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After the latest missile test US must embrace realism in dealing with the challenge of North Korea

The entire world–including the US must embrace the pragmatic peace proposals of Russia and China. Everyone else is out of ideas and the US in particular, is now out of time.

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“North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced that the country has realised the great historic cause of completing a state nuclear force”–this according to a statement from national television in the DPRK. Now that North Korea has successfully tested both a modern hydrogen bomb and the Hwasong 15 intercontinental ballistic missile, which both the government of the United States and the DPRK say can strike anywhere in the US, it is officially game over for those trying to disarm North Korea.

North Korea further confirmed that the missile was launched not from a stationary pad but from a vehicular based launcher and that a warhead affixed to the missile could withstand the pressure upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. Donald Trump’s uncharacteristically muted response to the launch is further proof that the nature of North Korea’s history changing launch, has forced the entire world to take serious notice.

North Korea is now in a small club of nations capable of deterring a US attack due to its ability to deliver nuclear weapons to US territory. While North Korea’s missiles are still far less powerful and its nuclear weapons far smaller than those in the arsenals of Russia, the US or China, for anyone with a sense of common ethics, running the risk of provoking any nuclear strike is a step too far.

In an era where the US recklessly invades, destroys and occupies nations who do not have a full scale military deterrent, the DPRK has effectively responded to the events of the last 20 years in US military policy, just as Russia warned they would do.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin while always critical of North Korea’s weapons programme, has said that because of the precedent for destroying nations that fall out of favour with the US, precedents that were established most notably in Iraq and Libya, North Korea did what it would inevitably do in such a circumstance. Furthermore in to a country which stresses self-sufficiency, high educational levels and a highly disciplined work ethic as part of its official Juche ideology, it shouldn’t be surprising that North Korean missile and nuclear technology advanced as rapidly as it has done.

Putin BLASTS the US approach to North Korea and diplomacy with Russia–warns against “planetary catastrophe” (VIDEO)

While North Korea still has fewer nuclear weapons than India, Pakistan or Israel, it has achieved a nuclear deterrent more independently than the aforementioned nations. As Pyongyang has stated that its nuclear deterrent is designed only to intimidate the US, the reality of Pyongyang’s commitment to its weapons programme ought to elicit caution and maturity from Washington, rather than rage, threats and blackmail. It now would appear to be a matter of global safety for the US to not enrage Pyongyang with childish provocations.

This is not to say that weapons make the world safer, but in a world where nuclear weapons and accompanying ICBM delivery systems are a fact of life, one must deal with the world that is, rather than a nuclear free world that exists only in well-meaning, but ultimately impractical minds.

In this sense, the new reality of North Korea’s full-scale nuclear deterrent was inevitable. I previously wrote about the only pragmatic, peaceful and sensible way to address it, just over a month ago:

“The question as to whether the DPRK is willing to engage in broad dialogue with potential international partners, has been answered. Last week, the DPRK sent an open letter to multiple governments, including the US ally, Australia, in which Pyongyang asked to form a united front against Donald Trump’s aggressive stance towards Pyongyang. Australia, in taking an overly literal reading of North Korea’s letter, threw away a chance to reply to Pyongyang. Had Australia engaged with Pyongyang, this would have literally been the beginning of dialogue between North Korea and a stanch US ally in the Pacific. The short-sighted attitude of the Canberra, demonstrates that when North Korea does reach out to countries in an unexpected way, this attempt to establish lines of dialogue is essentially met with a cynical and obstinate attitude that doesn’t get anyone anywhere. Dialogue is never easy in such situations, but all countries owe it to the wider cause of world peace to try. Australia foolishly read North Korea’s letter as a kind of ‘geo-political prank’, where in fact it was a thorny olive branch.

While North Korea has recently stated that they will not negotiate their nuclear programme until Pyongyang possesses the ability to strike all of the US mainland with nuclear missiles, the reality behind such dramatic remarks is far more mundane.

