Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 06, 2017

New Sanctions Against Russia - A Failure Of U.S. Strategy

Recently the U.S. congress legislated sanctions against the Russian Federation over alleged, but completely unproven, interference in the U.S. presidential elections. The vote was nearly unanimous.

President Trump signed these sanctions into law. This was a huge and stupid mistake. He should have vetoed them, even as a veto would likely be overturned. With his signing of the law Trump gave up the ability to stay on somewhat neutral grounds towards Russia. This for no gain to him at all.

Sanctions by Congress are quasi eternal. The 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment restricted trade with the then "Communist block". It was supposed to press for Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union to Israel. But even after the Soviet Union broke down in the early 1990s, after the "communist block" had disappeared and long after any limits on emigrations had been lifted, the law and its economic sanctions stayed in place. It was only lifted in 2012 and only to be immediately replaced by the ludicrous Magnitsky act which immediately established a new set of sanctions against the Russian Federation and its interests.

The new additional sanctions, like the Jackson-Vanik amendment and the Magnitsky act, were shaped by domestic U.S. policy issues. There is nothing Russia could have done to avoid them and there is nothing it can do to have them lifted.

The new U.S. sanctions are not only directed against Russia but against any company and nation that cooperates with Russia over energy. This a little disguised attempt to press European countries into buying expensive U.S. liquefied natural gas instead of cheap Russian gas delivered by pipelines. The immediate target is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany which passes through the Baltic Sea to avoid potential conflict points in east Europe. The sanctions are a threat to an independent German energy policy. (Additional partners in the pipeline are Austria, France and the Netherlands.)  Consequently 35% of Germans name the U.S. as a "major threat to the country". Russia is seen as such by only 33%. This view is consistent with the global perception.

These sanctions will shape U.S.-Russian relation for the next 30 plus years. On August 2 the Russian Prime Minister Medvedev pointed to the weakness of President Trump as the main reason for these sanctions:

The US President's signing of the package of new sanctions against Russia will have a few consequences. First, it ends hopes for improving our relations with the new US administration. Second, it is a declaration of a full-fledged economic war on Russia. Third, the Trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to Congress in the most humiliating way. This changes the power balance in US political circles.

What does it mean for them? The US establishment fully outwitted Trump; the President is not happy about the new sanctions, yet he could not but sign the bill. The issue of new sanctions came about, primarily, as another way to knock Trump down a peg. New steps are to come, and they will ultimately aim to remove him from power. A non-systemic player has to be removed. Meanwhile, the interests of the US business community are all but ignored, with politics chosen over a pragmatic approach. Anti-Russian hysteria has become a key part of both US foreign policy (which has occurred many times) and domestic policy (which is a novelty).
...

Remember that Medvedev as Russian leader was, for a long time, the "hope" of the U.S. establishment. He was perceived as more amenable than the Russian President Putin. Medvedev may well become president again. But no U.S. media except the New York Post took notice of his statement. That in itself is astonishing and frightening. Can no one in the U.S. see where this will lead to? Medvedev predicts:

The sanctions regime has been codified and will remain in effect for decades unless a miracle happens. [...] [R]elations between Russia and the United States are going to be extremely tense regardless of Congress’ makeup and regardless of who is president. Lengthy arguments in international bodies and courts are ahead, as well as rising international tensions and refusal to settle major international issues.

Economically and politically Russia can and will cope with these sanctions, says Medvedev. But can the U.S.?

The supreme global role of the U.S. depends on preventing a Euro-Asian alliance between, mainly, Russia and China. In his latest "grand chessboard" piece Toward a Global Realignment the U.S. strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski - ruthless, amoral and capable - asserts:

[I]t behooves the United States to fashion a policy in which at least one of the two potentially threatening states becomes a partner in the quest for regional and then wider global stability, and thus in containing the least predictable but potentially the most likely rival to overreach. Currently, the more likely to overreach is Russia, but in the longer run it could be China.

The U.S. foreign policy establishment has declared war on Russia. The confrontational position towards China, which was en vogue under Obama, has noticeably changed. The Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama "pivot to Asia" was cancelled. The anti-Chinese Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement has been called off. Military provocations of China in the South Chinese Sea have been reduced and replaced by continuous provocations against Russia in eastern Europe. These steps follow the strategy Brzezinski laid out.

