Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Libya, Syria, the EU and Russia: Follow the Energy

As President Trump was welcoming Saad Hariri, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, a tiny country borering Israel to the west, that is hosting thousands of Syrian refugees, the new young, energetic French President was stepping on Italian toes by holding meetings in Libya, Rome's April meeting having failed to move peace forward.
The Italians are furious at being upstaged by France, perhaps overlooking the fact that if Macron’s initiative succeeds, it could help stem the flow of migrants into Europe. Currently, Italy can only complain that France and Spain refuse to open their ports to the loaded boats, which continue to discharge their passengers in Sicily.
Although Europe has been unable to cooperate to stem the flow of migrants provoked by US policies in the Middle East and Africa, with the US adding insult to injury by trying to get the EU to impose new sanctions on Russia, its leader, Germany, has finally ceased to play the obedient vassal. According to its Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, US demands that the EU increase sanctions on Russia are aimed at making way for the US to ship its own gas to Europe via the Nordstream 2 pipeline.
Rather than actually punishing Russia for its supposed interference in the U.S. elections, he said, the new sanctions are aimed at sidelining Russian gas supplies to Europe.” Most importantly, he declared his “ardent support for a de-escalation of relations between Europe and Russia.”
Why can we not dare to lay a new foundation for disarmament and arms control, instead of rushing into a giant arms race?” Gabriel asked, in an interview with the German magazine Focus, reminding its readers of Willy Brandt’s policies of detente  during the Cold War.  Gabriel wants sanctions to be lifted gradually, for each positive step toward implementing the Minsk Agreement, which would demonstrate that “movement towards peace pays off.”
He called for Europe take a more empathetic approach towards Russia and try to understand Moscow's position on a range of international issues. “Putin is disappointed with the West. The EU held association talks with Ukraine without discussing the issue with Russia.”
Further, the German Foreign Minister declared that US foreign policy should not be an “extension of economic policy.”
“It’s totally unacceptable to drive Russia further into the corner by hounding Russian gas companies out of Europe and forcing the Europeans to buy American gas,” referring to a recent US bill that threats to punish European companies that join in the construction of Nord Stream 2.
“Ask the French, Austrians or Dutch – they all want the pipeline to be successful, because Russia reliably provides gas at reasonable prices.” 
Gabriel accused the US and European authorities of hypocrisy, saying that It’s ok for Russian gas to flow through European-owned pipelines, bringing them income, but when it goes through a Russian pipeline, that’s a no-no.”
In Moscow, Gabriel said that it was “unacceptable when a bill demands that Europeans renounce Russian gas so that they can sell American gas at much higher prices.”
Repeated US wars failed to make Europe realize the consequences of its adhesion to the Atlantic Alliance.  When US policies negatively affect its industries, however, it realizes that it needs to take back its independence.
But that’s not all. Regarding the near collision of US and Russian planes in Syria, it’s important to bear in mind what William Engdahl wrote in Global Research in 2014:
“The US-backed wars in Ukraine and in Syria are but two fronts in the same strategic war to cripple Russia and China and to rupture any Eurasian counter-pole to a US-controlled New World Order. In each, control of energy pipelines, this time primarily of natural gas pipelines—from Russia to the EU via Ukraine, and from Iran and Syria to the EU via Syria—is the strategic goal. The US and Israel back ISIS as a pretext for bombing Assad’s vital grain silos and oil refineries, to cripple the economy in preparation for a “Ghaddafi-”style elimination of Russia, China and Iran-ally Bashar al-Assad.”

From my 'Une autre Europe..."

Saturday, July 22, 2017

R2P Turned Against Russia

Since Samantha Powers moved into politics under Barack Obama, coining the phrase Responsibility to Protect, it has been used by the US as a cover for invasion and regime change.

It is not the job of outsiders to 'protect' civilians from abuse by their own governments, yet the US professes to be doing it routinely, for example when it accuses Bashar al-Assad of 'killing his own people', when he defends his government against US-instigated rebellion.  At the same time it condemns Russia when it defends Russians living in other countries: according to Washington, Russia has no right to help Russian Ukrainians succede from a country that has been taken over by fascists --backed by the US.

Congress this week voted to give itself oversight over Russian sanctions in order to head off any decision by the President to lift those already in place. 

Sign in New York Subway, 1958
R2P is never mentioned anymore, lest people begin to wonder why it is deemed inappropriate to apply it to one's own citizens, and Russia continues to be accused to 'changing the postwar borders' and 'invading its neighbors', so frightening Europeans that they have accepted to host NATO troops and missiles. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Three Stories 'Missed' by the US Media

If you're watching American television, you probably learned that President trump is worried that the special prosecutor wil discover his old tax returns --- and that OJ Simpson was granted parole.Maybe you also learned that a ten year old boy found some really old fossils.

But you didn't hear about Chinese and Russian ships patrolling the North Sea, off the coasts of Britain and Denmark - as thousands of NATO troops are massed on Russia's land borders with the Baltic States and in Poland.  Moscow and Beijing are using the same reasoning that the US uses when it sails in seas that are close to the territorial waters of other nations, such as the South China sea:: "Hey, these are international waters...."

Another thing you will not hear on US television is that the woman at the heart of Trump Jr.'s woes, the Russian lawyer Natalya Vesselnitskaya, claimed on RT that the American businessman David Browder (son of a former head of the US Communist Party, Earl Browder) set her up to contact Trump Jr. through intermediaries, and that he has had her investigated, including on a personal level, wanting to know whether she was married and has children. She has four children, and fears for their safety.  Browder made a fortune during President Yeltsin's heyday, when the future 
'oligarchs' gobbled up Russia's mineral treasures, then became a fierce critic of President Putin.

