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US foreign policy establishment confirms New Cold War with Russia is on (PODCAST)

The Council on Foreign Relations admits a new confrontation with Russia is the globalist game plan

Stephen Cohen

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(TheNation) – Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at NYU and Princeton, and John Batchelor continue their (usually) weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments, now in their fourth year, are at TheNation.com.)

Cohen points out that he has been warning against a new Cold War since the early 2000s, as reflected in the subtitle of his 2009 book Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War and in his earlier publications. He and Batchelor have been discussing the new Cold War almost weekly since 2014. For years, leading US policy-makers, media commentators, and scholars have denied its existence, even its possibility, citing Russia’s purported weakness; the absence of “ideological conflict”; the non-global nature of conflicts that had unfolded since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991; the benign nature of US policy toward Russia; etc. In truth, these Cold War deniers were either uninformed, myopic, or unwilling to acknowledge their own complicity in the squandered opportunity for a post-Soviet peace, even an American-Russian strategic partnership. Now the deniers’ most prestigious and influential foreign policy organization, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), has issued an official report fully acknowledging, even eagerly declaring, that “The United States is currently in a second Cold War with Russia.”

The importance of the CFR, Cohen emphasizes, is not easily exaggerated. As its activities, history, self-proclamations, and Wikipedia entry make clear, it is not an ordinary “think tank.” Founded nearly a century ago, headquartered lavishly in New York City with a branch in Washington, with almost 5,000 current carefully selected members and considerable annual revenue, its aura, exceedingly influential journal Foreign Affairs, and elite members have long made the CFR America’s single most important non-governmental foreign-policy organization—certainly for politicians, business executives, media leaders, academics, and others involved in the shaping of US foreign policy. Almost all of them aspire to CFR membership or its imprimatur in one way or another. (Joseph Biden, for example, already bidding for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, recently published an article in Foreign Affairs, as do many presidential candidates.) For decades, the CFR’s primary functional role has been, through its journal, website, featured events, and multiple weekly membership sessions, to define the accepted, legitimate, orthodox parameters of discussion about US foreign policy and related issues. Regarding Russia, even the Soviet Union, the CFR, as a professed bipartisan, independent, centrist organization, generally adhered to this role for many years. (Cohen himself became a member in the 1970s.) It featured varying, even conflicting, expertise and opinions about the 40-year Cold War and thereby fostered genuine intellectual and policy debate. This more ecumenical, pluralist orientation largely ended, however, more than a decade ago, when opinions incompatible with Washington’s growing “group think” about Russia were increasingly excluded, with very few exceptions. The CFR—much like Congress and the mainstream media—became a bastion of the new Cold War, though without acknowledging it.

Now it has done so. The CFR’s new report, “Containing Russia,” by two “bipartisan” veterans of the genre, both CFR fellows, Robert D. Blackwill and Philip H. Gordon, could have been published during the hyperventilated early stage of the preceding Cold War, before it was tempered by the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, as reflected in its title. The best that can be said about the report is its banality—its some 50 pages and 72 endnotes offering little more than a superficial, though devout, digest of the mainstream media malpractice of recent years that includes unbalanced narratives of contemporary events, questionable “facts,” elliptical history (if any at all), opinion and ideology passing as reporting and analysis, and not a little Russophobia.

