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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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America the Punitive

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common?

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama’s relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.

The most recent is the new sanctioning of Russia over the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury England. For those not following developments, last week Washington abruptly and without any new evidence being presented, imposed additional trade sanctions on Russia in the belief that Moscow ordered and carried out the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4th. The report of the new sanctions was particularly surprising as Yulia Skripal has recently announced that she intends to return to her home in Russia, leading to the conclusion that even one of the alleged victims does not believe the narrative being promoted by the British and American governments.

Though Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded with restraint, avoiding a tit-for-tat, he is reported to be angry about the new move by the US government and now believes it to be an unreliable negotiating partner. Considering the friendly recent exchanges between Putin and Trump, the punishment of Russia has to be viewed as something of a surprise, suggesting that the president of the United States may not be in control of his own foreign policy.

Turkey is also feeling America’s wrath over the continued detention of an American Protestant Pastor Andrew Brunson by Ankara over charges that he was connected to the coup plotters of 2016, which were allegedly directed by Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader, who now resides in Pennsylvania. Donald Trump has made the detention the centerpiece of his Turkish policy, introducing sanctions and tariffs that have led in part to a collapse of the Turkish lira and a run on the banking system which could easily lead to default and grave damage to European banks that hold a large party of the country’s debt.

And then there is perennial favorite Iran, which was hit with reinstated sanctions last week and is confronting a ban on oil sales scheduled to go into effect on November 4th. The US has said it will sanction any country that buys Iranian oil after that date, though a number of governments including Turkey, India and China appear to be prepared to defy that demand. Several European countries are reportedly preparing mechanisms that will allow them to trade around US restrictions.

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common? All are on the receiving end of punitive action by the United States over allegations of misbehavior that have not been demonstrated. Nobody has shown that Russia poisoned the Skripals, Turkey just might have a case that the Reverend Brunson was in contact with coup plotters, and Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear arms agreement signed in 2015. One has to conclude that the United States has now become the ultimate angry imperial power, lashing out with the only thing that seems to work – its ability to interfere in and control financial markets – to punish nations that do not play by its rules. Given Washington’s diminishing clout worldwide, it is a situation that is unsustainable and which will ultimately only really punish the American people as the United States becomes more isolated and its imperial overreach bankrupts the nation. As America weakens, Russia, Turkey, Iran and all the other countries that have been steamrolled by Washington will likely seek revenge. To avoid that, a dramatic course correction by the US is needed, but, unfortunately, is unlikely to take place.

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NATO Repeats the Great Mistake of the Warsaw Pact

NATO expansion continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war.

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Authored by Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Through the 1990s, during the terms of US President Bill Clinton, NATO relentlessly and inexorably expanded through Central Europe. Today, the expansion of that alliance eastward – encircling Russia with fiercely Russo-phobic regimes in one tiny country after another and in Ukraine, which is not tiny at all – continues.

This NATO expansion – which the legendary George Kennan presciently warned against in vain – continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war. Far from bringing the United States and the Western NATO allies increased security, it strips them of the certainty of the peace and security they would enjoy if they instead sought a sincere, constructive and above all stable relationship with Russia.

It is argued that the addition of the old Warsaw Pact member states of Central Europe to NATO has dramatically strengthened NATO and gravely weakened Russia. This has been a universally-accepted assumption in the United States and throughout the West for the past quarter century. Yet it simply is not true.

In reality, the United States and its Western European allies are now discovering the hard way the same lesson that drained and exhausted the Soviet Union from the creation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955 to its dissolution 36 years later. The tier of Central European nations has always lacked the coherence, the industrial base and the combined economic infrastructure to generate significant industrial, financial or most of all strategic and military power.

In fact the current frustrating experience of NATO, and the long, exhausting tribulations that faced Soviet diplomats and generals for so many decades was entirely consistent with the previous historical record going back at least until 1718.

From 1718 until 1867 – a period of a century and a half – most of Central Europe, including even regions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, were consolidated within the Austro –Hungarian Empire, However even then, the Habsburg multi-national empire was always militarily weak and punched beneath its weight. After Emperor Franz Josef recklessly proclaimed his famous Compromise of 1867, the effectiveness of the imperial army was reduced to almost zero. The autonomous and feckless conduct of the Hungarian aristocracy ensured a level of confusion, division, incompetence and ineptitude that was revealed in the army’s total collapse against both Russia and Serbia in the great battles of 1914 at the start of World War I.

Germany moved in to occupy and consolidate the region in both world wars. But far from making Germany a global giant and enabling it to maintain its domination of Europe, the Central European regions – whether as part of Austro-Hungary during World War I or as independent nation-states allied to the Nazis in World War II – proved miniscule and worthless against the alliances of Russia, the United States, Britain and France that the Germans fought against in both global conflicts.

After the Soviet Union militarily destroyed the genocidal military power of Nazi Germany in World War II, Russia’s Great Patriotic War, the political consolidation of East Germany and Poland were strategically necessary for Russia’s security. But occupying and organizing the rest of the region was not. Far from strengthening the Soviet Union, those nations weakened and distracted it. Today, NATO is repeating the Soviet Mistake and that fatal move is inexorably draining the alliance of all its strength and credibility.