Russia has historically proven to be resourceful in its policies. It is extremely resistant to pressure. With the U.S. in a less hostile position against China, the behemoth will relentlessly press its own advantage. Russia will soon be one of China's main sources of fossil energy and other commodities. There is no major reason for China and Russia to disagree with each other. Under these circumstances the hoped for Russian-Chinese split will not happen. Core European countries will resist pressures that endanger their economies.

The Brzezinski strategy is clouded by a personal hate against Russia. (He is descendant of minor noble Galician-Polish family.) It is flawed as it enables China to establish its primacy. Even under Brzezinski's framework a Russian-European-U.S. alliance against Chinese pursuit of hegemony would have been the more logical way to go.

Hillary Clinton's strategy to blame Russia for her lack of likability and her failure in the election now results in a major failure of U.S. grand strategy. An organized White House policy could have prevented that but there is no such thing (yet) under Trump.

I fail to see how the current strategy, now enshrined by congressional sanctions, could ever end up in an overall advantage for the United States.

Posted by b on August 6, 2017 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

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Of course the NATO alliance and much of the EU will follow such ignorance and hostility to their grave. Unless powerful nations such as Germany wakes up to what hardship this will place on them and the daunting danger enlisted by such a corrupt policy, we are all in for dangerous times. The US congress has always been a pack of fools. No sign of that ever changing.

Posted by: Lawrence Smith | Aug 6, 2017 11:17:13 AM | 1

To be fair, I don't think Zbig is asserting, or personally hating, anyone these days.

All in the past tense and his daughter is hardly possessed of even the slightest strategic or tactical heft of thought.

DRIP ZBIG.

Posted by: Julian | Aug 6, 2017 11:19:20 AM | 2

as I understand it, the President has to sign if it has been voted upon by a majority of two thirds of the Senate and two thirds of the House. He has no choice. What is within his purview, is to choose how to enforce it. That is up to him as he is the head of the Executive Branch of the Government. (that`s the first time in my life I use the word `purview`)

Posted by: mischi | Aug 6, 2017 11:21:17 AM | 3

Yep, as usual short-term thinking prevails in the US. It seems cheap and easy (to the US, although not to Europe!) to sanction Russia as well as Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea while proclaiming US supremacy. Because of the US dollar's role as reserve currency, the US can inflict heavy damage on many countries. "Step out of the line," the US says with its sanctions, "and you'll be next on our list."

Unfortunately, China saw that it definitely was next on the list and the best way to alleviate that situation was to partner with Russia to combine China's growing economic power with Russia's military, energy, and diplomatic strengths, thus providing an impressive barrier against US unilateral actions. The one thing the US cannot overcome--a united China and Russia--is now in place, with Europe just barely starting to wake up to the reality that it MIGHT not want to exclusively depend on the US.

Russia and China exhibit long term thinking while the US follows the CEO mantra of short term results, damn the long term effect on the company (or country).

Posted by: WorldBLee | Aug 6, 2017 11:22:23 AM | 4

mischi @3

Respectfully, no. He could have vetoed it. Interestingly, the way American politics works, there are occasions where acts are passed by over two-thirds votes, but when a veto is interposed, the veto is not overridden. The two-thirds "disappears." One wonders, how can this be? It is because those who voted for the act in the first place will "spin" publicly that they voted for it. The voters aren't clever enough to discern that it is all a public relations game.

Posted by: zakukommander | Aug 6, 2017 11:39:40 AM | 5

/~~~~~~~~~~
Reuters -- U.S. needs up to 18 more Russian rocket engines: Pentagon -- April 9, 2016
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-space-russia-idUSKCN0X600H

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon will need to buy up to 18 more Russian-built RD-180 engines to power rockets carrying U.S. military satellites into space over the next six years or so, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said in an interview on Friday.

[....]

Work said the United States needed to ensure there were at least "two affordable and reliable means into space." He added the RD-180 would be needed only during what he described as a transition period of new domestic rocket engine development.

