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Germany will ‘fight’ for its interests in face of Trump’s ‘America First’ policy, says Economic Minister

America’s foreign policy is enacting an approach that sees the world as a global chess game

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It’s no secret that Germany has many deep ties with America that seem to be completely unbreachable. But in the face of Trump’s ‘America first’ policy, those ties are feeling some strain. America first, by definition, means that America’s interests, across all sectors, get the top priority above those of all others, and even in spite of them, with heavy emphasis on the ‘spite’ part.

The manner in which Trump’s foreign policy has progressed during his tenure so far indubitably shows forth his loyalty to this program, which perceives that whatever America wants, it will get, regardless of how it impacts others, and everybody else is expected to just grin and bear it.

But that’s not how you treat your friends, and not how a partnership really works. America has a strong social and cultural policy with equality at its base in just about every human perspective and interaction, at least, insofar as the words go, but in action, it’s an ideal that is quickly losing ground on the value of actions, even at a time when equality is taking on a new emphasis in America’s cultural capital of Hollywood.

America’s foreign policy is enacting an approach that sees the world as a global chess game, and every other player is viewed as an opponent to be bested, a game where America wins at the loss of everyone else, the ‘better end of the deal’. It’s completely different from the party line that Washington has put forward for decades, where fairness, equality, and respect were put forward as motivating factors for international activities and agreements, even if, oftentimes, America still acted like it was purely out to advance its own interests. America still put on a nice face with nice words as a costume for their self interested global influence.

Today, American actions haven’t really changed all that much, in a way, but what has changed is the philosophy that it overtly advances. Now, under President Donald Trump, it brazenly tells the world that America will do and get what it wants, and everyone else must be good little boys and girls and play along, even if it means that they will lose. In Trump’s mind, it’s called ‘winning’, and in order to win, someone must lose.

Even America’s strongest allies have been reluctant to acknowledge America’s self interested global policies, because as long as they got something for it, they were okay with it. But lately, they’re not getting as much for it, if anything at all.

French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May were happy to go along with Trump’s strikes against Syria last month, as well as America’s sanctions regimen against Russia, even concocting their own reasons for taking a ‘defensive’ posture against Russia, all under the conduct of their friend and partner on the western side of the Atlantic.

Then the Iran nuclear deal came up to the chopping block. America has publicly declared that the Iran nuclear deal is not in their interests, and for that reason they will not participate, they won’t play, because it means that they won’t win, because in this deal, there are no losers.

This time, by following America’s lead, scrapping the Iran deal would not be in America’s European allies’s interests, its a game where the Europeans would be the ones on the losing end.

For that reason, Emmanuel Macron, British FM Boris Johnson, and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, crossed the pond to plead their case and protect their interests, in hopes that Trump would respond amicably and respect them.

But once their cozy meetings were through, and they had returned home, Trump set out once again to win the game. He went full speed ahead and quit the Iran nuclear deal, regardless of, and in spite of, his European ‘partners’s interests and pleas to do otherwise.

Now, the interests of America’s European allies had not only gone up to the guillotine, without trial, but underwent the blade of ‘America first’. Now, playing the game with America, on the American side, can openly result in a European loss, and the Americans don’t care.

America here demonstrates to its allies and ‘partners’ that it has no intention of being a partner, or even a friend. There are only strategic interests, and America is behind Europe only when it suits those American strategic interests. America will be first. America will win, even if that means Europe must lose.

Europe, then, is coming to realise this new fact that the global order and global relationships are no longer based on multilateral cooperation to achieve a common goal, because between America and Europe, the goal is no longer a mutual one.

For America, the goal is America’s global hegemony at all costs. For Europe, it’s quite different. Whatever the talk about ‘shared values’ that might be coming out of lips of European leaders as they address America’s foreign posture, they are now coming to realise that the values of America and Europe are no longer congruent.

The American withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, a multilateral agreement enjoying the commitment of each member of the United Nations Security Council, including Germany and the EU, isn’t the only divergence of perspective. America has been on a roll as of late doing things that America says are for its own interests, but which stand diametrically opposed to those of America’s European allies.

