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Goodbye Hillary Clinton, you won’t be missed!

The departure of Hillary Clinton and her husband from the US political scene opens the way for those who want to offer the American people a genuine left wing alternative. However given the decayed state of the Democratic Party it is doubtful if they can make use of it.

Alexander Mercouris

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In the vast ocean of words which have been written about the US Presidential election it is important to hold on to one single fact: Donald Trump won primarily because Hillary Clinton lost.

Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate, and absolutely the wrong person for the Democratic Party to propose for President.  I have previously discussed her background in some detail, and have said why merely on the strength of her public record she was a completely unsuitable person to become President of the United States of America

“Her catastrophic misjudgements about the Iraq and Libyan wars, her public gloating over the public torture and murder of Gaddafi, the utter failure of her attempted health reforms during her husband’s Presidency, and the email scandal, in any remotely well functioning system ought to have disqualified her for the highest public office.”

Beyond that there were the well-founded stories of political corruption, with the Clinton Foundation operating as a kind of combined slush-fund and laundry for what can only be described as a system of legalised bribery organised on a colossal and global scale.

Then there were the disastrous policy positions, eg. the neocon foreign policy at a time when the American people are sick of neocon adventures and the wars that come with them, and the continuing commitment to deeply unpopular turbo-charged neoliberal globalist economic policies, at a time when they have become widely despised and discredited.

Last but not least there were the obvious character flaws: the arrogance (calling people who voted for her opponent “deplorables”), the paranoia (the “alt right conspiracy”), the compulsive secrecy (the Goldman Sachs affair, the attack of ‘pneumonia’), and the obsessive habit of manipulation (too many examples to list), all of which came together to produce a campaign of ‘dirty tricks’, vilification of her opponents via a bought and controlled media, and boring and ultimately irrelevant bashing of Russia.

The extent of Hillary Clinton’s tone-deafness to the American people is for me exemplified by the way she let her attack dogs loose on FBI Director Comey when all he was doing was his job.  How Hillary Clinton thought she could sway the American people onto her side by publicly attacking whilst herself under investigation the head of one of the few institutions left in America that most Americans still admire continues to baffle me, and shows what a wretchedly bad politician she is.  The result – as I predicted – was that when she was eventually cleared the American people gave her no credit for it.

The point however to remember about this election is that this absolutely terrible candidate still managed to come first in the popular vote.

This is not a reflection of the continuing doubts many Americans still have about the personality of Donald Trump.  I find the claim that a more conventional Republican candidate – a Marco Rubio or a Jeb Bush – would have done better than Trump completely unconvincing.  Trump ultimately won the Republican nomination precisely because his mainstream Republican opponents were so much less popular than he was.  Unlike Trump none of them ever gained the slightest traction with the American people, which is why in the primaries he was able to steamroll over them so easily. 

I would add that whilst it is true that opinion polls showed that Trump suffered from large negatives, in my opinion that is less an indicator that he is unpopular, but rather that he is a deeply polarising and controversial figure.  Unlike Hillary Clinton, who many Americans voted for negatively because they saw her as “the lesser evil”, millions of Americans voted positively for Donald Trump because they enthusiastically supported him. By contrast, had the choice come down to one between Hillary Clinton and any one of the lacklustre Republican candidates who in the primaries had been Trump’s mainstream opponents, I have no doubt she would have won. 

The point is that if the Democrats had nominated a halfway decent candidate who was not Hillary Clinton, they would have won whether their Republican opponent was Trump or anyone else.  This was the Democrats’ election to lose.  By nominating Hillary Clinton as their candidate they contrived to lose it.

There has been much nonsense written about how supposedly terrible it is that the America of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln has voted for President Trump – as if Donald Trump with all his flamboyant and sometimes vulgar outspokenness was not an authentically American personality of whom there have been many examples in America’s history.

A far more valid and pertinent question is how the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to nominate someone like Hillary Clinton as its candidate for President.  The party of the common man and woman, the party that once claimed to represent the working people of America, went into this election with a charmless, arrogant, out of touch, widely mistrusted, deeply unpopular and visibly corrupt elitist as its candidate.