All negotiations in difficult situations have a cat and mouse element to them, with the roles of feline and rodent, often swapping by the day, if not by the hour. North Korea’s actions are often far more reasonable than their words. The fact that the DPRK did reach out to a US ally, demonstrates that they are ready for dialogue now. The fault here, therefore lies with those who refused to respond.

Furthermore, with North Korea months away from reaching the final stage of its nuclear development, by Pyongyang’s own admission, the treat to refrain from dialogue until such a state is reached, is becoming increasingly moot in any case.

While it is impossible to independently verify the DPRK’s internal nuclear timeline, there is no reason not to test the waters and begin attempts to negotiate in both good faith and more importantly, with pragmatism. This statement applies to all potential negotiating partners.

The truth of the matter is that North Korea is not going to forego its nuclear programme at this point in time, in spite of any attempted efforts by others to change this, even from traditional partners. The world must come to accept that a nuclear North Korea is a fact of life and rather than risk provoking a nuclear war in trying to change this, instead, one should approach North Korea under the assumption that it will be a nuclear power for the foreseeable future and all that can be established through negotiations is the nature of the DPRK’s nuclear reality.

In this respect, what North Korea needs is a regional peace treaty and additionally, negotiating partners should work with North Korea to return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a nuclear country, but one which joins its nuclear neighbours Russia and China, in promoting the responsible maintenance of nuclear weapons.

This is the only peaceful and realistic solution to the crisis and it is one that can and should be augmented with the Russia offer to both Korean states to engage in tripartite economic cooperation with Russia. While  Russia and China are opposed to North Korea’s nuclear programme, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in public that he understands its justification, based on the precedents of Iraq and Libya, two countries that were obliterated by NATO due to their lack of weapon of mass destruction. In this sense, Russia has tacitly admitted that there is a real deterrent value to the DPRK’s weapons, even while working to try and reduce tensions and reach an accord for a Korean peace process.

The world is reaching a point of no return with North Korea, just as it did in respect of nuclear weapons in India, Pakistan and Israel, three countries that have a far more realistic chance of using their nuclear weapons than North Korea, because unlike North Korea which is in the midst of a frozen conflict, India, Pakistan and Israel have had decades long, hot conflicts with neighbouring states. If the world can learn to pragmatically live with three non-signatories to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) having nuclear weapons, than surely, a similar status quo could be reached with North Korea, a former signatory to the NPT and one which has in the past, shown signs that under certain conditions, it could return to the NPT.

Hence, all responsible countries should open up channels of communication to North Korea, without preconceived notions, dogmas or ultimatums. The penultimate understanding guiding such negotiations is that the DPRK should rejoin the NPT and no country should ever again threaten North Korea. In many ways, even China would have to go some way towards compromise on this as Beijing would like to see both sides of the Korean peninsula de-weaponised. However, China’s position here, while ideal, is also at this stage in time, unrealistic because of Pyongyang’s desire to maintain a deterrent to the very real threat of US aggression.

Whereas China feels betrayed by Pyongyang’s weapons programme, Russia, while condemning it, tends to take a more practical approach, one which if successfully put into practice, China could embrace as a partner. In this sense, it would help to see the NPT as a Korean gateway to One Belt–One Road and the overall spirit of One Belt–One Road is one of bringing peace to the wider world through mutual prosperity creating initiatives. There is no reason why either Korean state should ultimately not reap these benefits. If Russia can help to transform North Korea into a responsible nulear power, Russia could also convince China to join in a peace process which involves promoting a harmonious Korea through economic outreach in the form of a tributary of One Belt–One Road.

Once again, the US is the biggest obstacle to such a pragmatic peace process for the following reasons:

–the US is not interested in China expanding One Belt–One Road, nor is Washington interested in Russia expanding its commercial endeavours into East Asia.

