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[l] at 10/20/19 3:00am

Mel Brooks had a famous line in several of his movies: It’s good to be the king. His off-color comedies put this principle into practice to great comedic effect, and although a bit bawdy, the line is certainly memorable. The only problem is that Life does not show that this statement is always true. In fact, quite the opposite. The game King of the Hill, is fun for kids to play, but it is almost always a situation where the “king of the hill” has the most precarious position in the whole game. He is the most unstable person in the game, but often tries very hard to defy this instability, usually blissfully unaware of the fact that it cannot last.

When applied to US foreign policy in the years following World War II and more clearly in the time that began with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 to now, the Americans found their nation and its leadership to be King of the Hill. At first, this victorious position was intoxicating to many Americans. I remember personally the notion that “soon, Russia is going to be our best friend, (because they will be just like us)”, and that seemed exhilirating after so many years of the Cold War and its often ominous presence in our lives. Now it was over and we won. So from now on, life is going to be wonderful!

The truth is quite different. How wonderful life actually is for most Americans (and most Russians or Chinese for that matter) is not really dependent on who is king of the hill. In fact, when the governments of these three nations are looked at presently, the present King of the Hill is in a perpetual state of chaos, with forces internally doing more to pull him down than anything that the other two countries might be doing.

President Trump seems to understand this, at least in an oblique fashion. His campaign committment to pull America out of “senseless and endless foreign wars” is a carefully worded admission of the basic fact that being on top is the most vulnerable place, and that it is perhaps unneccesary for any one power to be on top of this hill.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky noted this problem several months ago when he said this about China:

China has unleashed its full potential, but it doesn’t know what to do next. China knows it could be on top but it isn’t because it doesn’t know what to do with such power, and the US is visibly having problems with such a role.

The same problem appears to have happened with the United States, but the US’ reaction in the 1990’s was to gladly take the top position, come what may. And now, the US is having problems in its role as sole superpower. Those people who saw the US’ mountaintop position as an advantage which must be protected at all costs are slow to realize that part of the problem with being on top is that (1) envy can drive others to try to push you off the top and (2) being on top means there is nowhere else to go but down.

This is apparently the point of view the Chinese have that Mr. Zhirinovsky reflected on. Russia is in the same place. While Russia is not presently seen as a superpower in the way the US is, the country is lean and strong in terms of national defense, and under Vladimir Putin’s leadership, it has recently shown itself most capable of extending its power where desired, as is the case in Syria.

But neither China nor Russia, when honestly examined for motive, has the desire or motivation to climb on top of the hill. This may come as news to those thoroughly innoculated against the truth by American propagandists (the media, pretty much all of it, too), but neither Russia nor China have aspirations to pull the US off the top of the mountain. The instability we perceive as “coming from the rest of the world, those threats to democracy, to the American way of life, etc…” is not coming from outside at all.

The instability is largely generated by the very fact that the US is on top of the mountain, and every step from the top only leads down. This is as real psychologically and spiritually as it is physically. Mountaintops usually come to the highest point, not to a height that is bigger than the mountain itself. Whatever (or whoever) is on top is only stable when supported from the sides and below.

President Trump does give indications that he sees this. His 2017 address to the United Nations reflected his vision of that body as a “brotherhood of sovereign states” working together to solve their problems. This counters the liberal notion of the UN becoming the leader of some sort of “world state” which is an absurd notion in a world with so many different traditions and cultures. His move to leave Syria and by default, to let the Russians take care of the problems in this region is wise. Russia is close by. The common understanding of Eastern nations probably helps in discussions that the Americans cannot get at this time.

The resistance of the powerful political, media and business establishments in the US and the West are reactions to the King of the Hill beginning to question whether or not the place of greatest strength is truly at the top of the hill. (Hint: it isn’t.) In a way it is the perplexed reaction of a bunch of boys and girls playing this game, wondering why the boy or girl who has the top of the hill suddenly remarks, “I think I have had enough of the view here. Someone else is welcome to come and look”, and walks down from the hilltop without being pulled down.

To do this, of course, reflects maturity. However, there are ways that it has been tried that are absolutely wrong.

President Obama spoke the catchphrase “leading from behind” when he discussed Middle East Policy and other foreign policy issues. He was wrong, largely because his position was so purely ideological that it took no account of the real situation on the ground. His further anti-Christian bias made him unable to discern those times that it is necessary to make a stand and lead. For him, the notion of leaving the top of the hill was tied in with letting and encouraging the worst sort of people (the Muslim Brotherhood, for example, and ISIS) to take their positions at the top. This reaction caused many deaths and a lot of destruction across northern Africa and Iraq as the caliphate swept into power in a way that became a truly nightmarish geopolitical threat to all nations.

This policy viewpoint nevertheless is in stark contrast with that of the would-have-been Queen of the Hill, his former Secretary of State Hill-Ary (yes, there is a pun here, isn’t there?) Clinton. For her, wielding massive power was her favorite toy, and lying about it to cover her tail was her second favorite. It is also a creepy coincidence just how many dead Clinton opponents or would-be opponents there are, one of the most recent being a certain Jeffrey Epstein, whose Lolita Express provided ‘services’ to the rich and powerful of the world, and with whom the Clintons were close friends.

President Trump really is different on this. While he has always been capable of moving in the same circles with the elite, he was never really considered one of them. Even before becoming President, Donald Trump had the air of someone “slightly less than respectful” in the elite’s eyes. For his part, it is apparent that he knew about it, but did not care too much about changing this. Instead, he worked with everyone to build his own business empire and lived as he wished. While no saint, Donald Trump has never been bound to any convention or group of people he did not want to be associated with. This freedom is what makes him so formidable as a politician in our days, because he does what every politician for the last thirty years has claimed to be able to to: to serve without being beholden to scratch anyone else’s back.

This all helps President Trump to be nimble, pragmatic and realistic. It also allows him to do pretty much what he said he wanted to do if elected – to serve the American people and restore the country to true greatness. It allows him to be like that most unusual kid who realizes that the top of the mountain is probably the worst place to be, and, having enjoyed the view, is more than willing to do other things in greater freedom.

This is one way of examining both the domestic and foreign paroxyms of outrage coming at the President from all points in the West, especially within his own country. By revealing the fallacy of the game, the other kids who want the top are forced to pause and consider that maybe, just maybe, trying to be on top is unwise.

This thought probably terrifies them because they do not know how to handle it.

 

The post The King of the Hill syndrome and US foreign policy [Video] appeared first on The Duran.

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[l] at 10/20/19 3:00am

Submitted by George Callaghan…

There are two polar opposite positions on immigration both of which are equally daft. One is that there should be no immigration whatsoever. The other is that there should be no limit whatsoever. Liberal left opinion in much closer to the former than right wing opinion is to the latter. In between the two diametrically opposed positions there is the golden mean. It is a moot point as to what precisely that golden mean is.  All this ought to go without saying. But calling for any further limitation on immigration is the third rail of British politics. If you touch it and you can expect a nasty shock. All manner of abuse will be hurled your way. Such contumely is no substitute for rational argumentation. In fairness those who oppose huge scale immigration have not always been innocent of resorting to emotional spasm.

I am from the Republic of Ireland so arguably I am an immigrant myself. I do not consider myself to be one or an ethnic minority person. But if you wish to call me an immigrant and or an ethnic minority person that does not bother me one jot. Neither of these is a bad thing to be. My self-definition could be erroneous. I was a born British citizen as well as an Irish one. Ethnic minority status is advantageous in the UK. If anyone puts my nose out of joint I could accuse that person of racialism! If I am an immigrant then let me say what Irish people in Great Britain need to say: thank you very much indeed for letting us in!

It is worth reminding ourselves what immigration is. It is moving to another country with a view to making it one’s long term residence and possibly seeking to obtain citizenship. Being a guest worker is different but related. That means going to a foreign country to work for a limited period such as three months or even three years on a time limited work permit. Such work permits are usually renewable. There are situations where guest workers can obtain permanent residency and eventually citizenship.

Transmigration is not immigration. Moving from London to Northern Ireland, for instance, is not immigration or emigration since this is shifting one’s domicile within the United Kingdom.

Being a refugee or an asylum seeker is different again. This means being someone who faces a well-founded fear of persecution at home. He or she could be fearing death of heavy violence. Persecution does not have to amount to that. It could be simply official discrimination. To qualify as persecution the mistreatment must be serious. It cannot be the low-level discrimination that many people suffer in most countries. All too often asylum seeker status has been abused by those who are really economic migrants. Being an economic migrant is an entirely respectable thing to be. But I must be honest with myself. If I were living in a very underdeveloped country I might be tempted to move to an affluent one illegally and then claim asylum even if this claim were spurious. I could reason to myself that it was a victimless crime. Nonetheless the system is being misused and the rules ought to be enforced. Perhaps those who knowingly lodge bogus claims for asylum can put themselves in the shoes of a citizen of a prosperous country that has too much immigration and he would recognize that were he such a citizen then he would also want the rules to be upheld. Illegal immigrants are seldom wicked. I have met a few.

Migration Watch is an organization that puts a rationale case for scaling back immigration to a manageable level. This body critiques the liberal left delusion that enormous scale immigration is something totally positive. Migration Watch elucidates it case in a tranquil and restrained manner avoiding any hint of racial animus. Yet this most honourable body of people is regularly calumniated as racialist. The mass immigration caucus is a one trick pony. They will brand anyone who questions then as a racist and a xenophobe. This branding reproach scares often many people of moderate opinion who wonder whether a gigantic amount of immigration is desirable. The imputation of racialism is enough to silence the man in the street.

HISTORY

One often hears the pro mass immigration trop that the United Kingdom has always been a country of immigration. The UK has only existed as such since 1707. But perhaps that is a point of pedantry. The territory which is now the UK has long had immigration. These islands have been peopled for over 10 000 years. No one started out here. The human races originated in the Rift Valley. In that wise we are all African. But after people first settled the British Isles migration was remarkably slow and small scale for millennia. Nonetheless it is true that immigration is nothing new and the British Isles has had people of different colours for centuries.

In the first millennium BC there started to be more Celtic migration from the Continent. There is no recorded history until the Romans first invaded in the 1st century BC. Thereafter every few centuries there was an invasion. The invaders were often not huge numbers.

The Roman legionaries and administrators came from all corners of the Roman Empire. Some came from North Africa. This has led some people to say that black people settled in Britannia in the 1st century AD. This is debatable. How black is black? The people of the northern coast of Africa are regarded as black by some people. Racial distinctions do not matter to me in the least but matter very much to racists and to the race industry.

When the Normans came to England in 1066 they comprised perhaps 20 000 people. The population of England was a little over a million. This was still a fairly large population to absorb at once. This was invasion and not immigration. Moreover, the Anglo-Saxon people had no choice in the matter. Immigration today is very different!

After 1066 there was immigration from Normandy and other regions of France as well as Flanders in particular. There were German merchant from the Hanseatic League who settled in England. Scandinavians had long been settling in Scotland and Ireland. Italians merchants came and settled too.

A few black people came to live in medieval England and are recorded in the chronicles. There were Jewish people resident in England and Scotland in the early Middle Ages. They soon came to Ireland too.

On New Year’s Eve 1600 Elizabeth I granted the East India Company its charter. The English had been trading with the Indians for only a few years prior to that. After 1600 a few Indians came to reside in Great Britain. The number was a tiny, tiny proportion out of a population of about 4 000 000 on the island. Those who came were almost always men. They intermarried with white British women. Their children were half white, their grandchildren were three quarters white and after that their descendants blended into the white community.

By the late 17th century another group of black people came to the British Isles. This time they were not coming voluntarily. Luckless people in West Africa were kidnapped and taken across the Atlantic in inhumane conditions. They were held in the cruelest kind of thralldom. Some of those who were enslaved were brought to the British Isles, particularly to London. 17th century oil painting sometimes depict these black people. Again, this unwilling immigrants were male almost without exception. The married white women and their progeny mostly disappeared into the major ethnic group. It is said by 1800 London’s population was 1% non-white. Lord Mansfield ruled in James Somersett’s case in the late 18th century and judged that if a man was taken to England and Wales as a slave then the moment he reached the shore he was free. However, the barbarity of slavery continued in the colonies for several decades.

In the 19th century there was immigration from many European countries. It was at a significant level from Italy, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Greece. Those who came from the Russian Empire were mostly Jewish. There was only serious pushback against the Jewish community. That opposition was mostly racist in character. There was immigration from India but the Indians in the UK were a microscopically small proportion of the populace.

People moving from Ireland to GB in the 19th century was not immigration. The whole of Ireland was within the UK at the time.

At the zenith of the British Empire there was free movement for British subjects. Andrew Bonar Law was born in Canada to a father from Ireland and a mother from Scotland. No one questioned his right to live in the UK and to become prime minister. He would still have that right.

In the 1920s immigration speeded up anew. There were Italians who arrived in search of a better standard of living. They faced some hostility particularly in Scotland. Much of this was sectarian animus.

In the 1930s German refugees arrived in the United Kingdom. Some were Jewish and some were not. It is to Britain’s lasting credit that these refugees were taken in. The UK flagellates itself for not doing more for these refugees. But the UK’s record is better than every single country in the world.

During the Second World War the UK played host to wartime refugees from Poland, France, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway. Most of them had no intention of remaining after the war. It was a case of any port in a storm.

People from the colonies volunteered for fight for the British Empire. They came to the UK from India, Jamaica, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Zimbabwe and so on. Many of these soldiers, sailors and airmen were not white. The non-white military personnel encountered racial prejudice.

After 1945 some of the Poles who had come to Britain during the war remained behind. They too experienced prejudice.

In the postbellum era the UK had a labour shortage. The decision was made to advertise jobs in the colonies. People in the West Indies in particular were asked to come to the UK to work. People in the British colonies in the Caribbean had been brought up on a cargo cult version of Britishness. Despite the appalling cruelty meted out to their ancestors many people in the Antilles had a positive image of the UK. Unfortunately they were about to have a rude awakening.

In 1948 the SS Empire Windrush docked at Tillbury. As the ship crossed the Atlantic there were cabinet level discussions about the arrival of several hundred people from the West Indies. The Labour government’s reaction bordered on panic. From today’s perspective it seems risible and despicable. Black people had been in the British Isles for centuries. These people had the legal right to settled in the UK. Moreover, they had been specifically invited! A third of those who landed in 1948 had formerly served in the RAF. It is scandalous that some people racially abused these men.

Tens of thousands of people from the South of Ireland came to the UK in 1948. Barely a word was said in protest about that. The major portion of Ireland had left the UK in 1921. There was a considerable measure of anglophobia in Irish nationalism. The Irish Government had chosen to stay neutral in the Second World War. Yet we Irish were far more welcome in GB than the black people of the Caribbean. Colour prejudice was the reason why many people were hostile to the immigrations from Jamaica and Trinidad.

At the same time as a few thousand people per year came to the UK from the British Caribbean and South Asia tens of thousands of white Britons were moving overseas. White Britishers were sailing to Canada, the United States, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Zimbabwe. More people were going out of the United Kingdom than were coming in. The British Government encouraged some people to settle abroad. It seems odd as there was a labour shortage.

Australia had a slogan called ‘populate or die’. Due to the white Australia policy it welcomed only one colour. British immigrants were highly favoured. The assisted passage scheme brought many ten pound poms to Oz.

In the 1950s the number of immigrants arriving in the UK each year topped ten thousand a year. It was a record for peacetime. Non-white Immigration was almost exclusively to the major cities: London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Cardiff. There started to be serious opposition to non-white immigration. Britain’s Hitler wannabe was Sir Oswald Mosley. Mosley, ironically, was an immigration himself in the Republic of Ireland and later France. Mosley returned from Paris to lead a campaign against his fellow subjects of the Crown. Sir Oswald denounced the arrival of black people in London. A significant number of black people lived in the Notting Hill area of London. They were often exploited by the rack renter Peter Rachman. As though these much put upon people did not have enough problems Sir Oswald said that they were bad and ought to be booted out. He aggravated the Notting Hill Race Riots.

There were physical attacks on black people. One young black man was murdered. There was one problem with immigration to the UK in the 1950s. It was the racist reaction to it. Immigrations in the 1950s were hardly ever taking anyone’s job. But even if an immigrant did so then he or she was entitled to it. Fair play to him for doing it better.

Mosley was humiliated in the North Kensington by election. He finally left public life. He became an ardent Europhile!

The post-war era was a time of decolonization. India and Pakistan became independent in 1947. By the 1950s Malaya and some African countries were going the same way. The empire was being transformed into the Commonwealth. Commonwealth citizens still had the right to live and work anywhere in the Commonwealth.

In the 1960s the same story continued. The UK Government gave into pressure and restricted the right of Commonwealth citizens to live in the UK. Yet the rate of immigration did not go down. The economy was growing steadily and unemployment was low.

In 1968 the Conservative Party was looking for a way to tackle the Labour Government. Enoch Powell was in Ted Heath’s shadow cabinet. Powell thought he had just the ticket. That March he gave a speech in Birmingham which has gone down in history as ‘the Rivers of Blood’ speech. His inflammatory rhetoric was all about vilifying immigrants particularly if they were non-white.

Powell excoriated immigration as changing the culture of England. Noticeably he cared about England and not the UK. It was shocking for an MP for the Unionist Party. He ought to have cared about the whole United Kingdom. His argument was that non-white immigrants were wicked. He used anecdotes about bad behavior as if these stories could be assumed to be Gospel truth and typified non-white people.  It was not that he claimed they were harmful to the economy. It was a patently racist speech. He did not target white immigrants. Fascinatingly he had no objection to interracial marriage. Interracial marriage was controversial at the time. He also said he did not oppose non-white immigration on principle but it had to be a very small number.

Enoch was rightly shunned. Heath sacked the man from the shadow cabinet. When he was Health Secretary he had recruited medical staff from non-white countries.

In the 1970s Commonwealth immigration was further restricted. Those with one grandparent born in the UK could come. They had the chance to obtain citizenship. The 70s was a time of rising unemployment. People blamed this on immigration although it was only a minor factor in causing joblessness.

It was not until the late 20th century that immigration started to be very rapid and large scale. More people arrived since 1997 than arrived in all the previous centuries. For the avoidance of any rhetorical slight of hand one must allow for the fact that in 1997 the UK population was of the order of 60 000 000. But even taking that into account the proportion of people arriving in a short space of time is unprecedented.

It was only in the 1990s that the UK received net immigration. It was about 30 000 per annum. From 1939 until that time more people had left the United Kingdom each year than arrived. In the 1990s the number of people began to rise rapidly. Under Tony Blair the Labour Government decided to increase immigration hugely. Years later a Labour advisor revealed the strategy was ‘to rub the right’s nose in diversity.’ There might also have been a consideration of electoral advantage. Ethnic minority people are much more likely to vote Labour than Tory. That was certainly the case in the 1990s. Commonwealth citizens who are legally resident in the UK are permitted to vote. It is a right that I support.

