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The truth about Mueller’s investigation: no Grand Jury empanelled; Trump not being investigated

New York Times and Reuters separately refute claims that Special Counsel’s Mueller’s investigation has empanelled a Grand Jury and that President Trump is himself being investigated.

Alexander Mercouris

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Early this morning the viscerally anti-Trump news media especially in Europe filled with headlines following the ‘revelation’ that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has used a Grand Jury to issue subpoenas in the Russiagate inquiry.

No European state has anything similar to a Grand Jury – Britain did away with the device long ago – and Europeans in my experience have no understanding of it.  That led to a rush of assumptions that Mueller was on the verge of bringing charges against someone.

It should be said clearly that that is completely wrong, and that such a conclusion is unwarranted.

Firstly, it seems that the report in the Wall Street Journal which triggered the story that Mueller had actually empanelled a Grand Jury are wrong.  This has been confirmed by the New York Times

A grand jury based in Alexandria, Va., began issuing subpoenas in the Flynn case months ago. Mr. Mueller took over the investigation in May and assembled a team of prosecutors in an office in downtown Washington. Mr. Mueller has not impaneled a special grand jury, the lawyers involved in the case said, and has decided instead to use one of several grand juries that regularly sit in Washington.

It is in fact standard practice in certain states of the US for investigating prosecutors to use Grand Juries to issue subpoenas, thereby avoiding the complexities of applying to a court for warrants which might require the person under investigation to attend and have his say.

That is all that Mueller appears to have done, and it is in fact something which is regularly done in investigations of this sort.  Indeed it was obviously something which it was envisaged Mueller would do when his inquiry was first set up.

What seems to have happened is that someone learnt of the fact that Mueller had used a Grand Jury to issue subpoenas as part of his investigation and jumped to conclusions from that fact which are unwarranted.

As to the subpoenas that Mueller has issued through the Grand Jury, the New York Times helpfully provides information about what they are

At least some of the subpoenas were for documents related to the business dealings of Michael T. Flynn, the retired general who briefly served as President Trump’s national security adviser. Mr. Flynn is under investigation for foreign lobbying work, as well as for conversations he had during the transition with Sergey I. Kislyak, who was Russia’s ambassador to the United States……

Brandon Van Grack, a former Alexandria prosecutor now working for Mr. Mueller, signed the subpoenas and has been leading the investigation into Mr. Flynn. Those who described the subpoenas did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the case.

It seems that there may also be subpoenas issued in connection with the now famous June 2016 meeting between Donald Tump Junior and the Russian lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya, though the wording of the New York Times article does not actually confirm this.

What makes the New York Times article especially interesting is that its sources almost certainly are lawyers working for Mueller himself.   Since Mueller’s inquiry is not in a position to comment publicly about the conduct of the investigation, someone within the inquiry – quite possibly Mueller himself – appears to have authorised a leak of what was actually happening to the New York Times in order to correct the wrong stories about Mueller empanelling a Grand Jury which had been circulating in the previous hours.

If so then this is a proper use of a leak to correct an error and stands in stark contrast to the wholly wrong and malicious use of anonymous leaks which has been going on throughout the Russiagate saga for months.

This brings us to the subject of Mueller’s conduct of the inquiry to date.  There has been massive speculation about this but few actual facts because Mueller and his team in contrast to everyone else involved in the Russiagate affair have up to now acted with impressive and commendable discipline, and have kept their conduct of the investigation private.

The latest flurry of stories about the Grand Jury have however cast some light on the question of what lines of investigation Mueller is following and it is now possible to come to some tentative conclusions.

Firstly, it is clear from the New York Times story that Mueller is looking into General Flynn’s dealings with ambassador Kislyak and the payments General Flynn received from Russia and for carrying out lobbying work for the Turkish government.

The British news agency Reuters has in addition provided some additional information

One source briefed on the matter said Mueller was investigating whether, either at the meeting or afterward (NB: this refers to the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and Natalya Veselnitskaya – AM), anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign encouraged the Russians to start releasing material they had been collecting on the Clinton campaign since March 2016.

Another source familiar with the inquiry said that while the president himself was not now under investigation, Mueller’s investigation was seeking to determine whether he knew of the June 9 meeting in advance or was briefed on it afterward.