–the US generates money by feeding its domestic weapons makers cash in order to then, ‘give’ expensive arms to South Korea

–the US sees a weaponised Korean peninsula as an opportunity to distract China from her peaceful economic activities by parking a nuclear frozen conflict on her doorstep

Now though, the US has taken its peace averse attitude a step further as the perpetually unhinged CIA director Mike Pompeo, has made another ludicrous and provocative statement.

In a recent statement, Pompeo talked brazenly about assassinating Kim Jong-un. The CIA director stated,

“With respect to … if Kim Jong-un should vanish, given the history of the CIA, I’m just not going to talk about it.

Someone might think there was a coincidence. ‘You know, there was an accident.’ It’s just not fruitful”.

Pompeo then ominously stated that the CIA is “going to become a much more vicious agency”.

Pompeo’s statements will be seen by North Korea as yet a further sign that the US does not seek peace, but in fact seeks yet another illegal overthrow of a head of state. With someone like Pompeo engaging in Dr. Strangelove style rhetoric against North Korea, is it really unreasonable to assume that North Korea should want to expand its deterrent against a US which is openly promising acts of illegal violence against North Korea?

This is not the first ludicrous thing Pompeo has stated. He previously said that Russia and the Lebanese party Hezbollah are operating in Venezuela, in combined efforts to harm the US. He also stated that the publisher and peace activist Julian Assange would have supported Hitler in the 1930s and 1940s. Pompeo also said that Russia’s current Chief of the General Staff invented the concept of RT and Sputnik, one which relies on the power of the internet in 2017, in the early 1970s when he was in his late teens and still in the equivalent of high school. Finally, Trump’s CIA director stated that Russia not only rigged Donald Trump’s election but also did so with Barack Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012.

When it comes to being a danger to world peace and  totally out of touch with basic facts in the process, Mike Pompeo fits this description far more than the North Korean leadership.

North Korea is looking for assurances and Pyongyang’s actions indicate it is also looking for dialogue in various forms. Mike Pompeo is looking to make the CIA even more aggressive and lawless than it already is. Against this backdrop, is it any wonder that the crisis on the Korean peninsula continues to smoulder?”

Mike Pompeo’s latest rant demonstrates that the CIA is far more unreasonable than North Korea

According to North Korea’s previous statements, the only time Pyongyang will begin negotiations is when it is fully capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to any location in the United States. According to many independent experts as well as the US and DPRK governments, that time is now. The question therefore remains, is North Korea now going to dive into discussions? The short answer is, not all at first and certainly not headfirst.

North Korea still feels threatened by the military exercises set to take place between the US and South Korean armed forces in the Republic of Korea beginning next week and now that North Korea has realised its goal of developing a full deterrent, the US and its partners should realise that this isn’t the time for further provocations. Brinkmanship has its limits and any further military exercises in the region, will be pushing Brinkmanship further than it should logically go.

The key therefore, is for Russia to begin intensifying its discussions with both Pyongyang and Seoul about the tripartite economic cooperation initiative that President Putin introduced in September of this year.

Two Koreas–One Road: The future of cooperation between North Korea, South Korea and Russia

Both Korean states have responded positively to Russia’s proposals to bring peace through enhanced economic inter-connectivity, although Pyongyang stated it would wait until further assurances about its safety are met, before fully signing up to the initiative.

Russia has already stepped-up its contacts with Pyongyang and it is almost certain that Putin’s tripartite economic initiative will be part of these discussions. The key for Russia which is currently on far better diplomatic terms with Pyongyang vis-a-vis Russia’s close partner China, is to convince North Korea that its security interests will be accounted for in any future deals while also convincing South Korea that the future of a peaceful Korean peninsula lies in economic cooperation rather than in a protracted military standoff. South Korea’s increasingly warm relations with Russia make this a very real possibility.