In 2004 ten new countries acceded to the European Union. Most pre-2004 EU states restricted the right of the new EU countries citizens to move West. The UK, Republic of Ireland and Sweden did not. People from these ten new member states could automatically come to the United Kingdom and settle. This was a boon to some sectors. Some splendid people have come over. The Labour administration grossly underestimated the number of people who would arrive. It was criminal stupidity. The economy was booming and unemployment was low.

Problems in the UK labour market are multifarious. The British underclass refuses to work. Benefits are seen as a career path. Farmers and hoteliers lamented that they could not get fruit pickers, chambermaids and the like for love nor money. In 2004 some eager workers arrived from Poland, Slovakia and other lands. Their work ethic often put Britishers to shame. Some people who came from the new EU states could not speak English but found work anyway. I take my hat off to them. The UK ought to reform its benefits system so that avoiding work is no longer an option. If more people left education at 14 and had to work then this would help.

In 2008 the credit crunch came. The economy contracted and unemployment shot up. Massive immigration no longer seemed to smart. Racism raised its ugly head.

The British Government responded to public anxiety about excessive immigration. It could not prevent people from EU countries coming to the UK.

The system of student visas is too byzantine and difficult. This is a headache for language schools and universities in the UK. Students have to fill out pages of forms months in advance. Students are rejected for misspellings. Education is a massive advantage for the UK economy. Streamlining the student visa system would help a lot.

People from wealthy countries do not need tourist visas for the UK. If you are from the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and so on you do not need one. However, many tourists do need a visa. This takes time and money. It puts people off.  What is the logic of allowing people from affluent countries to visit the UK as tourists visa free? It is that they are very unlikely to overstay. Whereas people from countries with severe economic problems such as Zimbabwe may be tempted to come to the UK and stay illegally. Therefore a Zimbabwean has to prove that he or she really intends to be  tourist and has funds to support himself or herself.

If the UK was firm and efficient about removing illegal immigrants then it could abolish the need for visas altogether.

The government has been moronic in counting students in immigration statistics. Most lands do not do this. It has made the immigration system seem worse than it actually is. There is no need to exaggerate.

Blair’s Government abolished exit controls. The UK did not know who has left the country! Just look at a manifest of passengers on trains and ferries! Only in 2018 were exit controls reintroduced.

Marrying a non-EU spouse is a nightmare. The new rules are part of the government’s wrongheaded response to excessive immigration. The non-EU spouse must be over 21. The legal age of marriage is 16. This is an unwarrantable abridgement of rights. The British spouse must have an income of over £30 000. This is unfair. The poor have the right to love too. What if the British spouse is too poor to support the non-EU spouse? The foreign spouse can work so why worry about the British spouse’s income? What if the foreigner is bringing millions in?

It takes six months and several thousand pounds to get the spouse in. It is outrageous.

In the old days you could bring a spouse in no questions asked. So long as the marriage is genuine this ought to be permitted. Here I am more liberal than Labour or the Tories.

DEBATE

Immigration has often been a contentious topic. It is intriguing to notice how the same issues arise in relation to immigration in each generation. What are the memes of those who wish to stem the flow of immigrants? You will often hear these slogans; there are too many of them; they are taking over; they are not like us; they are too poor; they are too rich; they are taking our jobs; they are diseased; they are dangerous; they are criminals; they do not speak our language; I do not like the smell of their cooking; they wear strange clothes; they should integrate; they should be allowed in but they should stick to their own areas.  Not all those who oppose large scale immigration say all of these things. Some of the above statements flat out contradict each other. Some are reasoned criticisms of certain members of immigration communities. Some are straightforward racism.

It is fascinating that even in the 1950s some people in the United Kingdom said  there were too many people entering the country. This was a time of net emigration. Just because that argument was specious then does not make it specious now. The situation has changed remarkably.

There are pros and cons to immigration. People evangelise long and loud for immigration. There is a case to be made for large scale immigration. It is right that it is put. Yet it is also seemly for people to present the flipside of these arguments. It is only logical and fair to discuss the contra aspect to massive immigration. Some bien pensant people will not allow that there is a contra side at all. Large scale immigration leads to wage compression for the low paid. Those who are stridently for no controls on immigration tend to be the very rich.

I do not propose to rehash the argument for large scale immigration here. There are plenty of other articles where people will wax lyrical about the boundless blessings conferred on the United Kingdom by allowing hundreds of thousands of people to settle in the UK each year. Yes, some immigrants are magnificent and most are decent. Very few of them are evil. It is true that some immigrants are a boon to the economy. On balance immigrants pay in more than they take ought. Separating the sheep from the goats in this issue is crucial. A blanket condemnation of any group is wrongheaded and unjust. Equally to declare an entire group is entirely desirable is also foolish. The claim that immigration is a fillip to the economy and exchequer is taken as a QED by the pro uncontrolled immigration lobby. They will not allow for any exceptions to be considered. Further, they seem to cherish nothing but hard cash. As Oscar Wilde said it is knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. Is there nothing to be said for social cohesion or quality of life? Immigration can raise quality of life and it can lower it. This is not a matter of ethnicity. It is a matter of numbers.

There is much wrong with the anti-mass immigration lobby. Some of them are extremists and want to immigration at all. Some of them are racists and tend to overlap with the other category. There are those who would permit some races in and not others. Alarmism and the inflation of statistics is also grist to the mill of people who are not anti-mass immigration but anti-immigration per se. Some of the reasonable people who wish to limit immigration have a tin ear for public opinion and no idea how to handle the media.

There is a lot of scare mongering about immigration. Immigrants are often scapegoated. No one should demonise immigrants. I shall say it again. Most immigrants are good people. There are a few bad immigrants. If they come from the EU the UK is not allowed to screen them out. Most immigrants are admirable.

The United Kingdom has plenty of homegrown problems. Many born British citizens are felons, benefits scroungers and people with transmissible diseases. This fact is often raised by the pro mass immigration caucus. None of this means that the UK ought to compound its problems by allowing huge scale immigration.

There are good reasons as well as bad reasons to wish to restrict immigration more than it is restricted at present. Racism, the dislike of anything foreign and myth making are unsound reasons. What are the sound reasons for wishing to reduce the level of immigration? Too much immigration can be bad for the economy just as too little immigration can be bad for it. A few bad people are let in. This is not demonizing the majority of immigrants.

The number of jobs is limited. It stands to reason that the more people are admitted the more unemployment there will be. If the economy grows and the number of job vacancies increases then allowing commensurately more immigration would surely be wise. To say ‘they are taking our jobs’ is sometimes true. It reflects no discredit on an immigrant if he or she does this. It actually proves that such a person is a great worker.

The UK is not huge in area. The population is not spread evenly throughout the whole 240 000 km squared. If immigrants mostly settled in Ulster it would be different. But immigrants overwhelmingly move to the most crowded regions such as London, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham. This exacerbates crowding. There are more traffic jams and more people on the train. There are other reasons.  The UK needs to upgrade its transport system. But do we want to build roads over more of the green belt? Do we want to build more railways and ruin more countryside? The existing rail lines cannot take more trains nor can the stations.

Look at housing. The cost of accommodation in London is astronomical. The more people want housing the more the price will rise. It is the laws of supply and demand. There are other factors to the housing crisis such as selling off council housing and not building many homes. But do we really want to concrete over the green belt? Curiously those who zealously oppose any tightening of immigration regulations or even enforcing extant regulations tend to be the self-same people who profess themselves to be more concerned with the environment. Do these so-called environmentalists not recognize that affordable housing for an ever more rapidly burgeoning population shall necessitate building on green fields sites? How can they refute this?

The pressure on the NHS is severe. Immigrants are entitled to healthcare like anyone else. Nigel Farage said they ought to pay for private insurance for a few years but that is too harsh.

Schools have to cope with large scale immigration. Immigrant children are entitled to free education. No decent person would begrudge them that. But the more children we have the more teachers we need. There is already a recruitment crisis in teaching. In some schools many children cannot speak English which makes teaching much more trying.

None of the problems in the UK is entirely caused by immigration. But too much immigration contributes to many problems. The immigrants are not morally culpable. If they have come legally then they have only exercised their rights. It is the government’s fault for pursuing a mutton headed policy.

Immigrants help the UK in some ways. They work in the NHS. The teach in schools. They build houses and roads. So, yes, immigrants can be part of the solution. If the UK only admitted immigrants who worked in certain sectors with a paucity of workers that would be a different matter.

People sometimes raise concern about the health of certain immigrants. If someone has a contagious disease should he or she be allowed to move to the UK? There are those who say no. This is no fear mongering and suggesting that most immigrants are diseased. Having a disease does not make someone immoral. We all have diseases at some time or other and we mostly die of them. Take HIV. It is better not to have this illness. If someone with that disease comes to the UK he or she could spread it even unwittingly. It is true that that disease is not the death sentence it used to be. Anti retrovirals can keep people well even if they are HIV positive. But it is clearly preferable not to contract that disease in the first instance. Putting people on the medicines necessary to treat the illness costs the NHS a huge amount of money. What if a very rich person had that disease and paid for the medication herself? Perhaps we should let her in. But there is still a chance that she could pass it on. I know doctors who say that HIV positive people should be allowed to immigrate to the UK. If you want to avoid the risk of catching this disease then use a condom they say. I am minded to say that those with serious communicable diseases ought not to be allowed to settle in the UK. I would allow such people in as tourists or on business trips. It would be an overreaction to bar them for coming in for a week or so. Moreover, it would be unduly onerous, time consuming and costly to demand blood tests for people who wish to come as a tourist. This would have to be applied to those who have visa free entry to the United Kingdom at present. These countries might then impose similar tests on Britishers wishing to visit their countries. Therefore, I do not advocate such a policy.

If somebody wishes to come to live in the UK should this person not be subjected to a medical examination and blood tests? Many countries do this. Should we care about public health or not? Those who are ill deserve sympathy and should be treated free of charge in all countries. It does not matter how anyone caught any disease. All deserve compassion. But the UK does not have the resources to treat everyone. How do we try to prevent contagious diseases spreading? We used to use quarantine. To quarantine a whole country is too much and unworkable. But surely some steps to limit the spread of a contagious disease are sensible.

These are sensitive issues and need to be handled delicately. A demagogue can exploit such issues to stoke fear and direct animosity and ethnic minority groups.

The great majority of immigrants are law abiding. Only a few are criminals. People have committed crimes as grave as murder in other EU countries and been allowed in without any questions asked.

There ought to be forgiveness for petty criminals. Someone who committed a misdemeanor in his or her home country should be allowed in especially if that was several years ago. An immigrant caught shoplifting once should not be removed. Felons should be booted out forthwith or those who commit small crimes persistently. At the moment it is very hard to expel an EU citizen from the UK.

Language is one of the least problematic aspects of immigration. English is the world language. Most people arrive speaking it. Most others learn it in a few years.

What about assimilation? I do not insist that immigrants wear British clothes or follow most British mores. No reasonable person would object to a British Pakistani wearing a shalwar kameez. There is nothing amiss about a British India wearing a sari. Who would take exception to a Frenchman wearing a beret or a Romanian playing manele music. It would be unconservative to ask immigrants to forget their heritage or deny their identity. I do not want anyone to be deracinated. A person can be bicultural. Immigration can vivify and enrich culture. Cultures are not hermetically sealed. One cannot have hard and fast rules about what belongs to which culture. Cultures overlap and blur into each other. There is of course a wide degree of diversity within a culture. Let a thousand flowers bloom! Cultures cross fertilise. We receive memes as we transmit them. There are certain fundamentals that ought to be observed such as gender equality.

Assimilation has been more difficult with some groups than others. The Hindu community has not made any demands. The Sikh community has made very few demands as is the richest community per capita behind the Jewish community. The Muslim community has asked for books to be banned and for menus to be changed. Not all Muslims agree with such unreasonable demands.

The black Caribbean community is perhaps the most assimilated to mainstream British culture of all ethnic minority groups. The African-Caribbean people arrived already speaking English. Their religion was Christian or occasionally Rastafari. They knew about the structures of British society as it had been imposed upon their ancestors in the West Indies. The black Caribbean community are more likely that other immigrants to play football and go to the pub. It is little wonder that inter marriage between this community and white Britons is so high.

Some people might not wish to integrate. To some extent this is reasonable. When it comes to cuisines, raiment, music, dance and so forth there is no reason why a person should follow the herd. If people wish to stick to a foreign culture in these regards then that is a respectable choice.

Not all aspects of every culture are admirable. There are aspects of white British culture which one should deprecate. Binge drinking is an example. Most white Britons do not do this but there is no denying that it is part of the lifestyle of a significant minority of white Britishers. The same holds true of other cultures in the UK.

There are of course plenty of good British Muslims. They often suffer spite and insults from the less admirable members of their community. Unfortunately, there have been members of the British Muslim community who have engaged in acts of terrorism. This is not the fault of the generality of this community. Let us be honest with ourselves. There are rebarbative attitudes that are more common in the British Muslim community than in any other ethnic or religious group in the UK. Plenty of surveys have evidenced this. Anti-gay attitudes, gender inequality, censoriousness and support for terrorism are more prevalent in this group than in other. Hats off to members of the UK Muslim community gallant enough to denounce the bigots in their midst. The British Muslim community suffers from prejudice. This also needs to be tackled.

Good British Muslims are often the victims of antediluvian attitudes held by some in their community. The victims of honour killings, forced marriages and female genital mutilation are Muslims themselves.

The United Kingdom needs to be careful about admitting people who might be committed to undermining liberty. The government should question people before admitting them. Those who want blasphemy legislation, who defend female genital mutilation or want homosexuality outlawed should not be allowed in. Unfortunately, the UK has done a lot to undermined liberty by passing oppressive legislation. The government seeks to silence attitudes it calls ‘extremist’ and has criminalized insulting words or behaviour. This is an indefensible intrusion on our freedom of expression. Such usurpations of freedom are deeply troubling

GOOD IMMIGRATION

We often hear that diversity is good in itself. It is sometimes good. Immigration has increased the gaiety of the nation. The UK is more colourful now than it was in every sense. From cuisine to music the country is more alluring.

Some executives are moved from banks and corporations around the world. They get UK work visas no problem. Few people object to this. This is the one area of the immigration system that works well.

There ought to be a smooth immigration system that works well for Britain. The UK needs immigration. It also needs a limit on it.

There should be no racial or religious aspect to this. At the moment the United Kingdom’s immigration policy allows EU citizens into the country no questions asked. 90% of EU citizens are white. Around the world about 10% of the population is white. By allowing equal opportunities in immigration the UK would no longer be pursuing a policy which is indirectly racially discriminatory.

Unlimited immigration became a shibboleth of the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and Sinn Fein. This is despite uncontrolled immigration impacting most heavily on the very working class communities whom the Labour Party professes to care for so deeply. Some of the people entering the UK have attitudes so illiberal that they would make your average Lib Dem vomit. As for the SNP and Sinn Fein – how does it make Scotland independent to allow in so many people who are not Scottish or not Irish? The SNP and Sinn Fein have one attitude. Be against the English. Do and say anything to try to make the English seem bad and call anyone racist who questions you.

David Blunkett was the Labour Home Secretary in the noughties. He said he could perceive no upper limit to immigration. With immigration running at 300 000 a year he thought that there would be nothing wrong with it rising to 400 000 or 500 000 or why not 1 000 000? I am often told this is scaremongering. Is it? In that late 1940s people raised their concerns about immigration. That was at a time of net emigration! No one would have believed that Britain would ever have reached a situation where there was net immigration of the order of a third of a million a year. In previous decades there were doom laden prognostications of enormous levels of immigration. They seemed far fetched even to me. But these have all be outstripped by events. The estimates of bygone years have transpired to be gross underestimates. Yesteryear we were told that talk of millions of immigrants arriving each year were preposterous. Such talk is not preposterous. It probably will not come to pass. But it might. If even a quarter of it comes true it will stretch public services to breaking point.

There were sensible worries about out of control immigration. The government could have tackled the issues. Those who lodged false claims for asylum could have been given short shrift. What did the government do instead? It attacked the innocent. British citizens were deported. It was an injustice so foul that at first I did not believe it. British people are simply not kicked out of the UK. To my horror I discovered that this had happened. Britishers of black Caribbean origin were removed from the UK despite their absolute right to be in the United Kingdom. This only happened in a handful of cases. But it should never have happened to a single person.

There is talk of an amnesty for countries who are in the UK illegally. This will simply invite more people to come illegally or to come legally but overstay their visas. There was an amnesty in the 1990s and the problem because hugely worse.

WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

The UK on leaving the EU ought to allow in students from EU counties ideally under a reciprocal arrangement. Even if this is not reciprocal the United Kingdom should be generous and make it unilateral. EU students are vital for British universities and language schools. They should not be required to obtain a visa. These people can stay for the duration of their courses and for a month afterwards to tidy up their affairs before leaving. These students should be allowed to work a limited number of hours to support themselves in term time – say 20 hours per week.

Citizens of certain select affluent countries such as EU countries, the US, Japan and so forth should be allowed into the UK as tourists or people on business. They would not need a visa. They could come for 90 days at a time. They would be allowed to stay for no more than 180 days in any period of 365. More than 180 days in 365 is not being a tourist or being on a business trip. It is living in the UK. Ideally these would be reciprocal arrangements. The idea of limiting this to rich lands is that these people are unlikely to wish to stay illegally.

There should be short term work visas of 30 days at a time. If someone is coming for an artistic performance or to take part in a symposium then he or she should be let in after a simple visa procedure. One such visa should be attainable in a period of 365 days.

The United Kingdom should grant work permits for limited periods of perhaps three years to people to work in areas where there is a shortage of skilled personnel. For exampled anyone qualified as a doctor, nurse, dentists, vet or teacher in a country with a reputable educational system should be allowed in to work in these sectors but only in these sectors. If you come to work as a nurse you are not allowed to work as an actress. These people should face a quick and simple visa process. Are you who you say you are? Are your qualifications genuine? Are you in decent health? Are you free from any heinous criminal record? Spouses and dependent children of such persons ought to be allowed in too. After three years these people should be allowed a second such visa. If they wish to seek permanent residency and citizenship then this option should be available.

The current system whereby people working for multinationals who can be transferred to the United Kingdom works quite smoothly. It ought to be maintained. Lawyers, bankers, stockbrokers, insurance brokers and other highly people who wish to be posted to the UK should still be able to do so as under the present dispensation. They should be permitted to work in the UK for three years or so at a time with the possibility to extend this for a further three years. Again they should be offered the chance to obtain permanent residency and then citizenship.

