destructions and civil wars, for example on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia, will be avoided for sure.

U.S. Marines escorting Yugoslavian soldiers in Kosovo to be handed over to Yugoslavian authorities

The US’ political analysts are keen to suggest that the American presence in Europe should not be regarded as a competition, but rather as a part of the transatlantic partnership between the two continents, as well as a necessity demonstrated by the sad experience in the former Yugoslavia. According to official Washington, the NATO’s intervention in both Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995 and Kosovo in 1999 (in both cases against the Serbs) under the US’ leadership was the only credible action along with many initiatives taken by the international community.[9] However, on the other side, military intervention is in many cases creating more political and security problems for a longer period of time. It is understandable that the US cannot assist apathetically to the collapse of countries vital to their own interest but such principle is valid to be applied for any great power too. Besides, regional instability only expands, engaging other areas and creating new confrontations. Thus, the economic support offered to some countries, and the military one offered to others shows that the US formally believe in the regional stability as an enforcer of the international stability but in reality only if such stability is put under the umbrella of Washington’s interests and benefits. The case of Kosovo is, probably, the best example of such practice: by bringing a formal stability this province of Serbia is put at the same time under the full Western (primarily American) political control and economic exploitation.[10]

In supporting the NATO’s expansion, there is a hesitation in treating all aspirant countries in a non-discriminatory fashion. And that, because interests are more important than global security, can be the reason. The advocates of the „Pax Americana’s“ view of the global security would publically say that they are not propagating the US as the savior of the world, or the world’s policeman, but they are just the most fervent supporters of the global peace and stability. However, in the practice they are working oppositely: as many as conflicts and insecurity issues in the world, there are more chances and practical opportunities for Washington to become the regional policeman and global savior of the order.[11] In their relationship with other NATO’s countries, the USA regard the process of integration in the Euro-Atlantic space (i.e., the area of the US’ control and administration) as a two-way street in which each partner needs to accomplish its tasks. An addition to those is, of course, the geostrategic position (Turkey instead of Greece, for instance, in the 1974 Cyprus crisis) and short, medium and long-term declarative promises like the economic gratification of security which can at the end to be turned to its opposite side. For instance, the US’ offering military, political and financial assistance to the countries of East-Central and South-East Europe as a mean to build up their security shield against „aggressive“ Russia can be easily transformed into their very insecurity reality coming from the US’ imperialistic policy toward Russia as there were already the cases with Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014 as the „Pax Americana’s“ approach in international relations is as its countereffect just provoking the Russian (and Chinese) counteraction in enhancing its own nuclear and other military potentials as Vladimir Putin exactly stressed during his electoral campaigns.

The US’ geopolitical strategy by Zbig

(Vietnam) war criminal Henry Kissinger (ex-US’ Secretary of State), summarized the post-Cold War’s international relations from the American geopolitical viewpoint:

„Geopolitically, America is an island off the shores of the large landmass of Eurasia, whose resources and population far exceed those of the United States. The domination by a single power of either of Eurasia’s two principal spheres – Europe or Asia – remains a good definition of strategic danger for America, Cold War or no Cold War. For such a grouping would have the capacity to outstrip America economically and, in the end, militarily“.[12]

It is not surprising that in the 1990s there were raised voices in Washington which required that the US has to find a way of dominating Eurasia at any reasonable cost. The US’ neocon warmongering hawks, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, recognized that the area of the enlarged Middle East (with the Balkans, North Africa, and Central Asia) is from the strategical viewpoint, economically, ideologically and above all geopolitically at the center of the Eurasian issue. However, the US’ neocon hawks’ much wider global geopolitical aims which were coming closer to the aim to continue domination in the Middle East were launched during the Bill Clinton’s presidency as a result of a wider shift in the American foreign policy’s profile led by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright (“Madam Secretary”) and her extremely Russophobic mentor Zbigniew Brzezinski (known as Zbig).