As I wrote about Russia and also China’s overall approach to diplomacy with an emphasis on North Korea:

“The genesis of Russia’s North Korea policy is best apprehended through an understanding of Russia’s diplomatic and economic goals for Asia and the so-called wider ‘Global South’. Russia’s manner of achieving things in the diplomatic arena, is linked indelibly with Russia’s wider geo-economic style of diplomacy. For Russia, peace and cooperation are achieved through initiatives involving economic inter-connectivity. By establishing joint-economic projects, in areas including  energy cooperation and the establishing of new trading zones (free trade or with substantial reductions in traditional tariffs), Russia aims to ease geo-political pressure points through the incentive of prosperity that comes through countries having mutual shares in multilateral endeavours.

One sees this in the Middle East where Russia continues to enhance cooperation with Syria, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon–all members of the geo-political northern bloc of the Middle East, while also maintaining good relations with Saudi Arabia, it’s rival Qatar and America’s traditional ally in Tel Aviv, while also re-starting intensified good relations with Egypt.

In East Asia, Russia continues to expand relations with South Korea, in spite of Seoul’s ties to Washington. It is no coincidence that South Korea is increasingly responsive to Russian diplomatic measures at a time when trade between the two-countries looks set to rapidly expand.

Implicit in the burgeoning relationship between Moscow and Seoul is the prospect for the tripartite economic cooperation initiative between Russia and the two Korean states, that was first proposed by Vladimir Putin at the Eastern Economic Forum held in Vladivostok shortly after this year’s BRICS summit.

Both North and South Korean officials, including President Moon Jae-in attended the meeting. Officials from both Korean states were responsive to Putin’s proposals for joint economic initiatives, including the possibility of energy and logistical transport corridors that would link all thee countries.

At the time and in subsequent statements, the North Korean government said that the only thing prohibiting Pyongyang from embracing the proposals immediately, was continued fears about threats to the DPRK’s security due to increased US military activities in South Korea.

This is why the double-freeze is crucial for the success of such joint initiatives and it is why Russia is in close contact with South Korea regarding the matter. According to the double-freeze, North Korea must halt the testing of new weapons, while South Korea, the US and Japan must do the same, while also ceasing with provocative military exercises in the region.

Russia is clearly attempting to convince South Korea to help and de-escalate joint US military activities in the region, something President Moon Jae-in has been receptive to in the past. In late October of this year, Seoul and Beijing reached an agreement whereby it would appear South Korea has agreed not to receive further US made and operated THAAD missile systems, a key demand from China. As a result, South Korea and China have quickly normalised economic and diplomatic activities, while the contents of the agreement have only been partly revealed.

A similar agreement will need to be struck with Russia, entailing further commitments from Seoul to de-militarise certain aspects of US made armaments in the country, in order for Russia to feel confident in further leveraging the DPRK to reciprocate.

Russia is perfectly clear about how seriously it takes the security concerns in both Korean states and it will certainly take intense negotiations with both sides to reach a point where the double-freeze can take shape.

In many ways, China is now in closer communication with South Korea than with its historic Northern partner. While China remains fully committed to the double-freeze and to joint regional economic initiatives as part of the One Belt–One Road project, China’s relations with Pyongyang are at an all time low. Under Kim Jong-un, Pyongyang and Beijing have failed to see eye to eye on numerous occasions. However, Russia’s relationship with Pyongyang is, if anything, growing stronger and China is happy for Russia to take the diplomatic lead in this area. In this sense, one should not over-hype the strains between Beijing and Pyongyang as the US under Donald Trump is often inclined to do. In reality, as long as Russia continues in its diplomatic discussions with both Korean states and with China, all parties will eventually be satisfied, as each party will be able to air its concerns to a receptive diplomatic partner.

The biggest stumbling block to the entire process is the United States and the reasons for this have everything to do with Washington’s approach to geo-politics and geo-economics. Contemporary US geo-politics, especially in the Trump era, appears to boil down to merely two things:

1. Attempts to create points of tensions along key areas of One Belt–One Road

2. Attempts to exploit as many traditional conflicts as possible, so as to sell more expensive military hardware to traditional partners

Increasingly, these two elements of US foreign policy go hand-in-hand. One sees it in respect of the US arming India and siding with India in its disputes with both China and Pakistan. One sees it in the Middle East where the US continues to sell expensive weapons to Saudi Arabia while encouraging Riyadh’s anti-Iranian rhetoric. One sees it  in South East Asia where the US is openly trying to stand in the way of would-be rapprochement between Vietnam and China and of course, one sees it in East Asia where Trump has touted weapons sales to Japan as a means of ‘containing’ North Korea.

