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CONFIRMED: Turkey to end support for anti-government terrorists in Syria

The move is a diplomatic victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin and a big snub to the United States.

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In a seismic shift in the alignment in the Syria conflict, Turkey has confirmed it is ending support to anti-government forces in Syria. Additionally, the umbrella political group National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces is to have its recognition from Ankara withdrawn.

This represents Turkey’s position on Syria going full circle since Ankara entered the conflict in the year 2012.

Prior to 2012, Turkey and Syria enjoyed normal relations. As part of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pivot to the Arab world, a policy some had called neo-Ottomanism, Ankara increasingly saw itself as a key king-maker in Arab affairs, in spite of the fact that few Arab countries sought Turkey’s alliance with the exception of Qatar. In this sense, Turkey’s move to support anti-government forces in Syria was more about opportunism than ideology. Although Erdogan had since his early political career advocated for what many call a Muslim Brotherhood style of Islamist politics, this had never previously prohibited him from having normal relations with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad prior to 2011.

Put another way, Turkey wanted to join the winning side and until Russia’s intervention in Syria at the behest of the Syrian government, many speculated that various anti-government forces which were heavily backed by Barack Obama’s government, would win.

Russia’s intervention combined with the incredible endurance and steadfast patriotism of the Syrian Arab Army has changed this and now both conventional wisdom and battlefield intelligence would point to a victory for the legitimate forces in Syria.

In this sense, Turkey’s exit from its political and apparently military support for anti-government forces in Syria is motivated by pragmatism just as sure as Turkey’s initial entrance into the conflict was motivated by opportunism.

Beyond this however, there are several other motivating factors.

Ever since Donald Trump took office, the United States began gradually pulling its support away from jihadist fighters in Syria while throwing the weight of US military and political power behind the Kurds who have also historically been supported by Israel.

This development his infuriated Erdogan as it would have done with any Turkish leader whether Kemalist or Islamist. While Turkey has expressed its frustrations at the US over the Kudish issue, the US seems to be complete ignoring Turkey and doing precisely the opposite of that which would make its NATO ‘ally’ contented. Turkey has stated that it will not tolerate a Kurdish state on its borders and the US has done precious little to assure Ankara that such a state will not foment.

With the possibility of increased Kurdish autonomy in Syria now increasingly probable and with the prospect of a Kurdish state in either Syria or Iraq more likely than at any time since the end of the Second World War, Turkey has reason to fear that an incredibly hostile force which has been heavily armed by the United States may spring up on its doorstep and more importantly, the doorstep of Turkey’s Kurdish regions which are a hotbed of the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), a group Turkey labels as a terrorist group.

Secondly, in ending support for anti-government forces in Syria, Turkey is also easing latent tensions in the last remaining Middle Eastern conflict Ankara has had with Moscow. While Russia and Turkey have cooperated economically in spite of being on different sides of the Syrian conflict and while Turkey continues to participate in the Astana Peace Process with Syria’s partners Russia and Iran, Turkey was always viewed with suspicion by many throughout the process because of Ankara’s position in respect of anti-government forces.

It would appear that this is no longer the case as Turkey is now, at least from a legal and technical point of view, de-facto recognising the Syrian government as the only legitimate political force in Syria.

In the longer term, this will help Turkey in its pivot away from the US and EU and towards Russia and Russia’s regional partner Iran. President Erdogan has in recent months been cultivating increasingly good relations with Iran and as Iran is, like Turkey, on China’s economically crucial One Belt–One Road. In this sense, Turkey would need to have cooperated with Iran sooner or later and for the sake of good will in the service of pragmatism, Turkey has decided to do it sooner.

The message to Russia and Iran also sends a strong message to the United States. Turkey now has increasingly little in common with America in spite of maintaining the second largest army in NATO. Turkey is conducing commerce with Russia more vigorously than with any western state, Turkey is buying missile defence systems from Russia and not NATO and Turkey has strongly condemned the latest round of anti-Russian sanctions from the west in a statement filled with words designed to show solidarity with Moscow’s position. Turkey’s position on the Qatar-crisis further puts Ankara in a position which is slightly closer to Iran and much further from that of the United States as President Trump has openly taken the Saudi position in spite of official US neutrality on the matter.