Reuters earlier reported that Mueller’s team was examining money-laundering accusations against Manafort and hoped to push him to cooperate with their probe into possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. It is not known if the grand jury is investigating those potential charges.

(bold italics added)

The words I have highlighted all but confirm that previous reports that President Trump is under investigation for obstruction of justice in connection with the tangled story of his interactions and subsequent sacking of former FBI Director James Comey are indeed either wrong – as the President’s lawyers say – or else that this investigation, if it ever took place, has now been wound up.

Since that there was no obstruction of justice either by Trump or by anyone else either of these possibilities could be true.

Needless to say the numerous reports of the Grand Jury story which have appeared in the media have largely failed to report Reuters’ confirmation that President Trump himself is not under investigation in the Russiagate inquiry – as he has not in fact been at any time during the Russiagate investigations since they started – highly important though that fact is.

What we therefore have is an inquiry that centres on three issues

(1) General Flynn’s interactions with ambassador Kislyak and his financial dealings with RT;

(2) the meeting between Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior; and

(3) the money-laundering allegations against Paul Manafort.

Since virtually everything there is to know about General Flynn’s various dealings with Kislyak and the Russians is already known, and literally everything there is to know about the Veselnitskaya-Donald Trump Junior meeting is so also known, my guess is that the focus of Mueller’s investigation are the money-laundering allegations against Paul Manafort.

The allegations against Paul Manafort originate with Ukrainian sources and are heatedly denied by him.  From what I have seen of them they do not look at all convincing.  Mueller nonetheless appears to be looking into them to see whether there might be some substance to them and if so whether they might have given the Russians some handle over Manafort so as to create a scenario where he and the Trump campaign might have colluded with the Russians during the election.

That is a valid form of inquiry even if the answer is almost certainly no.

I would add that even if the money-laundering allegations against Manafort are true that does not prove collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians of which there is no evidence.

As to General Flynn’s activities, there is no evidence that his interactions with Kislyak or the Russians resulted in any collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.  It is however possible that Flynn may have committed technical offences in connection with the Logan Act and for misreporting payments he received from RT and from the Turkish government.  However not only do these provide no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, but they are at worst procedural offences, which if Flynn has committed I think Trump should pardon him for.

Having said this, these offences or possible offences are at least crimes – even if only technical or procedural crimes – that Mueller can look into, and given that he is required to conduct an inquiry he is right to look into them.

As for the meeting between Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior, I have already discussed this exhaustively.

Not only was no offence committed during this meeting but on the evidence that is already known we can already answer Mueller’s question – whether during or after that meeting “anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign encouraged the Russians to start releasing material they had been collecting on the Clinton campaign” – in the negative.

Nonetheless, again in light of the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians which have been made, Mueller is right to ask the question and to get a formal answer to it.

Possibly Mueller’s team is pursuing other lines of enquiry we know nothing about, but it is likely these are the main ones.

Notably absent is any reference to the Trump Dossier, once referred to as the ‘frame narrative’ supposedly being followed by the investigation.  It seems that this phoney dossier is now so discredited that Mueller wisely is no longer bothering with it.

There is also no evidence of any further interest in Carter Page, all of whose dealings with the Russians have long since been thoroughly investigated, and which have turned out to have been wholly innocent.

There are some suggestions that over and above these Russiagate related lines of enquiry Mueller may also be engaging in some elaborate fishing expedition by trawling through Donald Trump’s and Paul Manafort’s financial and business affairs to find some evidence of wrongdoing there which is unrelated to the claims of collusion with Russia during the election campaign.

Such a fishing expedition would be deeply unethical, though unfortunately there is past history of Special Counsel behaving in exactly that way.  There is no evidence however that Mueller is, and personally I don’t think he is.

If this reconstruction of the current state of Mueller’s investigation is accurate – as I believe it is – then he is carrying out a proper enquiry focusing on those actions about which it is legitimate to ask questions.

Probably by now – in some deep inner core of his psyche, denied even by himself to himself – Mueller knows his inquiry is a fool’s errand which will lead nowhere.  However he is not to blame for that, the blame for it resting wholly with those who against all fact and reason have insisted on an enquiry being set up in the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing that would warrant it.