Warsaw-born Zbig (1928−2017) was a focal personality in the US’ foreign policy’s elite establishment since President Jimmy Carter’s administration in which he was a National Security Advisor. During the Ronald Reagan’s administration, Zbig was the main mediator between Washington and its clients in Afghanistan – the anti-Soviet Taliban forces and Osama bin-Laden with whom Zbig has several common photos (in 1979) on which he is training Osama to operate with just donated American guns to fight the Soviets. Further, Zbig has a great influence on the first Bill Clinton’s administration and he was at the same time an early advocate of the NATO’s eastward expansion (started in 1999). It is assumed that it was exactly Zbig who was instrumental in getting the US’ President Bill Clinton to commit himself to this course of the American imperialism in 1994. Furthermore, Brzezinski’s influence on the US’ foreign policy became stronger during the second Clinton’s administration through a Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright – his former pupil at Columbia University. It is worth to note that Albright was working under his supervision in Carter’s administration. If we have to summarize Zbig’s chief imperatives of the US’ imperialistic global policy and geostrategy of the making America world’s hegemon, they are going to be as follows:

  1. To prevent collusion and maintain security among the US’ vassal states (the NATO/EU).
  2. To keep tributaries pliant and protected.
  3. To keep the barbarians (the Russians and their supporters) from coming together.
  4. To consolidate and perpetuate the prevailing geopolitical pluralism in Eurasia by manipulation in order to prevent the emergence of a hostile coalition that could finally attempt to challenge the US’ supremacy in the world.
  5. Those that must be divided and eventually ruled are Germany, Russia, Japan, Iran, and China.[13]

Former US national security advisor Zbigniew Former US national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski

The American direct and infamous participation in the destruction of ex-Yugoslavia in 1991−1995 followed by the 1998−1999 Kosovo’s War can be understood, therefore, as the steps in the realization of Zbig’s geopolitical strategy of making America global hegemon. The US-led bombing of Serbia and Montenegro from March to June 1999 (78 days) was carried out by enlarged NATO and the UNO was only called at the end to sanctify the resulting colonial policy of Washington. The aggression on Serbia and Montenegro was formally justified by a reference to the TV-show plight of Kosovo’s Albanians, developing at the same time the new doctrine of the „humanitarian imperialism“. We have to keep in mind on this place that the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s were fought in a geographical area which is the crucial courtyard of the Eurasian continent that is as such opening a direct way to the ex-Soviet republics on the shores of the Caspian and the energy sources they control.[14] Nevertheless, Kosovo’s War became for the US the genuine precursor of its later invasion of Iraq in 2003.

„Madam Secretary“ was a firm advocate of bombing Serbia and Serbs in Washington primarily due to the direct influence by notorious Russophobe Zbig who saw the Balkan Serbs as „little Russians“ and the Balkan wars of the destruction of ex-Yugoslavia as a testing ground for the US’ policy throughout the whole Caspian and Central Asian area. However, in addition, being an advocate for the US’ oil companies wishing to establish their business on the territory of ex-Soviet Union in the Caucasus and Central Asia, Zbig regarded the American political and geostrategic supremacy in this region as a crucial aim of the US’ foreign policy in the 1990s. In order to accomplish his aim, among other manipulations and instruments, Zbig championed the American support to the Islamic Pakistan, the Taliban Afghanistan (till 9/11) and the Islamic resurgence in Saudi Arabia and even Iran.[15]

Multidimensional aspect of security

It is true that globalization, stability, and security offer to the countries a greater capacity to cooperate and focus on the economic prosperity of its citizens but in practice, this particularly means much more important businesses and more money for the US’ economy and citizens. Today, security has multidimensional aspects. If during the Cold War security only had a military-political component, today it has gained a new aspect – the economic one. The non-military aspects of security comprise everything from macroeconomic stability to environmental health. The proponents of the US’ global hegemony will all the time argue that where there is a harmony (established by the US) and well-being the chances of conflicts to erupt are smaller and the gain is exclusively financial and economic (primarily for the US).

