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US Troops Out of Syria – Not Victory, In Defeat

Trump’s decision this week is to be welcomed, but it’s long overdue. Criminally long overdue.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


US President Donald Trump’s order this week to withdraw American troops from Syria is long overdue. American forces have been in the Arab country for at least four years. They have been there illegally, present without any international mandate. Not with the permission of the Syrian government, nor with the sanction of the UN Security Council.

American troops in Syria are therefore an illegal occupying force, violating the sovereignty of Syria and international law. Washington claims its soldiers and air force are in the country to combat jihadist terror groups. That claim is risible given the ample evidence that Washington has been covertly supporting the same jihadist groups it is supposed to be fighting. Thousands of Syrian civilians have been killed by American forces in what amounts to countless war crimes.

President Trump declared “an historic defeat” of the terror groups was the reason for his order to withdraw US troops. Trump with his typical braggadocio is claiming a “victory”. That is so utterly misplaced. His self-righteous words are a travesty and an insult to international norms of law and morality.

The military forces that really brought an end to the terror groups were those of the Syrian army, Russia and Syria’s others allies, Iran and Hezbollah. Trump’s self-congratulations are grotesquely way off the mark. The terror proxies that wreaked havoc and horror in Syria for nearly eight years were enabled, armed and directed by the US and its NATO and regional client regimes.

Still, it is to be cautiously welcomed that Trump has called it a day for American forces in Syria. With American withdrawal, there is now more chance of a political settlement being found for the war-torn country. But Washington deserves no thanks for its belated troop withdrawal. In a sane world, Washington should one day face justice for its barbaric crimes in Syria.

Whether US troops actually do vacate Syria remains to be seen. Media reports say the Pentagon plans to pull out nearly 2,000 US troops within the next month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in his annual international press conference this week gave a cautious welcome to Trump’s announcement. Putin noted, however, that Trump has made a similar call earlier this year only for that to be overturned by the Pentagon. Putin also noted that Washington has been talking about removing troops from Afghanistan, yet the Central Asian country continues to be occupied by US troops more than 17 years after Trump’s predecessor GW Bush ordered an invasion in 2001.

So, it remains to be seen if Trump’s announcement this week regarding Syria is just a political stunt to placate his domestic base. During his 2016 election campaign, Trump promised to bring the troops home. His withdrawal plan this week could therefore be a disingenuous Christmas “good news story” for his political base, which in the coming weeks may be quietly abandoned.

There are sound reasons to be skeptical about Trump’s withdrawal plan from Syria. Only a few months ago, his national security advisor, John Bolton, was saying that US forces would stay in Syria for as long as Iranian troops were present there. Notwithstanding that Iran forces are present in Syria legally at the request of President Bashar al Assad’s government, as are Russian forces.

It’s not clear if Trump is just acting on his own whim or if there is a significant strategic decision in Washington to retreat from its regime-change machinations in Syria.

One thing seems clear though. Washington’s would-be withdrawal from Syria has nothing to do with its supposed defeat of terror groups. How could that be when Washington has for eight years worked assiduously and covertly to foment these same terror entities for regime change?

Washington’s putative withdrawal from Syria, if anything, is due to its realization of defeat for its regime-change operation. The Syrian army, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah deserve the laurels for heroically defeating the terrorist jihadist proxies whom Washington deployed to Syria for regime change. Salute too to the brave Syrian people for their amazing steadfastness in the face of horrific assault.

It is laughably ironic that US politicians, Britain and France are criticizing Trump this week, saying that “the terrorists are not yet defeated”. When it was these powers, plus Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states, Israel and Turkey which created, armed and supported the terror groups for the purpose of destroying Syria.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova is correct in saying that US military pullout from Syria is potentially a positive move towards political settlement to the war in that country.

Russia, Iran and Turkey (belatedly) have been working diplomatically to bring about such a political settlement. Logically, with one less military player in Syria – the US – that lends towards a possible resolution of conflict. If, that is, Trump’s order is actually carried through. That’s a big “if”.

