Category Archives: Uncategorized

intrigue, CIA fronts

State Dept pays think tank nearly $1m to work with Venezuelan opposition
Franco Ordoñez, Kyra Gurney, McClatchy DC, Dec 7 2017

FASCHINGSTEIN – A little-known bureau of the State Dept is giving nearly $1 m to a Faschingstein think-tank to promote peace in Venezuela and start identifying the building blocks for a new democratically-run government. But critics already see it as an effort by State to train the opposition at dialogue that undercuts Pres Trump’s push to force Pres Maduro to restore democracy. One congressional source familiar with the program:

It’s a waste of taxpayer money. They’ve tried to dialogue repeatedly and it hasn’t worked. It just buys Maduro time.

The State Dept’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations paid $900k to the Atlantic Council in September with instructions to “promote non-violent conflict resolution” in Venezuela. The council said the year-long project’s aim is to draw more international attention to the crisis, show the public what Venezuela could look like under new leadership and provide the opposition and other stakeholders the tools needed to work more cohesively together. But the effort is already generating no small amount of controversy. According to people inside the Pindo government who favor a harder line against Maduro, the Atlantic Council spending is an effort by State Dept to train the opposition to negotiate and prepare for a future if the government collapses while other parts of Trump’s administration have insisted on a sanctions-driven strategy. With encouragement from South Florida Thugs such as Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart, Trump has been increasing pressure on Maduro to restore Demagog institutions to the nation sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves but now crumbling under the weight of a deepening economic and humanitarian crisis. The Trump administration has followed suit, imposing a mix of personal and economic sanctions, including ones in August that largely blocked the country from being able to get much needed capital. Venezuela has accused Faschingstein of being the opposition’s puppet master. Just this week, Venezuela’s Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez threatened to discontinue talks with the Venezuelan opposition unless Faschingstein lifted its sanctions. The State Dept wouldn’t address specific questions, including the amount or recipient of the funding, but said the goal is to work with organizations outside the government to “promote good governance, democracy, human rights, humanitarian assistance, and transparency around the world.” Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center (sic – RB), confirmed receiving the funding, but said the organization is not part of any negotiations between the opposition and Maduro. But he said they are working with partners on the ground in Venezuela to provide the opposition and other members of civil society with the tools needed to work more cohesively as a united coalition through their work organizing talks, collecting data and analysis. Marczak said:

What we’re trying to do is address the fractures within the opposition. That is then helpful for the opposition’s overall stance because what the government wants is a divided opposition.

The Venezuelan opposition is composed of many different political ideologies. While unified in their opposition to Maduro, there are many views of how to pull the country out of its current crisis. The opposition is often criticized for not having a vision for the country that goes beyond political change. According to Atlantic Council, the organization will have two people dedicated to the year-long project. Working with several local partners, the Atlantic Council will conduct research and organize gatherings with those involved in the opposition and other stakeholders. It will hold one-on-one consultations and group consultations. It will review the electoral conditions. It also will make recommendations on how to improve the economy and ways alternative leaders can succeed. The Atlantic Council said it also will bring leaders to Faschingstein for public events. At the end of the year, it will produce a series of reports for the State Dept on opportunities to move forward. Some of the reports should be public, but other parts will not, the group said. The NSC, which has led the effort to increase pressure on Venezuela, referred questions to the State Dept without saying whether the White House signed off on the arrangement. The State Dept would not provide details, but said the contract was granted under what it called the “Peace Process Support Network.” Not everyone sees the distinction between what the Atlantic Council says it is doing, and training the opposition to negotiate with Maduro. Congress critturs on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have expressed reservations about the use of public funds. The grant also sparked concerns at agencies such as USAID. Some officials felt that supporting dialogue between the government and the opposition was useless and that the money should have gone to support other efforts in Venezuela. The Pindo source said:

Pindostan on the one hand is taking a very forceful stance, on the other is talking about dialogue! This is naïve! This is stupid! This is a waste of money!

Marczak has heard some of the concerns, but he says:

I think people are conflating this project with previous work of the State Dept. I don’t see how working toward a common vision for the opposition can undermine the administration’s sanctions. We’re a think-tank. We’re not at the negotiating table in any situation. We’re doing what a think-tank does: we’re providing research, we’re providing analysis, we’re doing consultations, we’re doing events, we’re doing the typical things that think-tanks do.

Anti-China witch-hunt in Australia escalates
Peter Symonds, WSWS, Dec 11 2017

A front-page article in Saturday’s Australian ramped up the ongoing xenophobic campaign against “Chinese influence” in Australia. It reported that ASIO had “identified ten political candidates at state and local government elections whom it believes have close ties to the Chinese intelligence services.” The article was headlined “Security agencies flag Chinese Manchurian candidates.” The article is a crude beat-up. No-one is named. No evidence is provided. ASIO’s unsubstantiated allegations are treated as good coin, without any questioning of its motives. What the article does demonstrate is that the anti-China witch-hunt is being driven by the Australian intelligence agencies, backed to the hilt by Faschingstein, amid the growing danger of a Pindo-led war against NK and China. Ross Babbage, a former analyst with the Office of National Assessments currently at a think-tank called the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told The Australian:

The Chinese security agencies are engaged in a far-reaching campaign to recruit and insert and encourage and to some extent fund agents of influence. We have not seen this type of activity in Australia since the Cold War.

The reference to the “Cold War” is significant, as it is precisely a McCarthyite climate of fear and intimidation that the media and political establishment is seeking to whip up. By relaying ASIO’s “concerns” about unnamed political figures, all politicians are being placed on notice that they could come under scrutiny as “agents of influence” if they step out of line. ASIO was notorious for its skulduggery during the Cold War and persecution of anyone alleged to have communist or socialist affiliations or sympathies. The Australian article came just two days after PM Turnbull announced plans for sweeping new laws to criminalise “unlawful foreign influence,” create a registry of “foreign agents,” and ban all foreign funding of political activities. The expanded treason and espionage legislation will carry draconian penalties up to and including life imprisonment. That the directives are coming from Faschingstein was underscored by the comments of the Australian ambassador to Pindostan, Joe Hockey, last week. He said:

It’s being very closely watched. It is a really serious issue and it represents a threat to what many Australians fought and died for, and that is a free and transparent and open democracy.

In reality, the opposite is the case. After more than a decade of attacking basic democratic rights under the rubric of the bogus “GWOT” the country is being put on a war footing that will create the conditions for the round-up of anyone deemed to be aiding the enemy, namely China. The government announcement provoked condemnation from the Chinese embassy in Canberra and the foreign ministry in Beijing. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Friday that he was “shocked” by Turnbull’s allegations against China. He said:

We have expressed strong dissatisfaction at this and have already lodged solemn representations with the Australian side.

Turnbull hit back on Saturday, declaring:

There has been foreign influence in Australian politics, plainly. (Labor senator Sam Dastyari is) a clear case of somebody who has literally taken money from people closely associated with the Chinese government and, in return for that, has delivered essentially Chinese policy statements.

Dastyari has been the whipping boy for the anti-China campaign extending over more than a year. Just prior to last week’s announcement of the new legislation, lurid allegations concerning the Labor senator hit the headlines. His allegedly pro-China comments consisted of suggesting that Australia should not join Pindostan in its provocative challenges to Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea. Dastyari is a right-wing Labor power-broker and money raiser, who has always supported Australia’s military alliance with the US and its involvement in Faschingstein’s criminal wars in Afghanistan, Libya and the Middle East. Yet he was targeted last year for his association with Chinese property developer Huang Xiangmo, who has donated not only to Labor, but also to the Liberal-National Coalition. Among the latest allegations against Dastyari is that he offered “counter-surveillance advice” to Huang, suggesting during a meeting that the two leave their mobile phones in another room to prevent anyone listening in. Clearly someone was listening in, in all probability ASIO, which by its own admissions to The Australian is extensively monitoring politicians, and undoubtedly many other individuals. The persecution of Dastyari continues unabated, with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton telling Sky News over the weekend:

A lot more is to come. He’s a shady figure. If he’s a double agent, he shouldn’t be in the Australian Senate.