Employers face swingeing fines if they employ someone who is in the United Kingdom illegally. It is not always easy for employers to know if a person is in the country legally or not. If a card were issued to those with a right to work in the UK. Another way this could be verified is by a job applicant showing his or her passport or ID card. This could then be checked against a publicly accessible database to see that the name, date of birth and photo match.

British citizenship is much sought after. At the moment it takes fives years residency, a test in the English language and UK culture for a person to obtain citizenship for the price of about £1 000. The United Kingdom could increase the residency requirement to 10 years and the fee to £10 000. British citizenship is very precious and people ought to be willing to pay a premium for it.

The situation for people born to British citizens overseas is problematic. To gain British citizenship for your child if you yourself were not born in the UK costs £970. This is unjust.

At the moment someone born to a British parent abroad has the right to British citizenship. But someone born outside the UK does not gain British citizenship if his or her parents were British citizens also born outside the UK. If only your grandparents were born in the United Kingdom then gaining British citizenship is more difficult. This is wrong. The Republic of Ireland has the right attitude. If you have a grandfather or a grandmother born in Ireland (including Northern Ireland) then you have the right to Irish citizenship. The UK ought to adopt the same policy. There needs to be some cut off. Saying that great-grandparents are too distant is about right.

We ought to recognize that immigration is a mixed blessing. At the moment is appears obligatory to ululate with joy about massive immigration. We are required to proclaim that unrestricted immigration is an unmitigated blessing. It is true that some immigrants are manna from heaven. Most of them are amiable enough. A few are wicked. To say that they are all splendiferous is ridiculous. It would be as daft as saying all British citizens are marvelous.

What any company does on recruitment is a needs assessment. What roles do we need filled? How do we source the right people? Go about attracting candidates? Assess their applications. Invite them to sign on the dotted line. Having done so. Monitor their performance. Once ought of a probationary period their position is secured. A broadly similar approach should be tried with immigration.

Theresa May as Home Secretary promised a hostile environment for illegal immigrants. When she was Prime Minister this policy really kicked in. People who arrived from the West Indies in the 1960s and 1970s were targeted. In 1972 the open door to the West Indies closed. Those people from the Commonwealth who had already arrived were granted the right to stay. In the last few years the government looked at people who had arrived in 1972. It decided that these people must prove they had been in the UK continuously. Anyone who could not produce two pieces of documentary evidence for every year in the UK was deemed not to have the right to remain and was subject to deportation. This was unfair and unduly onerous. The onus was on these individuals to produce the paperwork. Who on earth retained documentation like that? The government and other organisations had documents on people; tax records, NI receipts, bank statements, court records, school records, employment contracts, rental agreements, voting registers, TV licenses and the phone book. There should be a rebuttable presumption for Commonwealth citizens who came before 1972 that they can stay unless the government can show a good reason why these people should not be permitted to do so.

The Conservative Government pledge to reduce annual immigration to under 100 000 a year. It was a promise that the government knew it could not fulfill due to the EU. It was a flagrant lie told unblushingly.

If the United Kingdom leaves the EU – unlikely – then it can determine its own immigration policy including towards EU countries. I do not propose to deport any EU citizens unless then have committed very grave offences. The government could make good on that 100 000 campaign promise. I very much doubt that they shall even endeavor to do so.

Immigration is a question of quality and quantity. The 100 000 figure seemed about right. I do not know what the magic number. Not many people moaned about 30 000 a year in the early 1990s. 100 000 a year might even be too few. But 350 000 is too many. I have never heard anyone say it was not enough!

Huge immigration is bad for other countries. It represents a brain drain for other nations. It is said that there are more Malawian doctors in the UK than in Malawi.  Poaching such people does a huge disservice to less affluent countries. This tendency disproportionately impacts the most economically underprivileged countries on earth. These nations are losing their intellectual aristos who have been educated at a ruinous price for countries where many people living in penury. Even European lands are emptying out. Over 10% of the Romanian population has left its homeland since 2007. 50% of people finishing their education in Romania go abroad. This has a devastating effect on the country. Not all of these emigrants are Britain-bound.

The United Kingdom should adopt a robust attitude to asylum. If you fear persecution then go to the nearest safe country. Do not pass through a dozen safe countries to come to the UK. Asylum seekers in France should seek asylum there and not in the UK. The UK has a border with the Republic of Ireland only. There is no superinhuman oppression in the Irish Republic. Anyone who comes from another country is clearly not coming to the UK for asylum. They are doing so because they want access to Britain’s prosperity and human rights. Those who are granted asylum ought to be worshipping Brtiain’s soil for saving their lives and not griping that nothing is ever good enough.

There are many extremist pro immigration agitators on the liberal left. They could donate to the asylum seekers. They could house and feed illegal immigrants. They very seldom do so. I have seen hard left demonstrations where they have banners reading ‘open the borders’.

People make bogus asylum claims and get to stay for a year before being booted out. It is a very lengthy and costly process to deport illegals. Evan Harris was a Liberal Democrat MP who said asylum seekers should not be detained while their claims are being processed. This was an asinine thing to say. It made him appear very nice and won him loud applause. The UK asylum system is struggling as it is. Were it not for detention centres they system would collapse altogether. Those who lodged specious claims could easily disappear and never be found and removed.

Some countries make it difficult to send back their citizens. For example Indians and Brazilians who are in the UK illegally ought to be returned to their country of origin. India and Brazil are often uncooperative over this. Illegals often destroy their ID documents once they reach the United Kingdom. The aim of this is to make it impossible to prove their citizenship and therefore to deport them.  In fairness to these nations they want to be assured that their so-called nationals whom the UK wishes to remove really are citizens of India or Brazil and not citizens of third countries. In negotiating trade and visa agreements with India and Brazil the UK has to make concessions conditional on these countries swiftly accepting their nationals who have been deported from the United Kingdom.

We are often told that the UK is so racist. It is a foul slur. Why is it that people of all races come half way across the globe to settle in the United Kingdom? They do not risk life and limb or pay fortunes to suffer racism. They do so because Britain is so humane and free.

If we are to have any immigration policy at all that means rules. That requires limits. Some people will not be allowed in. Those who come illegally or overstay their visas need to be deported unless there is an overriding reason why the law should not take its course. Some people think they are very humane by saying that anyone should be allowed in. They do no appear to consider the repercussions of a totally unrestricted system. System would not even be the word. Every country has an immigration policy. It needs to be enforced or it is not a policy at all.

The post Immigration into the United Kingdom: what should be done? appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, EU, immigration, UK]

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[l] at 10/20/19 2:58am

The problem with making changes is that everyone talks about making the change, but when it comes to making the change, the same people are likely to switch sides and complain about the change. This is what we see in evidence in President Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C. establishment, with most of the US House voting in a condemnatory resolution against his move to pull US troops out of a Kurdish-held enclave in Northwestern Syria that was set in motion on the 6th of October this year.

The present sitrep (“situation report” to those of you not familiar with military lingo) is this: Following President Trump’s move, he warned Turkey’s president Recip Erdogan that any hostile move against the Kurds on Syrian soil would be met with absolutely crippling economic sanctions. Recip must not have cared much about this, that or his built-in resentment against the Kurds must be more important, because he went ahead and launched an apparently major attack against the Kurds.

However, this did not change anything. As strategic analyst Douglas MacGregor postulated on October 6th on Tucker Carlson Tonight, the Kurds ended up making an agreement with the Syrian government, backed by Russia, for support in that region. The US immediately placed and is placing severe economic sanctions against its NATO “ally” Turkey, and President Trump appears to be holding his stance. A conference with Democrat and Republican congressional leaders whose biggest highlight was the crybaby fit of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer condemning the president for calling Mrs. Pelosi a “third rate politician” apparently actually became productive after these two capricious old people stormed out of the meeting with their feewings hurt (yes, I spelled it that way on purpose). The President appeared to throw the neocons a bone by saying that there will remain a small American force in Syria ostensible “to protect the homeland”, whatever that may mean.

In other words, with the exception of Pelosi and Schumer, everyone seems to be getting what they want, or at least, what they need.

As we chronicle this event further, we come to the announcement made on Thursday by Vice President Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo (the “Mike and Mike” Duo, perhaps?) that after a five-hour session of negotiations, Recip Erdogan is conducting a ceasefire and a halt to his military operations in Syria. Fox News carried the joint statement issued by the governments of both Syria and the United States, a few points of which we reprint below:

  • Turkey and the US are committed to D-ISIS/DAESH activities in northeast Syria. This will include coordination on detention facilities and internally displaced persons from formerly ISIS/DAESH-controlled areas, as appropriate.
  • Turkey and the US are committed to D-ISIS/DAESH activities in northeast Syria. This will include coordination on detention facilities and internally displaced persons from formerly ISIS/DAESH-controlled areas, as appropriate.
  • The Turkish side will pause Operation Peace Spring in order to allow the withdrawal of YPG from the safe zone within 120 hours. Operation Peace Spring will be halted upon completion of this withdrawal.
  • Once Operation Peace Spring is paused, the US agrees not to pursue further imposition of sanctions under the Executive Order of October 14, 2019, Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Syria, and will work and consult with Congress, as appropriate, to underline the progress being undertaken to achieve peace and security in Syria, in accordance with UNSCR 2254. Once Operation Peace Spring is halted as per paragraph 11 the current sanctions under the aforementioned Executive Order shall be lifted.

These four points seem to comprise the guts of the agreement. Vice President Pence went on further in an exclusive interviewwith Fox News White House Correspondent John Roberts to say that the swift actions by President Trump and his no-nonsense approach to dealing with Erdogan showed that Mr. Trump “means what he says” when it comes to handling matters like this.

The rest of the interview seemed to portray this as a major diplomatic victory, and given John Roberts’ well-placed concern about the nature of Recip Erdogan, time will show how good this agreement actually is as it is implemented.

What it also does is give the US President a bit of cover. President Trump has no intention of changing his mind and redeploying US troops to this region. As far as anyone can tell, we’re out of there for good. The stipulation in the agreement above that the US will work with Turkey to “coordinate” on detention facilities does not mean that US personnel have to be in the area to do it, and it is likely that they will not be there.

A diplomatic victory for the US and its government also gives a bit of cover to the Russians, and it is only unfortunate that this inevitably is going to be viewed as a bad thing by most of the mainstream press. Even President Trump knows that the “Overton Window” is not in a place where the American public can comfortably hear that Russia is going to be responsible for the peace in this region from now on, no matter how excellent this strategy actually is. However, there are more and more voices speaking more and more openly about this very fact and with the understanding that it is indeed the right move to make.

This foreign policy shift is the US President’s biggest gamble thus far in his presidency. It is a big gamble because it is an abrupt reversal in the course that the US power brokers have followed for at least thirty years, regardless of the party in power. We report elsewhere on the King of the Hill syndrome and how futile it is to try to remain the one who rules everything.

Our neocon and neoliberals groups are quick to assert that “American democracy” is wanted everywhere and we are the ones to give it to everyone, (whether they want it or not), but for decades this has been a cover for simply trying to be the King of the Hill. This is a tiresome position to hold for any length of time, and protecting it is needlessly expensive. The American people who are most inspired by President Trump’s message of “America First” understand that this is the right way to go – to keep to ourselves more and perhaps only wield our immense power when someone actually has the need for it… and when they ask us, freely. Not when we decide we know what they need.

We can expect that this pill will be hard to accept for many people, but acceptance of it is inevitable.

The post US Syria foreign policy shift not going down well with the Establishment appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, Russia, Syria, Erdogan, Trump, foreign policy, Russians, Mike Pence, President Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, Pence, Overton Window]

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[l] at 10/19/19 8:43am

Submitted by InfoBrics, authored by Padraig McGrath, political analyst…

Analyzing a sequence of public statements by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky regarding Crimea and Donbass made over any length of time, it immediately becomes clear that he is attempting to master the political art of sending mixed signals. He has very little choice but to do so, considering that he must simultaneously attempt to balance the (conflicting) foreign policy agendas of the United States, Germany and France respectively with the potentially explosive tendencies of Ukrainian nationalists.

We might recall that Zelensky’s predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, found himself hamstrung quite early on in his tenure, unable to consolidate power to an extent that might enable him to wrest control of the Donbass policy from the political extremists on the Verkhovna Rada’s parliamentary committee on law-enforcement. Being genuinely fearful of the nationalists (fearful concerning his own personal safety), Poroshenko ended up capitulating shamelessly to the nationalist agenda, finally attempting to portray himself as the nationalist-militarist candidate in his disastrous bid for re-election.

In attempting to make predictions about Zelensky’s trajectory, we need to bear this point in mind – Poroshenko’s turn to the nationalist political constituency was by default. The main reason for it was his inability to consolidate power. In 2014, he had been the centrist candidate. Time will tell whether or not Zelensky proves to have more resolve or courage.

For the moment, Zelensky finds himself being forced to repeat the same mantras regarding “Russian aggression,” and “recovering all occupied Ukrainian territories,” for example in his speech to the United Nations General assembly on September 25th. Speaking in Kiev the previous day, Zelensky discussed the possibility of the continuation of dialogue through the Normandy Four format, involving the governments of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine. He told reporters “We want to leave this meeting with certain results on a specific timeframe for the war to be over and our territories to be returned.”

On October 2nd, Zelensky proposed drafting a concept of transitional justice for Crimea and Donbass, which he said should deal with “legal aspects of re-integration of temporarily occupied territories.”

Utterly unrealistic, and he knows it, but what else do you expect him to say? What else can he say?

We might ask if this denial of practical realities is best explained by a nuanced negotiating-strategy, or if Zelensky simply finds himself caught in an impossible domestic political and geo-political catch 22 wherein he can’t think of anything else to say. Both explanations are probably part of the mix.

Zelensky’s reference to “re-integration” would inevitably draw chuckles from many people in my own country of origin, the Republic of Ireland. Prior to a 1999 referendum which enabled its amendment, Article 3 of the 1937 Irish constitution began with the deliberately provocative phrase “Pending the re-integration of the national territory,” which alluded to the territorial status of Northern Ireland.

Of course, it was wishful thinking, but it served a practical purpose, insofar as it eventually became a bargaining-chip which could be traded to hammer out the Good Friday Agreement.

So is Zelensky’s reiteration of the official Ukrainian position regarding the territorial status of Donbass and Crimea part of a long-term, attemptedly hard-nosed negotiating-strategy, or is it best explained by the possibility that Ukrainian nationalists give him no room for tactical manoeuvre whatsoever? Zelensky’s announcement on October 1st that he had signed the Steinmeier Formula, a roadmap to ending the conflict in Donbass, prompted immediate protests in Kiev, with nationalists shouting “No to capitulation!”

Further complicating Zelensky’s difficulties is the point that there is currently a divergence between US policy and the positions of France and Germany on issues such as conditions for Ukraine’s recognition of the legitimacy of elections in Donbass, the timing of Ukraine’s resumption of control of the Russia-Ukraine border as per the Minsk II accord, etc.

If anything, this need for Zelensky to simultaneously juggle the conflicting concerns of so many great powers simply confirms the fact which is at the root of the Ukrainian crisis which began to gestate with the “orange revolution” in 2004/2005, and continues to the present day.

The fundamental root of the crisis, as yet again demonstrated by Zelensky’s current diplomatic catch 22, is simply that Ukraine’s history and geography make it impossible for Ukraine to be a genuinely independent country.

At least, in this regard, the Normandy Four discussions are a pragmatic approach, creating a format through which the major European powers can collectively consult concerning the future of Ukraine. This is tacit recognition of the practicalities of Ukraine’s status as a “limitrophe” territory.

During his October 10th marathon press-conference, Zelensky at times admitted the weakness of his position. At one point, he stated “If there are some negotiations between the U.S. and Russia about Ukraine without Ukraine’s participation, this is a bad signal.” Regarding accusations that his attempts to conduct meaningful negotiations concerning Donbass through the Normandy Four format and the Steinmeier formula constituted “treason,” he answered “When some people call this treason, I think treason is to prevent me from executing my presidential duties and promises to stop the war, to limit the number of those killed to zero.”

It would be overly simplistic to see Zelensky as merely a passive figure, helplessly pushed around by historical forces. He has been dealt an exceedingly bad hand, the same hand which any Ukrainian president would find themselves holding, but he’s playing it as well as he possibly can. One level on which he’s attempting to optimize the strategic value of the cards at his disposal is through his skilled use of legalistic language. His references to “re-integration” are certainly a “fictio juris,” but not only – in using this legalistic language, Zelensky is attempting to diffuse the nationalist threat while at the same time changing the tone (and therefore, gradually, also the content) of Ukraine nationalist discourse.

The post Ukrainian president juggles an impossible situation appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, Ukraine, Donbass, Zelensky]

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[l] at 10/19/19 8:32am

Authored by Serban V.C. Enache via Hereticus Economicus:

Actor Tom Arnold raised the prospect of another JFK-style assassination after Trump arrived for an event in Dallas. Orange Man tweeted a video with the big crowd that awaited him, saying “Just arrived at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Will be out shortly as we wait for more of you to get in! #TRUMP2020.” To that Tom Arnold replied with a disgusting, veiled threat. “Don’t get too cocky traitor. They showed up for JFK too,” implying Trump could take a shot in the head just like JFK did in the same city 56 years ago.

The social media platform later removed the tweet, but Arnold’s account was not taken down. You’d expect Jack Dorsey to terminate the accounts of users who blatantly threaten people’s lives; but you’d be wrong… This is the pitiful and insane level the Trump syndrome has reached. But had Orange Man lost the election back in 2016, what would be different in terms of foreign policy? Let’s ponder on that, shall we? After all, you can’t betray the American people without working for some foreign [rival] country.

What would a Democrat POTUS have done differently in Syria? Allowing regional stakeholders to settle it among themselves would have been totally out of the question! Deescalation would have been off the table. Escalation, the only way “forward.” Hillary Clinton would have had great difficulty dealing with Turkey, given the fact Washington [the Obama administration] had a coup attempt against Erdogan in 2016. HRC would have had to make serious concessions to Ankara, in detriment to YPG. But by not accepting that the Syria dismemberment operation failed, the blue White House would have had no choice but to commit lots of soldiers and wargear on the ground to strengthen the YPG and the SDF, to Ankara’s displeasure. Hell, HRC wanted a no fly zone imposed on Syria, no doubt believing the US could pull off another operation similar to that in Libya, which brought freedom, stability, peace, and democracy to the Libyan people [sarcasm].

Trump can boast all he wants that the US, under his administration, “destroyed” ISIS, as if Daesh just sprang out of thin air [with no help or plan from the US]. The truth of the matter is that the US [under Obama’s watch] spawned and grew Daesh with plenty of cooperation from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, and European mercenaries. By escalating the conflict there, we would have witnessed a second Cold War [de jure and de facto], because the Russian Federation would [rightfully] not have backed down. What about US-Iran relations in this scenario? Be assured that Iranian backing of the Assad Government and Houthi rebels would have earned Teheran the same trade sanctions imposed by Trump’s Government. Hillary would not have pulled out of the JCPOA. Instead, the blue administration would have argued that these sanctions have nothing to do with Iran’s [civilian] nuclear program, vetted by the IAEA. Easy way around it, no? And Obama’s deal is spared the negative publicity.

