All posts tagged: russia

‘Exorbitant Privilege’ Under Siege

Frank Lee It was the French politician Valery Giscard D’Estaing who first coined the phrase ‘Exorbitant Privilege’ – a reference to the many advantages enjoyed by the US ownership and control of the world’s reserve currency. This was a situation dating back to the agreement reached in 1944 between the allied powers and established in Bretton Woods a town in New Hampshire; it was to become known as the Bretton Woods Agreement. During the conference key negotiators, most famously John Maynard Keynes for Britain, and Harry Dexter White chief US delegate, hammered out a blueprint for a new global and currency and trading system. Keynes was not entirely satisfied with the outcome and White mostly got his own way despite JMK’s misgivings about possible problems further down the road. But then the UK in the shape of Keynes, was also angling for a sizeable US loan in the not too distant future which circumscribed Keynes’ room for manoeuvre; and the loan of course came with strings – viz., the ending of British imperial preferential trading …

Anthony Bourdain’s State Department Smorgasbord

by Lorenzo, June 10, 2018 Anthony Bourdain’s suicide in June 2018 will cement his reputation as a progressive celebrity with a unique acumen for explaining the world to his fans. CNN’s obituary says that the most common sentiment in response to his death is “I feel like I’ve lost a friend.” You’d have to go back to the death of Steve Jobs to find a celebrity who provoked this kind of personal investment on the part of his fans. Bourdain’s reputation was built for this, because the chef could be relied on to impart a very specific view of the world, and more importantly, to not look like he was doing it. This was the most consequential part of his work—why he was hired by CNN—and it’s the part that will get discussed the least as the adulation pours in. The following was written a few months ago but it is offered today with minor changes. As of March 2018 Patrick Radden Keefe, a journalist who typically covers El Chapo and ISIS, can add to …

Of Fake News and History Suborned (In War and Peace)

Brief: The gulf dividing established institutions—governments, political parties, academia, the judiciary, legislature, bureaucracies, the national security state, think-tanks, lobby groups, and especially the mainstream media—and those within and across the broader body politic, particularly those who’d challenge the chokehold such institutions seek to impose on the information and knowledge that forms the foundation of our political discourse as well as that of the official historical record, is expanding at a rate of knots. With a focus on one man who saw it all coming, it’s time to reflect on the backstory of this bourgeoning, perilous impasse, and what the implications might be for geopolitical stability and security, and indeed, the future of humanity.

ANALYSIS: Signs of Compromise in Yulia Skripal’s Statement

by Tony Kevin Tony Kevin’s summary responses to the MoA view that Yulia’s statement is suspect, because it was allegedly written under duress of some kind, and from a prepared English script translated into Russian. There are at least two big questions here that need to be separately addressed. MoA and many of their correspondents segue from one to the other and back again , which is not conducive to a clear understanding and quickly leads one down unproductive, hypothetical blind alleys: leaving one in the end in a not useful position of general skepticism of everyone and everything involved in the Skripal affair. One of the classic forms of deception in naval warfare is to hide what you are trying to hide by laying dummy targets behind a lot of smoke. This letter is an effort to clear away smoke and help to see the real targets more clearly. The two big questions are: 1. What were the circumstances of Yulia’s videoed statement ? Was it made under duress, Stockholm Syndrome, or coached ? …

Don’t Panic! Lighten Up! Smiley Skripal case forces scientists to revise everything they thought they knew about Novichok

Rob Slane Warning: This article is likely to contain traces of satire. In the aftermath of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury on 4th March, scientists are currently re-evaluating their understanding of A-234 – or Novichok as it is more commonly known. Prior to the poisoning, it had been thought that the substance was around 5-8 times more toxic than VX nerve agent, and therefore that just a tiny drop would be likely to kill a person within minutes or possibly even seconds of them coming into contact with it. In the unlikely event of a person surviving, it was believed that their central nervous system would be completely destroyed, and that they would suffer numerous chronic health issues, including cirrhosis, toxic hepatitis, and epilepsy before dying a premature and miserable death, probably within a year or so. However, according to an anonymous source at the Porton Down laboratory, which is located just a few miles down the road from Salisbury, scientists now believe they may have completely misunderstood the properties and …