Turkey has in this sense, turned 180 degrees since 2015 when Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet over the Syria-Turkey border. The situation may well have led to a 21st century Russo-Turkish war, but due to President Vladimir Putin’s supreme patience, Turkey and Russia reconciled their relations which continue to grow. Some may point to the 2015 shooting down of the Russian fighter jet and the political fallout resulting from the event as a sign of Turkey’s unreliability as a Russian partner. There may be some truth to this. However, what seems more important is that while Turkey’s aggressive stance towards Russia in 2015 was born out of ambition and supreme arrogance, today’s revised Turkish position is born out of not only pragmatism but the long, some would say very long term needs of the Turkish state.

Finally, some are speculating that Turkey’s move to withdraw support for Syria’s anti-government forces is designed to pave the way for eventual reconciliation with the Syrian government. The Syrian government and moreover many Syrian civilians will not be quick to forgive Turkey for a role in the Syrian conflict viewed as destructive. Because it is now a certainty that the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party will remain in power in Damascus, Turkey will likely eventually have to engage in a thaw with the Syrian government simply because Syria is a neighbour to Turkey, but this road may be long.

In this respect, a lot depends on the Kurds. Once the last vestiges of terrorist fighters are defeated in Syria, whether the Kurds take a cooperative political approach or a hostile approach to the Syrian government will be a key factor in determining Syria-Turkish relations. Should the Kurds grow increasingly hostile to the Syrian government, Damascus may forge some sort of unspoken pact with Turkey to contain what would be a mutual enemy.

Overall though, the move from Turkey is more geo-strategic than it is regionally motivated. The clear winner in this is President Putin. His style of diplomacy which has been patient with Turkey’s frivolity in Syria for years seems to have finally paid off. Turkey is now closer to leaving NATO than one could have ever imagined. In many ways, Turkey has already left NATO in all but name. Russia’s historic nemesis is no longer a problem for Russia, but it may become a big problem for the United States.

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Harry
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Harry

They’re actually terminating the petrodollar-jihadi contracts. Without NATO aid, there wouldn’t be any anti-government terrorism in Syria.

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

ISIS is already moving by Saudi largess to Malaysia and the Philippines.

Simon
Guest
Simon

In Nov/Dec 2012 the Arab League, Turkey and the main NATO aggressors all recognised this Syrian National Coalition as the “sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people”. They still do. Though Macron has also been mulling the idea of reopening the French Embassy in Damascus. So when they claimed repeatedly that “Assad has lost legitimacy” – they were sort of right, purely from their own States’ official point of view. It was another fig leaf for their illegal interventions. However this must mean that Turkey now recognises the Assad Government of the SAR once again as the sole legitimate representative… Read more »

Daisy Adler
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Daisy Adler

It is called “realpolitik”. Turkey concluded that their alliance with US/NATO/Saudi axis for regime change in Syria had failed, and whistles the end of the match. US can go back home, but Syria remains Turkey’s neighbor. Besides, the two countries have a common interest, against Syria partition, wanted by Washington.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

I would say that EVERYONE has a common interest against the Anglo-Zionist empire.

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

Yes, we’re going to die by the billions because of the manipulations of the ruling vampires of the Anglo-Zionist empire that have locked massive climatic and geological changes.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Before reading the article I posted it on, and said “Turkey has ‘de facto’ left NATO.
Then Adam Garrie confirmed my conclusion.
A am rather chuffed.
A very good day for the multi-polar project.

Shahna
Guest

It’s not in Turkey’s interests to leave NATO.
As a member of NATO – other NATO nations can’t attack or invade them… how would NATO members both attack AND defend a member nation at the same time?
….That would force the break-up of NATO and NATO exists to defend the USA.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

NATO already is in the process of breaking up.

Shahna
Guest

But until it does Chapter V is still there.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

It’s very much part of their breaking up. Europeans do not allow their troops to be used in American war crimes around the globe, which is what NATO has become. Chapter V is a crock that no one buys.

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Never say “can’t.” All that is changing as the Anglo-Zionist Empire enters its death-throes.

Shahna
Guest

Not even the USA can have its cake and eat it.
NATO can’t attack and defend a member state at the same time.

