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U.S. Trashes NATO Founding Act: Rushes Weapons to Russia’s Borders

By moving troops to Russia’s border NATO and the US violate key treaties negotiated with Russia to end the Cold War.

Eric Zuesse

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The NATO Founding Act was agreed to between the U.S. and Russia in 1997 in order to provide to Russia’s leader Boris Yeltsin some modicum of assurance that America wouldn’t invade his country.

When his predecessor Mikhail Gorbachev had ended the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact military alliance in 1991, the representatives of U.S. President GHW Bush told him that NATO wouldn’t move “one inch to the east” (toward Russia), but as soon as Gorbachev committed himself to end the Cold War and to be now the leader only of Russia (no longer of any Soviet Union), Bush told his agents, regarding what they had all promised to Gorbachev (Bush’s promise which had been conveyed through them), “To hell with that! We prevailed, they didn’t.” In other words: Bush’s prior instructions to them were merely his lies to Gorbachev, his lies to say that the U.S. wouldn’t try to conquer Russia (move its forces eastward to Russia’s borders); but, now, since Gorbachev was committed and had already agreed that East Germany was to be reunited with and an extension of West Germany (and the process for doing that had begun), Bush pulled that rug of lies out from under the end of the Cold War — it didn’t really end (though Gorbachev had been deceived to think it had) — and then began the long process after that time, to surround Russia by NATO troops and missiles and then (as Obama with even greater intensity has been aiming to do) ultimately to swallow it up, like it swallowed Ukraine in February 2014, right on Russia’s doorstep.

Yeltsin was mortified that Bush’s successor Bill Clinton was in the process of trashing that promise which Bush’s agents had given to Gorbachev, and that Clinton was allowing into NATO the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland (three countries that formally joined NATO two years later, in 1999); so, this NATO Founding Act was the only ‘assurance’ Russia had, to indicate that the U.S. government wasn’t going to place the Russian government into an intolerable position of nuclear war: Russia’s being surrounded by NATO nuclear missiles on and near Russia’s borders. What the NATO Founding Act said was that, for the “foreseeable” future, NATO would engage in no “additional permanent stationing of substantial ground combat forces,” a very vague commitment, which didn’t even specify where the commitment would apply — how near to Russia’s borders, etc. — but it’s all that the West would sign to under Bill Clinton, except for another vague commitment: “to strengthen stability by further developing measures to prevent any potentially threatening build-up of conventional forces in agreed regions of Europe, to include Central and Eastern Europe.” In any event, it’s all dead now: the U.S. and its NATO partners have boldly violated even those vague terms. America has virtually torn up the document.

On 13 June 2016, the U.S. threw into history’s trash bin the NATO Founding Act, and did it unilaterally, leaving Russia totally out in the cold. NATO quietly announced that it would command a large force on Russia’s periphery and that “NATO will command the units both in peacetime and moment of crisis”. Though no one was using the Founding Act’s language, this clearly will be “additional permanent stationing of substantial ground combat forces.” It also ends all the nice language in the NATO Founding Act  — e.g.: “NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries. They share the goal of overcoming the vestiges of earlier confrontation and competition and of strengthening mutual trust and cooperation.” All gone.

On 25 February 2016, the U.S. General Philip Breedlove, who was the Supreme Commander of NATO and the one person who possessed the power to order a NATO invasion of Russia, had told the U.S. Congress, that: “Russia has chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat to the United States and to our European allies and partners.” It wasn’t quite a declaration of war against Russia (only the U.S. President could do that), but close.

Leading up to that, the White House had announced on 2 February 2016, a quadrupling of U.S. funding for its European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), which funds NATO’s Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is rushing tens of thousands of troops and advanced American weaponry to and near Russia’s borders. President Obama said that in order to address “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine almost two years ago, … today my Administration announced a four-fold increase in ERI funding for Fiscal Year 2017. An ERI funding level of $3.4 billion will enable the United States to strengthen our robust military posture in Europe and improve our ability to uphold our Article 5 commitments to NATO members.” He was asserting that in order to supposedly defend Ukraine against “Russia’s aggression” (though Ukraine isn’t a NATO member and so isn’t subject to the the NATO Treaty’s Article V military protection clause), the United States was quadrupling its forces elsewhere on Russia’s borders, so that if Russia invaded a NATO member country on Russia’s borders (which post-Soviet Russia has never done and which would be insane for Russia to do), a blitz U.S. invasion of Russia would be the response, in accord with NATO’s Article V. But since Russia would never do a thing like that, what was Obama’s real motive? Perhaps it was and is to invade Russia regardless. But what could be the pretext for doing that?

