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Donald Trump’s team views Iran, not Russia, as major threat to US

All four of the persons selected by U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump for the top U.S. national-security posts are committed to replacing the outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama’s #1 military target, Russia, by a different #1 military target, Iran.

Eric Zuesse

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Published with the permission of the author. First appeared on strategic-culture.org

Saudi Arabia dominates above all other nations as a supplier of suicide bombers, and its royal family dominates as the world’s top financial backer of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups, but incoming President Donald Trump has chosen to lead his national-security team, only people who blame Iran and not Saudi Arabia, as being the main source of international terrorism.

Iran has long been the #1 military target in the view of Michael Flynn, the chosen Trump National Security Advisor; and of James Mattis, the chosen Trump Secretary of Defense; and of Dan Coats, the chosen Trump Director of National Intelligence; and of Mike Pompeo, the chosen CIA Director.

Coats’s appointment to become the DNI in Trump’s Administration is a clear indication that Trump intends to refocus American foreign policy away from Russia as being America’s #1 enemy, to Iran as being that.

Like Lt. General Michael Flynn, who will be Trump’s National Security Advisor; and like Marine General James Mattis, who has been selected to be the head of the Defense Department; and like the next CIA Director, Mike Pompeo; Dan Coats views Shiite Iran, and not ‘America’s ally’ (the rabidly anti-Iranian) Sunni Saudi Arabia, as being the source of 9/11 and other terrorist acts against the U.S. and Europe.

However, in fact, Al Qaeda is funded mainly by the Sunni-fundamentalist Saudi royal family. Al Qaeda is a fundamentalist Sunni armed force, and it condemns Shiites; it is hostile toward Iran, not in any way an extension of Iran. ISIS, too, is Sunni-fundamentalist, and kills Shia. And all four men have said that America should, at least at the start, try to work with Russia against such ‘terrorists’ (meaning mainly against Iran, which actually produces vastly fewer terrorists than America’s Sunni-fundamentalist ‘allies’ do).

Russia has long been allied with Iran, and could provide the U.S. government crucial help to conquer Iran. The idea is to persuade Russia to sell-out Iran, instead of for Trump’s foreign policy to start off by continuing to treat Russia as being America’s number-one enemy (such as U.S. President Barack Obama did despite Obama’s having famously mocked Romney’s «Russia, this is, without question, America’s number one geopolitical foe»).

This means that President Trump intends to make a deal with Russia’s President Putin, for Russia to separate from and isolate, and so allow America’s (and/or Israel’s) military to defeat, Iran. (Invasions, after all, can be extremely profitable, for some people.) Also, for Marine General James Mattis and the entire Marine Corps, who have long craved revenge against the Iranian-backed suicide-bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, conquering Iran would be a long-delayed sweet victory.

That terrorist act was against America’s support for Israel against Palestinians, which was one of the very few anti-Western jihadist acts that were Shiite-fundamentalist instead of Sunni-fundamentalist.

This foreign policy is based upon false assumptions, especially that terrorists are fundamentalist Shiites instead of fundamentalist Sunnis — such as they actually are. All of the 9/11 hijackers were fundamentalist Sunnis, and 15 of the 19 were Saudis. Virtually all Islamic terrorists except against Israel, are fundamentalist Sunnis. That’s just a fact — but one that the American aristocracy refuse to acknowledge publicly, because America’s aristocracy is allied with the Saudis and other Arabic, fundamentalist-Sunni, royal families: America’s ‘allies’ finance Al Qaeda and other such groups.

So, this is not a foreign policy that’s actually designed to overcome the terrorist threat against the United States (since jihadism doesn’t come from Iran but does come from America’s Arab ‘allies’), but it is a foreign policy that’s designed to continue the pretext for America’s overspending on the military (very profitable for the U.S. aristocracy). That, more than anything else, is what the U.S. aristocracy (who control the ‘defense’ firms such as Raytheon etc.) demand from their agents in the U.S. Congress and White House.

