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The Defeat of Judge Roy Moore

The success of the disinformation campaign and how to stop it

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Alabama Special Election cycle has been the source of much drama in the American media over the last month.  The vacancy left in the U.S. Senate by the appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions to Attorney General needed to be filled, and the people of Alabama had three people to pick from: Democrat Doug Jones, and Republicans Luther Strange and Judge Roy Moore.

When Judge Moore won the primary election, this was seen as a victory for strong conservatives, who feared that Strange would act much as the Establishment Republicans do – which is apparently in their own interests, rather than the interests of the people as manifested in the policy decisions proposed and promised by President Trump.

There has long been controversy surrounding Judge Moore, for his very strong Christian stance about directing the probate judges to continue the Alabama state ban on same-sex marriages (after the US Supreme Court ruled such bans as unconstituional) in 2016, and for refusing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the lobby of his courthouse in 2003.

Moore was seen as what he is – a true conservative and a firebrand at that, someone who, like Trump, would light the establishment on fire and destroy its power, and someone who would not be afraid to be controversial in the cause of what is truly right, especially in that he follows the traditional Christian worldview very strongly.  For him, religious practice is not just something to be talked about, it is something to be lived.

This, again, is much like the brazen honesty that we see in President Trump himself.

The aforementioned “establishment” should be explained here. In this author’s estimation, the “establishment” politicians are those who seem to forget that they are in Congress to serve the American people they were elected to represent.  Now, while it has been a long time since the United States truly functioned as the representative republic its Constitution defines it to be, in relatively recent decades, the disconnect between DC and the rest of the nation seems to have increased beyond belief. Many times, citizens of the USA, in either party, could be heard to complain that Congress does not serve anyone but itself, and, depending on who the party in power was, we could be sure that the party not in power would be rife with complaints about how “elitism” of the party in power hurt the average American.

In 2014, though, it appeared that more Americans than usual got a rude awakening to just how widely true this assertion was.  In that year there was a midterm election, and it was extremely significant, because the result of it was that the Senate went from being a Democrat majority to a Republican majority.

Even more significant was how this happened.  In an unusual development, the GOP had no overall party platform that each GOP candidate used as their core message in his or her campaign.  Each GOP winner, whether in the Senate or House, won because their message was “I am going to stop Obama.”

I am going to stop Obama.  If you elect me, we will stop his “fundamental transformation” of America and make things right, (get them back as they used to be).

That was the message, and every candidate that ran on this message was victorious.

But then came the betrayal.

In case by case, bill by bill, the new GOP majority capitulated to Democrat minority pressure in almost every single bill or measure proposed.  The GOP had majorities in both houses.  They could effectively stop Obama and his policies in their tracks.  But they didn’t.  And they didn’t again.  And again.  Sometimes we heard the GOP congressmen claim that they were trying to “position themselves” to do something really significant, but they almost never did it.

Understanding this series of events, what this author calls “the Great GOP Betrayal of 2014”, is perhaps the main cause of the phenomenon that is Donald Trump, and his unexpected and dramatic election victory.

There were a whole lot of American citizens, this one included, that held no trust for Congress, GOP or Democrat.  Trump won the nomination because even Ted Cruz still played politics.  The American conservatives had been betrayed one too many times, and they sensed this and all it took was Senator Cruz playing the game of expediency in politics once or twice, and that was all.

Donald Trump said all the wrong things, to all the people they needed to be said to, and this both frightened and thrilled many of us.  We were frightened because for almost fifty years the vaunted American right to freedom of speech had been increasingly snuffed out by political correctness Thought Police, and Mr. Trump said these things anyway, and we feared for the end of his political career, even though we strongly agreed with him.  We were thrilled because we saw that it wasn’t only ourselves that felt what he said, but that many of our friends still did, too, only we had been silenced by the Left.

Judge Moore is one of these kind of people.  Flamboyant, but honest.  Although the man was long involved in politics, many conservatives saw the same necessary spirit in him, the same fire to overturn the conventional way things are done, and to flout political correctness and other liberal maxims and to make America great again. It was precisely along these lines that Steve Bannon promoted Judge Moore and backed his candidacy.

