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Donald Trump should veto the new sanctions bill

Donald Trump is damned to lose allies in the US and beyond if he does not veto the sanctions bill and he is damned to that which already plagues him if he uses his veto. A simply cost-benefit analysis would indicate he would be better off using his veto.

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On the evening of 25 July, 2017, the US House of Representitives which is dominated by ‘Trump’s Republican party’, passed a bill which will cause POTUS a great deal of headache irrespective of his final decision in respect of signing or vetoing the legislation.

Passed with a majority of 419-3, the new law would tie the hands of not only Trump but future Presidents.  Beyond this, the bill’s content was opposed by America’s most influential companies as well as the European Union. Normally, such an ill-thought out bill which did not account for the views of the business sector, America’s European partners and the US Constitution would be an easy veto for a President trying to build bridges, but due to the atmosphere which the mainstream media as well as Trump’s political opponents have created, Trump now faces a difficult decision that will earn him criticism no matter what he does.

READ MORE: Ron Paul, US businesses and European states all oppose new sanctions on Russia

That being said, it is still in Trump’s long term interests to veto the legislation. Here are the key points.

1. The legislation interferes with Constitutionally derived executive power 

The current legislation seeks not only to impose sanctions that have been proposed by Congress rather than the Executive, but the bill would force Trump and ostensibly any successor in the White House to go through Congress in order to repeal the sanctions.

As The Duran’s Alexander Mercouris wrote,

“Whilst the US constitution does not define the President’s power to conduct foreign policy precisely (a good discussion of the issue can be found here) I personally have no doubt this law crosses the line, and infringes on the President’s constitutional right to conduct foreign policy in the best interests as he judges it of the United States.  Indeed, as I have said, that is the actual intention of the law”.

In this sense, the legislation grants the Legislature powers which are generally a prerogative of the Executive branch. Indeed, Barack Obama’s endless stream of sanctions did not derive from Capitol Hill but from his Oval Office.

One thing that both Trump and Obama have in common is a penchant for using executive orders to accomplish key elements of policy making. In this sense, it would be entirely reasonable to surmise that on this basis, Obama would have vetoed similar legislation on these technical grounds. Trump ought to say this and say it publicly.

Because the bill involves Russian sanctions, of course any veto Trump employs whether a full-veto or a line item veto, will result in the mainstream media and political opponents in Washington criticising Trump as some sort of ‘Russian puppet’, but the msm and his opponents are largely doing this anyway.

By not vetoing the legislation, he will not win new friends but he will make new enemies and important once at that.

2. Losing Europe 

Under Barack Obama, the US lost a great deal of global influence in The Middle East, Eurasia, Latin America and South East Asia. The one place where America still has friends after the Obama years is in Europe. Unlike Obama who always remained popular in major EU states and in Brussels itself, for mainly stylistic reasons, Trump has often had a shaky relationship with key European leaders like Angela Merkel.

But as his recent trip to Poland demonstrated, the Poles who are among the most Russophobic nation in the world, welcomed Trump as one of their own. Clearly, a country that is irrational enough to believe Russia might invade Europe is still sensible enough to realise that Donald Trump isn’t a secret Russian in any case.

Likewise, even though Merkel and Trump didn’t start off on the best foot, it seems that French President Emmanuel Macron has become keen to cultivate a good relationship with Trump. Trump attended Bastille Day celebrations in Paris at Macron’s invitation during which both men agreed that trying to remove the legitimate government of Syria should not be a political or military goal of France or the US and by extrapolation, all of NATO.

Just about every EU nation, including France opposes the new sanctions. Europe hasn’t suddenly become ‘pro-Russia’ but Europe does business with Russia in spite of previous sanctions, this is particularly true in the energy sector.

The current crop of sanctions effectively disallow European companies from doing the business they have done for years with Russian conglomerates. Europe has voiced its opposition to the US moves in the strongest possible manner, ranging from written condemnation deriving from individual nation states, to a strongly worded pledge to retaliate against the US from the European Union should the sanctions become US law.

Furthermore, many companies in Europe and indeed some European states, do not harbour the same paranoia about Iran that the US does. The sanctions which would target Russia as well as Iran and North Korea may prove harmful to EU countries that do not share US zeal when it comes to Iran or North Korea.

The French energy giant Total just signed a $4.9 billion deal with Iran for gas cultivation in the Persian Gulf. Should the anti-Iran sanctions which are in the bill interfere with this, many in France would be deeply angry.

