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US senators are even more neoconservative than Trump’s appointees

The confirmation hearings for the members of incoming President Donald Trump’s national-security team show that neoconservatism dominates the U.S. government today.

Eric Zuesse

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Published with the permission fo the author. First published on strategic-culture.org.

Neoconservatism didn’t end after George W. Bush’s alleged certainty that «Saddam’s WMD» existed in 2002, turned out to have been merely an excuse —not an authentic reason — to invade Iraq, and so to spread death and mass-misery (as every invasion does). Today’s confirmation hearings are, in fact, making clear that virtually all of Congress is neoconservative — at least as much as was the case back in 2002, when Congress authorized the President to invade Iraq before weapons inspectors finished their work (and so Bush was able to order them out, and to invade Iraq).

These hearings are displaying 100% neoconservative U.S. Senators — no Senator who isn’t a neoconservative. These Senators, of both Parties, in their questioning and comments, are all far to the right of the incoming President, Donald Trump. (Democrats might be to the ‘left’ of Republicans on some domestic matters, but both Parties are neoconservative, which is a far-right foreign-affairs ideology.)

This fact is shown clearly, as the Senators probe each appointee with questions that challenge him (since all of these nominees are males) as being insufficiently hostile toward Russia, and also (though to a lesser extent) insufficiently hostile toward Iran, and toward other countries (especially Syria and China) that have friendly relations with Russia. This obsessive hatred of Russia is the standard neoconservative position — neoconservatism’s defining reality, regardless of whether neoconservatives admit to being haters at all, of anything.

Each one of these nominees has, in turn, provided responses which indicate that he, too, is far to the right of Trump. The Senators are apparently satisfied with each one of the nominees, on that basis — a neoconservative basis.

Also, each one of the Senators is probing the nominee, in order to make certain that the interviewee favors steep increases in ‘defense’ spending (another essential mark of neoconservatism — unlimited military spending), even if other federal spending is required to stay the same or else be reduced. Even the Democratic Senators want ‘defense’ spending increased even if domestic spending gets reduced. Democratic Senators on the panel are showing themselves as being just as emphatically in favor of abolishing existing limits on ‘defense’ spending as the Republican ones are.

If what U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower in 1961 had referred to as «the military-industrial complex» owns all of Congress today, then the results of these interviews with nominees still couldn’t be any more neoconservative than they have, in fact, been.

Great pressure is thus being placed, by the interviewers, upon each nominee, to increase greatly U.S. ‘defense’ spending, and to exhibit hostility toward Russia and the other countries that are the standard ‘enemies’ in the view of neoconservatives. Regardless of whether Trump wants unlimited ‘defense’ spending (and is merely pretending to want to cut programs like the scandalous F-35), Congress certainly does.

Neoconservatism can, very practically, be defined by the nations that it places unquestioningly as being America’s ‘friends’ (Israel, Europe — especially the parts that were formerly communist — Japan, and all of the fundamentalist-Sunni Gulf Cooperation Council [Arab monarchy] nations); and as being America’s ‘enemies’ (Russia, Iran, China, and any nation that’s allied with one or more of those three). Nothing that either a ‘friend’ or an ‘enemy’ nation does is actually pertinent to a neoconservative’s national favors or hatreds: each of these nations is permanently what it is; and, for example, Russia being no longer communist and no longer the Soviet Union, doesn’t really affect a neoconservative’s hatred of Russia. Neoconservatism is — in that sense — ethnic, tribal: rigidly loyal to labeled ‘friends’, and also rigidly hostile to labeled ‘enemies’. It’s permanent war for perpetual ‘peace’, because to stop trying to conquer the ‘enemies’ is viewed as ‘immoral’, actually shameful and maybe even ‘cowardly’ — no matter how few the aristocracy actually are who benefit from all this mass bloodshed, crippling, refugees, and destruction. It’s an upside-down ‘morality’.