On 15 June 2016, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, as if Ukraine already were a NATO member:

“We stand firm in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Allies do not, and will not recognise the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. And we will continue to call on Russia to stop its destabilisation of Ukraine. Russia needs to stop supporting the militants, and withdraw its forces and military equipment from Ukrainian territory.”

He was saying that the residents of Crimea shouldn’t have any say in the matter of whether Crimea should be restored to Russia (of which it had been a part until the Soviet dictator transferred it from Russia to Ukraine in 1954 — Stoltenberg was saying that that dictator’s action must never be reversed, no matter if more than 90% of Crimeans want it to be reversed; he was saying that the current Ukrainian government owns them, and they have no say over who rules them).

Obviously, if Ukraine’s application for membership in NATO turns out to be accepted, then at that time, NATO (in other words, the U.S.) will reiterate its demand for Russia to reverse its having accepted the overwhelming desire of the Crimean people to have their Russian nationality restored to them, and if Russia fails to comply with NATO’s (i.e., with the American government’s) demand, then there will be a nuclear war, in order to force the issue.

The U.S. government, or at least its present personnel, are apparently willing to go to nuclear war in order to force the people of Crimea to be ruled by the Ukrainian coup-regime that the U.S. had installed in Ukraine in February 2014 and which was wanting to kill them if it could not conquer them.

Of course, one cannot predict whether the people who control the U.S. government will go all the way in that matter, but right now, this is a nuclear showdown in the making, and apparently the only people who are seriously worried about it are Russians. Now, why would that be? Why would Westerners be so nonchalant about such a matter? Why would they not be furious against the governments that are reigning over them and threatening nuclear war in order to coerce Crimeans to be Ukrainians? Could it be that Westerners don’t realize how dangerous this situation is? Could it be that the Western ‘news’ media haven’t been reporting the situation honestly to them? Could it be that democracy is actually gone from the Western countries? Could it be?

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of Christ’s Ventriloquists: The Event that Created Christianity.

Originally posted at strategic-culture.org

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EXPLOSIVE: Michael Cohen sentencing memo exposes serial liar with nothing to offer Mueller (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 38.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the Michael Cohen sentencing memo which paints the picture of a man who was not as close to Trump as he made it out to be…a serial liar and cheat who leveraged his thin connections to the Trump organization for money and fame.

It was Cohen himself who proudly labelled himself as Trump’s “fixer”. The sentencing memo hints at the fact that even Mueller finds no value to Cohen in relation to the ongoing Trump-Russia witch hunt investigation.

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Via Axios

Special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York have each submitted sentencing memos for President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, after Cohen pleaded guilty in two different cases related to his work for Trump and the Trump Organization.

The big picture: The Southern District of New York recommended Cohen serve a range of 51 to 63 months for four crimes — “willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.” Mueller, meanwhile, did not take a position on the length of Cohen’s statement, but said he has made substantial efforts to assist the investigation.

Southern District of New York

Mueller investigation

Michael J. Stern, a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department for 25 years in Detroit and Los Angeles noted via USA Today

In support of their request that he serve no time in prison, Cohen’s attorneys offered a series of testimonials from friends who described the private Michael Cohen as a “truly caring” man with a “huge heart” who is not only “an upstanding, honorable, salt of the earth man” but also a “selfless caretaker.”

The choirboy portrayed by Cohen’s lawyers stands in sharp opposition to Cohen’s public persona as Trump’s legal bulldog, who once threatened a reporter with: “What I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. Do you understand me?”

Prosecutors focused their sentencing memo on Cohen as Mr. Hyde. Not only did they detail Cohen’s illegal activities, which include millions of dollars of fraud, they also recognized the public damage that stemmed from his political crimes — describing Cohen as “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.”