You will not know that a German NGO, "Defend Europe" is determined to take on the other NGO's that are rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean.  A spokesperson for the organization suspected of fascism explained to RT that they will help smugglers when their passengers are in danger, but they will then take them back to Libya. I will be surprised if violence doesn't erupt between the two groups.

Finally and not least, you can view President Putin's Q and A with high school students in Sochi on RT's website.  It goes on for several hours, with subjects ranging from the 'boring' curriculum for music students, to Bitcoin and colonizing Mars, and shows the Russian President is something of a polymath.  

                                                  Sochi Airport

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tomorrow's Blog: Maddow's Mishmash

A friend told me that last night Rachel Maddow described a totally new political order, focused on business rather than diplomacy. I had been planning to write about some-thing similar, so I was curious to hear what Maddow said.
It turns out that she was really distorting President Putin’s take on how world affairs should be conducted.  As I’ve written before, Putin favors power centers around the main players, such as the US, China and Russia, with Brazil in Latin America and South Africa for at least part of the dark continent.  Unfortunately, in Maddow’s telling, this became: “We believed there was a community of nations, we championed the international order where people play by rules which are in our interest (and the world’s interest).”   We’re not a community of Nations, we’re a bunch of competing agendas.”
Diplomacy has always been about business interests.  The difference now is that this agenda is out in the open, whereas during the twentieth century, it was wrapped in lofty-sounding words. When you appoint the former head of a major oil company as your Secretary of State, it’s not just because he has dealt with the Russian President, it’s because Donald Trump would like to get his hands on Russia’s mineral trove without subjecting the world to a nuclear war.
Getting back to Maddow’s obfuscation  — she’s really very good at hiding things behind cute tails about her staff’s reactions to events mixed with incomplete sentences — she cannot say that President Putin wants the world to be run collectively by the main regional powers, rather than by the US.  By not presenting that fact, which is spelled out in Putin’s speeches, she is not doing her fellow citizens a favor, because the failure of voters — and even the political class at large — to be aware of this, could lead to a nuclear holocaust.
The only reason why we should be glad we have Trump and not Hillary as President, is because the latter was channeling Dr. Strangelove. 

But it’s a powerful one.

P.S. Rachel may have overstepped her remit by insinuating that there is something not right about the Special Proscutor Bob Mueller, being informed of the name of the eighth person present at Trump Jr.'s meeting with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.  I'll bet she gets a slap on the wrist.

UN Foyer

Macron's Latest and the Depths of US Suspicion

The new French president's latest effort to pass for Napoleon, Louis XIV snd General de Gaulle all at once by publicly chastizing the general in charge of the French army, who complained about budget cuts, suggests that the thirty-nine year old isn't yet successfuly channeling the greats, giving the French yet another occasion to mock him.

Along the Northeast corridor, however, the mood is somber: turns out that President Trump had a one-on-one conversations without an American (and fully vetted) translator!  That he had to rely on the translation rendered by Putin's translator during the conversatio (which took place in full view of the nearby guests at the G20 dinner.  Obviously, the Russian had to have been playing tricks on Trump, putting words in his mouth that he had never proferred, and dressing up Putin's! Never mind that translators the world over have a code of ethics (not to mentiont he fact that Vladmir Putin is not totally ignorant of the English language...) 

Pretty soon Americans who eat borscht will be on an FBI watch list....

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Story to Follow: The Macron Method

Today, France 24 reported on President Macron's reception of Israeli Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom a number of international leaders have little patience.  Given France's large Jewish community, its new president could hardly afford to pick up where his predecessors left off.  Instead, he used the same technique as with Presidents Putin and Trump: an invitation to an important site (Versailles for Putin) or event (Bastille Day for Trump), inviting the Israeli Prime Minister to commemorate the infamous Vel d'Hiv Roundup on on July 16 and 17, 1942,. during which over 13,000 Jews that had been rounded up by the VIchy government police were sent to concentration camps, many never to return.  Like one of his predecessors, Jacques Chirac, he declared the government of the time fully responsible for the atrocity.

It's clear that Macron's method for making France once again an important world player is first of all to flatter his counterparts by bestowing upon them significant historical/cultural gifts, in the manner of a Jupiter, to which he is mockingly compared by the French media.  

The following morning, Monday, July 17th:  Perfidious Marianne!

RT announced that the Brits are accusing Macron of trying to steal London's place as the world's financial center when they exit the EU!  He's obviously determined to put France back on the map, as well as treating major foreign leaders as though he were their equal...

    Paris Panorma with Pantheon and First High-Rise

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Height of Media Dishonesty

Today's Wall Street Journal includes a story detailing the Finn's fear of Russian invasion.  Nowhere does the article ention the fact that NATO has massed troops on Russia's Western border, from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

Below is a NATO map showing the locations of its troops on Russia's Western borders.

I'm sorry if these maps make some people feel uncomfortable, but it's necessary for Americans to face the fact that their country is doing everything it can, via NATO, to intimidate Russia, while pursuing a robost media campaign to make them believe that it is Russia that is threatening its neighbors.  Neither Sweden nor Finland are NATO members, but they know they have to be good allies all the same.  Sweden recently announced it was institutiing a draft, and according to the above article, Finland is frantically building underground shelters.