Dastyari has already stood down from all political positions, but the vendetta against him will not halt until he is forced out of the Senate, and, if the new legislation is enacted, charged and brought before a court. The anti-China campaign is provoking real fears in business circles about the potential that it will damage Chinese trade and investment. In 2016–17, trade between Australia and China reached $175b, nearly three times Australia’s trade with Pindostan. Some 1.2 million Chinese visited Australia last year spending $9.2b and the value of Chinese students studying at Australian universities is estimated at $8.5b. Australia China Business Council chairman John Brumby last weekend warned:

The relationship is finely balanced. It is at a tipping point … It’s crucial to understand that by far the biggest single factor that has driven Australian prosperity over the past two decades has been the rise of China and we ignore that at our peril.

Former Australian ambassador to China, Geoff Raby, told the Australian that official economic retaliation by China over the “foreign influence” witch-hunt was unlikely. However, he added:

If the Chinese government projects Australia as an unfriendly nation and they sustain that, then it could well have an impact on tourism to Australia and the education sector.

For more than a decade, successive Australian governments have attempted to balance between the Pindostan, the country’s long-standing military ally and top investor, and China, which is now Australia’s top trading partner. That balancing act has become ever more precarious as Pindo imperialism, first under Obama and now Trump, has mounted an escalating confrontation and military build-up against China. The immediate flashpoint is NK, where an imminent Pindo-led attack on the Pyongyang regime is being closely discussed in the military, intelligence and foreign affairs apparatus in Faschingstein and preparations are being made. A war with NK carries the very real danger of escalating into a devastating conflict with China. The poisonous campaign against “Chinese influence” in Australia is a signal that the ruling class is rapidly falling into line with the Pindo war drive and preparing accordingly.

back to syria

Putin Orders Withdrawal Of Russian Troops During Surprise Syria Visit
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Dec 11 2017

Drawing a stark contrast between himself and Trump, Putin made a surprise appearance at Khmeimim airbase on Monday morning, where he ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria, now that the Daesh insurgency that once controlled roughly one-third of the country’s land area has been effectively dismantled. He was met at the airbase by Sergei Shoigu and Pres Assad. Russian forces fighting with the SAA during the war were stationed at the base. Putin ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops to begin immediately, according to Russia Today. Putin told a crowd of Russian soldiers:

I order the defense minister and chief of the general staff to start the withdrawal of Russian troops to the site of their permanent deployment.

The Russian leader said that during the span of two years, the Russian and Syrian militaries have “defeated the most battle-hardened grouping of international terrorists,” adding that he’s decided a significant portion of the Russian troop contingent should return to Russia. Putin warned that if Daesh tries to “rear their heads” in Syria again, Russia will retaliate with a level of force that “they have never seen before.” The Russian leader added that the conditions for a political settlement under the auspices of the UN had been created in Syria, and that refugees were returning home. Putin was told that about 70,000 sq km of Syrian territory has been liberated and 32,000 terrorists killed in the last seven months of the operation. Russian SOF, military police and 25 aircraft (out of 50 or 100? – RB) will leave Syria, and a field hospital will be removed, according to the commander of the Russian forces in Syria, Col-Gen Sergei Surovikin. The Russian president said that the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria would continue its work, and that Russia would continue to use the Khmeimim Airbase and the Syrian port of Tartus, which provides technical support for the Russian Navy. Putin is now headed to Cairo, where he is scheduled to meet with Gen Sisi. Putin’s decision stands in stark contrast to Pindostan, which appears to be moving toward a semi-permanent air presence in Syria. Last month, Mad Dog Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon that Pindostan is preparing for a long term military commitment in Syria. Mattis indicated that even should Daesh lose all of its territory, there would still be a dangerous insurgency that could morph into a “Daesh 2.0” which he said Pindostan would seek to prevent, and he concluded:

The enemy hasn’t declared that they’re done with the area yet, so we’ll keep fighting as long as they want to fight. We’re not just going to walk away right now before the Geneva process has traction.

SAA push towards Idlib province
Suleiman al-Khalidi, Reuters, Dec 10 2017

AMMAN – The SAA stepped up a military campaign against rebels in eastern Hama province in a push towards the rebel stronghold of Idlib province in north-western Syria, rebels and witnesses said. Dozens of aerial strikes believed to be conducted mainly by Russian jets in the last 48 hours hit opposition held villages and towns in the north-eastern Hama countryside and the southern part of Idlib province. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and some FSA rebel factions in control of these areas said they were sending reinforcements to seize back a string of villages in north-eastern Hama near Rihjan that the army had earlier announced were captured in heavy fighting. The army said the villages of Um Turayka, Bilil and Rujum al-Ahmar were seized, forcing the rebels to flee to areas close to the administrative boundaries of Idlib province. The SAA lost Idlib province to insurgents in 2015. It has since become the only province that is fully under opposition control. The SAA’s first goal was to retake Abu al-Dhour military airport, which fell to rebels in 2015. It was heavily bombed on Sunday, a rebel source said. Col M Bakour, a commander in the Jaish al-Izza rebel faction, said:

The regime movements seek to besiege Idlib province with the help of Shi‘ite militias fighting with them.

Tahrir al Sham, which is spearheaded by the former al Qaeda branch in Syria, is the main rebel force in the province, raising fears among civilians and rebels alike that Moscow and the Syrian army and its allies would soon turn it into a major battlefield. The strategically-located province that borders Turkey is one of the Russian deescalation zones. Idlib has been a haven for tens of thousands of rebels and civilians who were forced to abandon their homes in other parts of western Syria that the government and its foreign military allies have recaptured from rebels. It has already been the target of intensive strikes by the Russia and Syrian air forces in the past year that have killed thousands of civilians and destroyed hospitals and civil defense centers. Tahrir al-Sham simultaneously repelled an offensive by Daesh, who have been for the last few weeks pushing into the opposition-controlled territory to extend a small enclave they have in that area. They also seized a string of villages that brought them within kilometers of Idlib province. The Russian and Syrian army advance towards Idlib is also piling pressure on Turkey, which in October began a major military deployment in the province it considers within its sphere of influence, aiming to rein in Russian strikes and prevent Idlib from facing a similar fate to Mosul or Aleppo, according to a senior rebel commander briefed on Turkish policy.

Pindo-Russia tensions mount after Daesh defeat in Syria
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, Dec 11 2017

Faschingstein and Moscow have traded fresh charges of provocative actions by each other’s warplanes in the skies over Syria’s Euphrates River valley, even as Daesh, their supposed common enemy, appears to have been routed on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border. The Pentagon’s statements directly hinted at the prospect of rising tensions in Syria spilling over into a direct military confrontation between the world’s two largest nuclear powers, with incalculable consequences. Lt-Col D Pickart of Pindo air command in Qatar (CENTCOM) told the NYT:

It’s become increasingly tough for our pilots to discern whether Russian pilots are deliberately testing or baiting us into reacting, or if these are just honest mistakes. The greatest concern is that we could shoot down a Russian aircraft because its actions are seen as a threat to our air or ground forces.

The NYT article published Saturday was written as a brief for Pindo military intervention in Syria and a more aggressive confrontation with Russia for dominance in the Middle East. The Pentagon recently acknowledged that over 2,000 Pindo troops are presently deployed inside Syria, more than four times the number previously admitted, and indicated that there is no intention of withdrawing them after their ostensible mission of defeating Daesh is completed. The NYT parroted Pentagon allegations of a Russian SU-24 fighter jet having “nearly collided” with two Pindo Warthog A-10s east of the Euphrates River, and of other Russian aircraft flying directly over Pindostan’s proxy ground forces and their SOF “advisers” for over 30 minutes, actions which Pindo bopxtops told the newspaper had escalated “tensions and the risk of a shootdown.” Quoting the same sources, the NYT reported that Russian warplanes were violating as many as a half a dozen times a day a deal supposedly reached between Faschingstein and Moscow to keep their aircraft on opposite sides of the Euphrates. Lt-Gen J Harrigan, commander of Pindo air forces in Iraq and Syria, told the NYT:

There’s a risk there. Their desire is to set this up for the end state for Syria. We’ve got to be clear-eyed. The Russians are here to support the Syrian government.

