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Has Barack Obama already ceded his Syria policy to Hillary Clinton?

Though US President Barack Obama has managed to restrain the more belligerent voices in the US administration demanding military intervention in Syria, he has never succeeded in fully imposing his authority on them, and he now anyway appears to be ceding control of Syrian policy to the much more hawkish Hillary Clinton.

Joe Lauria

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Throughout five years of war in Syria President Obama has been in a constant internal struggle with hawks in his administration who want the U.S. to directly intervene militarily to overthrow the Syrian government.

On at least four occasions Obama has stood up to them. At other times has has compromised and gone half way. With less than three months to go in office, Obama appears to be leaving his Syria policy to those aligned with the lead hawk who might soon take Obama’s place.

When she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton failed to convince Obama to consistently take a tough line on Syria.  She wanted him to realize her two main policies, which she still clings to:  a safe zone on the ground and a no-fly zone in the air.

Both would protect rebels seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which she calls her top foreign policy priority. It was the model Clinton had convinced a reluctant Obama to adopt in Libya. It led to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi but ultimately turned that county into a failed state.

Libya was emblematic of the disarray following regime change that has marked nearly two decades of neoconservative influence in Washington: dividing and weakening defiant states, while American contractors profit from the chaos that bleeds the locals to death.

Obama learned from Libya. He said his biggest regret was having no plan for the aftermath. It left him deeply skeptical about intervention in Syria.  But given his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he should have already understood what happens after the U.S. overthrows regimes these days.

In the early years of the CIA, in Syria in 1949, Iran in 1953, and Guatemala in 1954, as illegal and as unjustified as those coups were, the agency had viable leaders groomed to take over in competition with the Soviet Union. But all that changed after the Cold War ended.  “We can use our military in the Middle East and the Soviets won’t stop us,” arch-neocon Paul Wolfowitz boasted before the Iraq invasion.

Today neoconservatives and liberal interventionists (such as Clinton) act like gamblers who can’t leave the table. Disaster for Iraqis and Libyans hasn’t dissuaded them from wagering on Syria.  It seems to have only encouraged them.

That regime change in the guise of “spreading democracy” in the Middle East instead spawns chaos and terrorism only gives the hawks further reason to intervene, create more chaos and make more money, while weakening nations defying Washington.

Clinton began laying a bet on regime change in Damascus by pushing to arm rebels in the summer of 2012. One of her leaked emails explains her motive:  to break up the Tehran to Damascus to southern Lebanon supply line to Hezbollah—a long standing Israeli objective.

Obama refused at this point to arm the rebels. But an August 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document showed that U.S. intelligence agencies were up to their own designs in Syria, with or without Obama’s approval.

Ret. Gen. Mike Flynn, who headed the DIA at the time, said it was a “willful decision” in Washington to support a “Salafist principality”—a safe area for jihadist rebels—in eastern Syria to put pressure on Damascus.  He didn’t say who in Washington ultimately decided. The DIA document made public last year warns that these Salafists could join with jihadists from Iraq to form an “Islamic State.” And indeed two years later they did.

While this was gestating in August 2013 Obama again showed some independence on Syria after seeing the consequences of the Clinton-led disaster in Libya: a failed state radiating arms and jihadis to Syria and the Sahel. 

This time Obama compromised with the hawks. He eventually agreed to arm the rebels. But he resisted pressure to launch cruise missiles against Syrian government targets after his “redline” was supposedly crossed by a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus that killed hundreds of people.

As we now know, the CIA did not think it a “slam dunk” that Syria did it. Evidence has pointed to the rebels. So Obama instead took Russia’s offer to have Syria give up its chemical weapons stocks, which in time it did, infuriating the neocons.

An Even Bolder Putin Offer

Russian President Vladimir Putin followed with another offer to the United States in September 2015, delivered from the podium of the U.N. General Assembly:  He proposed joint U.S.-Russian airstrikes against the now fully formed Islamic State and associated jihadists.

These extremists were seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an undemocratic leader in a police state, but who posed no threat to the West. The jihadists had by now clearly become the greater evil in Syria. In time ISIS would plan or inspire attacks in France, Belgium, Germany, Egypt and the United States.