Still worse, but equally typical and not surprisingly, the still unproven allegations of “Russiagate” are the pretext and pivot of the CFR report. (Indeed, the authors inflate the allegations’ already inflammatory rhetoric: “Moscow’s ultimate objective was regime change in the United States.”) Thus the first sentence of the introduction by CFR president Richard Haass: “Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election constituted an attack on American democracy.” (Thereby echoing, Cohen recalls, a tacky Hollywood video produced a few months ago. The authors also repeat hyperbolic assertions equating “the attack” with Pearl Harbor and 9/11.) From this, the report goes on to refer, directly and allusively, to the alleged Kremlin-Trump “collusion,” and then to project the “threat” represented by Russian President Putin, who is presented as having no legitimate Russian national interests, only “paranoia,” to “worldwide” status. Again, every piece of alternative—or conflicting—reporting, analysis, and sourcing is omitted, as are any mention of the many retracted and “corrected” mainstream media articles and broadcasts. Nowhere is there any serious concern about the graver dangers inherent in this “second Cold War,” as Cohen has often noted: its political epicenter is not in faraway Berlin but directly on Russia’s borders; its development has generated a new nuclear arms race with talk of “usable” nuclear warheads; the Kremlin leader has been so demonized he is considered unfit for any of the kinds of détente that eased previous Cold War conflicts; there are no significant organized anti–Cold War, pro-détente forces in the US political-media establishment; and more aspects to cause grave alarm. And in this perilous context, the CFR “recommendations” are of the back-to-the-future kind— back to the initial, unbridled, pre-1962 crisis threats and escalations.

Considering how this shabby—some may say shameful—report should reflect on the CFR’s reputation, what, Cohen asks, was the motivation behind its publication? Recalling that it comes on the heels of similar Cold War exhortations—Biden’s article mentioned earlier, Senator Ben Cardin’s similar “report” not long ago, leading newspaper editorials demanding a stronger reaction to “ “Russia’s war on the West,” and the Trump administration’s own preposterous but ramifying doctrinal declaration last week that Russia and China are now a greater threat than is international terrorism—the CFR report’s motivation seems to be threefold: to mobilize the bipartisan US policy establishment behind a radical escalation of the new Cold War (tellingly, it also criticizes former President Obama for not having done enough to counter Moscow’s “growing geopolitical challenge”); to preclude any critical mainstream discussion of past or current US policy in order to blame only Russia; and thereby to prevent the possibility of any kind of détente.

And indeed the CFR report may slam the door, already nearly shut, on such discussions and policies. If so, Cohen asks, where is any hope, any way out of this unprecedentedly perilous state of US-Russian relations? He suggests three possibilities, though with little conviction.

§ Recent opinion surveys suggest that a majority of Americans have no appetite for such reckless policies. Conceivably, they could vote to change Washington’s approach to Russia. But for this they would need such candidates and time, and there are currently neither.

§ As during the 40-year Cold War, the CFR Report seeks to mobilize European allies behind escalating the “second Cold War.” In several major European countries and parties, there also appears to be little appetite for this. Americans may have to look to Europe for alternative leadership, while hoping that Moscow does not overreact.

§ But, Cohen concludes, the only immediate possibility is that Kremlingate allegations do not prevent President Trump from becoming—presented in the CFR Report as implicit evidence of criminality—the candidate who seemed to want to be a pro-détente president “cooperating with Russia.” Even so, would the Council on Foreign Relations’ like-minded praetorians in Washington permit it?

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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EU’s ‘toothless’ response to creation of Kosovo army risks worsening the crisis – Moscow

Russia’s ambassador to the UN said that the EU could have and should have done more to stop the breakaway region from creating its own army.

RT

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The creation of Kosovo’s own 5,000-strong army is a threat to peace and security in a turbulent region and may lead to a new escalation, Russia’s UN envoy has warned, calling the EU’s lackluster response irresponsible.

Speaking at the UN Security Council emergency meeting on Kosovo, Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzya said that the EU could have and should have done more to stop the breakaway region from creating its own army to replace its lightly armed emergency response force.

“The EU reaction to the decision by Pristina cannot be described as other than toothless. This irresponsible policy has crossed the line,” Nebenzya said, after the UNSC meeting on Monday.

The diplomat said the lack of decisive action on the part of the 28-member bloc was a “great disappointment,” adding that the EU seems to “have turned a blind eye on the illegal creation of Kosovo’s ‘army.’”

The law, approved by Kosovo lawmakers on Friday, paves the way for doubling the size of the current Kosovo Security Force and for turning it into a de facto army, with 5,000 soldiers and 3,000 reservists.

The move did not go down well even with Kosovo’s usual backers, with both NATO and the EU voicing their indignation. NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg called the decision “ill-timed” and lamented that Kosovo’s authorities had ignored “the concerns expressed by NATO.”