There is, however, concern that US withdrawal might spur Turkey to intensify its military involvement in Syria against Kurdish militants which the US has been protecting up to now. We may expect that Russia and Iran will act to prevent any such adventurism by Ankara.

All in all, US planned withdrawal from Syria is viewed as a good thing. It’s about time that Washington removed its illegal presence in the Arab country, and thereby permitting the country to restore the peace that it was so criminally denied for the past eight years.

Yes, Trump’s decision this week is to be welcomed, but it’s long overdue. Criminally long overdue.

Trump’s typical bravado about “winning the war” is contemptible. In reality, Syria stands as an historic defeat for US imperialism.

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Olivia KrothAntoinetta IIIKenny BrooksCudwieserTheCelotajs Recent comment authors
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Cudwieser
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Cudwieser

Bragadocio and bravado I can live with If the reality is a relative peace. Ultimately Trump is simply putting a face on things and at best will only convince Some Americans of any victory, namely patriots and other thickos who neither cared for or cared to understand the truth. In the end if Trump would ‘declare victory’ in Afghanistan we might actually be able to focus on the true villians, the globalists and Neo-Cons who are leading us to war. If the bastards want blood, they can trade theirs for mine.

Vera Gottlieb
Guest
Vera Gottlieb

Still suffering the Vietnam defeat.

JPH
Guest
JPH

Only still missing a photo op of those helicopters evacuating the embassy in a hurry..

Tom Welsh
Guest
Tom Welsh

“It’s not clear if Trump is just acting on his own whim…” That is a grotesque misinterpretation of the facts. However much you may dislike Mr Trump personally – and I don’t think he is a whit worse than any of his predecessors as President – you must admit that he is the President. Head of the executive branch, command in chief of the armed forces. His advisers do not dictate to him – all they can do is advise him. The word “adviser” is the clue. If Mr Trump were the Queen of the UK, he would be constituionally… Read more »

Anthony Wicher
Guest
Anthony Wicher

I agree with what you say about Trump, but you are mistaken about the Queen, who was not elected and does not answer to the people at all, unlike President Trump who does.

Brigitte Meier
Guest
Brigitte Meier

Don’t get so upset about a white lie by Trumpi. If that makes it possible for him to move US troops out of Syria, let it be. It’s a face saver and in politics saving face is important. The real reason for US pullout is Turkey, who refuses to go along with the US partition plans for Syria and who may exit NATO if Trump doesn’t give in and leave. Turkey leaving NATO would be a mortal blow to the US’s entire containment of Russia and China policies. Just look at a map. Turkey as part of the Sino-Russian bloc… Read more »

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Yes, indeed: “Turkey leaving NATO would be a mortal blow to the US’s entire containment of Russia and China policies”, and it would be a great step towards world peace. If only Turkey would leave NATO, no matter what US troops do or do not do …

In Europe many people inofficially call N-A-T-O the North Atlantic Terror Organisation. The sooner it will be dissolved, the better.

JPH
Guest
JPH

Rather put some lipstick on that pig than having to keep that pig around.

Shaun Ramewe
Guest
Shaun Ramewe

Stating the obvious – but don’t believe the ZioYank liar-losers are done yet – they can still sneakily continue their perverted cowardly black-flag terrorist-abetting from across the border in Turkey, Israel, Jordan and Iraq.

Anthony Wicher
Guest
Anthony Wicher

It’s a victory for peace, not a defeat for anybody but the imperialist warmongers. It’s a huge victory for Trump and the American people, the Syrian people and all people everywhere.

SteveK9
Guest
SteveK9

It may be an historic defeat for America’s war-mongering political elite, but it is a victory for ordinary Americans, and one of the primary reasons Donald Trump was elected President.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

US troops: robbers and murderers worldwide! Yankees, go home!

Olivia Kroth
Guest

The US leaves a trail of bitterness in Syria. They installed the so-called “militants” who are shelling Syrian cities day and night. If only the US troops, if they are really leaving, could take all that trash along with them which they installed in Syria, without being invited there.