If the US and Europe have this kind of unnecessary schism, America’s close allies might be reduced to Japan, an increasingly anti-militant South Korea, an increasingly dysfunctional Saudi Arabia and an increasingly aggressive Israel. Can America really afford to lose Europe over a domestic crusade against anything Russian? The clear answer is no.

3. Bad for US business

America’s leading companies have come out strongly condemning the new legislation for many of the same reasons European companies have. These companies include, BP, ExxonMobil, General Electric, Boeing and Citigroup, MasterCard, Visa, Ford, Dow Chemical, Procter & Gamble, International Paper, Caterpillar, and Cummins.

Donald Trump campaigned saying he would be the friend of both the American worker and American businesses. With America’s biggest companies who are also major employers coming out against the sanctions, many people from the factory floor to the boardroom will feel deeply betrayed by a man whose own career was in the private sector for most of his life. In this sense Trump owes more to the wider business community than to the Republican party with whom he hasn’t been long associated with.

If the Republican party which is ostensibly pro-business cannot listen to the interests of major US companies, Donald Trump ought to do so.

4. The decision for Trump 

If Donald Trump vetoes the bill, of course he will be accused of being ‘pro-Russia’, though he will hardly be accused of being pro-Iran or pro-North Korea, even though the legislation targets all three countries.

The fact is that the Trump-Russia narrative is not going to be dropped by the Democrats, neo-cons or MSM in any case. There is little else Trump can do to fight the ‘Russia myth’ apart from surrounding himself with an apt legal team to pick apart the ugly rumours as well as to continue to fight the MSM and his opponents on Twitter in a manner that exposes their pomposity to the general public.

The passage of this kind of bill so early into Trump’s Presidency is proof positive that Trump does not have many allies in the Republican party. The fact that on the same day, a Senate with a slim Republican majority needed to reply on the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence, on top of the vote of an ailing John McCain (who on foreign policy matters is no friend of Trump in any case) in order to begin the debate to repeal and replace Obamacare, is further proof that Donald Trump is in many respects an independent President who is merely associated with the Republican party out of what was thought to be a relationship of convenience. This is hardly the case any more, the Republicans are publicly ungrateful for their Congressional victories achieved largely because of their association with a popular and charismatic Presidential candidate and Donald Trump is still Donald Trump, the outsider who doesn’t seem to want to ‘join the club’, certainly not in terms of style and in many ways, also in terms of substance.

The Republican party is no more Trump’s than the Democratic party is in many ways. He ought to realise this and use his veto not to please Russia but to please his own supporters. The fact that Russia has condemned the move, at a time when the US and Russia are at long last cooperating in south western Syria. ought to simply add one more layer of motivation for Trump to do the only thing that makes sense in terms of the wider world beyond the D.C. bubble:  Trump should veto the bill with the same tenacity with which he used to say “you’re fired” on The Apprentice.

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Why did Trump recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory?

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 116.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the reasons behind US President Trump’s sudden recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Following Trump’s statements as US President, acting Israeli Foreign Minister is saying that Trump will make it official and sign an executive order to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Syrian border territory on Monday.

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Via DW

Israel says White House officials are preparing an official document to codify support for Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights, which will be signed by US President Donald Trump on Monday.

The signing of the decree will be witnessed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during talks with Trump at the White House, Israel’s acting foreign minister, Israel Katz (pictured), said in a Tweet.

“Tomorrow, President Trump, in the presence of PM Netanyahu, will sign a decree recognizing Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan. Israel-US ties are closer than ever,” Katz said.

Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war, subsequently annexing it in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community.

Trump’s tweet annoys allies

Trump broke with decades of US Middle East policy when he posted a Tweet on Thursday that said it was time to accept Israel’s widely-contested claim to the border territory.

The decision has been criticized by many US allies — Germany, Britain, France and the EU have all said they still consider the Golan Heights to be “occupied” by Israel.

Syria and other states in the region said the recognition, if confirmed, would violate international law.

Netanyahu has long pushed for Washington’s endorsement, and many analysts see Trump’s comments as a campaign gift ahead of Israel’s April 9 election.

In 2017, Trump drew condemnation throughout the Middle East when he recognized the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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Russia Gives US Red Line On Venezuela

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

Moscow’s interlocutor, Sergei Ryabkov, is known to not mince his words, having earlier castigated Washington for seeking global military domination. He calls a spade a spade, and presumably a criminal a criminal.

