Voices from Russia

Sunday, 20 May 2018

US Policy: Provocation and War


Many observers note that the USA appears to be undergoing a historic process of “strategic decline”. In order to stave off deterioration in its political and economic power, the USA resorts to greater dependence on militarism and aggression. For that to work, a policy of ramping up provocations against other nations is a necessary concomitant, as militarism and aggression need a pretext of conflict. This is the unavoidable conclusion from several international interfaces. The USA resorts to stepped-up aggression as a means of asserting its power against its perceived global rivals, as well as to shore up its debt-ridden decrepit capitalist economy. Washington explicitly identifies those rivals as Russia and China, as well as to a lesser extent Iran, Lebanon’s Hizbullah, Syria, the DPRK, and Venezuela. Washington views all of them as impediments to American ambitions for global hegemony.

One can see the violence in Gaza this week by the Israeli military in the context of a wider policy in Washington of provocation. The shooting dead of over 60 unarmed Palestinians in a single day by Israeli snipers and the maiming of thousands of others, including women and children, was arguably a deliberate attempt to incite greater violence across the Middle East. It seems no coincidence that the atrocity happened on the very day that the USA controversially opened a new embassy in the contested city of Jerusalem, despite widespread international warning against the move as violating Palestinian rights. US President Donald Trump embraced the right-wing Israeli leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu to articulate an extreme partisan view of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in which Palestinian rights are non-existent. The gratuitous use of lethal force, as American dignitaries gathered a short distance away in Jerusalem, seems to have been a calculated attempt to provoke a violent reaction.

If the USA and Israel incited an armed response from Lebanon’s Hizbullah or Iran…parties that long-denounced American imperialism in the Middle East… then, the ensuing chaos plays well for Washington. It’d give the USA and Israel an excuse to step up military force against these rivals. That could take the form of more US-backed Israeli air strikes on Iranian and Hizbullah bases in Syria, despite those bases being legally present. For the USA, the main objective of provoking greater instability and conflict is to undermine Russia and its recently regained stature as a major international power in the Middle East, owing to its successful military intervention in Syria at the end of 2015 to defeat US-backed régime-change proxies.

Russia’s intervention in Syria ordered by President Putin served to accelerate the sense of strategic decline for the USA. Russia’s military deployment in Syria abruptly stopped the American policy of régime-change in the Middle East (as seen in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere) in its tracks. Iranian and Hizbullah forces legally requested by the Assad government to defend the state also halted the American bingeing on regime-change. The defeat of its terrorist proxies in Syria was a major setback for the USA and its British, French, and Turkish NATO allies, as well as for American client régimes in Israel and Saudi Arabia that colluded in the covert regime-change assault. To salvage this momentous defeat, and more generally, strategic decline, the USA seems to have embarked on a desperate policy of provocation, aided by its client régimes.

The aggressive way that Trump pulled the US out of the international nuclear accord with Iran last week caught many observers and European allies by surprise with his hardline obstreperous manner. Everyone knew Trump despised the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed in 2015 by President Obama. However, few expected Trump to violate the deal with such bellicose threats to intensify economic sanctions on Tehran, as well as on European states doing business with Iran. By vilifying Iran as a terrorist state and ranting against Tehran over its alleged secret nuclear-weapons building, Trump ostentatiously adopted the Israeli position of demonising Iran.

In particular, the Trump Administration’s warnings to Europe that the USA would penalise its firms and banks for continuing to do business with Iran, as is their right under the JCPOA, seemed to be a calculated provocation to crash the accord and incite Iran to resume past nuclear activities, which Trump, as well as Israel, intimated would be met with military attack. So far, Trump’s provocations over the Iran deal have failed. Iran and the other signatories… Russia, China, and the EU… agreed to continue implementing the accord. However, given this failure, so far, to sabotage the JCPOA, one can expect that the USA and its regional partners will try to ramp up provocations. The Israeli air strikes on Iranian bases in Syria the day after Trump announced the US pullout from the accord appears to have been a deliberate attempt at antagonising Iran even further. So too were Saudi claims that a missile attack on Riyadh from Yemen were “an act of war by Iran” owing to its alleged support to the Houthi rebels.

The renewed belligerence from the USA, Israel, and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East appears to be a systematic effort to stoke conflict. Syria, Iran, and Lebanon, as well as Iraq and Yemen, are on the firing line for embroiling the region in further chaos. Ultimately, however, the bigger targets for US-induced instability are Russia and China, which Washington views as “great power competitors”. The American supply of lethal weapons to the Ukraine earlier this month… the first such supply after years of non-lethal military aid to the Kiev régime… rankled Russia. Deployment of US military advisors to oversee the use of Javelin ATGMs is a move that’d likely escalate the violence in the Eastern Ukraine on Russia’s border.

