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Paving the Road to the End of NATO

Macron echoed Merkel’s statements that Europe can no longer rely on the United States for its security.

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Authored by Tom Luongo via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It’s no secret that President Trump believes NATO is an anachronism. It’s also no secret that French President Emmanuel Macron wants a Grand Army of the EU and a single EU Finance Minister to further integration of the EU into the United States of Europe.

He and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been championing these two things since the day after Macron took office. They are both pushing hard for the EU to conduct independent foreign policy, framing Trump’s belligerence as the catalyst for its need now.

So, I’m not surprised in the wake of Merkel’s garden summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin recently that both of these policy initiatives are being pushed now.

Both Merkel and Macron are in trouble politically. Their approval ratings are dropping. Both have seen cabinet defections. So, they need political wins and rapprochement with Russia is something very much desired by many European nations, like Italy, and necessary to gain some economic momentum after four years of ruinous sanctions.

Macron now openly engages the idea of a security framework with Russia. The same Russia that not three months ago Macron was pulling diplomats from over the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

This admission on his part is major bombshell. If sincere, it changes the entire narrative and accelerates the shift of Europe away from the U.S.’s abusive use of the dollar as a whip to command compliance.

It also cuts to the heart of Trump’s criticisms of NATO, that the threat of Russian invasion of Eastern Europe as promoted by Poland and the Baltics is laughable.

In his recent press conference in Helsinki (ironic that), Macron echoed Merkel’s statements from earlier this year that Europe can no longer rely on the United States for its security; France should build a strategic partnership with Russia and Turkey.

I’ve been arguing for weeks now that Trump’s hostile policies towards Iran as well as Europe had the ultimate goal of accelerating the end of NATO by putting direct pressure on Germany and France to end the policy of using the U.S. as their defense pack horse.

Trump was right to point out at July’s NATO Summit the fundamental hypocrisy of spending billions on NATO to defend Germany while Germany is building a gas pipeline with Russia, Nordstream 2, to run its economy and resell gas around Europe.

This statement by Macron is an admission that Trump has won the standoff between the EU and the U.S.

Previous to Trump the goal was to simultaneously bind down the U.S. via trade deals and transnational agreements like TTIP and the Paris Accord on Climate Control while elevating Europe’s interests abroad by letting Iran off the hook and back into the global economy and expanding trade with China.

The inversion of the relationship between the U.S. (master) and Europe (satrap) would have been completed under a Clinton Presidency.

The arrangement being that the U.S. would continue bankrupt itself maintaining a military empire around the world and pay the lion’s share of NATO’s costs while the EU set policy. Trump rightly called that out during the campaign and has been resolute on this as President.

And to him, the Iran Nuclear Deal represented the ultimate slap in the face to the U.S., allowing Europe access to cheap Iranian oil and gas, paid for with euros, in exchange for zero real guarantee of Iran not developing a nuclear missile, thereby destabilizing the entire Middle East.

And, while, I believe Iran was upholding its end of the bargain as written, the spirit of the agreement was the problem. Trump believes, and, here I agree with him, that North Korea and Iran were working together to develop a nuclear ballistic missile. North Korea built the warhead while Iran worked on the delivery system.

Trump confirmed this was his belief in a tweet last year. It signified that Trump understands this connection and was unhappy about it.

That tweet changed everything. It set us on the path we’re on today. Here’s what I wrote back in late September of 2017.

Trump has made a big show about how the JCPOA is a ‘bad deal.’ This tweet tells you why.

But, so what? Until we show some willingness to define American interests less broadly and honor our agreements, why should anyone negotiate? Why should Iran and North Korea not pursue their interests which is obtaining a nuclear arsenal to deter the U.S. from violent regime change?

And that’s the place we are in right now with Europe. Why should they negotiate with Trump unless he offers them something in return, something he wants to give them; their foreign policy independence.

Trump is defining American interests less broadly. He’s saying Europe’s defense isn’t our responsibility anymore. He’s saying you don’t get to have your Iranian oil and hollow out our economy at the same time.

