All posts by Finian Cunningham

Why There’ll Be No US-Russia Reset Post-Mueller

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President Donald Trump and his White House team may have been cleared of collusion with the Kremlin in the 2016 presidential election. That startling conclusion by Special Counsel Robert Mueller after nearly two years of investigation, might be viewed by some as giving Trump freedom to now get on with normalizing relations with Moscow. Don’t bet on it.

Mueller’s report, and US attorney general William Barr’s appraisal of it, only partially vindicate Trump’s long-held claims that the whole so-called “Russiagate" story is a “hoax”.

Yes, Mueller and Barr conclude that neither Trump nor his campaign team “conspired” with Russia to win the presidential race. But Democrat opponents are now dredging up the possibility that Trump “unwittingly” facilitated Kremlin cyber operations to damage his 2016 rival for the White House, Hillary Clinton.

In his summary of Mueller’s report, Barr unquestioningly accepts as fact the otherwise contentious claim that Russia interfered in the US election. Democrats and the anti-Trump US news media have not been deterred from pursuing their fantasy that the Kremlin allegedly meddled in US democracy. Trump has been cleared, but Russia has certainly not. It very much continues to have the smear of interference slapped all over its image.

At the heart of this narrative – bolstered by Mueller and Barr – is the false claim that Russian cyber agents hacked into the Democrat party computer system during 2016 and released emails compromising Clinton to the whistleblower website Wikileaks. That whole claim has been reliably debunked by former NSA technical expert William Binney and other former US intelligence officials who have shown indisputably that the information was not hacked from outside, but rather was released by an insider in the Democrat party, presumably based on indignation over the party’s corruption concerning the stitch-up against Clinton’s rival nomination for the presidential ticket, Bernie Sanders.

That is real scandal crying out to be investigated, as well as the Obama administration’s decision to unleash FBI illegal wiretapping and dirty tricks against Trump as being a “Russian stooge”. The Russian collusion charade was always a distraction from the really big serious crimes carried out by the Obama White House, the FBI and the Democrat party.

In any case, the notion that Russia interfered in the US elections – even without Trump’s collusion – has become an article of faith among the American political and media establishment.

That lie will continue to poison US-Russia relations and be used to justify more economic sanctions being imposed against Moscow. Trump may be cleared of being a “Kremlin stooge”. But he will find no political freedom to pursue a normalization in bilateral relations because of the predictable mantra about Russia interfering in American democracy.

But there is a deeper reason why there will be no reset in US-Russia relations. And it has nothing to do with whether Trump is in the White House. The problem is a strategic one, meaning it relates to underlying geopolitical confrontation between America’s desired global hegemony and Russia’s rightful aspiration to be an independent foreign power not beholden to Washington’s dictate.

Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin has presented a somewhat shocking quandary for the US ruling class. It found that Russia was no longer in the servile business of rolling over to pander to Washington’s tyranny in international relations. Under Putin, Russia shook off the vassal status that it had unfortunately acquired under the feckless presidency of Boris Yeltsin (1991-99).

Putin’s landmark speech in Munich in 2007 was certainly a watershed moment in geopolitical relations whereby the Russian leader condemned US rampaging across the Middle East with criminal wars.

Then there was the failed attempt in 2008 by the US and NATO to over-run Georgia, failed because of a decisive military intervention by Russia in support of neighboring South Ossetia.

The return of the Cold War in US-Russia relations under former President GW Bush was due to the realization in Washington that Putin and Russia were no longer subordinates that could be pushed around for the gratification of American imperialism.

The Americans then tried another tack. Public relations and inveigling.

When Barack Obama took over the White House in 2009, there was the famous “reset policy” initiated by Washington towards Moscow. In March 2009, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greeted Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva with a jokey “reset button”, purportedly to demonstrate a willingness in Washington for a new beginning in bilateral relations.

Ominously, Clinton’s State Department mislabelled the button with the Russian word for “overload” not “reset”. Her inane cackling to ingratiate herself with the skeptical Lavrov was also a giveaway of a phony reset.

Look how hollow such ostensible claims for “reset” by Washington have since manifested.

Admittedly, there was a significant gain in Obama’s negotiation of substantial nuclear arms reductions with the New START treaty in 2010.

However, it didn’t take long until Washington was back to its usual business of subversions and covert wars for regime change against foreign states that didn’t kowtow to its dictates. We saw this with ample evidence in the overthrow of Libya’s government in 2011, the attempted ouster in Syria beginning the same year, and the even more daring American intervention in Ukraine in early 2014 when it installed a rabidly anti-Russian regime through an illegal coup d’état.

We are also presently seeing this criminal American imperialism being conducted brazenly towards Venezuela, where Washington wants to overthrow a socialist president in order to get its corporate hands on the South American country’s vast oil wealth.

All the while, Russia has become ever more resolute its defiance of Washington’s global gangsterism. Moscow’s military defense of Syria from US-led regime change was certainly a pivotal moment in defining the limits of Moscow’s tolerance, as was Russia’s defense of Crimea.

For these reasons, Washington in its chagrin has moved to abandon the other major arms control treaty, the INF, which could allow it to install short and medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe, thus aggravating threats and tensions with Russia. The future of the much-vaunted New START treaty is also in doubt because of American vacillation. So much for Obama’s “reset”.

These are the structural, strategic factors in why Washington is set on a course of hostility towards Moscow. It has got very little to do with President Trump being in the White House or whether he has been cleared of “collusion” with Moscow.

The fundamental issue for Washington is that Russia is not a vassal for American imperialism. That’s why there will be no reset. There will only be reset when American imperialism is replaced by a law-abiding, genuinely democratic US government. Until then, expect more US hostility, confrontation and even war towards Russia.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

Russia Gives US Red Line on Venezuela

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At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

Moscow’s interlocutor, Sergei Ryabkov, is known to not mince his words, having earlier castigated Washington for seeking global military domination. He calls a spade a spade, and presumably a criminal a criminal.

The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia.

The fact that Washington’s efforts to overthrow the elected President Nicolas Maduro have so far floundered, might suggest that the Americans are intensifying their campaign to destabilize the country, with the objective of installing US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido. He declared himself “acting president” in January with Washington’s imprimatur.

Given that the nationwide power blackouts seem to have failed in fomenting a revolt by the civilian population or the military against Maduro, the next option tempting Washington could be the military one.

It seems significant that Washington has recently evacuated its last remaining diplomats from the South American country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the evacuation by saying that having US personnel on the ground “was limiting” Washington’s scope for action. Also, American Airlines reportedly cancelled all its services to Venezuela in the past week. Again, suggesting that the US was considering a military intervention, either directly with its troops or covertly by weaponizing local proxies. The latter certainly falls under Abrams’ purview.