As a professional investigator Mueller has to go through what ‘evidence’ there is so that when his report is eventually published there are no loose ends proponents of the Russiagate conspiracy can hang onto.  He is therefore right to look at the evidence of Flynn’s and Manafort’s dealings with the Russians, and at what happened during and following the meeting between Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior, and no one should make any assumptions of findings of possible wrongdoing because of this.

It does however seem that Mueller’s inquiry is limited to the question of the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  Apparently Mueller is not looking into the question of whether the Russians did indeed hack the computers of John Podesta and the DNC.  Almost certainly this is because this is outside the remit of his inquiry, which will have been decided not by Mueller but by the Justice Department.

This is very unfortunate because there are certainly lots of questions about this alleged hack which could be asked.  However it seems that Mueller is required to accept the conclusions of the January ODNI report, which said there was a hack by the Russians, and is not authorised to go behind it.  If or rather when Mueller finally reports that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, it might be possible to revisit this issue.  Realistically it will not happen before then.

Lastly, the media continues to hum with speculation that Trump is looking for some way to sack Mueller.

I have seen no evidence of this, and Trump’s lawyers strongly deny it.

If Trump does have any ideas of sacking Mueller he should put them aside.  Not only would sacking Mueller precipitate a political storm which Trump might not survive, but on the evidence of how Mueller is conducting his inquiry Trump has no reason or cause to sack him.

All the evidence points to Mueller conducting his inquiry properly in a way which will eventually vindicate Trump and his campaign, and which will leave the Democrats and the supporters of the Russiagate conspiracy looking foolish and vindictive, and frankly paranoid.

If only for that reason Trump should let Mueller get on with it.

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President Putin signs law blocking fake news, but the West makes more

Western media slams President Putin and his fake news law, accusing him of censorship, but an actual look at the law reveals some wisdom.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The TASS Russian News Agency reported on March 18th that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on a new law intended to block distorted or untrue information being reported as news. Promptly after he did so, Western news organizations began their attempt to “spin” this event as some sort of proof of “state censorship” in the oppressive sense of the old Soviet Union. In other words, a law designed to prevent fake news was used to create more fake news.

One of the lead publications is a news site that is itself ostensibly a “fake news” site. The Moscow Times tries to portray itself as a Russian publication that is conducted from within Russian borders. However, this site and paper is really a Western publication, run by a Dutch foundation located in the Netherlands. As such, the paper and the website associated have a distinctly pro-West slant in their reporting. Even Wikipedia noted this with this comment from their entry about the publication:

In the aftermath of the Ukrainian crisis, The Moscow Times was criticized by a number of journalists including Izvestia columnist Israel Shamir, who in December 2014 called it a “militant anti-Putin paper, a digest of the Western press with extreme bias in covering events in Russia”.[3] In October 2014 The Moscow Times made the decision to suspend online comments after an increase in offensive comments. The paper said it disabled comments for two reasons—it was an inconvenience for its readers as well as being a legal liability, because under Russian law websites are liable for all content, including user-generated content like comments.[14]

This bias is still notably present in what is left of the publication, which is now an online-only news source. This is some of what The Moscow Times had to say about the new fake news legislation:

The bills amending existing information laws overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Russian parliament in less than two months. Observers and some lawmakers have criticized the legislation for its vague language and potential to stifle free speech.

The legislation will establish punishments for spreading information that “exhibits blatant disrespect for the society, government, official government symbols, constitution or governmental bodies of Russia.”

Insulting state symbols and the authorities, including Putin, will carry a fine of up to 300,000 rubles and 15 days in jail for repeat offenses.

As is the case with other Russian laws, the fines are calculated based on whether the offender is a citizen, an official or a legal entity.

More than 100 journalists and public figures, including human rights activist Zoya Svetova and popular writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya, signed a petition opposing the laws, which they labeled “direct censorship.”

This piece does give a bit of explanation from Dmitry Peskov, showing that European countries also have strict laws governing fake news distribution. However, the Times made the point of pointing out the idea of “insulting governmental bodies of Russia… including Putin” to bolster their claim that this law amounts to real censorship of the press. It developed its point of view based on a very short article from Reuters which says even less about the legislation and how it works.