Far from de-escalating conflicts, the US model of geo-economics seeks to exploit conflicts for the sake of weapons sales. Nowhere is this more true than in respect of the Korean crisis, where one of the world’s longest standing frozen conflicts has heated up due to the US rhetoric against North Korea which seemed to spontaneously become highly aggressive starting in April of 2017.

Russia has far fewer economic ties to the United States than China. Russia’s goal therefore is to use diplomatic skill to try and convince the US to be a less obstructionist power in the aforementioned conflicts. As this is likely to fail, Russia looks increasingly to built its economic relations with traditional US partners and in doing so, show the United States that the zero-sum mentality which is implicit in its foreign policy, is not economically prudent and mutually beneficial in the long term.

This strategy involves helping traditional US partners, who often act as though fully dependant on the US, to achieve and more independent and consequently balanced foreign policy, thus giving these states their own form of leverage to use against the authoritarian style of US foreign policy.

Russia’s relationship with South Korea is a demonstrative of such a policy. With this context in mind, the following are the key highlights from Igor Morgulov’s speech in South Korea.

“Unfortunately, I have to say that the apocalyptic version of developments in this region exists and I very much hope that there will be enough common sense among the regional community to prevent this negative scenario from happening….

…I do not think that the tightening of pressure would lead to the results, which the authors of such policy expect. I am sure that if the goal is to make North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons and missile programs, it would be the last thing which North Koreans will give up as a result … further strengthening of sanctions against North Korea may lead this country to the brink of humanitarian crisis…

…Does someone believe in illusions that the words of the US President on ’fire and fury’ attack or constant North Korean threats to turn magnificent city of Seoul into ‘sea of flames’, does someone really think that these threats could cut the knot, which for so many years have been tied around the peninsula? We would be naive to think that any of the sides in this confrontation is going to give in under pressure…

…What theme of talks could be proposed in the first place? It is very simple: the principles of peaceful coexistence. I’m sure that that the lack of such an agreement on principles of mutual coexistence sparks mutual mistrust and bad blood [between the United States and North Korea]…

…The alternative to dialogue and negotiations does not exist. But in order to start this dialogue, it is important to first of all slow down and breath out, as they say…

…A mutually negative influence of [North Korean missile] tests and [US] drills is beyond doubt…

…We have presented the points of this roadmap to both sides [North Korea and the United States], I want to note that this plan has not been dismissed right away, neither in Washington, nor in Pyongyang…

…Moreover, we have engaged in discussion of some elements of this plan separately with the United States and with North Korea, which shows that a discussion based on this suggestion is possible. The work began, but, unfortunately US actions in October-November, I mean the military drills, have seriously impeded our dialogue on settlement based on this roadmap…

…We believe that on the second stage of roadmap implementation the intra-Korean dialogue could be resumed. We know that our South Korean friends are ready for such work and hope that the North will also show interest…

…The gas project is at the most advanced stage of the implementation, but the political situation unveiling on the [Korean] Peninsula does not let [us] bring the project into life. We hope that the political conditions for the implementation of this project, which is beneficial for all three sides, will emerge in the foreseeable future”.

This speech represents Russia’s most clear indication that it indirectly, yet unambiguously blames the US for obstructing the joint-economic initiatives between the two Korean states and Russia and that the prolonging of such tensions can only be mutually detrimental to all sides. While Russia still must convince the US down from its obstructionist position, it is clear that when it comes to offering practical, workable and mutually beneficial proposals for East Asia, Russia is taking the diplomatic and economic lead”.