The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, has echoed those concerns, saying in a statement that the mandate of Kosovo’s forces “should only be changed through an inclusive and gradual process” in accordance with the state’s constitution.

The only nation to openly applaud the controversial move was the US, with its ambassador to Kosovo, Phillip Kosnett, saying that Washington “reaffirms its support” for the upgrade as it is “only natural for Kosovo as a sovereign, independent country” to have a full-fledged army.

The Kosovo MPs’ decision has drawn anger in the Serbian capital Belgrade and provoked a strong response from Moscow, which calledon the UN mission in Kosovo to demilitarize the area in accordance with UNSC resolution 1244, and to disband any armed units.

Nebenzya pointed out that the UN resolution does not allow any Kosovo Albanian military units to be present in the region’s territory. He accused Western countries, including members of the NATO-led international peacekeeping force (KFOR), of “condoning and supporting” the violation by Pristina of the resolution.

It is feared that the army, though a relatively small force, might inflame tensions in the region and impede attempts at reconciliation between Pristina and Belgrade. Serbia has warned that it might consider an armed intervention if the army becomes a threat to the 120,000-strong Serb minority in Kosovo.

“The advance of Kosovo’s army presents a threat to the peace and security in the region, which may lead to the recurrence of the armed conflict,” Nebenzya stated.

In addition to creating its own army, Kosovo in November hit Serbia with a 100 percent import tariff on goods, defying calls by the US and the EU to roll the measure back.

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Ukraine’s President Says “High” Threat Of Russian Invasion, Urges NATO Entry In Next 5 Years

Poroshenko is trying desperately to hold on to power, even if it means provoking Russia.

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Via Zerohedge


Perhaps still seeking to justify imposing martial law over broad swathes of his country, and attempting to keep international pressure and media focus on a narrative of “Russian aggression,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denounced what he called the high “threat of Russian invasion” during a press conference on Sunday, according to Bloomberg.

Though what some analysts expected would be a rapid flair up of tit-for-tat incidents following the late November Kerch Strait seizure of three Ukrainian vessels and their crew by the Russian Navy has gone somewhat quiet, with no further major incident to follow, Poroshenko has continued to signal to the West that Russia could invade at any moment.

“The lion’s share of Russian troops remain” along the Russian border with Ukraine, Poroshenko told journalists at a press conference in the capital, Kiev. “Unfortunately, less than 10 percent were withdrawn,” he said, and added: “As of now, the threat of Russian troops invading remains. We have to be ready for this, we won’t allow a repeat of 2014.”

Poroshenko, who declared martial law on Nov. 26, citing at the time possible imminent “full-scale war with Russia” and Russian tank and troop build-up, on Sunday noted that he will end martial law on Dec. 26 and the temporarily suspended presidential campaign will kick off should there be no Russian invasion. He also previously banned all Russian males ages 16-60 from entering Ukraine as part of implementation of 30 days of martial law over ten provinces, though it’s unclear if this policy will be rescinded.

During his remarks, the Ukrainian president said his country should push to join NATO and the EU within the next five years, per Bloomberg:

While declining to announce whether he will seek a second term in the office, Poroshenko said that Ukraine should achieve peace, overcome the consequences of its economic crisis and to meet criteria to join the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during next five years.

But concerning both his retaining power and his ongoing “threat exaggeration” — there’s even widespread domestic acknowledgement that the two are clearly linked.

According to The Globe and Mail:

While Mr. Poroshenko’s domestic rivals accuse him of exaggerating the threat in order to boost his own flagging political fortunes — polls suggest Mr. Poroshenko is on track to lose his job in a March election — military experts say there are reasons to take the Ukrainian president’s warning seriously.

As we observed previously, while European officials have urged both sides to exercise restraint, the incident shows just how easily Russia and the West could be drawn into a military conflict over Ukraine.

Certainly Poroshenko’s words appear designed to telegraph just such an outcome, which would keep him in power as a war-time president, hasten more and massive western military support and aid, and quicken his country’s entry into NATO — the latter which is already treating Ukraine as a de facto strategic outpost.

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