"We just don't see any way you can get a new engine in anything less than six years," Work said.
\~~~~~~~~~~

Let's think about what this means. The USSA currently possesses something like a score of these Russian RD-180 rocket engines (they are liquid fueled -- kerosene/liquid oxygen -- engines, which may be observed at the base of rockets). Since the USSA has physical possession of them, reverse engineering should be a cake walk. So why the six year hold-up?

Since circa 1971 the USSA has been gutting its technology-based productional system. And since circa 2000, Russia has been frantically consolidating its own. Of course a country may have a large GDP and yet have a severely fragmentary productional base, if it's exporting bananas, or technology that requires imported components, and this is just what the USSA has been doing. Because of this productional fragmentation it cannot produce RD-180 rocket engines even though all of the technical details of this engine are well known. It cannot even produce a quality strike fighter jet, as illustrated in the case of the F-35.

And because the Russians have been consolidating their technological productionality while the USSA has been fragmenting its own, the sanctions have turned out to be a tremendous boon to the Russians.

The sanctions are all about symbolism, which the USSA is obsessed with; they are not about gaining any advantages. Russia is the party that will reap all the advantage. The Beloved Leaders of the USSA prove once again to be insane.

Posted by: blues | Aug 6, 2017 11:44:15 AM | 6

#1
"The US congress has always been a pack of fools. No sign of that ever changing."

Maybe. Maybe not. In the words of the ever-sage George Harrison, "All Things Must Pass."

Anyone for a constitutional amendment for term-limiting congress to two terms?

Re: realignment; BRICS, onward and upward. May the IMF and its war machine have financial competition and lose their monopolistic squeeze on empire.

Posted by: JSonofa | Aug 6, 2017 11:44:51 AM | 7

Quote: " I fail to see how the current strategy... could ever end up in an overall advantage for the United States."
The advantage of the United States...!!??
What's that got to do with anything?
The US government is there to service the interests of Wall Street and The Israel Lobby/Neocon/International Zionists. Everyone surely recognises this now. Get used to it.

Posted by: AllHopeGone | Aug 6, 2017 11:46:33 AM | 8

It sounds dramatic but all I see is The Swamp's "Let's do SOMETHING, even if it's stupid" megalomaniacs enthusiastically outing themselves. I was wondering when and how Trump was going to out them but they've 'cleverly' decided to do it for him. I'm confident that Trump saw this coming and will turn it to his MAGA advantage.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 6, 2017 11:51:09 AM | 9

I think this was a shrewd move by the CFR foreign policy hardliners: further isolating Russia, coercing Europe, and cornering Trump. Russia cannot respond. Europe cannot respond. Nor can Trump. What else should the imperial strategist do? Be nice to everybody and lose control? ps: why is the media not covering this? well perhaps because of this: http://bit.ly/2vE26Ol

Posted by: Mishkin | Aug 6, 2017 11:54:06 AM | 10

While Putin is President no-one cares what Medvedev thinks or says.
And until Putin speaks "Russia" hasn't spoken...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 6, 2017 12:00:05 PM | 11

"huge and stupid mistake" is too kind. I think it was idiotic of Trump. What's even more depressing is that Trump is claiming "national unity" as his reason for signing. He'll get no "national unity" for this - I suppose the Republican leaders have played him for a fool, and Trump was dumb enough to believe it.

It's secondarily depressing that the media was claiming that Trump had little choice. So, the media was employed in manipulating Trump, both before and after the fact (of his signing). Did it not occur to Trump that this exculpatory nonsense might be "fake news"?