Even conquering Russia (in order to take its oil and gas etc.) isn’t as important to them as keeping the ‘defense’ (i.e., aggression) budget astronomically high. Obama’s method of meeting the aristocracy’s requirement was to boost strategic nuclear forces against Russia and to claim that he was doing it mainly against Iran and held no hostility against Russia. He lied in order to hide his plan — a plan in cooperation with the Gulf Arab countries and America’s vassal-states in Europe — to conquer Russia.

Here [with my comments in brackets] is from a speech that Senator Coats, the newly appointed DNI, delivered in the Senate on 17 November 2015:

* * *

We, the United States, need to show the world that threats to our principal freedoms are entirely unacceptable. Unfortunately, President Obama continues to fail to provide the American people with the leadership we so desperately need…

President Obama, in a shockingly dismissive tone, doubled down on his so-called strategy to deal with this global threat. What has his strategy to date accomplished? Well, ISIS [the most-fundamentalist of all Sunni sects] has expanded into more than half a dozen countries…

Time after time, the President has shown he simply doesn’t get it. In 2012, he boasted Al-Qaeda was on the path to defeat. In 2014, he dismissed the Islamic State as the «JV team», saying that ISIS «is not a direct threat to us nor something that we have to wade into». Last Thursday he said, «I don’t think [the Islamic State] is gaining strength» and saying «we have contained them». What will it take for this President to wake up and see what is happening around the world as a result of the ever-expanding threat of ISIS terrorism?..

I called for a diplomatic effort to persuade Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar [all three of which were actually allied with the U.S. in supporting Al Qaeda in Syria to overthrow and replace the Russia-allied Syria’s legitimate government, which is headed by the non-sectarian Shiite Bashar al-Assad], and other regions [all being Sunni] to join with us to resist more forcefully ISIS aggression.

Last year I called for much greater security assistance for our potential partners in the fight against ISIS… I said we also needed to find effective ways to support and directly arm the reliable, vetted Sunni tribes and Sunni leaders in Iraq who are essential partners in combatting ISIS extremism that ultimately are Sunni Islam’s greatest threat. 

[This is analogous to asserting that Dominionist fundamentalist Christians are ‘Christianity’s greatest threat’ — the greatest threat to Christianity. One might as well say that Orthodox or fundamentalist Jews are the greatest threat to Judaism. But Coats is himself a Dominionist fundamentalist Christian — a member of the super-secret «The Family» group of Washington insiders who aspire for the U.S. to take over the world for Christians. And he’s not saying that such Dominionist fundamentalist Christians are «Christianity’s greatest threat».] …

We need their engagement. They are in the crosshairs of ISIS. Why haven’t they stepped up? [The reason why is that the Saudis hire jihadists to attack and overthrow only other governments, not their own; same for the Thanis who control Qatar, and for all the other Arabic royal families: to overthrow only foreign governments, not their own.]… As I said, we also need to find effective ways to support the Sunni tribes and Sunni leaders. 

[He wants only Sunni Muslims as allies; no Shiites — this means that the leadership in both Iran and Syria need to be overthrown, not worked with.]… I have called for increased specialized military action by our own Armed Forces — intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and special forces — not a massive invasion. [This is exactly Obama’s approach.] …

Our bombing campaign — this strategy of bombing against ISIS targets — has been far from adequate. [He wants the Obama approach but more intense.]… Contrast this anemic bombing campaign with the bombing campaign before the first Gulf War, which was several thousand sorties a day.[He wants to get those American bomb-factories humming again at full capacity.] …

My bill would… recognize the reality that exists here in terms of abuse of the Visa Waiver Program or the possibility of abuse and inserting terrorists into the United States… When introducing this, I remember the response: Oh, that is too tough. Nothing is too tough these days to keep Americans safe. …

We need a comprehensive, realistic, articulate plan if we are going to destroy ISIS, and NATO action should be part of that plan…

Admiral Stavridis also suggests the possibility of forming some type of a coalition with Russia. We are seeing a strong Russian response today — last evening — once it was determined and proven the Russian airliner was brought down by a bomb and by ISIS. [He deceives there: Russia has consistently opposed jihadists and fundamentalist Islam itself; only the U.S. and its allies have supported jihadism, when it serves to defeat Russia or any government that’s friendly toward Russia. Coats knows this.] 