Macron is actively taking him up on the offer because he knows, like Merkel, that the U.S. will not lift a finger under Trump to tamp down unrest in Europe due to political instability brought on by central bank financial repression and mass immigration.

Because of this NATO is worried. Selling the world on permanent conflict with the evil Russians and ‘terrorists’ is the main way to keep selling arms around the world. That’s what NATO is at this point; a vast graveyard for productive capital to be wasted on weapons we don’t need to fight enemies that don’t exist.

This is why it’s political mouthpiece, The Atlantic Council, is advising Facebook on what is and is not ‘fake news’ coming from Russia. This is why the media, bureaucracies and lobbyists in D.C. all hate Trump. He’s undercutting the reasons for all of these weapons by forcing the real narrative about Europe’s security into the open.

Which is that the biggest danger to Europe’s security is Europe’s own leadership.

As I said at the outset, these plans for a Grand Army of the EU have been in the works for years. The EU was supposed to have its cake – U.S. money and support – and eat it too – its own private military — with the ultimate goal of merging their command structures with the U.S. in the subservient role.

And that plays into the other possibility of what this offer by Macron signifies. I’ve given you the bull case, as it were. Now here’s the bear case.

This statement by Macron could also be meant as an enticement to Russia to abandon its partnership with Iran and China in exchange for a closer relationship with Europe. We all know that Henry Kissinger has been advising Trump on this front; to create conditions by which to break the Russia/China alliance.

Because, while the U.S. is ‘not agreement capable,’ France and Germany are the kindler, gentler face of Western expansionism. So, Macron offers up a security arrangement for Russia and Turkey that excludes the U.S., giving Trump what he wants, an end to the U.S. funding Europe’s defense, while keeping NATO alive to turn on Russia at a later date, say after Trump is impeached.

So which path does this offer by Macron represent? The one that leads to European independence on foreign and energy policy out from under the umbrella of NATO and the U.S. and into an agreement with Russia and Turkey, as Macron said.

Or is it simply a stalking horse for further EU integration after Trump is removed from office and the original path paved by Obama re-established but this time with Russia neutered having betrayed its allies, China and Iran?

I’m betting Putin isn’t that stupid.

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Seán Murphy
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Seán Murphy

More conspiracy addled claptrap from Tom Luongo. So Iran is the bogeyman after all and Trump was right go try to scuttle the JCPOA? Tell us why, Tom. Give us facts, not Bs.

JNDillard
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JNDillard

“It also cuts to the heart of Trump’s criticisms of NATO, that the threat of Russian invasion of Eastern Europe as promoted by Poland and the Baltics is laughable.” Which brings us to the schizophrenia of the US Deep State (AND Trump, AND the entire Executive Branch:) the just announced major increase in armament sales to Ukraine. So which is it? No threat to the East (calling the bluff of Poland and the Baltics,) or increased threat? Actions speak louder than words: NATO continues to take an aggressive stance against Russia unabated, which means that Macron and Merkel, who have… Read more »

Guy
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Guy

“in exchange for zero real guarantee of Iran not developing a nuclear missile, thereby destabilizing the entire Middle East.”
I take exception to this statement Tom.Iran is monitored by the IAEA and has yet to be found to be guilty of any wrongdoing pertaining to the P5+1 agreement. Time and time again ,Iran has been found in total compliance of the agreement by the agency .

Joe
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Joe

An EU force? Really, against whom?

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Beijing Threatens “Severe” Retaliation Against Canada If Huawei CFO Is Not Released

China’s warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony.

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Via Zerohedge


Canada’s extraordinary arrest one week ago of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder and billionaire executive Ren Zhengfei, and its decision to charge her with “multiple” counts of fraud – a preamble to her likely extradition to the US to face charges of knowingly violating US and EU sanctions on Iran – has elicited widespread anger in Beijing, which declared Meng’s detention a “violation of human rights” during a bail hearing for the jailed executive on Friday.

That anger has apparently only intensified after the hearing adjourned without a decision (it will resume on Monday, allowing Meng’s defense team to argue for why she should be released on bail, contrary to the wishes of government attorneys who are prosecuting the case).

