Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 25, 2017

Librulism Run Amok - "My 7-Year-Old Is Transgender"

A society concerned about the welfare of its children would protect this boy from his mother's abuse.  But here she is rewarded with Washington Post op-ed space to promote her politics to the detriment of her child.

My 7-year-old daughter Henry is transgender. She’d change Trump’s mind.

The first time we knew that Henry was different, she was 2. When she found her cousin’s Barbie doll, she lit up like a Christmas tree. “The hair, Mama,” she cooed. “Look at her looong hair!” Henry continued to show us, in every way she could, that she wanted to live as a girl.

Henry is a boy. His mother is as crazy as this dude.

I have raised children. Two, three or seven year old kids have no real concept of gender. They can and do change their roles all the time. Henry is a boy, born a boy with all the biological accessories. A boy who likes to play with dolls is perfectly normal and does not express or constitutes anything special.

Every boy I watched growing up tried and mimicked at times a girls role - put on skirts, put on lipstick etc. (I also inherited pictures showing me as a child doing such.)  Likewise girls also change their role into male ones, taking up typical male role behavior, "I am the father now." That is the "play age".

Later, in the early pubertal development, comes a phase where sexual enthusiasm to persons of ones own gender is prevalent. A boy's first "best friend forever" is usually a boy. The girl's "best friend forever" is usually a girl. After that phase comes the real sexual orientation and with it the development of a real gender identity. Only when that process is finished can a judgement be made whether the psychological gender identity really differs from the biological one. Only then can real transsexuality, which is a rare phenomenon, be diagnosed.

Is there any peer review research that comes up with a different conclusion?

Real transsexuals can find help with a medical gender change. The country with the most liberal attitude towards such is (the usually demonized) Iran.

I find the current propaganda campaign in "librul" U.S. media for the "rights" of "transsexual children" deeply disturbing. It puts policy above the welfare of children. Equally disturbing is the role of parents in creating such "transsexuals".

The mother writing the WaPo op-ed is doing her child no favor in projecting her preferences on him. She reminds me of those crazy parents who sent their 7 year old child to blow herself up in a police station in Damascus. That girl did not believe that she was a boy. But she believed, like her parents, that she would immediately go to heaven. Her father had told her so.

What is the difference between that father and the mother that tells her five year old boy to use a public girl's bathroom because she think he feels like one?

Posted by b at 08:29 AM | Comments (49)

February 23, 2017

Syria - A Confused Trump Strategy Lets Erdogan U-Turn Again

There are two new developments on the Syrian front. The Islamic State suddenly changed its tactic and the Turkish President Erdogan again changed his policy course.

In the last 24 hours news announcements about victories against the Islamic state (ISIS) rapidly followed each other:

  • The Kurdish U.S. proxy forces in east Syria (SDF) announced that it had reached the northern bank of the Euphrates between Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. This cuts the ISIS communication line between the two cities.
  • Turkish forces and their "Syrian rebel" mercenaries have been attacking Al-Bab east of Aleppo for nearly four month. They made little progress and incurred huge losses. Late yesterday they suddenly broke into the city and today took control of it. Various sources claim that a deal was made between the Turkish forces and ISIS for the later to evacuate Al-Bab unharmed and with its personal weapons. It is not yet known what price Turkey paid in that deal.
  • South of Al-Bab the Syrian Army is moving further east towards the Euphrates and took several villages from ISIS. The Syrian move is largely designed to cut the roads between the Turkish forces around Al-Bab and the Islamic State forces in Raqqa. (This now might become a race.)
  • Further south another Syrian Army group is moving east towards Palmyra.
  • In the eastern city of Deir Ezzor the Syrian army garrison is under siege by Islamic State forces. A few weeks ago the situation there looked very dire. But with reinforcements coming in by helicopter and massive Russian air force interdiction the position held out quite well. In recent days the defenders took several hills from a retreating ISIS.
  • In Iraq the army, police and the various government militia are pushing towards south Mosul. Today the airport south of the city fell into their hands with little fighting. Like everywhere else ISIS had stopped its resistance and pulled back. Only a few rearguards offered tepid resistance.

While ISIS was under pressure everywhere the sudden retreat on all fronts during the last 24 hours is astonishing and suggest some synchronicity. A central order must have been given to pull back to the buildup areas of Raqqa in Syria and south Mosul in Iraq.

But ISIS has nowhere to go from those areas. Mosul is completely surrounded and Raqqa is mostly cut off. After the massacres they committed everywhere ISIS fighters can not expect any mercy. They have made enemies everywhere and aside from a few (Saudi) radical clerics no friends are left to help them. The recent retreats are thereby likely not signs of surrender. ISIS will continue to fight until it is completely destroyed. But for now the ISIS leaders decided to preserve their forces. One wonders what they plan to stage as their last glorious show. A mass atrocity against the civilians in the cities it occupies?

When in late 2016 the defeat of the "Syrian rebels" proxy forces in east-Aleppo city was foreseeable the Turkish President Erdogan switched from supporting the radicals in north-west Syria to a more lenient stand towards Syria and its allies Russia and Iran. The move followed month of on and off prodding from Russia and after several attempts by Erdogan to get more U.S. support had failed. In late December peace talks started between Syria, Russia, Turkey and Iran with the U.S. and the EU excluded.