GeorgeG
Guest
GeorgeG

As with all tips of icebergs, what is below the tip is not what everyone initialy focussed on, but when the tip comes into sight, it means that the mass of the iceberg beneath has been growing and has reached a new degree of maturity. This is therefore a good indication of the momentum and maturity of the OBOR initiative. It is no longer a “long-erm prospect.” My guess would be that Erdogan is not only calculating that his “opposition” against the Syrian government wil not succeed, but that OBOR is unstoppable. He has to count on concrete results, and… Read more »

Shahna
Guest

Excellent comment, thank you….
May I suggest you hit Edit and press Enter here and there to paragraph it?
It makes it infinitely more readable and, I think, more will read it – ‘cos such a large mass of words is kinda ….. off-putting and it’s well worth the read…..

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

“seeding Israel with massive hydraulic projects to reroute water into the Dead Sea where massive desalination plants will be built, providing water to both Israel and Palestine, with gigantic power plants in the package.” That sounds like dreaming to me. Route water into the Dead Sea already shrunken and more brackish than ever? How will the neighbors of the Zionist state ever be agreeable? Do you expect the Zionist apartheid state to share any water with the Palestinians? So far, all they’ve done is stolen it. Also, severe desertification all around the Middle East is already locked in by climate… Read more »

Shahna
Guest

I was wondering about both those points too… Perhaps sufficient water in the Dead Sea would clean out much of the brack – dunno – but this is China and not the US creating a project that ultimately will only rob Peter to pay Paul (or rob Ahmed to pay Uncle Sam in their case.) Re your second point: US influence in the ME is declining – when it goes the way of it’s paymaster (“just print more”) British and French influence will go with it. Israel will then HAVE to come to terms with both its neighbours AND its… Read more »

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

My concern is that none of them will be able to survive. Imagine the Negev expanding to cover the whole region.

Shahna
Guest

I hear you – but this is CHINA – not some Western/American/European bunch of megacorps only out to squeeze as much money from investors as they can and drop everything after 20 years of cost increases.

If Libya can build the Great Man-Made River project – then China can bring water to the Dead Sea.

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

You could research how China is handling its own rapidly decreasing water resources.

Libya was a special case, and aquifers don’t last forever. Saudi Arabia has almost exhausted theirs growing wheat. Wells are going dry. Eventually, the oligarchs will flee, and the common people will die horribly.

Shahna
Guest

Nothing lasts forever – even the earth will dry to dust one day.

But if it works – good –
if it lasts for 20 years – that’s 20 years people get water
And if it doesn’t – China’s problem.

I’m not sure what your gripe is?

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

So now I have to have a gripe? Why? Am I required to dodge reality?

Shahna
Guest

And Libya was only a “special case” because it was that crazy guy from Africa-FFS who lived in a tent and wore funny clothes!

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

Sorry, I thought it was obvious that I was talking geologically.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

Desalination of water from the Dead Sea is extremely unlikely…..
Brackish water has more salinity than fresh water but not as much as sea water.
So how the Dead Sea with a much higher salt content than normal sea water could have become brackish is not possible.
You may be confused with the diversion of the Jordan River.

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

You need to re-read my comment and the one I was replying to. It’s not my confusion. It’s my guess that the Dead Sea is already more brackish than the waste water generated by the osmosis process on normal sea water.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

You do not understand the meaning of brackish

⁣Sent from BlueMail ​

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

Okay, I misused brackish. But that’s the only point you’ve made.

https://www.livescience.com/56047-why-is-dead-sea-so-salty.html

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

The rerouting of the Jordan River is what has caused the Dead Sea to recede….and is causing a disaster which seems to be affecting all groundwater in the area…George is blowing smoke when he believes that desalination plants will be built THERE for the purpose of presumably producing water for irrigation or personal use in both Israel and Palestine. .
So you are right in that respect. But water that has 6 times the amount of salt than seawater is not likely to be desalinized for any public use. Desalination of seawater is very common….

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

Thank you for agreeing with me.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

You’re welcome :-))

kemerd
Guest
kemerd

This is wishfull thinking. US holds Erdogan from the balls and significantly turkish elites of every kind are pro US. when the US needs Turkey and asks something erdogan is more than willing to say how high

Simon
Guest
Simon

Surely that’s why he had his purges? 10,000s of ‘elites’ arrested or sacked. And the fear of God (or rather, the Sultan) put in many many more.
Turkey could well be the first country to break from NATO for real.