The short answer is that the Democratic Party has long been captured by a neoliberal/neocon elite focused on grandiose geopolitical adventures abroad and self-enrichment at home, of which Hillary Clinton was both the standard bearer and the embodiment.  The result is that all alternatives to Hillary Clinton were systematically blocked out, so that she was in the end the candidate, creating the conditions that made it possible for Trump to win.

Joe Lauria has written for The Duran how Bernie Sanders might have put up a serious challenge for the Presidency if he had had the courage and the confidence to defy the Democratic Party machine by standing as an independent.  I would add that every single opinion poll that I have seen also shows that if Bernie Sanders had been the Democratic Party’s candidate instead of Hillary Clinton, he would have won the election by a landslide.

The lesson of this election is that there is an America that is prepared to vote for a left wing candidate, but that it is increasingly refusing to vote for a neoliberal/neocon Democratic party elitist machine candidate.  Instead, if denied the option of a left wing candidate who shows some genuine concern and understanding for its needs, it will consider voting for someone like Trump, who at least repudiates the elite it despises, even if he does it from the right.

The biggest danger to democracy in America today is not Donald Trump (for the record, I don’t think Trump endangers American democracy).  It is a Democratic Party which because of its entrenched institutional power in the US political system is able to block the emergence of any left wing alternative to itself, but whose own long decayed and corrupted structures prevent it from offering any genuine alternative of its own.

The result is a political system which leaves millions of Americans disenfranchised, which in a country that claims to be a democracy cannot be a good thing, and which can only store up serious trouble for the future.

In the meantime the departure of Hillary Clinton and hopefully of her husband from the US political scene can only be a good thing. 

Though I personally doubt that the Democratic Party is any longer capable of renewing itself, I am absolutely sure it cannot happen whilst the Clintons are around exercising their malign influence.

The departure of the Clintons is indeed one unequivocally good thing to have come out of this election.  It is now up to those who really care about offering the American people a genuine alternative to build on it.

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America the Punitive

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common?

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama’s relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.

The most recent is the new sanctioning of Russia over the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury England. For those not following developments, last week Washington abruptly and without any new evidence being presented, imposed additional trade sanctions on Russia in the belief that Moscow ordered and carried out the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4th. The report of the new sanctions was particularly surprising as Yulia Skripal has recently announced that she intends to return to her home in Russia, leading to the conclusion that even one of the alleged victims does not believe the narrative being promoted by the British and American governments.

Though Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded with restraint, avoiding a tit-for-tat, he is reported to be angry about the new move by the US government and now believes it to be an unreliable negotiating partner. Considering the friendly recent exchanges between Putin and Trump, the punishment of Russia has to be viewed as something of a surprise, suggesting that the president of the United States may not be in control of his own foreign policy.

Turkey is also feeling America’s wrath over the continued detention of an American Protestant Pastor Andrew Brunson by Ankara over charges that he was connected to the coup plotters of 2016, which were allegedly directed by Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader, who now resides in Pennsylvania. Donald Trump has made the detention the centerpiece of his Turkish policy, introducing sanctions and tariffs that have led in part to a collapse of the Turkish lira and a run on the banking system which could easily lead to default and grave damage to European banks that hold a large party of the country’s debt.

And then there is perennial favorite Iran, which was hit with reinstated sanctions last week and is confronting a ban on oil sales scheduled to go into effect on November 4th. The US has said it will sanction any country that buys Iranian oil after that date, though a number of governments including Turkey, India and China appear to be prepared to defy that demand. Several European countries are reportedly preparing mechanisms that will allow them to trade around US restrictions.