From "Trump Signs Russia Sanctions Bill, World At A Dangerous Point As Deep State Shows Their Teeth" @ http://www.activistpost.com/2017/08/trump-signs-russia-sanctions-bill-deep-state.html

"As Paul Craig Roberts points out in his article, there were a number of strategies that could have been taken by Trump. First, he should have vetoed the bill. At worst, if Congress overrode his veto, Congress would bear responsibility for the political fallout or the radioactive fallout if it comes to that.
Second, in the lead up to the veto, Trump could have brought his case to the American people. He could have laid it all out in the open, pointing out that Congress, both misinformed and eaten up with special interest money, was endangering America’s way of life and possibly even life itself the world over. He could have stated plainly that the interests who own Congress and who are working through Congress are now marching the United States to World War Three. He could have even told them to go watch The Day After with their families and ask themselves if they think the potential costs would be worth it. He could have done any number of things explaining why he was vetoing the bill and then he could have vetoed it. But he didn’t. "

Posted by: metamars | Aug 6, 2017 12:02:25 PM | 12

sounds like more flatulence from the chubby little super power, or, as Frank Zappa might say,

'America drinks and goes marching.'

Posted by: john | Aug 6, 2017 12:04:50 PM | 13

Somewhat off/topic, though if the Russia nonsense had been debunked more competently by the Trump Administration, maybe Trump wouldn't have felt compelled to sign the sanctions bill.

"Ray McGovern Explains How The DNC Hack Was Used To Cover-Up The Election Stolen From Bernie Sanders" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vte-uSyQhKw

The Trump Administration should take McGovern's counsel often, but is probably too dumb/manipulated to do so.

Posted by: metamars | Aug 6, 2017 12:05:16 PM | 14

=>> JSonofa | 11:44:51 AM | 7

"Anyone for a constitutional amendment for term-limiting congress to two terms?"

Not me! Term limits mean nothing more than the elimination of the ability of the voters to assess candidates based on legislative track records. The result is that every two years the voters will have to choose representatives with no past history of legislation. Disaster.

The only answer is to abolish the two-party system by eliminating the spoiler effect. Strategic hedge simple score voting would do that. Nothing else, including "ranked choice" voting ("IRV") will work. This is vital to understand!

Posted by: blues | Aug 6, 2017 12:06:01 PM | 15

Here's a new type of realignment: The End Of Nation States

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-05/doug-casey-end-nation-state

Posted by: JSonofa | Aug 6, 2017 12:06:14 PM | 16

Hoarsewhisperer @11

Yes, but let's not forget the "good cop/bad cop" scenario. When Medvedev (a/k/a the "good cop") takes a harder line, as here, it is a signal to the world of Russia's steely resolve.

Posted by: zakukommander | Aug 6, 2017 12:09:03 PM | 17

One jewish journalist (link was posted here few days ago) nicely pointed out these sanctions are the stupidest thing US could have possibly done. Not only it forges even closer Russia-China-Iran alliance, it also alienates the closest and strongest ally US have - the EU.

I dont know how far EU will go to fight back, but their alliance is breaking through all stitches, and US effectively expedited EU rapprochement to the East. It was bound to happen sometime in the future due to US decline and the rise of SCO/BRICS, but now calculation has changed - it will happen soon.

Posted by: Harry | Aug 6, 2017 12:15:17 PM | 18

"I fail to see how the current strategy, now enshrined by congressional sanctions, could ever end up in an overall advantage for the United States."

unless the USG itself is nothing more at this moment than a platform for committing "crimes against the peace," foreign & domestic. or is there some other motivation than domination of rivals, w/not the slightest hint of "partnership"? there is nothing the USG can do except use its (overrated & rapidly declining) military advantage to offset its steadily declining economic supremacy, w/all the dangers of nuclear war from the morally insane running this country.

the task of people in the US is to distract the eye of Sauron (the one on the pyramid on the dollar bill) in any way it can, until Mordor, Inc. just collapses. and that requires some serious troublemaking here, massive national strikes, burning down the pentagon & the like, which don't seem too likely.

Posted by: j | Aug 6, 2017 12:26:06 PM | 19

As usually I agree - more or less, but please stop to put even the slightest hope in Tronald. He certainly is as stupid as wealthy. And by the way, what's about the newest sanctions against North Korea, agreed by China and Russia? Isn't it utterly dumb to follow the u.s. line again? They will interpret it as a sign of weakness and will go ahead with even more determination. It will not stop the u.s. military in provoking the chinese in their backyard under the freedom of navigation pretext. At the contrary the bullying will increase. And so it will in the Doklam zone, India will be encouraged to prolong the standoff. And so on.