But something happened along the way.  A number of women surfaced with strange stories, claiming that when Judge Moore was in his early thirties, he tried to have relationships with them while they were teenagers.

The scandal surrounding this was immediate and widespread.  The story was broken in such a way as to paint a picture of the Judge as some sort of child molester, because the age difference was so huge as to be inappropriate or perverted.

The press managed to be slightly subtle in that the strength of the allegations was in their indirect sense of innuendo.

This had an extremely effective impact on the nation, and it began to unravel the Judge’s chances.  Even President Trump was cautious in his response to this matter, saying, correctly but cautiously, “If Judge Moore did these things, he should do the right thing and exit the campaign.”

To President Trump’s credit, this was precisely correct.  However, it didn’t help.

Further, Judge Moore actually damaged himself much more in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, when he was vague, answering “not generally, no” to the question about if he was “dating girls that young at that time.” He further appeared to step in it when he said that he did not recall ever dating any girl without the permission of her mother.

Hannity charged ahead because these answers were far too ambiguous for him, and one thing this author knows personally about Sean is that he is a man of his word.  Sean Hannity is a man that is definitely responsive to his own conscience, and he is not one to brush things under the rug like this.  And true to form, he didn’t, and gave the Judge 24 hours to clean this mess up, saying “You must immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation for your inconsistencies… If [Moore] can’t do this, [he] needs to get out of this race.”

Judge Moore did so, in an open letter through Twitter addressed to Sean, but available for all to read.

He also continued from that point until the election to firmly and completely deny the allegations against him.  However, in a strange turn, the weekend before the election, he disappeared for a couple days.  Also, in an appearance very close to the election, his wife committed a blunder by saying “we are not anti-Semitic, one of our lawyers is a Jew!”

This writer remembers, as an Alabama kid myself, watching a TV commercial in the 1970’s about Jimmy’s Jewish friend.  I learned that a good way of showing you’re prejudiced is to try to say you are not.  It would seem that Mrs. Moore missed the commercial.

The damage was done.  The media was out to get Judge Moore, and their disinformation campaign worked wonders.  This author did not even know about the reply the Judge gave until researching for this piece.  This, though this writer intensely follows the news aggregators and websites that support conservative candidates.

Eventually, as we know, President Trump endorsed Moore and did it in a very pragmatic way:  Look at what he stands for, and look at what the other guy has stood for.  But it wasn’t quite enough, and on the night of December 12, Doug Jones, a Democrat, became the first Democrat Senator-Elect in Alabama in 25 years.

Now, the Democrat party is crowing with great confidence about the “victory” in this election and the certainty that 2018 is going to be the year that swings their way again.  This author wants to make a few predictions about the next set of events we will likely see, but then there is something more important to be said.

(1) The “allegations” against Judge Roy Moore will seem to vanish, because there is no need to bring them up anymore since he has been defeated in the election. This is a problem. If these allegations really had merit, they should be pursued. But they won’t be.

(2) NEW allegations with much greater ferocity will be brought against President Trump and selected GOP individuals, all of whom show greatly conservative leanings. Since that is not many, most of the attention will be on Trump. I think we can note that this has already started, but it will amplify radically because the people who used this tactic against Moore will believe it can work against the President.

(3) The Democrats will get very bold about 2018 (again we already see this in statements by Sen. Charles “Chuck” Schumer and no doubt Rep. Nancy Pelosi will chime in if she hasn’t already) – and the Dems will act like they are completely in control.

(4) This will lead to some very interesting public drama, but it will also cloud the picture. If our President is smart (and he is), he will probably use this situation very positively. He has already started by congratulating Senator-Elect Jones, and this is certainly appropriate. I suspect that Jones is more extreme on the liberal side than even HE knows, but at the same time, I think he will also (at least on his own) be rather amenable to Trump. The key here is how much pressure can Jones take from the others in his party.

This author believes that President Trump can snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat.  He is already doing so.  However, the president’s great talents notwithstanding, there is a problem that has to be faced.