After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly: “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.

For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand. “No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.

“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

The arrogance of the Americans is staggering. Abrams seems, according to US reporting, to have flown to Rome with the expectation of working out with Ryabkov a “transition” or “compromise” on who gets the “title of president” of Venezuela.

That’s what he no doubt meant when he said after the meeting “there was not a meeting of minds”, but rather he got “a better understanding” of Russia’s position.

Washington’s gambit is a replay of Syria. During the eight-year war in that country, the US continually proffered the demand of a “political transition” which at the end would see President Bashar al Assad standing down. By contrast, Russia’s unflinching position on Syria has always been that it’s not up to any external power to decide Syria’s politics. It is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people to determine independently.

Nearly three years after Russia intervened militarily in Syria to salvage the Arab country from a US-backed covert war for regime change, the American side has manifestly given up on its erstwhile imperious demands for “political transition”. The principle of Syrian sovereignty has prevailed, in large part because of Russia’s trenchant defense of its Arab ally.

Likewise, Washington, in its incorrigible arrogance, is getting another lesson from Russia – this time in its own presumed “back yard” of Latin America.

It’s not a question of Russia being inveigled by Washington’s regime-change schemers about who should be president of Venezuela and “how we can manage a transition”. Moscow has reiterated countless times that the legitimate president of Venezuela is Nicolas Maduro whom the people voted for last year by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair election – albeit boycotted by the US-orchestrated opposition.

The framework Washington is attempting to set up of choosing between their desired “interim president” and incumbent Maduro is an entirely spurious one. It is not even worthy to be discussed because it is a gross violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Who is Washington to even dare try to impose its false choice?

On Venezuela, Russia is having to remind the criminal American rulers – again – about international law and respect for national sovereignty, as Moscow earlier did with regard to Syria.

And in case Washington gets into a huff and tries the military option, Moscow this week told regime-change henchman Abrams that that’s a red line. If Washington has any sense of rationale left, it will know from its Syria fiasco that Russia has Venezuela’s back covered.

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

Now, the desperate Americans could still try more sabotage, cyber or financial. But their options are limited, contrary to what Trump thinks.

How the days of American imperialist swagger are numbered. There was a time when it could rampage all over Latin America. Not any more, evidently. Thanks in part to Russia’s global standing and military power.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

Rubio’s Gloating Betrays US Sabotage in Venezuela Power Blitz

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US imperialists are so desperate in their regime-change predations over Venezuela, they seem to have a problem controlling their drooling mouths.

The latest orgy of American gloating was triggered by the massive power outages to have hit Venezuela. No sooner had the South American country been blacked out from its power grid collapsing, senior US officials were crowing with perverse relish.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio – who has become a point man for the Trump administration in its regime-change campaign in Venezuela – was a little too celebratory. Within minutes of the nationwide power outage last Thursday, Rubio was having verbal orgasms about the “long-term economic damage”… “in the blink of an eye”. But it was his disclosure concerning the precise damage in the power grid that has led the Venezuelan government to accuse the US of carrying out a sabotage.

Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez noted how Rubio, in his tweeted comments “three minutes” after the power outage, mentioned failure of “back-up generators” in Venezuela’s main hydroelectric plant, known as the Guri Dam, located in Bolivar State. The dam supplies some 80 per cent of the Venezuelan population of 31 million with its electricity consumption.

Rodriguez mockingly ascribed “mystic skills” to Rubio because the Florida Republican senator appeared to know the precise nature of the power failure even before the Venezuelan authorities had determined it.

The Venezuelan government has since claimed that the failure in the electric grid was caused by a cyber attack on the computer system controlling the Guri Dam turbines. Caracas said it will present proof of its claims to the United Nations.

Apart from Rubio’s apparent insider information, there are several other indicators that Venezuela’s latest turmoil from power blackout was indeed caused by US sabotage, and specifically a cyber attack.

The South American country has experienced recurring power cuts over recent years due to economic problems and Washington’s sanctions. But the latest outage was widespread – at least 70 per cent of the country – and sustained for more than four days, rather than being rectified within hours. That scale of disruption suggests an unprecedented event, way beyond intermittent problems of maintenance.

The duration of the blackout in the capital Caracas and other major cities also indicates that the nature of the problem was difficult to reverse, which would be consistent with a cyber attack on the power grid. “It was a kill-shot,” says American political analyst Randy Martin.

Furthermore, US officials like President Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton as well as “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams have been warning that Washington is seeking new ways to pile pressure on Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro to stand down.

Abrams was caught out last week in a prank phone call made by two Russian entertainers posing as Swiss President Ueli Maurer in which Abrams openly advocated crushing the Venezuelan banking system in order to topple the government in Caracas. The American envoy, who was convicted over the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s for sponsoring terrorism to sabotage Nicaragua, appeared to balk at using overt US military power against Venezuela. That suggests Washington was persuaded on the efficacy of cyber warfare to inflict social chaos and incite popular anger against the Maduro government.

The immediate reaction by Washington officials and the US-backed political opposition in Venezuela was to blame the Maduro government for the power disorder. The failure was flagged up as a sign of “incompetence” and “mismanagement” of the oil-rich country by the socialist administration. Opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself the rightful president with Washington’s blessing, conveyed the logic of blackmail when he declared, “the lights will come back on when usurper Maduro is gone”.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also weighed in with repulsive gloating within hours of Venezuela’s power crisis. Pompeo tweeted: “No food. No medicine. Now, no power. Next, no Maduro.”

The delight openly displayed by Washington officials in regard to aggression against Venezuela has broken new ground in terms of the brazenness of US imperialism.

Only a few weeks ago, Bolton announced that the objective for seeking regime change in Venezuela against the elected President Nicolas Maduro was for US corporations to seize the South American state’s vast oil wealth – reckoned to be the largest known reserves on the planet, far exceeding those of Saudi Arabia.

Such is Washington’s unbridled lust for Venezuela’s natural resources that its imperialist advocates are falling over themselves with naked lies and crimes.

When a US Trojan Horse aid convoy was blocked from entering into Venezuela from Colombia last month, American politicians and media immediately blamed the Maduro government for sabotaging the effort. An aid truck was set alight on a border crossing on February 23. US Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Rubio, as well as CNN, condemned the Venezuelan authorities for “callous” destruction of vital aid delivery to its long-suffering people. It turns out, as even the New York Times has now admitted three weeks later, that the aid truck was torched by US-backed opposition supporters on the Colombian side of the border.

The obscenity of American imperialism is that it has inflicted huge social misery in Venezuela from years of sanctions and illegal confiscation (theft) of billions of dollars in assets belonging to the nation. Then it has the audacity to mount a charade seeming to deliver humanitarian aid.