Posted by: Pnyx | Aug 6, 2017 12:37:49 PM | 20

@15 So long as Congress critters get to sit in office indefinitely they have the opportunity to build their criminal fiefdoms and become available for bribery. Why do they need some legislative track record? Either they vote for sane things or they don't. And if they're insane, they get tossed the next election cycle. And even if they're great it is better to get fresh blood in every few years.

A more logical solution would be to institute a draft of legislators from ordinary citizens (who maybe need to meet certain educational benchmarks just so they're mentally capable of doing the job--something our Congress of idiot lawyers is usually unable to do). You get drafted to serve your nation in Congress, get a nice check, and legislate for your fellow citizens while discussing their concerns with other regular citizens and then take your honorable discharge back into civilian life. When you have people who want power and allow them to be elected by other people who want the power to manipulate the people who write the laws it is necessarily going to end in disaster. Get people who don't really want to be there and shift their composition every few years and regulatory capture by industry becomes impossible.

Also, Congress mostly needs to spend time removing laws and consolidating laws. There isn't really a lot of reason to pass new laws every term other than to look busy. Note they have done absolutely nothing this term save sanction Russia and the world continues as normal.

Posted by: Mataman | Aug 6, 2017 12:38:35 PM | 21


blues 6

The graft will be enormous. Billion$. The esteemed Senator McCain right in the thick of it.

Typical ridiculous doublespeak in that article - and the players - John McCain, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings and sanctions on two particular individuals in the Russian Space Agency.

http://www.al.com/news/huntsville/index.ssf/2017/08/
american_space_program_not_pay.html

Aug 1, 2017
Meanwhile, NASA has only 12 employees in Russia now, according to a tally in the Washington Post. They are supporting those rides for American astronauts to the space station. America has been paying Russia $81 million per seat for rides to the station while it awaits completion of U.S. crew carriers being built by Boeing and SpaceX.

Add the history of cooperation, the interest in going forward by top Russian space officials, and the money involved and the space program seems out of the threat zone for now. If Russia does sever the relationship, it will be a sign of a truly serious breech between the two countries.

Posted by: fast freddy | Aug 6, 2017 12:42:08 PM | 22

@ #15 blues

Perhaps a secret life in government, a spy since WWII, a secret life lived, but not ever fully-vetted, secret knowledge and involvement in Dallas 1963 to later become a pivotal US President to invade Iraq, and still today, a life not ever fully vetted, would give you pause that the answer lies in the simple abolition of the 2 party system?

The Secret Life of Poppy:

https://whowhatwhy.org/2013/09/16/part-1-mr-george-bush-of-the-central-intelligence-agency/

Posted by: JSonofa | Aug 6, 2017 12:47:39 PM | 23

Moreover, what I'm really advocating are two simple things that would cause REAL realignment:

1) term limit congress
2) defund the war machine with repealing the 16th amendment.

checkmate?

Posted by: JSonofa | Aug 6, 2017 12:50:15 PM | 24

Posted by: zakukommander | Aug 6, 2017 12:09:03 PM | 17

You're probably right. If memory serves, Putin NEVER made public statements during Medvedev's reign, so it looks as though they're cooking up something theatrical.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 6, 2017 12:52:16 PM | 25

A bit OT, but relevant to sanctions...
BBC just insinuated that the North Korean sanctions are never going to get any teeth because if they're too tough China will veto them.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Aug 6, 2017 1:03:44 PM | 26

Mishkin, if the U.S. imperial strategists just made a brilliant move, why aren't they proclaiming checkmate in the MSM?

Posted by: Robert Beal | Aug 6, 2017 1:20:53 PM | 27

My comment above was in reply to comment #10.

Posted by: Robert Beal | Aug 6, 2017 1:24:15 PM | 28

China is making well-planned, strategic moves - Silk Road, Rail Bridge to Russia, Base in Djibouti. All excellent. Nothing ham-handed, self-defeating, short-term, knee-jerk and stupid.

Posted by: fast freddy | Aug 6, 2017 1:27:05 PM | 29

I'm thinking Alexander Mercouris has a solid take on Trump's reasoning for signing congresses sanctions into law - Impeachment...