We do not know if Judge Moore misbehaved thirty years ago.  But his campaign was destroyed by these allegations, and one major one was proved to be at least a partial fabrication, the altered yearbook signature, which was “tweaked” for the purpose of this slander.

In the campaign, “character” was raised as an issue, but in reality it was slander and gossip that brought this candidate down, and nothing more.  The awesome power of the mass media on a population that has been largely taught to avoid critical thinking, but instead to “go with the flow”, has worked a sad wonder here.

You see, these stories magically appeared forty years after they supposedly took place, timed perfectly to coincide with the intended defeat of a political candidate twenty-eight days before his possible election. This was a November surprise that worked where the October Surprise attempt against Donald Trump last year (the Access Hollywood – Billy Bush video clip) didn’t.

This author is almost sure the allegations are false and only fabricated because of the necessity to defeat this renegade candidate at all costs.  As predicted above, time will bear this idea out.  We shall see.

But a problem exists as to why (1) the American people do not seem to be able to smell the rat in this situation, and (2) the politicians attempt not to be blunt in the face of a need by the American people to be so.

In this, the power of political correctness, secular humanist “compassion” and militant feminism all worked very effectively to damage President Trump’s ability to move the country to a better place.

It seems that the first issue, the populace’s perceived inability to smell a rat, is actually the reflection of a real need. The need for honesty.

Americans are people that crave honesty.  Many of us admire Donald Trump simply because he says what he thinks.  If we disagree, we disagree, but at least we know, and we know without the shadow of a doubt.  Judge Moore gave us a big shadow of doubt, and that was fodder for the dishonesty brigade that is the mainstream media in the United States.

The second part of this problem is that a great number of our people have been taken in by the influence of what can only truly be called “cultural Marxism” but which bears the face of “progress” and “compassion” and even “repentance for our nation’s crimes.”

This impulse, to be compassionate and fair at all costs actually does come with a cost, because our standards for what constitute compassion and care have been altered.  Instead of honesty and responsibility, for example, we espouse entitlement and victimhood.  Instead of changing our own lives to become better people, we insist that the world around us is unfair, and we try to change the externals, including other people’s behavior, or our own recording and retelling of history, to make ourselves feel better.

We stop trusting the gut instinct of conscience in ourselves and instead we espouse the “groupthink” that is handed to us by the forces of “common sense”, unmindful that we already possess enough common sense to know that garbage really IS garbage.  Finally, we all do it together.  As denizens of the fishbowl, it becomes hard to see that we are really being played, and if we try to look, sometimes the sheer discomfort of what we begin to see is enough to make us want to “take the blue pill” and shrink back into blissful, willful ignorance.

The gift of being able to see that reality is NOT groupthink, and that people can express it fearlessly and powerfully, is the gift of such people as President Trump, Rand Paul, Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Sanders, and Steve Bannon, politically speaking.  It is also fomented by the publications of what are called the “alternative media”, who are alternative simply because the writers and journalists and analysts have laid claim to their desire to think things through, critically for themselves, and then share their thoughts with their audiences, not to obtain just another slavish group of drones that think their way, but who think critically for themselves.

This ability to think honestly and critically, to analyze things with open-mindedness that is not enslaved to the socially “acceptable” themes of the day, this is our work as citizens – each one of us is called to do this.

The United States’ great success as a young nation was at its best when its people engaged in critical thought.  We squabbled a lot, argued a lot and it was intense at times, but honest people make things happen.  The fuzzy warm feel-good of groupthink has been largely responsible for taking our freedom away.  If we want to make the most of the chance that has been given us, hopefully this piece has illustrated some of how we, personally and as a people, can accomplish this.

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Whose Money Stoked Religious Strife in Ukraine – and Who Tried to Steal It?

Was $25 million in American tax dollars allocated for a payoff to stir up religious turmoil and violence in Ukraine?

Jim Jatras

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Authored by James George Jatras via Strategic Culture:


Was $25 million in American tax dollars allocated for a payoff to stir up religious turmoil and violence in Ukraine? Did Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (unsuccessfully) attempt to divert most of it into his own pocket?