Unstated by the general or the NYT is that Faschingstein has intervened in Syria with the diametrically opposed objective, of continuing the drive for regime change that it began in 2011 by fomenting a sectarian-based insurgency relying on Sunni Jihadis funded and armed by the CIA via the Turks, Toads & Thanis. With the defeat of these AQ-linked elements, Pindo imperialism has backed a new proxy ground force, the YPG/SDF. This in turn has heightened tensions with Turkey, which regards the YPG as an extension of the PKK. While forces loyal to the Syrian government of Assad have succeeded in restoring its control over most of the country, Faschingstein is determined to carve out its own zone of influence in order to continue military operations aimed at countering Russian and Iranian regional influence and pursuing its original aim of regime change. Regional tensions have been further stoked by the recent announcement of an agreement between Moscow and the Egyptian regime of Gen Sisi to allow Russia to base warplanes in Egypt. Following the publication of the NYT article, the Russian military issued a sharp response that included its own charges of Pindo warplanes threatening its aircraft in the same area of eastern Syria. A Russian armed forces spox accused Pindostan intervening to obstruct Russian airstrikes against ISIS positions. Maj-Gen I Konashenkov told the media:

Specifically, for example, on Nov 23, a pair of Russian Su-25 attack aircraft were on a mission to destroy a terrorist stronghold when a Pindo F-22 appeared in the sky. It started to fire off flares and deployed its air brakes as it simulated a dog fight. It was not until a super-maneuverable Su-35s fighter jet appeared that the Pindosi withdrew.

The Russian general mocked the Pentagon’s pretension that it had control over designated airspace in Syria, noting that Pindo forces were operating in the country completely illegally, without either UNSCR authorization or the permission of the Syrian government. He urged the Pindo military “to concentrate on the elimination of terrorists in Iraq rather than provoke air incidents” and charged:

Pindo operations in Syria focus on impeding Syrian government troops, and their major result has been that of destroying Raqqa along with the civilians.

In the midst of the charges and counter-charges between Faschingstein and Moscow over military operations in Syria, the former official spokesman for the SDF, Talal Silo, who defected to Turkey late last month, told Reuters that Pindostan had approved the evacuation of thousands of Daesh fighters from the besieged city Raqqa in October. He said that some 4,000 people were bused out of the city, all but about 500 of them Daesh fighters. Silo’s account confirmed an earlier report by the BBC quoting sources who participated in this exodus as stating that the convoy transporting the Daesh members along with large quantities of arms and ammunition, was some four miles long, including 50 trucks, 13 buses and 100 Daesh vehicles. Silo told Reuters that the claim by the Pentagon and its proxy forces that a fierce battle was taking place inside Raqqa “was all theater” designed to keep journalists away from the city during the evacuation. He said that Faschingstein’s support for the evacuation was driven by its determination to quickly end the Raqqa siege and redeploy the Kurdish militia and its Pindo SOF “advisers” to Deir ez-Zor province, the center of Syria’s oil and gas reserves as well as the country’s border with Iraq, to cut off the border and thereby disrupt Iranian influence by blocking its land access to Syria. In a separate interview with the Turkish media, Silo said that according to the Pindo plan, “the terrorists would go to al-Bukamal and prevent the regime’s advance.” He said that Raqqa was not the first time that Pindostan and its proxies had facilitated the escape of Daesh forces but the third. In the capture of Manbij in northern Aleppo province in 2016, he said, 2,000 Daesh members were evacuated. He said:

The SDF, Pindostan and Manbij Military Council provided security for Daesh members and allowed them to go towards Jarablus. This was the first agreement. Subsequently, during the siege of al-Tabqah on the Euphrates River, Pindostan and its vassals negotiated the evacuation of 500 Daesh fighters. In both cases, they were allowed to leave with their weapons and ammunition.

The testimony of Silo, who collaborated closely with topPindo boxtops and military commanders in Syria, is another damning exposure of the “war on terrorism.” Daesh, itself a product of Faschingstein’s intervention in the Middle East, has served as another instrument of Pindo military aggression aimed at asserting Pindo imperialist dominance over the oil-rich region.

we’re just waiting for the balloon to go up, actually

Pindostan wants world to isolate NK: What does that mean?
PBS Newshour, Dec 10 2017

FASCHINGSTEIN — When Pres Trump’s UN ambassador recently urged the world to sever diplomatic ties with NK, she was sketchy on the details. Should all embassies close? How about those providing the Pindos with intelligence from the largely inscrutable country? And what of Sweden, which helps with imprisoned Pindos? Haley’s recent call to action underscores the challenge for Pindostan as it tries to advance a non-military strategy for resolving the nuclear stand-off with NK. Isolating NK has been a central component of the Pindo plan, even though Faschingstein says it remains open to talks. Pindo boxtops contend that freezing out NK could drive Kim’s government to seek negotiations. Mark Tokola, a former #2 at the embassy in SK, said:

We do know they care a lot about their international reputation.

Trump’s team has chalked up some successes in narrowing NK’s diplomatic reach. Mexico, Peru, Italy, Spain, and Kuwait have expelled NK ambassadors from their countries. Haley said Portugal and the UAE have suspended diplomatic relations. Others have cut trade and security ties. But NK isn’t and won’t be completely isolated. Last month China, whose once close relationship with NK has been strained by its adoption of tough UN sanctions, sent its highest level envoy to Pyongyang in two years. NK also recently welcomed a Russian parliamentary delegation, in a sign of increasing contacts between the former Cold War partners. NK just hosted the most senior UN official to visit in years, Jeffrey Feltman, Under Sec-Gen for Political Affairs. Even before he departed, experts played down expectations that Feltman, a senior ex Pindo diplomat, could offer a breakthrough as the stand-off over NK’s nuclear weapons threatens to spiral into war. Feltman carried no message from Faschingstein, said State Dept spox Nauert, but Feltman’s visit, which included an audience with Kim’s foreign minister, added to questions about how Pindostan can effectively isolate NK. Feltman left Pyongyang on Saturday after four days of talks with the NK Foreign Ministry. When asked for details of his trip, he said:

I have to brief the Sec-Gen first.

Also unresolved is whether Trump and his top advisers have a game plan for the second half of a strategy they’ve called “maximum pressure and engagement.” If NK signals a willingness to negotiate, now that Kim has declared that he has “realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force,” how will Pindostan respond? Suzanne DiMaggio at the New Pindostan think-tank, who has been involved in several rounds of unofficial talks with NK boxtops, said:

This is probably as good a time as any to try to pivot to engagement. The administration has focused almost completely on pressure.

Kim’s declaration followed NK’s test last month of its most powerful ICBM yet, which led Haley, at an emergency UNSC meeting, to speak of a world “closer to war.” At the same time, she pushed for others to cut trade and diplomatic ties with Pyongyang. Pindo boxtops say doing so would stop NK from abusing diplomatic privileges that allow it to raise revenues or conduct illegal business in support of its nuclear and missile programs. It’s also intended to exploit NK sensitivity to its international standing. But Pindostan has given mixed messages on what form concretely the isolation should take. Haley called all governments to sever ties. Other Pindo boxtops say the emphasis is on getting NK diplomats expelled from overseas postings, not on closing foreign embassies in Pyongyang. To date, no embassies have shut down as a result of the campaign. NK maintains diplomatic relations with 167 countries. It has embassies in 47 foreign capitals. Twenty-four countries have embassies in Pyongyang. Artyom Lukin, an NK expert at Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, said:

If Pindostan is really serious about depriving NK of diplomatic relations, it must start with its own closest ally, Great Britain.