Trump sidesteps impeachment trap in sanctions law and prepares challenge to Supreme Court - http://theduran.com/trump-sidesteps-impeachment-trap-sanctions-law-prepares-challenge-supreme-court/

,BLOCKQUOTE>"Indeed the more I think about this bizarre sanctions law the more I wonder whether the impeachment scenario I have just outlined may have been the very scenario that it was intended to engineer."

"In other words the sanctions law may have been put together by the President’s opponents in Congress – who include Republicans as well as Democrats – with the actual intention of provoking him into vetoing it so as to set up the conditions for his impeachment by Congress on an issue where Congress is united against him."

"If so then the President – heeding the advice of his lawyers – has sidestepped the trap whilst putting himself in a strong position to challenge the law in the US Supreme Court when the right moment comes."

The globalists boogieman is Putin and Team, at least for the next four or more years. He became their target for displeasure long ago, thus, he must pay. Globalists don't give a rats about Trump's agenda BECAUSE the Globalists bought Congress off long ago...THEY OWN IT. Congress stopped working for the good folks of the United States long ago and for heavens sake they're not all of a sudden going to start working for us now. Just sayin...

Posted by: h | Aug 6, 2017 1:33:38 PM | 30

rup, messed up my blockquote. Oh well...

Posted by: h | Aug 6, 2017 1:35:30 PM | 31

Reply to J.Sonofa #16

Author of article to which you link says he has nothing in common with the poor in this or any other nation-state and calls Social Security a welfare program but does score a couple of points against the state and mentions Marx twice.

Posted by: Robert Beal | Aug 6, 2017 1:42:00 PM | 32

The sanctions are a smart play for world domination by the cabal that controls the Empire. that the rest of the world suffers while this plays out is of no concern to them.

Those wringing their hands over Trump's failure to confront Congress are foolish. His caving was entirely predictable because he is a faux-Populist like Obama before him. Isn't it clear by now that "America First" is as much as lie as "Change You Can Believe In"?

<> <> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>

Russia is more susceptible than China to being politically undermined by both overt and covert means.

As the economic cost of conflict with the US mounts, so too does the potential benefits of restoring ties. The potential for a HUGE economic boost by restoring ties with the West will play a big part in post-Putin politics.

If US can disrupt energy trade with China and new Silk-Road transport links (via proxies like ISIS), the Russian economy will sink and pro-Western candidates will gain much support.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 6, 2017 1:46:45 PM | 33

LOL. Mentions Karl Marx twice. Yeah, like he didn't quite get it right. Nice false flag.

Posted by: JSonofa | Aug 6, 2017 1:48:59 PM | 34

The new additional sanctions, like the Jackson-Vanik amendment and the Magnitsky act, were shaped by domestic U.S. policy issues.

Yeah, sure. (((Domestic U.S. policy issues.)))

Seriously though, as a committed isolationist, I'm actually overjoyed that our congress is idiotic enough to start up a trade war with the EU. The notion that the Germans are going to import overpriced fracked gas all the way from the US is a total fantasy. No: these sanctions will accelerate the coming break-up of NATO ... an outcome I very much welcome. And even if the Germans were to cave and cancel Nordstream, the Russians would simply sell all that extra gas to Asia anyway. So this isn't going to have any real effect on them either.

Posted by: Seamus Padraig | Aug 6, 2017 2:27:41 PM | 35

@30 h

Trump was realistic to sign the sanctions bill. What's important is his Signing Statement, which lawyer Mercouris analyzes nicely, and therebu shows what many people are missing, including I'm afraid b, and commenters in this thread, up until your comment.

Articles of Impeachment are not a judicial thing - they are brought by Congress in its discretion. If Trump vetoed a bill coming forward with such hugely unanimous backing, he would be overridden for sure, and the Congress would then have the upper hand completely. From there, it's completely realistic to think of impeachment, and the odds are very good many Republicans would go along with this, as it would then make Pence the President.*

I was going to link that Mercouris piece too. I've been recommending everywhere that people read it. It was NOT a mistake to sign a bill that was impossible to veto successfully. But in his signing statement, Trump lays the ground very clearly for a challenge to the Supreme Court if he wants to make any accord in the future that contradicts whatever elements of the sanctions bill may infringe on his prerogative to run foreign policy.