Last month the worldwide Orthodox Christian communion was plunged into crisis by the decision of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in Constantinople to recognize as legitimate schismatic pseudo-bishops anathematized by the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is an autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church. In so doing not only has Patriarch Bartholomew besmirched the global witness of Orthodoxy’s two-millennia old Apostolic faith, he has set the stage for religious strife in Ukraine and fratricidal violence – which has already begun.

Starting in July, when few were paying attention, this analyst warned about the impending dispute and how it facilitated the anti-Christian moral agenda of certain marginal “Orthodox” voices like “Orthodoxy in Dialogue,” Fordham University’s “Orthodox Christian Studies Center,” and The Wheel. These “self-professed teachers presume to challenge the moral teachings of the faith” (in the words of Fr. John Parker) and “prowl around, wolves in sheep’s clothing, forming and shaping false ideas about the reality of our life in Christ.” Unsurprisingly such groups have embraced Constantinople’s neopapal self-aggrandizement and support for the Ukrainian schismatics.

No one – and certainly not this analyst – would accuse Patriarch Bartholomew, most Ukrainian politicians, or even the Ukrainian schismatics of sympathizing with advocacy of such anti-Orthodox values. And yet these advocates know they cannot advance their goals if the conciliar and traditional structure of Orthodoxy remains intact. Thus they welcome efforts by Constantinople to centralize power while throwing the Church into discord, especially the Russian Church, which is vilified in some Western circles precisely because it is a global beacon of traditional Christian moral witness.

This aspect points to another reason for Western governments to support Ukrainian autocephaly as a spiritual offensive against Russia and Orthodoxy. The post-Maidan leadership harp on the “European choice” the people of Ukraine supposedly made in 2014, but they soft-pedal the accompanying moral baggage the West demands, symbolized by “gay” marches organized over Christian objections in Orthodox cities like AthensBelgradeBucharestKievOdessaPodgoricaSofia, and Tbilisi. Even under the Trump administration, the US is in lockstep with our European Union friends in pressuring countries liberated from communism to adopt such nihilistic “democratic, European values.”

Perhaps even more important to its initiators, the row over Ukraine aims to break what they see as the “soft power” of the Russian Federation, of which the Orthodox Church is the spiritual heart and soul. As explained by Valeria Z. Nollan, professor emerita of Russian Studies at Rhodes College:

‘The real goal of the quest for autocephaly [i.e., complete self-governing status independent of the Moscow Patriarchate] of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is a de facto coup: a political coup already took place in 2014, poisoning the relations between western Ukraine and Russia, and thus another type of coup – a religious one – similarly seeks to undermine the canonical relationship between the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Moscow.’

In furthering these twin objectives (morally, the degrading of Orthodox Christianity; politically, undermining the Russian state as Orthodoxy’s powerful traditional protector) it is increasingly clear that the United States government – and specifically the Department of State – has become a hands-on fomenter of conflict. After a short period of appropriately declaring that “any decision on autocephaly is an internal [Orthodox] church matter,” the Department within days reversed its position and issued a formal statement (in the name of Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, but clearly drafted by the European bureau) that skirted a direct call for autocephaly but gave the unmistakable impression of such backing. This is exactly how it was reported in the media, for example, “US backs Ukrainian Church bid for autocephaly.” Finally, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo weighed in personally with his own endorsement as did the US Reichskommissar for UkraineKurt Volker.

The Threat…

There soon became reason to believe that the State Department’s involvement was not limited to exhortations. As reported by this analyst in October, according to an unconfirmed report originating with the members of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (an autonomous New York-based jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate), in July of this year State Department officials (possibly including Secretary Pompeo personally) warned the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (also based in New York but part of the Ecumenical Patriarchate) that the US government was aware of the misappropriation of a large amount of money, about $10 million, from estimated $37 million raised from believers for the construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York. The State Department warning also reportedly noted that federal prosecutors have documentary evidence confirming the withdrawal of these funds abroad on the orders of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. It was suggested that Secretary Pompeo would “close his eyes” to this theft in exchange for movement by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in favor of Ukrainian autocephaly, which helped set Patriarch Bartholomew on his current course.