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common? All are on the receiving end of punitive action by the United States over allegations of misbehavior that have not been demonstrated. Nobody has shown that Russia poisoned the Skripals, Turkey just might have a case that the Reverend Brunson was in contact with coup plotters, and Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear arms agreement signed in 2015. One has to conclude that the United States has now become the ultimate angry imperial power, lashing out with the only thing that seems to work – its ability to interfere in and control financial markets – to punish nations that do not play by its rules. Given Washington’s diminishing clout worldwide, it is a situation that is unsustainable and which will ultimately only really punish the American people as the United States becomes more isolated and its imperial overreach bankrupts the nation. As America weakens, Russia, Turkey, Iran and all the other countries that have been steamrolled by Washington will likely seek revenge. To avoid that, a dramatic course correction by the US is needed, but, unfortunately, is unlikely to take place.

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NATO Repeats the Great Mistake of the Warsaw Pact

NATO expansion continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war.

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Authored by Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Through the 1990s, during the terms of US President Bill Clinton, NATO relentlessly and inexorably expanded through Central Europe. Today, the expansion of that alliance eastward – encircling Russia with fiercely Russo-phobic regimes in one tiny country after another and in Ukraine, which is not tiny at all – continues.

This NATO expansion – which the legendary George Kennan presciently warned against in vain – continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war. Far from bringing the United States and the Western NATO allies increased security, it strips them of the certainty of the peace and security they would enjoy if they instead sought a sincere, constructive and above all stable relationship with Russia.

It is argued that the addition of the old Warsaw Pact member states of Central Europe to NATO has dramatically strengthened NATO and gravely weakened Russia. This has been a universally-accepted assumption in the United States and throughout the West for the past quarter century. Yet it simply is not true.

In reality, the United States and its Western European allies are now discovering the hard way the same lesson that drained and exhausted the Soviet Union from the creation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955 to its dissolution 36 years later. The tier of Central European nations has always lacked the coherence, the industrial base and the combined economic infrastructure to generate significant industrial, financial or most of all strategic and military power.

In fact the current frustrating experience of NATO, and the long, exhausting tribulations that faced Soviet diplomats and generals for so many decades was entirely consistent with the previous historical record going back at least until 1718.

From 1718 until 1867 – a period of a century and a half – most of Central Europe, including even regions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, were consolidated within the Austro –Hungarian Empire, However even then, the Habsburg multi-national empire was always militarily weak and punched beneath its weight. After Emperor Franz Josef recklessly proclaimed his famous Compromise of 1867, the effectiveness of the imperial army was reduced to almost zero. The autonomous and feckless conduct of the Hungarian aristocracy ensured a level of confusion, division, incompetence and ineptitude that was revealed in the army’s total collapse against both Russia and Serbia in the great battles of 1914 at the start of World War I.

Germany moved in to occupy and consolidate the region in both world wars. But far from making Germany a global giant and enabling it to maintain its domination of Europe, the Central European regions – whether as part of Austro-Hungary during World War I or as independent nation-states allied to the Nazis in World War II – proved miniscule and worthless against the alliances of Russia, the United States, Britain and France that the Germans fought against in both global conflicts.

After the Soviet Union militarily destroyed the genocidal military power of Nazi Germany in World War II, Russia’s Great Patriotic War, the political consolidation of East Germany and Poland were strategically necessary for Russia’s security. But occupying and organizing the rest of the region was not. Far from strengthening the Soviet Union, those nations weakened and distracted it. Today, NATO is repeating the Soviet Mistake and that fatal move is inexorably draining the alliance of all its strength and credibility.

NATO is also repeating the disastrous mistake that France made in 1920-21 when it created a “Little Entente” of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania to supposedly counterbalance the revival of Germany. The plan failed completely.

Today those very same nations – enthusiastically joined by Hungary, Poland and the three little Baltic states – are relentlessly distorting both NATO and the EU. They generate weakness and chaos in the alliances they are in – not unity and strength.

As I have noted before in these columns, the great British historian Lord Correlli Barnett drew the important distinction between militarily powerful nations that are generators and exporters of security and those, either tiny or disorganized, pacifist and weak nations that have to import their security from more powerful states.

One might call such small countries “feeder” or “parasite” states. They siphon off energy and strength from their protector partners. They weaken their alliance partners rather than strengthening them.