ISIS has taken credit for it, and ISIS will receive the wrath of the Russian military as a result [again repeating that lie about Russia], in direct contrast to what we have done for attempts on our own people. I am not a big fan of Putin. I am not a big fan of the current Russia government.

I spoke out strongly about Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, and have strongly advocated for Russia’s diplomatic isolation. In fact, I so strongly advocated for it that Russia put me on a list of seven people who are banned from entering Russia for life. Well, I have been to Russia, and I don’t need to go back. So it is no big deal. Apparently it was a big deal to them. But now we are facing an emergency situation.

Russian forces are deployed in Syria. Russian efforts need to be coordinated with NATO efforts, if we go the NATO route. We are already coordinating in terms of some of our flights. As we learned in 1941, national emergencies can create strange bedfellows…

In conclusion, let me say this. In 2014, the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said:

Our last message is to the Americans: Soon we will be in direct confrontation, and the sons of Islam have prepared for such a day. So watch, for we are with you, watching.

This is the enemy we are dealing with. This is not some vague threat; this is a direct threat. We have seen how they carry out their direct threats, and we stand in the crosshairs.

* * *

There is no evidence whatsoever that either the Iranian regime, or any other Shia Muslims, participated in, or knowingly assisted, the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 attackers were 100% Sunni and almost entirely Saudi — and the 9/11 Commission Report devoted only two of its 585 pages (240-241) to the topic, «Assistance from Hezbollah and Iran to al Qaeda» and was unable to find anything against Iran other than the Iranian regime’s attempts pre-9/11 to have cordial relations with both Al Qaeda and the Saudis.

The U.S. government never sought cordial relations with Iran, except when America’s coup-imposed stooge, the brutal Shah, infamous for torturing all opponents, headed Iran. Those attempts at rapprochement with the Saudis and their agents, bore no fruit. To the contrary, the Saudis, during Obama’s regime in the U.S., increased their hostility against Iran.

After 9/11, Iran sided with the U.S. even against Al Qaeda, but the U.S. government has even blamed Iran for 9/11, while covering-up the massive evidence that the Saudis had actually financed the 9/11 attacks. The U.S., under Obama, even sided with Hitler against Russia and Russians — and even against Jews. Obama was every bit as depraved a liar as was George W. Bush, but depended upon votes from the opposite Party of suckers of the U.S. aristocracy.

Regarding Mike Flynn, his international-affairs viewpoint is well summarized by the anti-Russian, but even more anti-Iranian, conservative commentator, Michael J. Totten, writing in the neoconservative World Affairs journal, headlining «How Trump’s General Mike Flynn Sees the World», and it’s remarkably similar to the views that were propounded there by Dan Coats. This is more an anti-Iranian neoconservatism, than an anti-Russian neoconservatism (which was backing Hillary Clinton).

Flynn is openly anti-Muslim, but that’s only because he erroneously equates what is actually fundamentalist-Sunni Islam, with Islam itself; and then he misattributes Shia Islam — and especially Iran — with that (alleged ‘Muslim’ threat), and he assumes that the jihadists who endanger Americans, the actually fundamentalist Sunnis who are financed actually by the U.S. aristocracy’s allies the Saudis and other fundamentalist-Sunni royal Arabic families, will somehow be able to become destroyed by an alliance between the U.S. government and those actual funders of jihadists (plus perhaps Russia, if Putin will agree to join Trump’s war against IRAN — not against the Saud family etc.).

It’s stupid, but apparently it’s sincere — not intended merely to advance Flynn’s career serving the U.S. oligarchy (who are even more obsessed to conquer Russia, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were hoping to achieve, than they are to conquer Russia). Thus the U.S. aristocracy hate Trump’s guts even though he himself is a member of America’s aristocracy.