Would HRC have not sent troops to Saudi Arabia, in the context of escalating the conflict in Syria, and after the Houthi drones had taken out half of Saudi oil output? Of course she would have. Just like Obama unilaterally sent troops on Syrian soil, violating the country’s sovereignty, and promising statehood to Kurdish separatists based on the Zionist model. And as for the Saudi-led siege against Yemeni rebels, perhaps Clinton would have engaged in some pro-diplomacy PR campaign, but, ultimately, without Iran caving in to US demands, no chance of the siege actually being lifted.

What about Venezuela? Be assured that a blue POTUS would have condemned Maduro’s Government and backed Juan Guaido; just like the Trump administration and the European Union did. Also be sure that commercial and financial sanctions and asset confiscation would have ensued. What about Cuba [aligned with Maduro]? The blue White House may not have added extra sanctions against the island nation [like Trump did], but normalization of diplomatic and economic relations would certainly not have occurred.

What about North Korea? Absolutely no progress on this front, not even for positive PR attempts like under Trump. What about China? This is probably the only major, major difference between Trump and any other candidate, blue or red. However, you can be sure that the Hong Kong protests would have received the same backing from the CIA and from the duopoly in Congress under a Clinton presidency, just like under Trump’s. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi backs the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 – annual reviews of the island’s special economic status and the imposition of sanctions on those who undermine its autonomy; that means Beijing [state institutions and companies found guilty of the same infractions]. Al Jazeera’s news coverage is a good example of anti-Trump and anti-Chinese bias. If a news organization can pull that off, so can a president, so can a political party. So you see, it’s never really about methods [tariffs, fines, annulling licenses, arrests, prosecutions, confiscation etc], it’s always about the narrative which covers the transactional nature of cynical geopolitics. US military encirclement of China would have continued just as before, just like now. And as for tariffs on the USA’s traditional trade partners, they would have probably taken the form of fines, not tariffs, in the case of cartelization, illegal subsidies, and false advertising scandals. But these commercial relations under HRC would have suffered marginal change to be sure. And we would have had another push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement in a rebranded form of course.

Make no mistake, Trump is a war hawk too, but he’s the lesser of the war hawks, at least for now… And whenever he makes the right call, whenever he pushes for deescalation, the duopoly, the mainstream media, the crocodile leftists and liberals, the neocons, the shadow state [the permanent state] – they all try to sabotage him. And any news outlet or commentator who supports Trump on various issues – like wanting to withdraw troops from Syria – they are labeled as agents of the Kremlin, Russian propagandists, traitors to the country. Contemporary liberalism [neoliberal progressivism] is no alternative to neoconservatism. The former current is despotic, belligerent, hypocritical, corrupt, and mentally ill. Different color, different slogans, different attire, different pronouns, but the same crud! Any politician or political movement [with electoral chances] that threatens the Unipolar system, wittingly or unwittingly, in favor of the Multipolar system must be destroyed. That is the core fundamental behind the anti-Trump cult, which fuels the Trump derangement syndrome.

The post What if Trump had lost in 2016? appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, Hillary Clinton, Trump, 2016 elections]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/19/19 8:11am

Failed US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton voiced another Putin inspired conspiracy theory, stating during a podcast that the Russians are “grooming” Hawaii congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard to be a third-party candidate in 2020. Hillary then went on to assert that 2016 Green Party nominee Jill Stein is a Russian asset.

Tulsi hit back at Hillary via twitter, calling the former Obama Secretary of State a “warmonger.”

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Via Zerohedge.com

Democratic presidential candidate and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard – who like Trump was quickly put in the crosshairs of the military industrial complex, the deep state and the pro-war Atlantic Council for her de-interventionist foreign policy – fired back at Hillary Clinton, accusing her of being behind a “concerted campaign” to destroy her reputation and challenged her to stop hiding and enter the 2020 presidential race. Earlier in the day, Hillary Clinton floated a conspiracy theory that the Russians are “grooming” the Hawaii congresswoman to be a third-party candidate in 2020, while claiming 2016 Green Party nominee Jill Stein is “also” a Russian asset.

“Great! Thank you Hillary Clinton,” Gabbard tweeted late on Friday afternoon. “You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain.”

“From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.” Gabbard added.

Great! Thank you @HillaryClinton. You, the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long, have finally come out from behind the curtain. From the day I announced my candidacy, there has been a …

— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 18, 2019

… concerted campaign to destroy my reputation. We wondered who was behind it and why. Now we know — it was always you, through your proxies and …

— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 18, 2019

… powerful allies in the corporate media and war machine, afraid of the threat I pose.

It’s now clear that this primary is between you and me. Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly.

— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) October 18, 2019

“Don’t cowardly hide behind your proxies. Join the race directly,” Gabbard called out Clinton, who has dropped hints that she might run again in 2020 as a rematch for her 2016 humiliation.

During this week’s Democratic debate, Gabbard blasted debate co-sponsors CNN and the New York Times for “smearing” her along similar lines. CNN commentator Bakari Sellers called her a “puppet” for the Russian government and the Times reported on her “frequent” mentions in Russian state news media.

“Just two days ago, The New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears,” Gabbard said. “This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia — completely despicable.”

* * *

Clinton, who has blamed everyone – from the FBI to Russia – except herself for her 2016 loss to Donald Trump, said in a Thursday interview on President Obama aide David Plouffe’s “Campaign HQ” podcast that “Russians” were “grooming” someone in the Democrat primary field to run as a third-party candidate.

“I’m not making any predictions but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said, in apparent reference to Gabbard, a Hawaii Army National Guard major who served in Iraq. “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”

While not calling out Gabbard by name, her spokesperson later told CNN, “if the nesting doll fits,” leaving no room for doubt.

And just to make sure she finds yet another scapegoat for her loss, Clinton also accused 2016 Green Party nominee, Jill Stein, who ran against her and Donald Trump in 2016, of also being an asset of Russia: “That’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset.”

Earlier in the interview, Clinton hinted that the Trump 2020 campaign is still in “contact with the Russians,” and that “we have to assume that since it worked for them, why would they quit?”

“Donald Trump is Vladimir Putin’s dream,” Clinton added. “I don’t know what Putin has on him – whether its both personal and financial, I assume it is. But more than that, there’s this bizarre adulation Trump has for dictators.”

Clinton also insisted that Russia “did affect the outcome of the election” in 2016, despite the DOJ concluding otherwise.

Of all the candidates in the crowded Democrat primary field, Gabbard has been under the heaviest fire from journalists who previously boosted Clinton, accused of being an “Assad apologist” over a fact-finding trip she took to Syria years ago.

During the 2016 campaign, Gabbard resigned as vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee after endorsing Bernie Sanders for the party’s presidential nomination. Clinton beat Sanders out for the nomination largely due to support from the unaccountable “superdelegates,” and thanks to Wikileaks, it later emerged that her campaign had taken over the DNC entirely, a discovery that led to the resignation of then-DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz,  which might help explain Gabbard’s line about “the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party for so long.”

Shortly after Gabbard’s tweets, the Clinton campaign promptly responded, in what now appears will be a lengthy war of words between the two women as Hillary prepares to unveil her final presidential campaign. As CNN reporter, Dan Merica tweeted, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill has responded to Gabbard’s response, saying:  “Divisive language filled with vitriol and conspiracy theories? Can’t imagine a better proof point than this,” although it wasn’t quite clear how Gabbard’s response to Clinton’s original conspiracy theories was proof of anything besides defense against unsubstantiated allegations.

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill responds to Gabbard’s response/thread: “Divisive language filled with vitriol and conspiracy theories? Can’t imagine a better proof point than this.” https://t.co/MofEisUVrf

— Dan Merica (@merica) October 18, 2019

Shortly thereafter, Democratic candidate Cory Booker, whose odds of winning the nomination, decided to join in the catfight, reacting to Gabbard with a GIF:

https://t.co/wS8OHq1au0 pic.twitter.com/3l6GEm3Wa2

— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) October 18, 2019

And since, at its core this is a feud between the military industrial complex at the heart of the US government, and those who would rather not send the stock price of Lockheed, Raytheon and Boeing to new all time highs in exchange for the mass murder of innocent civilians, the neocons were not far behind with former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power quickly tweeting in response to Clinton’s comments: “If @TulsiGabbard runs, it wd be a huge windfall for Trump, Assad, Putin, Xi”

2016 election was won by 78,000 votes spread among 3 states. Absent 3rd party candidates, @HillaryClinton wd have won & @realDonaldTrump wld not now be harming Americans(& our friends) & aiding autocrats. If @TulsiGabbard runs, it wd be a huge windfall for Trump, Assad, Putin, Xi https://t.co/nTGFl5s4qd

— Samantha Power (@SamanthaJPower) October 18, 2019

The post Tulsi Gabbard CRUSHES a Hillary Clinton, driven insane by phantom Russian trolls (Video) appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, Video, Hillary Clinton, Putin, Trump, twitter, Jill Stein, Tulsi Gabbard, Russian troll]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/19/19 8:05am

Authored by Doug Bandow via The American Conservative blog…

Recently Ukraine has been thrown into the spotlight as Democrats gear up to impeach President Donald Trump. More important, though, is its role in damaging America’s relations with Russia, which has resulted in a mini-Cold War that the U.S. needs to end.

Ukraine is in a bad neighborhood. During the 17th century, the country was divided between Poland and Russia, and eventually ended up as part of the Russian Empire. Kiev then enjoyed only the briefest of liberations after the 1917 Russian Revolution, before being reabsorbed by the Soviet Union. It later suffered from a devastating famine as Moscow confiscated food and collectivized agriculture. Ukraine was ravaged during Germany’s World War II invasion, and guerrilla resistance to renewed Soviet control continued for years afterwards.

In 1991, the collapse of the U.S.S.R. gave Ukraine another, more enduring chance for independence. However, the new nation’s development was fraught: GDP dropped by 60 percent and corruption burgeoned. Ukraine suffered under a succession of corrupt, self-serving, and ineffective leaders, as the U.S., Europe, and Russia battled for influence.

In 2014, Washington and European governments backed a street putsch against the elected, though highly corrupt, pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. The Putin government responded by annexing Crimea and backing separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region. Washington and Brussels imposed economic sanctions on Russia and provided military aid to Kiev.

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The West versus Russia quickly became a “frozen” conflict. Moscow reincorporated Crimea into Russia, from which it had been detached in 1954 as part of internal Soviet politics. In the Donbass, more than a score of ceasefires came and went. Both Ukraine and Russia failed to fulfill the 2016 Minsk agreements, which sought to end the conflict.

In excess of 13,000 people, mostly Ukrainians, are known to have died in this war, and some two million have been forced from their homes. The economy of eastern Ukraine has collapsed. Ukraine has suffered through painful economic dislocation and political division. Meanwhile, several hundred Russians are believed to have been killed fighting in the Donbass. Western sanctions have damaged Russia’s weak economy. And although the majority of Crimeans probably wanted to join Russia, opposition activists and journalists have been abducted, brutalized, and/or imprisoned. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has been closed and Tartars have been persecuted.

The most important geopolitical impact has been to poison Russia’s relations with the West. Moscow’s aggressions against Ukraine cannot be justified, but the U.S. and Europe did much to create the underlying suspicion and hostility. Recently declassified documents reveal the degree to which Western officials misled Moscow about their intention to expand NATO. Allied support for adding Georgia and Ukraine, which would have greatly expanded Russian vulnerability, generated a particularly strong reaction in Moscow. The dismemberment of Serbia with no consideration of Russia’s interests was another irritant, along with Western support for “color revolutions” elsewhere, including in Tbilisi. The ouster of Yanukovych finally triggered Putin’s brutal response.

Washington and Brussels apparently did not view their policies as threatening to Russia. However, had Moscow ousted an elected Mexican president friendly to America, while inviting the new government to join the Warsaw Pact, and worked with a coalition of Central American states to divert Mexican trade from the U.S., officials in Washington would not have been pleased. They certainly wouldn’t have been overly concerned about juridical niceties in responding.

This explains (though does not justify) Russia’s hostile response. Subsequent allied policies then turned the breach in relations into a gulf. The U.S. and European Union imposed a series of economic sanctions. Moreover, Washington edged closer to military confrontation with its provision of security assistance to Kiev. Moscow responded by challenging America from Syria to Venezuela.

It also began moving towards China. The two nations’ differences are many and their relationship is unstable. However, as long as their antagonism towards Washington exceeds their discomfort with each other, they will cooperate to block what they see as America’s pursuit of global hegemony.

Why is the U.S. entangled in the Ukrainian imbroglio? During the Cold War, Ukraine was one of the fabled “captive nations,” backed by vigorous advocacy from Ukrainian Americans. After the Soviet Union collapsed, they joined other groups lobbying on behalf of ethnic brethren to speed NATO’s expansion eastward. Security policy turned into a matter of ethnic solidarity, to be pursued irrespective of cost and risk.

To more traditional hawks who are always seeking an enemy, the issue is less pro-Ukraine than anti-Russia. Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee, improbably attacked Russia as America’s most dangerous adversary. Hence the GOP’s counterproductive determination to bring Kiev into NATO. Originally Washington saw the transatlantic alliance as a means to confront the Soviet menace; now it views the pact as a form of charity.

After the Soviet collapse, the U.S. pushed NATO eastward into nations that neither mattered strategically nor could be easily protected, most notably in the Balkans and Baltics. Even worse were Georgia and Ukraine, security black holes that would bring with them ongoing conflicts with Russia, possibly triggering a larger war between NATO and Moscow.

Ukraine never had been a matter of U.S. security. For most of America’s history, the territory was controlled by either the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union. Washington’s Cold War sympathies represented fraternal concerns, not security essentials. Today, without Kiev’s aid, the U.S. and Europe would still have overwhelming conventional forces to be brought into any conflict with Moscow. However, adding Ukraine to NATO would increase the risk of a confrontation with a nuclear armed power. Russia’s limitations when it comes to its conventional military would make a resort to nuclear weapons more likely in any conflict.

Nevertheless, George W. Bush’s aggressively neoconservative administration won backing for Georgian and Ukrainian membership in NATO and considered intervening militarily in the Russo-Georgian war. However, European nations that feared conflict with Moscow blocked plans for NATO expansion, which went into cold storage. Although alliance officials still officially backed membership for Ukraine, it remains unattainable so long as conflict burns hot with Russia.

In the meantime, Washington has treated Ukraine as a de facto military ally, offering economic and security assistance. The U.S. has provided $1.5 billion for Ukrainian training and weapons, including anti-tank Javelin missiles. Explained Obama administration defense secretary Ashton Carter: “Ukraine would never be where it is without that support from the United States.”

Equally important, the perception of U.S. backing made the Kiev government, headed by President Petro Poroshenko, less willing to pursue a diplomatic settlement with Russia. Thus did Ukraine, no less than Russia, almost immediately violate the internationally backed Minsk accord.

Kiev’s role as a political football highlights the need for Washington to pursue an enduring political settlement with Russia. European governments are growing restless; France has taken the lead in seeking better relations with Moscow. Germany is unhappy with U.S. attempts to block the planned Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky has campaigned to end the conflict.

Negotiators for Russia, Ukraine, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe recently met in Minsk to revive the agreement previously reached in the Belarus capital. They set an election schedule in the contested east, to be followed by passage of Ukrainian legislation to grant the region greater autonomy and separatists legal immunity. Despite strong opposition from nationalists, passage is likely since Zelensky’s party holds a solid legislative majority.

Many challenges remain, but the West could aid this process by respecting Russian security concerns. The U.S. and its allies should formally foreclose Ukraine’s membership in the transatlantic alliance and end lethal military aid. After receiving those assurances, Moscow would be expected to resolve the Donbass conflict, presumably along the lines of Minsk: Ukraine protects local autonomy while Russia exits the fight. Sanctions against Russia would be lifted. Ukrainians would be left to choose their economic orientation, since the country would likely be split between east and west for some time to come. The West would accept Russia’s control of Crimea while refusing to formally recognize the conquest—absent a genuinely independent referendum with independent monitors.

Such a compromise would be controversial. Washington’s permanent war lobby would object. Hyper-nationalistic Ukrainians would double down on calling Zelensky a traitor. Eastern Europeans would complain about appeasing Russia. However, such a compromise would certainly be better than endless conflict.


Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.

The post Time to Extricate From Ukraine appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, Russia, Syria, Ukraine, Trump]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/19/19 1:13am

Would-be Leader of the World Hillary Clinton just floated a conspiracy theory that accused one of “her own”, Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, the US Representative from Hawaii, of being groomed as a Russian asset. Yes, you read that right. This power-hungry woman, who never got her crown just cannot keep her mitts out of politics, but here, she attempted to demonize one of the candidates presently in her own party.

Fox News carried this piece Friday afternoon, October 18. Alex Pappas, writing for Fox said this in his piece:

Hillary Clinton in a new interview appeared to float a conspiracy theory that the Russians are “grooming” Hawaii congresswoman and Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard to be a third-party candidate in 2020, while claiming 2016 Green Party nominee Jill Stein is “also” a Russian asset.

Appearing on former President Obama aide David Plouffe’s “Campaign HQ” podcast, Clinton did not mention Gabbard specifically by name, though Plouffe ended the podcast by noting Clinton’s “belief that Tulsi Gabbard is going to be a third-party candidate propped up by Trump and the Russians.”

“I’m not making any predictions but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said, in apparent reference to Gabbard. “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”

We have seen this before, but last time it was Democrat opposition research weaponized against the GOP candidate, one Donald J. Trump.

It did not work very well.

He won the Presidency, and his unusually direct and populist method of leadership has been largely successful in the face of ‘YUGE’ Democrat opposition and fake investigations. Even now, we have the Compleat Fake Impeachment Inquiry snarling the airwaves and internet streams all around the world for anyone following American politics.

Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee from the 2016 election cycle, has photos on file with her sitting in close proximity to the Russian leader. Indeed this was broadcast to ostensibly smear Stein, though she hardly had a chance at the Presidency that year.

Tulsi Gabbard is another matter, though. While she is very far back in the Democrat Party’s candidate field, she has broken through on several occasions with her bold and unequivocal statements and policy positions speaking solidly against US intervention in Syria and against war with Iran. While domestically a liberal on par with the rest of her peers, in terms of foreign policy, Gabbard’s views most strongly match those of President Trump himself.

They both deplore the US constantly getting itself into foreign wars that serve no better purpose than protecting US hegemony or maybe, more cynically, keeping gas prices a few cents lower at home. However, they both also seem to both be aware of the fallacy of the King of the Hill Syndrome, which we will examine in another news piece.