Rebuffing efforts by Cohen’s attorneys to recast him as a good guy who made a few small mistakes, prosecutors cited texts, statements of witnesses, recordings, documents and other evidence that proved Cohen got ahead by employing a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” The prosecutors attributed Cohen’s crimes to “personal greed,” an effort to “increase his power and influence,” and a desire to maintain his “opulent lifestyle.”

Perhaps the most damning reveal in the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing memo is that Cohen refused to fully cooperate. That’s despite his public relations campaign to convince us that he is a new man who will cooperate with any law enforcement authority, at any time, at any place.

As a former federal prosecutor who handled hundreds of plea deals like Cohen’s, I can say it is extremely rare for any credit to be recommended when a defendant decides not to sign a full cooperation deal. The only reason for a refusal would be to hide information. The prosecutors said as much in their sentencing memo: Cohen refused “to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his past,” and “further declined” to discuss “other areas of investigative interest.”

 

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Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Huawei CFO Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.

In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.

It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?

The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.

When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.

But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.

This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.

Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.

And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.

With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.

During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.

Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.

Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.

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US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005.

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Via Zerohedge


“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

According to Stars and Stripes the dangerous cross-section of powder keg conflicts and geopolitical players means “a new war” is on the horizon:

The new mission raises new questions, about the role they will play and whether their presence will risk becoming a magnet for regional conflict and insurgency.

The area is surrounded by powers hostile both to the U.S. presence and the aspirations of the Kurds, who are governing the majority-Arab area in pursuit of a leftist ideology formulated by an imprisoned Turkish Kurdish leader. Signs that the Islamic State is starting to regroup and rumblings of discontent within the Arab community point to the threat of an insurgency.

Without the presence of U.S. troops, these dangers would almost certainly ignite a new war right away, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior official with the Self-Administration of North and East Syria, as the self-styled government of the area is called.

“They have to stay. If they leave and there isn’t a solution for Syria, it will be catastrophic,” she said.

But staying also heralds risk, and already the challenges are starting to mount.
So a US-backed local politician says the US can’t leave or there will be war, while American defense officials simultaneously recognize they are occupying the very center of an impending insurgency from hell — all of which fits the textbook definition of quagmire perfectly.

The New Yorker: “The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

But in September the White House announced a realignment of its official priorities in Syria, namely to act “as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.” This means the continued potential and likelihood of war with Syria, Iran, and Russia in the region is ever present, per Stripes:

Syrian government troops and Iranian proxy fighters are to the south and west. They have threatened to take the area back by force, in pursuit of President Bashar Assad’s pledge to bring all of Syria under government control.

Already signs of an Iraq-style insurgency targeting US forces in eastern Syria are beginning to emerge.

In Raqqa, the largest Syrian city at the heart of US occupation and reconstruction efforts, the Stripes report finds the following:

The anger on the streets is palpable. Some residents are openly hostile to foreign visitors, which is rare in other towns and cities freed from Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq. Even those who support the presence of the U.S. military and the SDF say they are resentful that the United States and its partners in the anti-ISIS coalition that bombed the city aren’t helping to rebuild.

And many appear not to support their new rulers.

We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation,” said one man, a tailor, who didn’t want to give his name because he feared the consequences of speaking his mind. “I don’t know why they had to use such a huge number of weapons and destroy the city. Yes, ISIS was here, but we paid the price. They have a responsibility.”

Recent reports out of the Pentagon suggests defense officials simply want to throw more money into US efforts in Syria, which are further focused on training and supplying the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (or Kurdish/YPG-dominated SDF), which threatens confrontation with Turkey as its forces continue making preparations for a planned attack on Kurdish enclaves in Syria this week.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005:

Everyone says the streets are not safe now. Recent months have seen an uptick in assassinations and kidnappings, mostly targeting members of the security forces or people who work with the local council. But some critics of the authorities have been gunned down, too, and at night there are abductions and robberies.

As America settles in for yet another endless and “indefinite” occupation of a Middle East country, perhaps all that remains is for the president to land on an aircraft carrier with “Mission Accomplished” banners flying overhead?

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