And with Canada insisting that it will prosecute Meng to the full extent of the law over allegations that she mislead banks about the true relationship of a Huawei subsidiary called Skycom, angry Chinese officials have decided to issue an ultimatum directly to the Canadian ambassador, who was summoned to a meeting in Beijing on Saturday and told in no uncertain terms that Canada will face “severe consequences” if Meng isn’t released, according to the Wall Street Journal.

China’s foreign ministry publicized the warning in a statement (though Canadian officials have yet to comment):

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, on Saturday to deliver the warning, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The statement doesn’t mention the name of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, though it refers to a Huawei “principal” taken into custody at U.S. request while changing planes in Vancouver, as was Ms. Meng. The statement accuses Canada of “severely violating the legal, legitimate rights of a Chinese citizen” and demands the person’s release.

“Otherwise there will be severe consequences, and Canada must bear the full responsibility,” said the statement, which was posted online late Saturday.

Phone calls to the Canadian Embassy rang unanswered while the Canadian government’s global affairs media office didn’t immediately respond to an email request for comment.

The warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony. A federal judge issued a warrant for Meng’s arrest back in August. Though after she was made aware of the warrant, Meng avoided travel to the US. She was arrested in Vancouver last Saturday while traveling to Mexico.

Aside from breaking off trade talks, some are worried that Beijing could seek to retaliate in kind by arresting a notable US executive. While the threats of Chinese bureaucrats might not amount to much in the eyes of US prosecutors, threatening a US executive with long-term detention in a Chinese “reeducation camp” just might.

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The trials of Julian Assange

Eresh Omar Jamal interviews Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi in relation to the situation of Julian Assange.

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Authored by Eresh Omar Jamal for The Daily Star (Bangladesh):


Stefania Maurizi is an investigative journalist working for the Italian daily La Repubblica. She has worked on all WikiLeaks releases of secret documents and partnered with Glenn Greenwald to reveal the Snowden Files about Italy. She has authored two books—Dossier WikiLeaks: Segreti Italiani and Una Bomba, Dieci Storie. In an exclusive interview with Eresh Omar Jamal of The Daily Star, Maurizi talks about the continued arbitrary detention of Julian Assange, why powerful governments see WikiLeaks as an existential threat, and the implications for global press freedom if Assange is prosecuted for publishing secret government documents.

You recently had the chance to visit Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. When was this and can you describe the state he is in?

I was able to visit him on November 19, after 8 months of failed attempts, because last March the Ecuadorian authorities cut off all his social and professional contacts, with the exception of his lawyers, and in the preceding 8 months, I had asked for permission to visit him nine times without success—the Ecuadorian authorities didn’t reply at all to my requests.

When I was finally granted permission to visit the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last November, I was literally shocked to see the huge impact his isolation has had on his health. Because I have worked as a media partner with him and his organisation, WikiLeaks, for the last nine years, I have met him many times and can tell when there are any changes in his body and mind. I wondered how his mind could keep working; but after talking to him in the embassy for two hours, I have no doubt that his mind is working fine. I still wonder how that’s possible after six and a half years of detention without even one hour of being outdoors. I would have had a physical and mental breakdown after just 6 months, not after 6 years.

Detention and isolation are killing him slowly, and no one is doing anything to stop it. The media reports, the commentators comment, but at the end of the day, he is still there; having spent the last six and a half years confined to a tiny building with no access to sunlight or to proper medical treatment. And this is happening in London, in the heart of Europe. He is not sitting in an embassy in Pyongyang. It is truly tragic and completely unacceptable. And I’m simply appalled at the way the UK authorities have contributed to his arbitrary detention, and have opposed any solution to this intractable legal and diplomatic quagmire.

Having bravely defended Assange for years, the Ecuadorian government in late March cut off almost all his communications with the outside world. What prompted this turnabout and what is its purpose?

Politics has completely changed in Ecuador, and more in general, in Latin America, since 2012, when Ecuador granted Julian Assange asylum. I have never had any interviews with the current Ecuadorian President, Mr Lenin Moreno, but based on his public declarations, it’s rather obvious to me that he does not approve of what Julian Assange and WikiLeaks do.