They both understand that the US need not have its fingers everywhere in order for the world to get along just fine.

But to someone like Hillary Clinton, whose foreign policy “hawkishness” was so inept (perhaps deliberately so) that four Americans died without protection in Benghazi, who shockingly revealed how cold-hearted she is as a human being with “we came, we saw, he died”, referring to the brutal murder of Libya’s leader Muammar Qaddafi (who had cooperated with President George W. Bush after the 9-11 attacks and was not doing anything that was a threat to the US). Remember this? This is a woman speaking about ending someone’s life as a joke.

One wonders what Bill goes through with a wife like this. Maybe we ought to pity that poor man.

For Hillary Clinton, Tulsi Gabbard is dangerous for wanting the US out of being so involved in the Middle East. Why?

The US news media only go so far when – or if – they try to answer this question. Most of the time they never let the question be raised.

They go so far as to say something like, “well, if we don’t protect these people, the ______ (lately this blank has been filled by the word Kurds), then Vladimir Putin will win control over this area.”

Yes… And…?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has become quite the statesman in the Eastern Hemisphere, and despite how amazingly astute President Donald Trump is, Mr. Trump has his hands tied in the US somewhat by an establishment elite that spends a lot of time and energy resisting his policy moves. He is making progress, but against fierce opposition.

Not so with President Putin. He pretty much has the cooperation of his government, and to a large degree, the support of his own people in the Russian Federation.

All the US demonization of Russia, culminating with the 2016 election scandal that got dubbed “Russiagate” had many Russian people laughing wholeheartedly at the American press and government shenanigans. “Putin runs everything, don’t you see?” they say. “Even the American press admits this!”

Translation: We chose the presidency of the United States, now let’s elect the president of Russia!

But humor aside, there is significant geopolitical shuffling taking place, most notably in Syria. President Trump’s decision to remove US troops from northwestern Syria got absolutely panned by the American press and political establishment, save a few people like Tucker Carlson and probably Tulsi Gabbard.

The panning just shows how deeply lost in propaganda narratives the American press and elite are. The truth is that President Trump made a masterstroke (again) in terms of ceding the geopolitical mess that is the Middle East to Russia.

This is not to say that the US is dumping the problem on President Putin. However, for propaganda purposes, unfortunately, the US press will almost certainly try to paint this that way.

The reality is that President Putin actually has better relationships in force with the people in this area. He has good relations with Iran, Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia, even Turkey, and his approach is less one of hegemony and more of strategic partnership. Additionally, he is far more likely to understand or at least not attempt to pigeonhole the people of these nations into convenient “classifications” that easily spread across television news broadcasts. His own country is twenty percent Muslim, and it is strongly Christian in its identity. In Russia, peace is the standard between people of these two religions. He knows how to work through situations honestly without raising resentments among one group or another.

Pat Buchanan wrote a piece that The Duran ran, and in it he says the following:

…[N]ow that we are out of Syria’s civil war and the Kurds have cut their deal with Damascus, consider what we have just dumped into Vladimir Putin’s lap. He is now the man in the middle between Turkey and Syria.

He must bring together dictators who detest each other. There is first President Erdogan, who is demanding a 20-mile deep strip of Syrian borderland to keep the Syrian Kurds from uniting with the Turkish Kurds of the PKK. Erdogan wants the corridor to extend 280 miles, from Manbij, east of the Euphrates, all across Syria, to Iraq.

Then there is Bashar Assad, victorious in his horrific eight-year civil war, who is unlikely to cede 5,000 square miles of Syrian territory to a permanent occupation by Turkish troops.

Reconciling these seemingly irreconcilable Syrian and Turkish demands is now Putin’s problem. If he can work this out, he ought to get the Nobel Prize.

The Syria of which Putin is now supposedly king contains Hezbollah, al-Qaida, ISIS, Iranians, Kurds, Turks on its northern border and Israelis on its Golan Heights. Five hundred thousand Syrians are dead from the civil war. Half the pre-war population has been uprooted, and millions are in exile in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Europe.

If Putin wants to be king of this, and it is OK with Assad, how does that imperil the United States of America, 6,000 miles away?

Wednesday, two-thirds of the House Republicans joined Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats to denounce Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria and dissolve our alliance with the Kurds. And Republican rage over the sudden abandonment of the Kurds is understandable.

[H]ow long does the GOP believe we should keep troops in Syria and control the northeastern quadrant of that country? If the Syrian army sought to push us out, under what authority would we wage war against a Syrian army inside Syria?

And if the Turks are determined to secure their border, should we wage war on that NATO ally to stop them? Would U.S. planes fly out of Turkey’s Incirlik air base to attack Turkish soldiers fighting in Syria?

If Congress believes we have interests in Syria so vital we should be willing to go to war for them — against Syria, Turkey, Russia or Iran — why does Congress not declare those interests and authorize war to secure them?

Our foreign policy elites have used Trump’s decision to bash him and parade their Churchillian credentials. But those same elites appear to lack the confidence to rally the nation to vote for a war to defend what they contend are vital American interests and defining American values.

That is because the Syrian war never was about American values. This silly statement quoted any number of news networks recently about how someone speaking for the Kurds said, “we want to be a part of America.” Really. What propagandistic shill said something like that? How do you be a part of America from 6,000 miles away?

Pat Buchanan is historically about as deep-red-blooded American conservative as one gets. And he is seeing the fallacy of the US involvement in Syria. Should Hillary also determine that he is working for President Putin as well?

The real issue is that the veneer of lies concerning US’ “King of the Hill” style foreign policy is crumbling. More and more people are going to see or admit how true this is. President Trump is cracking these walls and letting the truth flow out. As that happens, brutal people like Hillary Clinton risk being exposed for who they truly are. They are desperate to stop this wall from cracking, but it seems that its collapse is begun and inevitable.

Let us hope so.

The post Hillary Clinton suggests Tulsi Gabbard is the new Russian stooge [Video] appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, Hillary Clinton, Syria, US, tax returns, Bashar Al-Assad, Jill Stein, Muammar Gaddafi, Pat Buchanan, Tulsi Gabbard, President Trump, President Vladimir Putin, War hawks]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/18/19 6:38am

Submitted by InfoBrics, authored by Johanna Ross…

In what has been deemed a boost for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a Brexit deal has finally been agreed with the EU, just a fortnight before the UK’s planned withdrawal date of 31st October. It was unclear right till the very last minute whether a deal could be achieved, with differences over issues such as the Irish border question having prevented another draft agreement from being reached for months. Yet Johnson stood defiant at the press conference with EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker in Brussels on Thursday, calling it a ‘very good deal’ and ‘a reasonable and fair outcome’ after all the intense negotiations of recent weeks.  He said: ‘Now is the moment for us to come together’ to pass a Brexit deal.  Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar hailed the deal as ‘unique’ as it respected the specific history and geography of the island of Ireland.

There are several key points of this deal which set it apart from the previous agreement reached by former Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this year. The first is the status of Northern Ireland, which under this deal would remain part of the customs territory of the UK, instead of being in the EU as previous drafts had proposed. Yet the situation is not altogether black and white, as in legal terms, Northern Ireland will still be effectively within the EU. If goods are, for example, passed from Belfast to Dublin, the UK will still be required to collect tariffs and excise duties on these items on behalf of the EU. The most important aspect of this set-up however is perhaps the fact that there will be no checks at the land border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Instead checks will take place at Irish ports, therefore not provoking any tensions on the border between north and south.

The Irish border question was a real obstacle to a deal being passed by the UK parliament in the past. This time the withdrawal agreement proposes that the Northern Ireland assembly must provide democratic approval for the deal in the form of a majority vote. However, the Northern Irish DUP has said it will not vote for such a deal as it ‘undermines the integrity of the union’ and also would, it claims, harm the Northern Ireland economy; and it is far from the only party to take this stance.

The reality is that, despite the celebratory atmosphere in Brussels on Thursday, Boris Johnson is likely to hit the same brick wall as Theresa May did when he brings the deal back to Westminster for a vote on Saturday. The Liberal Democrats, SNP and Labour party have already said they will not vote such a deal through, and even some arch Brexiteers such as Nigel Farage have already termed it as not being ‘Brexit enough’, saying ‘we will not be making our own laws in our own country” and that the treaty “binds us in to other commitments”. Commentators are already number crunching to estimate just how many Westminster politicians are likely to vote for the deal, and so far it’s not looking good. There have been suggestions that a clause could be attached to the draft agreement stipulating a second referendum, but it’s unlikely that Johnson would do this as it would be deemed a further delay to his ‘come what may’ Brexit date of October 31st.

As it stands, Johnson should have around 259 votes for the deal, but he needs around another 60 to get it over the line. This would involve securing the votes of the 28 Conservative Eurosceptic ‘Spartans’ who rejected Theresa May’s deal, plus some of the Tory rebels who lost the Tory whip, along with some Labour MPs. But the chances of winning over enough are slim. Already several have indicated that they consider this deal to be even worse than the one proposed by Theresa May.

Jean Claude Juncker for his part has indicated that ‘no prolongation’ to the Brexit negotiation period would be necessary with such a deal in place. Therefore, at this stage it is unclear whether an extension period would be granted by the EU if this deal is rejected by Westminster MPs. The fact is, that Brexit fatigue has long set in for the EU. This puts further pressure on Westminster to pass Johnson’s proposal or face the dreaded No Deal Brexit, for which preparations are being made in any case. Already many are complaining about the lack of time given to them to analyse the 600 page withdrawal agreement which they are due to vote upon on Saturday and the fact that there has been no time to create economic forecasts based on the withdrawal proposals.

And so on the day Boris Johnson finally achieved what was thought impossible – a Brexit deal with the EU – it is still too early to celebrate.  Britain is no closer to a Brexit deal than it was yesterday and a No Deal scenario is still very much on the horizon.

The post Johnson secures a Brexit deal; but does it change anything? appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, UK, Brexit, Boris Johnson, Brexit deal]

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[l] at 10/18/19 6:11am

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic effort to put a final end to the nearly eight year conflict in Syria. Putin has already held high level meetings with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Now Turkish President Erdogan will hold talks with Putin on on October 22nd to discuss Ankara’s military offensive in Syria.

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Via Al Jazeera…

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accepted an invitation to hold talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, over Ankara’s military offensive in northeast Syria

The meeting between the two leaders will take place at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on October 22, a statement by Erdogan’s office said on Wednesday. It gave no further details.

Putin invited Erdogan “for a working visit in the coming days”, the Russian leader’s office said on Tuesday. “The invitation was accepted,” it added.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Putin, meanwhile, denied speculation that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would join the Russian and Turkish leaders for trilateral talks. Russia is Syria’s main military backer.

Last week, US President Donald Trump abruptly announced the withdrawal of US troops from the northeast region of Syria, clearing the way for a cross-border military campaign by Turkey.

Turkey’s offensive, now into its eighth day, is aimed at pushing back Kurdish-led forces from the border area and creating a “safe zone” for the return of Syrian refugees.

Ankara regards the Syrian-Kurdish fighters as “terrorists” linked to Kurdish separatists on its soil.

Following the US withdrawal, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) pivoted to an unlikely alliance with the Syrian government, who have since deployed troops to the border region.

Russia and Iran are staunch allies of the Syrian government and Moscow has moved quickly to fill the void left by the US troops’ withdrawal, deploying its military to act as a buffer as Syrian government forces moved north under the deal with the Syrian Kurdish forces.

The post Putin’s Syria Master Class Signals End of Regime Change Wars (Video) appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, Video, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Syria]

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[l] at 10/18/19 3:46am

Submitted by InfoBrics, by William Stroock, author of military fiction…

Republican political guru Karl Rove, often derisively called ‘Bush’s Brain’, managed George W. Bush’s two successful presidential campaigns in the 2000s. Rove focused on defending the red, Republican leaning states and maximizing conservative turnout in battleground purple states like Florida and Ohio. However, the Bush-Rove brand of free-trade and open-borders conservatism was unpopular with white working-class voters in Rust Belt states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states no Republican presidential candidate had won since 1988. As such, Rove’s strategy was inherently defensive. The Rust Belt became the Democrat’s Blue Wall, invincible against Republicans. Republican nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney stood little chance in these states in 2008 and 2012. In 2008 McCain’s campaign publicly gave up on Michigan.

In the 1990’s and 2000’s defensiveness became the GOP’s default rhetorical setting. Under leaders like Rove and former House Speaker Paul Ryan, the GOP allowed the Democrats to set the terms of the debate, and were always fending off accusation of heartlessness and even racism. During the Valerie Plame scandal, where Plame said Bush Administration officials outed her covert CIA status in retaliation for her husband contesting Bush’s Iraqi WMD claims, Republicans simply said they respected the independent counsel’s investigation and wanted the process to play out. Meanwhile Democrats savaged the Bush and the GOP.

In 2016 candidate Donald Trump did not campaign by Rove’s rules. Instead of defending red states, Trump made an aggressive play for the Rust Belt, breached the Blue Wall, and won Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.  When NBC published a tape in which Trump made lewd remarks about women in 2005, Trump fought back. Instead of genuflecting, Trump pointed out Bill Clinton’s sexual foibles and even brought four of Clinton’s victims to the first debate with Hillary Clinton. A conventional, establishment candidate like Florida Governor Jeb Bush (!), whom Trump ran roughshod over in the Republican primaries, would have played by the Democrat’s rules.

Trump fights back against the Democrats impeachment inquiry. He routinely criticizes the head of the Democrat’s impeachment effort, House Judiciary chair Adam Schiff. He mocks Schiff at rallies calling him ‘pencil neck’ and ‘shifty Schiff’. In the wake of the Mueller independent council investigation, in which no collusion whatsoever was found between the Trump campaign and Russia, Trump’s justice department is looking into the origins of the collusion hoax. As of this writing Inspector General John Durham ranges far and wide across the globe gathering evidence. His report is said to be, so far, the size of a phonebook.

Already Trump is out on the campaign trail. In September Trump spoke to a packed stadium in Fayetteville, North Carolina the night before two special House elections. In a long, rambling pep-talk Trump defended his record, savaged he Democrats and declared, ‘With your support, tomorrow we take the first steps to firing Speaker Pelosi and winning back the House.’ The next day both Republican candidates won their races, one in a landslide, the other by a mere two points. Trump almost certainly dragged the latter candidate across the finish line. Last weekend he filled an arena in Lake Charles Louisiana for that state’s ‘jungle primary’ against Democrat incumbent governor John Bel Edwards. The end result was Edwards got only 46.6 percent of the vote, forcing a November runoff against Republican Eddie Rispone. Locally the GOP wiped out the Democrats, and won a super majority in the Louisiana state senate.

North Carolina and Louisiana are states Trump won in 2016. But he is also campaigning in states won by Hillary Clinton.  In September Trump held a rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, a state with a large Hispanic population. Trump won 29% in the Hispanic vote in 2016, beating Romney by two points, actually. Increasing Trump’s share of the Hispanic vote is a top priority in 2020. At Rio Rancho he slammed the Democrats and touted the benefits of his economic record to New Mexico and Hispanics. Trump’s biggest target is Minnesota, which he lost by a mere point or 45,000 votes. Minnesota is also home to Representative Ilhan Omar, one of the members of the Squad of leftist House members. Trump hopes to use Omar as a foil to turn Minnesota red and flip several of the state’s congressional districts. The GOP only needs to capture eighteen seats to retake the House of Representatives. The Trump campaign is opening up field offices and hiring campaign workers in both states.

In a contentious meeting at the White House this week, Nancy Pelosi told the president that she wished Trump were a politician. The truly gifted politicians have coattails, their victories win races down ticket. So far this year Trump has shown he can do that. In campaign 2020, Trump will be the Republican Party’s greatest weapon.

The post Trump on Offense appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News]

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[l] at 10/18/19 3:41am

Submitted by Alexekin Rockowia…

In an article published on October 10th in “The Intercept” and republished among other places in the largest Swedish newspaper, “Dagens Nyheter”, Peter Maass congratulated the Nobel Committee for “just giving the Literature Prize to a genocide apologist.” He claims that there is “no excuse for the decision to give this year’s prize to Peter Handke, who denies that a well-documented genocide was committed by Serbs against Muslims in Bosnia”, and ends the article with telling to Peter Handke that he “is entitled to believe what he wants to believe. He can lie and dissemble as much as he wishes.” But we will now take a look at some facts to demonstrate that these words better apply to Maass, as well as give the reader – unlike Maass with his alleged truths – opportunity to check up these facts.

To make his point, Maass insists that there were Serbian concentration camps, contrary to what Handke has claimed. Maass even “visited them during the war,” which he “covered for the Washington Post.” He “talked with prisoners inside the camps, as well as survivors.” This should not be doubted, since the Serbs – unlike Muslims and Croats – were known to let Western journalists to visit their camps and even take pictures and film! The reason for this transparency was because the mentioned facilities weren’t concentration camps but plain detention camps – which Handke has also explained quite clearly.

Nonetheless, Maass is adamant. He still claims that the Muslim crimes were just a negligible number of random murders, incomparable to the Serbian ones; the Serbs, according to him, were perpetrating a systemic and massive, unspeakable crimes. But here he just repeats the same propaganda we already saw during the Yugoslav Civil War, thanks to which the world was so quickly convinced that the Bosnian Muslims were the “good guys” and Serbs the “bad guys” – like in some black and white B-movies. And that is more than understandable: the Western journalists evidently had to simplify the real state of affairs. But, the ugly truth is that the Bosnian Muslims were not any better than the Serbs – in fact, they were worse, since Serbs didn’t castrate, rape and decapitate their prisoners, as Muslims did whenever they could (for example in the “Torture House in Kamenica”, which they filmed for propaganda purposes).

For those who have their doubts about it, I suggest to be critical and find these videos, which are available on Yugoslav Wars Archive (yugowarsarchive.org) in the category Srebrenica Massacre – an archive which I run, and where you can find much more if you want: even former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger justifying the siege of Sarajevo.

This is a legitimate and indisputable reason, and “excuse”, for the Swedish Academy’s decision to give this year’s prize to Peter Handke – who never stopped exposing that well-documented genocide committed by Muslims against Serbs in Bosnia.


Alexekin Rockowia (alexekin-rockowia.com) lives in Sweden and is of Serbian origin. He is editor-in-chief of For-Serbia The Website (for-serbia.org) and CEO of Yugoslav Wars Archive (yugowarsarchive.org) He is also the author of “A Short Book about Nationalism”, which is available for sale on Amazon. (amazon.com/dp/B07VDFLPHS/ref= rdr_kindle_ext_tmb).