Shahna
Guest

I’m not sure there are many Turkish elites who support the ‘wrong’ side left – the way that guy has been running around purging places…… exhausting just watching him.

lickeyleaks
Guest
lickeyleaks

I was hoping to see this on Al Jazerra english news like they shew the 7 white helmets dead last night,but they were on about Virginia riots ect and nazism and now its been knocked offline!!

stevek9
Guest
stevek9

“A problem for the United States” … no. A problem for the ‘war party’ sure. You keep conflating what is best for Lockheed Martin with what is best for the American people. That is hardly true. The US has no enemies, and no need for an empire, or military alliances. Although it is often pointed out that oil is a primary reason for empire, uranium can eliminate the need for oil if there is a will to do it. Would take 20 or 30 years, but that is all. The United States is a continent-sized country that has everything it… Read more »

tjoes
Guest
tjoes

The middle east de-stabilization has been according to the Oded Yinon plan…forcing Jewish refugees to flee to Israel. In 2015 there were 50,000 more Jewish refugee applications to go to Israel than the year before, so it’s clearly worked (is working).

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

What color are they? Bibi’s regime only wants white ones. If they are Russian, they don’t have to be Jewish. They can learn while serving in the army.

Suzanne Giraud
Guest
Suzanne Giraud

I agree, stevek9, that it is not the American people per se.
Here’s a video of ex-Congresswoman, Ms. Cynthia McKinney “This video explains how the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) continued mandatory demands that all U.S. Congressional
Representatives pledge:

that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, to Israel’s military superiority and that they vote for funding of Israel.”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhYaioyGAYk

TecumsehUnfaced
Guest
TecumsehUnfaced

I hope she makes the ZioCon thugs pay for financing her out of office.

Shahna
Guest

WHEN the American people PROTEST the endless wars, destruction of nations and daily mass murder their nation deals out daily and has dealt out daily for years now …. THEN… I will distinguish between the American people and the cünts THEY ELECT to office.

samo war
Guest
samo war

games devills guns loby ?

JDo
Guest
JDo

Oooops …..White House says Russia increasingly isolated over Syria

https://www.yahoo.com/news/white-house-says-russia-increasingly-isolated-over-syria-185224406.html

Shahna
Guest

…I can’t think of a better reward for the nation that orchestrated that ‘Gulen’ coup in Turkey.

gbardizbanian
Guest
gbardizbanian

My message to Putin and Trump will be short: never trust Turkey.

Constantine
Guest
Constantine

The honesty of Turkey’s alleged shift will be tested when the inevitable offensive against the jihadist enclave in Idlib starts. If Turkey has truly decided to stop aiding the jihadists, that must be shown through a swift deterioration of their capacities due to lack of supplies, since all of them come from Erdogan’s turf.

Latest

President Putin signs law blocking fake news, but the West makes more

Western media slams President Putin and his fake news law, accusing him of censorship, but an actual look at the law reveals some wisdom.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The TASS Russian News Agency reported on March 18th that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on a new law intended to block distorted or untrue information being reported as news. Promptly after he did so, Western news organizations began their attempt to “spin” this event as some sort of proof of “state censorship” in the oppressive sense of the old Soviet Union. In other words, a law designed to prevent fake news was used to create more fake news.

One of the lead publications is a news site that is itself ostensibly a “fake news” site. The Moscow Times tries to portray itself as a Russian publication that is conducted from within Russian borders. However, this site and paper is really a Western publication, run by a Dutch foundation located in the Netherlands. As such, the paper and the website associated have a distinctly pro-West slant in their reporting. Even Wikipedia noted this with this comment from their entry about the publication:

In the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis, The Moscow Times was criticized by a number of journalists including Izvestia columnist Israel Shamir, who in December 2014 called it a “militant anti-Putin paper, a digest of the Western press with extreme bias in covering events in Russia”.[3] In October 2014 The Moscow Times made the decision to suspend online comments after an increase in offensive comments. The paper said it disabled comments for two reasons—it was an inconvenience for its readers as well as being a legal liability, because under Russian law websites are liable for all content, including user-generated content like comments.[14]

This bias is still notably present in what is left of the publication, which is now an online-only news source. This is some of what The Moscow Times had to say about the new fake news legislation:

The bills amending existing information laws overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Russian parliament in less than two months. Observers and some lawmakers have criticized the legislation for its vague language and potential to stifle free speech.

The legislation will establish punishments for spreading information that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.”

Insulting state symbols and the authorities, including Putin, will carry a fine of up to 300,000 rubles and 15 days in jail for repeat offenses.