The consistent lessons of more than 300 years of Central European history are therefore clear: Leading and organizing the tier of Central European nations in the Warsaw Pact did not strengthen the Soviet Union: Instead, those activities relentlessly weakened it.

Incorporating most of the small nations in Central Europe into any empire or alliance has never been a cause or generator of military or national strength, regardless of the ideology or religious faith involved. At best, it is a barometer of national strength.

When nations such as France, Germany, the Soviet Union or the United States are seen as rising powers in the world, the small countries of Central Europe always hasten to ally themselves accordingly. They therefore adopt and discard Ottoman Islamic imperialism. Austrian Christian imperialism, democracy, Nazism, Communism and again democracy as easily as putting on or off different costumes at a fancy dress ball in Vienna or Budapest.

As Russia rises once again in global standing and national power, supported by its genuinely powerful allies China, India and Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the nations of Central Europe can be anticipated to reorient their own loyalties accordingly once again.

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Why Russia will NOT fall victim to emerging markets financial crisis (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 81.

Alex Christoforou

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As the Turkish Lira collapses, sending emerging market economies into turmoil, Russia is being slapped with additional US sanctions dubbed the US Congress ‘bill from hell’.

The full text the newest sanctions bill has been released. The sanctions are deliberately designed to punish Russia’s economy for a Skripal poisoning hoax for which no evidence of Russian state involvement has been presented. The new bill even goes so far as to suggest designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The “sanctions bill from hell” officially entitled ‘Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018’ was introduced by a group of Republican and Democratic senators on the 2nd of August.

According to RT, the bill would place restrictions on US cooperation with Russia’s oil industry, target Russian sovereign debt transactions as well as Russian uranium imports. In addition, the legislation calls for sanctions against “political figures, oligarchs, and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris explain why, unlike the financial meltdown in Turkey, Russia is well equipped and properly prepared to weather the US sanctions storm… and may, in the end, come out of the latest emerging markets turmoil stronger and more independent from western petrodollar control than ever before.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via RT

The bill, which was recently published in full on Congress’ official website, also pledges full support for NATO and would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate if the United States ever wishes to exit the transatlantic alliance.

The legislation also declares that “the United States will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation” and that Washington, in conjunction with NATO, should “prioritize efforts to prevent the further consolidation of illegal occupying powers in Crimea.”

The pending ‘Kremlin Aggression Act’ decrees that Congress should also determine whether Russia “meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

The bill also accused Russia of “enabling the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria to commit war crimes,” adding that Moscow has shown itself to be “incapable or unwilling” to compel Assad to “stop using chemical weapons against the civilian population in Syria.”

The Act calls for a congressional committee to investigate “alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity attributable to [Russia]” and resolves to “punish the Government of the Russian Federation for, and deter that Government from, any chemical weapons production and use through the imposition of sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and the use of the mechanisms specified in the Chemical Weapons Convention for violations of the Convention.”

The legislation is just the latest addition to a laundry list of sanctions and laws passed in the months following the 2016 presidential election.

Republican hawk Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), who both sponsored the bill, said in a joint statement that the legislation is designed to show that the US will “not waver in our rejection of [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future.” The Russia-obsessed Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) was one of the five co-sponsors of the bill.

Moscow has brushed off the new wave of accusations as a projection of internal US struggle. Some elements in the US government are trying to “keep afloat” the conspiracy that Russia meddled in the US elections, in hopes of derailing constructive relations with Moscow and using the issue “purely for internal American purposes,” Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Upper House Committee for International Relations, has said in response to the latest sanctions.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the adoption of any US legislation that targets Russian banking operations and currency trade would be considered a declaration of economic war.

“If they introduce something like a ban on banking operations or the use of any currency, we will treat it as a declaration of economic war. And we’ll have to respond to it accordingly – economically, politically, or in any other way, if required,” Medvedev said last week. “Our American friends should make no mistake about it.”

Moscow has vowed to respond to any new sanctions. Russia’s Finance Ministry said it would continue to sell off its holdings of US Treasury securities, while some lawmakers have called for Russia and its allies to stop using the US dollar for mutual payments.

 

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