NATO is also repeating the disastrous mistake that France made in 1920-21 when it created a “Little Entente” of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania to supposedly counterbalance the revival of Germany. The plan failed completely.

Today those very same nations – enthusiastically joined by Hungary, Poland and the three little Baltic states – are relentlessly distorting both NATO and the EU. They generate weakness and chaos in the alliances they are in – not unity and strength.

As I have noted before in these columns, the great British historian Lord Correlli Barnett drew the important distinction between militarily powerful nations that are generators and exporters of security and those, either tiny or disorganized, pacifist and weak nations that have to import their security from more powerful states.

One might call such small countries “feeder” or “parasite” states. They siphon off energy and strength from their protector partners. They weaken their alliance partners rather than strengthening them.

The consistent lessons of more than 300 years of Central European history are therefore clear: Leading and organizing the tier of Central European nations in the Warsaw Pact did not strengthen the Soviet Union: Instead, those activities relentlessly weakened it.

Incorporating most of the small nations in Central Europe into any empire or alliance has never been a cause or generator of military or national strength, regardless of the ideology or religious faith involved. At best, it is a barometer of national strength.

When nations such as France, Germany, the Soviet Union or the United States are seen as rising powers in the world, the small countries of Central Europe always hasten to ally themselves accordingly. They therefore adopt and discard Ottoman Islamic imperialism. Austrian Christian imperialism, democracy, Nazism, Communism and again democracy as easily as putting on or off different costumes at a fancy dress ball in Vienna or Budapest.

As Russia rises once again in global standing and national power, supported by its genuinely powerful allies China, India and Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the nations of Central Europe can be anticipated to reorient their own loyalties accordingly once again.

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Why Russia will NOT fall victim to emerging markets financial crisis (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 81.

Alex Christoforou

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As the Turkish Lira collapses, sending emerging market economies into turmoil, Russia is being slapped with additional US sanctions dubbed the US Congress ‘bill from hell’.

The full text the newest sanctions bill has been released. The sanctions are deliberately designed to punish Russia’s economy for a Skripal poisoning hoax for which no evidence of Russian state involvement has been presented. The new bill even goes so far as to suggest designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The “sanctions bill from hell” officially entitled ‘Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018’ was introduced by a group of Republican and Democratic senators on the 2nd of August.

According to RT, the bill would place restrictions on US cooperation with Russia’s oil industry, target Russian sovereign debt transactions as well as Russian uranium imports. In addition, the legislation calls for sanctions against “political figures, oligarchs, and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris explain why, unlike the financial meltdown in Turkey, Russia is well equipped and properly prepared to weather the US sanctions storm… and may, in the end, come out of the latest emerging markets turmoil stronger and more independent from western petrodollar control than ever before.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via RT

The bill, which was recently published in full on Congress’ official website, also pledges full support for NATO and would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate if the United States ever wishes to exit the transatlantic alliance.

The legislation also declares that “the United States will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation” and that Washington, in conjunction with NATO, should “prioritize efforts to prevent the further consolidation of illegal occupying powers in Crimea.”

The pending ‘Kremlin Aggression Act’ decrees that Congress should also determine whether Russia “meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

The bill also accused Russia of “enabling the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria to commit war crimes,” adding that Moscow has shown itself to be “incapable or unwilling” to compel Assad to “stop using chemical weapons against the civilian population in Syria.”

The Act calls for a congressional committee to investigate “alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity attributable to [Russia]” and resolves to “punish the Government of the Russian Federation for, and deter that Government from, any chemical weapons production and use through the imposition of sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and the use of the mechanisms specified in the Chemical Weapons Convention for violations of the Convention.”

The legislation is just the latest addition to a laundry list of sanctions and laws passed in the months following the 2016 presidential election.

Republican hawk Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), who both sponsored the bill, said in a joint statement that the legislation is designed to show that the US will “not waver in our rejection of [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future.” The Russia-obsessed Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) was one of the five co-sponsors of the bill.

Moscow has brushed off the new wave of accusations as a projection of internal US struggle. Some elements in the US government are trying to “keep afloat” the conspiracy that Russia meddled in the US elections, in hopes of derailing constructive relations with Moscow and using the issue “purely for internal American purposes,” Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Upper House Committee for International Relations, has said in response to the latest sanctions.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the adoption of any US legislation that targets Russian banking operations and currency trade would be considered a declaration of economic war.

“If they introduce something like a ban on banking operations or the use of any currency, we will treat it as a declaration of economic war. And we’ll have to respond to it accordingly – economically, politically, or in any other way, if required,” Medvedev said last week. “Our American friends should make no mistake about it.”

Moscow has vowed to respond to any new sanctions. Russia’s Finance Ministry said it would continue to sell off its holdings of US Treasury securities, while some lawmakers have called for Russia and its allies to stop using the US dollar for mutual payments.

 

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