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Forget Kim. It’s time for a Trump-Putin Summit – NOW!

In the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s cancellation of his scheduled June 12 summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, the gathering clouds of global conflict are getting thicker and darker.

Jim Jatras

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Submitted by author, via Strategic Culture

Korea: The cancellation is a triumph for Trump’s national security team, most if not all of whom were horrified at the prospect of his meeting personally with Kim. (There was no telling what the Big Man might agree to if he met Little Rocket Man face to face. What if Korea actually were denuclearized There would be no more excuse for keeping American troops on the peninsula! Disaster!)

From the team’s perspective, scuttling the meeting altogether would be the best outcome, but derailing the date and cranking the nasty rhetoric back up will do for now. Talk of a Libyan model, even more than inclusion of B-52s in exercises with South Korea (which Trump reversed), got the job done.

Now it’s imperative for the national security establishment to load Trump up with nonnegotiable demands (maybe patterned on Pompeo’s Iran provocation; see below) that Kim would have no choice but to refuse on the chance the summit gets rescheduled through the frantic efforts of South Korea’s Moon Jae-in – and maybe of Trump himself, if he still wants a shot at that Nobel Peace Prize. Pyongyang’s continued willingness to talk will register in Washington as desperation and an invitation for renewed pressure.

Iran: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has delivered to Tehran what only can be deemed an ultimatum. It makes Austria’s 1914 demands on Serbia look mild in comparison. Ultimata are designed to be rejected, “justifying” whatever action the threatening power has already decided upon. Tehran is being told to dismantle its entire regional security presence – or else.

The “or else” means initially a campaign of destabilization (assassinations, fomenting domestic unrest, and insurrections by disgruntled ethnic and religious communities; see Syria 2011) or, if that fails, direct military action (see Libya 2011 and Iraq 2003). To trigger the latter look for a false flag or contrived “Iranian attack,” such as a naval incident in the Persian Gulf (see Gulf of Tonkin 1964).

Also targeted by the ultimatum are the European countries aghast at US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. In addition to smacking secondary sanctions on our satellites (officially, “allies” and “partners”), the harshness of Pompeo’s terms is designed to spook the Europeans into the vain hope they can restrain a reckless US bent on war by meeting Washington halfway (or three-quarters of the way, or nine-tenths of the way…) in helping to corner Tehran. Watch to see who will crack first: London, Paris, or Berlin?

Syria: Despite Trump’s repeated assertion that he wants to get Americans out of Syria, there is reason to think we are digging in further. This has nothing to do with defeating ISIS. Rather, along with a planned buildup of Saudi and other foreign Sunni troops in the US- and Kurd-controlled zone, the principal target is Iran (see above).

US policy in Syria is driven by Israeli and Saudi hostility to Iran, and Pompeo’s list of nonnegotiable demands includes withdrawal of Iranian (and Hezbollah) forces from that country. It is a mystery how the US, whose troop presence in Syria violates international law and probably American domestic law as well, has the right to demand the departure of forces present legally by invitation of the internationally recognized government. Punctuating US determination to confront Iran were new strikes this week against Syrian government forces, while Israel flaunted its first-ever combat use of the US F-35.

Ukraine: The level of fighting on the Donbas line of control has intensified. Meanwhile Kiev forces show off tests of the Javelin antitank missiles they received from the Trump administration, which the Obama administration had earlier declined to provide.

Ostensibly intended to deter a Russian attack – in which case they would make little difference – the Javelins could be used in an offensive against Donbas forces (perhaps in concert with an attack on the Kerch bridge connecting mainland Russia to Crimea) followed by a call for insertion of international peacekeepers. Russia considers the FIFA World Cup from June 14 to July 15 a prime time window for such an assault. A Dutch report assigning blame to – surprise! – Russia for downing MH17 comes at an opportune moment.

Balkans: Prestigious think tanks call for “action” to intensify the same policies that have made a wreck of the Balkans for a quarter of a century. Why? To counter Russian influence, of course! The only shortcoming in US and European policy is that we haven’t been aggressive enough.

Sitting at the geographic and political junction of these seemingly disparate theaters of active or potential conflict is the US establishment’s entrenched hostility to Russia. Despite the accelerating unraveling of the anti-constitutional plot to dump Trump by elements of the US Deep State (in the CIA, FBI, Department of Justice, and elsewhere) together with their British counterparts (MI6 and GCHQ), the effort’s primary policy objective was achieved: President Trump has been blocked from his oft-stated desire to improve ties with Moscow. Addressing the regional issues above – any one of which could reach dangerous crisis proportion at any moment – would be far more feasible with Washington and Moscow working in cooperation instead of at cross-purposes or daggers drawn. But instead, we have a new cold war care of James Clapper, John Brennan, Christopher Steele, Peter Strzok, Stefan Halper, and their ilk – possibly even including Barack Obama.

In some ways this second Cold War is even more dangerous than the first one. The instincts of restraint and prudence that had been built up over decades of confrontation have atrophied. While both the US and Russia still maintain massive nuclear arsenals, new military technology has continued to make rapid progress in such areas as hypersonic weapons and cyber-warfare.

Also, while during the first Cold War American and Soviet planners consciously sought to avoid direct contact between their forces in Third World proxy wars, today American and Russian forces come into perilous proximity to one another. Given Washington’s relentless determination to press Moscow to the brink in every theater, the consequences of even an unintended clash are not given the gravity they demand.

It is impossible to know from outside of Trump’s own mind to what extent he has abandoned his pledge to improve relations with Russia (or never meant it in the first place), or whether he might simply be biding his time to make his move. But it is clear what that move must be if there is any possibility of cutting the Gordian knot that binds shut the gate to rapprochement: Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin should meet in a formal and substantive summit at the earliest possible date. A productive understanding between the United States and Russia must start at the top, on the personal level or it will not happen at all.

To that end, recently this analyst joined other activists in posting the following petition on the official White House website:

President Donald Trump should hold early summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin

Created by J.J. on May 21, 2018

‘Ronald Reagan famously said: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used.” Unfortunately, today a new Cold War between the US and Russia again poses an existential threat to the people of both nations and to the whole world.

Therefore, we urge President Trump to follow in the steps of Ronald Reagan and to start a direct dialogue with President Putin in search of solid and verified security arrangements. As President Trump said repeatedly “only haters and fools” do not understand that good US- Russia relations are also good for America. By all indications President Putin feels the same way for his country. A summit should be arranged as soon as possible.’

The petition is open for signature until June 20. When signing, use of Gmail is recommended to facilitate registration of your vote.

No one should imagine a White House petition can by itself change the direction of American policy. However, if there are elements on Trump’s team who are not entirely against the idea of a summit, a show of public support may serve to strengthen their case against those opposed.

Most important is a constituency of one: Mr. Trump himself. If Trump was at all willing to hold a summit with Kim because of his handful of nukes, he can certainly do so with the leader of the one country on the planet with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the US.

Obama got his Peace Prize presented to him on a platter simply for getting elected while being black. By contrast, if Trump wants his Peace Prize he’s going to have to work for it. With Kim off his dance card, he’s got plenty of time to take a spin with Putin.

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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