Since Pindostan has no diplomatic presence of its own in NK, it relies to some extent on Britain, Germany and other partners to stay abreast of what’s happening there. It needs Sweden, its protecting power, to assist three currently detained Pindos in NK. Any isolation campaign will have only marginal diplomatic and economic effect without the participation of NK’s most powerful partners, China and Russia. Both support more dialogue with NK, not more diplomatic sanctions. Even if only smaller countries follow its advice, Pindostan could lose potential go-betweens such as Vietnam and Mongolia which have constructive relations with both Pindostan and NK. Frank Jannuzi, a former Senate staff specialist on Asia, said:

If they left, I would be worried I was losing a source of information and a more neutral voice that NK might actually listen to.

Is Pindostan on the brink of nuclear war?
Andre Damon, WSWS, Dec 11 2017

In the thirteen days since NK tested an ICBM capable of reaching large portions of CONUS, Pindostan has further escalated its war threats.

  • On Thursday, ambassador to the UN Haley warned that Pindostan might not send athletes to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in SK, because it could not guarantee their safety in the event of a war.
  • Last Sunday, National Security advisor H R McMaster warned that the threat of war between Pindostan and NK is “increasing every day.”
  • That same day, SC Thug Sen Lindsey Graham warned that Pindostan is “getting close to a military conflict” with NK, and urged the military to remove the families of Pindo soldiers from SK.

These developments have been met with alarmed warnings from within the Pindo foreign policy establishment as well as international bodies.

  • On Friday, the WaPo published a chilling hypothetical narrative by Jeffrey Lewis entitled, “This is how nuclear war with NK would unfold.” Lewis spelled out in hair-raising detail a scenario in which “nearly 2 million Pindos, SKs and Japanese had died in the completely avoidable nuclear war of 2019.”
  • On Saturday, the NYT warned that the Trump administration’s rhetoric on NK increasingly resembles that of the Bush 43 administration in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The newspaper added, “Outside experts are increasingly concluding that the Trump administration’s threats may not be empty and that officials are seriously contemplating attacking NK and its nuclear weapons and missile arsenal.”
  • That same day, UNSC envoy Jeffrey Feltman issued a statement declaring: “After discussion with NK leaders, (both sides) concluded that the current situation is the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue in the world today, and time is of the essence.”
  • On Sunday, at a ceremony to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, representatives of the group warned that “mutual destruction” between Pindostan and NK “is only one impulsive tantrum away.”
  • On Sunday, George Will strongly hinted that a Pindo attack against NK would place the country in violation of international law, noting that “crimes against peace” formed the basis of the Nuremberg tribunal of Nazi war crimes. Will concluded: “The first two counts in the indictments at the 1946 Nuremberg trials concerned waging aggressive war.”

Such statements underscore the profound unease and concern with which large sections of the Pindo and international foreign policy establishment view a potential war with NK. As opposed to the successive wars waged against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, Pindostan has no international supporters in a potential war against NK. It is operating increasingly outside of the framework of international law, with flagrant indifference to the mandates of the UN and the consensus of its erstwhile vassals. The administration’s critics within the political establishment believe that a war against NK would be an unmitigated disaster for Pindostan in every conceivable scenario, involving the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians at a minimum, on both sides of the NK border. Such a war would shatter whatever remains of Faschingstein’s standing on the international arena, rendering it a pariah state. Its increasingly bellicose stance toward NK, which threatens to engulf it in a war far more disastrous than even the invasion of Iraq, has been a leading driver of speculation over the possibility of a White House palace coup. In an article published in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, Scott D Sagan warns that averting a potentially disastrous war with NK may present a substantial impetus for removing Trump from office by sections of the military. Sagan notes:

In some ways, the Pindo standoff with NK is even more dangerous than the Cuban Missile crisis, when strong civilian leaders countered the military’s dangerously hawkish instincts. But now, it is the senior political leadership in Pindostan that has made reckless threats, and it has fallen to Sec Def Mattis (a former general) and senior military officers to serve as the voices of prudence. If senior military leaders believe at any time that Trump is impaired, they have a duty to contact Mattis, who should then call for an emergency cabinet meeting to determine whether Trump is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office and thus whether to invoke the 25th Amendment.

While no-one should underestimate the danger of such a military coup, the idea that the military leadership would somehow serve to check the Trump administration’s drive to war in the Pacific is wishful thinking. Mad Dog Mattis has threatened genocide against NK, warning that a war could lead to the “destruction of its people.” National Security Advisor H R McMaster has likewise stated that Pindostan is prepared to launch a “preventive” (unprovoked) war against NK. As Pindostan faces an unprecedented acceleration of the breakdown of its post-war hegemony, the possibility exists that it may go to war simply to make good on the Trump administration’s threats. Meanwhile, the mounting talk of removing Trump from office through impeachment, forced resignation or the invocation of the 25th Amendment increases the pressure on the administration to seek through war a solution to the domestic political crisis gripping Pindostan. All of this underscores the immense danger posed by the Pindo nuclear stand-off. While there exist factional differences within the Pindo ruling elite over the advisability of a war with NK, there is no antiwar faction within the ruling elite. The policy demanded by those factions opposing Trump, an escalation of the conflict with Russia, poses its own danger of an escalation into all-out world war. Far from warning of the mounting danger of war, the Demagog Party has spent the last two weeks intensifying its campaign over the Trump administration’s alleged collusion with Russia. It is simultaneously working to corrupt public consciousness with its witch-hunt against “sexual misconduct” in Hollywood and on Capitol Hill, aimed at rallying an upper-middle-class constituency for its conflict with the Trump administration. The only social force capable of averting a catastrophic third world war is the international working class. This social force must be mobilized into a mass international antiwar movement, on the basis of a socialist program aimed at putting an end to war and the capitalist system that creates it.

the INF treaty does in fact include cruise missiles

Pindostan Demands NATO Action on Russian Missiles
Matthias Gebauer, Christoph Schult, Klaus Wiegrefe, Der Spiegel, Dec 8 2017

When NATO’s Nuclear Planning Group assembles, the highest level of classification is applied: “Cosmic Top Secret.” Even defense ministers from the alliance are required to turn in their mobile phones before entering the small, windowless meeting room at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels. Aside from the ministers, only a few advisers are allowed in. A frequent participant describes the atmosphere in the nuclear meetings as reverential, “almost like in a church.” There’s no chumminess on display and no jokes are made. Another military man says:

The focus is on nuclear deterrence, the holy grail of the alliance in a manner of speaking. Everybody keeps a straight face and sits up straight.

Such was the atmosphere four weeks ago when the group gathered to hear carefully prepared remarks from Mad Dog Mattis. He had shared material with alliance partners through their intelligence agencies, and that material was enough to ensure that the meeting would be a sensitive one. According to evidence gathered by Pindo intelligence, Russia is in the process of secretly deploying nuclear-armed medium-range ballistic missiles. The comments Mattis delivered in the meeting pertained to an issue that Pindostan has been concerned about for several years. For some time, Washington has believed that Russia is in violation of the INF Treaty, which bans medium-range nuclear missiles. With the help of satellite imagery, Pindostan believes it is able for the first time to prove that Moscow has developed a new ground-launched, nuclear-capable cruise missile known as the SSC-8. Faschingstein claims to have observed at least two operational units outfitted with the cruise missiles. Should Pindo information prove accurate, it would be a severe blow to one of the pillars of European security, the INF Treaty signed 30 years ago by Gorbachev and Reagan and called for the destruction of all ground-based launch systems for nuclear warheads with a range of between 500 and 5,000 km. An entire category of weapons was eliminated at the stroke of a pen. It was a milestone of disarmament. As early as 2016, at the NATO summit in Warsaw, the alliance announced:

We call on Russia to preserve the viability of the INF Treaty through ensuring full and verifiable compliance.