It seems likely that the bill does infringe on the presidential role, and by laying it open to a Supreme Court finding of unconstitutionality, Trump actually is holding the hand now - while the act of sanctioning will reflect on Congress and Trump's enemies, as the sanctions both fail and help to tear the EU apart.

The Mercouris piece is essential reading in my view for anyone wanting to pass a judgment on the wisdom of Trump's signing this bill. That link again: Trump sidesteps impeachment trap in sanctions law and prepares challenge to Supreme Court

~~

* as to how serious a situation this was for Trump, a commenter on the Mercouris piece agrees that the prospect of Pence as president is all the Republicans need to support impeachment, and adds:

"When Andrew Johnson was impeached he was a Republican nominated VP (serving out Lincoln's term) impeached by a Republican dominated Congress which wanted to install a 'real' Republican in his place."

Posted by: Grieved | Aug 6, 2017 2:30:05 PM | 36

Jackrabbit @33, I must respectfully disagree with this part of your comment "His caving was entirely predictable because he is a faux-Populist like Obama before him."

Using the word 'populist' whether faux or not when describing Obama is a disservice to the meaning of the word. Obama was a liar. Period. Nothing more. Nothing less.

As for Trump? I don't really know what term I'd use to describe his politic. Candidly, I'm not sure if such a term for his style even exists.

But I will say that I don't concur with your take on his signing the sanctions bill. I don't see it as 'caving' and as I stated above your comment, Merouris' take on his signing the legislation makes sense, at least to me. Especially given the plethora of battle lines being drawn in the sewage pit known as DC. Gaining clarity as to motives behind decision making these days is murky at best, but nothing about Trump and his resume suggests 'caving' as being part of his character. Knowing when to hold them and when to fold them does.

And imagine if Merouris' take turns out to be correct. If so, how in the world does one navigate the minefields, let alone, succeed. More importantly, it means 550 elected leaders are out to destroy one. My God man, how friggin sick is that?!? The globalists don't get their way so they are going to destroy our form of government? That is the kind of power they are wielding when they succeed in securing what was it, 548 votes in the House and Senate (I haven't read the vote tally but know Rand Paul and another Senator, maybe Sanders, voted against it).

My point is that that's not only significant it's HUGE. At a minimum it means dysfunction and maximum means a declared war inside our body politic - the Globalist puppets v Trump/Pence.

Posted by: h | Aug 6, 2017 2:33:32 PM | 37

@ #6 blues:

Reverse engineer?!? Boing has had a license to build RD180s for over a decade. It's not an option they seem overly eager to employ by the leisurely pace they've asked regarding their construction. At least I think it's Boing.

Posted by: Wwinsti | Aug 6, 2017 2:38:49 PM | 38

Grieved --

If Trump and Tillerson are quietly able to have the Europeans to raise a constant hue and cry about the bill's negative impact on their ability to conduct international trade, an excellent groundwork would be laid for Trump to go to the US SC to attack the constitutionality of the bill.

Posted by: chet380 | Aug 6, 2017 2:49:08 PM | 39

Grieved @36 - I appreciate your most thoughtful comment. When I read Mercouris' article I immediately thought - Whoa, if this turns out to be the correct analysis, my God man the U.S. government is in way more trouble than I understood. Navigating a soft coup takes a great deal of skill to avoid, but if the globalists continue to escalate their warmongering demands from the White House and Trump/Team continue to form their own path, the people of the U.S. should be warned a hard coup isn't far behind...Antifa and others are being readied for just such an event.

Gives me a chill...

Posted by: h | Aug 6, 2017 2:54:20 PM | 40

thanks b.. i am super busy so not able to comment and read the comments like i would like, but i am sure someone else has already articulated what i am going to say... is it a failure of strategy, or is it a continuation of the same strategy to make war for financial reasons on others? seems like a combo of both at this point.. either way, when do the western puppets wake up, or is that not going to happen, as they are a part of this same financial ponzi scheme as well?