The latest twist to this sadistic game played by Washington is turning the lights off across the entire nation, in homes, hospitals, airports and schools, among other essential services, and attempting to lay the blame on the Venezuelan government.

We may, however, be thankful for Washington’s overweening arrogance and criminality. Because, as Marco Rubio’s rash remarks concerning the latest power outage show, the American gangsterism towards Venezuela is being exposed for the naked aggression that it is.

US-based political analyst Randy Martin, in comments for this column, says that what Washington is doing to Venezuela is tantamount to the “rape of democracy”. “American imperialism has no longer any shame,” he said. “It used to rape countries under the cover a seedy alleyway of false excuses and hollow claims of righteousness. Now it has its trousers around its ankles and trying to rape Venezuela right on the global Main Street.”

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

Trump’s Syria ‘Pullout’ Aimed at Aggressing Iran

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US President Donald Trump again this week portrayed his plan to pull troops out of Syria as a “victory homecoming” and “an end to endless wars”. Then, in stepped Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to clarify what’s really going on: it’s a “tactical change” to put Iran in the crosshairs.

The purported pullout is not a return of US military from the Middle East, as Trump has been trumpeting with self-congratulations. It’s more a reconfiguration of American military power in the strategically vital region, and in particular for greater aggressive leverage on Iran.

In his State of the Union speech to Congress this week, Trump talked about giving a “warm welcome home to our brave warriors” from Syria. Supposedly it was “mission accomplished” for the US in defeating the ISIS terror group in that country.

It should be pointed out that ISIS would not have been in Syria or Iraq if it were not for criminal American military interventions, covert and overt, in those countries.

In any case, Trump was proclaiming America “victorious”, and so it was time, he said, to follow up on his order given in December for the 2,000 or so troops (illegally present) in Syria to withdraw.

The day after his nationwide address, Trump reiterated the theme of glorious homecoming at a forum of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, held in Washington DC. This was a two-day gathering of dozens of US allies who have been attacking Syrian territory in the name of fighting terrorists (terrorists that many of these same coalition members, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have been covertly sponsoring.)

“We look forward to giving our warriors a warm welcome home,” Trump again told delegates after informing them that the ISIS caliphate had been virtually destroyed by US forces and partners.

His top diplomat Mike Pompeo, however, assured the gathering that the US was still “leading the fight against terror” and that the planned troop withdrawal from Syria was only a “tactical maneuver”. He said that what Washington wanted was for more regional partners to take over military operations from the US.

When Trump first made the announcement of a troop withdrawal from Syria on December 19, there was immediate pushback from military figures in the Pentagon and politicians in Washington. Together with a proposed drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan by Trump, it was construed that the president was signaling a wholesale retreat from the region.

Since the “surprise” announcement by Trump, lawmakers within his Republican party have been doubling down to prevent any pullout from Syria or Afghanistan. This week, the US Senate voted through legislation to block any abrupt withdrawal, claiming that, contrary to Trump’s assertions, ISIS has not been defeated and still poses a national security threat.

The Pentagon has also been warning of a “resurgence” of ISIS in Syria and Iraq if US forces were to pull out. A Department of Defense document published this week quoted Pompeo. “Following the president’s announcement in December 2018 to withdraw troops from Syria, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the policy objectives of defeating ISIS and deterring Iran had not changed.”

In other words, the Pentagon is busily rationalizing for entrenchment in the region, not for a retreat.

Last month, while on a nine-nation tour of the Middle East, Pompeo was at pains to emphasize to America’s Arab client regimes that Trump’s pullout from Syria was a reorganization of military forces, not an overall withdrawal. During his tour, Pompeo renewed Washington’s project to create an “Arab NATO” for the region, with the top priority being to contain Iran. According to Radio Free Europe, he said, “the United States is redoubling efforts to put pressure on Iran.”

Next week, the US has organized a conference to be held in Poland which is dedicated to intensifying international pressure on Iran. The indications are that senior European Union officials will not attend the summit as it is stoking tensions with Tehran at a time when the EU is striving to save the nuclear accord with Iran.

However, the conference in Poland testifies to ramped up efforts by Washington to isolate Iran internationally and provoke instability in the country for regime change. Since Trump walked away from the internationally-backed nuclear accord last year, his administration has been piling on the aggressive rhetoric towards Iran, in particular from his national security advisor John Bolton, as well as Pompeo.

This obsession to confront Iran would explain the real significance of Trump’s supposed pullout plans in Syria and Afghanistan. Both countries have been utter failures for US imperialism. They are a dead loss, despite the self-congratulatory nonsense spouted by Trump.

What the White House is intent on doing, it seems, is redirecting its military forces in the region away from dead-end causes for a more aggressive stance towards Iran. Pompeo’s “clarifications” about Trump’s troop withdrawal makes it clear that what is going on is not a scaling down of American military power in the region, but a reconfiguration.

Trump himself has indicated that too. In a recent interview with the CBS channel, Trump said that US forces would be reassigned from Syria to Iraq where the Pentagon has several large military bases. He explicitly said that the US forces in Iraq would be used to “keep a watch on Iran” and the wider region.

Trump’s braggadocio immediately got him into hot water with the Iraqis. Iraqi President Barham Salih fulminated that the 5,000 or so US troops in his country were there strictly for the purpose of combating terrorism, not for “watching Iran” or any other neighboring country. Other Iraqi lawmakers have been so incensed by Trump’s comments that they are calling for the presence of US forces to be terminated.

Thus, the apprehensions among the bipartisan War Party in Washington and some at the Pentagon regarding Trump’s purported troop pullout from Syria and Afghanistan are misplaced. Trump is not “ending the endless wars” that feed American imperialism and its war-machine economy.

Far from it. The Condo King is simply moving the Pentagon’s real estate around the region in order to get a better view of the planned aggression towards Iran.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

US Midterms Expose Russia Hacker Myth

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Don’t hold your breath for it, but there should be an abject apology coming from US politicians, pundits, media and intelligence agencies.

For months leading up to the midterm elections held last week, we were told that the Kremlin was deviously targeting the ballot, in a replay of the way Russian hackers allegedly interfered in the 2016 presidential race to get Donald Trump into the White House.

Supposedly reliable news media outlets like the New York Times and heavyweight Senate panels were quoting intelligence sources warning that the “Russians are coming – again”.

So what just happened? Nothing. Where were the social media campaigns of malicious Russian-inspired misinformation “sowing division”? Whatever happened to the supposed army of internet bots and trolls that the Kremlin command? Where are the electoral machines tampered with to give false vote counts?