But after the Trump administration took over the Turkish position changed again. Erdogan is now back to betting on a stronger U.S. intervention in Syria that would favor his original plans of installing in Syria an Islamic government under Turkish control:

Cont. reading: Syria - A Confused Trump Strategy Lets Erdogan U-Turn Again

Posted by b at 10:42 AM | Comments (124)

February 22, 2017

The War Hawks Rolled Donald Trump

President Trump's first National Security Advisor Mike Flynn got kicked out of office for talking with Russian officials. Such talks were completely inline with Trump's declared policies of détente with Russia. (I agree that Flynn should have never gotten the NSA job. But the reasons for that have nothing to do with his Russian connections.)

Allegedly Flynn did not fully inform Vice-President Pence about his talk with the Russian ambassador. But that can not be a serious reason. The talks were rather informal, they were not transcribed. The first call is said to have reached Flynn on vacation in the Dominican Republic. Why would a Vice-President need to know each and every word of it?

With Flynn out, the war-on-Russia hawks, that is about everyone of the "serious people" in Washington DC, had the second most important person out of the way that would probably hinder their plans.

They replaced him with a militaristic anti-Russian hawk:

In a 2016 speech to the Virginia Military Institute, McMaster stressed the need for the US to have "strategic vision" in its fight against "hostile revisionist powers" — such as Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran — that "annex territory, intimidate our allies, develop nuclear weapons, and use proxies under the cover of modernized conventional militaries."

General McMaster, the new National Security Advisor, gets sold as a somewhat rebellious, scholar-warrior wunderkind. When the now disgraced former General Petraeus came into sight he was sold with the same marketing profile.

Petraeus was McMaster's boss. McMaster is partially his creature:

He was passed over for brigadier general twice, until then-Gen. David Petraeus personally flew back to Washington, D.C., from Iraq to chair the Army’s promotion board in 2008.

When Petraeus took over in the war on Afghanistan he selected McMaster as his staff leader for strategy,

McMaster was peddled to the White House by Senator Tom Cotton, one of the most outlandish Republican neocon war hawks.

McMaster's best known book is "Dereliction of Duty" about the way the U.S. involved itself into the Vietnam War. McMaster criticizes the Generals of that time for not having resisted then President Johnson's policies.

He is the main author of an Army study on how to militarily counter Russia. McMaster is likely to "resist" when President Trump orders him to pursue better relations with Moscow.

Trump has now been boxed in by hawkish, anti-Russian military in his cabinet and by a hawkish Vice-President. The only ally he still may have in the White House is his consigliere Steve Bannon. The next onslaught of the "serious people" is against Bennon and especially against his role in the NSC. It will only recede when he is fired.

It seems to me that Trump has been rolled with the attacks on Flynn and the insertion of McMaster into his inner circle. I wonder if he, and Bannon, recognize the same problematic development and have a strategy against it.

Posted by b at 12:19 AM | Comments (166)

February 20, 2017

The "Blind Sheik" And The CIA - Media Again Bury U.S. Support For Radical Islamism

Two days ago the Takfiri Islamist leader Omar Abdul-Rahman , the so called "Blind Sheik", died in a U.S. prison. He had been found guilty of involvement in the 1993 attempt to bring down the World Trade Center in New York and of other crimes.

The obituaries of Omar Abdul-Rahman in U.S. media are an example of white washing of the U.S. exploitation of radical Islamism for its imperial purposes. While extensively documented in earlier media and official reports the CIA's facilitation and involvement with Abdul-Rahman is seemingly stricken from history.

Since the 1970s Omar Abdul-Rahman was involved in the growth of radical Sunni Islamism:

Founded in 1976, Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt (FIBE) is part of the banking empire built by Saudi Prince Mohammed al-Faisal. Several of the founding members are leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including the “Blind Sheikh,” Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman.

Financed by Saudi sources Abdul-Rahman created various groups of radicals in Egypt and gets deeply involved with Al-Qaeda, recruiting fighters for Afghanistan in cooperation with the CIA and the Pakistani secret services. He was the ideological leader of Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, an Islamic radical organization in Egypt responsible for several terrorist attacks. He traveled to the U.S. several timed between 1986 and 1990 to further his violent ideology. His visas were issued by CIA agents despite his appearance on a State Department terrorism watch list. In 1990 he moves to the U.S. where he preached his violent Islam and continued to recruit fighters for radical causes.

In December 1990 the New York Times reported:

The 52-year-old religious leader, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, entered the country more than five months ago despite being on a State Department list of people with ties to terrorist groups, the authorities said. He illegally obtained a tourist visa from a consul in the United States Embassy in Khartoum, the Sudan, in May, according to records of the Federal Immigration and Naturalization Service and State Department officials.

In July 1993 the NYT reported that "illegally obtained tourist visa" was not illegal at all:

Central Intelligence Agency officers reviewed all seven applications made by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman to enter the United States between 1986 and 1990 and only once turned him down because of his connections to terrorism, Government officials said today.
...
Mr. Abdel Rahman helped to recruit Arab Muslims to fight in the American-backed war in Afghanistan, and his lawyer and Egyptian officials have said he was helped by the C.I.A. to enter the United States.
...
American officials had acknowledged last week that the diplomat at the United States Embassy in Khartoum who signed the May 1990 visa request that allowed Mr. Abdel Rahman to enter the United States was in fact a C.I.A. officer.

Several attempts to remove Abdel-Rahman from the U.S. mysteriously failed. In 1991 he was inexplicably granted a Green Card despite still being blacklisted.

His involvement in the 1993 WTC bombing was a typical "blowback" from the CIA's chronic support of radical takfiri Islamism, supported by Saudi Arabia, whenever it helps its "regime change" plans here or there. Over the last years such CIA support led to the growth of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

After the recent death of Omar Abdul-Rahman several obituaries appeared in U.S. media. But none of them mention or dig into his deep and long CIA connections and the continuing CIA support for radical Islamism.