Marine General James Mattis, whom Trump has chosen to head the ‘Defense’ Department, is similarly focused against Iran and Shia Islam (including Hezbollah) as the main source of jihadism, and as being America’s number-one enemy. Consequently, on 4 December 2016, Mark Perry at Politico headlined «James Mattis’ 33-Year Grudge Against Iran», and he attributed Mattis’s obsessive hatred of Iran to the 23 October 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, by an Iranian, during the Lebanese civil war — an event that had turned the Marine Corps (the entire institution) rabid against Iran.

Perry wrote that «It was also this Iran obsession that led Obama to force Mattis’ retirement back in January 2013». Referring to Obama’s National Military Strategy, Perry wrote: «The gravest threat to America, according to the document, is not ‘Iran, Iran, Iran’ [as Mattis insisted], but ‘Russia, Russia, Russia’». Obama would not keep any general who failed to share his hatred of Russia.

At the far-right Heritage Foundation, on 13 May 2015, Mattis delivered a lecture in which he stated that jihadists are mainly Iranian or Shia (actually they’re almost 100% fundamentalist Sunnis, not Shia, and that’s one of several historical falsehoods in Mattis’s lecture). The only other major source of it that he even identified there was «the Muslim brothers in Cairo for a year» — by which he referred to the temporary Muslim Brotherhood rule of Egypt, from 30 June 2013 to 3 July 2013.

He didn’t mention there, for example, as being the main Sunni source of jihad, Al Qaeda, or ISIS — he gave as the main Sunni example of what he referred to as America’s number-one enemy, or «political Islam», the one example in which it was democratically elected into power (which jihadist groups never are).

He treated that «political Islam» which he identified as America’s top enemy, as being a threat that comes from the masses of Muslims (the Sunni public for example who voted Mohamed Morsi into Egypt’s Presidency) and not at all from the the Sunni elite (the royal families who own the Arabic nations that are allied with the U.S. aristocracy). He mentioned Sunni leaders only as being allies of America. Mattis is targeting only Iran’s aristocracy and public, and their supporters abroad.

As regards the next CIA Director, House Republican Mike Pompeo, Ryan Costello of the National Iranian American Council, bannered on 23 November 2016, «Trump CIA Pick Hyped Facts On Iran, Downplayed Costs Of War», and he wrote: «Pompeo has been a fierce ideological opponent of the Iran nuclear accord and gone out of his way to work to roll back the multilateral agreement. Perhaps most disconcertingly, Pompeo has downplayed the costs of bombing Iran», and «fought tooth and nail to prevent the deal from being struck».

Pompeo’s record is clear that he wants the U.S. to invade Iran. Furthermore, «Pompeo’s last tweet prior to his selection as Trump’s future CIA Director stated ‘I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism’». This common neoconservative allegation — that Iran, instead of the Saudi royal family, is ‘the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism’ — contradicts the massive and compelling evidence, but now the U.S. CIA will be tasked to go full-bore ‘documenting’ this vicious, and bloody dangerous, lie.

Even Donald Trump’s opponent, the hater of Russia Hillary Clinton, said in her private communications:

«We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region».

and, «Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide».

She never mentioned that those «donors» — as Glenn Greenwald noted on 25 August 2016 — happened to have «donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation, with donations coming as late as 2014, as she prepared her presidential run. A group called ‘Friends of Saudi Arabia,’ co-founded ‘by a Saudi Prince,’ gave an additional amount between $1 million and $5 million».

Those same people who funded the Clintons and Bushes had funded also Osama bin Laden. And, the Saud family own Saudi Arabia: the Saud family and the government of Saudi Arabia are the same entity. Like bin Laden’s former bagman said, «Without the money of the — of the Saudi you will have nothing». The Saud family are enemies of the American people, but to both Democratic and Republican Administrations, the Saud family, the Saudi government, are America’s ‘allies’.