[Further details on the St. Nicholas scandal are available here, but in summary: Only one place of worship of any faith was destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attack in New York and only one building not part of the World Trade Center complex was completely destroyed. That was St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, a small urban parish church established at the end of World War I and dedicated to St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, who is very popular with Greeks as the patron of sailors. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, and following a lengthy legal battle with the Port Authority, which opposed rebuilding the church, in 2011 the Greek Archdiocese launched an extensive campaign to raise funds for a brilliant innovative design by the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava based on traditional Byzantine forms. Wealthy donors and those of modest means alike enthusiastically contributed millions to the effort. Then – poof! In December 2017, suddenly all construction was halted for lack of funds and remains stalled to this day. Resumption would require having an estimated $2 million on hand. Despite the Archdiocese’s calling in a major accounting firm to conduct an audit, there’s been no clear answer to what happened to the money. Both the US Attorney and New York state authorities are investigating.]

This is where things get back to Ukraine. If the State Department wanted to find the right button to push to spur Patriarch Bartholomew to move on the question of autocephaly, the Greek Archdiocese in the US is it. Let’s keep in mind that in his home country, Turkey, Patriarch Bartholomew has virtually no local flock – only a few hundred mostly elderly Greeks left huddled in Istanbul’s Phanar district. (Sometimes the Patriarchate is referred to simply as “the Phanar,” much as “the Vatican” is shorthand for the Roman Catholic papacy.) Whatever funds the Patriarchate derives from other sources (the Greek government, the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches), the Phanar’s financial lifeline is the ethnic Greek community (including this analyst) in what is still quaintly called the “Diaspora” in places like America, Australia, and New Zealand. And of these, the biggest cash cow is the Greek-Americans.

That’s why, when Patriarch Bartholomew issued a call in 2016 for what was billed as an Orthodox “Eighth Ecumenical Council” (the first one since the year 787!), the funds largely came from America, to the tune of up to $8 million according to the same confidential source as will be noted below. Intended by some as a modernizing Orthodox “Vatican II,” the event was doomed to failure by a boycott organized by Moscow over what the latter saw as Patriarch Bartholomew’s adopting papal or even imperial prerogatives – now sadly coming to bear in Ukraine.

…and the Payoff

On top of the foregoing, it now appears that the State Department’s direct hand in this sordid business may not have consisted solely of wielding the “stick” of legal threat: there’s reason to believe there was a “carrot” too. It very recently came to the attention of this analyst, via an unsolicited, confidential source in the Greek Archdiocese in New York, that a payment of $25 million in US government money was made to Constantinople to encourage Patriarch Bartholomew to move forward on Ukraine.

The source for this confidential report was unaware of earlier media reports that the same figure – $25 million – was paid by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to the Phanar as an incentive for Patriarch Bartholomew to move forward on creating an independent Ukrainian church. Moreover, Poroshenko evidently tried to shortchange the payment:

‘Peter [Petro] Poroshenko — the president of Ukraine — was obligated to return $15 million US dollars to the Patriarch of Constantinople, which he had appropriated for himself.

‘As reported by Izvestia, this occurred after the story about Bartholomew’s bribe and a “vanishing” large sum designated for the creation of a Unified Local Orthodox Church in Ukraine surfaced in the mass media.

‘As reported, on the eve of Poroshenko’s visit in Istanbul, a few wealthy people of Ukraine “chipped in” in order to hasten the process of creating a Unified Local Orthodox Church. About $25 million was collected. They were supposed to go to the award ceremony for Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for the issuing of a tomos of autocephaly. [A tomos is a small book containing a formal announcement.] However, in the words of people close to the backer, during the visit on April 9, Poroshenko handed over only $10 million.

‘As a result, having learned of the deal, Bartholomew cancelled the participation of the delegation of the Phanar – the residence of the Patriarch of Constantinople, in the celebration of the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia on July 27 in Kiev.

‘”Such a decision from Bartholomew’s side was nothing other than a strong ultimatum to Poroshenko to return the stolen money. Of course, in order to not lose his face in light of the stark revelations of the creation of the tomos of autocephaly for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Peter Alexeevich [Poroshenko] had to just return those $15 million for the needs of Constantinople,” a trusted source explained to reporters.

