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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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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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