The contrasting Russian/Chinese vs. US models for geo-economic diplomacy

In this respect, the US approach to the Korean crisis has failed. Tensions remain high and North Korea has achieved a full-scale nuclear deterrent and associated ICMB capabilities. While the US has always been more interested in selling weapons in the region and disrupting One Belt–One Road than in bringing a lasting peace between Pyongyang and Seoul, now that the DPRK has reached the stage in its weapons programme that it has, it is time for the US to consider just how far it wishes to inflame tensions for the sake of the military-industrial complex.

The realities on the ground dictate that peace is the only sane solution and when it comes to peace, the Russian and Chinese proposals are there–simply waiting to be implemented. The US has nothing to offer but more provocations whether in the form of economic warfare or military manoeuvres in the region.

Shortly after North Korea’s ICBM test Konstantin Kosachev of the Russian Federation Council, stated,

“It’s a fact that during the past two months North Korea has been demonstrating restraint and did not provoke the international community by any means. Pyongyang, most likely, expected the same restraint in response on part of the West, both in judgments and actions”.

Until the US can accept the primacy of this reality over its increasingly juvenile narrative, things will get worse, even though the opportunity in the form of the tripartite economic initiative exists, which would make the most pressing problems in the region, vastly better.

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Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Huawei CFO Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.

In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.

It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?

The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.

When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.

But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.

This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.

Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.

And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.

With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.

During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.

Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.

Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.

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US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005.

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Via Zerohedge


“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

According to Stars and Stripes the dangerous cross-section of powder keg conflicts and geopolitical players means “a new war” is on the horizon:

The new mission raises new questions, about the role they will play and whether their presence will risk becoming a magnet for regional conflict and insurgency.

The area is surrounded by powers hostile both to the U.S. presence and the aspirations of the Kurds, who are governing the majority-Arab area in pursuit of a leftist ideology formulated by an imprisoned Turkish Kurdish leader. Signs that the Islamic State is starting to regroup and rumblings of discontent within the Arab community point to the threat of an insurgency.

Without the presence of U.S. troops, these dangers would almost certainly ignite a new war right away, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior official with the Self-Administration of North and East Syria, as the self-styled government of the area is called.

“They have to stay. If they leave and there isn’t a solution for Syria, it will be catastrophic,” she said.

But staying also heralds risk, and already the challenges are starting to mount.
So a US-backed local politician says the US can’t leave or there will be war, while American defense officials simultaneously recognize they are occupying the very center of an impending insurgency from hell — all of which fits the textbook definition of quagmire perfectly.

The New Yorker: “The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

But in September the White House announced a realignment of its official priorities in Syria, namely to act “as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.” This means the continued potential and likelihood of war with Syria, Iran, and Russia in the region is ever present, per Stripes:

Syrian government troops and Iranian proxy fighters are to the south and west. They have threatened to take the area back by force, in pursuit of President Bashar Assad’s pledge to bring all of Syria under government control.

Already signs of an Iraq-style insurgency targeting US forces in eastern Syria are beginning to emerge.

In Raqqa, the largest Syrian city at the heart of US occupation and reconstruction efforts, the Stripes report finds the following:

The anger on the streets is palpable. Some residents are openly hostile to foreign visitors, which is rare in other towns and cities freed from Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq. Even those who support the presence of the U.S. military and the SDF say they are resentful that the United States and its partners in the anti-ISIS coalition that bombed the city aren’t helping to rebuild.

And many appear not to support their new rulers.

We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation,” said one man, a tailor, who didn’t want to give his name because he feared the consequences of speaking his mind. “I don’t know why they had to use such a huge number of weapons and destroy the city. Yes, ISIS was here, but we paid the price. They have a responsibility.”

Recent reports out of the Pentagon suggests defense officials simply want to throw more money into US efforts in Syria, which are further focused on training and supplying the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (or Kurdish/YPG-dominated SDF), which threatens confrontation with Turkey as its forces continue making preparations for a planned attack on Kurdish enclaves in Syria this week.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005:

Everyone says the streets are not safe now. Recent months have seen an uptick in assassinations and kidnappings, mostly targeting members of the security forces or people who work with the local council. But some critics of the authorities have been gunned down, too, and at night there are abductions and robberies.