With all his problems, Rafael Correa (former president of Ecuador) protected Assange from the very beginning, whereas Lenin Moreno considers him a liability. Moreno is under pressure from the right-wing politicians in Ecuador, and also from very powerful governments, like the US and UK governments, who will leave no stones unturned to jail Assange and destroy WikiLeaks. I am not sure how long Lenin Moreno will hold out against this immense pressure, provided that he wants to hold out at all.

Assange was vindicated not so long ago as to why he cannot leave the embassy when the US Department of Justice “accidentally” revealed in November that the founder of WikiLeaks had been secretly charged in the US. What do you think those charges are for?

It’s hard to say unless the charges get declassified and I really appreciate how the US organisation, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, is fighting before the court in the Eastern District of Virginia, US, to have the charges declassified.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the US authorities have always wanted to charge him for WikiLeaks’ publications. They have wanted to do so from the very beginning, since 2010, when WikiLeaks released its bombshell publications like the US diplomatic cables.

But the US authorities have been unable to do so due to the fact that WikiLeaks’ publication activities enjoy constitutional protection thanks to the First Amendment. So it will be very interesting to see how they will get around this constitutional protection in order to be able to charge him and other WikiLeaks journalists and put them all in jail.

Why have some of the most powerful governments and intelligence agencies invested so much resources to attack Assange and WikiLeaks?

You have to realise what it meant for the US national security complex to witness the publication of 76,000 secret documents about the war in Afghanistan, and then another 390,000 secret reports about the war in Iraq; followed by 251,287 US diplomatic cables and 779 secret files on the Guantanamo detainees; and to watch WikiLeaks save Edward Snowden, while the US was trying everything it could do, to show the world that there is no way of exposing the NSA’s secrets and keep your head attached to your neck having done so.

You have to realise what this means in an environment like that of the US, where even the most brilliant national security reporters didn’t dare to publish the name of the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center, Michael D’Andrea, even though his name and the abuses committed by his centre were open secrets within their inner circles. Although the New York Times finally did, later on. But this was and still is the reality in the US, and even though it may not be as bad in the UK, it’s still quite bad. Look at what happened with the arrest of Glenn Greenwald’s husband, David Miranda, at the Heathrow Airport during the publication of the Snowden Files. Look at what happened with The Guardian being forced to destroy its hard drives during the publication of those files.

There are different levels of power in our societies and generally in our western democracies, criticism against the low, medium and high levels of power via journalistic activities is tolerated. Journalists may get hit with libel cases, have troubles with their careers; however, exposing those levels is permitted. The problem is when journalists and media organisations touch the highest levels, the levels where states and intelligence agencies operate.

WikiLeaks is a media organisation that has published secret documents about these entities for years, and Julian Assange and his staff have done this consistently, not occasionally like all the other media organisations do. You can imagine the anger these powerful entities have towards WikiLeaks—they perceive WikiLeaks as an existential threat and they want to set an example that says, “Don’t you dare expose our secrets and crimes, because if you do, we will smash you.”

If Assange is prosecuted, what impact might it have on other publishers and journalists and on press freedom globally?

It will have a huge impact and that is why organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union are speaking out. Never before in the US has an editor and media organisation ended up in jail for publishing information in the public interest. If Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks’ staff end up in jail, it will be the first time in US history and will set a devastating precedent for attack on press freedom in the US, but actually, not only in the US. Because if a country like the US, in which the activities of the press enjoy constitutional protection, treats journalists this way, you can imagine how other countries where the press doesn’t enjoy such strong protection will react. It will send a clear message to them: “Your hands are free.”

At the end of the day, I think there are two sides to this Assange and WikiLeaks saga: the US-UK national security complex, but more in general, I would say, the people within the national security complex, who want to destroy Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to send a clear message to journalists: “Don’t mess with us if you don’t want your lives to be destroyed.” While on the other side, there are the freedom of the press guys, meaning journalists like me, who want to demonstrate the exact opposite: that we can expose power at the highest levels, we can expose the darkest corners of governments and come out alive and well. And actually, we must do this, because real power is invisible and hides in the darkest corners.

