All posts by Philip Giraldi

The Two Brett Kavanaugh Stories

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There were two simultaneous Brett Kavanaugh stories. Together, as part of the confirmation process regarding his nomination as Supreme Court Justice, they revealed how political discourse in the United States has reached a new low, with debate over the man’s possible predilection to make judgments based on his own preferences rather than the US Constitution being ignored in favor of the politically motivated kabuki theater that was deliberately arranged to avoid that issue and instead go after his character.

Consider first of all, his flaws as a candidate. He was regularly framed as a “conservative,” but what did that mean in the context of his career? Some of the critics are referring to his time spent as a government lawyer, specifically for the George W. Bush Administration, where he was a supporter of wide executive authority in the context of the war against terror while others point to his decisions and writings during his time as a US Circuit judge from 2006 until the present. That meant essentially that Kavanaugh then supported and apparently continues to support what is now referred to as the John Yoo doctrine, named after the Department of Justice lawyer who penned the memo that made the case for the president to act unilaterally to do whatever is required in national security cases even if there be no direct or immediate threat. Yoo specifically argued that the president, by virtue of his office, is not bound by the War Crimes Act. This theory of government, also more broadly dubbed the unitary executive, was popularized by Yoo, fellow government lawyer Jay Bybee and Eric Posner of the University of Chicago.

For those who find Kavanaugh unacceptable in terms of his judicial philosophy, this repudiation of the constitutional principle of three branches of government that check each other was enough to disqualify him from a position on the Supreme Court, principally as it impacts on both the first and second articles of the constitution by granting to the president the authority to both begin and continue a war on his own recognizance. It also means that the president on his own authority can suspend first and fourth amendment rights to freedom of speech and association as well as freedom from illegal search. He supported, for example, the government’s “right” to conduct mass searches of private data such as was conducted by the NSA. Kavanaugh supports government authority to legitimize incarceration without trial and to order assassinations and torture. Kavanaugh is also on record as favoring limiting the public’s right to use the courts to redress government overreach.

But curiously enough, or perhaps not so curiously, Kavanaugh was treated with kid gloves on those critical issues, basically because both major parties are now supportive of the unitary executive concept even if they would not admit that to be the case. Bill Clinton launched cruise missiles attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan on his own authority and involved the US in a war in the Balkans. George W. Bush did the same in approving torture and expanding the war on terror to Iraq and also globally, while Barack Obama attacked both the Syrian and Libyan governments and assassinated US citizens abroad, all acts of war or war crimes carried out without a congressional declaration of war or without any real pushback by the judiciary.

The failure of Congress to carry out its duty to review Kavanaugh’s ability or lack thereof to interpret the constitution impartially was the more important story line in the confirmation process but it was ignored by the media. The other narrative that ran simultaneously, the purely political attempt made by the Democrats and some Republicans to destroy Kavanaugh as a person through the exploitation of random claims of sexual assault dating from more than thirty-five years ago, was an attempt to discredit the candidate that everyone knew right from the beginning could not be substantiated.

This all means that the important issue of Kavanaugh’s likely comportment as a judge was subjected to too little inquiry while his character as evidenced by tales from his past life received far too much attention. Ironically, the media, which has been frantically searching for an explanation for the breakdown of democracy in the United States, has been pillorying the Russians and more recently the Chinese for outside interference in the process, while ignoring the intense public dissatisfaction with the government it has been allowed to have by the Establishment, which is exemplified by the dystopic reality demonstrated by Kavanaugh. Some Americans would have rejected him based on his merits as a judge, but the case was not clearly made. Many instead came to view him as a victim of a vicious personal campaign and that was apparently enough to win confirmation, at least as reckoned by the calculus of those in Congress who cast the actual votes. In either case, the system failed to produce a good result and we only have our polarized and dysfunctional government to blame for that failure. 

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

Aux Barricades Mes Enfants!

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On October 21st there will be a Women’s March on the Pentagon hosted by the Global Women’s Peace Action. My wife and many of our friends will be going and even I will tag along in support in spite of my gender. We participate with some reservations as we have only demonstrated publicly twice since 9/11, once opposing the then about to start Iraq War and once against the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). All too often demonstrations morph into progressive exercises in flagellation of what are now referred to as “deplorable” values with little being accomplished either before, during or afterwards, apart from the piles of debris left behind to be cleaned up by the Park Service. And such events are rarely even covered by the media in Washington, where the Post generally adheres closely to a neocon foreign policy tactic, which means that if you ignore something distasteful it will eventually go away.

Hopefully on this occasion it will be different because the time for talking politics is rapidly being rendered irrelevant by the speed of Washington’s disengagement from reality and Americans of all political persuasions must begin to take to the streets to object to what their government is doing in their name. I am mildly optimistic that change is coming as I find it difficult to imagine that in spite of the relentless flood of mainstream media propaganda there is even a plurality of Americans that supports with any actual conviction what the United States is doing in Syria and what it intends to do in Iran. And apart from a desire to make voting in America safer and insofar as possible interference free, I also believe that most think that Russiagate is a load of hooey and would prefer to be friends with Moscow.

Why now? “Now” is a whole new ballgame, as the expression goes, because the utter insanity coming out of Washington could easily wind up killing most of us here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. Specifically, in a press conference on Tuesday, Kay Bailey Hutchison, a former Senator from Texas who is currently the United States’ ambassador to NATO, declared that Washington was prepared to launch a preemptive attack on Russian military installations as a response to alleged treaty violations on the part of Moscow. Note particularly what Hutchison actually said: “At that point, we would be looking at the capability to take out a missile that could hit any of our countries. Counter measures would be to take out the missiles that are in development by Russia in violation of the treaty. They are on notice.”

And note further what she was implying, namely that Washington, acting on its own authority, has the right to attack a nuclear armed and powerful foreign country based on what are presumably negotiable definitions of what are acceptable weapons to base on one’s own soil. It would be an attack on a neighbor or competitor with whom one is not at war and which does not necessarily pose any active threat. By that standard, any country with a military capability can be described as threatening and one can attack anyone else based purely on one’s own assessment of what is acceptable or not.