Facebook said it had deleted around 100 social media accounts that it claimed “were linked” to pro-Russian entities intent on meddling in the midterms. How did Facebook determined that “linkage”? It was based on a “tip-off” by US intelligence agencies. Hardly convincing proof of a Kremlin plot to destabilize American democracy.

If elusive Russian hackers somehow targeted the midterm Congressional elections they certainly seem to have a convoluted objective. Trump’s Republican party lost the House of Representatives to Democrat control. That could result in more Congressional probes into his alleged collusion with Russia. It could also result in Democrats filing subpoenas for Trump to finally disclose his personal tax details which he has strenuously refused to do so far.

Moreover, having lost control of one of the two Congressional chambers, Trump will find his legislative plans being slowed down and even blocked.

Thus, if Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin are the purported “puppet masters” behind the Trump presidency, they have a very strange way of showing their support, as can be seen from the setbacks of the midterms.

A far simpler, more plausible explanation is that there was no Russian hacking of the midterms, just as there wasn’t in the 2016 presidential election. Russian interference, influence campaigns, malign activity, “Russia-gate”, and so on, are nothing but myths conjured up by Trump’s domestic political opponents and their obliging media outlets.

Now that all the dire warnings of Russia hacking into the midterms have been shown to be a mirage, the US intelligence agencies seem to be adopting a new spin on events. We are told that they “prevented Russian interference”.

In a Bloomberg article headlined ‘One Big Loser of the Midterms – Russian Hackers’, it is claimed: “Security officials believe [sic] they prevented cyberattacks on election day.” However, they added, “it’s hard to tell.”

In other words, US security officials have no idea if putative Russian hackers were targeting the elections. The contorted logic is that if there were no hacking incidents, then it was because US cybersecurity prevented them. This is tantamount to invoking absence to prove presence. It’s voodoo intelligence.

President Trump has a point when he lambastes Democrats and their supportive media for crying foul only when they lose an election. In various midterm races, it was apparent that Democrats would protest some alleged electoral discrepancy when their candidate lost against a Republican. But when Democrats came out on top, there were no irregularities.

One can imagine therefore that if the Democrats had failed to win control over the House of Representatives, then they and their intelligence agency and media supporters would have been clamoring about “Russian interference” to help Republicans retain the House.

As it turned out, the Democrats won the House, so there is no need to invoke the Russian bogeyman. In that case, it is claimed, Russian hackers “did not succeed” to penetrate the electoral system or pivot social media.

Nonetheless, there was indeed rampant interference in the recent US election. For one thing, some 28 pro-Israeli Political Action Committees and wealthy individuals spent around $15 million to promote 80 candidates in the Congressional elections, according to the organization If Americans Knew. This foreign influence on US voters in favor of Israeli interests is nothing new. It is standard practice in every election.

During the presidential campaign in 2016, the Israeli-American billionaire Sheldon Adelson reportedly donated $25 million to Trump’s campaign. Undoubtedly that legalized bribery is why Trump on becoming president has pushed such a slavishly pro-Israeli Middle East policy, including his inflammatory declaration of Jerusalem as the sole capital of the Zionist state.

But there is no outcry about “Israeli influence campaigns” and “hacking” from the US media or from Democrats over this egregious interference in American democracy. No, they prefer to obsess about the phantom of Russian meddling.

Another evident source of electoral hacking was of the homegrown variety. There seem to be valid grievances among ordinary American voters about gerrymandering of electoral districts by incumbent parties, as well as voter disenfranchisement, especially among poor African-American and Latino communities. There were also reported cases of phone canvassers making malicious calls to discredit candidates, as was claimed by the beaten Democrat contenders in Florida and Georgia.

Clearly, there are huge flaws in the US electoral system. Most glaringly, the gargantuan problem of campaign funding by corporations, banks and other representatives of the oligarchic system.

A further chronic problem is yawning voter apathy. The recent midterms were said to have seen a “record turnout” of voters. The official figure is that only 48 per cent of voters exercised their democratic right. That is, over half the voting population view the ballot exercise as not worth while or something worse. This is a constant massive disavowal of American democracy expressed in every US election.

The midterm elections demonstrate once again that American democracy has its own inherent failings. But the political establishment and the ruling oligarchy are loathe to fix a system from which they benefit.

When the system becomes unwieldy or throws up results that the establishment does not quite like – such as the election of uncouth, big mouth Trump – then the “error” must be “explained” away by some extraneous factor, such as “Russian hacking”.

However, the latest exercise in American democracy, for what it is worth, gave the salutary demonstration of the myth of Russian interference – at least for those who care to honestly see that.

Another valuable demonstration was this: if supposedly reliable news media and an intelligence apparatus that is charged with national security have been caught out telling spectacular lies with regard to “Russian hacking”, then what credibility do they have on a host of other anti-Russia claims, or, indeed, on many other matters?

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

World War I Homage – A Triumph of Lies and Platitudes

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World leaders gathered in Paris on Sunday under the Arc de Triomphe to mark the centennial anniversary ending World War I. In an absurd way, the Napoleon-era arc was a fitting venue – because the ceremony and the rhetoric from President Emmanuel Macron was a “triumph” of lies and platitudes.

Among the estimated 70 international leaders were US President Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, each sitting on either side of Macron and his wife. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also given pride of place beside the French president.

Macron’s address to the dignitaries was supposed to be a call for international multilateralism. He urged a “brotherhood” for the cause of world peace. He also made a pointed rebuke of “nationalism” as posing a danger to peace – a remark which seemed aimed at Donald Trump who recently boasted of his politics with that very word.

But, ironically, everything about the ceremony and Macron’s speech resonated with jingoistic French nationalism, not his avowed multinationalism. As the politicians sat under the Arc de Triomphe, Macron walked around its circular esplanade in a salute to assembled French military forces bearing assault rifles and bayonets. The French anthem – The Marseillaise – was played twice, once by an army brass band, the second time sung by an army choir. There was also a military plane flyover displaying the blue, red and white tricolor of the French national flag.

In his speech, Macron talked about soldiers coming from all over the world to “die for France” during the 1914-18 Great War. He even said at one point that the war was fought for “the vision of France” and its “universal values”.

This was fluent drivel, French-style. No wonder Russia’s Putin momentarily gave a look of boredom as Macron waxed lyrical.

The speechifying and commemoration was completely detached from current realities of conflict and international tensions.

Among the “brotherhood” whom Macron was appealing to were Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose military forces continue to bomb and slaughter Palestinian civilians in illegally occupied territory. Also present was Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko whose armed militias continue to terrorize the people of eastern Ukraine with the blatant objective of instigating a war between the US-led NATO alliance and Russia.