Just over a year later, Pindo patience seems to have run out and they are no longer satisfied with simple appeals. Faschingstein has now issued its allies an ultimatum: By the alliance summit in the summer of 2018, Mattis said, NATO must find a common position on forcing the Russians to return to INF Treaty compliance, with coercion if necessary. Should NATO prove unable to agree on a course of action including possible punitive measures, Mattis threatened, Pindostan will push ahead on its own. One NATO diplomat said:

What it would mean for Pindostan to go it alone under a White House led by Donald Trump is something nobody wants to think about.

Not all alliance members agree that sufficient proof exists of Russia’s alleged violation of the treaty. To protect their own sources and methods, the Pindos declined to share all the details with their vassals. In the meeting, Mad Dog pointed out that other NATO member states have also obtained intelligence pertaining to the Russian developments, something Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis confirmed in comments to Der Spiegel. He said in a statement:

Russian deployment of IRMs in violation of the INF Treaty has been confirmed by the Allied intelligence sources.

The German government considers the Pindo intelligence material to be credible but that final proof is still lacking, said a source in Berlin. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said:

We take the indications of a possible violation extremely seriously. It is primarily up to Russia to clear up the doubts about its adherence to the treaty in dialogue with Pindostan and NATO.

Berlin has placed great hopes in a mid-December meeting of the Special Verification Commission, a forum for looking into potential compliance issues. It is unclear whether the Russians will even comment on possible treaty violations. Earlier meetings of the commission have produced no results. It has slowly become clear why Pindostan. has had such difficulty providing final proof of the alleged violations. Tapped phone calls and money transfers are sufficient to show that the Russians are investing in new missile technology. But simply developing mid-range rockets or ballistic missiles isn’t forbidden under the treaty. It is known that the Russians have modified a sea-launched system and tested it on land. That would be prohibited under the INF Treaty, but only if the missile tested was able to fly further than 500 km. That is the claim that Pindostan is making, and it has presented information that allegedly backs up that claim. With the help of satellite imagery, Pindostan believes it has determined how large the new, nuclear-armed missiles are, and the longer the cruise missile used, the further it can fly. Even as NATO remains unclear as to the military importance of the new missile’s development, member states agree that it represents a violation of trust. How, though, should the alliance react? With pressure or with dialogue?

For several months, a “non-paper” has been circulating among member states in which more than three dozen responses to a possible treaty violation are listed. The more moderate responses are marked in green while the more severe are in orange. Among the latter are such measures as a higher level of readiness, a more frequent rotation of nuclear-capable B-2 bombers or an upgrade of NATO’s missile defense systems. But it is the red-marked options toward the end of the paper that read like horror scenarios to many Europeans. One option calls for Pindostan to develop new medium-range missiles itself. For the missiles to have the desired deterrent effect on Russia, they would have to be stationed in Europe, just like during the Cold War. A joint signal needs to be sent that a Russian violation of the treaty comes with a military price, says an adviser to Mad Dog in Brussels. It would be the beginning of a new arms race. And it would mean a return to the logic of the Cold War. When it was passed, the INF Treaty was a clear sign that the Cold War confrontation between the East and the West had come to an end. It may only have been signed by the Soviets and Pindostan, but it was aimed at protecting the entire European continent. The signing in 1987 was also a product of the NATO Double-Track Decision. In reaction to the Soviet deployment of SS-20 missiles, Pindostan stationed Pershing II and other cruise missiles in Europe, but coupled the move with an offer to the Soviet Union to discuss the elimination of this category of weaponry. Should the Pindosis be seriously considering stationing medium-range missiles in Europe, it would put Germany in an extremely difficult position. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest the NATO Double-Track decision in the early 1980s, and in the end it cost Chancellor Helmut Schmidt his job. A nuclear rearmament would divide German society even more today.

But even as the Pindos and Eastern Europeans continue discussing appropriate counter-measures, Russia’s motives remain unclear. Pindo hardliners claim that Moscow is preparing for a possible invasion of the Baltic states by Russian troops. The SSC-8 would then prevent the British, Germans or French from coming to the aid of their Lithuanian or Latvian allies. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Pindo Joint Chiefs of Staff, though, has rejected that theory. He doesn’t see Moscow gaining “any kind of advantage in Europe” with the SSC-8. It is known, though, that the Russians have asked Faschingstein several times since 2005 about jointly agreeing to withdraw from the INF Treaty. Their argument is that it only applies to the two former superpowers, and not to others in Russia’s immediate neighborhood, like China or Pakistan. The Pindos have always said no. Nevertheless, there are also those in Washington who regard the INF Treaty as unnecessary self-restraint. Republican critics of Russia, such as the hawkish senator Tom Cotton or former representative Mike Rogers, are openly suggesting that nuclear rearmament would be good for U.S. security – and for its defense industry. They regard the INF Treaty as a hindrance – when it comes, for example, to developing new weapons for Prompt Global Strike, the effort to develop a system that would allow Washington to strike anywhere in the world within an hour. The justification for the program is that it would help the U.S. military to fight global terrorism. And cruise missiles are on the wish list. And then there is the weapons race with China. In April, Admiral Harry Harris, head of PACOM, said:

I’m sympathetic to disarmament, but I still find it problematic that the INF Treaty limits our ability to counter Chinese and other countries’ cruise missiles, land-based missiles.

Congress backed the 2018 defense budget with a large majority, a budget that earmarks $58m for the development of land-based cruise missiles. While that would not contravene the INF Treaty, it would be a first step in that direction. Faschingstein first has to persuade its European allies. The AEI has already demanded that the Pindosi government intensify its “public diplomacy,” writing:

It is important to highlight Russian exercises, threats and violations of the INF Treat, to generate the political and public support necessary to support rearmament.

But why would allies trust the erratic Trump with nuclear weapons in Europe? Even fellow Thug Tom Corker fears he could start a third world war. Regardless of Trump, nuclear diplomacy is particularly treacherous. Jimmy Carter once tried to convince the Europeans of the necessity of a Pindosi decision regarding the production of nuclear weapons, and managed to turn everyone against Faschingstein. The issue raises many questions that are basically impossible to resolve. If the Europeans were to agree to the stationing of mid-range weapons, would they then also have a say when it came to choosing targets and launching them? Who exactly makes the decision about their use? That is why the German government is showing extreme care on the issue. This week, the Pindosis had wanted to see the NATO council issue a statement including a sharp rebuke of Russia for breaching the INF Treaty, but Berlin took the lead in ensuring that the alliance did not adopt an official position on the issue and the statement ended up in the garbage bin. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned this week at a foreign policy event in Berlin against a “Cold War 2.0,” saying:

The Russians and the Pindosis are in the process of undermining the disarmament successes of the 1980s. We could be facing the immediate danger of another, perhaps even nuclear, arms race.

Other vassals, particularly the Baltic States, do not share these concerns. Karoblis, the Lithuanian defense minister, said:

Russia’s sabotage of the INF Treaty is a serious challenge posed by the Russian Federation to security on the European continent. It is a challenge which NATO will have to address through diplomatic and military measures.

And with that, the Russian president would seem to have achieved one of his most important goals: dividing NATO.

shi’a solidarity with iran

Shia Militias In Iraq Threaten Us And Israel After Jerusalem Move
Seth J Frantzman, JPost, Dec 9 2017

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the Iranian-backed Shia militia Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, is using a new Arabic hashtag on Twitter. On Tuesday, in the run-up to Trump’s decision, he tweeted:

Jerusalem is Palestine’s capital. Trump would not have dared to think of moving the Pindo Embassy without Toad-led Arab normalization.