The post Justice for Handke – and Serbia appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, Bosnia, Serbia, Nobel prize, Peter Maass]

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[l] at 10/18/19 2:55am

Authored by Aaron Kesel via ActivistPost.com:

Scandal-plagued U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic “wonder boy” candidate Joe Biden have been exchanging political punches over a new scandal that erupted in Ukraine. Trump asked the Ukrainian President to investigate potential corruption involving Joe’s son, Hunter Biden, after a prosecutor investigating his financial dealings was fired in exchange for billions of dollars in U.S. govt aid organized by Joe Biden as Vice President of the U.S.

Although, the mainstream media wants the public to believe the Bidens “did nothing wrong.” The truth of the matter is Hunter Biden blatantly used his father’s position of power as Vice President for his own financial gain in both Ukraine and China.

In Ukraine alone, Hunter Biden was paid half a million dollars a year for a job he never showed up to, where he had no experience and couldn’t even speak the language, several red flags.

Hunter, a Yale-educated lawyer, had previously served on the boards of Amtrak and a number of nonprofit organizations and think tanks, but lacked any experience in Ukraine. As a fun fact, to make his case worse, just months earlier he had been discharged from the Navy Reserve after testing positive for cocaine. Hunter was paid as much as $50,000 per month in some months for his work for Burisma Holdings, which largely remains unknown.

In 2014, Hunter Biden is seen golfing in the Hamptons with his father and Devon Archer, who served on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings with Hunter, FOX News reported.

Viktor Shokin was widely accused of corruption himself and then booted from his office in April 2016. Shokin was accused of blocking major cases against allies and influential figures. In March 2016, Biden, as Vice President, had threatened to cut off $1 billion in guaranteed loans unless Ukraine ditched Shokin; one month later the country complied with the demand.

However, at the same time, Biden had protected his son under investigation by leveraging U.S. aid to Ukraine in exchange for firing the Ukrainian former prosecutor, which could be seen as a conflict of interest. However, Bloomberg disputes this claiming that the prosecution of Hunter Biden’s client had already been shelved at the time Joe Biden was calling for the prosecutor to be removed.

Investigations into such activities by Hunter are well documented, ironically, by the mainstream press that is now attacking Trump for asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Hunter and his father for corruption; a totally warranted investigation, given that Hunter’s father himself confessed that he told Ukraine to “fire the prosecutor or essentially, I am walking away with a billion dollar loan.” This writer is no legal expert, but that sounds a lot like quid pro quo activity.

Conflicting accounts have now risen in Ukraine as well about what took place by Biden, with the former President of Ukraine and the prosecutor telling two different tales.

Ukraine’s former top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, told Rudy Giuliani earlier this year that he was asked to back off any probe of the natural gas company linked to Joe Biden’s son, according to a copy of Giuliani’s notes obtained by Fox News.

A former top diplomat, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, asked that Shokin use “kid gloves” in pursuing the company, according to the notes of President Trump’s personal attorney, reported by the outlet. “Mr. Shokin attempted to continue the investigations but on or around  June or July of 2015, the U.S. Ambassador [to Ukraine] Geoffrey R. Pyatt told him that the investigation has to be handled with kids gloves, which according to Mr. Shokin, that implied do nothing,” Rudy Giuliani told FOX.

Beyond the claim by Giuliani on FOX, Shokin swore in an affidavit prepared for a European court, that when he was fired he was told the reason behind his departure was that Biden was unhappy about the Burisma investigation.

“The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors,” Shokin testified.

“On several occasions President Poroshenko asked me to have a look at the case against Burisma and consider the possibility of winding down the investigative actions in respect of this company but I refused to close this investigation,” Shokin added.

You may remember Pyatt from the infamous Ukraine coup phone call, in which the former diplomat and then Asst. Sec. of State for Europe, Victoria Nuland, discussed a plot to overthrow the government. Nuland then states, “fuck the EU.”

Both Joe and Hunter Biden were cleared of any wrongdoing in Burisma earlier this year when Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said that the Ukrainian private gas company was not the target of investigations by his office. He also added the former Vice President, and current Democratic 2020 candidate, didn’t act improperly when he called for the dismissal of Ukraine’s former prosecutor general, Victor Shoki, who had been investigating the company.

“I do not want Ukraine to again be the subject of U.S. presidential elections,” Lutsenko said in an interview with Bloomberg.  “Hunter Biden did not violate any Ukrainian laws – at least as of now,  we do not see any wrongdoing. A company can pay however much it wants to  its board.”

However, there is a matter of memos and documents that contradict the narrative that were reported by The Hill’s John Solomon. According to the news site, these files, “raise the troubling prospect that U.S. officials may have painted a false picture in Ukraine that helped ease Burisma’s legal troubles and stop prosecutors’ plans to interview Hunter Biden during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

Solomon continues writing, “for instance, Burisma’s American legal representatives met with Ukrainian officials just days after Biden forced the firing of the country’s chief prosecutor and offered “an apology for dissemination of false information by U.S. representatives and public figures” about the Ukrainian prosecutors, according to the Ukrainian government’s official memo of the meeting. The effort to secure that meeting began the same day the prosecutor’s firing was announced.

In addition, Burisma’s American team offered to introduce Ukrainian prosecutors to Obama administration officials to make amends, according to that memo and the American legal team’s internal emails.”

So what’s the deal with Trump’s own involvement?

Allegations are flying around that Trump may have also withheld money in the form of defense aid to Ukraine and demanded that Biden and his son be investigated for corruption. Trump is further alleged to have instructed Ukraine’s President to work with DOJ Attorney General William Barr.

Despite these claims, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has stated that Trump didn’t pressure him, contrary to whats being reported in the media.

There have been many significant updates since the scandal broke, including the GOP accusing the entire CIA whistleblower complaint to be an organized coup against Trump. The Republicans reason this by saying there was foreknowledge by House Intelligence Committee leader Adam Schiff and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who launched an impeachment investigation.

This is in part because a spokesman for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., acknowledged that one of the two whistleblowers alleging misconduct in the White House had reached out to Schiff’s staff before filing his/her complaint. Schiff had previously claimed in a televised interview that “we have not spoken directly with the whistleblower.” A Schiff spokesperson, however, told FOX News that Schiff himself “does not know the identity of the whistleblower, and has not met with or spoken with the whistleblower or their counsel” for any reason.

The New York Times also weighed in stating in a report that Schiff got an “early account” of the phone call between President Donald Trump and the Ukrainian leader. Schiff respond on Twitter, claiming that his staff on the Intelligence Committee only advised the whistleblower to speak to an inspector general within the intelligence community.

When a whistleblower seeks guidance, staff advises them to get counsel and go to an IG.

That’s what they’re supposed to do.

Unlike a president pressing a foreign leader to dig up dirt on a political opponent.

That’s not what a president is supposed to do.

And we all know it. https://t.co/dzVAFGpMen

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) October 2, 2019

Trump responded to the claims of foreknowledge by bashing Schiff calling him a “fraud” while meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

“It shows that Schiff is a fraud. … I think it’s a scandal that he knew before,” Trump said. “I’d go a step further. I’d say he probably helped write it. … That’s a big story. He knew long before, and he helped write it too. It’s a scam.”

Schiff read what he called a “parody” version of President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a hearing on the matter, which has drawn controversy and blowback.

“I have a favor I want from you,” Schiff said while appearing to read from a paper. “And I’m going to say this only seven times, so you better listen good. I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent, understand? Lots of it, on this and on that.”

“Rep. Adam Schiff fraudulently read to Congress, with millions of people watching, a version of my conversation with the President of Ukraine that doesn’t exist,” Trump tweeted. “He was supposedly reading the exact transcribed version of the call, but he completely changed the words to make it sound horrible, and me sound guilty.”

…sound horrible, and me sound guilty. HE WAS DESPERATE AND HE GOT CAUGHT. Adam Schiff therefore lied to Congress and attempted to defraud the American Public. He has been doing this for two years. I am calling for him to immediately resign from Congress based on this fraud!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2019

Schiff responded to Trump on social media, accusing him of trying to “shakedown” a world leader for election dirt and then attempt to cover it up.

You engaged in a shakedown to get election dirt from a foreign country.

And then you tried to cover it up.

But you’re right about one thing — your words need no mockery. Your own words and deeds mock themselves.

But most importantly here, they endanger our country. pic.twitter.com/Qha74pwW8m

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) September 27, 2019

Despite all this, the CIA’s top lawyer, Courtney Simmons Elwood, made what she considered to be a criminal referral on the phone call, according to NBC News.

NBC botched its reporting by revealing that the whistleblower was a man, writing:

Elwood, the CIA’s general counsel, first learned about the matter because the complainant, a CIA officer, passed his concerns about the president on to her through a colleague. On Aug. 14, she participated in a conference call with the top national security lawyer at the White House and the chief of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Another article by NBC reveals that there is a complaint that involves someone outside of the intelligence agencies.

As a result, the Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, is withholding that complaint because it doesn’t meet the legal requirement for disclosure to Congress, according to letters obtained by the news agency.

What much of the mainstream press is missing, is that this information regarding Trump and Ukraine isn’t new. In fact, a headline from May by NYMag reads: “Trump Is Pressuring Ukraine to Smear Clinton and Biden.”

In that article, NY Mag writes that, “Trump’s agents are lobbying Ukraine to smear his political rivals Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.”

“Giuliani is trying to get Ukraine to pursue two investigations: one against the last Democratic presidential nominee, and another against the leading candidate to be the next one,” NY Mag continues.

Although claims that Trump had his eyes set on going after Biden aren’t new, there is new information that allegedly Trump administration officials sought to take over a Ukrainian gas giant Naftogaz and direct its money-flow back to their own pockets, Associated Press reported.

According to the news agency, a group of individuals with ties to the president and his personal lawyer Giuliani were involved and their aims were profits not politics. This group’s plan was then to steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by the Trump allies.

Trump’s attorney Giuliani is in the crosshairs of the investigation in multiple ways. Recently, Ukrainians who helped Giuliani’s efforts to investigate Democrat Joe Biden were arrested for campaign finance violations. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were alleged to be a part of a conspiracy to funnel foreign money into U.S. elections according to prosecutors, Wall Street Journal reported.

Besides the CIA whistleblower and another unknown official, additional government employees are debating coming forward to testify against Trump in favor of the impeachment efforts, according to reports.

Business Insider reports the full alleged transcript of the conversation Trump had with Ukraine President Zelenskyy:

Donald Trump: Congratulations on a great victory. We all watched from the United States and you did a terrific job. The way you came from behind, somebody who wasn’t given much of a chance, and you ended up winning easily. It’s a fantastic achievement. Congratulations.

President Zelenskyy: You are absolutely right Mr. President. We did win big and we worked hard for this. We worked a lot but I would like to confess to you that I had an opportunity to learn from you. We used quite a few of your skills and knowledge and were able to use it as an example for our elections and yes it is true that these were unique elections. We were in a unique situation that we were able to achieve a unique success. I’m able to tell you the following; the first time, you called me to congratulate me when I won my presidential election, and the second time you are now calling me when my party won the parliamentary election. I think I should run more often so you can call me more often and we can talk over the phone more often.

Donald Trump: [laughter] That’s a very good idea. I think your country is very happy about that.

President Zelenskyy: Well yes, to tell you the truth, we are trying to work hard because we wanted to drain the swamp here in our country. We brought in many many new people. Not the old politicians, not the typical politicians, because we want to have a new format and a new type of government. You are a great teacher for us and in that.

Donald Trump: Well it’s very nice of you to say that. I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are. Germany does almost nothing for you. All they do is talk and I think it’s something that you should really ask them about. When I was speaking to Angela Merkel she talks Ukraine, but she doesn’t do anything. A lot of the European countries are the same way so I think it’s something you want to look at but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine.2

President Zelenskyy: Yes you are absolutely right. Not only. 100%, but actually 1000% and I can tell you the following; I did talk to Angela Merkel and I did meet with her. I also met and talked with Macron and I told them that they are not doing quite as much as they need to be doing on the issues with the sanctions. They are not enforcing the sanctions. They are not working as much as they should work for Ukraine. It turns out that even though logically, the European Union should be our biggest partner but technically the United States is a much bigger partner than the European Union and I’m very grateful to you for that because the United States is doing quite a lot for Ukraine. Much more than the European Union especially when we are talking about sanctions against the Russian Federation. I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.

Donald Trump: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it3. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.

President Zelenskyy: Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. For me as a President, it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation. We are ready to open a new page on cooperation in relations between the United States and Ukraine. For that. purpose, I just recalled our ambassador from United States and he will be replaced by a very competent and very experienced ambassador who will work hard on making sure that our two nations are getting closer. I would also like and hope to see him having your trust and your confidence and have personal relations with you so we can cooperate even more so. I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine. I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us. I will make sure that I surround myself with the best and most experienced people. I also wanted to tell you that we are friends. We are great friends and you Mr. President have, friends in our country so we can continue our strategic partnership. I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly. That I can assure you.

Donald Trump: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great.4 The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.

President Zelenskyy: I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. First of all I understand and I’m knowledgeable about the situation. Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case. On top of that, I would kindly ask you if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation6 to make sure that we administer justice in our country with regard to the Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine as far as I recall her name was Ivanovich. It was great that you were the first one, who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President: well enough.

Donald Trump: Well, she’s going to go through some things. I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. I’m sure you will figure it out. I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor so good luck with everything. Your economy is going to get better and better I predict. You have a lot of assets. It’s a great country. I have many Ukrainian friends, their incredible people.

President Zelenskyy: I would like to tell you that I also have quite a few Ukrainian friends that live in the United States. Actually last time I traveled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park and I stayed at the Trump Tower. I will talk to them and I hope to see them again in the future. I also wanted to thank you for your invitation to visit the United States, specifically Washington DC. On the other hand, I also want to ensure you that we will be very serious about the case and will work on the investigation. As to the economy, there is much potential for our two countries and one of the issues that is very important for Ukraine is energy independence. I believe we can be very successful and cooperating on energy independence with United States. We are already working on cooperation. We are buying American oil but I am very hopeful for a future meeting. We will have more time and more opportunities to discuss these opportunities and get to know each other better. I would like to thank you very much for your support.

Donald Trump: Good. Well, thank you very much and I appreciate that. I will tell Rudy and Attorney General Barr to call. Thank you. Whenever you would like to come to the White House, feel free to call. Give us a date and we’ll work that out. I look forward to seeing you.

President Zelenskyy: Thank you very much. I would be very happy to come and would be happy to meet with you personally and get to know you better. I am looking forward to our meeting and I also would like to invite you to visit Ukraine and come to the city of Kyiv which is a beautiful city. We have a beautiful country which would welcome you. On the other hand, I believe that on September 1 we will be in Poland and we can meet in Poland hopefully. After that, it might be a very good idea for you to travel to Ukraine. We can either take my plane and go to Ukraine or we can take your plane, which is probably much better than mine.

Donald Trump: Okay, we can work that out. I look forward to seeing you in Washington and maybe in Poland because I think we are going to be there at that time.

President Zelenskyy: Thank you very much Mr. President.

Donald Trump: Congratulations on a fantastic job you’ve done. The whole world was watching. I’m not sure it was so much of an upset but congratulations.

President Zelenskyy: Thank you Mr. President bye-bye.

If Trump did hold money over Ukraine’s head, like Biden did, he should be impeached and prosecuted for quid pro quo the same as Biden should be. It seems that for whatever reason the mainstream press is making this only about Trump, while ignoring the corruption of Biden. However, Biden is not innocent and scrutiny is warranted on his son’s investments in both Ukraine and China.

Further, if Biden and his son Hunter should be prosecuted for quid pro quo, so should Donald Trump and his kids from who Ivanka Trump and her husband alone profited $82 million last year according to reports. One such mention is the comparison of Ivanka’s Chinese relationship to Hunter Biden’s own deals with China during his father’s vice presidency. Ivanka is said to have a an estimated 39 trademarks in 2018 and 2019 alone that were accepted by China.

Ivanka’s clothing line is produced in China, Indonesia, and Vietnam, according to Teen Vogue magazine which looked into her businesses. In 2017, a Chinese labor activist was arrested and two others vanished after investigating alleged labor abuses at a factory called Huajian known to make shoes for several brands — including Ivanka Trump’s, NPR reported.

In July 2018, Ivanka shut down her company; despite this, she received 16 trademarks in China and her business dealings are completely shrouded in secrecy, as CBS reported in 2017. Those trademarks pertain to everything from bags to umbrellas to sausages, Business Insider reported.

Two months before, in May, Ivanka’s brand received approval for another seven trademarks. This was coincidentally the same month Trump announced that he had reached a deal with China to lift a U.S. ban on telecom giant ZTE. If that’s not enough, on the same day she dined with Chinese president Xi Jinping, her business received another three trademarks, according to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW.)

NBC reports that in 2018 alone by the end of November, Ivanka had a strikingly high number of 34 total Chinese trademarks. Then in 2019, Ivanka was awarded another additional 5 trademarks according to Fortune magazine.

All of the trademarks were said to be filed in 2016-2017 and last until at least 2028, according to numerous reports.

Before this report was about to go to press, Hunter Biden stepped down from the board of BHR Equity Investment Fund Management Co. a Chinese-backed private equity firm, NY Post reported.

On the flip side, if Trump administration officials really did try to run a scheme in Ukraine they, too, should be prosecuted; corruption is corruption and isn’t restricted by political gang colors exempting individuals like the media tries to do with Biden.


Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon. Follow us on MindsSteemitSoMeeBitChuteFacebook and Twitter.

The post Deep Dive: An Unbiased Overview Of The Trump-Biden Ukraine Scandal appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, Trump, Joe Biden, Adam Schiff, Ukrainegate]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/18/19 2:31am

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk:

A deal has been reached. Jean-Claude Juncker opposes an extension. A constitutional challenge to the deal is underway.

Juncker Does Not Back an Extension

European Commission President and the EU have reached a deal. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker opposes and extension. That is not his call but it is what I expected..

In the video, Juncker says he is happy for a deal but sad to see the UK go.

Reasonable Deal

Boris deal sounds better than the WA. End free movement, end ECJ supremacy over UK law, backstop ditched, & can do free trade agreements. I want to read the detail before making up my mind. But well done Boris for getting this far & doing what others said was impossible

— Andrea Jenkyns MP (@andreajenkyns) October 17, 2019

Those who say this is May’s deal warmed over are simply wrong.

Constitutional Challenge and Other Details

The Guardian Live Blog discusses a constitutional challenge, DUP opposition, and other details.

Jean-Claude Juncker has tried to help sell the new Brexit deal in the face of opposition from the Democratic Unionist party by pouring doubt on a further Brexit extension in the event of it being rejected.

Juncker said he was “ruling out” a prolongation, although the issue is solely the remit of the heads of state and government. “If we have a deal, we have a deal and there is no need for prolongation,” he added.