TASS reports:
Three Syrian regions come under fire by militants in past day
World December 22, 23:29 UTC+3
Militants operating in the Idlib de-escalation zone shelled settlements in the provinces of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo

More:
http://tass.com/world/1037512

TheCelotajs
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TheCelotajs

No they are not because he is replacing them with uncontrollable CIA paid mercenaries just like he is doing in Afghanistan that way the United States is no longer responsible if they commit war crimes. George W. Bush did it in Iraq using “Blackwater Security aka Academi Company now” until Iraq kicked them out for killing incent civilians. James Jeffrey, the US’s special envoy for Syria, has warned that his country’s mercenaries in US military uniforms are to remain illegally in the country until the initial goal of Regime Change is achieved, thus adding pressure on the Syrian state and… Read more »

Cudwieser
Guest
Cudwieser

Pick your battles wisely as blind threat wages a silent war against us all. We are no more your enemy as you ours. We fight the same foe, that of our paymasters and deceivers. We elect our own demise by our own hubris and so we must condemn those who falsely speak in our name and free ourselves from our oppressors as our neighbours do the same.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Today, the SYRIAN-ARAB NEWS AGENCY (SANA) reports: https://www.sana.sy/en/?p=154151 “Authorities on Sunday found huge amounts of weapons and ammunition, some of which are Israeli-made and US-made, left behind by terrorists in the northern countryside of Quneitra. SANA’s reporter in Quneitra said that authorities continued operations of combing the areas which had been liberated from terrorism by the Syrian army in Quneitra countryside to remove the explosive devices and mines left behind by terrorists to protect the lives of civilians.” What is this? Strange! When US troops finally leave Syria – the sooner, the better – they should take all of their… Read more »

Antoinetta III
Guest
Antoinetta III

Join the discussion…No, leave the kit behind. I’m sure the Syrian Army or Hezbollah can make good use of it.

Antoinetta III

Olivia Kroth
Guest

What kit?
No US kits needed in Syria. Russia has a humanitarian help center in Syria, they are bringing enough kits for the Syrian people, including medical help and food and clothes ….

Olivia Kroth
Guest

Russian reconciliation center conducts humanitarian operation in Syria’s Hama
World December 08, 0:55 UTC+3
Head of the Russian reconciliation center Sergei Solomatin said 500 bags with food products were handed out to civilians in the settlement of Skalbiya
Officers of the Russian Center for reconciliation of the conflicting sides in Syria conducted a humanitarian operation in the Hama governorate, handing out food products to local residents, the center’s chief Sergei Solomatin said on Friday.

More:
http://tass.com/world/1035048

Kenny Brooks
Guest
Kenny Brooks

Trump always thought our involvement in Syria was a mistake! It was Obama McCain Graham Rubio and AIPAC that put our troops there! Trump has solidified the support of his political bas.

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Airline wars heat up, as industry undergoes massive disruption (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 145.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the global commercial airline industry, which is undergoing massive changes, as competition creeps in from Russia and China.

Reuters reports that Boeing Co’s legal troubles grew as a new lawsuit accused the company of defrauding shareholders by concealing safety deficiencies in its 737 MAX planes before two fatal crashes led to their worldwide grounding.

The proposed class action filed in Chicago federal court seeks damages for alleged securities fraud violations, after Boeing’s market value tumbled by $34 billion within two weeks of the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX.

*****

According to the complaint, Boeing “effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty” by rushing the 737 MAX to market to compete with Airbus SE, while leaving out “extra” or “optional” features designed to prevent the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes.

It also said Boeing’s statements about its growth prospects and the 737 MAX were undermined by its alleged conflict of interest from retaining broad authority from federal regulators to assess the plane’s safety.

*****

Boeing said on Tuesday that aircraft orders in the first quarter fell to 95 from 180 a year earlier, with no orders for the 737 MAX following the worldwide grounding.

On April 5, it said it planned to cut monthly 737 production to 42 planes from 52, and was making progress on a 737 MAX software update to prevent further accidents.

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Via Zerohedge…

Step aside (fading) trade war with China: there is a new aggressor – at least according to the US Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer – in town.