It is quite remarkable how many countries in the world are now “on notice” for punishment when they do things that the United States objects to. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley has warned that she will be “taking names” of those United Nations members that criticize US policies in the Middle East. As increasing discomfort with US initiatives there and elsewhere is a worldwide phenomenon, with only Israel, the Philippines, Nigeria and Kenya having a favorable view of Washington, Haley’s list is inevitably a long one. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, when they are not fabricating intelligence and inflating threats, have likewise warned specific countries that they are being judged by Washington and will be punished at a level proportionate to their transgressions.

Hutchison is not known as a deep thinker, so one has to suspect that her expressed views were fed to her by someone in Washington. Her specific grievance against Russia relates to Moscow’s reported deployment of new land-based missiles that have a claimed range of more than 5,000 kilometers, which is enough to hit most targets in Europe. If true, the development would be in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987 and would definitely pose a potential threat to the Europeans, but the more serious question has to be the rationale behind threatening a nuclear war through preemptive action over an issue that might be subject to renewed multilateral negotiation.

Hutchison and the State Department inevitably went into double-speak mode when concerns were expressed about possible preemption against Russia. She clarified her earlier comments with an almost incomprehensible “My point: Russia needs to return to INF Treaty compliance or we will need to match its capabilities to protect US & NATO interests. The current situation, with Russia in blatant violation, is untenable.”

Spokesman Heather Nauert at State then chimed in “What Ambassador Hutchison was talking about was improving overall defense and deterrence posture. The United States is committed to upholding its arms control obligations and expects Russia to do the very same thing.” Both disclaimers were needed, even if lacking in clarity, but they did not dispel the ugly taste of the initial comment regarding starting a war of preemption. Russia took note of the back and forth, with a Foreign Ministry spokesman drily observing “It seems that people who make such statements do not realize the level of their responsibility and the danger of aggressive rhetoric.” Hutchison and Nauert also do not seem aware of the fact that Russia’s frequently stated defense doctrine is to use nuclear weapons if and when it is attacked by a superior force, which might well be Moscow’s assessment of the threat posed by US led NATO.

The disconnect between the White House’s often expressed desire to improve relations with Russia and the bureaucracy’s tendency to send the opposite message is typical of what has been referred to as Trump’s “dual-track presidency”. Gareth Porter has recently observed how President Trump, for all his faults in so many ways, is indeed desirous of military disengagement in some areas but he is repeatedly being overruled or outmaneuvered by the permanent bureaucracies in government, most notably the Pentagon and intelligence services. Hutchison, Haley, Pompeo and Bolton speak and act for that constituency even when they appear to be agreeing with the president.

So given the danger of war based on what Washington itself says about the state of the world and America’s presumed role in it, it is time to take the gloves off and march. That a high-level official can even stand up and speak about preventive war with a major nuclear power is disgraceful. She should be fired immediately. That she has not been fired means that someone somewhere high up in the bureaucracy agrees with what she said. Nuclear war is not an option. It is an end of all options.

Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.

One Click Closer to Annihilation

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The nuclear war doomsday clock maintained on the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists website has advanced to two minutes before midnight, the closest point to possible atomic apocalypse since the end of the Cold War. In 1995 the clock was at fourteen minutes to midnight, but the opportunity to set it back even further was lost as the United States and its European allies took advantage of a weakened Russia to advance NATO into Eastern Europe, setting the stage for a new cold war, which is now underway.

It is difficult to imagine how the United States might avoid a new war in the Middle East given the recent statements that have come out of Washington, and, given that the Russians are also active in the region, a rapid and massive escalation of something that starts out as a minor incident should not be ruled out.

President Donald Trump set the tone when he harangued the United Nations last Tuesday, warning that the United States would go it alone in defense of its perceived interests, with no regard for international bodies that exist to limit armed conflict and punish those who commit war crimes.

Trump’s 35-minute speech featured an anticipated long section targeting Iran. He commented that:
Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond… We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants ‘Death to America,’ and that threatens Israel with annihilation, to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth.
There are a number of things exaggerated or incorrect in Trump’s description of Iran as well as in the conclusions he draws. The Middle East and other adjacent Muslim countries are in chaos because the United States has destabilized the region starting with the empowering of the Islamist Mujadeddin in the war against Soviet Afghanistan in the 1980s. It then invaded Afghanistan in 2001 followed by Iraq in 2003, enabling the rise of ISIS and giving local al-Qaeda affiliates a new lease on life, before turning on Damascus with the Syria Accountability Act later in the same year and then destroying the Libyan government under Barack Obama. These were, not coincidentally, policies promoted by Israel that received, as a result, bipartisan support in Congress.

The emotional description of disrespecting “neighbors, borders and sovereign rights” fits the  US and Israel to a “T” rather than Iran. The  US has soldiers stationed illegally in Syria while Israel bombs the country on an almost daily basis, so who is doing the disrespecting? Washington and Tel Aviv are also the principal supporters of terrorists in the Middle East, not Iran, – arming them, training them, hospitalizing them when they are injured, and making sure that they continue their work in attacking Syria’s legitimate government.

And as for “most dangerous weapons,” Iran doesn’t have any and is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Israel and the US have not signed. Nor would Iran have any such weapons in the future but for the fact that Trump has backed out of the agreement to monitor and inspect Iranian nuclear research and development, which will, if anything, motivate Tehran to develop weapons to protect itself.

Trump also elaborated on the following day regarding Iran’s alleged but demonstrably non-existent nuclear program when he indicated to the Security Council that Washington would go after countries that violate the rules on nuclear proliferation. He clearly meant Iran but the comment was ironic in the extreme, as Israel is the world’s leading nuclear rogue nation with an arsenal of two hundred nuclear devices, having stolen the uranium and key elements of the technology from the United States in the 1960s.

Trump’s new appraisal of the state of the Middle East is somewhat a turnaround. Five months ago he said that he wanted to “get out” of Syria and bring the soldiers home. But in early September, the secretary of state’s special representative for Syria engagement, James Jeffrey, indicated that the  US would stay to counter Iranian activities.