That list includes the tariffs on Chinese aluminum and steel exports, the embassy move to Jerusalem which lethally stoked the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, extraterritorial sanctions on any company doing business with Iran, which stands to adversely impact the European economy, opposition to oil and gas cooperation between some European countries and Russia, verbally slamming Germany for its participation in the NATO defense budget balance, potentially opening up a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, among others.

Those shared values, that Europe and America are supposed to uphold together, along with economic and security cooperation, are what cement the friendship and partnership between Europe and America.

America, however, is disrupting each of these with its latest actions, between a shared vision of multilateralism, perceiving political, rather than military, means of resolving conflict and establishing cooperation and prosperity, to ensuring security against potential threats, to economic cooperation. America, not Syria, Iran, Russia, or Islamic extremists, right now is making itself the single biggest threat to each of these

Following his trip to Russia to secure economic cooperation and that of the shared value of economic access to the Iranian market, the Germany Economy Minister, Peter Altmaier, declares that Germany will respond to America’s narcissistic foreign policy by defending its own interests.

The statements do three things: they demonstrate that the shared value system between America and Europe’s economic powerhouse, Germany, are quickly eroding; they demonstrate that Germany is finding some shared interests with the Russians; and they demonstrate that Germany will stand up for its own strategic interests against the overt inimical effects of America’s foreign policy.

Deutsche Welle reports:

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said Europe will defend its interests if the US prioritizes its own over others. He also accused Washington of wanting to block a Russia-Germany pipeline to boost its own exports.

Europe will respond firmly if the US places its own economic interests above those of others, Germany Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Friday.

“The US are our friends and partners, and we want to defend our common values,” Altmaier told ARD public service television.

“But if it’s America first, and they put their economic interest before others, then they have to expect Europe to define their own interests and fight for them,” he added.

Amid growing fears of a trade war, the USA under the Trump administration imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum in March, but gave temporary tariff waivers to the EU and several other countries. The exemptions are due to expire June 1.

Shale gas

Earlier in the interview, Altmaier also defended the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which Washington, along with many eastern European countries, would like to block. They say that by sidelining Ukraine, it gives Russia too much leverage over countries reliant on its energy sources.

Altmaier, however, attributed US opposition to its desire to increase its own shale gas exports.

“They are looking for markets, which we can understand, and they can land it here easily,” Altmaier said. “But it is much more expensive than pipeline gas, so blocking Nord Stream 2 on its own won’t guarantee exports.”

Altmaier’s comments come as German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to hold talks with her Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that are expected to cover not only the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the war in Syria, but also energy issues and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Shared interests and values between America and Europe are quickly diverging. America is finding that it can and will achieve its goals and strategic interests with or without its European friends, as it demonstrated last week, and even into this one.

The end goals to be accomplished, as envisioned by the Europeans and the Americans are increasingly digressing, and even opposing, whereas the number of shared interests between the Europeans and the Russians, on the other hand, are increasingly converging, whether it is a peaceful, political resolution to the conflicts going on in Syria or the Ukraine, to energy cooperation, to security interests meaning keeping a lid on nuclear proliferation and shared market accesses, to commonly battling the economic barriers that America is erecting. While Europe is discovering that it need to find its own path in the world, that path is leading farther away from America, and lining up a little closer with those on the other side of the Baltic.

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Wayne Blow
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Wayne Blow

America “partner and friend” of EU and Europe ??? What kind of dumb-ass “dee-pees are you f-cking brain-dead idiots on East side of Atlantic? Don’t you know how Trump and his populace refer to you stupid “dee-pees ? They openly laugh and ridicule you for being such suckers, don’t take my word for it , why not just ask Trump the liar ????

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Linda Wren

Sorry Merkel but you are a liar. In fact nearly all of EU are hypocrites. You go to Moscow to ask for talks with Russia then lump more sanctions onto them for Crimea? Well I hope Putin returns with same by return

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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.

Alex Christoforou

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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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Via RT


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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