There is zero mentioning of the CIA and the visa shenanigans in his NYT obit, despite its earlier reporting. Neither the Associated Press nor AFP mention any connection to the CIA. The British service Reuters buries the visa story in one sentence in the 12th paragraph.

That the deep involvement over the years of the CIA (and FBI) in the crimes Omar Abdul-Rahman is now swept under the carpet and forgotten is not just coincidentally. It is a distinct feature of U.S. political culture.

The British poet Harold Pinter referred to this in his 2005 Nobel lecture:

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest.

I have called this chronic forgetfulness the concept of immaculate conception of U.S. (foreign) policy. There never is an acknowledged history of U.S. misdeeds that may have led to this or that current blowback. When there is one it immediately gets buried, pushed out of sight, never to be talked about. The same applies to partisan policies within the U.S.

Currently the fake "resistance" against a Trump presidency blasts his policy of seeking better relations with Russia, his temporary travel ban reference to seven specific countries and his words against media leaks. But it was the Secretary of State Clinton who initiated a "reset" with Russia, it was the Obama administration that set a ban on those seven countries and it was the Obama justice department that used the espionage act against journalists for publishing leaked material. That all is now forgotten and not to be talked about.

Likewise the deep CIA connection with Omar Abdul-Rahman is now scrubbed from any of the semi-official media reporting. This at the same time the CIA continues its involvement with radical Islamists in Syria and elsewhere.

Pinter continued his lecture:

The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.
...

To not be taken in by the "immaculate conception" mechanism I recommend to reread or watch Pinter's lecture every once a while.

Posted by b at 02:53 PM | Comments (61)

February 19, 2017

Open Thread 2017-07

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:55 PM | Comments (123)

February 18, 2017

Elections In France - CIA Spies On Political Parties, NYT Claims "Russian" Interference

New York Times Editorial, February 18, 2017: Keeping the Kremlin’s Hands Off France’s Elections

With the United States engulfed in questions about Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election, France is determined to head off any such meddling in its coming presidential election.

Wikileaks, February 16, 2017: CIA espionage orders for the 2012 French presidential election

All major French political parties were targeted for infiltration by the CIA's human ("HUMINT") and electronic ("SIGINT") spies in the seven months leading up to France's 2012 presidential election. The revelations are contained within three CIA tasking orders published today by WikiLeaks ...


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NYT:

On Monday Richard Ferrand, the director of Emmanuel Macron’s campaign, claimed that the Russians had unleashed “hundreds and even thousands” of hacking attempts against Mr. Macron, and that RT and Sputnik, government-controlled news outlets, are spreading fake news, as they were said to have done during the American election cycle. The stories about Mr. Macron range from allegations that he is engaged in a secret extramarital gay affair to accusations that he used state funds to pay for foreign travel.

Marine Le Pen, the far-right National Front candidate, who has received Russian financing, is expected to win the most votes in a crowded field in the first round of voting, on April 23.

Wikileaks:

Cont. reading: Elections In France - CIA Spies On Political Parties, NYT Claims "Russian" Interference

Posted by b at 06:05 AM | Comments (81)

Syria - Turks Fail To Take Al-Bab - "Rebels" Die In Infighting

This week the Turkish President Erdogan visited the Gulf states. He asked for bigger investment in Turkey and for cash for his project to occupy more parts of Syria. A week ago Erodgan had claimed:

“Al-Bab is about to be captured. Manbij and Raqqah are next,” Erdogan said, adding their number one priority was to form a safe zone in the country.

This week he brought his Army Chief of Staff Arak to the Gulf to declare victory. Several Erdogan friendly media outlets in Turkey (any other left?) reported:

Operation Euphrates Shield has entered a new phase in al-Bab, as the offensive stage is over now that the town has largely been recaptured from Daesh.

“The operation in al-Bab is over," Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar said at a press conference in Qatar on Wednesday during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's trip to Gulf countries.
...
Silence now dominates the area that was once scene to heavy clashes. Turkish tanks patrol al-Bab's streets and the Syrian opposition has pressed a major advance.

That claim was a huge lie. While Turkish forces had earlier taken some outskirts of Al-Bab and claimed to own 40% of the city they were by then stuck and later in full retreat.

Yesterday the Turkish forces lost the Al-Hikma hospital and the automatic bakery they had earlier captured and retreated from all inner districts of Al-Bab. At least 90% of Al-Bab is still in Islamic State hands.

Geolocated video by the Islamic State and Turkish supported forces show that the Turks are back at their starting points at the outer city limits.


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As many as 430 Syrian civilians have been killed by Turkish forces and their auxiliaries. Just last week the MI-6 sponsored Syrian Observatory said that Turkish bombing killed more than 60 in Al-Bab. It confirmed videos posted by the Islamic State which showed killed children and destroyed houses. Unlike with every death cause by fighting between Takfiris and the Syrian Army no "western" main-stream media picked up on that.

Cont. reading: Syria - Turks Fail To Take Al-Bab - "Rebels" Die In Infighting

Posted by b at 01:53 AM | Comments (42)

February 16, 2017

In Which Reporting About "Fake News" Turns Out To Be Such

Another rather amusing piece about fake news is published in today's New York Times.