More than three years earlier I reported that Russia’s motive to support Assad to was stop the spread of jihadism that threatened the West and Russia.  Now Putin put it on the record in his U.N. speech. He invoked the World War II alliance between enemies that together faced a greater threat. “Similar to the anti-Hitler coalition, it could unite a broad range of parties willing to stand firm against those who, just like the Nazis, sow evil and hatred of humankind,” Putin said. 

This time Obama sided with the hawks and immediately rejected the offer. We now know why. In a leaked audio conversation with Syrian opposition figures in September, Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S., rather than fight ISIS, or Daesh, in Syria, was instead ready to use its growing strength to pressure Assad to resign—the original intention outlined in the DIA document.

“We know that this was growing, we were watching, we saw that Daesh was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened….ah, we thought however we could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate, but instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him,” Kerry said.

Moscow began its military intervention in late September 2015 without the United States. Russia’s motives have been made abundantly clear by Putin and other Russian officials.

For instance, last month Putin told French TV channel TF1: “Remember what Libya or Iraq looked like before these countries and their organisations were destroyed as states by our Western partners’ forces? … These states showed no signs of terrorism. They were not a threat for Paris, for the Cote d’Azur, for Belgium, for Russia, or for the United States. Now, they are the source of terrorist threats. Our goal is to prevent the same from happening in Syria.”

Such clear explanation are rarely reported seriously by Western corporate media. Instead it peddles the line from officials and think tanks that Russia is trying to recover lost imperial glory in the Middle East.

But Kerry knew why Russia intervened. “The reason Russia came in is because ISIL was getting stronger, Daesh was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus, and that’s why Russia came in because they didn’t want a Daesh government and they supported Assad,” he said in the leaked discussion. That seems to indicate the U.S. would have tolerated ISIS coming to the verge of power if it meant ousting Assad.   

Washington may have then intended to turn its firepower on ISIS once Assad was gone. But this presumes Assad would have stepped down, rather than make a last stand in Damascus. Had it gone that far the U.S. was risking an Islamic State government in Syria.

Putin had warned the General Assembly about such a gamble with terrorism: “The Islamic State itself did not come out of nowhere. It was initially developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes.” He said it was irresponsible “to manipulate extremist groups and use them to achieve your political goals, hoping that later you’ll find a way to get rid of them or somehow eliminate them.”

Pipelines

There may another motive for Russia’s intervention in Syria beyond a sincere goal of crushing jihadism. There’s the argument that the uprising against Assad financed by the Arab Gulf came after he turned down a proposed gas pipeline running from Qatar in 2009.

A year later Syria was in flames. There is precedent for such a motive. The first coup led by the two-year old CIA in 1949 in Syria came when the elected government rejected a Saudi pipeline deal. The government was removed and replaced by a military leader who let the pipeline be built.

A Qatar gas pipeline through Syria to supply Europe would compete with Russia’s sales of natural gas to the continent. Keeping Assad in power prevents that.

Perhaps Assad had to chose between the Gulf or Russia, not understanding that the sore losers  would launch a jihadist war to oust him. It reminds one of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s choice between the EU or Russia. He also didn’t count on that decision leading to his violent downfall.

The Safe Area

Hillary Clinton has been pushing for a no-fly zone and a safe area in Syria since she ran the State Department.  She has called for both as recently as the last presidential debate, despite the inherent dangers of confronting Russia. 

The safe area is supposed to shelter internally displaced Syrians to prevent them from becoming refugees. But it could also be used as a staging ground to train and equip jihadists intent on regime change, as was employed in Libya. A safe area would need ground troops to protect it. Clinton says there will be no US ground troops in Syria.

Turkey has also been clamoring for a safe area on the ground for the past few years. Erdoğan called for it (as well as a no-fly zone in northern Syria) as recently as last September in his address to the U.N. General Assembly.

Erdoğan has had neo-Ottoman tendencies for some time but in August he acted on them, invading Syria with U.S. air cover on the exact 500th anniversary of the Ottoman’s first foreign invasion, also of Syria. Now Erdogan is openly making claims on Mosul based on a World War One-era Turkish claim. And he’s massing troops on the Iraqi border threatening war with Baghdad. [See the related Duran article “Will Turkey and Iraq Go to War?”]