And John Bolton has also recently had a lot to say about Iran, Syria and Russia. Last Monday he confirmed that Washington intends to keep a military presence in Syria until Iran withdraws all its forces from the country. “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders, and that includes Iranian proxies and militias.” On the following day, speaking at a Sheldon Adelson funded United Against Nuclear Iran Summit, he said the “murderous regime” of “mullahs in Tehran” would face serious consequences if they persist in their willingness to “lie, cheat and deceive. If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens there will indeed be hell to pay. Let my message today be clear: We are watching, and we will come after you.”

John Bolton also warned the Russians about their decision to upgrade the air defenses in Syria in the wake of the recent Israeli bombing raid that led to the shooting down of a Russian intelligence plane. He said absurdly and inaccurately “The Israelis have a legitimate right to self-defense against this Iranian aggressive behavior, and what we’re all trying to do is reduce tensions, reduce the possibility of major new hostilities. That’s why the president has spoken to this issue and why we would regard introducing the S-300 as a major mistake.”

Bolton then elaborated that “We think introducing the S-300s to the Syrian government would be a significant escalation by the Russians and something that we hope, if these press reports are accurate, they would reconsider.” And regarding who was responsible for the deaths of the Russian airmen, Bolton also has a suitable explanation “There shouldn’t be any misunderstanding here… The party responsible for the attacks in Syria and Lebanon and really the party responsible for the shooting down of the Russian plane is Iran.”

Bolton’s desire to exonerate Israel and always blame Iran is inevitably on display. He is curiously objecting to the placement of missiles that are defensive in nature, presumably because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked him to do so. The only way one can be threatened by the S-300 is if you are attacking Syria, but that might be a fine point that Bolton fails to grasp as he was a draft dodger during the Vietnam War and has since that time not placed himself personally at risk in support of any of the wars he has been promoting.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also spoke on Monday, at the Pentagon. His spin on Iran was slightly different but his message was the same. “As part of this overarching problem, we have to address Iran. Everywhere you go in the Middle East where there’s instability you will find Iran. So in terms of getting to the end state of the Geneva [negotiations] process, Iran, too, has a role to play, which is to stop fomenting trouble.”

To complete the onslaught, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at the same United Against Nuclear Iran Summit as Bolton, accused European nations seeking to avoid  US sanctions over the purchase of Iranian oil as “solidifying Iran’s ranking as the number-one state sponsor of terrorism. I imagine the corrupt ayatollahs and IGRC [Revolutionary Guards] were laughing this morning.”

Even the US Congress has figured out that something is afoot. A bipartisan group of US senators, who were carefully briefed on what to think by the Israeli government, warned after a trip to the Middle East that war between the United States and Iranian proxies is “imminent.”

Iran is fun to kick around but China has also been on the receiving end of late. Last Wednesday the U.N. Security Council meeting was presided over by Donald Trump, who warned that Beijing is “meddling” in US elections against him personally. It is a bizarre claim, particularly as the only country up until now demonstrated as having actually interfered in American politics in any serious way is Israel. The accusation comes on top of Washington’s latest foray into the world of sanctions, directed against the Chinese government-run Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Central Military Commission and its director Li Shangfu for “engaging in significant transactions” with a Russian weapons manufacturer that is on a list of  US sanctioned companies.

The Chinese sanctions are serious business as they forbid conducting any transactions that go through the US financial system. It is the most powerful weapon Washington has at its disposal. As most international transactions are conducted in dollars and pass through American banks that means that it will be impossible for the Chinese government to make weapons purchases from many foreign sources. If foreign banks attempt to collaborate with China to evade the restrictions, they too will be sanctioned.

So if you’re paying attention to Trump, Bolton, Mattis, Pompeo and Haley you are probably digging a new bomb shelter right now. We have told Iran that it cannot send its soldiers and “proxies” outside its own borders while Syria cannot have advanced missiles to defend its airspace, which Russia is “on notice” for providing. China also cannot buy weapons from Russia while Venezuela is also being threatened because it has what is generally believed to be a terrible government. Meanwhile, America is in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to stay while nearly all agree a war with Iran is coming soon. Everyone is the enemy and everyone hates the United States, mostly for good reasons. If this is Making America Great Again, I think I would settle for just making America “good” so we could possibly have that doomsday clock go back a couple of minutes.

Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.

Washington’s Sanctions Machine

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Perhaps it is Donald Trump’s business background that leads him to believe that if you inflict enough economic pain on someone they will ultimately surrender and agree to do whatever you want. Though that approach might well work in New York real estate, it is not a certain path to success in international relations since countries are not as vulnerable to pressure as are individual investors or developers.

Washington’s latest foray into the world of sanctions, directed against China, is astonishing even when considering the low bar that has been set by previous presidents going back to Bill Clinton. Beijing has already been pushing back over US sanctions imposed last week on its government-run Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Central Military Commission and its director Li Shangfu for “engaging in significant transactions” with a Russian weapons manufacturer that is on a list of US sanctioned companies. The transactions included purchases of Russian Su-35 combat aircraft as well as equipment related to the advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile system. The sanctions include a ban on the director entering the United States and blocks all of his property or bank accounts within the US as well as freezing all local assets of the Equipment Development Department.

More important, the sanctions also forbid conducting any transactions that go through the US financial system. It is the most powerful weapon Washington has at its disposal, but it is being challenged as numerous countries are working to find ways around it. Currently however, as most international transactions are conducted in dollars and pass through American banks that means that it will be impossible for the Chinese government to make weapons purchases from many foreign sources. If foreign banks attempt to collaborate with China to evade the restrictions, they too will be sanctioned.

So in summary, Beijing bought weapons from Moscow and is being sanctioned by the United States for doing so because Washington does not approve of the Russian government. The sanctions on China are referred to as secondary sanctions in that they are derivative from the primary sanction on the foreign company or individual that is actually being punished. Secondary sanctions can be extended ad infinitum as transgressors linked sequentially to the initial transaction multiply the number of potential targets.

Not surprisingly, the US Ambassador has been summoned and Beijing has canceled several bilateral meetings with American defense department officials. The Chinese government has expressed “outrage” and has demanded the US cancel the measure.