Consequently, Donald Trump, like his predecessor, Obama, blames Iran, not Saudi Arabia — not the royal Saudis, who own Saudi Arabia — for Islamic terrorism. Trump, apparently, shares President Obama’s 100% backing of immunity for the dictatorial Saudi royal family’s financing the 9/11 attacks and for their continuing to finance Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups.

Obama had said that if the leaders of Saudi Arabia wouldn’t be immune for perpetrating 9/11, then American Presidents could similarly be prosecuted by other nations, perhaps (for example) like for Obama’s bloody coup overthrowing Ukraine’s democratically elected and Moscow-friendly President in 2014.

America’s mainstream news media supported him on that immunity for all international leaders, and even Britain’s liberal Guardian also reported favorably on Obama’s support for sovereign immunity (which puts The West now against — for example — the Nuremberg Tribunals, as merely victors’ ‘justice’ in the eyes of The West’s aristocracies today). (Hitler would be pleased.) Obama’s blaming Iran for such jihadists, will thus almost certainly be continued by President Donald Trump, and there will be no ‘draining of the swamp’ accountability, such as Trump had campaigned on.

Even the American public approve of President Obama’s Presidency; so, they’re not bothered by his having constantly lied to them. The 9/11 victim-families are thus chillingly ignored by both the American public, and the American aristocracy (who actually control the government). Trump need not worry, so long as his words feed the standard (aristocracy-created) myths, which both Trump and Obama do very effectively.

Maybe the only good thing that one can reasonably say about Donald Trump as U.S. President is that, unlike his electoral opponent Hillary Clinton, he’s not heavily committed to forcing World War III. In fact, unlike her (and President Obama), he’s not (at least not yet) at all committed to conquering Russia. But still, America’s aristocracy rules; only now they’re aiming to conquer Iran, instead of to conquer Russia. They’ve chosen a less dangerous, more vulnerable, target, for the time being.

But as regards destroying jihadists, that’s still not their top foreign-policy, national ‘security’, objective. Conquest is. It’s still a neoconservative regime, just a less dangerous variety of that.

The American people have already been conquered by the American aristocracy. It has been done by lies, and by the public’s tolerance of being lied-to.

So, the people in Iran have sound reason now to be very worried.

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Is the Violent Dismemberment of Russia Official US Policy?

Neocons make the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

The Duran

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Authored by Erik D’Amato via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity:


If there’s one thing everyone in today’s Washington can agree on, it’s that whenever an official or someone being paid by the government says something truly outrageous or dangerous, there should be consequences, if only a fleeting moment of media fury.

With one notable exception: Arguing that the US should be quietly working to promote the violent disintegration and carving up of the largest country on Earth.

Because so much of the discussion around US-Russian affairs is marked by hysteria and hyperbole, you are forgiven for assuming this is an exaggeration. Unfortunately it isn’t. Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title “Managing Russia’s dissolution,” author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.

Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia’s might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation.But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an “imperial construct.”

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable…

To manage the process of dissolution and lessen the likelihood of conflict that spills over state borders, the West needs to establish links with Russia’s diverse regions and promote their peaceful transition toward statehood.

Even more alarming is Bugajski’s argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries. “Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past.”

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill’s piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who’s who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a “Calexit,” and many more in Mexico of a reconquista.)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a quasi-official voice like Bugajski’s coming out in favor of a similar policy vis-a-vis China, which has its own restive regions, and which in geopolitical terms is no more or less of a threat to the US than Russia. One reason may be that China would consider an American call for secession by the Tibetans or Uyghurs to be a serious intrusion into their internal affairs, unlike Russia, which doesn’t appear to have noticed or been ruffled by Bugajski’s immodest proposal.

Indeed, just as the real scandal in Washington is what’s legal rather than illegal, the real outrage in this case is that few or none in DC finds Bugajski’s virtual declaration of war notable.

But it is. It is the sort of provocation that international incidents are made of, and if you are a US taxpayer, it is being made in your name, and it should be among your outrages of the month.

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Vladimir Putin visits Serbia, as NATO encircles the country it attacked in 1999 (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 171.