The hawks appear to have bested Obama this time. He has not stood in the way of Clinton-allies in his administration letting Erdoğan pursue his neo-Ottoman fantasy (even fighting U.S.-backed Kurds) in exchange for Turkish NATO forces establishing a safe area without U.S. ground troops. Turkey and its rebel forces already control about 490 square miles in northern Syria.

With less than three months left in office, Obama, who had opposed a safe area and a  Turkish invasion, appears to have relinquished his Syria policy to who he wants to be the next president. 

Again with Plan B?

Since American officials rarely explain fully what they are up to beyond slogans like “Fighting ISIS” and “the War on Terror”, understanding U.S. policy in the Middle East is reduced to educated guesses based on official and leaked statements and assessments of complex developments on the ground.

For instance, the U.S. is publicly opposing Turkey by backing Syrian Kurds in their just launched offensive to take Raqqa, the ISIS capital in Syria. Erdogan has vowed to send Turkish troops, or Turkish-backed rebels there. How will Washington solve this contradiction as events on the ground would indicate that Washington is effectively letting Turkey create Clinton’s safe area on territory taken mostly from ISIS. It could eventually stretch from northeast Syria into western Iraq.

A safe area in eastern Syria stretching to western Iraq could implement the so-called Plan B:  dividing Syria to weaken it, while also creating a corridor for the pipeline from Qatar. Settling for Plan B, or partition, would be an admission that Plan A, regime change, had failed.

There might also be another crucial task for Turkey on behalf of the Washington hawks in both Syria and Iraq. Erdogan may well target the Turkman-majority Iraqi Tal Afar area, a Shia   area that the Iraqi government wants to control. It would open a corridor from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. But Turkey could also cut this passage in northern Syria.

Is the U.S. allowing Turkish troops to create these facts on the ground?  It’s impossible to know for sure because of the lack of transparency coming out of Washington. But in this scenario Erdoğan gets to control Syrian Kurdish areas and possibly parts of Iraq, satisfying his neo-Ottoman fantasies, while Clinton gets her safe area with NATO troops, but without deploying U.S. soldiers on the ground.

Aleppo

Obama stood up to the hawks for the third time this summer by allowing Kerry to negotiate with Russia on Putin’s offer at the U.N.: to form a military alliance against ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria. Russia’s entry had turned the tide of the war in Syria’s favor but the defensive war against the insurgency has stalled in Aleppo, where a third of the city remains largely under al-Qaeda control.

While Obama publicly slammed the Russians, projecting that they were on an imperial venture that would wind up in a quagmire (exactly what has afflicted U.S. imperial ventures in various theaters), he kept plans for a safe area and no-fly zone on hold.

Then nearly a year after Putin’s offer and months of intermittent talks, Kerry and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sept. 9 finally reached a deal to jointly fight terrorists in Syria. Though it was clear the agreement would ground the Syrian air force, resume humanitarian aid and agree on the identity of rebels to be jointly attacked, the U.S. insisted the terms remain secret.

But Defense Secretary Ash Carter made no secret of his objection. On Sept. 8 he said: “In the current circumstance, it is not possible for the United States to associate itself with — let alone to cooperate in — a venture that is only fueling violence and civil war.”

It was an extraordinary act of insubordination for which Carter was not punished. Once again Obama did not completely stand up to the hawks. But then Carter’s objection to the deal went beyond words. Two days before it was to go into effect, his Pentagon’s planes killed more than 60 Syrian soldiers near Deir ez Zor in an air strike the Pentagon later said was an “accident.” U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power was hardly repentant as she condemned Russia’s attempt to discuss the incident at the Security Council as a “stunt.”

Four days later a U.N. aid convoy was attacked near Aleppo, killing more than 20 aid workers. The U.S. immediately blamed Russian air strikes without presenting any evidence. Russia says rebels were responsible. The U.S.-Russia deal was dead.

Moscow eventually revealed its terms. At its heart was the separation of U.S.-backed rebels from al-Qaeda, which dominates a third of Aleppo. But once again, despite repeated pledges to do so, the U.S. failed to separate them.

Syria and Russia had enough and declared all rebels fighting with al-Qaeda to be fair game. They commenced a furious bombardment of east Aleppo to crush the insurgency there once and for all.  Putting all of Aleppo back into government hands would be a major turning point in the war. It has not proven easy. Instead the fierce aerial assaults have claimed numerous civilian lives, handing Russia’s opponents a public relations coup.