Khazali’s statement is one example of anger in Shia militia circles in Iraq. Khazali was imprisoned in Iraq in 2007. He was released in 2009 and since then he has risen in influence in Baghdad, along with his militia. His fighters played a role in the liberation of areas around Mosul from Daesh and in Baghdad’s recovery of Kirkuk from the KRG in October. Since 2016, his militia, which is part of the broader Hashd al-Sha’abi or Popular Mobilization Forces, has been part of the Iraqi security forces. In October, when Rex Tillerson encouraged Iraq to disband the militias, Khazali threatened Pindostan and told Pindos to “go home.” After Trump’s speech, Khazali tweeted on Thursday:

Trump’s decision considering Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity is the beginning of the end for the racist Israeli project.

His hashtag on this tweet was blunt: “Everyone kill Israel.” He called on all countries in the Middle East to close their Pindo embassies, saying: “Mere condemnations and denunciations are laughable.” On Thursday, Muqtada al-Sadr gave a speech threatening Israel, saying: “We could reach its border through Syria.” He called upon the Arab League to adopt a “Jihad position” against Trump’s decision. Sadr also said that if Iraqi militias were ready to fight Pindostan, than “we will be the first soldiers.” Since then, his activists have taken to the streets of Sadr City in Baghdad, chanting “No! No Pindostan!” According to a tweet by human rights activist Lawk Ghafuri, Pindo flags were burned and protesters chanted: “Trump is the sponsor of terrorism.” In a speech, the PLO Ambassador to Iraq appeared to support action by Baghdad against Israel, claiming:

Palestine and Jerusalem were liberated four times by Iraqis throughout history.

In his speech he referenced Saladin during the Crusades, and the Babylonian invasion in the 6th century BCE. According to a Twitter account linked to the PMF’s media office, former Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki called Trump’s decision a “declaration of war.” And at the same time that Shi’ite militias in Iraq have threatened Pindostan and Israel, Kurdish voices have taken to social media to support recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Reacting to claims in Iraq that a new “Saladin” would emerge to lead the battle against Israel and Pindostan, Yadgar Ismail reminded Twitter:

The people of Saladin are denied their rights in your artificial state.

Saladin was Kurdish, and Ismail pointed out that Kurds are being denied their identity and self-governance. The Twitter account “Kurdistan army” also wondered about the hypocrisy of those in the Middle East who consider Jerusalem occupied when “they have occupied Greater Kurdistan since the Sykes-Picot Agreement.” Similarly, Mohammed A Salih said that Iraqis had been silent when the “Kurdistan Jerusalem” of Kirkuk was occupied, but were angered about Jerusalem. Dilman Abdulkader, a researcher on Kurdish studies, wrote:

Kurdistan’s Jerusalem Kirkuk was Arabized and invaded by Iran with permission of Iraq and Turkey. All Kurds must support Israel with their capital, Jerusalem.

The general sentiment among Kurds is that it is hypocritical for voices in Baghdad to be outraged about Jerusalem and Palestinian rights while ignoring Kurdish rights. They understand the Israeli struggle for Jerusalem as similar to their own struggle for Kirkuk and for independence in the face of Arab nationalism and Iran’s theocratic regime.

Powerful Iraqi militia leader appears on Lebanon-Israel border
AP, Dec 9 2017

Qais_Khazali_02-300x480

BEIRUT — A powerful Iran-backed Iraqi militia commander has visited the Lebanon-Israel border expressing support for the Lebanese and Palestinians against the Jewish state. Qais al-Khazali, of the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a group that staged major attacks against Pindo troops before their withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, appeared in military uniform in a video while touring the border with Israel along with members of Hezbollah. The visit was blasted by PM Saad Hariri, who said in a statement that it was a violation of Lebanese law, adding that it happened six days ago. Hariri ordered that al-Khazaali be banned from entering Lebanon again. The video was aired by Asaib Ahl al-Haq al-Ahd TV station Thursday night.

who doesn’t belong where?

Liberman Calls for Boycott of Arab Citizens: ‘They Don’t Belong Here’
Jack Khoury, Haaretz, Dec 10 2017

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday said that Israeli Arab residents of the Wadi Ara region “do not belong to the State of Israel” and should be boycotted. Lieberman was commenting on the hundreds who rioted along Route 65 in northern Israel on Saturday. The residents of the Wadi Ara region should be boycotted, Lieberman told Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) in an interview on Sunday morning.

They should understand that they are not wanted here, they are not part of us! They have no connection to this country! What is happening in Wadi Ara is intolerable, so I am calling for a boycott of Wadi Ara! Don’t go there and don’t buy there! They need to understand that it is impossible to demonstrate with Hezbollah flags, Palestinian flags and pictures of Nasrallah! To accept billions from the National Insurance and to also destroy us from within!

Also commenting on the riots, in response to a question of whether he was disappointed by the developments following Trump’s decision, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said:

Even if we knew there would be some friction, I recommend to Israeli Arabs, and to those Arabs who are rioting, not to test our patience.

He also delivered the same warning to Hamas:

I think we are nearing the end of this incident, and certainly it was a strategic step that is very important to Israel, and I am pleased about it.

Some protesters along Route 65 attacked a passing bus with rocks and injured three passengers. Some 200 people blocked the main highway at the Arara junction. After the demonstrations, a number of protesters threw rocks at police cars and other vehicles. Police arrested two residents of Arara, one a minor and the other an adult, on suspicions of throwing rocks at cars. At the same time, hundreds of Palestinians also protested and rioted in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. In the West Bank, protestors burned tires, threw fire bombs and rocks at IOF troops. In the Gaza Strip, some 450 people protested in eight locations along the border fence with Israel. They burned tires, threw rocks at the fence and at IOF troops. The Palestinians reported on 140 people injured in the confrontations. When asked by the interviewer whether he was making generalizations about all the Arab residents of the area, Lieberman said:

It seems you don’t live in Israel! I saw thousands at that funeral of the terrorists in Umm al-Fahm! It was thousands, and I heard those sermons in the mosques, in all of them, sermons of incitement by those so-called spiritual leaders!

In another radio interview on Reshet Bet on Sunday morning, Lieberman made similar comments:

Formally, the residents of Wadi Ara are Israeli citizens, but they are not a part of Israel and must be part of the Palestinian Authority.

He later repeated his call for a boycott of businesses in Wadi Ara. The chairman of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, responded to Lieberman’s comments by saying:

Liberman is a representative of the dark fascist regime of Netanyahu’s extreme right-wing government. The call to boycott citizens just because of their national and religious origin reminds one of the darkest regimes in human history. The thought that such a person is responsible for the security of the country should worry every rational citizen.

MK Yusef Jabarin (Joint List) said:

The protest of the Arabs is a legitimate protest, and we have not heard the Minister call to boycott Haredim or Ethiopians who blocked roads in the demonstrations they held.

Mohammed Barakeh, chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, former MK and leader of Hadash, said:

Every protest by the Arab community is considered a security incident. I did not see tear gas grenades at the demonstrations by the disabled.

white paranoia

China’s top paper says Australian media reports are racist
Reuters, Dec 11 2017

BEIJING – Australian media reports on Chinese interference in Australia are racist and paranoid, China’s top newspaper said on Monday, stepping up a war of words over concerns in Australia about Chinese influence in the country. Australian PM Turnbull said last week he took reports very seriously that China’s Communist Party had sought to interfere in his country. Turnbull said that foreign powers were making “unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated attempts to influence the political process” in Australia and the world. He cited “disturbing reports about Chinese influence.” The Chinese government has already protested the remarks, and on Monday the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily stepped up the attacks, writing in a commentary:

The reports in Australian media have been full of imagination, making baseless attacks on the Chinese government and have maliciously slandered Chinese students and people living in Australia. This type of hysterical paranoia has racist undertones, and is a stain on Australia’s image as a multicultural society. China has no intention of interfering in Australian politics or using financial contributions to curry influence. China is Australia’s largest trading partner. The two countries have no historical enmity or conflicts over each others’ basic interests and can absolutely forge good relations. China urges the Australian government and media to cast aside political prejudice and bigotry and stick to the principle of using the facts in handling issues of relations with China.