‘For preliminary information, only after receiving the remaining sum, did Bartholomew finally give his consent to sending a delegation of the Phanar to Kiev … ‘

Now, it’s possible that the two identical figures of $25 million refer to two different pots of money (a cool $50 million!) but that seems unlikely. It’s more probable the reports refer to the same sum as viewed from the sending side (the State Department, the Greek Archdiocese) and the delivery side (Poroshenko, Constantinople).

Lending credibility to the confidential information from New York and pointing to the probability that it refers to the same payment that Poroshenko reportedly sought to raid for himself are the following observations:

  • When Poroshenko generously offered Patriarch Bartholomew $10 million, the latter was aware that the full amount was $25 million and demanded the $15 million Poroshenko had held back. How did the Patriarch know that, unless he was informed via New York of the full sum?
  • If the earlier-reported $25 million was really collected from “a few wealthy people of Ukraine” who “chipped in,” given the cutthroat nature of disputes among Ukrainian oligarchs would Poroshenko (an oligarch in his own right) have risked trying to shortchange the payment? Why has not even one such Ukrainian donor been identified?
  • Without going into all the details, the Phanar and the Greek Archdiocese have a long relationship with US administrations of both parties going back at least to the Truman administration, encompassing some decidedly unattractive episodes. In such a history, a mere bribe for a geopolitical shot against Moscow would hardly be a first instance or the worst.

As one of this analyst’s Greek-American connections puts it: “It’s easy to comprehend the Patriarchate bowing to the pressure of State Dept. blackmail… not overly savory, but understandable. However, it’s another thing altogether if Kiev truly “purchased” their autocephalous status from an all too willing Patriarchate … which would relegate the Patriarch to ‘salesman’ status and leave the faithful wondering what else might be offered to the highest bidder the next time it became convenient to hold a Patriarchal ‘fire sale’ at the Phanar?!”

To add insult to injury, you’d think Constantinople at least could pay back some of the $7-8 million wasted on the Crete 2016 debacle to restart the St. Nicholas project in New York. Evidently the Phanar has better things to spend it on, like the demonstrative environmentalism of “the Green Patriarch” and, together with Pope Francis, welcoming Muslim migrants to Europe through Greece. Of course maybe there’s no need to worry, as the Ukraine “sale” was consistent with Constantinople’s papal ambitions, an uncanonical claim to “universal” status, and misuse of incarnational language and adoption of a breathtakingly arrogant tone that would cause even the most ultramontane proponent of the Rome’s supremacy to blush.

Finally, it seems that, for the time being at least, Constantinople doesn’t intend to create an independent Ukrainian church but rather an autonomous church under its own authority. It’s unclear whether or not Poroshenko or the State Department, in such event, would believe they had gotten their money’s worth. Perhaps they would. After all, the issue here is less what is appropriate for Ukraine than what strikes at Russia and injures the worldwide Christian witness of the Orthodox Church. To that end, it doesn’t matter whether the new illegal body is Constantinopolitan or Kievan, just so long as it isn’t a “Moskal church” linked to Russia.

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EU Army: Fact or Fiction? (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 152.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and International Affairs and Security Analyst via Moscow, Mark Sleboda discuss the possibility, and feasibility, of putting together an EU army, as French President Macron is now boasting about.

Will an EU Army replace, rival, or fold into NATO? How will the US respond to Europe’s military initiative, and how will Russia deal an EU army?

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Via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


“Insulting” – that’s how US President Donald Trump sharply reacted to the idea of a “real European army” proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

And it was how Macron rationalized the need for an independent military force for Europe that perhaps most irked the American leader.

Speaking on a tour of World War I battlefields in northern France last week, Macron said that Europe needed to defend itself from “China, Russia and even the United States of America”.

It was a pretty extraordinary choice of words by the French leader. To frame the US among an array of perceived foreign enemy powers was a devastating blow to the concept of a much-vaunted transatlantic alliance.