There is, of course, a combination between interest per se and their consequences. To illustrate, the case of Macedonia could be interesting. Macedonia at the first glance benefits of the US’ military presence on her territory since 1991 as it is a geostrategic spot in the Balkans of the highest importance. As a matter of fact, this military presence maintained Macedonia’s economic level at a higher standard than some of the other countries in the area up to 2001, despite the fact that was still the poorest of the former Yugoslav six republics affected by two economic embargos by Greece in 1991−1993. Macedonia was illustrated till 2001, especially by the Western media, as being a success story in conflict prevention and peace maintenance primarily due to the presence of the US/NATO’s military troops. However, in 2001 erupted inter-ethnic conflict between the Slavic Macedonians and the local Albanians (supported by the Kosovo Liberation Army) what brought the question of the US/NATO’s efficiency in the region.

The NATO’s eastward expansion is a particular story of Zbig’s geostrategic designs against his eternal enemy – Russia. It is a fact that just before the NATO’s aggression on Serbia and Montenegro in 1999, this military organization accepted as the member states three East-Central European countries: Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic (the next eastward enlargement was in 2004). Therefore, the southern flank of the NATO between Hungary and Greece became now interrupted only by the territory of ex-Yugoslavia. Subsequently, such situation gave NATO a considerable strategic interest in controlling the Balkans where the Serbs were the most numerous and geostrategically important nation. However, as a direct effect of the NATO’s eastward enlargement, the Iron Curtain was moved further to the east and closer to Russia’s borders with all spectrum of the expected and unexpected consequences of such anti-Russian Drang nach Osten. Now, the Iron Curtain, once dividing Germany, it came in 1999 to run down the eastern borders of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, ending on the state-borders of the ex-Yugoslav republics, now independent states. The crux of the matter is that a decade-long process of the NATO’s eastward enlargement became at the beginning of 1999 blocked in the Balkans by the Serbs – the only ex-Yugoslav nation firmly opposing a NATO’s membership. Subsequently, it was exactly Washington to assume the role of leading the NATO to the new anti-Russian front and borders. That was the crucial reason why the Serbs had to be bombed in 1999 and Kosovo occupied by the US-led NATO’s troops in the form of the UNO KFOR. What regards this issue, both Zbig and „Madam Secretary“ were clearly speaking through the mouth of the US’ President Bill Clinton: the stability (the US’ control) in the Balkans could only be established if the EU and the USA do for this region what it was done for Europe after the WWII and Central Europe after the Cold War – occupation and economic-financial exploitation within the formal framework of the NATO’s and EU’ (the USA) enlargement.

Conclusion

The brutal expansion of the NATO is very visible since 1999 and even expected if we are taking into consideration the final aims of the US’ foreign policy in Eurasia framed by a notorious foreign policy gangster – Zbigniew Brzezinski. As a consequence, the EU is going to continue to be America’s main colonial partner in the NATO’s preparations for the war of aggression against Russia and most probably at the same time China. Subsequently, there will be a need for much work and a common will to overcome violence, injustice, and suffering in order to achieve a global security without the hegemonic dominance by any great power.[16]

Endnotes:

[1] Andrew J. Bacevich, American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy, Cambridge, Massachusetts−London, England: Harvard University Press, 2002, the page before 1.

[2] On the Western approach about a modern Yugoslav history, see in Allcock B. John, Explaining Yugoslavia, London: Hurst & Co, 2000; David Gowland, Richard Dunphy, Charlotte Lythe, The European Mosaic: Contemporary Politics, Economics and Culture, Third Edition, Harlow, Essex, England: Pearson Education Limited, 2006, Section 5.3 Yugoslavia.

[3] About the destruction of ex-Yugoslavia and particularly on the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, see in Jelena Guskova, Istorija jugoslovenske krize 1990−2000, Beograd: Izdavački grafički atelje “M”, 2003.

[4] Вељко Ђурић Мишина (уредник), Република Српска Крајина. Десет година послије, Београд: „Добра воља“, 2005, 48.