However, TASS goes into rather exhaustive detail about this law, and it also gives rather precise wording on the reason for the law’s passage, as well as how it is to be enforced. We include most of this text here, with emphases added:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law on blocking untrue and distorting information (fake news). The document was posted on the government’s legal information web portal.

The document supplements the list of information, the access to which may be restricted on the demand by Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies. In particular, it imposes a ban on “untrue publicly significant information disseminated in the media and in the Internet under the guise of true reports, which creates a threat to the life and (or) the health of citizens, property, a threat of the mass violation of public order and (or) public security, or the threat of impeding or halting the functioning of vital infrastructural facilities, transport or social infrastructure, credit institutions, energy, industrial or communications facilities.”

Pursuant to the document, in case of finding such materials in Internet resources registered in accordance with the Russian law on the mass media as an online media resource, Russia’s Prosecutor General or his deputies will request the media watchdog Roskomnadzor to restrict access to the corresponding websites.

Based on this request, Roskomnadzor will immediately notify the editorial board of the online media resource, which is in violation of the legislation, about the need to remove untrue information and the media resource will be required to delete such materials immediately. If the editorial board fails to take the necessary measures, Roskomnadzor will send communications operators “a demand to take measures to restrict access to the online resource.”

In case of deleting such untrue information, the website owner will notify Roskomnadzor thereof, following which the media watchdog will “hold a check into the authenticity of this notice” and immediately inform the communications operator about the resumption of the access to the information resource.
The conditions for the law are very specific, as are the penalties for breaking it. TASS continued:

Liability for breaching the law

Simultaneously, the Federation Council approved the associated law with amendments to Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences, which stipulates liability in the form of penalties of up to 1.5 million rubles (around $23,000) for the spread of untrue and distorting information.

The Code’s new article, “The Abuse of the Freedom of Mass Information,” stipulates liability for disseminating “deliberately untrue publicly significant information” in the media or in the Internet. The penalty will range from 30,000 rubles ($450) to 100,000 rubles ($1,520) for citizens, from 60,000 rubles ($915) to 200,000 rubles ($3,040) for officials and from 200,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles ($7,620) for corporate entities with the possible confiscation of the subject of the administrative offence.

Another element of offence imposes tighter liability for the cases when the publication of false publicly significant information has resulted in the deaths of people, has caused damage to the health or property, prompted the mass violation of public order and security or has caused disruption to the functioning of transport or social infrastructure facilities, communications, energy and industrial facilities and banks. In such instances, the fines will range from 300,000 rubles to 400,000 rubles ($6,090) for citizens, from 600,000 rubles to 900,000 rubles ($13,720) for officials, and from 1 million rubles to 1.5 million rubles for corporate entities.

While this legislation can be spun (and is) in the West as anti-free speech, one may also consider the damage that has taken place in the American government through a relentless attack of fake news from most US news outlets against President Trump. One of the most notable effects of this barrage has been to further degrade and destroy the US’ relationship with the Russian Federation, because even the Helsinki Summit was attacked so badly that the two leaders have not been able to get a second summit together.

While it is certainly a valued right of the American press to be unfettered by Congress, and while it is also certainly vital to criticize improper practices by government officials, the American news agencies have gone far past that, to deliberately dishonest attacks, based in innuendo and everything possible that was formerly only the province of gossip tabloid publications. The effort has been to defame the President, not to give proper or due criticism to his policies, nor credit. It can be properly stated that the American press has abused its freedom of late.

This level of abuse drew a very unusual comment from the US president, who wondered on Twitter about the possibility of creating a state-run media center in the US to counter fake news:

Politically correct for US audiences? No. But an astute point?

Definitely.

Freedom in anything also presumes that those with that freedom respect it, and further, that they respect and apply the principle that slandering people and institutions for one’s own personal, business or political gain is wrong. Implied in the US Constitution’s protection of the press is the notion that the press itself, as the rest of the country, is accountable to a much Higher Authority than the State. But when that Authority is rejected, as so much present evidence suggests, then freedom becomes the freedom to misbehave and to agitate. It appears largely within this context that the Russian law exists, based on the text given.