The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia.

The fact that Washington’s efforts to overthrow the elected President Nicolas Maduro have so far floundered, might suggest that the Americans are intensifying their campaign to destabilize the country, with the objective of installing US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido. He declared himself “acting president” in January with Washington’s imprimatur.

Given that the nationwide power blackouts seem to have failed in fomenting a revolt by the civilian population or the military against Maduro, the next option tempting Washington could be the military one.

It seems significant that Washington has recently evacuated its last remaining diplomats from the South American country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the evacuation by saying that having US personnel on the ground “was limiting” Washington’s scope for action. Also, American Airlines reportedly cancelled all its services to Venezuela in the past week. Again, suggesting that the US was considering a military intervention, either directly with its troops or covertly by weaponizing local proxies. The latter certainly falls under Abrams’ purview.

After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly: “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.

For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand. “No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.

“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

The arrogance of the Americans is staggering. Abrams seems, according to US reporting, to have flown to Rome with the expectation of working out with Ryabkov a “transition” or “compromise” on who gets the “title of president” of Venezuela.

That’s what he no doubt meant when he said after the meeting “there was not a meeting of minds”, but rather he got “a better understanding” of Russia’s position.

Washington’s gambit is a replay of Syria. During the eight-year war in that country, the US continually proffered the demand of a “political transition” which at the end would see President Bashar al Assad standing down. By contrast, Russia’s unflinching position on Syria has always been that it’s not up to any external power to decide Syria’s politics. It is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people to determine independently.

Nearly three years after Russia intervened militarily in Syria to salvage the Arab country from a US-backed covert war for regime change, the American side has manifestly given up on its erstwhile imperious demands for “political transition”. The principle of Syrian sovereignty has prevailed, in large part because of Russia’s trenchant defense of its Arab ally.

Likewise, Washington, in its incorrigible arrogance, is getting another lesson from Russia – this time in its own presumed “back yard” of Latin America.

It’s not a question of Russia being inveigled by Washington’s regime-change schemers about who should be president of Venezuela and “how we can manage a transition”. Moscow has reiterated countless times that the legitimate president of Venezuela is Nicolas Maduro whom the people voted for last year by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair election – albeit boycotted by the US-orchestrated opposition.

The framework Washington is attempting to set up of choosing between their desired “interim president” and incumbent Maduro is an entirely spurious one. It is not even worthy to be discussed because it is a gross violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Who is Washington to even dare try to impose its false choice?

On Venezuela, Russia is having to remind the criminal American rulers – again – about international law and respect for national sovereignty, as Moscow earlier did with regard to Syria.

And in case Washington gets into a huff and tries the military option, Moscow this week told regime-change henchman Abrams that that’s a red line. If Washington has any sense of rationale left, it will know from its Syria fiasco that Russia has Venezuela’s back covered.

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

Now, the desperate Americans could still try more sabotage, cyber or financial. But their options are limited, contrary to what Trump thinks.

How the days of American imperialist swagger are numbered. There was a time when it could rampage all over Latin America. Not any more, evidently. Thanks in part to Russia’s global standing and military power.

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With RussiaGate Over Where’s Hillary?

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain. She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


During most of the RussiaGate investigation against Donald Trump I kept saying that all roads lead to Hillary Clinton.

Anyone with three working brain cells knew this, including ‘Miss’ Maddow, whose tears of disappointment are particularly delicious.

Robert Mueller’s investigation was designed from the beginning to create something out of nothing. It did this admirably.

It was so effective it paralyzed the country for more than two years, just like Europe has been held hostage by Brexit. And all of this because, in the end, the elites I call The Davos Crowd refused to accept that the people no longer believed their lies about the benefits of their neoliberal, globalist agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the Presidency was to be their apotheosis along with the Brexit vote. These were meant to lay to rest, once and for all time, the vaguely libertarian notion that people should rule themselves and not be ruled by philosopher kings in some distant land.

Hillary’s failure was enormous. And the RussiaGate gambit to destroy Trump served a laundry list of purposes to cover it:

  1. Undermine his legitimacy before he even takes office.
  2. Accuse him of what Hillary actually did: collude with Russians and Ukrainians to effect the outcome of the election
  3. Paralyze Trump on his foreign policy desires to scale back the Empire
  4. Give aid and comfort to hurting progressives and radicalize them further undermining our political system
  5. Polarize the electorate over the false choice of Trump’s guilt.
  6. Paralyze the Dept. of Justice and Congress so that they would not uncover the massive corruption in the intelligence agencies in the U.S. and the U.K.
  7. Isolate Trump and take away every ally or potential ally he could have by turning them against him through prosecutor overreach.