America’s Congress is at least 90 % neoconservative, not only in the Senate, but also in the House. To judge by these hearings, the Senators are virtually united, that Russia is America’s #1 enemy (a key mark of neoconservatism is the demonization of Russia); and, while most seem to consider Iran to be enemy #2, some Senators and House members place China in that category (#2). North Korea is also mentioned by many.

Eliminating, or even reducing, jihadism, is definitely well below the second national-security priority (if it’s an authentic concern at all), for members of the U.S. Congress, with Russia certainly being the #1 enemy in their eyes. Furthermore, no member of Congress considers the Saudi government — the government that is owned by the Saud family — to be an «enemy» at all, nor do they consider, to be an enemy, any other of the fundamentalist-Islamic Arab royal families (such as the ones who own Qatar, or who own UAE, or who own Kuwait), even though the Saud family are the main funders of jihadist groups around the world, and those other royal Arabs provide most of the rest of the financing that makes jihadist terrorism possible. So, practically speaking, the U.S. Congress considers the chief financial backers of jihadist groups to be U.S. ‘allies’, not to be «enemies» of the U.S., at all.

For example: as one strong friend of the royal Arabs, Hillary Clinton has said in private:

«Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide».

Saudi Arabia is owned by the Saud family; so, she knew that they are the main funders of Al Qaeda etcetera (or, like Osama bin Laden’s former bagman said of Al Qaeda’s financing, «Without the money of the — of the Saudi, you will have nothing»). That family control the government, and all the rest of their aristocracy do whatever the Saud family tell them to do. Hillary wasn’t naive.

And, elsewhere (also in private), she referred to «the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region».

And she also devoted a lengthy cable to U.S. Embassies, to the desirability of dealing with this problem (their aristocracies’ funding of jihadist groups around the world) also in Kuwait, and UAE — two more U.S. ‘allies’.

And so, former U.S. Senator Clinton was simply a normal member of the U.S. Senate which is under display even now, as being even more neoconservative than President-elect Trump’s national-security appointees are.

For example, during the hearing on Thursday, January 12th, in which Trump’s choice to head the U.S. ‘Defense’ Department, James Mattis, was grilled by each member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the retired Marine General Mattis was pressed on whether he supports eliminating the ‘defense’ spending-cap that Congress in late 2012 imposed to begin on 1 January 2013, as the 2013 Budget Control Act, or «sequestration». General Mattis replied by calling the 2013 Budget Control Act a «self-inflicted wound». (He had already told this very same Senate Committee, on 27 January 2015, «The Senate Armed Services Committee should lead the effort to repeal the sequestration that is costing military readiness and long-term capability while sapping troop morale». So, they already knew that he’s a hard-liner about lifting the spending cap on the military — just not on the rest of the budget, because he had also said on 27 January 2015, «If we refuse to reduce our debt or pay down our deficit — …No nation in history has maintained its military power while failing to keep its fiscal house in order». So, these Senators are clear about removing the limit only on ‘defense’ spending.)

Mattis said in this January 12th confirmation hearing, that Russia «has chosen to be both a strategic competitor and an adversary» and «we still engage with the soviet union». (It’s common for high U.S. military, and even diplomatic, officials, to slip back into calling Russia «the Soviet Union», still 25+ years after the Soviet Union ended, and its Warsaw Pact of military allies ended, and their communism ended. This insanity is normal for America’s leaders.)

He was asked about Donald Trump’s having questioned whether NATO (the anti-Russia military alliance) needs to be continued, and Mattis said «If we did not have NATO today, we would have to create it. NATO is vital to our national interest».

He was questioned regarding whether he agrees with Trump’s having challenged President Obama’s campaign to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, and Mattis said that the real issue is only about the speed with which Assad must be removed. He said that what is needed is »a more accelerated campaign than the President-elect has called for» — in other words, he said that not only was President Obama too slow in this matter, but that Mattis will be advising Trump to reverse position on this and to out-do Obama on it. (A Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson of Florida, had asked those questions, and he seemed to be pleased with Mattis’s super-hawkish responses.)