Further, by hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook, rather than prison sentences, the law appears to be very smart in its message: “Do not lie. If you do, you will suffer where it counts most.”

Considering that news media’s purpose is to make money, this may actually be a very smart piece of legislation.

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ABC’s Ted Koppel admits mainstream media bias against Trump [Video]

The mainstream news media has traded informing the public for indoctrinating them, but the change got called out by an “old-school” journo.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News reported on March 19th that one of America’s most well-known TV news anchors, Ted Koppel, noted that the once-great media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post, have indeed traded journalistic excellence for hit pieces for political purposes. While political opinions in the mainstream press are certainly within the purview of any publication, this sort of writing can hardly be classified as “news” but as “Opinion” or more widely known, “Op-Ed.”

We have two videos on this. The first is the original clip showing the full statement that Mr. Koppel gave. It is illuminating, to say the least:

Tucker Carlson and Brit Hume, a former colleague of Mr. Koppel, added their comments on this admission in this second short video piece, shown here.

There are probably a number of people who have watched this two-year onslaught of slander and wondered why there cannot be a law preventing this sort of misleading reporting. Well, Russia passed a law to stop it, hitting dishonest media outlets in their pocketbook. It is a smart law because it does not advocate imprisonment for bad actors in the media, but it does fine them.

Going to prison for reporting “the truth” looks very noble. Having to pay out of pocket for it is not so exciting.

Newsmax and Louder with Crowder both reported on this as well.

This situation of dishonest media has led to an astonishing 77% distrust rating among Americans of their news media, this statistic being reported by Politico in 2018. This represents a nearly diametric reversal in trust from the 72% trust rating the country’s news viewers gave their news outlets in 1972. These statistics come from Gallup polls taken through the years.

 

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Empire Of Absurdity: Recycled Neocons, Recycled Enemies

Despite America’s military threats, bellicose speechifying, brutal sanctions, and Cold War-style conflict-framing, the incumbent Maduro seems firmly in control. 

Antiwar

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Authored by Major Danny Sjursen (ret.) via AntiWar.com:


There are times when I wish that the United States would just drop the charade and declare itself a global empire.

As a veteran of two imperial wars, a witness to the dark underside of America’s empire-denial, I’ve grown tired of the equivocation and denials from senior policymakers. The U.S. can’t be an empire, we’re told, because – unlike the Brits and Romans – America doesn’t annex territories outright, and our school children don’t color its colonies in red-white-and-blue on cute educational maps.

But this distinction, at root, is rather superficial. Conquest, colonization, and annexation are so 19th century – Washington has moved beyond the overt and engages in the (not-so) subtle modern form of imperialism. America’s empire over the last two decades – under Democrats and Republicans – has used a range of tools: economic, military, political, to topple regimes, instigate coups, and starve “enemy” civilians. Heck, it didn’t even start with 9/11 – bullying foreigners and overturning uncooperative regimes is as American as apple pie.

Still, observing post-9/11, post-Iraq/Afghanistan defeat, Washington play imperialism these days is tragicomically absurd. The emperor has no clothes, folks. Sure, America (for a few more fleeting years) boasts the world’s dominant economy, sure its dotted the globe with a few hundred military bases, and sure it’s military still outspends the next seven competitors combined. Nonetheless, what’s remarkable, what constitutes the real story of 2019, is this: the US empire can’t seem to accomplish anything anymore, can’t seem to bend anybody to its will. It’s almost sad to watch. America, the big-hulking has-been on the block, still struts its stuff, but most of the world simply ignores it.

Make no mistake, Washington isn’t done trying; it’s happy to keep throwing good money (and blood) at bad: to the tune of a cool $6 trillion, 7,000 troop deaths, and 500,000 foreign deaths – including maybe 240,000 civilians. But what’s it all been for? The world is no safer, global terror attacks have only increased, and Uncle Sam just can’t seem to achieve any of its preferred policy goals.

Think on it for a second: Russia and Iran “won” in Syria; the Taliban and Pakistan are about ready to “win” in Afghanistan; Iran is more influential than ever in Iraq; the Houthis won’t quit in Yemen; Moscow is keeping Crimea; Libya remains unstable; North Korea ain’t giving up its nukes; and China’s power continues to grow in its version of the Caribbean – the South China Sea. No amount of American cash, no volume of our soldiers’ blood, no escalation in drone strikes or the conventional bombing of brown folks, has favorably changed the calculus in any of these regional conflicts.