The headline:

Fake News, Fake Ukrainians: How a Group of Russians Tilted a Dutch Vote

It is amusing because no fact in the piece agrees with the headline. The piece itself turns out to be fake news. It is about old stuff, not news at all, and the content does not support the theses. 

Some Ukrainian expats lobbied in the Netherlands against a vote for a EU-Ukrainian association agreement. Some Dutch people of Russian heritage also lobbied that way. The Dutch eventually rejected the agreement with 61.1% of votes against it and 38.1% in favor.

That vote took place in April 2016. I am not aware of any reason why that poll would now deserve a piece. Its purpose is certainly not to report current news or the vote itself. It does no explain what the vote was really about nor does it mention the numeric results.

A few expats in the Netherlands took part in public discussions and argued for the side of the vote that eventually won. They did so without hiding their identity, fairly and completely within the bounds of all laws. There is no sign at all that they had any influence on the vote.

But that is not good enough for the NYT. "Putin did it" is a standing order. Indeed the lobbying Ukrainians must have been "fake Ukrainians" and secretly Russians because somehow no Ukrainian would ever argue against the violent  Maidan putsch and its consequences:

They attended public meetings, appeared on television and used social media to denounce Ukraine’s pro-Western government as a bloodthirsty kleptocracy, unworthy of Dutch support.
...
The most active members of the Ukrainian team were actually from Russia, or from Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine, and parroted the Kremlin line.

The author seems to express that people "from Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine" (which include at least a third of the country) are "fake Ukrainians"? That they have no agency as Ukrainians but are only capable to "parrot the Kremlin line"? Are these Russian speaking Ukrainians of less value? Is there something wrong with having an opinion that does not parrot the Washington/Brussels line?

Then comes a caveat that takes the intended blow out of the whole buildup of the piece:

It is unclear whether the Ukrainian team was directed by Russia or if it was acting out of shared sympathies ...

Could it be that it is neither-nor? That there is third reason why they acted that way? Maybe because they are convinced that the EU-Ukraine agreement is not in the best interest for either country? (Not said in the piece: The agreement in questions is way more than an trade or economic agreement. It includes binding defense and political alignment clauses.)

Let us look at the "Fake Ukrainians" and "Group of Russians":

One such [Russian] contact is Vladimir Kornilov, a Russian-born historian and political analyst who grew up in eastern Ukraine and now lives in The Hague, where he runs a one-man research outfit called the Center for Eurasian Studies.

Before the Dutch referendum last year, Mr. Kornilov campaigned against the Ukraine trade deal, describing himself benignly as “a Ukrainian expat in The Hague” who was “stunned by the seemingly endless stream of lies and propaganda” about Russia and felt obliged to respond.

Vladimir Kornilov looks around 40 years old. When he was born there was no "Russia" or "Ukraine" as we understand them today. The historic Russia included the Ukraine. When Kornilov was born there was the Soviet Union with many federal entities. "Russian-born" and "grew up in eastern Ukraine" is a national categorization that no one made before the USSR fell apart. People would have said "born in Moscow" and "grew up in Donetsk" or something of that kind.

Kornilov strongly disagrees with the NYT piece and especially the "fake Ukrainians" headline:

Vladimir Kornilov @Kornilov1968

@nytimesworld Dear editors! What does it mean "Fake Ukrainians"? Your author know that I'm an Ukrainian citizen and don't have another pass
4:07 AM - 16 Feb 2017

The only "Russian" with which the piece comes up with is a young student who came to the Netherlands as a child:

A particularly active member of the Ukrainian team was Nikita Ananjev, a 26-year-old student born in Moscow who moved with his mother to the Netherlands, where he is now chairman of the Russian Student Association.

Ananjev describes himself publicly as "Dutch raised but still 80% Russian".

Kornilov and Ananjev are the only two relevant persons the NYT piece identifies. They are the "Fake Ukrainians" and "Group of Russians" the headline describes.

The "fake Ukrainian" is not "fake" at all but a real Ukrainian. The "Group of Russians" is a Dutch raised student in Rotterdam. The NYT has found no sign of any actual Russian influence on their public arguments or opinions. There is zero evidence in the piece, none at all, that these people "tilted a Dutch vote". There is not even one attempt made to show that this was the case.

The people of the Netherlands, Dutch people, voted against the preference of the NYT editors by a quite large margin. That this might have to do with the rather bad agreement the vote was about, or with the illegality of the U.S. organized Maidan putsch, does not deserve any question or attention. Instead we get false assertions about foreign influence stated as facts with nothing to back that up.

The "fake news" in the headline makes sense only as a description of the piece itself.

There is no argument in it that actually supports the headline. There are no "fake Ukrainians", there is no "Group of Russians" and those few expats who were active did not "tilt the Dutch vote".

The piece is also fake news because it contains no news at all. The vote was 10 month ago. The expats lobbied openly before the vote took place. Nothing mentioned in the piece has since changed. There is no one new fact in it.

It is cooked up propaganda which does no include any facts to back up its message. A rather sorry attempt to stoke the anti-Russian campaign that was intensified by Hillary Clinton first to win the election and, when that had failed, to explain her loss. It fits the imperial illusion of the "sole superpower" the NYT generally peddles. But it does not really serve its purpose.  It is completely unconvincing and easy to debunk. It is fake news.

Posted by b at 04:03 PM | Comments (134)

February 15, 2017

The Dangerous Precedents Of The Hunt Against Flynn ... And Trump

Kicking Flynn out of his office has hurt Trump. His standing is diminished. The efforts against Flynn, mainly by the "deep state" in the intelligence agencies, were designed to change Trump's declared foreign policy aims. They worked. Yesterday the White House spokesperson said:

President Trump has made it very clear that he expects the Russian government to deescalate violence in the Ukraine and return Crimea.