Responding to another Senator, Mattis said that there’s «an increasing number of areas in which we’ll have to confront Russia». We’re not doing it enough, he thinks.

He was asked whether he shares President-elect Trump’s distrust of the U.S. intelligence-services, and he replied, «I have a very very high degree of confidence in our intelligence community». The CIA and other people who were united in saying that Saddam Hussein had WMD in 2002 and that they needed to be immediately eliminated, are trusted by Mattis as much as they were trusted by Bush.

He was asked about Israel and said that it is eternally an ‘ally’ of America, and that Israel is «the only democratic nation in the Middle East». No Senator asked him whether apartheid South Africa was also a ‘democratic’ nation. On 13 January 2017, Brandon Turbeville headlined about the only secular nation in the Middle East, «Grand Mufti Of Syria Discusses Secularism In Syria – Human Beings Live In States, No Countries Based On Religion»; and, previously I have pointed out that even Western polling in Syria has consistently shown that the vast majority of Syrians want Assad to continue as the country’s leader, and that it was Barack Obama who was criticized by U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon for refusing to let the Syrian people determine, in a free and internationally monitored democratic election, whom the nation’s leader should be. (Obama knows that they would elect Assad; so, he doesn’t want democracy, there.)

Perhaps a lot of false ‘facts’ are in Mattis’s head, but he maintains them with consistency — and any falsehoods that he believes are of the type that would make his nomination to become the U.S. Secretary of ‘Defense’ all the more attractive to the members of the U.S. Congress.

In my previous article, «Trump Team Targets Iran», I documented that:

All four of the persons selected by U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump for the top U.S. national-security posts are committed to replacing the outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama’s #1 military target, Russia, by a different #1 military target, Iran. Iran has long been the #1 military target in the view of Michael Flynn, the chosen Trump National Security Advisor; and of James Mattis, the chosen Trump Secretary of Defense; and of Dan Coats, the chosen Trump Director of National Intelligence; and of Mike Pompeo, the chosen CIA Director.

So, although Trump’s appointees might be less neoconservative than the Senators, and less neoconservative than was Trump’s predecessor, Obama — and Trump is far less neoconservative than is Hillary Clinton — Trump still could turn out to be a neoconservative President. This isn’t because the American public are neoconservative (they definitely aren’t), but because the American aristocracy is. The U.S. government represents them — not the American public.

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High-ranking Ukrainian official reports on US interference in Ukraine

It is not usually the case that an American media outlet tells the truth about Ukraine, but it appears to have happened here.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The Hill committed what may well have been a random act of journalism when it reported that Ukrainian Prosecutor General, Yuriy Lutsenko, told Hill.tv’s reporter John Solomon that the American ambassador to that country, Marie Yovanovitch, gave him a “do not prosecute” list at their first meeting.

Normally, all things Russia are covered by the American press as “bad”, and all things Ukraine are covered by the same as “good.” Yet this report reveals quite a bit about the nature of the deeply embedded US interests that are involved in Ukraine, and which also attempt to control and manipulate policy in the former Soviet republic.

The Hill’s piece continues (with our added emphases):

“Unfortunately, from the first meeting with the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, [Yovanovitch] gave me a list of people whom we should not prosecute,” Lutsenko, who took his post in 2016, told Hill.TV last week.

“My response of that is it is inadmissible. Nobody in this country, neither our president nor our parliament nor our ambassador, will stop me from prosecuting whether there is a crime,” he continued.

Indeed, the Prosecutor General appears to be a man of some principles. When this report was brought to the attention of the US State Department, the response was predictable:

The State Department called Lutsenko’s claim of receiving a do not prosecute list, “an outright fabrication.” 

“We have seen reports of the allegations,” a department spokesperson told Hill.TV. “The United States is not currently providing any assistance to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO), but did previously attempt to support fundamental justice sector reform, including in the PGO, in the aftermath of the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. When the political will for genuine reform by successive Prosecutors General proved lacking, we exercised our fiduciary responsibility to the American taxpayer and redirected assistance to more productive projects.”