Washington, London and Paris are leading the chorus of war crimes accusations against Russia (though the U.S. and Britain invaded Iraq without Security Council authorization in an act of aggression that can reasonably be seen as the supreme war crime.)

Russia’s actions in Aleppo have been compared to Israel’s in Gaza. Though two U.N. reports have said Israel may have been guilty of war crimes in 2012 and 2014 attacks on Gaza, Israel has not been prosecuted at the International Criminal Court.

The differences between Gaza and Aleppo are stark, however. Gazans are an indigenous people attacked by an Occupying Power. Syria and Russia are attacking the occupiers–largely foreign-backed mercenaries. People in Gaza cannot escape the city because of their attackers, while people in east Aleppo can’t escape because of the attacked.

The area of bombardment and number of people under fire (and so far casualties) were much higher in Gaza than in east Aleppo. Rebel rockets from east Aleppo actually kill large numbers of civilians in the west of the city, unlike Hamas’ rockets into Israel. The biggest difference is that the West defends Israel and deflects charges of war crimes while it accuses Russia and Syria of the same. 

Isolated from the context of the entire war against a foreign-backed rebellion, the battle for east Aleppo ( usually reported as the whole city) has been framed by Western liberal media in the same way Sarajevo was in the 1990s. Then a highly complex war was boiled down to one battle alone, where Bosnian Serbs fired (indiscriminately) into civilian areas.  Today it is Russia that is accused of acting out of the pure intent to kill civilians with no other motive. 

The tactic of intense bombardment in Aleppo by Russia is troubling.  A Syrian army ground invasion of eastern Aleppo without heavy bombardments would minimize civilian causalities, but increase the government’s. It might be the price that has to be paid.

Nuclear Chicken

The reaction to the bombardment of eastern Aleppo has led to a severe increase in rabid calls for Western military intervention against the Syrian government, and possibly against Russia. 

The British parliament held a Russia-bashing session in October with calls for war against Moscow. Neocon newspaper like the Washington Post are itching for battle. A British general said the U.K. would be ready to fight Russia in two years—enough time for a Clinton administration to prepare.

The U.S. and its allies are planning for a post-Putin Russia in which a Wall Street-friendly leader like Boris Yeltsin can be restored to reopen the country to Western exploitation. But Putin is no Yeltsin. Washington’s modus operandi is to continually provoke and blame an opponent until it stands up for itself, as Putin’s Russia has done, then falsely accuse it of “aggression” and attack in “self-defense.”   

We see this being prepared in Ukraine, the Baltics, Poland, the Balkans and in Syria, where neocon calls are increasing for the U.S. to strike the Syrian government. Apparently Obama for the fourth time kept the hawks at bay after a White House meeting last month in which military action was turned down in the face of Russia’s warning that it would target attacking U.S. aircraft.

The neocons appear to much prefer coups to direct military action, but are not averse to blundering into war.

Obama has been the only brake on keeping Syria—and relations with Russia—from spiraling out of control. But his voice is fading as he prepares to leave office.

Into this fevered environment steps Hillary Clinton who may win the White House on Tuesday. She continues to call for a safe area and ominously for a no-fly zone, despite the warning last month from Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the joint chiefs, that that would mean war with Russia.

“I’m going to continue to push for a no-fly zone and safe havens within Syria….not only to help protect the Syrians and prevent the constant outflow of refugees, but to gain some leverage on both the Syrian government and the Russians,” Clinton said at the last debate after Dunford’s warning.­

She also said this after admitting in one of her paid speeches, released by Wikileaks, that a no-fly zone will “kill a lot of Syrians.”

Russia’s reaction has been defiant, setting up an ominous game of chicken that could go nuclear. Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Russia would shoot down any American plane attacking the Syrian government.

Russia has also deployed sophisticated air defenses in the country. This has given U.S. brass deep pause about confronting Russia in Syria.  Congress is not disposed to authorize war against Syria. So far Russia has come out on top there, lessening the risks of confrontation that could escalate to the most dangerous levels.

But will Hillary Clinton back down from her harsh rhetoric if she’s elected? Will she appoint more hawkish military leaders? Obama’s half-way measures in Syria have left the door open to a Clinton administration that appears determined to ratchet up the regime change operation, perhaps calling Putin’s bluff.