MH17: “New evidence”, same issues

Nearly four years since the incident, and over two years since they last reported any progress, the MH17 Joint Investigative Team (JIT) have held a press conference. To underline their previous position – they still think Russia did it. The timing of this statement could be seen as very politically convenient for the NATO allies and the Kiev regime. The West would have you believe that the proximity to the World Cup is purely coincidental. Whilst those suggesting that this is a great cover for Ukraine’s renewed shelling of separatists regions in the Donbass will surely be dismissed as “apologists” or “cynics”. None of that is really the issue though. Whether they truly have “new evidence”, or whether this is just a rehash of discredited Bellingcat nonsense, is immaterial. If the politically convenient timing is a coincidence or a stunt does not matter. The most important point is that the JIT is fatally and irredeemably flawed. The JIT, made up of investigators from Australia, the Netherlands, Malaysia and Ukraine…but not Russia, has obvious credibility problems …

The U.S. won’t say ‘genocide’ but cares about Armenian democracy?

by Max Parry “Did Armenia just dance its way to revolution?” Mass demonstrations that have shut down Armenia leading to the replacement of its prime minister have queued the obligatory western media push for regime change. Already dubbed a ‘Velvet Revolution’ after the 1989 protests that collapsed communist Czechoslovakia, there have been so many ‘color revolutions’ in former Soviet states that the colors are being recycled by the NGOs. The first crowds gathered in April in response to the Republican Party of Armenia’s decision to nominate outgoing leader Serzh Sargsyan as the sole candidate for Prime Minister after having already served as the country’s President since 2008. Despite its constitutional legality, this was perceived by many to be a consolidation of power as he would have retained the same authority since the country just transitioned to a prime ministerial system. Predictably, the western media commentary has framed the protests in the context of the new Cold War by emphasizing the ruling party’s links to ‘Kremlin oligarchs’ and Armenia’s presence within Russia’s sphere of influence. However, …

What Would Sherlock Holmes Have Made of the Government’s Explanation of the Case of Sergei and Yulia Skripal?

by Rob Slane from The Blogmire In an article on 3rd May, the Guardian journalist, Luke Harding, made the following rather amusing observation: Since the Skripals were found stricken on a park bench, Downing Street has stuck to one version of events. Theresa May says it is ‘highly likely’ Moscow carried out the attack using a Soviet-made nerve agent. Only the Kremlin had the motive to kill its former officer, she argues.” The funny part, in case you didn’t spot it, was his claim that Downing Street has stuck to one version of events. He is of course correct, but what he doesn’t tell his readers is that this one version of events has had a plethora of sub-narratives attached to it, none of which have been able to remotely support the main thesis. Sticking to one version of events is reasonable only inasmuch as that version can be supported by facts. On the other hand, if the version of events being stuck to is not supported by the facts, or if the “facts” constantly …

Trump – Israel Collusion on Syria

by Renee Parsons Considering the sequence of recent events in the Middle East, it is obvious that the circumstances regarding the US withdrawal from the nuclear accord with Iran were carefully thought out in advance, as a pre-arranged strategy to pave the way for escalating Israel’s conflict with Iran and the war in Syria. In presenting their own self-serving narrative of lies and distortions that Iran is conducting a ‘secret’ nuclear weapons program, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump remain oblivious to the stunning hypocrisy of their own duplicity and stupidity; as if the rest of the world does not see through their pathological deceits. In their most recent public presentations, both pathetically flawed individuals, trapped in a Matrix of their own, continue to confuse war with peace and have no clue how to distinguish the difference. Publicly projecting one’s own evil agenda onto an ill-fated population is an old political trick to deflect attention from one’s own sins while pointing the finger elsewhere and it would come as no surprise to discover …

Gina Haspel and the Normalising of Torture

Gina Haspel is almost certainly going to be the next director of the CIA. This shouldn’t happen, but it will.