Listening to Macron one would think that World War I erupted mysteriously from no specific cause and that an estimated 10 million soldiers were all killed in heroic battles for noble principles.

There was, of course, no mention by Macron of imperialist warmongering and the barbaric sacrifice of humans as slaves in the service of national capitalist power interests.

Grotesquely, as the world leaders donned solemn faces and mouthed pious platitudes for peace, the whole occasion was a triumph in burying reality and the ongoing causes of wars, as well as whitewashing the very culprits responsible for wars. Among the war criminals wearing a mournful black suit was former French President Nicolas Sarkozy who launched the NATO blitzkrieg on Libya in 2011.

While the empty, self-indulgent rhetoric was ringing out, one couldn’t help but recall some of the most glaring contemporary contradictions that were blocked out with awesome Orwellian efficiency.

Just this week, reports emerged of the horrific civilian death toll from the American air force bombing the Syrian city of Raqqa. The city was razed to the ground by US air strikes last year – supposedly to defeat the ISIS terror group. Some 8,000 bodies of civilians, mainly women and children, have now been recovered by Syrian government forces. And that’s only from clearing away a tiny area of rubble for the whole city.

What the Americans did in Raqqa was a monumental war crime, all the more criminal because US forces, along with their NATO partners Britain and France, are illegally present in and assaulting sovereign Syrian territory.

As Macron was telling world leaders about “the vision of France”, hundreds were being killed in Yemen in a battle to strangle the entire population by taking the port city of Hodeida. The genocidal war on that country – which is putting up to 16 million people at risk from starvation – has been fully backed by France, the US and Britain, from their supply of warplanes and bombs to the Saudi and Emirati aggressive forces.

We could mention other specific conflicts where the culprits are clearly identified. For example, the multi-million-dollar support from Washington for the Azov Battalion and other Neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine, which openly emulate the genocidal conduct of Hitler’s Third Reich to exterminate ethnic Russians.

We could mention how US-led NATO forces continue to expand towards Russian territory with outrageous provocation. The mounting earlier this month of the biggest-ever NATO war drills since the Cold War in the Arctic region adjacent to Russia’s northern border was a brazen threat of rehearsing invasion. The announced tearing up of yet another nuclear arms control treaty unilaterally by Washington is a reckless undermining of global security.

Washington threatens China with naval forces marauding near Beijing’s maritime territory in the South China Sea. Washington blockades Iran with illegal economic warfare and openly agitates for regime change. Washington declares Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba a “troika of tyranny” and reserves the right to threaten each of these countries with military invasion at any time.

Meanwhile, this weekend, Russia hosted peace talks in Moscow between the warring parties of Afghanistan. It was seen as a major breakthrough in trying to bring peace to the Central Asia country which has been wracked by 17 years of violence since US forces began their ongoing military occupation – allegedly to defeat terrorism.

Elsewhere, Russia has engaged with Turkey, Germany and France to convene a summit for peaceful reconstruction of Syria. The latest summit held in Ankara at the end of last month follows several other such meetings in Astana and Sochi, largely at the behest of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, to find a political settlement to the nearly eight-year war in Syria – a war that was fomented covertly by Washington and its allies for regime change.

France’s Macron talks about “multilateralism” for world peace, yet the two countries which have arguably supported and implemented multilateralism in practice are Russia and China in their calls and policies for global partnership and economic development.

And yet it is Russia and China that are being harassed with American and European sanctions, and US military provocations.

The unilateral, lawless imperialism that engendered World War I and 20 years later World War II is still alive and dangerously vigorous. We only have to look around the present world to realize that. But when the culprits indulge in a triumph of b.s. then we also know that the world is once again in very grave danger.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

Gaza Massacre Exposes Western Hypocrisy on Russia’s ‘Annexation’ of Crimea

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This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a new 19-kilometer bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula with mainland southern Russia. Thousands of kilometers away, in occupied Palestine, a massacre was being carried out by Israeli soldiers with full support of the United States as it opened a new embassy.

The two events are not as disparate as one might think at first glance. They both involve “annexation” – one fictitious, the other very real. But Western hypocrisy inverts the reality.

While US dignitaries were opening the new American embassy in Jerusalem amid pomp and ceremony, some 60 unarmed Palestinian protesters were shot dead in cold blood by Israeli snipers. Among the dead were eight children. Thousands of others were maimed by live fire. The bloodshed could increase in coming days.

The relocation of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli-occupied city of Jerusalem, ordered by President Trump, has been rebuked by the majority of nations. The American move pre-empts any negotiated peace settlement which was supposed to bequeath East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Trump’s decision to relocate the American embassy effectively endorses Israeli claims to the whole of Jerusalem as the “undivided capital of the Jewish state”. Israel has occupied all of Jerusalem in contravention of international law since the 1967 Six Day War.

In other words, Washington has shifted from tacit acceptance to an openly complicit policy in Israeli annexation of Palestinian territory, an annexation which has been going on for seven decades since the inception of the Israeli state in 1948. The now de facto American approval of the annexation of all Jerusalem marked by the opening of the US embassy is the culmination of 70 years of Israeli expansion and occupation.

Meanwhile, Putin’s unveiling this week of the bridge linking southern Russian mainland to the Crimea Peninsula is a timely reminder of the brazen hypocrisy of American and European states.

Since Crimea voted in a referendum in March 2014 to rejoin its historic homeland of Russia, Washington and its allies have continually complained about Moscow’s alleged “annexation” of the Black Sea peninsula.

Never mind that the Crimean people were prompted to hold their accession referendum following a bloody coup in Ukraine against an elected government by CIA-backed Neo-Nazis in February 2014. The people of Crimea voted in a peacefully constituted referendum to secede from Ukraine to join Russia, which it was historically a part of until 1954 when the Soviet Union arbitrarily assigned Crimea to the jurisdiction of the Soviet Republic of Ukraine.

For the past four years, Western governments, their corporate news media and think-tanks, as well as the US-led NATO military alliance, have mounted an intense anti-Russian campaign of economic sanctions, denigration and offensive posturing all on the back of dubious claims that Russia “annexed” Crimea.

Relations between the US and the European Union towards Russia have descended into the freezer of a new and potentially catastrophic Cold War, supposedly motivated by the principle that Moscow had violated international law and changed borders by force. Russia’s alleged “annexation” of Crimea is cited as a sign of Moscow threatening Europe with expansionist aggression. Putin has been vilified as a “new Hitler” or “new Stalin” depending on your historical illiteracy.