In a statement on the USTR’s website published late on Monday, the US fair trade agency announced that under Section 301 of the Trade Act, it was proposing a list of EU products to be covered by additional duties. And as justification for the incremental import taxes, the USTR said that it was in response to EU aircraft subsidies, specifically to Europea’s aerospace giant, Airbus, which “have caused adverse effects to the United States” and which the USTR estimates cause $11 billion in harm to the US each year

One can’t help but notice that the latest shot across the bow in the simmering trade war with Europe comes as i) Trump is reportedly preparing to fold in his trade war with China, punting enforcement to whoever is president in 2025, and ii) comes just as Boeing has found itself scrambling to preserve orders as the world has put its orderbook for Boeing 737 MAX airplanes on hold, which prompted Boeing to cut 737 production by 20% on Friday.

While the first may be purely a coincidence, the second – which is expected to not only slam Boeing’s financials for Q1 and Q2, but may also adversely impact US GDP – had at least some impact on the decision to proceed with these tariffs at this moment.

We now await Europe’s angry response to what is Trump’s latest salvo in what is once again a global trade war. And, paradoxically, we also expect this news to send stocks blasting higher as, taking a page from the US-China trade book, every day algos will price in imminent “US-European trade deal optimism.”

Below the full statement from the USTR (link):

USTR Proposes Products for Tariff Countermeasures in Response to Harm Caused by EU Aircraft Subsidies

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has found repeatedly that European Union (EU) subsidies to Airbus have caused adverse effects to the United States.  Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) begins its process under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to identify products of the EU to which additional duties may be applied until the EU removes those subsidies.

USTR is releasing for public comment a preliminary list of EU products to be covered by additional duties.  USTR estimates the harm from the EU subsidies as $11 billion in trade each year.  The amount is subject to an arbitration at the WTO, the result of which is expected to be issued this summer.

“This case has been in litigation for 14 years, and the time has come for action. The Administration is preparing to respond immediately when the WTO issues its finding on the value of U.S. countermeasures,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.  “Our ultimate goal is to reach an agreement with the EU to end all WTO-inconsistent subsidies to large civil aircraft.  When the EU ends these harmful subsidies, the additional U.S. duties imposed in response can be lifted.”

In line with U.S. law, the preliminary list contains a number of products in the civil aviation sector, including Airbus aircraft.  Once the WTO arbitrator issues its report on the value of countermeasures, USTR will announce a final product list covering a level of trade commensurate with the adverse effects determined to exist.

Background

After many years of seeking unsuccessfully to convince the EU and four of its member States (France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom) to cease their subsidization of Airbus, the United States brought a WTO challenge to EU subsidies in 2004. In 2011, the WTO found that the EU provided Airbus $18 billion in subsidized financing from 1968 to 2006.  In particular, the WTO found that European “launch aid” subsidies were instrumental in permitting Airbus to launch every model of its large civil aircraft, causing Boeing to lose sales of more than 300 aircraft and market share throughout the world.

In response, the EU removed two minor subsidies, but left most of them unchanged.  The EU also granted Airbus more than $5 billion in new subsidized “launch aid” financing for the A350 XWB.  The United States requested establishment of a compliance panel in March 2012 to address the EU’s failure to remove its old subsidies, as well as the new subsidies and their adverse effects.  That process came to a close with the issuance of an appellate report in May 2018 finding that EU subsidies to high-value, twin-aisle aircraft have caused serious prejudice to U.S. interests.  The report found that billions of dollars in launch aid to the A350 XWB and A380 cause significant lost sales to Boeing 787 and 747 aircraft, as well as lost market share for Boeing very large aircraft in the EU, Australia, China, Korea, Singapore, and UAE markets.

Based on the appellate report, the United States requested authority to impose countermeasures worth $11.2 billion per year, commensurate with the adverse effects caused by EU subsidies.  The EU challenged that estimate, and a WTO arbitrator is currently evaluating those claims

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Mueller report takes ‘Russian meddling’ for granted, offers no actual evidence

RT

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Via RT…


Special counsel Robert Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ report has cleared Donald Trump of ‘collusion’ charges but maintains that Russia meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. Yet concrete evidence of that is nowhere to be seen.