For those unfamiliar: Haspel was deputy head of the Agency under now-secretary of state Mike Pompeo. But that wasn’t her first job. She also oversaw the CIA torture programme in a secret black-site in Thailand. In 2005 she was promoted (probably because she’s really good at torturing people), and was then in charge of the CIA’s global network of torture sites.

This makes her a terrible person, but probably quite a good CIA agent.

Systematic News Suppression in Today’s U.S.

Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990, and in the 1980s chaired the National Intelligence Estimates and prepared the President’s Daily Brief. But now retired, he’s a critic of the very same government he had spent his career representing, and especially of its virtually fully controlled press

Israel’s Legislature Votes War Against Syria

Eric Zuesse The key decision now will be made by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. On May 1st, Al Masdar News headlined “Netanyahu is granted the ability to wage war without the Knesset”, and reported that Israel’s Knesset or legislature had voted late on Monday night April 30th, to hand entirely to the far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to his extremely far-right Minister of Defense Avigdor Liberman the decision as to whether or when to invade any country — the main actual target is Syria, but Iran and Lebanon are also in Israel’s gunsights. Israel’s newspaper Haaretz reported about this on April 30th, while explaining that this legislation was “transferring responsibility for declaring war from the full cabinet to the smaller security cabinet. The joint committee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee rejected his request but it was later voted for by the Knesset plenum.” The real change that the new law introduces is to transfer Israel’s war-making decisions away from both the Knesset and the …

Western Press Descend into Insanity as Syria Narrative Collapses

Syria has disappeared from the front pages of the Western press recently, and for good reason. It’s not going well over there, as far as the “allies” are concerned. Yesterday the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed what many of us had already deduced – there were no chemical weapons present at the sites targeted by the US/UK/French missiles. That’s not been reported in the Western press, at all. Exemplified by the eternally on-message Guardian, who haven’t had a headline regarding Syria in over a week. The Royal Baby and ABBA’s new song and a stuffed anteater, all apparently too important to be bumped from the front page. Also yesterday, the Russian and Syrian authorities transported 17 witnesses of the alleged Douma “chemical attack” to the Netherlands. The witnesses, including the little boy who featured strongly in the White Helmets propaganda video, spoke at a press conference before taking questions (video is embedded above). All denied a chemical attack had taken place. This, along with Robert Fisk et al’s reporting on the …

What was the success-rate of the April 14th missiles against Syria?

by Eric Zuesse The U.S. and Russia provide diametrically opposite accounts of the percentages of U.S.-and-allied missiles that hit their targets in Syria on the night of April 13th-14th. On the 14th, Russia’s military said that 71 of the 103 U.S.-and-allied missiles were shot down by Syria. But on this very same day, the U.S. announced that 105 missiles had been launched and “none intercepted.” So: Was the U.S. side’s success-rate 100%, as America claimed; or, instead, 31%, as Russia claimed? This difference is, obviously, huge. During the subsequent days, U.S.-and-allied media celebrated their side’s alleged victory; for example, on April 22nd, USA Today bannered “105 to 0: Why Syria’s air defenses failed to intercept a single incoming missile”, and reported that: U.S., French and British forces launched 105 missiles from aircraft and ships at three chemical weapons facilities in Syria last weekend in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack launched by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Russia claimed that Syrian defenses knocked down many incoming missiles, but the Pentagon said every …

The Victims in Gaza and Douma

by David William Pear, first published by The Greanville Post In their book Manufacturing Consent Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky distinguished between two kinds of victims: the worthy victims and the unworthy victims. The “worthy victims” are the victims (real and alleged) of leaders on the U.S. enemies list, such as Bashar al-Assad. The “unworthy victims” are those of the U.S. and its client states, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. led cabal calling itself the “international community” is outraged when there are worthy victims. For example the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley holds up pictures of dead Syrian babies for the world to see. Worthy victims are granted human rights, and Assad deserves our outrage. Unworthy victims for example are the 50,000 Yemeni children who have died of starvation because of Saudi Arabia’s total blockade of Yemen, including blockading food, water and medicine. Unworthy victims are blamed for being victims and ignored by the international community and the mainstream media. Unworthy victims have no human rights. Yemen is a humanitarian …