As America settles in for yet another endless and “indefinite” occupation of a Middle East country, perhaps all that remains is for the president to land on an aircraft carrier with “Mission Accomplished” banners flying overhead?

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The real reason Western media & CIA turned against Saudi MBS

The problem with MBS isn’t that he is a mass murdering war criminal, it is that he is too “independent” for the United States’ liking.

RT

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Forces are aligning against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, lead by elements within the CIA and strong players in the mainstream media. But what is really behind this deterioration in relationship, and what are its implications?

Following the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, western media and various entities, including the CIA, appear to have turned their back on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS). In response to the scandal, the Guardian released a video which its celebutante, Owen Jones, captioned“Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest threats on Earth. Time to stop propping up its repulsive regime.”

The Guardian was not alone in its condemnation. “It’s high time to end Saudi impunity,” wrote Hana Al-Khamri in Al-Jazeera. “It’s time for Saudi Arabia to tell the truth on Jamal Khashoggi,” the Washington Post’s Editorial Board argued. Politico called it “the tragedy of Jamal Khashoggi.”

Even shadowy think-tanks like the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Atlantic Council released articles criticising Saudi Arabia in the wake of Khashoggi’s death.

A number of companies began backing away from Saudi money after the journalist’s death, including the world’s largest media companies such as the New York Times, the Economist’s editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes, Arianna Huffington, CNN, CNBC, the Financial Times, Bloomberg, Google Cloud CEO, just to name a few.

The CIA concluded that MBS personally ordered Khashoggi’s death, and was reportedly quite open in its provision of this assessment. Antonio Guterres, secretary-general of the UN, also took time out of his schedule to express concern over Saudi Arabia’s confirmation of the killing.

At the time of the scandal, former CIA director John Brennan went on MSNBC to state that the Khashoggi’s death would be the downfall of MBS. Furthermore, the US Senate just voted in favour of ending American involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen (a somewhat symbolic victory, though this is a topic for another article), but nonetheless was a clear stab at MBS personally.

The only person who appeared to continue to uphold America’s unfaltering support for MBS, even after all the publicly made evidence against MBS, was the US president himself. So after years of bombarding Yemen, sponsoring terror groups across the Middle East, Asia, the Pacific and beyond, why is it only now that there has been mounting opposition to Saudi Arabia’s leadership? Let’s just bear in mind that western media had spent years investing in a heavy PR campaign to paint MBS as a “reformer.”

Former national security adviser under Barack Obama’s second term, Susan Rice, wrote an article in the New York Times, in which she called MBS a “partner we can’t depend on.” Rice concludes that MBS is “not and can no longer be viewed as a reliable partner of the United States and our allies.” But why is this? Is it because MBS is responsible for some of the most egregious human rights abuses inside his own kingdom as well as in Yemen? Is it because of MBS’ support for groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda? No, according to Rice, we “should not rupture our important relationship with the kingdom, but we must make it clear it cannot be business as usual so long as Prince Mohammad continues to wield unlimited power.”

One will observe that the latter segment of Rice’s article almost mirrors former CIA director Brennan’s word on MSNBC word for word who stated that:

“I think ultimately this is going to come out. And it’s very important for us to maintain the relations with Saudi Arabia. And if it’s Mohammed bin Salman who’s the cancer here, well, we need to be able to find ways to eliminate the cancer and to move forward with this relationship that is critical to regional stability and our national interests.”

In reality, this is probably the issue that western media and government advisors have taken up with MBS. Aside from the fact he allegedly held a huge hand in the brutal murder of one of their own establishment journalists (Saudi Arabia reportedly tortured and killed another journalist not long after Khashoggi, but western media was eerily silent on this incident) MBS is not opposed for his reckless disregard for human rights. With insight into Rice’s mindset, we actually learn that if the US were to punish MBS, he would be likely to “behave more irresponsibly to demonstrate his independence and exact retribution against his erstwhile Western partners.”