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Russian President Vladimir Putin’s official visit to Serbia.

Putin met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to further develop bilateral trade and economic relations, as well as discuss pressing regional issues including the possibility of extending the Turkish Stream gas pipeline into Serbia, and the dangerous situation around Kosovo.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin got a hero’s welcome in Belgrade. The one-day visit to the last holdout against NATO’s ambitions in the Balkans may have been somewhat short on substance, but was certainly loaded with symbolism.

Even before he landed, the Russian leader was given an honor guard by Serbian air force MiGs, a 2017 gift from Moscow to replace those destroyed by NATO during the 1999 air campaign that ended with the occupation of Serbia’s province of Kosovo. Russia has refused to recognize Kosovo’s US-backed declaration of independence, while the US and EU have insisted on it.

Upon landing, Putin began his first official trip of 2019 by paying respects to the Soviet soldiers who died liberating Belgrade from Nazi occupation in 1944. While most Serbians haven’t forgotten their historical brotherhood in arms with Russia, it did not hurt to remind the West just who did the bulk of the fighting against Nazi Germany back in World War II.

After official talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Putin visited the Church of St. Sava, the grand Orthodox basilica set on the spot where the Ottoman Turks torched the remains of the first Serbian archbishop back in 1594, in an effort to maintain power.

Sava, whose brother Stefan became the “first-crowned” king of medieval Serbia, was responsible for setting up the autocephalous Serbian Orthodox Church exactly eight centuries ago this year. For all its own troubles, the Serbian Church has sided with Moscow in the current Orthodox schism over Ukraine.

Russian artisans have been working on the grand mosaic inside the basilica, and asked Putin to complete the design by placing the last three pieces, in the colors of the Russian flag.

Whether by sheer coincidence or by design, Putin also weighed in on Serbia’s culture war, giving interviews ahead of his visit to two daily newspapers that still publish in Serbian Cyrillic – while the majority of the press, whether controlled by the West or by Vucic, prefers the Latin variant imported from Croatia.

Western media usually refer to Serbia as a “Russian ally.” While this is true in a historical and cultural sense, there is no formal military alliance between Moscow and Belgrade. Serbia officially follows the policy of military neutrality, with its armed forces taking part in exercises alongside both Russian and NATO troops.

This is a major source of irritation for NATO, which seeks dominion over the entire Balkans region. Most recently, the alliance extended membership to Montenegro in 2017 without putting the question to a referendum. It is widely expected that “Northern Macedonia” would get an invitation to NATO as soon as its name change process is complete – and that was arranged by a deal both Macedonia and Greece seem to have been pressured into by Washington.

That would leave only Serbia outside the alliance – partly, anyway, since NATO has a massive military base in the disputed province of Kosovo, and basically enjoys special status in that quasi-state. Yet despite Belgrade’s repeated declarations of Serbia wanting to join the EU, Brussels and Washington have set recognition of Kosovo as the key precondition – and no Serbian leader has been able to deliver on that just yet, though Vucic has certainly tried.

Putin’s repeated condemnations of NATO’s 1999 attack, and Russian support for Serbia’s territorial integrity guaranteed by the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, have made him genuinely popular among the Serbs, more so than Vucic himself. Tens of thousands of people showed up in Belgrade to greet the Russian president.

While Vucic’s critics have alleged that many of them were bused in by the government – which may well be true, complete with signs showing both Vucic and Putin – there is no denying the strong pro-Russian sentiment in Serbia, no matter how hard Integrity Initiative operatives have tried.

One of the signs spotted in Belgrade reportedly said “one of 300 million,” referring to the old Serbian joke about there being “300 million of us – and Russians.” However, it is also a send-up of the slogan used by current street protesters against Vucic. For the past six weeks, every Saturday, thousands of people have marched through Belgrade, declaring themselves “1 of 5 million” after Vucic said he wouldn’t give in to their demands even if “five million showed up.”