As is the case with other Russian laws, the fines are calculated based on whether the offender is a citizen, an official or a legal entity.

More than 100 journalists and public figures, including human rights activist Zoya Svetova and popular writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, signed a petition opposing the laws, which they labeled “direct censorship.”

This piece does give a bit of explanation from Dmitry Peskov, showing that European countries also have strict laws governing fake news distribution. However, the Times made the point of pointing out the idea of “insulting governmental bodies of Russia… including Putin” to bolster their claim that this law amounts to real censorship of the press. It developed its point of view based on a very short article from Reuters which says even less about the legislation and how it works.

However, TASS goes into rather exhaustive detail about this law, and it also gives rather precise wording on the reason for the law’s passage, as well as how it is to be enforced. We include most of this text here, with emphases added:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law on blocking untrue and distorting information (fake news). The document was posted on the government’s legal information web portal.

The document supplements the list of information, the access to which may be restricted on the demand by Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies. In particular, it imposes a ban on “untrue publicly significant information disseminated in the media and in the Internet under the guise of true reports, which creates a threat to the life and (or) the health of citizens, property, a threat of the mass violation of public order and (or) public security, or the threat of impeding or halting the functioning of vital infrastructural facilities, transport or social infrastructure, credit institutions, energy, industrial or communications facilities.”

Pursuant to the document, in case of finding such materials in Internet resources registered in accordance with the Russian law on the mass media as an online media resource, Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies will request the media watchdog Roskomnadzor to restrict access to the corresponding websites.

Based on this request, Roskomnadzor will immediately notify the editorial board of the online media resource, which is in violation of the legislation, about the need to remove untrue information and the media resource will be required to delete such materials immediately. If the editorial board fails to take the necessary measures, Roskomnadzor will send communications operators “a demand to take measures to restrict access to the online resource.”

In case of deleting such untrue information, the website owner will notify Roskomnadzor thereof, following which the media watchdog will “hold a check into the authenticity of this notice” and immediately inform the communications operator about the resumption of the access to the information resource.
The conditions for the law are very specific, as are the penalties for breaking it. TASS continued:

Liability for breaching the law

Simultaneously, the Federation Council approved the associated law with amendments to Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences, which stipulates liability in the form of penalties of up to 1.5 million rubles (around $23,000) for the spread of untrue and distorting information.

The Code’s new article, “The Abuse of the Freedom of Mass Information,” stipulates liability for disseminating “deliberately untrue publicly significant information” in the media or in the Internet. The penalty will range from 30,000 rubles ($450) to 100,000 rubles ($1,520) for citizens, from 60,000 rubles ($915) to 200,000 rubles ($3,040) for officials and from 200,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles ($7,620) for corporate entities with the possible confiscation of the subject of the administrative offence.

Another element of offence imposes tighter liability for the cases when the publication of false publicly significant information has resulted in the deaths of people, has caused damage to the health or property, prompted the mass violation of public order and security or has caused disruption to the functioning of transport or social infrastructure facilities, communications, energy and industrial facilities and banks. In such instances, the fines will range from 300,000 rubles to 400,000 rubles ($6,090) for citizens, from 600,000 rubles to 900,000 rubles ($13,720) for officials, and from 1 million rubles to 1.5 million rubles for corporate entities.

While this legislation can be spun (and is) in the West as anti-free speech, one may also consider the damage that has taken place in the American government through a relentless attack of fake news from most US news outlets against President Trump. One of the most notable effects of this barrage has been to further degrade and destroy the US’ relationship with the Russian Federation, because even the Helsinki Summit was attacked so badly that the two leaders have not been able to get a second summit together.

While it is certainly a valued right of the American press to be unfettered by Congress, and while it is also certainly vital to criticize improper practices by government officials, the American news agencies have gone far past that, to deliberately dishonest attacks, based in innuendo and everything possible that was formerly only the province of gossip tabloid publications. The effort has been to defame the President, not to give proper or due criticism to his policies, nor credit. It can be properly stated that the American press has abused its freedom of late.

This level of abuse drew a very unusual comment from the US president, who wondered on Twitter about the possibility of creating a state-run media center in the US to counter fake news:

Politically correct for US audiences? No. But an astute point?

Definitely.