The commentary was published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng,” meaning “Voice of China,” which is often used to give the paper’s view on foreign policy issues. China’s soft power has come under renewed focus last week after a politician from Australia’s opposition Labor party was demoted from government having been found to have warned a prominent Chinese business leader and Communist Party member that his phone was being tapped by intelligence authorities. In June, Fairfax Media and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on a concerted campaign by China to “infiltrate” Australian politics to promote Chinese interests. Turnbull has vowed to ban foreign political donations to curb external influence in domestic politics.

brain in a sling

The Delusions of the Ruling Elite and the Journalists Who Feed Them
Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam (Blog), Dec 9 2017

Talking heads: David Makovsky and Aaron David Miller

In the aftermath of Trump’s disastrous recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the spin from Washington and Riyadh, and the journalists and think-tank analysts only too eager be spun, has been outrageous. The level of sheer delusion is stupendous. This post will offer an anatomy of delusion and why it means only more suffering and bloodshed for both Arabs and Israelis. The NYT, ever the newspaper of record for the élite and their paid emissaries, purports to debate whether the two-state solution remains viable in light of Trump’s seeming endorsement of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem. Who does Mark Landler quote as sources? Why, think-tank talking heads who earn their keep from the Israel Lobby and its donors. Landler quotes no less than four sources affiliated with Lobby, all of whom endorse a two-state solution. And none of whom have ever offered any serious analysis or balanced discussion of the one-state solution: Martin Indyk, David Makovsky, Scott Anderson, and Daniel Levy. How many Palestinian or Arab sources does he quote? One, Saeb Erekat. And he doesn’t quote anything original from Erekat. He merely quotes statements the Palestinian made to other media outlets. He begins:

Erekat … a steadfast advocate for a Palestinian state, said in an interview on Thursday that Mr Trump and PM Netanyahu “have managed to destroy that hope.” He embraced a radical shift in the PLO’s goals: to a single state, but with Palestinians enjoying the same civil rights as Israelis, including the vote. He said: “They’ve left us with no option. This is the reality. We live here. Our struggle should focus on one thing: equal rights.”

Once Landler lays this out, he must debunk it immediately. And he does:

Mr Erekat’s change of heart is unlikely to change Palestinian policy. The dream of a Palestinian state is too deeply ingrained in a generation of its leaders for the Palestinian Authority to abandon it now. Israel would be unlikely to accede to equal rights, because granting a vote to millions of Palestinians would eventually lead to the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

Who is a NYT reporter who knows little about what Palestinians believe, to say that a two-state solution is “too deeply ingrained” to be abandoned? And note who he points to as the arbiters of what Palestinians accept or believe? “Leaders,” by whom he means the doddering old kleptocratic octogenarians who have sold out the Palestinian cause for decades. Landler makes no attempt to reach out to Palestinian activists or academics or indigenous NGOs who know much better what the Palestinian street is thinking. Does Landler think that only leaders matter? Does he think leaders this corrupt and out of touch can merely wave a magic wand and four million Palestinians will follow them like the Pied Piper of Hamelin? Further, why would Israel’s objections to “equal rights” and a one-state solution be a reason this doesn’t become the eventual resolution of the issue? Why do we assume that Israel will always be calling the shots? Did Serbia call the shots regarding Kosovo or Bosnia after NATO intervened? Why does the resistance of a nation which threatens to take the entire region to the brink of Armageddon become an immovable obstacle? The sheer chutzpah of such an assumption is enormous. Later, the article offers the administration’s rebuttal of the Palestinian perspective on Trump’s proclamation:

Administration officials strenuously reject the argument that Mr Trump has foreclosed a two-state solution … He studiously avoided taking a position on the eventual borders or sovereignty of Jerusalem.

That is either an ignorant or disingenuous statement. When you recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem (not over “west Jerusalem” as Trump could have said) and you omit any reference to Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem, then you’ve taken a crystal clear position on borders and sovereignty. You’ve said Israel has sovereignty and the Palestinians don’t. If you believe otherwise, you’re a fool or a villain (or both). Then Landler chimes in with an affirmation of Trump’s claims of even-handedness:

Beyond the president’s words, there were other signs he is serious about his intentions. On the same day that he signed his name with a John Hancock-like flourish to a proclamation recognizing Jerusalem as the capital, he quietly signed another document that will delay the move of the American Embassy to the city for at least six months, and probably much longer.

How does Trump’s recognition that he can’t immediately move the embassy for a thousand logistical reasons equate to Trump being “serious in his intentions” to be fair and balanced in weighing the claims of Palestinians? Should Palestinians view the delay in moving the embassy as a gift to them? Something that has any real benefit or meaning to them? At this point, Landler gives voice to his first pro-Israel talking head, Martin Indyk, who makes this blindingly astute observation:

Avoiding a move of the embassy is a way of avoiding geographic definition. Avoiding any geographic definition of their recognition of Jerusalem looks like their effort to keep the peace process alive.

More talking heads: Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk

It’s hardly much of an affirmation by Indyk of Trump’s peace process. But he does seem to believe that by not moving the embassy, Pindostan believes it’s offered the Palestinians something. When of course, it’s nothing and will have no value to any Palestinian. Landler’s coup de grâce in terms of marshalling pro-Israel analysts is David Makovsky. And his comments have to be read to be believed:

Some long-time Middle East observers said Mr Erekat’s talk of a one-state solution reflected anger rather than a watershed change in the Palestinian position. Given Israel’s probable rejection of equal rights, Pindosi and Israeli supporters of a two-state solution said that option, for all intents and purposes, remained the only game in town. David Makovsky of WINEP said: “I don’t want to minimize the hurt the Palestinians feel, but there was a duality to Trump’s message that has gotten lost.” Mr Trump, he said, was not closing the door to negotiations on borders and sovereignty. “Both parts should be heard,” he said. While he questioned the timing of the move, he said the Palestinians could return to the table when tempers cool. He said: “Right now their anger is such that they probably can’t hear this, but if he presents a plan in the first quarter, are you not going to want to hear what it is? The Palestinians still think Trump’s enough of a bulldozer that if he gave something to the Israelis on a Wednesday, he’s capable of giving something to the Palestinians on a Thursday.”

It’s quite amazing that a pro-Israel shill like Makovsky who knows the two-state solution is dead and knows that no one in power in Israel or Pindostan believes in it, can still sell a journalist like Landler a bill of goods. And note that Landler only quotes analysts who support a two-state solution and a PLO official who also has supported it till now. There are no sources here offering an alternative point of view. None. Which means this article is journalism in bad faith, whether the reporters who compiled it were aware of this bias or not. Note that the strongest adjective Makovsky can muster to describe Palestinians emotions is “hurt.” Hurt is when you skin your knee or sprain your pinkie. What Trump did to Palestinians is more like a shot to the gut, a paralyzing blow that deprives them of any hope and drives them into the arms of radical extremists. I also like Makovsky’s assurance that Palestinians will return to talks once their hot-headed tempers cool down. Those pesky Palestinians always let their tribal emotions get the better of them. If they could only realize they have no choice. That what Trump offers is as good as they’re going to get. Then they’d get down to business. The sheer ignorance of Makovsky assuming that the Palestinians will have natural curiosity about Trump’s offer and want to come back to the table to hear it is amazing. Why would Palestinians care what Trump offered them? Why would they attribute any value to it given his current and past statements? And just what does Makovsky believe Trump is going to give the Palestinians on that proverbial Thursday? Finally, Landler ends his piece quoting the “liberal” pundit of the bunch, the guy the reporter probably feels covers his bases on the left, Daniel Levy. The only problem is that Levy isn’t “on the left.” He’s a liberal Zionist, neither progressive or leftist. And Levy too supports a two-state solution. So where is the diversity of opinion this subject demands? Daniel Levy is quoted as follows:

It’s hard to see how you can go down that route without at some stage divesting yourself of a semblance of a self-governing authority. You’ve got to call time on the Palestinian Authority, which never became a state. The peace process and the Palestinians are in a transitional period. The two-state solution has failed for now, but what people have done can be undone.