What happens if she miscalculates and he doesn’t backdown? Would she count on Putin retreating to save the world from a US-Russia war?  Is she ready to back away or smart enough not to even try?

Would Congressional and FBI investigations in the Clinton Foundation and the emails lead her to cause an international crisis to take the heat off, the way her husband bombed Iraq on the very day his impeachment proceedings were to begin?  Some astute analysts, like Alexander Mercouris, think she is rational enough to not provoke such a crisis. That remains to be seen.

Clinton also seems poised to arm the Ukrainian government and perhaps give Putin another ultimatum: give back Crimea or else. What if Putin calls Clinton’s bluff there?  It’s a roll of the dice the hawks, in their fanaticism to rule the world, might be ready to toss.   

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New York Times hit piece on Trump and NATO exposes alliance as outdated and obsolete (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 61.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at the New York Times hit piece citing anonymous sources, with information that the U.S. President dared to question NATO’s viability.

Propaganda rag, the NYT, launched its latest presidential smear aimed at discrediting Trump and provoking the establishment, warmonger left into more impeachment – Twenty-fifth Amendment talking points.

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Via The American Conservative


The New York Times scored a serious scoop when it revealed on Monday that President Trump had questioned in governmental conversations—on more than one occasion, apparently—America’s membership in NATO. Unfortunately the paper then slipped into its typical mode of nostrum journalism. My Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “nostrum” as “quack medicine” entailing “exaggerated claims.” Here we had quack journalism executed in behalf of quack diplomacy.

The central exaggerated claim is contained in the first sentence, in which it is averred that NATO had “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is wrong, as can be seen through just a spare amount of history.

True, NATO saved Europe from the menace of Russian Bolshevism. But it did so not over 70 years but over 40 years—from 1949 to 1989. That’s when the Soviet Union had 1.3 million Soviet and client-state troops poised on Western Europe’s doorstep, positioned for an invasion of Europe through the lowlands of Germany’s Fulda Gap.

How was this possible? It was possible because Joseph Stalin had pushed his armies farther and farther into the West as the German Wehrmacht collapsed at the end of World War II. In doing so, and in the process capturing nearly all of Eastern Europe, he ensured that the Soviets had no Western enemies within a thousand miles of Leningrad or within 1,200 miles of Moscow. This vast territory represented not only security for the Russian motherland (which enjoys no natural geographical barriers to deter invasion from the West) but also a potent staging area for an invasion of Western Europe.

The first deterrent against such an invasion, which Stalin would have promulgated had he thought he could get away with it, was America’s nuclear monopoly. By the time that was lost, NATO had emerged as a powerful and very necessary deterrent. The Soviets, concluding that the cost of an invasion was too high, defaulted to a strategy of undermining Western interests anywhere around the world where that was possible. The result was global tensions stirred up at various global trouble spots, most notably Korea and Vietnam.

But Europe was saved, and NATO was the key. It deserves our respect and even reverence for its profound success as a military alliance during a time of serious threat to the West.

But then the threat went away. Gone were the 1.3 million Soviet and client-state troops. Gone was Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Indeed, gone, by 1991, was the Soviet Union itself, an artificial regime of brutal ideology superimposed upon the cultural entity of Mother Russia. It was a time for celebration.

But it was also a time to contemplate the precise nature of the change that had washed over the world and to ponder what that might mean for old institutions—including NATO, a defensive military alliance created to deter aggression from a menacing enemy to the east. Here’s where Western thinking went awry. Rather than accepting as a great benefit the favorable developments enhancing Western security—the Soviet military retreat, the territorial reversal, the Soviet demise—the West turned NATO into a territorial aggressor of its own, absorbing nations that had been part of the Soviet sphere of control and pushing right up to the Russian border. Now Leningrad (renamed St. Petersburg after the obliteration of the menace of Soviet communism) resides within a hundred miles of NATO military forces, while Moscow is merely 200 miles from Western troops.

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has absorbed 13 nations, some on the Russian border, others bordering lands that had been part of Russia’s sphere of interest for centuries. This constitutes a policy of encirclement, which no nation can accept without protest or pushback. And if NATO were to absorb those lands of traditional Russian influence—particularly Ukraine and Georgia—that would constitute a major threat to Russian security, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to emphasize to Western leaders for years.