Today Trump tweeted:

Donald J. Trump Verified account @realDonaldTrump
Crimea was TAKEN by Russia during the Obama Administration. Was Obama too soft on Russia?
4:42 AM - 15 Feb 2017

That is a position Trump had not preciously taken. "Return Crimea" is a no-no to any current and future Russian government. If Trump insists on this the prospective détente is already dead.

Several writers along the political spectrum point out that this show of raw power by the "intelligence community" is a great danger.

Damon Linker in The Week:

Cont. reading: The Dangerous Precedents Of The Hunt Against Flynn ... And Trump

Posted by b at 02:35 PM | Comments (211)

February 14, 2017

The Flynn Defenestration Will Hamper Trump's Foreign Policy

Trump's National Security Advisor Flynn resigned after only three weeks in office. While I am certainly no fan of Flynn or of Trump I find this defenestration a dangerous event. It will hamper any big change in U.S. foreign policy that Trump may envision.

The resignation followed a highly orchestrated campaign against Flynn by intelligence officials, the media and some people within the White House.

After the election and Trump's unexpected win the Obama administration slapped sanctions on Russia and sent Russian embassy officials back to Moscow. This move was intended to blockade a Trump policy of better relations with Russia. Flynn talked with the Russian ambassador and, as a direct result, the Russian's did not respond tit for tat for the sanctions and expulsions. This was an absolutely positive move and in full accordance with announced Trump policies. Henry Kissinger made a similar move and visited the Russian embassy weeks before he became Nixon's NSC. During the 2012 election Obama made a similar "deal" with the Russians in a comparable situation:

President Barack Obama was caught on camera on Monday assuring outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he will have "more flexibility" to deal with contentious issues like missile defense after the U.S. presidential election.

Despite tens or hundreds of claimed White House leaks in the media I am still not sure what really happened next. Trump's enemies and some intelligence officials accused Flynn of lying about the phone calls with the Russian ambassador. It is unclear what the alleged lies really are and especially why they should matter. Obfuscation is part of any White House business. If Flynn had secretly talked with the Israeli ambassador (which he probably did) no one would have attacked him.

So why was Flynn really under pressure and why didn't Trump back him? It would have been easy for Trump to say: "I ordered Flynn to do that. Obama did similar. In both cases it was a GREAT success. USA! USA! USA!" Nobody would have been able to further attack Flynn over the issue after such a protective move.

But Trump, completely against his style, held his mouth and did nothing. What else happened in the White House that let him refrain from backing Flynn?

Sure, the real beef other people have with Flynn is not about Russia but other issues, like his plans to reform the intelligence services. But by throwing Flynn out like this Trump opened himself to further attacks.

As it looks now a rather small gang of current and former intelligence officials - with the help of the anti-Trump media - leaked Flynn out of his office. They will not stop there.

Now blood is in the street and the hyenas will lust for more. The Trump magic is broken. He has shown vulnerability. Now they will go after their next target within the Trump administration and then the next and the next until they have Trump isolated and by the balls. He just invited them to proceed. All major foreign policy moves he planned will be hampered. The detente with Russia has probably ended before it even started.

There is another, overlooked country where Flynn's position as NSC influenced policy decisions. Flynn had at times lobbied for Turkey and good relations with the Erdogan government. Even on the very day of the presidential election an op-ed of his damning Erdogan's enemy Gülen and lauding Turkey was published.

After Trump was inaugurated and again talked of no-fly-zones the Turkish president Erdogan made another of his famous 180 degree turns.

Erdogan had wanted a no-fly-zones (aka a Turkish protectorate) in Syria from the very beginning of the war. The Obama administration would not give him one and in the later years shunned him. Erdogan turned to Russia but was told that he would have to limit his ambitions in Syria: no no-fly-zone, no Turkish march to Manbij or Raqqa. Erdogan agreed. But after Trump talked of new sanctions  and Flynn was installed as NSC Erdogan again changed his position. He is now again calling for a no-fly-zone and is again promising to conquer Manbij (held by Kurds) and Raqqa (held by the Islamic State). (Any such attempt would be hopeless. The Turkish army and its Islamist proxy forces have tried to conquer the much smaller Al-Bab, held by the Islamic State, for over four month now and still fail at it.)

The Russian's will have taken note of such unreliable behavior. One wonders how Erdogan now feels as his lobbyist in a top position of the Trump administration is gone. If the Trump administration now acts against his plans will he creep back to Putin and ask for forgiveness? Would that be accepted?

Flynn is no big loss for the world, the U.S. or the Trump administration. But Trump has now lost the initiative. He long managed to set the media agenda for the day by this or that "outrageous" tweet or remark. Now this advantage has been taken away from him over some nonsense allegations and his lack of backing for one of his top people.

He will soon rue the day he let this happen.

Posted by b at 12:42 PM | Comments (145)

February 13, 2017

Organized Campaigns Hit At Trump's Foreign Policy Plans

At the end of his administration Obama implemented a series of anti-Russian moves. The most obvious was the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats over unfounded allegation of Russian interference in the U.S. elections. Other moves included the launching of an Ukrainian offense against the Russian supported resistance in the east Ukraine.