Eresh Omar Jamal is a journalist for The Daily Star (Bangladesh). You can find him on Twitter: @EreshOmarJamal and Stefania Maurizi: @SMaurizi

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Diplomacy a Waste of Time with Washington

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

The Duran

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Authored by Stephen Lendman:


The US is a serial lawbreaker, operating by its own rules, no others.

Time and again, it flagrantly breaches international treaties, Security Council resolutions, and other rule of law principles, including its own Constitution.

Diplomacy with Republicans and undemocratic Dems is an exercise in futility.

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s proposed US outreach to discuss INF Treaty bilateral differences is well intended – despite knowing nothing is accomplished when talks with Washington are held, so why bother.

It’s just a matter of time before the US breaches another promise. They’re hollow when made. Kremlin good intentions aren’t enough to overcome US duplicity and implacable hostility toward Russia.

“We are ready to continue the dialogue in appropriate formats on the entire range of problems related to this document on the basis of professionalism and mutual respect, without putting forward unsubstantiated accusations and ultimatums. Our proposals are well known and remain on the negotiating table,” said Zakharova, adding:

“We have admitted (US) documents for further consideration. This text again includes accusations in the form of unfounded and unsubstantiated information about Russia’s alleged violations of this deal.

Comments to Washington like the above and similar remarks are like talking to a wall. The US demands all countries bend to its will, offering nothing in return but betrayal – especially in dealings with Russia, China, Iran, and other sovereign independent governments it seeks to replace with pro-Western puppet ones.

Not a shred of evidence suggests Russia violated its INF Treaty obligations. The accusation is baseless like all others against the Kremlin.

“No one has officially or by any other means handed over to Russia any files or facts, confirming that Russia breaches or does not comply with this deal,” Zakharova stressed, adding:

“We again confirm our consistent position that the INF Treaty is one of the key pillars of strategic stability and international security.”

It’s why the Trump regime intends abolishing it by pulling out. Strategic stability and international security defeat its agenda. Endless wars and chaos serve it.

The US, UK, France, Israel, and their imperial partners get away with repeated international law breaches because the EU, UN, and rest of the world community lack backbone enough to challenge them.

It’s how it is no matter how egregious their actions, notably their endless wars of aggression, supporting the world’s worst tinpot pot despots, and failing to back the rights of persecuted Palestinians and other long-suffering people.

The only language Republicans and Dems understand is toughness. Putin pretends a Russian/US partnership exists to his discredit – a show of weakness, not strength and responsible leadership.

In response to the Trump regime’s intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty, he said Russia will “react accordingly” – precisely what, he didn’t say.

A few suggestions, Mr. President.

  • Recall your ambassador to Washington. Expel the Trump regime’s envoy from Moscow and other key embassy personnel.
  • Arrest US spies in Russia you long ago identified. Imprison them until the US releases all Russian political prisoners. Agree to swap US detainees for all of them, no exceptions.
  • Install enough S-400 air defense systems to cover all Syrian airspace. Warn Washington, Britain, France and Israel that their aircraft, missiles and other aerial activities in its airspace will be destroyed in flight unless permission from Damascus is gotten – clearly not forthcoming.
  • Publicly and repeatedly accuse the above countries of supporting the scourge of ISIS and likeminded terrorists they pretend to oppose.
  • Warn them in no uncertain terms that their aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic no longer will be tolerated. Tell them the same goes if they dare attack Iran.
  • Stop pretending Mohammad bin Salman didn’t order Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, along with ignoring the kingdom’s horrendous human rights abuses domestically and abroad – including support for ISIS and other terrorists.
  • Put observance of rule of law principles and honor above dirty business as usual with the kingdom and other despotic regimes for profits.
  • Do the right things at all times and damn the short-term consequences – including toughness on Washington, the UK, Israel, and their imperial partners in high crimes of war and against humanity.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

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