Constitutional Challenge

Campaigning anti-Brexit QC Jolyon Maugham has now lodged his petition at the court of session in Edinburgh, which essentially tries to ban parliament from debating the new Brexit deal, on the basis that it is illegal, and which he anticipates will be heard tomorrow.

Maugham believes that the deal contravenes s55 of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018, which states that it is “unlawful for Her Majesty’s government to enter into arrangements under which Northern Ireland forms part of a separate customs territory to Great Britain”.

With the detail of Boris Johnson’s new deal still emerging, lawyers insist that s55 is “crystal clear” and that any form of differentiated deal for Northern Ireland will contravene it.

Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, has already cleared time for an emergency hearing in the court of session at noon on Monday 21 October, where he could issue court orders forcing Johnson to send a letter to the EU asking for an extension to article 50 until 31 January as per the Benn Act.

Boost to Johnson

Folks point out that decision on Brexit extension not down to @JunckerEU but a EU council decision. True….but I think he knew exactly what he was saying and its a big help for Team Johnson.

— norman smith (@BBCNormanS) October 17, 2019

Johnson Likely Has the Votes

I suspect @BorisJohnson and his team think they have the numbers to pass the deal without the DUP – but even if they don’t, they get to run a populist election campaign, which should be enough. But it’s so volatile a change of just a few points could be disastrous.

— Craig Oliver (@CraigOliver100) October 17, 2019

Sir Oliver Letwin will back deal

Sir Oliver Letwin, who had the Conservative whip withdrawn over his rebellion on a no-deal Brexit vote, has said he will back the Prime Minister’s deal on Saturday, calling it “admirable”

No Deal Says DUP

These arrangements will become the settled position in these areas for Northern Ireland. This drives a coach and horses through the professed sanctity of the Belfast agreement.

For all of these reasons it is our view that these arrangements would not be in Northern Ireland’s long-term interests. Saturday’s vote in parliament on the proposals will only be the start of a long process to get any withdrawal agreement bill through the House of Commons.

Another Referendum?

I think it is unlikely, but how would it turn out?

Eurointellience frames it this way:

for those who are still holding out for a second referendum, and who believe that it could easily be won: the problem with most of the polls is that they confound a person’s position on Brexit – Remain vs Leave – with how they would vote in a second referendum. We know a lot of Remainers who believe that the first referendum results needs to be respected, and who would vote no in a second referendum.

A ComRes poll for Channel 5 news produced a more granular survey, and came up with a 50-42 split in favour Leave under a concrete 2nd referendum setting.

When they asked the question whether the 2016 referendum results should be honoured, the response was 54% in favour, and 32% against. It is one poll only – and the numbers are probably going to swing backwards and forwards. But we should be under no illusion that public opinion on Brexit has shifted since the referendum. We see no signs of that.

All’s Well That Ends Well

As the EU summit got underway, Boris Johnson went around the table greeting each leader in turn. He laughed and joked with Merkel and Macron, and hugged Luxembourg's Xavier Bettel, who had made fun of Johnson for not attending a news conference. All's well that ends well? #Brexit

— Luke Baker (@BakerLuke) October 17, 2019

Except nothing has ended.

I suspect all the MPs who lost Tory party membership will regain the whip (membership) if they vote for the deal. That makes passage more likely, but not guaranteed.

There are about 22 Labour MPs who want Brexit and that would likely be enough to offset the 9 DUP votes. This is my guess, Eurointelliugence thinks passage falls short.

If it does pass, legal challenges loom. And Benn is likely to modify the legislation requiring Johnson to seek an extension if it doesn’t pass.

Final Irony Coming Up?

One possibility is that if the legal challenge wins, a hard Brexit might happen, which Johnson could blame on Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the Remainers.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

The post An “Amazingly Good” Brexit Deal But A Constitutional Challenge Looms appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, EU, UK, Brexit, Boris Johnson, Juncker]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/18/19 2:18am

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com:

In response to a statement during the Democratic primary debates by presidential candidate Andrew Yang that both Russia and the United States have engaged in election interference, liberal pundit Molly McKew tweeted, “I now retract any vaguely nice thing I ever said about Yang knowing technology things because he answered the question on Putin with moral equivalency and a Kremlin talking point.”

If you’re in the mood for some depressing amusement, just type the words “Kremlin talking point” without quotation marks into Twitter’s search engine and scroll through all the results which come up. Just keep on scrolling and observe how this label, “Kremlin talking point”, gets bleated by mainstream empire loyalists to dismiss subjects ranging from the rigging of Democratic primaries to criticism of US regime change wars to endless US warmongering to concerns about new cold war escalations to disliking John McCain to criticism of Nancy Pelosi. Any criticism of the status quo which cannot be labeled false or misleading gets labeled a “talking point” of Russia/Putin/the Kremlin by those who support and defend the status quo of US-centralized imperialist world hegemony.

Yang’s statement about US intervention in foreign elections is indisputably true, of course. Both alternative and mainstream media outlets have thoroughly documented the fact that the US government’s own data shows them to have interfered in scores of foreign elections, far more than any other nation on earth. This includes an interference in Russia’s elections in the nineties that was so brazen they made a Hollywood movie about it. Former CIA Director James Woolsey openly admitted on Fox News last year that the US still interferes in foreign elections to this very day.

These are not conspiracy theories. These are not even secrets. These are facts. But because they are inconvenient facts, they get labeled “Kremlin talking points” by those whose job it is to defend the status quo.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard was also branded with the accusation of voicing “Kremlin talking points” for remarks she made during last night’s debate. In her case those “talking points” consisted of the indisputable fact that the bloodshed in Syria can be blamed on US politicians from both parties, and the indisputable fact that the US has armed extremist militias in that nation with the goal of effecting regime change.

“Literally a Kremlin talking point, but whatever,” tweeted #Resistance pundit Leah McElrath in response to Gabbard’s debate comments.

“It is a fact that the Russian talking point for years has been that the United States arms al-Qaeda in Syria. Tulsi Gabbard just said it on national television,” tweeted journalist Scott Stedman.

“How odd to listen to Tulsi Gabbard mouthing Syrian and Russian talking points on the Democratic debate stage…sorry but no one thinks US troops withdrawn by Trump were there as part of a ‘regime change war’ by the US,” tweeted Susan Glasser of CNN and The New Yorker.

This is from a video published by HTS (Al Qaeda in Syria) showing one of its fighters firing a US-supplied TOW missile in West Aleppo. The CIA-backed FSA was a weapons farm for Al Qaeda and ISIS. That’s not a “Russian talking point.” It’s a fact. https://t.co/g4Jw43fmBz https://t.co/atPy0Rt0jA pic.twitter.com/owNJQhQLpB

— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) October 16, 2019

So the establishment narrative managers now have an official three-word debunk of any criticism of the establishment which employs them, which applies even when that criticism is fully based in facts and reality. Facts are a Kremlin talking point, and anyone who believes them is Russian. Facts are Russian. Truth is Russian. Skepticism is Russian. Asking questions is Russian. Dissent is Russian. Revolution is Russian.

So let’s all get Russian then, baby. Let’s all fill our heads with objectively true Kremlin talking points and Cossack dance our way to a fact-based relationship with reality. Get as Russian as possible. Get aggressively Russian. Get offensively Russian. Get so Russian it hurts. Get so Russian it curls Louise Mensch’s hair. If they are going to start telling us that truth is Russian, then the only appropriate thing to say in response is dasvidaniya.


Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemit, throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandise, buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.

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The post Truth Is Now A “Kremlin Talking Point” appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, Tulsi Gabbard, Russian bot, Democrat debates, Andrew Yang]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/18/19 1:23am

Via Patrick J. Buchanan Official Site…

“Russia Assumes Mantle of Supreme Power Broker in the Middle East,” proclaimed Britain’s Telegraph. The article began:

“Russia’s status as the undisputed power-broker in the Middle East was cemented as Vladimir Putin continued a triumphant tour of capitals traditionally allied to the US.”

“Donald Trump Has Handed Putin the Middle East on a Plate” was the title of a Telegraph column. “Putin Seizes on Trump’s Syria Retreat to Cement Middle East Role,” said the Financial Times.

The U.S. press parroted the British: Putin is now the new master of the Mideast. And woe is us.

Before concluding that Trump’s pullout of the last 1,000 U.S. troops in Syria is America’s Dunkirk, some reflection is needed.

Yes, Putin has played his hand skillfully. Diplomatically, as the Brits say, the Russian president is “punching above his weight.”

He gets on with everyone. He is welcomed in Iran by the Ayatollah, meets regularly with Bibi Netanyahu, is a cherished ally of Syria’s Bashar Assad, and this week was being hosted by the King of Saudi Arabia and the royal rulers of the UAE. October 2019 has been a triumphal month.

Yet, consider what Putin has inherited and what his capabilities are for playing power broker of the Middle East.

He has a single naval base on the Med, Tartus, in Syria, which dates to the 1970s, and a new air base, Khmeimim, also in Syria.

The U.S. has seven NATO allies on the Med — Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Albania, Greece and Turkey, and two on the Black Sea, Romania and Bulgaria. We have U.S. forces and bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Djibouti. Russia has no such panoply of bases in the Middle East or Persian Gulf.

We have the world’s largest economy. Russia’s economy is smaller than Italy’s, and not a tenth the size of ours.

And now that we are out of Syria’s civil war and the Kurds have cut their deal with Damascus, consider what we have just dumped into Vladimir Putin’s lap. He is now the man in the middle between Turkey and Syria.

He must bring together dictators who detest each other. There is first President Erdogan, who is demanding a 20-mile deep strip of Syrian borderland to keep the Syrian Kurds from uniting with the Turkish Kurds of the PKK. Erdogan wants the corridor to extend 280 miles, from Manbij, east of the Euphrates, all across Syria, to Iraq.

Then there is Bashar Assad, victorious in his horrific eight-year civil war, who is unlikely to cede 5,000 square miles of Syrian territory to a permanent occupation by Turkish troops.

Reconciling these seemingly irreconcilable Syrian and Turkish demands is now Putin’s problem. If he can work this out, he ought to get the Nobel Prize.

“Putin is the New King of Syria,” ran the op-ed headline in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal.

The Syria of which Putin is now supposedly king contains Hezbollah, al-Qaida, ISIS, Iranians, Kurds, Turks on its northern border and Israelis on its Golan Heights. Five hundred thousand Syrians are dead from the civil war. Half the pre-war population has been uprooted, and millions are in exile in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Europe.

If Putin wants to be king of this, and it is OK with Assad, how does that imperil the United States of America, 6,000 miles away?

Wednesday, two-thirds of the House Republicans joined Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats to denounce Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria and dissolve our alliance with the Kurds. And Republican rage over the sudden abandonment of the Kurds is understandable.

But how long does the GOP believe we should keep troops in Syria and control the northeastern quadrant of that country? If the Syrian army sought to push us out, under what authority would we wage war against a Syrian army inside Syria?

And if the Turks are determined to secure their border, should we wage war on that NATO ally to stop them? Would U.S. planes fly out of Turkey’s Incirlik air base to attack Turkish soldiers fighting in Syria?

If Congress believes we have interests in Syria so vital we should be willing to go to war for them — against Syria, Turkey, Russia or Iran — why does Congress not declare those interests and authorize war to secure them?

Our foreign policy elites have used Trump’s decision to bash him and parade their Churchillian credentials. But those same elites appear to lack the confidence to rally the nation to vote for a war to defend what they contend are vital American interests and defining American values.

If Putin is king of Syria, it is because he was willing to pay the price in blood and treasure to keep his Russia’s toehold on the Med and save his ally Bashar Assad, who would have gone under without him.

Who dares wins. Now let’s see how Putin likes his prize.


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The post Is Putin the New King of the Middle East? appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, Russia, Syria, Putin, Middle East, Pat Buchanan]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/17/19 9:39am

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine how the Russian and US military appear to be coordinating their moves in Syria so as to prevent Turkey from moving further into Northern Syria, while using diplomacy to bring the Kurds into the framework of a united Syria.

According to AMN (), Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Mark Milley and Russian Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov held a phone conversation on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria, the JCS press service said.

“The two military leaders exchanged their views on issues of mutual concern in Syria,” the JCS said in a statement. “The two leaders have agreed to keep the specific details of their conversation secret.”

The Russian Defense Ministry issued a similar statement earlier in the day, providing no details as well.

Gerasimov’s previous telephone contact with the newly appointed US official took place on October 2, several days after Milley had taken over as the US top military officer, succeeding US Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford.

The two, according Hayley Sims, a spokeswoman for the Joint Staff, exchanged views on issues of mutual concern and agreed that regular contact were important to promote transparency and avoid mistakes.

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Via Zerohedge…

“Washington’s in meltdown mode over Trump’s Syria withdrawal and Turkey’s invasion,” independent journalist Rania Khalek observes. This as Trump announced Wednesday that American troops are “largely out” of the area of Turkey’s incursion in northeast Syria.

Meeting with Italy’s president, Trump said  in front of reporters: “If Syria wants to fight to take back their land, that’s up to them and Turkey.” He added, “There’s a lot of sand that they can play with.”

Trump: "The Kurds know how to fight. As I said, they are not angels." https://t.co/qKUuPxKCvA pic.twitter.com/QyQiDf0M8y

— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 16, 2019

“Syria Is Protecting the Kurds, That’s Good!” the president added, but also said of the Syrian Kurds, “They are no angels, by the way.” This follows statements made earlier in the wake of his ordered troop draw down that local powers should sort it out.

“I wish them all a lot of luck,” he said while speaking of Russia and Syria, and while calling the Turkish incursion against the apparently formerly US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) “not our problem”.

Trump: "If Russia wants to get involved with Syria, that is up to them. They have a problem with Turkey… It's not our border. We shouldn't be losing lives over it." https://t.co/qKUuPxKCvA pic.twitter.com/9J7Z86rjhQ

— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 16, 2019

But in a significant first, the president also said that Russia and the Syrian government “hate ISIS more than us”. He said “They can take care of ISIS” and explained.

“Our solders are out of there, they’re totally safe” — Trump added, emphasizing his rationale for his recent controversial decision-making on Syria.

No doubt this will cause mainstream pundits and D.C. beltway think tankers’ heads to explode, given it’s long been a key talking point that without American military presence in Syria, ISIS would only grow and become resurgent.

US pundits & politicians are crying that America’s image & hegemony has taken a hit bc of Trump’s Syria withdrawal. Yes it has. But Trump isn’t the only 1 at fault. You all are.

I explain what’s happening in Syria and how we got here for @IntheNow_tweetpic.twitter.com/pAA4EENhSQ

— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) October 16, 2019

Worse, a number of hawks have long advanced the conspiracy theory that Assad is actually to blame for the rise of ISIS, and that without regime change in Damascus, ISIS will only grow.

No doubt, Trump’s comments that Russia and Assad will deal with ISIS as they “hate ISIS more than us” will drive collective mainstream outrage. This after, as Rania Khalek aptly noted, “US pundits and politicians are crying that America’s image and hegemony has taken a hit because of Trump’s Syria withdrawal.”

The post US & Russia work together to end conflict in Syria (Video) appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, Video, Russia, Syria, Kurds, Erdogan, Putin, Trump]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/17/19 7:05am

Authored by Serban V.C. Enache via Hereticus Economicus:

Schumer and Pelosi stormed out of a meeting with the president, because the Orange Man called Pelosi a third rate politician [oh, the humanity] and said that the Democrats like the PKK because of their political color. Somebody got triggered… As for Lindsey Graham, who shares the same crocodile tears and perpetual war view on foreign policy [alongside the hawks in the Democratic party like Schumer and Pelosi], Orange Man had a few words of wisdom. Click play!

#NEW: Pres Trump: "Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years, with thousands of soldiers fighting other people's wars. I want to get out of the Middle East. I think Lindsey should right now focus on the Judiciary." pic.twitter.com/H3uMrO67Ke

— Jennifer Franco (@jennfranconews) October 16, 2019

The post Orange Man puts war hawks Pelosi, Schumer & Graham in their place appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News]

[*] [-] [-] [x] [A+] [a-]  
[l] at 10/17/19 7:05am

Submitted by InfoBrics, authored by Paul Antonopoulos…

The administration of the Kurdish-controlled regions in north-eastern Syria announced on Sunday that they had reached an agreement with the central Syrian government in Damascus to deploy Syrian troops along areas of the border region with Turkey to help repel the Turkish aggression.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan legitimized Turkey’s operations in Syria because of so-called security concerns, particularly from the Islamic State and the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian branch of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). However, with the YPG finally allowing Syrian troops to enter their controlled areas, what options does Erdoğan have left?

Turkish officials have endlessly said that the establishment of a “safe zone” that penetrates 30km into Syria is for the purpose of expelling the YPG from this region and to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees. With the Syrian Army soon to control the area with the withdrawal of the YPG, Erdoğan’s “safe zone” has now been achieved, thus illegitimating his operation once Syrian government control has been established.

Turkey assured that its operation was only against terrorism and not territorial expansionism with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stating in an interview that “Russia is concerned about some sensitive issues, such as territorial integrity and the unity of the country. We are also worried. If we look at all the joint statements of Turkey, Russia and Iran, we emphasize it.”

Although Turkish leaders assure that the purpose of the operation is not for annexation, this has not eased the belief among Syrians that Turkey plans to permanently occupy the area, as they remember the illegal 1939 Turkish annexation of Hatay and the invasion of neighboring Cyprus in 1974, with the status of the occupied Turkish-controlled northern regions of the island remaining doggedly unresolved by Ankara.

Therefore, with patient diplomacy with the political branches of the YPG, the Syrian government has trapped Erdoğan into leaving all Syrian territory since terrorism cannot be cited as a reason, a reason they heavily focussed on. If Turkey does not withdraw from the occupied territories, it will surely become an international issue involving all major countries.

Such a situation will not be easy for Washington. In fact, the major factor for Ankara’s split from the U.S. is because of the American support for the YPG, despite contradictorily recognizing the PKK as a terrorist organization. Although Ankara is a NATO member, Turkey has been strengthening relations with Russia, a source of American anger against its supposed NATO ally.

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened the complete destruction of the Turkish economy last week if Ankara exceeded its operation targets. With the U.S. putting a direct threat against Turkey, it is unlikely for Ankara to submit to Washington’s demands, which will inevitably create another source of division between Ankara and Washington.

This is especially crucial as Çavuşoğlu boldly stated that “We are not afraid to remain isolated if the truth is on our side, since we are destined to fight terrorism.” It would suggest that if Turkey is willing to be isolated over fighting the YPG, then it would be willing to be isolated for the goal of territorial expansionism, a suggestion that can be legitimized if the Turkish military does not withdraw after Syrian government administration is achieved in the border region.

For its part, Moscow understands Turkey’s concerns about its safety but advocates that Ankara respect its agreements with Damascus. With Russian and Turkish relations strengthening in the economic, military and diplomatic fields, Erdoğan’s next move can also affect the image of Russia, who is also a close ally of Syria, having defended the country from terrorism since September 2015.