According to media reports, the Chinese Department purchased the weapons from Rosoboronexport, Russia’s principal arms exporter. This violated a 2017 law passed by Congress named, characteristically, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which sought to punish the Russian government and its various agencies for interfering in in the 2016 US election as well as its alleged involvement in Ukraine, Syria and its development of cyberwar capabilities. Iran and North Korea were also targeted in the legislation.

Explaining the new sanctions, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert issued a statement elaborating that the initial sanctions on Russia were enacted “to further impose costs on the Russian government in response to its malign activities.” She added that the US will “urge all countries to curtail relationships with Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors, both of which are linked to malign activities worldwide.”

As engaging in “malign activities” is a charge that should quite plausibly be leveled against Washington and its allies in the Middle East, it is not clear if anyone but the French and British poodles actually believes the rationalizations coming out of Washington to defend the indefensible. An act to “Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions” is, even as the title implies, ridiculous. Washington is on a sanctions spree. Russia has been sanctioned repeatedly since the passage of the fraudulent Magnitsky Act, with no regard for Moscow’s legitimate protests that interfering in other countries’ internal politics is unacceptable. China is currently arguing reasonably enough that arms sales between countries is perfect legal and in line with international law.

Iran has been sanctioned even through it complied with an international agreement on its nuclear program and new sanctions were even piled on top of the old sanctions. And in about five weeks the US will be sanctioning ANYONE who buys oil from Iran, reportedly with no exceptions allowed. Venezuela is under US sanctions to punish its government, NATO member Turkey because it bought weapons from Russia and the Western Hemisphere perennial bad boy Cuba has had various embargoes in place since 1960.

It should be noted that sanctions earn a lot of ill-will and generally accomplish nothing. Cuba would likely be a fairly normal country but for the US restrictions and other pressure that gave its government the excuse to maintain a firm grip on power. The same might even apply to North Korea. And sanctions are even bad for the United States. Someday, when the US begins to lose its grip on the world economy all of those places being sanctioned will line up to get their revenge and it won’t be pretty.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

Shutting Down Free Speech in America: Government and Lobbyists Work Together to Destroy the First Amendment

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During the past several years, there has been increased pressure coming from some in the federal government aided and abetted powerful advocacy groups in the private sector to police social and alternative media. It is a multi-pronged attack on the First Amendment which has already limited the types of information that Americans have access to, thereby narrowing policy options to suit those in power

The process has been ostensibly driven by concerns over alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, but it is really about who controls and limits the public’s right to know what is going on out of sight in Washington and New York City, where politics and money come together. If one is interested in the free flow of information and viewpoints that comes with the alternative media, it certainly does not look that way. Robert Parry described it as a deliberate process of “demonizing and silencing dissent that questions mainstream narratives.”

Last October top executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter were summoned to Capitol Hill for a discussion of their role in what is alleged to be Russia’s influence on the presidential campaign and went back home contrite and promising to improve. They have indeed improved by punishing members whose views have been found to be unacceptable, blocking them and suspending their access to the sites. Meanwhile, the federal government for its part has attempted to silence independent non-US based voices by declaring Russian media outlets RT America and Sputnik to be “foreign agents,” requiring them to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA). It is an unprecedented action against a news agency and invites quid-pro-quo for US media operating overseas, leaving the American public more ignorant of world affairs than it already is.

Qatar based Al-Jazeera, which has been particularly targeted by Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as “a major exporter of hate against the Jewish people,” will also be required to register with FARA to comply with the new National Defense Authorization Act. Al-Jazeera, it should be noted, has employed undercover investigative journalism to expose the corruption of Britain’s government by Israeli supported Jewish groups. It’s similar series on the activity of Zionist lobbyists in America is on hold due to threats from Jewish organizations to severely punish the network if the documentary should ever be aired.

More recently Facebook has been active in removing accounts and advertising, much of it pro-Palestinian or otherwise critical of Israel, but also to include highly respectable Telesur’s “The Empire Files,” which looked at the consequences of US sanctions on Venezuela. Anything that criticizes the corporate worldview is fair game for censorship. American Herald Tribune, which is critical of US foreign policy in many areas, has recently had its Gmail shut down while Google also stopped servicing ads on its website. Its Facebook page was also closed, all done without any warning or explanation.

One of the organizations most interested in limiting conversations about what is going on in the world is the ADL which claims that it is “the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism and hate of all kinds,” though it clearly excludes incitement or even physical harm directed against Palestinian Arabs resentful of the Israeli occupation of their country. Its definition of “hatred” is really quite selective and is focused on anyone criticizing Israel or Jewish related issues. Its goal is to have any such speech or writing categorized as anti-Semitism and, eventually, to have “hate crime” legislation that criminalizes such expressions.

It is particularly ironic that Israel, which has now declared that it is in no way subject to international law, has itself proposed across the board censorship of the most prominent social media platforms on a global scale by creating an “international coalition that would make limiting criticism of Israel its primary objective.” It would operate through a “loose coalition…[that] would keep an eye on content and where it is being posted, and members of the coalition would work to demand that the platforms remove the content…in any of their countries at the request of members.”

More recently, Israel has been exposed by Wikileaks as hosting a conference describing how it now has a Command Center that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to scan the internet worldwide looking for “anti-Semitic” content. For Israel, anti-Semitic content means any criticism of its government or its behavior towards the Arabs. It reportedly pulls 200,000 posts a day and then reviews them using AI for content considered to be unacceptable. The roughly 10,000 posts determined to be anti-Semitic are then passed on to “intelligence and law enforcement agencies” in countries that have hate speech legislation for further action. The Israeli government also complains directly to the social media source to have the material taken down and works through Jewish organizations in cities and countries where there is considerable “anti-Semitic” activity to pressure governments to act even if there is no legal basis.