So, no, NATO has not deterred Russian aggression for 70 years. It did so for 40 and has maintained a destabilizing posture toward Russia ever since. The problem here is the West’s inability to perceive how changed geopolitical circumstances might require a changed geopolitical strategy. The encirclement strategy has had plenty of critics—George Kennan before he died; academics John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, and Robert David English; former diplomat Jack Matlock; the editors of The Nation. But their voices have tended to get drowned out by the nostrum diplomacy and the nostrum journalism that supports it at every turn.

You can’t drown out Donald Trump because he’s president of the United States. And so he has to be traduced, ridiculed, dismissed, and marginalized. That’s what the Times story, by Julian Barnes and Helene Cooper, sought to do. Consider the lead, designed to emphasize just how outlandish Trump’s musings are before the reader even has a chance to absorb what he may have been thinking: “There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” Translation: “Take that, Mr. President! You’re an idiot.”

Henry Kissinger had something interesting to say about Trump in a recent interview with the Financial Times. “I think Trump may be one of those figures in history,” said the former secretary of state, “who appears from time to time to mark the end of an era and to force it to give up its old pretenses.” One Western pretense about Russia, so ardently enforced by the likes of Julian Barnes and Helene Cooper (who, it may be safe to say, know less about world affairs and their history than Henry Kissinger), is that nothing really changed with the Soviet collapse and NATO had to turn aggressive in order to keep that menacing nation in its place.

Trump clearly doesn’t buy that pretense. He said during the campaign that NATO was obsolete. Then he backtracked, saying he only wanted other NATO members to pay their fair share of the cost of deterrence. He even confessed, after Hillary Clinton identified NATO as “the strongest military alliance in the history of the world,” that he only said NATO was obsolete because he didn’t know much about it. But he was learning—enough, it appears, to support as president Montenegro’s entry into NATO in 2017. Is Montenegro, with 5,332 square miles and some 620,000 citizens, really a crucial element in Europe’s desperate project to protect itself against Putin’s Russia?

We all know that Trump is a crude figure—not just in his disgusting discourse but in his fumbling efforts to execute political decisions. As a politician, he often seems like a doctor attempting to perform open-heart surgery while wearing mittens. His idle musings about leaving NATO are a case in point—an example of a politician who lacks the skill and finesse to nudge the country in necessary new directions.

But Kissinger has a point about the man. America and the world have changed, while the old ways of thinking have not kept pace. The pretenses of the old have blinded the status quo defenders into thinking nothing has changed. Trump, almost alone among contemporary American politicians, is asking questions to which the world needs new answers. NATO, in its current configuration and outlook, is a danger to peace, not a guarantor of it.


Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington journalist and publishing executive, is the author most recently of President McKinley: Architect of the American Century

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Nigel Farage To Back Another “Vote Leave” Campaign If UK Holds Second Brexit Referendum

Nigel Farage said Friday that he would be willing to wage another “Vote Leave” campaign, even if he needed to use another party as the “vehicle” for his opposition.

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Via Zerohedge


Pro-European MPs from various political parties are pushing back against claims made by Prime Minister Theresa May’s government that a second Brexit referendum – which supporters have branded as a “People’s Vote” on May’s deal – would take roughly 14 months to organize, according to RT.

But while support for a second vote grows, one of the most notorious proponents of the original “Vote Leave” campaign is hinting at a possible return to politics to try and fight the effort.

After abandoning UKIP, the party he helped create, late last year, Nigel Farage said Friday that he would be willing to wage another “Vote Leave” campaign, even if he needed to use another party as the “vehicle” for his opposition. Farage also pointed out that a delay of Brexit Day would likely put it after the European Parliament elections in May.

“I think, I fear that the House of Commons is going to effectively overturn that Brexit. To me, the most likely outcome of all of this is an extension of Article 50. There could be another referendum,” he told Sky News.

According to official government guidance shown to lawmakers on Wednesday, which was subsequently leaked to the Telegraph, as May tries to head off a push by ministers who see a second referendum as the best viable alternative to May’s deal – a position that’s becoming increasingly popular with Labour Party MPs.

“In order to inform the discussions, a very short paper set out in factual detail the number of months that would be required, this was illustrative only and our position of course is that there will be no second referendum,,” May said. The statement comes as May has been meeting with ministers and leaders from all parties to try to find a consensus deal that could potentially pass in the House of Commons.