Since the Second World War, ending 1945, the concept of an American-European alliance has been the bedrock of a supposed inviolable, mutual defense pact. That nearly seven-decade alliance is now being questioned more than ever.

Macron’s call for a European army was further backed up by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who also pointedly said this week that Europe can no longer rely on the US for its defense.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has welcomed the proposal for Europe to form its own military organization, independent from Washington. No doubt, Moscow views such a development as augmenting a move towards a multipolar international order, which Russia and China, among others, have been advocating in opposition to American ambitions of unipolar dominance.

When Trump arrived in Paris last weekend along with dozens of other world leaders, including Putin, to commemorate the centennial anniversary marking the end of World War I, there was a notable frostiness between Macron and the American president. Only a few months ago, Macron and Trump had appeared the best of friends in what some observers referred to as a “bromance”.

During the Paris events, Macron sought to placate Trump by saying that the European army proposal would have a “complementary” role to the US-led NATO military alliance. However, their relationship further soured when Macron later delivered a speech in which he made a veiled rebuke of Trump’s “nationalist” politics.

Days later, on returning to Washington, Trump then fired off a fusillade of angry tweets attacking Macron in very personal terms over a range of issues, including “unfair” economic trade and France’s alleged ungrateful attitude towards the US liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

The rift between the US and Europe has been brewing even before Trump’s presidency. For years, Washington has been carping that the Europeans need to spend more on military defense, claiming that the US has been shouldering the burden for too long. Trump has taken the griping to a new, higher level. Recall that he has threatened to pull out of NATO because the Europeans were “free loading” on American “protection”.

The irony is that now the French and German leaders are talking about setting up their own military defenses, Trump has blown a fuse.

Evidently, the American contention is not about “burden sharing” of defense. If Washington was genuinely aggrieved about supposedly defending Europe at too much of its own expense, then Trump, one would think, would be only too glad to hear that the Europeans were at last making their own military arrangements, and taking the burden off Washington.

This gets to the heart of the matter about the real purpose of NATO and presence of tens of thousands of US troops stationed in bases across Europe since 1945. American military presence in Europe is not about “protecting” its supposed allies. It is, and always has been, about projecting American power over Europe. In reality, American troops and bases in Europe are more functioning as an occupying force, keeping the Europeans in line with Washington’s strategic objectives of hegemony over the continent.

Macron and Merkel’s vision of a European army is probably fanciful anyway, without any real prospect of materializing. How such a new defense arrangement would work independently from the 29-member NATO alliance led by the US seems unwieldy and impractical.

But the latest tensions between Washington and European leaders over military organization demonstrate the real nature of America’s relationship to Europe. It is about domination by Washington over Europe and has little to do with partnership and protection.

When Trump and previous US presidents have urged greater military spending by Europe the ulterior agenda is for Europeans to pay more to underpin American military presence, not for Europeans to find their own independent defense arrangement.

Tensions in the transatlantic axis seem to be coming to a head, heightened by Trump’s nationalistic “America First” policy. Rivalries are sharpening over trade, US sanctions on Iran, Trump’s threats against European energy plans with Russia, the Paris Climate Accord, and squabbling over NATO expenditures.

There is nothing progressive about Macron or Merkel’s call for a European army. It is more to do with France and Germany wanting to assert themselves as great powers and to shake off American tutelage out of frustration with Trump’s domineering petulance.

Only last week, Macron caused controversy when he praised French military general Philippe Pétain who collaborated with Nazi Germany as leader of Vichy France (1940-44). Macron wants a European army to satisfy his own nationalistic ambitions of revamping French global power. This week, he spent the night onboard a refurbished French aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, from which he gave a media interview saying that being “an ally of America meant not being a vassal”. Touché!

A progressive challenge from Europe to American power would not involve setting up a new army. Instead it would involve Europeans pushing for the disbandment of NATO as an obsolete organization and for the withdrawal of US-led forces which are dangerously amassing on Russia’s border.

Nonetheless, the one positive thing to emerge from the transatlantic spat over military defenses is that it illustrates more than ever how European protection is not the real purpose of Washington’s relationship to the continent. The purpose is one of using Europe as a platform for projecting America’s power, in particular against Russia.