This Western distortion about the events that occurred in Ukraine during 2014, and subsequently, can be easily disputed with hard facts as a blatant falsification to conceal what was actually illegal interference by Washington and its European allies in the sovereign affairs of the Ukraine. In short, Western interference was about regime change; with the objective of destabilizing Moscow and projecting NATO force on Russia’s borders.

That is one way of challenging the Western narrative about Ukraine and Crimea. Through weighing up factual events, such as the CIA-backed false-flag sniper shootings of dozens of protesters in Kiev in February 2014. Or the ongoing Western-backed military offensive by Kiev’s Neo-Nazi forces against the breakaway republics of Donbas in Eastern Ukraine.

Another way is to ascertain the integrity of supposed Western legal principle about the general practice of annexation of territory.

From listening to the incessant public consternation expressed by Western governments and media about Russia’s alleged annexation of Crimea, one might think that the putative expropriation of territory is a most grievous violation of international law. Oh how chivalrous, one might think, are Washington and the Europeans in their defense of territorial sovereignty, judging by their seeming righteous repudiation of “annexation”.

However, this week’s grotesque opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem accompanied by the massacre of protesting unarmed Palestinians shows that Western professed concerns about “annexation” are nothing but a diabolical sham. In seven decades of expanding illegal occupation of Palestinian territory by the Israelis, Washington and the Europeans have enacted no opposition.

But when it comes to Crimea, even though their case is not valid, the Western powers never stop hand-wringing about Russia’s “annexation” as if it was the biggest crime in modern history.

Worse than hypocrisy, the US and European Union have been silently complicit in allowing Israel to continue annexing more and more Palestinian territory despite the stark violation of international law. Periodic massacres and whole populations held under brutal military siege in the Gaza Strip and West Bank have never registered any effective opposition from Western powers.

This week, Washington has gone one step further to, in effect, exult in the Israeli annexation of Palestinian territory in the most provocative way by opening its embassy in occupied Jerusalem. Then on top of that violation of international law, we have the obscenity of the Trump White House defending the massacre of unarmed civilians as “an act of self-defense” by the illegally occupying and US-armed Israeli military. A White House license to kill.

The pathetic, muted response from the European Union and the United Nations towards this state terrorism and criminality exposes their cowardly complicity.

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has for months been hysterically accusing Russia of violations in Ukraine and Syria. Yet, on the mass murder of Palestinians this week, Haley was silent. Her only remarks were to congratulate Israel over the new US embassy in occupied Jerusalem.

So, the next time we hear Washington and its European allies pontificate to Russia about “annexation”, the only fitting response should be one of contempt for their vile hypocrisy towards Palestinian rights and the ongoing genocide of its people under Western-backed occupation.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

Dutch Lies Over Putin’s ‘Aggression’ Expose NATO War Agenda

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Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte was this week forced to bear a parliamentary vote of no confidence after his foreign minister finally came clean over a dangerous lie he has been telling for two years concerning Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Halbe Zijlstra quit in shame on Monday as the country’s foreign minister after admitting that a story he had peddled about personally hearing Putin plotting to create a “greater Russia” was false. That then forced premier Rutte to endure a “no confidence” motion from parliamentarians. In the end, Rutte survived the vote. If a majority had voted against his leadership, his coalition government may have collapsed.

But the deep damage done to the Dutch authorities will not be so easily repaired by Rutte’s survival as premier. What has been exposed this week is a senior member of government recklessly telling bare-faced lies in an attempt to slander Russia, poison international relations, and ratchet up already dangerous geopolitical tensions.

Zijlstra had claimed two years ago, in 2016, that he had personally witnessed Russian leader Vladimir Putin boasting about creating a “greater Russia” which, it is claimed, would incorporate Ukraine, the Baltic states, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The newly resigned Dutch top diplomat claimed he heard Putin making the remarks while present with others at the Russian leader’s dacha (summer house) back in 2006.

This week, Zijlstra finally came clean and admitted before parliament that he hadn't in fact been present at the alleged gathering. He still maintains, however, that a confidante who was among the guests at Putin’s dacha informed him of the alleged “greater Russia” plan. But how can we now trust the word of a self-confessed liar?

Zijlstra’s boss, Prime Minister Rutte, also sought to downplay the debacle, claiming that his foreign minister had made “a big mistake” – but that “lying was not a deadly sin.”

Rutte is in for a rude awakening due to his complacent thinking. For indeed his government has been caught telling a very grave lie whose ramifications concern issues of war and peace in Europe.

Disgraced former minister Zijlstra stands accused of gross distortion of Russia’s foreign policy.

Since the US and European-backed illegal coup in Ukraine in early 2014, geopolitical reality has been turned upside-down. American and European corporate media have peddled relentless anti-Russia propaganda accusing Moscow of “aggression” and “expansionism” in Europe.

This torrent of Russophobia spewed out by Washington, the Pentagon, NATO, and the European Union has created the worst crisis in relations with Russia since the Cold War ended nearly three decades ago. There are real fears that the mounting crisis could escalate into an all-out war involving nuclear powers.

Zijlstra’s offense therefore is not merely a “mistaken” lie. His flagrant public distortion has contributed directly to the grave deterioration in geopolitical relations. One could even argue such reprehensible remarks amount to incitement of war, which is a cardinal crime under Nuremberg legal principles.

Lamentably, the mendacious senior Dutch politician is not an isolated case. Recall how former Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski was caught out telling similar defamatory lies about Russia in 2014.

Sikorski, who has been an ardent supporter of NATO force build-up against Russia, reportedly claimed that he personally overheard Vladimir Putin in 2008 plotting to annex Ukrainian territory in a covert plot. Sikorski claimed that he heard Putin propositioning then Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk with a carve-up deal of Ukraine between Poland and Russia.

Sikorski was obliged to swiftly retract the claims published in US media, and awkwardly admitting that he was not present at the alleged meeting with Putin, and that his quoted remarks were meant as a “surreal joke.”

But, again, this is no joke or mistake. It is deadly serious disinformation by senior government officials, which is recklessly inciting war tensions with Russia. Sikorski is prominently associated with pro-NATO think-tanks like the hawkish American Enterprise Institute. He is married to Anne Applebaum who makes a living from writing anti-Russian screeds for news outlets like the Washington Post.

Zijlstra and Sikorski join the ranks of Russophobia regurgitated by other European foreign ministers like Britain’s Boris Johnson who issued the outlandish claim earlier this year that Russia is “targeting” British infrastructure; or French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian who has impugned Russia for chemical weapons use in Syria – only for the French President Emmanuel Macron to admit this week that his government has actually no evidence about the use of such weapons in Syria.

Macron has made his own contribution to Russophobia by leveling unsubstantiated allegations that his presidential election campaign last year was “hacked” by Kremlin agents. He has since banned Russian news media from attending his press conferences.