The report by Mueller and his team, made public on Thursday by the US Department of Justice, exonerates not just Trump but all Americans of any “collusion” with Russia, “obliterating” the Russiagate conspiracy theory, as journalist Glenn Greenwald put it.

However, it asserts that Russian “interference” in the election did happen, and says it consisted of a campaign on social media as well as Russian military intelligence (repeatedly referred to by its old, Soviet-era name, GRU) “hacking” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the DNC, and the private email account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta.

As evidence of this, the report basically offers nothing but Mueller’s indictment of “GRU agents,” delivered on the eve of the Helsinki Summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in what was surely a cosmic coincidence.

Indictments are not evidence, however, but allegations. Any time it looks like the report might be bringing up proof, it ends up being redacted, ostensibly to protect sources and methods, and out of concern it might cause “harm to an ongoing matter.”

‘Active measures’ on social media

Mueller’s report leads with the claim that the Internet Research Agency (IRA) ran an “active measures” campaign of social media influence. Citing Facebook and Twitter estimates, the report says this consisted of 470 Facebook accounts that made 80,000 posts that may have been seen by up to 126 million people, between January 2015 and August 2017 (almost a year after the election), and 3,814 Twitter accounts that “may have been” in contact with about 1.4 million people.

Those numbers may seem substantial but, as investigative journalist Gareth Porter pointed out in November 2018, they should be regarded against the background of 33 trillion Facebook posts made during the same period.

According to Mueller, the IRA mind-controlled the American electorate by spending “approximately $100,000” on Facebook ads, hiring someone to walk around New York City “dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask,” and getting Trump campaign affiliates to promote “dozens of tweets, posts, and other political content created by the IRA.” Dozens!

Meanwhile, the key evidence against IRA’s alleged boss Evgeny Prigozhin is that he “appeared together in public photographs” with Putin.

Alleged hacking & release

The report claims that the GRU hacked their way into 29 DCCC computers and another 30 DNC computers, and downloaded data using software called “X-Tunnel.” It is unclear how Mueller’s investigators claim to know this, as the report makes no mention of them or FBI actually examining DNC or DCCC computers. Presumably they took the word of CrowdStrike, the Democrats’ private contractor, for it.

However obtained, the documents were published first through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 – which the report claims are “fictitious online personas” created by the GRU – and later through WikiLeaks. What is Mueller’s proof that these two entities were “GRU” cutouts? In a word, this:

That the Guccifer 2.0 persona provided reporters access to a restricted portion of the DCLeaks website tends to indicate that both personas were operated by the same or a closely-related group of people.(p. 43)

However, the report acknowledges that the “first known contact” between Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks was on September 15, 2016 – months after the DNC and DCCC documents were published! Here we do get actual evidence: direct messages on Twitter obtained by investigators. Behold, these “spies” are so good, they don’t even talk – and when they do, they use unsecured channels.

Mueller notably claims “it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks” (the rest of that sentence is redacted), but the report clearly implies the investigators do not actually know how. On page 47, the report says Mueller “cannot rule out that stolen documents were transferred to WikiLeaks through intermediaries who visited during the summer of 2016.”

Strangely, the report accuses WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange of making “public statements apparently designed to obscure the source” of the materials (p.48), notably the offer of a reward for finding the murderer of DNC staffer Seth Rich – even though this can be read as corroborating the intermediaries theory, and Assange never actually said Rich was his source.

The rest of Mueller’s report goes on to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with anyone even remotely Russian and to create torturous constructions that the president had “obstructed” justice by basically defending himself from charges of being a Russian agent – neither of which resulted in any indictments, however. But the central premise that the 22-month investigation, breathless media coverage, and the 448-page report are based on – that Russia somehow meddled in the 2016 election – remains unproven.

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Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote.

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington’s claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but “all options are on the table.” Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly ten times as much on “defense.”

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a “foreign terrorist organization” and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 per cent of the American people.

A current bill originally entitled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019,” is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will “…require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world’s best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as “…comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.”

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today’s Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” Menendez noted that “President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress” while Graham added that “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.” Cardin contributed “Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad” and Shaheen observed that “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order.”

The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as “foreign terrorist organizations” is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

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