This is an amazing statement in itself. “Our fiduciary responsibility to the American taxpayer”? Are Americans even aware that their country is spending their tax dollars in an effort to manipulate a foreign government in what can probably well be called a low-grade proxy war with the Russian Federation? Again, this appears to be a slip, as most American media do a fair job of maintaining the narrative that Ukraine is completely independent and that its actions regarding the United States and Russia are taken in complete freedom.

Hill.TV has reached out to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine for comment.

Lutsenko also said that he has not received funds amounting to nearly $4 million that the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine was supposed to allocate to his office, saying that “the situation was actually rather strange” and pointing to the fact that the funds were designated, but “never received.”

“At that time we had a case for the embezzlement of the U.S. government technical assistance worth 4 million U.S. dollars, and in that regard, we had this dialogue,” he said. “At that time, [Yovanovitch] thought that our interviews of Ukrainian citizens, of Ukrainian civil servants, who were frequent visitors of the U.S. Embassy put a shadow on that anti-corruption policy.”

“Actually, we got the letter from the U.S. Embassy, from the ambassador, that the money that we are speaking about [was] under full control of the U.S. Embassy, and that the U.S. Embassy did not require our legal assessment of these facts,” he said. “The situation was actually rather strange because the funds we are talking about were designated for the prosecutor general’s office also and we told [them] we have never seen those, and the U.S. Embassy replied there was no problem.”

“The portion of the funds, namely 4.4 million U.S. dollars were designated and were foreseen for the recipient Prosecutor General’s office. But we have never received it,” he said.

Yovanovitch previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Armenia under former presidents Obama and George W. Bush, as well as ambassador to Kyrgyzstan under Bush. She also served as ambassador to Ukraine under Obama.

Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who was at the time House Rules Committee chairman, voiced concerns about Yovanovitch in a letter to the State Department last year in which he said he had proof the ambassador had spoken of her “disdain” for the Trump administration.

This last sentence may be a way to try to narrow the scope of American interference in Ukraine down to the shenanigans of just a single person with a personal agenda. However, many who have followed the story of Ukraine and its surge in anti-Russian rhetoric, neo-Naziism, ultra-nationalism, and the most recent events surrounding the creation of a pseudo-Orthodox “church” full of Ukrainian nationalists and atheists as a vehicle to import “Western values” into a still extremely traditional and Christian land, know that there are fingerprints of the United States “deep state” embeds all over this situation.

It is somewhat surprising that so much that reveals the problem showed up in just one report. It will be interesting to see if this gets any follow-up in the US press.

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Bercow blocks Brexit vote, May turns to EU for lifeline (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 112.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s latest Brexit dilemma, as House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, shocked the world by citing a 1604 precedent that now effectively blocks May’s third go around at trying to pass her treacherous Brexit deal through the parliament.

All power now rests with the Brussels, as to how, if and when the UK will be allowed to leave the European Union.

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Via Bloomberg


Theresa May claims Brexit is about taking back control. Ten days before the U.K. is due to leave the European Union, it looks like anything but.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s intervention, citing precedent dating back to 1604, to rule out a repeat vote on May’s already defeated departure deal leaves the prime minister exposed ahead of Thursday’s EU summit in Brussels.

Bercow, whose cries of “Orrdurrr! Orrdurrr!’’ to calm rowdy lawmakers have gained him a devoted international following, is now the pivotal figure in the Brexit battle. May’s team privately accuse him of trying to frustrate the U.K.’s exit from the EU, while the speaker’s admirers say he’s standing up for the rights of parliament against the executive.

If just one of the 27 other states declines May’s summit appeal to extend the divorce timetable, then the no-deal cliff edge looms for Britain’s departure on March 29. If they consent, it’s unclear how May can meet Bercow’s test that only a substantially different Brexit agreement merits another vote in parliament, since the EU insists it won’t reopen negotiations.

Caught between Bercow and Brussels, May’s room for maneuver is shrinking. Amid rumblings that their patience with the U.K. is near exhaustion, EU leaders are girding for the worst.

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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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