[5] On this issue, see more in Zoran Anđelović, Miroslav Marković (eds.), Days of Terror (In the Presence of the International Forces), Belgrade: Center for Peace and Tolerance, 2000; Dragan Kojadinović (ed.), March Pogrom in Kosovo and Metohija (March 17−19, 2004) With a Survey of Destroyed and Endangered Christian Cultural Heritage, Belgrade: Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia−Museum in Priština (displaced), 2004.

[6] Pierre Pean, Sébastien Fontenelle, Kosovo une guerre juste” pour créer un etat mafieux, Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2013.

[7] This article is a constructive-critical contribution to the new, revised and updated edition of the memoirs of the “Madam Secretary”.

[8] About the post-Cold War’s US’ foreign policy, especially through the prism of the “Bush Doctrine”, see in David P. Forsythe, Patrice C. McMahon, Andrew Wedeman (eds.), American Foreign Policy in a Globalized World, New York−London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2006.

[9] About a typical American approach on the case of Yugoslavia’s destruction in the 1990s, see in Susan L. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution after the Cold War, Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1995. However, the focal lack of such books is the fact that a crucial US/EU/NATO’ role in creating Balkan tragedy and Yugoslavia’s chaos is omitted.

[10] Hannes Hofbauer, Eksperiment Kosovo: Povratak kolonijalizma, Beograd: Albatros Plus, 2009.

[11] There are well-known words by Theodor Roosevelt uttered in December 1899: “Of course, our whole national history has been one of expansion”.

[12] John Rees, Imperialism and Resistance, New York−London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2006, 18.

[13] Ibid., 19−20.

[14] About the issue of a strategic environment from the Adriatic to the Caspian, see in Stefano Bianchini (ed.), From the Adriatic to the Caucasus: The Dynamics of (De)Stabilization, Ravenna: Longo Editore Ravenna, 2001.

[15] Differently to all other American warmongers and imperialistic hawks, Zbig favors the alliance with the Shia Islamic Republic of Iran.

[16] On global security, see in Peter Hough, Understanding Global Security, Third edition, New York−London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2005.

 

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Trump hands over written responses to Mueller’s Russia probe questions

The written answers submitted by Trump Tuesday have the same legal implications as an oral testimony, meaning that if the statements are proven false, he might be accused of perjury.

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A lawyer for Donald Trump has confirmed that the US President has submitted answers to the questions penned by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. The questions refer to the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Moscow.

“The president today answered written questions submitted by the special counsel’s office,” Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement, as cited by AP.

The issues Trump covered in his responses are “the Russia-related topics of the inquiry,” Sekulow said. Trump’s legal team has indicated that the president would not answer any additional questions aside from potential follow-ups. Likewise, Trump is not expected to answer any questions that refer to allegations of obstruction of justice, with his lawyers insisting that the constitution protects the sitting President from answering questions on policies he conducted while in office.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudi Giuliani said Tuesday, that “much of what has been asked raised serious constitutional issues and was beyond the scope of a legitimate inquiry,” without elaborating.

Giuliani has not ruled out that Trump might answer further questions if forwarded by Mueller, but said that it is “unlikely we will answer any more questions.”

The contents of both the answers and the questions themselves will not be made public, Sekulow said.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Trump said he prepared the answers himself, and that it did not take him “very long.”

The written answers submitted by Trump Tuesday have the same legal implications as an oral testimony, meaning that if the statements are proven false, he might be accused of perjury.

Trump’s cooperation with Mueller’s office has been seen as a compromise. The president’s attitude toward a potential face-to-face interview with the federal prosecutor has shifted over time. Back in January Trump said that he was “looking forward” to speaking under oath. He doubled down in May, saying that he “would love” to sit down for an interview with Mueller “if treated fairly.” There have been reports, however, that the president’s legal team has been staunchly opposed to a personal encounter between Trump and Mueller and eventually talked the president out of it.

The personal interview might still happen if Mueller’s office issues a subpoena for Trump to testify. However, it would first need to be signed off on by the Acting Attorney General, the probe’s well-known critic Matthew Whitaker, and even then it could be thrown out by the Supreme Court.

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