What does this tell us? Quite a lot, I’d argue – but not what the neoliberal/neoconservative alliance of pundits and policymakers are selling. See for these unrepentant militarists the problem is always the same: Washington didn’t use enough force, didn’t spend enough blood and treasure. So is the solution: more defense spending, more CIA operations, more saber-rattling, and more global military interventions.

No, the inconvenient truth is as simple as it is disturbing to red-blooded patriots. To wit, the United States – or any wannabe hegemon – simply doesn’t possess the capability to shape the world in its own image. See those pesky locals – Arabs, Asians, Muslims, Slavs – don’t know what’s good for them, don’t understand that (obviously) there is a secret American zipped inside each of their very bodies, ready to burst out if given a little push!

It turns out that low-tech, cheap insurgent tactics, when combined with impassioned nationalism, can bog down the “world’s best military” indefinitely. It seems, too, that other regional heavyweights – Russia, China, Iran, North Korea – stand ready to call America’s nuclear bluff. That they know the US all-volunteer military and consumerist economy can’t ultimately absorb the potential losses a conventional war would demand. Even scarier for the military-industrial-congressional-media establishment is the logical extension of all this accumulated failure: the questionable efficacy of military force in the 21st century.

Rather than recognize the limits of American military, economic, and political power, Bush II, Obama, and now Trump, have simply dusted off the old playbook. It’s reached the level of absurdity under the unhinged regime of Mr. Trump. Proverbially blasting Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” as its foreign policy soundtrack, the Donald and company have doubled down. Heck, if Washington can’t get its way in Africa, Europe, Asia, or the Mideast, well why not clamp down in our own hemisphere, our traditional sphere of influence – South and Central America.

Enter the lunacy of the current Venezuela controversy. Trump’s team saw a golden opportunity in this socialist, backwater petrostate. Surely here, in nearby Monroe Doctrine country, Uncle Sam could get his way, topple the Maduro regime, and coronate the insurgent (though questionably legitimate) Juan Guaido. It’s early 20th century Yankee imperialism reborn. Everything seemed perfect. Trump could recall the specter of America’s tried and true enemy – “evil” socialism – cynically (and absurdly) equating Venezuelan populism with some absurd Cold-War-era existential threat to the nation. The idea that Venezuela presents a challenge on the scale of Soviet Russia is actually farcical. What’s more, and this is my favorite bit of irrationality, we were all recently treated to a game of “I know you are but what am I?” from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who (with a straight face) claimed Cuba, tiny island Cuba, was the real “imperialist” in Venezuela.

Next, in a move reminiscent of some sort of macabre 1980’s theme party, Trump resuscitated Elliot Abrams – you know, the convicted felon of Iran-Contra infamy, to serve as Washington’s special envoy to embattled Venezuela. Who better to act as “fair arbiter” in that country than a war-criminal with the blood of a few hundred thousand Central Americans (remember the Contras?!?) on his hands back in the the good old (Reagan) days.

Despite all this: America’s military threats, bellicose speechifying, brutal sanctions, and Cold War-style conflict-framing, the incumbent Maduro seems firmly in control. This isn’t to say that Venezuelans don’t have genuine grievances with the Maduro government (they do), but for now at least, it appears the military is staying loyal to the president, Russia/China are filling in the humanitarian aid gaps, and Uncle Sam is about to chalk up another loss on the world scene. Ultimately, whatever the outcome, the crisis will only end with a Venezuelan solution.

America’s impotence would almost be sad to watch, if, and only if, it wasn’t all so tragic for the Venezuelan people.

So Trump and his recycled neocons will continue to rant and rave and threaten Venezuela, Haiti, Cuba, and so on and so forth. America will still flex its aging, sagging muscles – a reflexive habit at this point.

Only now it’ll seem sad. Because no one is paying attention anymore.

The opposite of love is isn’t hate – it’s indifference.

*  *  *

Danny Sjursen is a retired US Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.comHe served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.

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