Voices of the Syrian People

by Andre Vltchek, first published by New Eastern Outlook The attack against Syria – this proud and independent country – has just taken place. Three countries with zero moral mandate to judge or punish anybody; three countries already responsible for hundreds of millions of human lives lost on all continents for centuries, showered Syria with their missiles. They tried to scare to death Syria, and to break its determination, but they failed. Most of the Syrian people stood proudly by their government. 71 out of 103 of the Western missiles were shot down, and the rest fell on the empty facilities, which have nothing to do with a ‘production or storage of the chemical weapons’. To begin with, Syria has no chemical weapons program and no chemical weapons factories, as well as no warehouses, so nothing could really fall on something that does not exist. This was yet another gross violation of the international law, but again, the West has been violating the international laws for decades and centuries, brutalizing the entire Planet. Therefore, no …

Douma Chemical Attack: Timeline of facts so far

A brief post, collating all the known events surrounding the build up to the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria on the 7/8th of April 2018.

Skripal Poisoning – The UK’s Case for Russian Involvement

Earlier this week, over 130 Russian diplomats were expelled from over 20 separate countries. It was billed as a “massive show of unity”, and claimed as further evidence of Russian guilt. The familiar chorus repeated, that there is “no plausible alternative explanation”. So what was the strong evidence that the UK government shared with their allies? It must have been compelling in order to move the EU, US et al. to make moves of solidarity. It’s a slide show. Now, that might not sound like much. But a slide show can be very persuasive. It could have witness testimony, scientific test results, photographic evidence. It could explain motive, provide alibis for other suspects. It could be hundreds of pages of hard evidence laying out a perfect, bulletproof case. It could be all of those things…but in this case it’s not. We have it here, in PDF form. And here is another version. It’s five slides. That’s all, just five. Slide 1: Timeline An incredibly rough timeline of all the important events, skipping over the crime …

A Madman on the National Security Council

by Matt Purple, from The American Conservative Would that John Bolton were only a clown. The mustachioed alleged diplomat, briefly of the Bush administration—and initially criticized as too controversial even for that team—has now been appointed national security advisor. That position will give him the president’s ear on matters of foreign policy, as well as control over which other administration principals enjoy such access. Donald Trump pledged that if elected he would be a different kind of Republican president, and he’s delivered: under the last GOP administration, Bolton occupied a slightly lower-ranking position than he does now. Bolton is indeed no circus act: he’s one of the sharpest and most dangerous national security operatives in Washington. To take just one example, last summer, Trump made it known that he was considering pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, a campaign promise he wanted fulfilled but that had been discouraged by his then-secretary of state Rex Tillerson. Sensing an opportunity, Bolton wrote an essay for National Review explaining in breezy (i.e. Trump-digestible) terms just how to …

Four days to declare a Cold War

by Thierry Meyssan, Voltairenet The week that has just ended was exceptionally rich in events. But no media were able to report it, because they had all deliberately masked certain of their number in order to protect the story that was being woven by their government. London had attempted to provoke a major conflict, but lost to Russia, President Trump and Syria. The British government and certain of its allies, including US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have attempted to launch a Cold War against Russia. Their plan was to fabricate an attack against an ex-double agent in Salisbury and at the same time a chemical attack against the « moderate rebels » in the Ghouta. The conspirators’ intention was to profit from the efforts of Syria to liberate the suburbs of its capital city and the disorganisation of Russia on the occasion of its Presidential election. Had these manipulations worked, the United Kingdom would have pushed the USA to bomb Damascus, including the Presidential palace, and demand that the United Nations General Assembly exclude …