These moves were designed to impede the incoming Trump administration in its announced plans towards more friendly relations with Russia. The incoming Trump administration countered Obama's sanction move. Its designated National Security Advisor Flynn phoned up the Russian ambassador in Washington. He did not promise to immediately lift the sanctions but indirectly asked him to refrain from any harsh response:

The transcripts of the conversations don’t show Mr. Flynn made any sort of promise to lift the sanctions once Mr. Trump took office, the officials said. Rather, they show Mr.Flynn making more general comments about relations between the two countries improving under Mr. Trump, people familiar with them said.

This was arguably a sensible move in line with a smooth transition of government.

In the end the Russian government refrained from any in kind reaction to the Obama sanctions.

This was blow to the promoters of hostilities with Russia. It did not stop their meddling. The effort moved towards kicking Flynn out of his new position as NSC. A concerted media campaign was launched to insinuate an early Flynn failure and to press for his dismissal.

Bradd Jaffy @BraddJaffy
Within the last 30 mins — NYT, WashPost, WSJ and Politico each dropped pieces that have to be alarming for your future if you're Mike Flynn
5:51 PM - 12 Feb 2017

Keep in mind that some 95% of the U.S. media was hostile to Trump during the election campaign. They all peddled the nonsense of "Russian hacks" when an insider leaked emails from the Democratic National Council. They are all willing to support any move that might hinder the Trump administration.

Thus this morning news was filled with these headlines:

All these stories are based on "inside views" from multiple "former and current officials". All are build around the baseless allegations against Flynn of somehow colluding with the Russian government. All are likely more wishful thinking than fact.

It would be astonishing if Trump falls for this obviously well organized campaign against his administration. Should he fire Flynn or give in to such  pressure his enemies will smell blood, find a new target within his administration and intensify their fire.

Indeed a second well coordinated assault on an announced Trump policy, a change of course in Syria, is already in the making. This one aims at further maligning the Syrian government in an effort to make it impossible to argue for cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State.

  • A few days ago Amnesty International published an unfounded report about alleged executions in Syrian prisons.
  • Today Human Rights Watch claims that the Syrian government systematically used Chlorine in the fight over Aleppo. The sources are solely opposition supporters.
  • Based on similar vague "facts" the Atlantic Council, a NATO lobby with financial ties to Gulf governments, launches a huge propaganda report (large pdf) about the "war crime" of liberating Aleppo from Jihadis.

None of these "humanitarian" organization is concerned about the current devastating situation in Aleppo. For 40 days the water has been cut off by the Islamic State at the Euphrates pumping stations. There is no electricity. Fuel is sparse. Medications are difficult to find.

Their hypocrisy stinks to high heaven. These organizations all assert that the Syrian government, for example, attacked hospitals in east-Aleppo solely to hit civilians. At the same time they all applaud a much bigger assault on the Islamic State held Mosul by U.S. and Iraqi troops. There, the head of Human Rights Watch asserts, the hospitals are used by the Jihadis and thus attacks on them are justified:

Kenneth Roth @KenRoth
As battle for Mosul proceeds, ISIS is regularly occupying hospitals & medical facilities, endangering patients/staff bit.ly/2kqXuUR

The anti-Flynn campaign as well as the bad-Assad campaign are aimed at Trump policy changes. These changes move away from the course the borg implemented throughout the Obama reign.

Meanwhile the Trump administration implements regressive economic and social policies without any noticeable resistance in the media, in Congress or from so called Non-Government-Organizations:

President Trump has embarked on the most aggressive campaign against government regulation in a generation, joining with Republican lawmakers to roll back rules already on the books and limit the ability of federal regulators to impose new ones.

The borg or deep state is way more concerned with keeping up its plans of uncontested global dominance than with the welfare of the citizens within the empire.

Trump promised to put "America first", to prioritize the inner well being of the States over the quest for global hegemony. His voters elected him for that purpose. Should he fall for the organized campaigns against his plans predictable foreign policy disasters will dominate his presidency. He will then lose any chance for reelection.

Posted by b at 01:38 PM | Comments (159)

February 11, 2017

CIA Honors Major Terrorist Financier For Successful Cooperation

Seymour Hersh - The Redirection:

[T]he Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Former Vice President Biden explaining who finances Takfiri terrorism (video):

Mr Biden said that "our biggest problem is our allies" who are engaged in a proxy Sunni-Shiite war against Syrian President Bashar Assad. He specifically named Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

"What did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad – except that the people who were being supplied were (Jabhat) Al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world," Mr Biden said.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explaining who finances Takfiri terrorism (original):

… we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.

ISIS, Iraq, and the Lessons of Blowback:

Qatar’s military and economic largesse has made its way to Jabhat al-Nusra, to the point that a senior Qatari official told me he can identify al-Nusra commanders by the blocks they control in various Syrian cities. But ISIS is another matter. As one senior Qatari official stated, “ISIS has been a Saudi project.”

CIA honors Saudi Crown Prince for efforts against terrorism

The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, received a medal on Friday from the CIA for his distinct intelligence-related counter-terrorism work and his contributions to ensure international peace and security.

The medal, named after George Tenet, was handed to him by CIA Director Micheal Pompeo after the Crown Prince received him in Riyadh on Friday in the presence of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

Posted by b at 11:19 AM | Comments (129)

Open Thread 2017-06

News, views & whatever ...