The opposition Democrats accuse him of corruption, nepotism, mismanagement, cronyism – all the sins they themselves have plenty of experience with during their 12-year reign following Serbia’s color revolution. Yet they’ve had to struggle for control of the marches with the nationalists, who accuse Vucic of preparing to betray Kosovo and want “him to go away, but [Democrats] not come back.”

There is plenty of genuine discontent in Serbia with Vucic, who first came to power in 2012 on a nationalist-populist platform but quickly began to rule as a pro-NATO liberal. It later emerged that western PR firms had a key role in his party’s “makeover” from Radicals to Progressives. Yet his subsequent balancing act between NATO and Russia has infuriated both the NGOs and politicians in Serbia beholden to Western interests, and US diplomats charged with keeping the Balkans conquered.

Washington is busy with its own troubles these days, so there was no official comment to Putin’s visit from the State Department – only a somewhat pitiful and tone-deaf tweet by Ambassador Kyle Scott, bemoaning the lack of punishment for $1 million in damages to the US Embassy during a 2008 protest against Kosovo “independence.” Yet as far as Western media outlets are concerned, why Moscow seems to be vastly more popular than Washington on the streets of Belgrade nonetheless remains a mystery.

By Nebojsa Malic

 

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Curious Bedfellows: The Neocon And Progressive Alliance To Destroy Donald Trump

The neocon metamorphosis is nearly complete as many of the neocons, who started out as Democrats, have returned home, where they are being welcomed for their hardline foreign policy viewpoint.

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via OffGuardian.com:


The Roman poet Ovid’s masterful epic The Metamorphoses includes the memorable opening line regarding the poem’s central theme of transformation. He wrote In nova fert animus mutatas dicere formas corpora, which has been translated as “Of shapes transformed to bodies strange, I purpose to entreat…”

Ovid framed his narrative around gods, heroes and quasi-historical events but if he were around today, he would no doubt be fascinated by the many transformations of the group that has defined itself as neoconservative.The movement began in a cafeteria in City College of New York in the 1930s, where a group of radical Jewish students would meet to discuss politics and developments in Europe. Many of the founders were from the far left, communists of the Trotskyite persuasion, which meant that they believed in permanent global revolution led by a vanguard party. The transformation into conservatives of a neo-persuasion took place when they were reportedly “mugged by reality” into accepting that the standard leftist formulae were not working to transform the world rapidly enough. As liberal hawks, they then hitched their wagon to the power of the United States to bring about transformation by force if necessary and began to infiltrate institutions like the Pentagon to give themselves the tools to achieve their objectives, which included promotion of regime change wars, full spectrum global dominance and unconditional support for Israel.

The neocons initially found a home with Democratic Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, but they moved on in the 1970s and 1980s to prosper under Ronald Reagan as well as under Democrat Bill Clinton. Their ability to shape policy peaked under George W. Bush, when they virtually ran the Pentagon and were heavily represented in both the national security apparatus and in the White House. They became adept at selling their mantra of “strong national defense” to whomever was buying, including to President Obama, even while simultaneously complaining about his administration’s “weakness.”

The neoconservatives lined up behind Hillary Clinton in 2016, appalled by Donald Trump’s condemnation of their centerpiece war in Iraq and even more so by his pledge to end the wars in Asia and nation-building projects while also improving relations with the Russians. They worked actively against the Republican candidate both before he was nominated and elected and did everything they could to stop him, including libeling him as a Russian agent.

When Trump was elected, it, therefore, seemed that the reign of the neocons had ended, but chameleonlike, they have changed shape and are now ensconced both in some conservative as well as in an increasing number of progressive circles in Washington and in the media. Against all odds, they have even captured key posts in the White House itself with the naming of John Bolton as National Security Adviser and Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State. Bolton’s Chief of Staff is Fred Fleitz, a leading neocon and Islamophobe while last week Trump added Iran hawk Richard Goldberg to the National Security Council as director for countering Iranian weapons of mass destruction. Goldberg is an alumnus of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which is the leading neocon think tank calling incessantly for war with Iran.