Of course, the continuing buildup of NATO offensive forces from the Balkans to the Black Sea along Russia’s Western flank presents an even bigger vista of provocation. The relaunching of the US Second Fleet in the Atlantic after years being in mothballs is evidently part of a massive NATO mobilisation. Elsewhere, increasing American deployment of warships in the South China Sea over alleged “freedom of navigation” concerns near Chinese territorial waters is another manifestation of Washington’s foreign policy of provocation. Trump’s superficial diplomatic engagement with the DPRK is now under test with Pyongyang’s warning this week that it isn’t going to give up nuclear weapons unilaterally on the say-so of Washington. It remains to be seen if Trump’s apparent flurry of diplomacy with the DPRK will give way to the previous pattern of American belligerence and threats of war. Indeed, if the USA is employing a systematic foreign policy of provocation, as seems the case, then, we can expect the USA to abandon the recent détente with the DPRK.

After decades of proclaiming itself a benign global power, the stark conclusion is that the USA is clearly emerging as a scourge on international peace. US foreign policy? There seems little else to it other than the USA is increasingly wired for provocation and war.

17 May 2018

Finian Cunningham

Sputnik International



Saturday, 5 May 2018

6 May 2018. The World According to Hillary and Trump… As It Was for Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, So It Is For Them

In America

Yuly Ganf



This was in the Soviet satirical journal Krokodil. Recall that Truman allowed the rot of McCarthyism to run rampant… recall that Kennedy set in motion the events that led to the Vietnam War… recall that Johnson refused to accept American defeat in Southeast Asia, recall that Nixon enabled Henry Kissinger. In short, the USA under “liberalism” (yes, Nixon was a pre-Reagan liberal, not a post-1980 “conservative” at all) was no “city on a hill”. Of course, it only got worse under Reagan, but it took the Clintons to take the USA over the line into outright evil.

This was true in 1953… it’s even truer today. That’s what scares me…


Friday, 4 May 2018

5 May 2018. Russiagate… Barminess Incarnated


We hear shouts of:

Russia interfered with our election! That’s immoral!

There’s a problem with that… those shouting such accusations offer no proof… none at all. However, it does enter a paradigm into the conversation:

Interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state is evil.

If such is so, then, the most guilty party isn’t Russia or China or Iran… it’s the USA! We have proof of the American interference in the recent Honduran election; we have proof that the USA launched aggression against Serbia, Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq on specious grounds. Need I point up that Russia, Syria, China, and Iran haven’t launched any such aggression? It beggars the imagination. Can you believe that Anglo Americans truly believe that they’re “exceptional” and that the common rules of decency and fair play simply don’t apply to them? Hillary and Trump are but two sides of the same toxic neoliberal coin.

We live in dangerous times. The Anglos believe their propaganda bullshit. They truly think that they’re a “hyperpower” and that they’re the world’s judge, jury, and executioner. The present moment is especially dangerous, not because the USA and its allies Israel and the KSA are so strong, but because they’re so weak. That could lead to something spiralling out of control. An immature and thuggish crown prince, who can’t run a war against tiny Yemen successfully, leads the KSA (so how could he beat the local hegemon, Iran?)… Bibi Netanyahu faces a serious challenge as his political opponents are using his corruption against him (it’s so serious that it could topple him if he’s not careful)… Trump faces a certain disaster in the coming midterm elections (Paul Ryan tested the wind, found it adverse, and refused to run… what further proof do you need?). Far from being mighty and strong, these countries are in the deep kimchi in one way or another. That’s worrisome… any one of these players could do something stupid to take the pressure off them.

God do help us… the toddlers are in charge of the nursery and they’re playing with live hand grenades. Let this chalice pass, Lord…


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The West’s Missile Strike on Syria: An Act of Raw Imperialism


Crimes pile up until they become invisible.

Bertolt Brecht

When playwright Bertolt Brecht made this observation, it was the era of fascism and European colonialism in the 1930s. The world split into states privileged by the dint of their power to speak and states forced to listen and obey. This epoch culminated in World War II.