Posted by b at 09:35 AM | Comments (84)

February 09, 2017

Its Foreign Greed And Delusion That Kills Yemeni Children

Ten-thousands, and soon hundred-thousands die in Yemen as result of zealotry, greed and bureaucratic infighting of foreign countries. The Wahhabi Saudis fight in Yemen against Iranian Shia that ain't there. Under the eyes of the CIA they nurture local al-Qaeda forces to do their bidding. The UAE seeks new ports in Yemen thereby disturbing Saudi pipeline dreams. The Pentagon tussles with the CIA over budgets of special operations.  The minor local Yemeni conflicts between the various tribes develop into a war due to foreign interference and financing. Bombing campaigns have replaced tribal mediation.

The executive branch of the United Nations is under pressure from the U.S.-Saudi coalition. It is not allowed to report on the real consequences of the devastating war on Yemen. The leads to rather comical assertions.

On August 31 2016 the UN coordinator on Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said that 10,000 people had died due to the war on Yemen:

Speaking from the capital Sanaa on Tuesday, Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator said the new figure was based on official information from medical facilities in Yemen.

The number could rise further, McGoldrick said, as some areas had no medical facilities, and people were often buried without any official record being made.

"We know the numbers are much higher but we can't tell you by how much," McGoldrick told reporters

On January 17 2017 the UN coordinator on Yemen Jamie McGoldrick said that 10,000 people had died due to the war on Yemen:

"[T]he estimates are that over 10,000 people have been killed in this conflict and almost 40,000 people injured", UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Yemen Jamie McGoldrick told reporters in the capital Sanaa on Monday.

He did not provide a breakdown between civilians and combatants.

The UN numbers did not change from August 2016 to January 2017. Despite intense bombing and ravaging famine no one seems to have died. But those numbers are of course mere fantasies. The real death toll due to the war on Yemen is at least ten times higher. The numbers the UN envoy claims are political. He is not allowed to reveal the real ones.

In mid 2016 the Saudis pressured the then UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon to take it off a list of countries that are harming children:

Muslim allies of Saudi Arabia piled pressure on UN chief Ban Ki-moon over the blacklisting of a Saudi-led coalition for killing children in Yemen, with Riyadh threatening to cut Palestinian aid and funds to other UN programs, according to diplomatic sources.

A UN Secretary General with some backbone would not have relented but would have publicly shamed the Saudis and their allies at each possible occasion. Not so Ban Ki-moon:

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he temporarily removed the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen from a U.N. blacklist for violating child rights because its supporters threatened to stop funding many U.N. programs.

Ban said he had to consider "the very real prospect" that millions of other children in the Palestinian territories, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and many other places "would suffer grievously" if U.N. programs were defunded.

The United States and Britain actively supported Saudi Arabia in getting its way at the UN and within the UN Security Council.

But the UN giving in to blackmail did not save any children. UNICEF, somewhat independent from the General Secretary, reports much higher (though still incomplete) numbers that come nearer to the truth:

Yemen has lost a decade's worth of gains in public health as a result of war and economic crisis, with an estimated 63,000 children dying last year of preventable causes often linked to malnutrition, the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday.
...
A decade has been lost in health gains," she said, with 63 out of every 1,000 live births now dying before their fifth birthday, against 53 children in 2014.
...
Releno later told a news briefing that the rate of severe acute malnutrition had "tripled" between 2014 and 2016 to 460,000 children.

"The under-5 mortality rate has increased to the point that we estimate that in 2016 at least 10,000 more children died of preventable diseases," she said.

In medical statistic terms these are "excess death". They would not have occurred without the war waged on the country. It is unlikely that these  UNICEF numbers are complete.

The mountainous north-west of Yemen is the core area of the Zaidi Shia population from which the Houthi militia fighting the Saudis and their proxies derive. It is now mostly cut off from communication and supply channels. Hospitals and schools in the area have been heavily bombed and its main northern city Sadah has been completely destroyed by Saudi air attacks. The Zaidi comprise about 45% of Yemen's 24 million people and up to 1962 Zaidi caliph ruled the country for over 1,000 years. For the Saudi Wahhabi zealots the Zaidi are not real Muslims and deserve to die.

Many people in the north west have fled to Yemen's capital Sanaa. But even there food is running out. Hungry children roam the streets begging for food.

Cont. reading: Its Foreign Greed And Delusion That Kills Yemeni Children

Posted by b at 12:37 PM | Comments (107)

February 07, 2017

Hearsay Extrapolated - Amnesty Claims Mass Executions In Syria, Provides Zero Proof

A new Amnesty International report claims that the Syrian government hanged between 5,000 and 13,000 prisoners in a military prison in Syria. The evidence for that claim is flimsy, based on hearsay of anonymous people outside of Syria. The numbers themselves are extrapolations that no scientist or court would ever accept. It is tabloid reporting and fiction style writing from its title "Human Slaughterhouse" down to the last paragraph.

But the Amnesty report is still not propagandish enough for the anti-Syrian media. Inevitably only the highest number in the range Amnesty claims is quoted. For some even that is not yet enough. The Associate Press agency, copied by many outlets, headlines: Report: At least 13,000 hanged in Syrian prison since 2011:

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian authorities have killed at least 13,000 people since the start of the 2011 uprising in mass hangings at a prison north of Damascus known to detainees as "the slaughterhouse," Amnesty International said in a report Tuesday.

How does "at least 13,000" conforms to an already questionable report which claims "13,000" as the top number of a very wide range?

Here is a link to the report.

Before we look into some details this from the "Executive Summary":

Cont. reading: Hearsay Extrapolated - Amnesty Claims Mass Executions In Syria, Provides Zero Proof

Posted by b at 04:41 AM | Comments (155)

February 05, 2017

Russia, Ukraine - Neocon Ceasefire Sabotage Fails To Change Trump's Mind

There are serious signs that the Trump administration will continue to seek better relations with Russia. It declines to get involved in the hustling in Ukraine. It is ready to give up on the catastrophic regime-change agenda the neocons implemented in Kiev with the help of Ukrainian Nazi organizations.