Got that? Two states are dead “for now” but not forever. That should give Palestinians hope that at some point in the vague future we men of good faith can revive it, or rather pull it out of the dustheap of failed Middle East plans, dust it off, and pretend it’s as good as new. And what does Levy mean “what’s done can be undone?” How do you undo the death of thousands? How do you undo fierce rage against a sociopathic Pindo president and his narcissistic Toad and Israeli Jew buddies who believe they can put the Palestinians on ice and ignore their legitimate claims to land, rights and nation? Speaking of the Toads, this Reuters story conveys the views of the ruling Crown Prince on these matters. If anything, they’re even more delusional than Trump or Netanyahu’s views. Before I offer a sampling, it’s worth hearing about the plan Trump is offering, and which the Toads are endorsing:

As told to Abbas, the proposal included establishing “a Palestinian entity” in Gaza as well as the West Bank administrative areas A and B and 10% of area C, which contains Jewish settlements, a third Palestinian official said. Jewish settlements in the West Bank would stay, there would be no right of return, and Israel would remain responsible for the borders, he said. The proposal appears to differ little from existing arrangements in the West Bank, widening Palestinian control but falling far short of their minimum national demands.

A Palestinian entity. Not even a state. And even if someone wanted to call it a state, it wouldn’t be. It would be a bantustan of Palestinian villages surrounded by massive Israeli settlements. If the proposal essentially ratifies a rotten status quo, why would any Palestinian be willing to accept it? Here is the real zinger, displaying the absolute cluelessness of the Toads involved with this charade. A Toad source said he believed that despite everything, an understanding on Israeli-Palestinian peace would begin to emerge in the coming weeks. The source said, of Trump:

Do not underestimate the businessman in him. He has always called it the ultimate deal. I don’t think our government is going to accept that unless it has something sweetened in the pipeline which they could sell to the Arab world: that the Palestinians would have their own state.

In other words, because Trump offers some blather about an ultimate deal, but refuses to offer the Palestinians any details other than assure them it would be something they would like, then we’re to assume that it would be sweet enough for MbS to sell (the Toad’s apt words, not mine) to the Palestinians. I don’t know who’s worse, Trump or MbS. It’s worse than the blind leading the blind. It’s the deaf, dumb and blind leading the deaf, dumb and blind. The Reuters article too suffers from a surfeit of sources who cynically ratify the status quo and the consensus as defined by the Middle East and Beltway elites. They quote Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institution, who wrote in an article published in The Atlantic:

If Toad boxtops, including the crown prince himself, were particularly concerned with Jerusalem’s status, they would presumably have used their privileged status as a top Trump ally and lobbied the administration to hold off on such a needlessly toxic move. It’s unlikely Trump would have followed through if the Toads had drawn something resembling a red line.

Even if this is true, and it very possibly is, why doesn’t anyone bother to say the obvious: that if the Toads wish to betray the Palestinians and abandon their role as guardians of the region’s Muslim holy places, including Jerusalem, they themselves will be abandoned by the Arab and Muslim world.  Why do the eminences grises think that the Toads can act in any way they choose without paying any consequences in terms of regional influence? In truth, the Toads will make themselves irrelevant if they force this deal down the Palestinians’ throats. They will force those Palestinians who reject it to turn to Iran and Hezbollah. They will turn Hamas into leaders of the Palestinian resistance after the PA has abandoned its responsibility to defend Palestinian rights. Even those Sunni states like Jordan or Egypt who might feel compelled to go along with the Toad plan, will do so with tepid enthusiasm, and at the first sign of failure, they will bolt from the stables like horses staring at a forest fire. Leaving MbS alone with Trump and Netanyahu, who by then may be long gone as prime minister, perhaps even behind bars.

all kinds of mayhem post trump j’lem claim

Rioting Protesters Breach US Embassy Gates In Beirut, Repelled By Tear Gas And Water Cannon
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Dec 10 2017

Hundreds of protesters in Lebanon faced off with security forces outside the Pindo Embassy in Beirut on Sunday over Pres Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Protesters waving Palestinian flags threw projectiles, smoke grenades, set fires in the street, and even breached a section of the gate to the embassy before being turned away by security forces who used tear gas and a water cannon to disperse the crowd. Several protesters were detained. Pindo and Israeli flags were burned along with an effigy of Trump, according to Reuters.

On Friday, the embassy warned people to be cautious in a statement, saying:

Pindo Embassy Beirut is aware that several groups have announced public protests following the Pindo announcement of a new policy with regard to the status of Jerusalem. Demonstrations have the potential to become violent. Pindo Embassy Beirut reminds Pindo citizens of the need for caution and awareness of personal security. We urge Pindo citizens to avoid all protests.

The head of the Lebanese Communist Party, Hanna Gharib, called Pindostan “the enemy of Palestine,” and the embassy “a symbol of imperialist aggression.” Ahmad Mustafa of the DFLP said:

We came to say to the Pindo Embassy that it is an embassy of aggression and that Jerusalem is Arab and will stay Arab!

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Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem has set off a firestorm in the Arab world and upset Western vassals, who have denounced the decision, saying it is a blow to peace efforts and risks further volatility in the Middle East. A Sunday meeting of foreign ministers of Arab League countries called for a UNSCR condemning Trump’s decision. Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, chief of the Arab League, said:

We have taken a political decision not meant to reflect the streets. Political work is responsible work. … Jerusalem has been occupied for 50 years. This is an extended battle, a battle that will be escalated.

Reuters reports:

The government of Lebanon, which hosts about 450,000 Palestinian refugees, has condemned Trump’s decision. Lebanese Pres Aoun last week called the move a threat to regional stability. Hezbollah on Thursday said it backed calls for a new Intifada against Israel in response to the Pindo decision. Nasrallah also called for a protest against the decision in the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut on Monday.

Lebanon’s PM, Saad Hariri, meanwhile tweeted that Beirut had the “utmost solidarity with the Palestinian people, as well as their “right to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

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Meanwhile in Jerusalem, a Palestinian terrorist was arrested on Sunday for reportedly stabbing a security guard. Spox tweeted that the security guard was seriously injured, and the man who did it was among over 20 people arrested in the incident.

Thousands of people in the predominantly Muslim city of Jakarta, Indonesia protested Trump’s decision in solidarity with the Palestinians, according to AFP, while hundreds of Israeli Arabs also took to a major highway in the Wadi area of northern Israel, damaging several vehicles and leaving several people wounded, according to AP.

erdogan & bibi: pissing contest

Bibi & Erdogan trade insults
AFP, Dec 10 2017

ISTANBUL – Relations between Israel and Turkey took a bitter turn Sunday as their leaders traded accusations of involvement in terrorism, days after the Pindo recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Pres Erdogan said he would fight against the controversial declaration, describing Israel as a “terrorist state” that kills children, in a speech in Istanbul. Hours later, PM Netanyahu hit back, calling his counterpart a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers and supports terrorists, during an official visit to Paris. Erdogan said in a speech in the central Turkish city of Sivas:

Palestine is an innocent victim! … As for Israel, it is a terrorist state! Yes, terrorist! We will not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children!

Erdogan earlier described the status of Jerusalem as a “red line” for Muslims. Netanyahu was quick to counter the assault when he spoke later during a press conference alongside Pres Macron (who had just finished delivering his own more polite reproofs – RB). He said:

I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran go around international sanctions, and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people! That is not the man who is going to lecture us!

The Israeli premier’s comments were immediately denounced by Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, who said:

Instead of taking on our country and our leader, the Israeli authorities would do better to end their occupation of the Palestinian territories!

Erdogan has called a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Wednesday. On Sunday he said regarding the Pindo recognition of Jerusalem:

We will show that applying the measure will not be as easy as all that!

During his speech, Erdogan held a picture of what he said was a 14-year-old Palestinian boy from Hebron being dragged away by Israeli soldiers.