As Russia has consistently adhered to international norms and laws, and strongly advocates that all states should follow such norms and laws, any refusal of the Turkish military and its proxies to withdraw from Syrian territory could be a source of resentment from Moscow. Russia has invested heavily into flourishing its relations with Turkey after its Black Sea neighbour downed a Russian jet in Syria, leading to the murder of the pilot by Turkish-backed forces.

However, any chance for Washington to reconcile with Ankara is all but over with the imposition of sanctions on Monday. These measures have been considered ineffective by Republican senator Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chris van Hollen who want wider sanctions against Turkey and to cut military support, despite being NATO allies. This is in a supposed effort to stop Turkey’s widespread human rights abuses and the release of ISIS terrorists.

Therefore, Erdoğan’s next decision towards Syria will heavily impact the future of not only the region, but his relations with the U.S. and Russia. With murmurings existing for years now whether Turkey should leave the NATO alliance, these sanctions against Turkey, a country already in a deep economic crisis, will only bring this question to the forefront of debate.

Although the U.S. cites human right abuses as the reason for the sanctions, an allegation that cannot be taken seriously considering their own long list of war crimes, it is likely Trump is ‘punishing’ Erdoğan for his insistence and defiance in buying the Russian S-400 system. This means that the souring relations between Washington and Ankara provides the perfect moment for Russian President Vladimir Putin to consolidate his country’s relations with Turkey.

Turkey has the second largest military in NATO, but more importantly has sovereignty over the imperative waterways of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles that gives Russia access to the Mediterranean from its Black Sea ports. Whether Putin will be able to convince Turkey, a fellow Eurasian country and Black Sea neighbour of Russia’s, to leave the NATO alliance is to be seen. But, if he can convince Turkey to leave, this would not only be a powerful military blow to NATO, but a strategic one as they will lose any challenge they could pose against Russia in the Black Sea.

The post U.S. Sanctions Could Push Turkey To Leave NATO appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, Turkey, Syria, Erdogan, Trump]

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[l] at 10/17/19 6:58am

Authored by Serban V.C. Enache via Hereticus Economicus:

Tulsi Gabbard admitted impeachment talks have been going on since Trump won, driven by “hyper partisan interests.” Nonetheless, she expressed support for the inquiry in Ukrainegate and ultimately supports impeachment, otherwise Trump gets off the hook and looks good while the Dems, once again, look bad. In my dilettante opinion, Gabbard will lose support among conservatives and nationalists if she votes for impeachment – and, at the same time, she will not earn more liberals to her cause. Truth be told, by and large, liberals hate her anyway. Any democrat criticizing Hillary Clinton, the DNC, or Barrack Obama is a GOP puppet and Putin stooge in their eyes.

Tulsi backed Andrew Yang’s Universal Basic Income [UBI] proposal, saying it’s a good idea to provide social security for people to make “the kind of choices they want to see.” What Gabbard doesn’t know is that, without taxing economic rent, gains from the UBI will get soaked up by rent-seekers and money lenders. Andrew Yang likes to portray himself as a “smart Asian man,” and on the question of rents, he claimed UBI will drive rents down because rentiers will compete for renters. I don’t suspect Andrew Yang of being illiterate or naive when it comes to economics, so this particular claim of his can’t be fueled by ignorance, it’s fueled by sophistry. Without land-value capture, UBI will fail to solve poverty and homelessness.

Tulsi Gabbard responded to media attacks who paint her as a friend of dictators. She used sensational expressions like “the slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey,” and “Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hand.” She accused politicians on both sides and the mainstream media who supported this regime change war of the same. She mentioned CNN and the New York Times for smearing veterans who oppose these conflicts. Tulsi vowed to, as president, end the regime change war in Syria, for the US to stop backing terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, and to end the Saudi-led “draconian sanctions” imposed on Yemen.

I seriously had enough with the crocodile tears over civilian casualties. The West never expressed concern, let alone tears, for Syrian civilians loyal to Assad, the lawfully elected Government of Syria. As for Turkey attacking “the Kurds,” the YPG and the SDF are military organizations. Assad offered them a hand years ago, during the regime change operation [the so-called civil war], which they turned down; because the big, mighty US and A promised them statehood via the Zionist model. These ethnic separatists are cool among the left, because they’re communists or are in league with communists [PKK], you see…

Erdogan changed course during the dismemberment of Syria operation, when he saw that the US had plans for a Kurdish state, to prop it up militarily, and use it as a containment agent against other countries in the region, including Turkey [who borders it]. Erdogan’s shift in geopolitical goals and overall alignment makes total sense [especially after the failed US coup against him], even though he supported Daesh in order to get cheap oil and weaken Syria as a potential rival entity in the region. Let’s hope he’ll stick to the Astana agreement. Trump’s vow to punish Turkey with tough sanctions might be necessary in the end [to be enacted I mean], to force Erdogan not to hedge against Russia, the Syrian Government, and Iran. So I disagree with Tulsi and the rest of the Establishment narrative about “betraying the Kurds.” The only hope for Syrian reunification [with some form of autonomy for the Kurds] is for the US to get out of there, and let the regional actors, actors who actually have a stake in it, work it out.

It’s apparently okay to clear out that region of other ethnicities and religious groups in order to create a Kurdistan. But, with Erdogan’s offensive, the Kurds struck an accord with the Assad regime, the evil dictator who gasses his own people, remember? That’s how the Western media portrayed Assad. So, let’s draw a line and see what we have. Turkey, a NATO member, ally of the United States, is now painted by the Establishment as a dictatorship, waging a genocidal war against the Kurds [ABC used a Kentucky gun range video as proof of the “Slaughter of the Kurds”] – another faithful ally of the US, faithful ally who recently came to terms with the evil Assad Government, backed by ‘big, bad’ Russia under ‘fascist’ Putin, and by the Islamic terrorists Hezbollah [who protected Christians in Lebanon and Syria]. You people try to make sense of this. Let’s move on…

CNN cut Tulsi off when she was explaining her fitness for the Oval Office vis-a-vis the other candidates up on the stage, particularly Elizabeth Warren.

If we were to caption this picture, starting left to right: a) millionaire pseudo-socialist who only recently discovered the harsh, inconvenient realities of Israeli Apartheid rule over the Palestinians. b) Swamp dweller sleepy Joe. c) Pocahontas Liz Warren, who, like Sanders, only recently changed her PR on Israeli crimes, just because Netanyahu became really unpopular with liberals and totally aligned himself with Trump [or vice versa]. Before that, both Sanders and Warren, when referring to Israeli bombs and missiles destroying Palestinians homes and killing Palestinian civilians, toed the conventional line of “Israel has a right to defend itself.” And in Sanders’ case, he was awfully tough on the town hall heckler [“Shut up!], probably because he was a white male. At the Seattle rally in 2015, he didn’t have such a tough stance, in fact, none at all when the two black women from BLM, not only heckled him, but took complete hold over the microphone and caused the event to end prematurely. So you’ll excuse me if I don’t get all giddy over these two, even though they support Single Payer, which is a good policy.

Tulsi Gabbard emphasized the major change in view among Democrats on abortion, the pivot from moderate to progressive or hyper liberal. “I agree with Hillary Clinton on one thing, disagree with her on many others, but when she said abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, I think she’s correct.” The last adjective has been switched to frequent, and among the ultra liberal, deranged progressive groups, the pro-abortion stance has become a cultural fetish [the best way to pursue hypergamy], with these groups seeking state subsidies and rule changes to allow abortions irrespective of context. But I wish to end this article on a funny note, and Joe Biden’s performance here is just absolutely brilliant, brilliant. The real golden moment is with Biden’s last statement. Enjoy.

The post Tulsi Highlights, 4th Dem Debate appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, Tulsi Gabbard, Democrat debates]

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[l] at 10/17/19 5:34am

Submitted by Steve Brown…

While the dramatic US withdrawal from Syria is making headlines, little is being said about proposed withdrawal from Afghanistan or Iraq. The United States has invested trillions of US dollars in all three wars, with great loss of life, and little to show in positive results. But is there a bigger picture in Washington? Recent events outline an emerging pattern that may point the way to a new potential strategy for the execution of US foreign policy.

As pointed out by author and intellectual Tom Luongo, the departure of Joseph “Operation Iraqi Oil” Dunford as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 30th was a significant geopolitical event. Recall that Dunford was the highest-ranking military officer and regular military advisor to the president.

Dunford on Syria:

“Our primary partners on the ground, the Syrian Democratic Forces, have been successful in recovering a large swath of ground in northeast Syria.. The SDF’s recent operations in the town of Shaddadah effectively severed the last major artery that connected Raqqa and Mosul.  Over time, the size of the Syrian Democratic Forces, and specifically the Arab component inside the Syrian Democratic Forces, has grown.  And our focus right now is on continuing to – continuing that trend to grow the capabilities of the Syrian Democratic Forces..”  

Dunford On Afghanistan:

“Last summer highlighted, though, that the Afghan forces continue to need our support to build their capacity, specifically in areas like logistics, special operations, aviation capability, what I’d call broadly ministerial capacity.”

And as Dunford stated in 2016, “First, the Russian military presents the greatest array of threats to U.S. interests.  Despite declining population, shrinking economy, Russia has made a significant investment in military capabilities,” addressing the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

These are the words of Dunford the career military officer, dutifully providing career military advice to a non-career president, that will keep US military forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria… seemingly forever. All debacles that the US itself created. While such military adventures may work wonders for the military budget, the loss in lives, treasure, and US prestige over many decades cannot be calculated, estimated, or even imagined.

Now with the passing of the Dunford regime as Joint Chief in September, General Milley steps in, with significant changes to public policy already on display. For example, Milley’s commissioned study of the Iraq war — long awaited and delayed by military pressure to prevent release of a largely negative report — was publicly released by Milley in January of 2019. The report states, “that coalition warfare (in Iraq) was ‘largely unsuccessful’ for several reasons, that failing to account for a lack of understanding of the inner workings of Iraqi politics and group struggles’ in part led to failure there. That’s an account that Dunford was unlikely to approve, and may have caused him to delay. So, with the departure of Dunford and Mattis as we shall see, the way forward for US disengagement from Syria’s northeast was made possible.

Earlier in June of 2019, the president appointed Mark Esper as Secretary of Defense to replace Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis. The schism with Mattis originated with the proposed US disengagement from Syria, which was a significant departure point for Mattis. The Syria rift was enough to provoke Mattis to say to the president, “You’re going to have to get the next Secretary of Defense to lose to ISIS. I’m not going to do it.” Considering Mattis’s great stature as a military man, such a statement from him borders on insubordination. After all, who is subordinate Mattis to second guess the president? Internal sources claim that Mattis had disagreements with Joint Chief’s appointment Milley too, over Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

With Mattis’s resignation, Trump appointed Mark Esper, a former senior executive at Raytheon, as Secretary of Defense. Esper is seen as more of a pragmatist and corporate type, perhaps willing to entertain Mr Trump’s views about ending pointless wars and provocations in the Middle East. Esper is still an unknown quantity in Washington, with largely a corporate background, but seems willing to back the president publicly, to an extent lacking in Mattis.

Next, recall that on September 10th, 2019, John Bolton was let go as National Security Advisor. Bolton’s termination was almost as startling as the fact that he was ever hired in the first place. While the scope of John Bolton’s rise and fall is beyond scope here, Bolton’s impact was certainly felt when the president originally announced an US withdrawal from Syria almost one year ago, then Bolton subsequently appeared in public to walk back that statement.  On the heels of other embarrassing public statements, most notably involving US policy toward North Korea and Venezuela, Bolton was fired last month.

Bolton’s successor as National Security Advisor is Robert O’Brien, a senior partner in a respected Washington law firm. O’Brien takes a low-key approach; his legal background presents quite a contrasting style and character to that of his predecessor. O’Brien’s twitter page makes little reference to his position, whereas John Bolton used his twitter page as a platform to seriously ridicule political opponents, and to incite all others.

So far, there is little indication that O’Brien will be an activist advisor. According to reports (perhaps inaccurate) O’Brien’s only action has been to rather awkwardly intervene in the Sacoolas affair. In other words, O’Brien is apparently not the sort to upstage his boss, or to publicly announce reversals to the president’s plans. Which underlines a most important point about the AUMF.

While a disheveled, confused, and motley crew in US Congress – whether Democrat or Republican – may bemoan the president’s authority to intervene in places that the US does not belong, it was Congress that provided the president with that authority. The Authorization for Use of Military Force was passed by Congress in September of 2001, just subsequent to the blowback of the twin towers attacks. The AUMF has been invoked ever since to allow aggression in Afghanistan, Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, Somalia, Djibouti and even Kenya.

Based on post-911 hysteria, the US Congress essentially gave any US president the authority to invade and occupy any sovereign nation that the president so desires, under just about any pretext that can be construed as “terrorist acts”. Regardless of personal feeling about the matter, it is quite clear that such war power held by the Executive was never envisaged by the Founders or US Constitution, and that a spineless and largely corrupt US Congress is unable to reverse its unconstitutional and despicable act. So, Lindsey Graham and Pelosi may grandstand and prance about with great hysteria about Syria to their heart’s content, feigning ignorance of the AUMF that they so engineered, to create the very predicament to whit they so vociferously object.

Thus, due to Congress’s despicable AUMF, Mr Trump is able to act individually on Syria to end the crisis just as his predecessor created it. Another intriguing element is that of Israel, mostly speculation, although borne out by the conflict map.  On the conflict map, any element relating to “unidentified warplanes” always relates to Israel.  Somewhat limited in the areas in which it may operate, Israel has been regularly bombing suspected Iranian troop emplacements in Iraq, Syria, and southern Lebanon for many months now.

Due to the presence of upgraded S-300’s and now-operational S-400’s around Damascus, Israel has been limited to bombing the region around al Bukamal and al Qaim in eastern Syria, on the fringe of the Syrian oil fields, or southern Lebanon. In other words, Israel has been taking a more provocative role in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, while the US has been dialing-back. Reminiscent of the Nixon Doctrine, and Haig under Reagan, Mr Trump is likely telling Israel to engage in its own aggression versus Syria, using Israel’s advanced and expensive (mostly) US weaponry, instead of relying in the United States to fight Israel’s wars.*  If so, such a development would represent quite a change to US policy.

Likewise, evidence exists that Mr Trump is now impatient with Netanyahu. Mr Trump likes ‘winners’ and has little time for losers. It is already apparent that Netanyahu cannot form a new government. If so, that creates friction until Gantz forms a government, however Gantz’s ability to form a government is questionable too.  As such, how Israel will go forward with the many challenges it faces internally and externally may call into question its highly dependent relationship to the United States. And, the big Israeli donors who helped Trump in 2016 may not be as relevant this time around.

To add to the fray, consider the surprising advocacy by billionaire plutocrats to end US intervention in Afghanistan. The Koch proposal to end US intervention in Afghanistan appeared in the press just one week subsequent to the departure of John Bolton as National Security Advisor.

According to the president of the Koch organization, “The 18-year war in Afghanistan continues to cost precious lives and is exacerbating our nation’s fiscal crisis. President Trump is right to pursue his promise to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. We need to focus our foreign policy on what is necessary to keep America safe, prosperous and free.”

Generally associated with pushing for lower taxes and Corporate “free trade” (read: monopolization and conglomeration) is it surprising that Plutocrats might push for disengagement from foreign interventionism? Prima facie the foregoing indicates a signal change to the continuous history of US aggression and foreign interventionism since 1950.

With the bigger picture in mind, let’s consider the entire structure and policy of US interventionism since 1950, where the idea is not to “win” any war, but to create a Failed State or Vassal State to serve the interest of the global Hegemon.

In the Herland Report interview with Joaquin Flores, Mr Flores describes the western motivation for failed states:

  1. Create a political vortex/vacuum to draw in political adversaries to their detriment
  2. Privately exploit the resources of the Failed State for gain
  3. Deny direct responsibility for government, subsidy, or maintenance of the Failed State
  4. Use the Failed State as an example to others, and conquer its people by fragmentation/ division

Regardless of the means or motivation, the US-Israeli goal in Syria was not for regime change, but to create a failed state. The means and motivation to create that Syrian failed state have expired, just as in Iraq, and in Libya, where the US lacks the resources to exploit.**

Besides Syria, we must consider US attempts to render both Venezuela and Iran as failed states too, and those attempts have failed. The United States is not in a position, economically or militarily, to fully enforce the five pillars of US power in 2020; while we still don’t know but can only suspect that the bottom line is economic. Despite the financial games played by the West, the greed of the Warfare State has perhaps finally caught up with it, where the hard, cold bottom line is that the US cannot afford to pursue endless war any longer.

For one thing, it is difficult to dissent versus financial collapse. Even a president cannot do that. If the only hope for the future is to turn back the ultimately profitless, ever-growing, and omnipresent Warfare and Surveillance State, then that is what must be done. It’s an omnipresent Warfare and Surveillance State that has been growing almost exponentially, but can no longer be afforded — even by the constant production of fiat currency — or morally tolerated.

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Since May, we have seen rapid and surprising developments: mysterious attacks on shipping in the Gulf; the downing of an RQ-4 reaper by Iran; strikes on Saudi oil infrastructure; the departure of key flamboyant cabinet members in US National Security and Defense to be replaced with unknowns; the withdrawal of US troops from Syria (except al Tanf) and various proposals (including billionaires) for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

A further indication of US policy thawing and ‘détente’ in the Middle East is to remove US troops from Iraq, for the US to engage Iran in peace talks, while distancing itself from Saudi-inspired terror, and pressing for peace in Yemen… and for the US to acquiesce to what surely must eventually be an armistice between Turkey and the Kurds in northeastern Syria.

That all of the foregoing will certainly infuriate Israel must be calculated with the prospect of Israel’s own waning power. The question now is not how to “make America great again” … but how to save it.  Meanwhile, let Pelosi, Graham, and Schumer shout out their frustrations.

*If the SNA and even Turkish forces were able to employ upgraded S-300’s around the Syrian oil fields, that region of Syria would be off-limits to the IAF.

**Ironically, Turkey has exploited those Libyan resources via Misrata oil, in reaction to Iranian oil sanctions imposed by the US.


Steve Brown is the author of “Iraq: the Road to War” (Sourcewatch) editor of “Bush Administration War Crimes in Iraq” (Sourcewatch) “Trump’s Limited Hangout” and “Federal Reserve: Out-sourcing the Monetary System to the Money Trust Oligarchs Since 1913”. Steve is an antiwar activist, a published scholar on the US monetary system, and has appeared as a guest contributor to The Duran, Fort Russ News, and Strategika51.

The post Has US Foreign Policy Changed? appeared first on The Duran.

[Category: Latest, News, Syria, Afghanistan, General Dunford, Mattis]

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