Freedom in anything also presumes that those with that freedom respect it, and further, that they respect and apply the principle that slandering people and institutions for one’s own personal, business or political gain is wrong. Implied in the US Constitution’s protection of the press is the notion that the press itself, as the rest of the country, is accountable to a much Higher Authority than the State. But when that Authority is rejected, as so much present evidence suggests, then freedom becomes the freedom to misbehave and to agitate. It appears largely within this context that the Russian law exists, based on the text given.

Further, by hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook, rather than prison sentences, the law appears to be very smart in its message: “Do not lie. If you do, you will suffer where it counts most.”

Considering that news media’s purpose is to make money, this may actually be a very smart piece of legislation.

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ABC’s Ted Koppel admits mainstream media bias against Trump [Video]

The mainstream news media has traded informing the public for indoctrinating them, but the change got called out by an “old-school” journo.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News reported on March 19th that one of America’s most well-known TV news anchors, Ted Koppel, noted that the once-great media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post, have indeed traded journalistic excellence for hit pieces for political purposes. While political opinions in the mainstream press are certainly within the purview of any publication, this sort of writing can hardly be classified as “news” but as “Opinion” or more widely known, “Op-Ed.”

We have two videos on this. The first is the original clip showing the full statement that Mr. Koppel gave. It is illuminating, to say the least:

Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume, a former colleague of Mr. Koppel, added their comments on this admission in this second short video piece, shown here.

There are probably a number of people who have watched this two-year onslaught of slander and wondered why there cannot be a law preventing this sort of misleading reporting. Well, Russia passed a law to stop it, hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook. It is a smart law because it does not advocate imprisonment for bad actors in the media, but it does fine them.

Going to prison for reporting “the truth” looks very noble. Having to pay out of pocket for it is not so exciting.

Newsmax and Louder with Crowder both reported on this as well.

This situation of dishonest media has led to an astonishing 77% distrust rating among Americans of their news media, this statistic being reported by Politico in 2018. This represents a nearly diametric reversal in trust from the 72% trust rating the country’s news viewers gave their news outlets in 1972. These statistics come from Gallup polls taken through the years.

 

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Empire Of Absurdity: Recycled Neocons, Recycled Enemies

Despite America’s military threats, bellicose speechifying, brutal sanctions, and Cold War-style conflict-framing, the incumbent Maduro seems firmly in control. 

Antiwar

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Authored by Major Danny Sjursen (ret.) via AntiWar.com:


There are times when I wish that the United States would just drop the charade and declare itself a global empire.

As a veteran of two imperial wars, a witness to the dark underside of America’s empire-denial, I’ve grown tired of the equivocation and denials from senior policymakers. The U.S. can’t be an empire, we’re told, because – unlike the Brits and Romans – America doesn’t annex territories outright, and our school children don’t color its colonies in red-white-and-blue on cute educational maps.

But this distinction, at root, is rather superficial. Conquest, colonization, and annexation are so 19th century – Washington has moved beyond the overt and engages in the (not-so) subtle modern form of imperialism. America’s empire over the last two decades – under Democrats and Republicans – has used a range of tools: economic, military, political, to topple regimes, instigate coups, and starve “enemy” civilians. Heck, it didn’t even start with 9/11 – bullying foreigners and overturning uncooperative regimes is as American as apple pie.

Still, observing post-9/11, post-Iraq/Afghanistan defeat, Washington play imperialism these days is tragicomically absurd. The emperor has no clothes, folks. Sure, America (for a few more fleeting years) boasts the world’s dominant economy, sure its dotted the globe with a few hundred military bases, and sure it’s military still outspends the next seven competitors combined. Nonetheless, what’s remarkable, what constitutes the real story of 2019, is this: the US empire can’t seem to accomplish anything anymore, can’t seem to bend anybody to its will. It’s almost sad to watch. America, the big-hulking has-been on the block, still struts its stuff, but most of the world simply ignores it.

Make no mistake, Washington isn’t done trying; it’s happy to keep throwing good money (and blood) at bad: to the tune of a cool $6 trillion, 7,000 troop deaths, and 500,000 foreign deaths – including maybe 240,000 civilians. But what’s it all been for? The world is no safer, global terror attacks have only increased, and Uncle Sam just can’t seem to achieve any of its preferred policy goals.