Lamentably, today, the 1930s are back and the crimes once again pile up… so many they’re in danger of becoming invisible. Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, the charge-sheet grows ever longer with no end yet in sight; the latest chapter in this dismal story arrived with the illegal missile strike unleashed against Syria by the USA, UK, and France over an alleged chemical weapons attack carried out in Douma on the outskirts of Damascus by Syrian government forces. I say allegedly because (at time of writing) OPCW inspectors are yet to undertake an on-site investigation to ascertain if such an attack did, in fact, occur and, if so, with what precise chemical weapon or substance. Here we have a situation where not only was this military action illegal under international law, it was undertaken before OPCW inspectors could begin their investigation per the existing and established international protocols set out in the Chemical Weapons Convention. Article IX states:

Pursuant to a request for a challenge inspection of a facility or location, and in accordance with the procedures provided for in the Verification Annex, the inspected State Party shall have: 

  1. a) The right and the obligation to make every reasonable effort to demonstrate its compliance with this Convention and, to this end, to enable the inspection team to fulfil its mandate.

I, for one, am long past the stage of believing that the world is divided between goodies and baddies, with the country I happen to live in, the UK, on the side of the goodies, along with the USA and other countries that come under the rubric of “the West”. It isn’t as easy you think to arrive at this understanding, not when from cradle to grave, the media, culture industry, and political élite condition people in the West to believe that a metaphorical Hadrian’s Wall separates us, the nice civilised people, from the bad barbaric people on the other side. They’d have us believe that Western governments and their loyal journalists and media outlets are noble purveyors of truth and justice, while non-Western governments and their journalists and media outlets are incorrigible liars and propagandists. They’d have us believe that the West only drops its “democracy bombs” in the cause of good, while the barbarians drop their “barbarism bombs” in the cause of evil. The result is acts of raw aggression such as the one unleashed against Syria over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, dressed up (as ever) in the threadbare clothes of humanitarian intervention.

On this occasion, as with every other occasion when it comes to these chemical weapons attacks, the video footage and other visual evidence used to make the case for the prosecution emanated exclusively from opposition sources within Douma itself…  in particular, the notorious White Helmets organisation, established by former British army officer and private military contractor James Le Mesurier. For some, perhaps, these are mere trifling details, but that this organization operates exclusively in opposition-held Syrian territory and has funding from Western governments, isn’t this sufficient reason to, at least, try to resist suspension of disbelief? To ask is surely to answer. Other pro-opposition organisations involved in shaping the narrative on this latest alleged chemical weapons attack are the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in the UK, and the Syrian American Medical Society. On the latter of these, the Syrian American Medical Society, US author and commentator Max Blumenthal said:

SAMS isn’t merely a group of Syrian doctors tending to the wounded in war-torn areas, nor can we consider it an objective source on chemical attacks and other atrocities. The organisation is a USAID-funded lobbying powerhouse that functions with single-minded determination to stimulate a US-led war of régime-change that’d place Syrian Islamists in power in Damascus.

None of the details, information, or footage of the attack came from an independent or credible source. That’s not difficult to understand when no Western journalist or news crew would dare set foot in any part of the country controlled by the “rebels”, knowing that as soon as they did, they’d be abducted and murdered. Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk knows what the Syrian government and its people are up against. Writing in the aftermath of the military attack mounted by the USA and its allies, he informed us that in the suburbs of Damascus it wasn’t only Ghouta where jihadist militants were entrenched. Salafi-jihadist militants managed to retain a presence in another suburb of the Syrian capital. In this instance, it’s Daesh, and at the time of writing Syrian troops deploy there to engage in their next operation to secure the capital. Fisk informs us that on 27 March, Daesh surrounded and captured 116 Syrian soldiers in an ambush. The soldiers strayed into the area in the mistaken belief that a ceasefire was in place and it was safe. Subsequently, Daesh took the soldiers away and executed them… they shot some and beheaded the others. In the (by now) accustomed manner, they caught the grisly event on film.

The point that we need to make is that this base barbarism, rife throughout Syria over these past seven years, didn’t take place in a desert somewhere. No, it occurred in 2018 on the outskirts of a major capital city in the Middle East. Imagine for a moment if it was taking place on the outskirts of London or Washington or Paris. Just imagine… or can’t you? Can’t you imagine it? Are you unable to grasp the sheer horror of having on your doorstep the kind of people for whom there’s no constraint or no limit when it comes to wanton murder and massacre?

Precisely because we can’t imagine it, we make an outrageous moral equivalence between a secular nonsectarian government, supported by an army whose soldiers come from every Syrian religious and cultural group, and brutal sectarian butchers intent on genocide. This has passed muster in the West. It led us to the criminal folly of the USA, UK, and France refusing to align themselves with the people on the receiving end of sectarian barbarism in Syria, choosing instead to effectively join forces with the barbarians of al-Qaeda, Daesh, Nusra, and Jaish al-Islam. It’s tantamount to entering a pact with hell.

16 April 2018

John Wight

Sputnik International


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