As most genuine independent journalism is currently limited to the alternative media, and that media lives on the internet, the ADL and those who are acting in collusion with the Israeli government are focusing on “cyberhate” as the problem and are working with major internet providers to voluntarily censor their product. On October 10th, 2017 the ADL issued a press release out of its New York City offices to explain just how far the censorship process has gone. The organization boasted of the fact that it was working with Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter “to engineer new solutions to stop cyberhate.” Apple is not identified by name in the press release but one should presume that it is also involved, as well as YouTube, which is owned by Google. When you consider that the associates in this venture with ADL are vast corporations that control huge slices of the communications industry, the consequences of some kind of corporate decision on what constitutes “hate” become clear. Combatting “cyberhate” will inevitably become across-the-board censorship for viewpoints that are considered to be unacceptable, including any criticism of Israel.

ADL will be the “convener” for the group, providing “insight on how hate and extremist content manifests – and constantly evolves-online.” Which means it will define the problem, which it calls the “spew[ing] of hateful ideologies” so the corporate world can take steps to block such material. And “the initiative will be managed by ADL’s Center for Technology and Society in Silicon Valley.”

Facebook already employs thousands of censors and there is literally no limit to how far those who want to restrict material that they consider offensive will go. To be sure, most groups who want to limit the flow of information do not have the clout or resources of ADL with its $64 million annual operating budget so its “cyberhate” campaign will no doubt serve as a model that others will then follow. For ADL, reducing criticism of Israel is a much-sought-after goal. For the rest of us, it is a trip into darkness.

Reprinted with permission from American Herald Tribune.

Bret Stephens’ Neocon Vision

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The neoconservative vision of the world is a place where the United States can do what it wants because it is both better morally speaking and also more capable of enforcing desirable standards of behavior. Such a viewpoint just might perhaps be understandable if Washington were actually willing to operate in a disinterested leadership capacity to promote standards that are generally accepted by the international community, somewhat similar to what the United Nations is supposed to do, but it becomes repugnant when there is no sense that the US is actually willing to judge itself by the values that it claims to be upholding. This is why global opinion believes that Washington, not Russia or China, is the greatest threat to world peace and also why the United States ranks near the bottom in opinion polls assessing which countries are viewed favorably.

Every story has to begin somewhere and that is the neocon trick. You take a situation that you have framed from your own perspective and then use it as a starting point for developing additional arguments that favor the action you wanted to take in the first place. In the case of a country like Iran, you claim that the Iranians must be checked because (a) they are destabilizing the region (b) building a Shi’ite land bridge to the Mediterranean (c) supporting terrorism (d) secretly constructing a nuclear weapon and (e) developing ballistic missiles that will enable them to deliver the nuclear weapons. By establishing your premise of Iranian threat as the basis for the discussion, you completely avoid having to demonstrate that Iran is actually doing any of those things, which is a good thing because every single point is either palpably false or can be easily challenged.

The same goes for Syria, where the argument is framed that Syria is becoming an Iranian satrapy and that US troops are in the country to defeat terrorists. Actually, there is a legitimate government in Damascus that is independent of Iran and it is the American soldiers that are present completely illegally in support of some of the terrorists it is supposed to be fighting. But to admit either fact to be true would not be acceptable as it would ruin the discussion from the neocon point of view.

A recent New York Times Bret Stephens op-ed “To Thwart Iran, Save Idlib” on the situation in Syria illustrates just what is wrong with neocon thinking. Stephens is a card-carrying Zionist who has lived in Israel and was between 2002 and 2004 the Editor-in-Chief of the Jerusalem Post, at that time a right-wing English language newspaper. He still supports the invasion of Iraq and predictably has declared the now-dead nuclear pact with Iran to be worse than the 1938 Munich Agreement with Adolf Hitler. It is always 1938 in Munich for someone like Stephens.

In other words, Stephens, with his blinders firmly in place, is not a go-to person if you want to know what is actually happening in Syria or Iran. His op-ed asserts that the United States must act forcefully to prevent the Syrian government’s attempt to retake its terrorist infested Idlib Province.

Why? Because Iran and Russia will be empowered otherwise and the US will appear weak. You see, Stephens believes the “top priority in the Middle East is to thwart Iran’s nuclear and regional ambitions.” He asks “So why is [the Trump Administration] so reluctant to lift a finger against Tehran’s most audacious gambit in Syria?”

Stephens explains: “By now, the strategic consequences should also be obvious. Iran will have succeeded in consolidating a Shiite crescent stretching from Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf to the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Russia will have succeeded in reasserting itself as a Mideast military victor and diplomatic power broker. Hezbollah, already the dominant political player in Lebanon, will further extend its influence in Syria. As for Assad, he will have shown that the community of civilized nations will, in fact, let you get away with murder.”

What should be done by Washington and its allies? “…The US can destroy everything that remains of the Syrian Air Force and crater the runways... If Assad continues to move, his presidential palaces should be next. After that, Assad himself. By then he will have been fairly warned. The larger goal is to establish that the US has the ability and will to achieve core foreign policy objectives at a relatively reasonable price.”

There is a word in Italian “pazzo.” It means crazy, but actually has a somewhat stronger meaning, more like delusional, completely nuts. Stephens qualifies, particularly when he presumably includes the United States and Israel among the world’s “community of civilized nations.” Both have been bombing and shooting up Syria even though Damascus has neither threatened nor attacked them. And the Shi’ite crescent is a total fabrication, invented by Israel and repeated endlessly by suck-up American politicians and media talking heads like Stephens. Iraq is 60% Shi’ite to be sure, but the rest of its mostly Sunni population is well entrenched and has fought to maintain its autonomy. Syria is 75% Sunni and 9% Christian. Lebanon is 27% Sunni, 6% Druze, and 40% Christian. Do the math Bret!

And don’t you just love the “achieve core foreign policy objectives at a relatively reasonable price” bit? Destroying the country’s air force and airports, blowing up its government buildings, and assassinating its head of state might be reasonable for armchair warriors in Washington, but it looks a lot different on the ground where most would consider it undeclared war of aggression. That’s a war crime.

And to get back to my original point, all the nonsense is designed to support a narrative of death and destruction that starts with the reader having to accept Stephen’s assertion that there is an actual threat out there even when there is none. Nice work Bret Stephens!

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

Bringing Down a President

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If anyone doubted that the top level of the intelligence agencies in Washington have dedicated themselves to ousting President Donald Trump, the past two weeks should have demonstrated precisely how such a plan of action is being executed. First came the leaked accounts of chaos in the Trump Administration derived from the Bob Woodward book Fear: Trump in the White House.