You see, the problem with MBS isn’t that he is a mass murdering war criminal, it is that he is too “independent” for the United States’ liking.

Last week, Saudi Arabia and the other major oil producers met in Vienna at the year’s final big OPEC meeting of the year. As Foreign Policy notes, Saudi Arabia remains the largest oil producer inside OPEC but has to contend with the US and Russia who are “pumping oil at record levels.” Together, the three countries are the world’s biggest oil producers, meaning any coordinated decision made between these three nations can be somewhat monumental.

However, it appears that one of these three nations will end up drawing the short end of the stick as the other two begin forming a closer alliance. As Foreign Policy explains:

“But Saudi Arabia has bigger game in mind at Vienna than just stabilizing oil prices. Recognizing that it can’t shape the global oil market by itself anymore but rather needs the cooperation of Russia, Saudi Arabia is hoping to formalize an ad hoc agreement between OPEC and Moscow that began in 2016, a time when dirt-cheap oil also posed a threat to oil-dependent regimes. That informal agreement expires at the end of the year, but the Saudis would like to make Russia’s participation with the cartel more permanent.”

Russian officials have been signalling their intention to formalise this agreement for quite some time now. Given the hysteria in western media about any and all things Russian, it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that this is the kind of news that is not sitting too well with the powers-that-be.

Earlier this year, Russia and Saudi Arabia announced that it would “institutionalize” the two-year-old bilateral agreement to coordinate oil production targets in order to maintain an edge on the global market.

While US president Trump has been supportive and incredibly defensive of MBS during this “crisis”, the truth is that the US only has itself to blame. It was not all too long ago that Trump announced that he had told Saudi King Salman that his kingdom would not last two weeks without US support.

Saudi Arabia is learning for themselves quite quickly that, ultimately, it may pay not to have all its eggs in one geopolitical superpower basket.

Saudi Arabia has been increasingly interested in Moscow since King Salman made a historic visit to Moscow in October 2017. While Trump has openly bragged about his record-breaking arms deals with the Saudis, the blunt truth is that the $110 billion arms agreements were reportedly only ever letters of interest or intent, but not actual contracts. As such, the US-Saudi arms deal is still yet to be locked in, all the while Saudi Arabia is negotiating with Russia for its S-400 air defence system. This is, as the Washington Post notes, despite repeated US requests to Saudi Arabia for it disavow its interest in Russia’s arms.

The economic threat that an “independent” Saudi Arabia under MBS’ leadership poses to Washington runs deeper than meets the eye and may indeed have a domino effect. According to CNN, Russia and Saudi Arabia “are engaged in an intense battle over who will be the top supplier to China, a major energy importer with an insatiable appetite for crude.”

The unveiling of China’s petro-yuan poses a major headache for Washington and its control over Saudi Arabia as well.According to Carl Weinberg, chief economist and managing director at High-Frequency Economics, China will “compel”Saudi Arabia to trade oil in Chinese yuan instead of US dollars. One must bear in mind that China has now surpassed the US as the “biggest oil importer on the planet,” these direct attacks on the US dollar will have huge implications for its current world reserve status.

If Saudi Arabia jumps on board China’s petro-yuan, the rest of OPEC will eventually follow, and the US might be left with no choice but to declare all of these countries in need of some vital freedom and democracy.

Therefore, ousting MBS and replacing him with a Crown Prince who doesn’t stray too far from the tree that is US imperialism may put a dent in pending relationships with Saudi Arabia and Washington’s adversaries, Russia and China.

Once we get over the certainty that the US media and the CIA are not against MBS for his long-list of human rights abuses, the question then becomes: why – why now, and in this manner, have they decided to put the spotlight on MBS and expose him exactly for what he is.

Clearly, the driving force behind this media outrage is a bit more complex than first meets the eye.

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