All these senior government figures are irresponsibly fueling a climate of demonization against Russia which is compounding other unhinged claims made by politicians in Washington and the Baltic states. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, for example, recently claimed that Russian Iskander missiles based on Russian sovereign territory of Kaliningrad were targeting half of Europe, an alarmist claim which has been amplified by US secretary of defense James Mattis in the Pentagon’s recent Nuclear Posture Review.

The climate of hysteria – based on false, fevered official claims – is militating against normal political and diplomatic relations, which is, in turn, exacerbating the war in Ukraine and leading to wider war tensions with Russia across Europe.

A good question is why the ousted Dutch minister decided to own up this week to his lies about Putin.

The answer may be related to the bigger credibility crisis of the Dutch government and its NATO allies with regard to the whole Russophobia propaganda war.

Next month, the Netherlands is to hold a national referendum on extending powers of Dutch state intelligence to monitor public electronic communications. To convince the Dutch public to vote for more snooping powers, the authorities are relying on the hackneyed claims about Russian “meddling” and “interference”.

It seems significant that Dutch media reported last month that the country’s secret services allegedly “hacked into” Russian state hackers who were allegedly penetrating the American Democratic party’s databases during the US presidential elections back in 2015-2016. As usual, no evidence was provided to support the claims. We know from other credible reports that the Democratic party was quite possibly not hacked at all, but rather was leaked from inside by a Democrat staffer. So the Dutch intel story smearing Russia is highly dubious.

But it seems that the purported “good deed” performed by the Dutch intelligence services was pitched in the media as a way to ingratiate bona fides with the Netherlands public. The aim being to dispose the public toward voting in the referendum next month to give the Dutch state more intrusive powers over citizens to “protect” them from “nefarious Russians”.

Now, if the Dutch minister had held on to his office any longer there was a risk that his lies may have become public embarrassingly close to the March referendum, which could have resulted in the public rejecting the authorities’ desire for more snooping powers.

Perhaps then the decision was taken in high office for the minister to take the fall now in order to get rid sooner of an embarrassing story concerning his lies over Russia.

Whatever the explanation about the timing, the admission of Dutch government lying about Russian aggression in Europe is nevertheless an illuminating and appalling insight into how Russophobia and war is being fomented by the US and its European NATO allies.

Abominably, European government officials are willing to risk plunging millions of citizens into a war with Russia based on lies and warped, self-serving prejudices.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

CIA False Flag Likely in Drone Attack on Russia’s Syrian Bases

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The audacious multiple-drone attack on Russia’s military bases in Syria is increasingly looking like a false flag carried out by the American Central Intelligence Agency. Sophisticated technology and a Ukrainian connection indicate that the swarm attack with 13 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was not the work solely of Syrian anti-government militants.

What’s more the Russian government appears to have the incriminating evidence on who sanctioned the drone attacks against the Russian air base at Hmeimim and its naval port at Tartus on January 6.

The weapons failed to execute their deadly mission. Of the 13 drones used, seven were shot down by Russian Pantsir S-1 air defenses and six were safely landed by Russian electronic jamming technology. Those captured intact UAVs will have provided forensic information about what agency authored the plot.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said coyly, “We know who did it”, without as of yet specifying the culprit.

Images of the UAVs released by the Russian Ministry of Defense showed rudimentary construction from what appeared to be plywood.

However, the navigation technology and explosives onboard were sophisticated and professionally made. This was no amateurish mission, as might have been expected if militants alone had carried it out.

Furthermore, the drones were unlikely to have been made by Syrian militants. Russian analysis of the explosive PENT substance 
indicates that Ukraine was the source. That points to the Americans as the bridging agency between Ukraine and Syria.

Another key factor is that at the time of the attacks, Russian military 
detected a US Poseidon surveillance aircraft in proximity over the Syrian coastal area. The Poseidon would have the ability to guide the drones to the precise location of the Russian bases. Although the plane is commonly thought of as part of the US Navy fleet, that does not preclude the CIA having their own Poseidon aircraft.

It is also significant that Crimean lawmaker Ruslan Balbek has recently claimed that American Poseidon aircraft are being used to mount drone attacks by the US-backed Kiev regime. Balbek went further and said be believes the objective is to conduct a false flag attack on the minority Tatar community in Crimea. The “atrocity” would then be pinned on the Crimean authorities which the Western media would in turn amplify as condemnation of Russia.

On the Syrian attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin 
said last week at a meeting with senior Russian media executives that the culprit was not Turkey even though the drones were initiated from the northern Syrian province of Idlib where Turkish military forces are associated with militant groups.

“The attacks were provocations to destroy relations between Russia, Turkey and Iran. They were provocateurs, but they were not Turks,” said Putin.

Russia has yet to publicly attribute explicit blame for who was behind the drone operation. But the Kremlin appears to be confident in its incriminating information.

“Those aircraft were only camouflaged – I want to emphasize this – to look like handicraft production. In fact, it is quite obvious that there were elements of high-tech nature there,” Putin said.

The Russian president appeared to address the culprit with a cryptic remark: “You know that I know,” he said.

For its part, the Pentagon has categorically 
denied US involvement in the drone incidents. At a press conference in Washington DC last week, Marine Corps Lieutenant General Kenneth F McKenzie Jr said: “The United States was not involved in any way with the drone attack on Russian bases at any time.”

Another Pentagon spokesmen said accusations of American complicity were “ridiculous” and “reckless”.

The US military chiefs may be genuinely speaking honestly – as far as they know about the circumstances. In other words, it is plausible that the Pentagon was not involved in the drone attacks.

If so then that points to the other candidate being the CIA. After all, as US-based political analyst Randy Martin commented for this column, it is the CIA which has been the main driver behind the entire American drone weapon and surveillance program around the world, from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Ukraine to a swathe of African countries.

Given the routine clandestine and autonomous nature of the CIA, it is conceivable that neither the Pentagon nor even the Trump White House would be aware of all the agency’s operations. The agency is apt to go rogue at any time, and the lack of knowledge among other branches of government in Washington affords the all-important foil of “plausible denial”.

Here is a speculative, but credible scenario: CIA operatives on the ground in Syria launch a swarm of armed drones on the Russian bases. The rickety design of the UAVs is aimed at giving the appearance of Turkish-backed militants in Idlib province. As Putin remarked, the objective was to scapegoat Turkey as complicit. If that worked, then relations between Moscow and Ankara, as well as Tehran, would become acutely strained. Washington is known to be unhappy with the rapprochement between Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The hi-tech navigation equipment and explosives onboard the drones, plus the telltale presence of an American Poseidon surveillance aircraft in the skies above suggest the involvement of a US state agency – the CIA.