Then a New York Times op-ed entitled “I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration” written by one Anonymous who claimed to be a senior official in the White House, exploded on the scene, describing how top officials were deliberately sabotaging Trump’s policies to protect the country.

Finally, another another op-ed “Why so many former intelligence officers are speaking out” by former CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin appeared, providing a rationale for intelligence officers to speak up against the White House.

There has been considerable chatter in the media regarding the Woodward book and the Anonymous op-ed, but relatively little concerning McLaughlin, who arguably has made the most serious case for pushback against Donald Trump from within the intelligence community. To sum up the op-ed, McLaughlin wrote that many former intelligence officers are beginning to speak out against the foreign policy of the Trump Administration because America’s institutions are being seriously damaged by an “extraordinarily unprecedented context” of threats emerging from both inside and outside the country due to a “president’s dangerous behavior.”

McLaughlin claims that “failure to warn is the ultimate sin in the intelligence world” and that is precisely why he and his colleagues now speak out. In particular, and perhaps inevitably, he cites the “refus[al] to combat a well-documented covert foreign attack on U.S. elections — in the process weakening efforts by others to do so and encouraging Russia to keep it up.”

McLaughlin also addresses the issue of the credibility of the intelligence community after Trump, i.e. will the public and many policymakers henceforth believe that the national security team is in fact politically biased, tainting the judgments that it makes when delivering its intelligence product. He argues somewhat evasively and not altogether clearly that “…we have to hope most people will understand why we reject silence: It’s because this is a threat that we cannot combat silently, as we have been able to do with foreign threats — overseas and out of the public’s eye.” 

McLaughlin is praising himself and friends as constituting some kind of loyal opposition consisting of the good guys driven to protect “American values” and “American institutions” from Trump and his “deplorables.” His argument is carefully framed but ultimately self-serving. Witness his own career as Deputy Director of CIA under George Tenet, who famously sat in the United Nations sagaciously nodding to validate the argument that Saddam Hussein threatened the world with weapons of mass destruction and terrorist support. It was all a lie, leading to America’s greatest foreign policy disaster and McLaughlin was complicit. Did he ever apologize for what he did? No. He was also around when the CIA was “renditioning” people by snatching them off the streets and sending them to foreign lands to be tortured. Did he ever consider how that damaged America’s rule of law? And then there were the torture prisons. Again, silence from the suddenly-found-Jesus John McLaughlin.

And since that time, where was McLaughlin’s conscience when Barack Obama was sitting down with his intelligence advisor John Brennan and making up lists of American citizens to be killed by drone? Or planning the destruction of Libya? Apparently, the only threats that matter are those presumably generated by Donald Trump, who is particularly reviled because he has spoken of bettering relations with Russia. And when McLaughlin inevitably cites the threat from Moscow, he ignores the fact that the United States has been arming Ukraine while at the same time conducting military exercises right on Russia’s border. It has also been sanctioning Russians and Persona Non Grata’ing its diplomats regularly to punish it under Trump, making the bilateral relationship the worst it has been since the end of the Cold War. So where is the coddling of Moscow?

And McLaughlin is also wrong about the timing and substance of the intelligence officers’ speaking out. John Brennan, Michael Morell, Michael Hayden, James Woolsey and James Clapper all have been actively trying to discredit Trump since before he was nominated. Several of them have claimed absurdly that the president is a Russian spy, also suggested in some comments made by McLaughlin himself in July, including that Trump is an “intelligence recruiter’s dream.” So, it all would appear to be less a response to policies than it is a personal vendetta by a number of politicized senior officers who were lined up behind Hillary Clinton with hopes of being personally rewarded after her election.

Finally, though McLaughlin is claiming to support former intelligence officers who bravely speak out when the United States is threatened, he completely ignores a whole lot of them who have been doing just that for many years. They are sometimes labeled whistleblowers or dissidents, but McLaughlin probably considers them to be the lowest of the low. The whistleblowers and their allies have been calling for an end to the warfare surveillance state, which McLaughlin helped create and which he is still sustaining through his fearmongering, Russophobia being the wedge issue that drives both him and his “patriotic” friends. Introspection is apparently not McLaughlin’s strong suit, but he perhaps should pause and think for a second whether he and they are doing the American people any favors by their setting the stage for yet another war in their zeal to bring down Donald Trump.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

Target Syria

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It’s official. The Syrian Army assisted by Russian air support is closing in on the last major pocket of terrorists remaining in the country in the province of Idlib near Aleppo. The United States, which has trained and armed some of the trapped gunmen and even as recently as a year ago described the province as “al-Qaeda’s largest safe haven since 9/11,” has perhaps predictably warned Syria off. The White House initially threatened a harsh reaction if the Bashar al-Assad government were to employ any chemical weapons in its final attack, setting the stage for the terrorists themselves to carry out a false flag operation blamed on Damascus that would bring with it a brutal response against the regime and its armed forces by the U.S., Britain and France.

In support of the claims relating to chemical weapons use, the Trump Administration, which is itself illegally occupying part of Syria, is as usual creating a bogus casus belli. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a news conference that “This is a tragic situation, and if they [Russia and Iran] want to continue to go the route of taking over Syria, they can do that. But they cannot do it with chemical weapons. They can’t do it assaulting their people and we’re not going to fall for it. If there are chemical weapons that are used, we know exactly who’s going to use them.” As with all Haley commentary, the appropriate response should be expressing wonderment at her ability to predict who will do something before it occurs followed by “Not quite Nikki.” She should familiarize herself with her own State Department’s travel warning on Syriawhich states explicitly that “tactics of ISIS, [al-Qaeda affiliate in Idlib] Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and other violent extremist groups include the use of…chemical weapons.”

Setting the stage for a false flag provoked attack on a country that does not threaten the United States was bad enough, but now Washington has apparently hardened its line, indicating that any use of the Syrian Army to clear the province of rebels will “…not be tolerated. Period.” Haley again spoke out at the United Nations, saying “…an offensive against Idlib would be a reckless escalation. The regime and its backers must stop their military campaign in all its forms.” In support of its inflexible stance, the White House has been citing the presence of a large civilian population also trapped in the pocket even though there is no evidence whatsoever that anyone in Washington actually cares about Syrian civilian casualties.