Think on it for a second: Russia and Iran “won” in Syria; the Taliban and Pakistan are about ready to “win” in Afghanistan; Iran is more influential than ever in Iraq; the Houthis won’t quit in Yemen; Moscow is keeping Crimea; Libya remains unstable; North Korea ain’t giving up its nukes; and China’s power continues to grow in its version of the Caribbean – the South China Sea. No amount of American cash, no volume of our soldiers’ blood, no escalation in drone strikes or the conventional bombing of brown folks, has favorably changed the calculus in any of these regional conflicts.

What does this tell us? Quite a lot, I’d argue – but not what the neoliberal/neoconservative alliance of pundits and policymakers are selling. See for these unrepentant militarists the problem is always the same: Washington didn’t use enough force, didn’t spend enough blood and treasure. So is the solution: more defense spending, more CIA operations, more saber-rattling, and more global military interventions.

No, the inconvenient truth is as simple as it is disturbing to red-blooded patriots. To wit, the United States – or any wannabe hegemon – simply doesn’t possess the capability to shape the world in its own image. See those pesky locals – Arabs, Asians, Muslims, Slavs – don’t know what’s good for them, don’t understand that (obviously) there is a secret American zipped inside each of their very bodies, ready to burst out if given a little push!

It turns out that low-tech, cheap insurgent tactics, when combined with impassioned nationalism, can bog down the “world’s best military” indefinitely. It seems, too, that other regional heavyweights – Russia, China, Iran, North Korea – stand ready to call America’s nuclear bluff. That they know the US all-volunteer military and consumerist economy can’t ultimately absorb the potential losses a conventional war would demand. Even scarier for the military-industrial-congressional-media establishment is the logical extension of all this accumulated failure: the questionable efficacy of military force in the 21st century.

Rather than recognize the limits of American military, economic, and political power, Bush II, Obama, and now Trump, have simply dusted off the old playbook. It’s reached the level of absurdity under the unhinged regime of Mr. Trump. Proverbially blasting Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” as its foreign policy soundtrack, the Donald and company have doubled down. Heck, if Washington can’t get its way in Africa, Europe, Asia, or the Mideast, well why not clamp down in our own hemisphere, our traditional sphere of influence – South and Central America.

Enter the lunacy of the current Venezuela controversy. Trump’s team saw a golden opportunity in this socialist, backwater petrostate. Surely here, in nearby Monroe Doctrine country, Uncle Sam could get his way, topple the Maduro regime, and coronate the insurgent (though questionably legitimate) Juan Guaido. It’s early 20th century Yankee imperialism reborn. Everything seemed perfect. Trump could recall the specter of America’s tried and true enemy – “evil” socialism – cynically (and absurdly) equating Venezuelan populism with some absurd Cold-War-era existential threat to the nation. The idea that Venezuela presents a challenge on the scale of Soviet Russia is actually farcical. What’s more, and this is my favorite bit of irrationality, we were all recently treated to a game of “I know you are but what am I?” from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who (with a straight face) claimed Cuba, tiny island Cuba, was the real “imperialist” in Venezuela.

Next, in a move reminiscent of some sort of macabre 1980’s theme party, Trump resuscitated Elliot Abrams – you know, the convicted felon of Iran-Contra infamy, to serve as Washington’s special envoy to embattled Venezuela. Who better to act as “fair arbiter” in that country than a war-criminal with the blood of a few hundred thousand Central Americans (remember the Contras?!?) on his hands back in the the good old (Reagan) days.

Despite all this: America’s military threats, bellicose speechifying, brutal sanctions, and Cold War-style conflict-framing, the incumbent Maduro seems firmly in control. This isn’t to say that Venezuelans don’t have genuine grievances with the Maduro government (they do), but for now at least, it appears the military is staying loyal to the president, Russia/China are filling in the humanitarian aid gaps, and Uncle Sam is about to chalk up another loss on the world scene. Ultimately, whatever the outcome, the crisis will only end with a Venezuelan solution.

America’s impotence would almost be sad to watch, if, and only if, it wasn’t all so tragic for the Venezuelan people.

So Trump and his recycled neocons will continue to rant and rave and threaten Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba, and so on and so forth. America will still flex its aging, sagging muscles – a reflexive habit at this point.

Only now it’ll seem sad. Because no one is paying attention anymore.

The opposite of love is isn’t hate – it’s indifference.

*  *  *

Danny Sjursen is a retired US Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.comHe served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

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