The recent announcement by the Trump administration that it is willing to rip up yet another nuclear arms control treaty – the INF following the ABM in 2002 – clearly shows that Washington, ultimately, has recklessly scant concern for Europe’s security with regard to a possible future war with Russia.

For Washington, despite all the chivalrous rhetoric, Europe is not a partner nor even an ally. It is a vassal. Admittedly, thousands of American troops died while bravely fighting wars in Europe. But they are distinct from the US ruling class. At bottom, Europe is merely a battlefield for American military power, just as it was in two previous world wars. One hundred years after the end of World War I, the same callous calculus for the imperial planners in Washington is at play.

European ideas for independent defense is why Washington has reacted so furiously. It’s not willing to give up its European front.

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Zuckerberg Clings To Power While Sandberg Claims Ignorance After Damaging NYT Report

The New York Times reported that Facebook hired GOP PR firm, Defenders, to smear liberal detractors as Soros operatives. 

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Facebook executives Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg are battling backlash over an explosive investigation by the New York Times into Facebook’s mercenary damage control tactics in the wake of several major scandals.

Despite fresh calls from investors for Zuckerberg to step down in his dual role as CEO and chairman and appoint an independent director to oversee the board, the 34-year-old tech titan brushed off the suggestion during a Thursday call with journalists.

“A company with Facebook’s massive reach and influence requires robust oversight and that can only be achieved through an independent chair who is empowered to provide critical checks on company leadership,” said New York City comptroller, Scott Stringer.

Zuckerberg disagrees. “I don’t think that that specific proposal is the right way to go,” said the Facebook CEO when asked if he would consider stepping down, adding that other initiatives had been launched to “get more independence into our systems.”

The measures include creating an independent body to advise the company on decisions over whether controversial content should remain on the site.

Ultimately, he said Facebook is never going to eradicate mistakes. “We’re never going to get to the point where there are no errors,” he told reporters. “I’m trying to set up the company so that way we have our board, and we report on our financial results and do a call every quarter, but that also we have this independent oversight that is just focused on the community.” –Business Insider

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, meanwhile, is claiming ignorance – telling CBS This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell “we absolutely did not pay anyone to create fake news – that they have assured me was not happening.”

In their Wednesday exposé – the culmination of interviews with over 50 current and former company executives, lawmakers, government officials, lobbyists and congressional staff members,the New York Times reported that Facebook had hired GOP PR firm, Defenders, which smeared liberal detractors as Soros operatives – and worked with a sister company to create negative propaganda about competitors Google and Apple.

Mr. Kaplan prevailed on Ms. Sandberg to promote Kevin Martin, a former Federal Communications Commission chairman and fellow Bush administration veteran, to lead the company’s American lobbying efforts. Facebook also expanded its work with Definers.

On a conservative news site called the NTK Network, dozens of articles blasted Google and Apple for unsavory business practices. One story called Mr. Cook hypocritical for chiding Facebook over privacy, noting that Apple also collects reams of data from users. Another played down the impact of the Russians’ use of Facebook.

The rash of news coverage was no accident: NTK is an affiliate of Definers, sharing offices and staff with the public relations firm in Arlington, Va. Many NTK Network stories are written by staff members at Definers or America Rising, the company’s political opposition-research arm, to attack their clients’ enemies. –NYT

Meanwhile, Sandberg stressed that Facebook was undertaking new security measures, telling O’Donnell: “Our strategy was to shore up the security on Facebook and make major investments there,” and that the company had made significant investments in combatting fake news and foreign influence.

“It was not what I was doing nor was it the company’s strategy to deflect, to deny or to hire PR firms to do things. That’s not the strategy. And I was part of none of that. We’ve taken great steps, we’ve made huge investments. We’ve invested a ton in AI and technology and if you were following us before the election you saw those efforts pay off. We were able to take down lots of stuff over and over, over and over because we were now focused on this,” said Sandberg.

When asked if rank-and-file employees are confident in her, Sandberg replied: “Yes, I believe so.

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