And there is always Iran just waiting to get kicked around, when all else fails. Haley, always blissfully ignorant but never quiet, commented while preparing to take over the presidency of the UN Security Council last Friday, that Russia and Syria “want to bomb schools, hospitals, and homes” before launching into a tirade about Iran, saying that “President Trump is very adamant that we have to start making sure that Iran is falling in line with international order. If you continue to look at the spread Iran has had in supporting terrorism, if you continue to look at the ballistic missile testing that they are doing, if you continue to look at the sales of weapons we see with the Huthis in Yemen — these are all violations of security council resolutions. These are all threats to the region, and these are all things that the international community needs to talk about.”

And there is the usual hypocrisy over long term objectives. President Donald Trump said in April that “it’s time” to bring American troops home from Syria -once the jihadists of Islamic State have been definitively defeated. But now that that objective is in sight, there has to be some question about who is actually determining the policies that come out of the White House, which is reported to be in more than usual disarray due to the appearance last week of the New York Times anonymous op-ed describing a “resistance” movement within the West Wing that has been deliberately undermining and sometimes ignoring the president to further Establishment/Deep State friendly policies. The op-ed, perhaps by no coincidence whatsoever, appeared one week before the release of the new book by Bob Woodward Fear: Trump in the White House, which has a similar tale to tell and came out on Amazon today.

The book and op-ed mesh nicely in describing how Donald Trump is a walking disaster who is deliberately circumvented by his staff. One section of the op-ed is particularly telling and suggestive of neocon foreign policy, describing how the White House staff has succeeded in “[calling out] countries like Russia…for meddling and [having them] punished accordingly” in spite of the president’s desire for détente. It then goes on to elaborate on Russia and Trump, describing how “…the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But the national security team knew better – such actions had to be taken to hold Moscow accountable.”

If the op-ed and Woodward book are in any way accurate, one has to ask “Whose policy? An elected president or a cabal of disgruntled staffers who might well identify as neoconservatives?” Be that as it may, the White House is desperately pushing back while at the same time searching for the traitor, which suggests to many in Washington that it will right the sinking ship prior to November elections by the time honored and approved method used by politicians worldwide, which means starting a war to rally the nation behind the government.

As North Korea is nuclear armed, the obvious targets for a new or upgraded war would be Iran and Syria. As Iran might actually fight back effectively and the Pentagon always prefers an enemy that is easy to defeat, one suspects that some kind of expansion of the current effort in Syria would be preferable. It would be desirable, one presumes, to avoid an open conflict with Russia, which would be unpredictable, but an attack on Syrian government forces that would produce a quick result which could plausibly be described as a victory would certainly be worth considering.

By all appearances, the preparation of the public for an attack on Syria is already well underway. The mainstream media has been deluged with descriptions of tyrant Bashar al-Assad, who allegedly has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people. The rhetoric coming out of the usual government sources is remarkable for its truculence, particularly when one considers that Damascus is trying to regain control over what is indisputably its own sovereign territory from groups that everyone agrees are at least in large part terrorists.

Last week, the Trump White House approved the new US plan for Syria, which, unlike the old plan of withdrawal, envisions something like a permanent presence in the country. It includes a continued occupation of the country’s northeast, which is the Kurdish region; forcing Iran plus its proxies including Hezbollah to leave the country completely; and continued pressure on Damascus to bring about regime change.

Washington has also shifted its perception of who is trapped in Idlib, with newly appointed US Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey arguing that “. . . they’re not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator.” Jeffrey, it should be noted, was pulled out of retirement where he was a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spin off. On his recent trip to the Middle East he stopped off in Israel nine days ago to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The change in policy, which is totally in line with Israeli demands, would suggest that Jeffrey received his instructions during the visit.

Israel is indeed upping its involvement in Syria. It has bombed the country 200 times in the past 18 months and is now threatening to extend the war by attacking Iranians in neighboring Iraq. It has also been providing arms to the terrorist groups operating inside Syria.

And Netanyahu also appears to be preparing his followers for a bit of bloodshed. In a recent ceremony, he boasted that “the weak are slaughtered” while “the strong” survive — “for good or ill.” Commentators in Israel noted that the words were very close to those used by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf in a chapter describing the historical inevitability of domination by the Aryan race. They also observed that Netanyahu, like Trump, also needs a war to free himself from his legal problems.

Taking the president, the UN Ambassador, the Israeli Prime Minister and the US Special Representative for Syria at their words, it would appear that the Washington Establishment and its Israeli manipulators have narrowed the options for dealing with Syria and its regional supporter Iran to either war or war. Add to that the closing time window for doing something to ameliorate the Trump Administration’s panic over the impending midterm election, and it would seem that there is a certain inevitability regarding the process whereby the United States military will again be on the march in the Middle East.

Reprinted with permission from Unz Review.

American Warmongering and Opportunism on Parade

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The United States collectively speaking lost its mind last week during a multi-day orgy of smug self-satisfaction centered on the obsequies culminating in the state funeral of Senator John McCain. McCain became the Everyman American-style, embodying virtues that all red-blooded lovers of freedom should aspire to, a hero who fought “for the life and liberty of other people’s in other lands.” He was a man, according to the media, of matchless nobility who endured torture for love of country, a war hero who put down his sword before starting a long career in government service where he selflessly defended liberty and justice worldwide.

Unfortunately, very little of the story is true. The entire hagiographic saga of the warrior prince that has been woven around McCain by those in the media and the political world that want to use him to demonstrate the deficiency of those qualities in Donald Trump is little more than a work of fiction. John McCain was a monster, betraying his country while a prisoner in Hanoi and then his former comrades-in-arms after the war ended. From Vietnam he learned nothing, saying “I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.”