Let us recap. On New Year the neo-conservative Senators McCain and Graham were in Ukraine to fire up Ukrainian troops at the front lines for a new fight with Russia supported rebels in Donetsk and Lugansk. A few days later then Vice President Biden also dropped in on Kiev. The three are declared enemies of Trump's more friendly position towards Russia. They obviously intended to reignite the conflict in Ukraine to sabotage Trump's new foreign policy.

The former Georgian President Saakashvilli has once fallen for the Bush administration's incitement and attacked Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia. When that war went badly he received none of the hoped for backup from Washington and NATO.

Poroshenko should have learned from that. Instead he fell for the incitement and assurances from the senators and restarted the war with the separatist. Multiple news outlets and even Ukrainian generals first admitted that it was the Kiev government that started the current round of fighting by "creeping" into the no-man's zone that was supposed to separate the belligerents. But as usual the "western" media now try to change history and to put the guilt on Russia. They press for a U.S. "response" to the "Russian aggression".

At first it looked that this impressed the Trump administration. The new U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley held a speech that might have been written by her "wailing banshee" predecessor Samantha Powers. It condemned Russia for about everything and promised that sanctions on Russia would stay. But two days later she visited the Russian UN ambassador Churkin in his private home in New York city to make nice. The speech was probably just a head-fake or some uncoordinated screw-up.

The Ukrainian President Poroshenko had tried for several days to get a phonecall scheduled with President Trump. But on Thursday Trump met, very shortly though, Poroshenko's opposition in Ukraine Yuliya Tymoshenko. She is a former prime minister and - said mildly- a controversial figure: always scheming, lying and ready to be offered and take huge bribes. But with some help she could probably win an election in Ukraine should Poroshenko step down.

Only on Saturday Trump finally had a phonecall with Poroshenko. The very short readout is a blast. It speaks of "Ukraine's long-running conflict with Russia" and adds:

Cont. reading: Russia, Ukraine - Neocon Ceasefire Sabotage Fails To Change Trump's Mind

Posted by b at 04:09 AM | Comments (166)

February 04, 2017

The Empty Threat Against Iran - National Security Advisor Flynn Embarrasses Himself

Trump's National Security Advisor Flynn keeps demonstrating the limits of is strategic-intellectual capacity. He went in front of the cameras and issued this empty threat:

The international community has been too tolerant of Iran’s bad behavior. The ritual of convening a United Nations Security Council in an emergency meeting and issuing a strong statement is not enough. The Trump Administration will no longer tolerate Iran’s provocations that threaten our interests.

The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over.

What is such bluster supposed to achieve?

Interestingly the statement came out just an hour after Donald Rumsfeld left the White House where he had talked about "process" with Flynn and NSC staff.

The neo-conservatives are of course very happy about such nonsense talk. Obama Should Thank Trump for Putting Iran on Notice writes Eli Lake. James Rubin intones: Finally, the president made a smart move on foreign policy. For the very first time the neoconned Washington Post editors are lauding Trump and highlight Flynn's juvenile outburst.

But the U.S. has no way to coerce the 80 million Iranians into anything. The Bush administration learned that (it was one reason why Rumsfeld was fired), the Obama administration acknowledged it and the Trump administration will have to accept that too.

Iran has been under U.S. sanction since 1979. A few more years of unilateral U.S. sanctions will not change its positions one iota. The "international community" supports the nuclear deal and encouraged the lifting of international sanctions. It will not agree to new ones just because some Trump flunky says so.

Iran is needed to achieve peace and to fight Islamic terrorism in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. To even try such without Iranian involvement would require hundred-thousands of U.S. troops. They would fail should Iran decide to not support them. Indeed there is nothing that can be achieved in the Middle East without Iran. While it has only limited capabilities to actively interfere in other countries it can throw up hurdles everywhere and block U.S. controlled solutions.

Smaller direct U.S. attacks on Iran would be responded to with attacks by Iranian proxies elsewhere. U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially their resupplies, would be in imminent danger. A large attack on Iran itself would lead to the destruction of U.S. military bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Every U.S. ship passing through the Street of Hormuz would come under fire.

There will be no significant international support for any U.S. move against Iran. Sending the USS Cole to the Yemeni coast while fantasizing about Houthi mining the waters is a just too obvious setup for a "Gulf of Tonkin" replay.

Any significant military move against Iran would be a strategic foreign policy disaster just like the Bush administration attack on Iraq was one. That attack strengthened Iran's long term position. An attack on the country itself would achieve the same on a much larger scale.

The more grown ups in the Trump administration know all this. Secretary of Defense Mattis, no friend of Iran at all, pulled the rug out from under Flynn's empty threat:

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Saturday that the threat from Iran’s missile program does not currently require the realignment of U.S. forces in the Middle East, striking a note of restraint shortly after the White House issued a strong warning to Tehran.

The U.S. Central Command on the Middle East was not even informed about the Flynn threat towards Iran. The move is obviously no a thought through administration policy.

Is Flynn freelancing with such threats trying to prove his worthiness for the administration? Or was he set up by others to embarrass himself?

 

Posted by b at 09:13 AM | Comments (105)

February 03, 2017

Open Thread 2017-05

News and views ...

Posted by b at 02:28 PM | Comments (132)

 
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