The 14 month estimate is how long May and her government expect it would take to pass the primary legislation calling for the referendum (seven months), conduct the question testing with the election committee (12 weeks), pass secondary legislation (six weeks) and conduct the campaigns (16 weeks).

May has repeatedly insisted that a second referendum wouldn’t be feasible because it would require a lengthy delay of Brexit Day, and because it would set a dangerous precedent that wouldn’t offer any more clarity (if some MPs are unhappy with the outcome, couldn’t they just push for a third referendum?). A spokesperson for No. 10 Downing Street said the guidance was produced purely for the purpose of “illustrative discussion” and that the government continued to oppose another vote.

Meanwhile, a vote on May’s “Plan B”, expected to include a few minor alterations from the deal’s previous iteration, has been called for Jan. 29, prompting some MPs to accuse May of trying to run out the clock. May is expected to present the new deal on Monday.

Former Tory Attorney General and pro-remainer MP Dominic Grieve blasted May’s timetable as wrong and said that the government “must be aware of it themselves,” while former Justice Minister Dr Phillip Lee, who resigned his cabinet seat in June over May’s Brexit policy, denounced her warning as “nonsense.”

As May pieces together her revised deal, more MPs are urging her to drop her infamous “red lines” (Labour in particular would like to see the UK remain part of the Customs Union), but with no clear alternative to May’s plan emerging, a delay of Brexit Day is looking like a virtual certainty.

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The National Security Agency Is A Criminal Organization

The National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Paul Craig Roberts

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Via Paul Craig Roberts…


Years before Edward Snowden provided documented proof that the National Security Agency was really a national insecurity agency as it was violating law and the US Constitution and spying indiscriminately on American citizens, William Binney, who designed and developed the NSA spy program revealed the illegal and unconstitutional spying. Binney turned whistleblower, because NSA was using the program to spy on Americans. As Binney was well known to the US Congress, he did not think he needed any NSA document to make his case. But what he found out was “Congress would never hear me because then they’d lose plausible deniability. That was really their key. They needed to have plausible deniability so they can continue this massive spying program because it gave them power over everybody in the world. Even the members of Congress had power against others [in Congress]; they had power on judges on the Supreme Court, the federal judges, all of them. That’s why they’re so afraid. Everybody’s afraid because all this data that’s about them, the central agencies — the intelligence agencies — they have it. And that’s why Senator Schumer warned President Trump earlier, a few months ago, that he shouldn’t attack the intelligence community because they’ve got six ways to Sunday to come at you. That’s because it’s like J. Edgar Hoover on super steroids. . . . it’s leverage against every member of parliament and every government in the world.”

To prevent whistle-blowing, NSA has “a program now called ‘see something, say something’ about your fellow workers. That’s what the Stasi did. That’s why I call [NSA] the new New Stasi Agency. They’re picking up all the techniques from the Stasi and the KGB and the Gestapo and the SS. They just aren’t getting violent yet that we know of — internally in the US, outside is another story.”

As Binney had no documents to give to the media, blowing the whistle had no consequence for NSA. This is the reason that Snowden released the documents that proved NSA to be violating both law and the Constitution, but the corrupt US media focused blame on Snowden as a “traitor” and not on NSA for its violations.

Whistleblowers are protected by federal law. Regardless, the corrupt US government tried to prosecute Binney for speaking out, but as he had taken no classified document, a case could not be fabricated against him.

Binney blames the NSA’s law-breaking on Dick “Darth” Cheney. He says NSA’s violations of law and Constitution are so extreme that they would have to have been cleared at the top of the government.

Binney describes the spy network, explains that it was supposed to operate only against foreign enemies, and that using it for universal spying so overloads the system with data that the system fails to discover many terrorist activities. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50932.htm

Apparently, the National Security Agency values being able to blackmail citizens and members of government at home and abroad more than preventing terrorist attacks.

Unfortunately for Americans, there are many Americans who blindly trust the government and provide the means, the misuse of which is used to enslave us. A large percentage of the work in science and technology serves not to free people but to enslave them. By now there is no excuse for scientists and engineers not to know this. Yet they persist in their construction of the means to destroy liberty.

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