McCain subsequently embraced every war that came his way while also promoting regime change and doing his best to start new wars in places where America had no interests. Think Afghanistan, Iraq, Georgia, Ukraine, Somalia and Syria just for starters. A prosperous Libya was bombed into anarchy and is now ruled by gangs who have reopened slave markets. McCain was also an opportunist par excellence, parlaying his dubious war record into a political career and at the same time ditching a first wife whom he considered a liability to marry the daughter of a multi-millionaire Arizona beer distributor to finance his personal ambitions.

The number of politicians of all stripes and media hacks eager to climb on the McCain bandwagon is quite astonishing, particularly as the Senator’s real track record is well known inside the beltway. Songs of praise were of course expected from leading Establishment and Deep State toadies completely lacking moral compasses, to include George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, but even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, self-described socialist and darling of America's progressives, enthused over the “maverick” warrior, whom she never had met, whose “…legacy represents an unparalleled example of human decency and American service.” Another leftist who should know better, Senator Elizabeth Warren, recalled fondly how McCain advised her “To always get in the fight and throw some punches.”

Only the honest and honorable ex-President Jimmy Carter has had the courage to buck the trend and tell it like it is regarding McCain, describing him in 2014 as a “warmonger.” Hanging the human decency label on McCain is the ultimate travesty as he is a man who actively promoted the policies that have killed millions around the world, to include thousands of his own countrymen. Indeed, he was a symbol of American interventionism, having led the Republican wing of the National Endowment for Democracy, a US government funded democracy promotion engine which has interfered in more elections and governments than even the CIA did in its heyday.

So who is the real John McCain? A credible case has been made that McCain, who was shot down while bombing a civilian target, almost certainly crossed the line and collaborated extensively while a prisoner in North Vietnam before being exonerated through a Navy Department cover-up of his behavior after his release from captivity. His own subsequent actions as a congressman to block any inquiry into the status of possible US prisoners of war remaining in Indochina have also been examined in some detail by prize winning journalist Sydney Schanberg and quite appropriately condemned.

But McCain is perhaps best known for his recent efforts to increase US involvement in Syria and also instigate war with Russia and Iran. Fighting between Georgia and Russia broke out in 2008 when Tbilisi threatened and then attacked Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. McCain responded, “We are all Georgians now,” urging that the US enter the conflict on behalf of Georgia. He later was present in Maidan Square in Kiev together with the odious Victoria Nuland, stirring up opposition to the regime in power that was friendly to Russia. When regime change subsequently took place and fighting broke out, McCain led congressional moves to actively support the new Ukrainian government against Moscow. And who can forget the good Senator’s photo-op with ISIS terrorists in Syria as well as his sparkling rendition of “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” on the Howard Stern radio program?

So it is goodbye to John McCain. And I would add, good riddance.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.

Sources Go Quiet in Moscow

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A quite astonishing article recently appeared in the New York Times, astonishing even by the standards of that newspaper, which featured Judith Miller and Michael Gordon in the Pentagon-sponsored lie machine that led up to the catastrophic war against Iraq. The article, entitled “Kremlin Sources Go Quiet, Leaving CIA in the Dark about Putin’s Plans for Midterms,” claims that the United States has had a number of spies close to the Russian president “who have provided crucial details” that have now stopped reporting at a critical time with midterm elections coming up. The reporting is sourced to “…American officials familiar with the intelligence” who “…spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal classified information.”

After reading the piece, my first reaction was that Judith Miller was back but the byline clearly read Julian E. Barnes and Matthew Rosenberg. Noms de plume, perhaps? The article is so astonishingly bad on so many levels that it could have been featured in Marvel Comics instead of the Gray Lady. First of all, if American intelligence truly has in the Kremlin high level human agents, referred to as humint, it would not be publicizing the fact for fear that Moscow would intensify its search for the traitors and discover who they were. No intelligence officer speaking either openly or anonymously would make that kind of fatal mistake by leaking such information to a journalist.

If indeed the source of the leak was a genuine intelligence officer it suggests a different, more plausible interpretation. The CIA might, in fact, have no high-level agents at all at the Kremlin level and is intent on having the Russians waste time and energy looking for the moles. There is additional evidence in the article that the agent story might be a fabrication. The authors assert that the CIA agents in Moscow provided critical information relating to the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. The nature of that information, if it existed at all, is something less than transparent and the piece cites no less an authority on Moscow’s subversion than ex-Agency Director John Brennan, who connived at electing Hillary when he was at CIA and has had an axe to grind ever since. Having Brennan as a source is an indication that the two journalists were desperate and were willing to cite anyone.

And then there are the narratives that the journalists accept to make their whole story credible. As the title of the article suggests, they believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin has a “plan” for America’s midterm elections. To support that conjecture they cite recent assertions from both corporate and government leaders that there has been meddling in cyber systems and on social media over the past few months, though it is interesting to note that no evidence has been provided to link such activity to Russia.

So, does Putin have a plan? The New York Times apparently believes he does. And what would that plan involve? The Times thinks it is no less than “a broad chaos campaign to undermine faith in American democracy.” It also cites Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats as affirming that Putin is “intent on undermining American democratic systems.” Think about that for a moment. Why would Russia want to damage an already oftentimes dysfunctional system of government? To replace it with what? A dictatorship might be more effective and even warlike, contrary to Russia’s own interests. Why mess with something that is already messy all by itself?

The article also hurls out other lies and half-truths. It assumes that Russia was trying to change the outcome of the 2016 US election, for which there is no evidence at all, and it also claims that Putin is killing off spies, citing the Skripal case in Britain, for which proof of an actual Russian connection has never been presented.

And finally, then there is an odd whine from a former CIA Russia expert John Sipher blaming the intelligence failure on the likelihood that the Agency Station in Moscow is tiny and ineffective because “The Russians kicked out a whole bunch of our people” in their expulsion of sixty American diplomats/spies in March. Sipher is inter alia confirming to Moscow that many of those expelled were, in fact, CIA. He also needs to recall that the persona non grata (PNG) move was in response to the US expelling sixty Russians and closing two diplomatic facilities over Skripal, which means the United States deliberately took self-inflicted steps that it should have known would cripple its ability to spy in Moscow. And now it is complaining because it doesn’t know what is going on.

Reprinted with permission from Strategic Culture Foundation.