Washington’s agenda in Syria has nothing to do with defeating terrorism. It is to propagate instability and chaos to undermine the Syrian government of President Assad and allied Russian achievement in overcoming the US regime-change plot. Nothing would please the American agenda more than for Russia, Turkey and Iran to bust up their detente in Syria.

The CIA has the expertise and technological capability to mount the sophisticated drone attack on the Russian bases. It also has the motivation to carry it out to further its regime-change intrigues. Who gains?

Still, there is another wild card in the pack, as analyst Randy Martin posits. He says: “The swarm drone attack was probably the first time that such a tactic was ever used in military records. It may have been carried out not only as a false flag to blame Turkey, but also as a way for the operatives to test Russian air defenses and signals intelligence.”

Martin added: “The danger is that we can expect more such attacks, perhaps with deadly consequences, against Russian forces in Syria as well as against Crimea and separatists in Eastern Ukraine.”

The implications are grave. If it is confirmed that the CIA were behind the drone attack on Russian bases in Syria, then that is tantamount to an act of war by the Americans – regardless of it being actioned by a rogue agency.

That might explain why the Kremlin is holding its cards very close to its chest on the matter. This is explosive.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

CIA False Flag Likely in Drone Attack on Russia’s Syrian Bases

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The audacious multiple-drone attack on Russia’s military bases in Syria is increasingly looking like a false flag carried out by the American Central Intelligence Agency. Sophisticated technology and a Ukrainian connection indicate that the swarm attack with 13 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was not the work solely of Syrian anti-government militants.

What’s more the Russian government appears to have the incriminating evidence on who sanctioned the drone attacks against the Russian air base at Hmeimim and its naval port at Tartus on January 6.

The weapons failed to execute their deadly mission. Of the 13 drones used, seven were shot down by Russian Pantsir S-1 air defenses and six were safely landed by Russian electronic jamming technology. Those captured intact UAVs will have provided forensic information about what agency authored the plot.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said coyly, “We know who did it”, without as of yet specifying the culprit.

Images of the UAVs released by the Russian Ministry of Defense showed rudimentary construction from what appeared to be plywood.

However, the navigation technology and explosives onboard were sophisticated and professionally made. This was no amateurish mission, as might have been expected if militants alone had carried it out.

Furthermore, the drones were unlikely to have been made by Syrian militants. Russian analysis of the explosive PENT substance 
indicates that Ukraine was the source. That points to the Americans as the bridging agency between Ukraine and Syria.

Another key factor is that at the time of the attacks, Russian military 
detected a US Poseidon surveillance aircraft in proximity over the Syrian coastal area. The Poseidon would have the ability to guide the drones to the precise location of the Russian bases. Although the plane is commonly thought of as part of the US Navy fleet, that does not preclude the CIA having their own Poseidon aircraft.

It is also significant that Crimean lawmaker Ruslan Balbek has recently claimed that American Poseidon aircraft are being used to mount drone attacks by the US-backed Kiev regime. Balbek went further and said be believes the objective is to conduct a false flag attack on the minority Tatar community in Crimea. The “atrocity” would then be pinned on the Crimean authorities which the Western media would in turn amplify as condemnation of Russia.

On the Syrian attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin 
said last week at a meeting with senior Russian media executives that the culprit was not Turkey even though the drones were initiated from the northern Syrian province of Idlib where Turkish military forces are associated with militant groups.

“The attacks were provocations to destroy relations between Russia, Turkey and Iran. They were provocateurs, but they were not Turks,” said Putin.

Russia has yet to publicly attribute explicit blame for who was behind the drone operation. But the Kremlin appears to be confident in its incriminating information.

“Those aircraft were only camouflaged – I want to emphasize this – to look like handicraft production. In fact, it is quite obvious that there were elements of high-tech nature there,” Putin said.

The Russian president appeared to address the culprit with a cryptic remark: “You know that I know,” he said.

For its part, the Pentagon has categorically 
denied US involvement in the drone incidents. At a press conference in Washington DC last week, Marine Corps Lieutenant General Kenneth F McKenzie Jr said: “The United States was not involved in any way with the drone attack on Russian bases at any time.”

Another Pentagon spokesmen said accusations of American complicity were “ridiculous” and “reckless”.

The US military chiefs may be genuinely speaking honestly – as far as they know about the circumstances. In other words, it is plausible that the Pentagon was not involved in the drone attacks.

If so then that points to the other candidate being the CIA. After all, as US-based political analyst Randy Martin commented for this column, it is the CIA which has been the main driver behind the entire American drone weapon and surveillance program around the world, from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Ukraine to a swathe of African countries.

Given the routine clandestine and autonomous nature of the CIA, it is conceivable that neither the Pentagon nor even the Trump White House would be aware of all the agency’s operations. The agency is apt to go rogue at any time, and the lack of knowledge among other branches of government in Washington affords the all-important foil of “plausible denial”.

Here is a speculative, but credible scenario: CIA operatives on the ground in Syria launch a swarm of armed drones on the Russian bases. The rickety design of the UAVs is aimed at giving the appearance of Turkish-backed militants in Idlib province. As Putin remarked, the objective was to scapegoat Turkey as complicit. If that worked, then relations between Moscow and Ankara, as well as Tehran, would become acutely strained. Washington is known to be unhappy with the rapprochement between Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The hi-tech navigation equipment and explosives onboard the drones, plus the telltale presence of an American Poseidon surveillance aircraft in the skies above suggest the involvement of a US state agency – the CIA.

Washington’s agenda in Syria has nothing to do with defeating terrorism. It is to propagate instability and chaos to undermine the Syrian government of President Assad and allied Russian achievement in overcoming the US regime-change plot. Nothing would please the American agenda more than for Russia, Turkey and Iran to bust up their detente in Syria.

The CIA has the expertise and technological capability to mount the sophisticated drone attack on the Russian bases. It also has the motivation to carry it out to further its regime-change intrigues. Who gains?

Still, there is another wild card in the pack, as analyst Randy Martin posits. He says: “The swarm drone attack was probably the first time that such a tactic was ever used in military records. It may have been carried out not only as a false flag to blame Turkey, but also as a way for the operatives to test Russian air defenses and signals intelligence.”

Martin added: “The danger is that we can expect more such attacks, perhaps with deadly consequences, against Russian forces in Syria as well as against Crimea and separatists in Eastern Ukraine.”

The implications are grave. If it is confirmed that the CIA were behind the drone attack on Russian bases in Syria, then that is tantamount to an act of war by the Americans – regardless of it being actioned by a rogue agency.

That might explain why the Kremlin is holding its cards very close to its chest on the matter. This is explosive.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.