Hillary should have been thrown to the wolves after she failed. When you fail the people she failed and cost them the money she cost them, you lose more than just your funding. What this tells you is that she has so much dirt on everyone involved, once this thing started everyone went along with it lest she burn them down as well.

Burnin’ Down da House

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain

She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

And she was willing to tear it down to keep him from having it no matter how much damage it would do. She’s worse than the Joker from The Dark Knight.

Because while the Joker is unfathomable to someone with a conscience there’s little stopping us from excising him from the community completely., even though Batman refuses.

Hillary hates us for who we are and what we won’t give her. And that animus drove her to blackmail the world while putting on the face of its savior.

And that’s what makes what comes next so obvious to me. RussiaGate was never a sustainable narrative. It was ludicrous from the beginning. And now that it has ended with a whimper there are a lot of angry, confused and scared people out there.

Mueller thought all he had to do was lean on corrupt people and threaten them with everything. They would turn on Trump. He would resign in disgrace from the public outcry.

It didn’t work. In the end Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone all held their ground or perjured themselves into the whole thing falling apart.

Andrew Weissman’s resignation last month was your tell there was nothing. Mueller would pursue this to the limit of his personal reputation and no further.

Just like so many other politicians.

Vote Your Pocketbook

With respect to Brexit I’ve been convinced that it would come down to reputations.

Would the British MP’s vote against their own personal best interests to do the bidding of the EU?

Would Theresa May eventually realize her historical reputation would be destroyed if she caves to Brussels and betrays Brexit in the end?

Always bet on the fecklessness of politicians. They will always act selfishly when put to the test. While leading RussiaGate, Mueller was always headed here if he couldn’t get someone to betray Trump.

And now his report is in. There are no new indictments. And by doing so he is saving his reputation for the future. And that is your biggest tell that HIllary’s blackmail is now worthless.

They don’t fear her anymore because RussiaGate outed her as the architect. Anything else she has is irrelevant in the face of trying to oust a sitting president from power.

The progressives that were convinced of Trump’s treason are bereft; their false hope stripped away like standing in front of a sandblaster. They will be raw, angry and looking for blood after they get over their denial.

Everyone else who was blackmailed into going along with this lunacy will begin cutting deals to save their skins. The outrage over this will not end. Trump will be President when he stands for re-election.

The Wolves Beckon

The Democrats do not have a chance against him as of right now. When he was caving on everything back in December it looked like he was done. That there was enough meat on the RussiaGate bones to make Nancy Pelosi brave.

Then she backed off on impeachment talk. Oops.

But the Democrats have a sincere problem. Their candidates have no solutions other than to embrace the crazy and go full Bolshevik. That is not a winning position.

Trump will kill them on ‘socialism.’

The Deep State and The Davos Crowd stand revealed and reviled.

If they don’t do something dramatic then the anger from the rest of the country will also be palpable come election time. Justice is not done simply by saying, “No evidence of collusion.”

It’s clear that RussiaGate is a failure of monumental proportions. Heads will have to roll. But who will be willing to fall on their sword at this point?

Comey? No. McCabe? No.

There is only one answer. And Obama’s people are still in place to protect him. I said last fall that “Hillary would indict herself.” And I meant it. Eventually her blackmail and drive to burn it all down led to this moment.

The circumstances are different than I expected back then, Trump didn’t win the mid-terms. But the end result was always the same. If there is no collusion, if RussiaGate is a scam, then all roads lead back to Hillary as the sacrificial lamb.

Because the bigger project, the erection of a transnational superstate, is bigger than any one person. Hillary is expendable.

Lies are expensive to maintain. The truth is cheap to defend. Think of the billions in opportunity costs associated with this. Once the costs rise above the benefits, change happens fast.

If there is any hope of salvaging the center of this country for the Democrats, the ones that voted against Hillary in 2016, then there is no reason anymore not to indict Hillary as the architect of RussiaGate.

We all know it’s the truth. So, the cheapest way out of this mess for them is to give the MAGApedes what they want, Hillary.

And hope that is enough bread and circuses to distract from the real storm ahead of us.

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