Meanwhile, the neocon metamorphosis is nearly complete as many of the neocons, who started out as Democrats, have returned home, where they are being welcomed for their hardline foreign policy viewpoint. Glenn Greenwald reports that, based on polling of party supporters, the Democrats have gone full-Hillary and are now by far more hawkish than the Republicans, unwilling to leave either Syria or Afghanistan.

The neocon survival and rejuvenation is particularly astonishing in that they have been wrong about virtually everything, most notably the catastrophic Iraq War. They have never been held accountable for anything, though one should note that accountability is not a prominent American trait, at least since Vietnam. What is important is that neocon views have been perceived by the media and punditry as being part of the Establishment consensus, which provides them with access to programming all across the political spectrum. That is why neocon standard-bearers like Bill Kristol and Max Boot have been able to move effortlessly from Fox News to MSNBC where they are fêted by the likes of Rachel Maddow. They applauded the Iraq War when the Establishment was firmly behind it and are now trying to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency because America’s elite is behind that effort.

Indeed, the largely successful swing by the neocons from right to left has in some ways become more surreal, as an increasing number of progressive spokesmen and institutions have lined up behind their perpetual warfare banner. The ease with which the transformation took place reveals, interestingly, that the neocons have no real political constituency apart from voters who feel threatened and respond by supporting perpetual war, but they do share many common interests with the so-called liberal interventionists. Neocons see a global crisis for the United States defined in terms of power while the liberals see the struggle as a moral imperative, but the end result is the same: intervention by the United States. This fusion is clearly visible in Washington, where the Clintons’ Center for American Progress (CAP) is now working on position papers with the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

One of the most active groups attacking President Trump is “Republicans for the Rule of Law,” founded by Bill Kristol in January 2018, as a component of Defending Democracy Together(DDT), a 501(c)4 lobbying group that also incorporates projects called The Russia Tweets and Republicans Against Putin. Republicans Against Putin promotes the view that President Trump is not “stand[ing] up to [Vladimir] Putin” and calls for more aggressive investigation of the Russian role in the 2016 election.

DDT is a prime example of how the neoconservatives and traditional liberal interventionists have come together as it is in part funded by Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire co-founder of eBay who has provided DDT with $600,000 in two grants through his Democracy Fund Voice, also a 501(c)4. Omidyar is a political liberal who has given millions of dollars to progressive organizations and individuals since 1999. Indeed, he is regarded as a top funder of liberal causesin the United States and even globally together with Michael Bloomberg and George Soros. His Democracy Fund awarded $9 million in grants in 2015 alone.

Last week, the Omidyar-Kristol connection may have deepened with an announcement regarding the launch of the launch of a new webzine The Bulwark, which would clearly be at least somewhat intended to take the place of the recently deceased Weekly Standard. It is promoting itself as the center of the “Never Trump Resistance” and it is being assumed that at least some of the Omidyar money is behind it.

Iranian-born Omidyar’s relationship with Kristol is clearly based on the hatred that the two share regarding Donald Trump.

Omidyar has stated that Trump is a “dangerous authoritarian demagogue… endorsing Donald Trump immediately disqualifies you from any position of public trust.”

He has tweeted that Trump suffers from “failing mental capacity” and is both “corrupt and incapacitated.”

Omidyar is what he is – a hardcore social justice warrior who supports traditional big government and globalist liberal causes, most of which are antithetical to genuine conservatives. But what is interesting about the relationship with Kristol is that it also reveals what the neoconservatives are all about. Kristol and company have never been actual conservatives on social issues, a topic that they studiously avoid, and their foreign policy is based on two principles: creating a state of perpetual war based on fearmongering about foreign enemies while also providing unlimited support for Israel. Kristol hates Trump because he threatens the war agenda while Omidyar despises the president for traditional progressive reasons. That hatred is the tie that binds and it is why Bill Kristol, a man possessing no character and values whatsoever, is willing to take Pierre Omidyar’s money while Pierre is quite happy to provide it to destroy a common enemy, the President of the United States of America.

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