Posted by: james | Aug 6, 2017 2:58:32 PM | 41

@36 grieved.. if i could just paraphrase you in my own words... the usa system is fucked...

Posted by: james | Aug 6, 2017 2:59:51 PM | 42

b got it right: "a huge and stupid mistake."

Mercouris' talk of "an impeachment trap" suggests he doesn't understand the US system of government very well. A president doesn't commit an impeachable offense when using his veto, and a veto would only have strengthened Trump's claim that the bill breaches the separation of powers. As matters stand, it appears Trump doesn't believe his own signing statement.

If the Republicans ever hope to impeach their guy without forever wrecking their party and bringing years of civil unrest to this country, they will needs reams of solid evidence supporting legitimate charges. A veto wouldn't count for much in terms of legitimacy.

Posted by: Berry Friesen | Aug 6, 2017 3:31:14 PM | 43

What happens if Trump declines to enforce sanctions?

Posted by: Vollin | Aug 6, 2017 3:35:37 PM | 44

On the other hand to the Mercouris view--

He could have signed it and still gone to the Supreme Court. This leaves he signed it due the impeachment threat. This won't go away by his signing it. 2018 is closer by the minute and you've got to suppose Repub candidates are nervous about re-election due to Trump (poll numbers sinking). On the other hand if he had signed it he would have showed some guts instead of caving and earning the "humiliated" label from the Russians. Instead of no respect he might have gotten a little respect. He has reinforced Trump as BS full of talk and inept. I agree with b.

Posted by: Sid2 | Aug 6, 2017 3:43:41 PM | 45

Couple days back I read he'll be gone by February. Not long ago the odds were 2-1 by the end of the year.

Posted by: Sid2 | Aug 6, 2017 3:47:27 PM | 46

Many relevant articles have recently been published that complement b's work. Neil Clarke's, https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201708021056106300-russian-aggression-neocon-narrative/ Finian Cunnigham's, https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201708041056190256-jfk-killing-lies-russophobia/ The Saker's, http://thesaker.is/the-end-of-the-wars-on-the-cheap-for-the-united-states/ and Vladimir Gujaničić's, http://www.fort-russ.com/2017/08/the-forgotten-game-why-is-russia-enemy.html Undoubtedly, there're others I've yet to uncover.

So, brew some tea to sip as you read these. Oh, shouldn't forget Pepe Escobar's last 2 for Sputnik, https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201707231055804730-empire-whiners-pepe-escobar/ and https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201707291055991504-us-russia-sanctions-germany-trump/

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 6, 2017 4:14:44 PM | 47

b writes:

That in itself is astonishing and frightening. Can no one in the U.S. see where this will lead to?

When analyzing the United States' relations with the rest of the world it helps to keep in mind the deep state goal of world domination via "full spectrum dominance". It is a dangerous delusion of the highest order but it is one that is actively being put into practice. The actions taken against Russia, Iran, North Korea and other nations all lead to one thing: war.

Posted by: Temporarily Sane | Aug 6, 2017 4:34:15 PM | 48

my apologies, this is a bit long but...On Trump's perceived option of signing vs not signing; I think he knew that the Congress/DNC/MSM would have tarred and feathered him as a RUSSIAN PAWN (RP) till the cows come home if he didn't sign. However by signing the bill with notations stating its flaws and forwarding it the the SC for their review, he blocked this latest RP label attempt and attendant witch hunt. And assuming the SC thinks as little of the two bills legislative incursions into the exec domain as I do, it can be tossed back to both houses of Congress (with a 2018 election cycle staring them in the face)with a statement from Trump saying something to the effect of "Merciful God, how can you represent your constituents when you clearly don't have a grasp of your own job description?? Now I have to fund Trump supporting candidates to run against every single one of you." Remember he has already raised 75 million and he raised 250 million plus 66 million of his own and beat a 1.3 billion DNC machine. I do not see him as a great candidate but I do see that every single current congressional seat is held by people who are bought and paid for by business/MIC interests opposed to mine. I believe this latest attack on him via these bills will give him the opportunity to "drain the swamp" some of it anyway, in the upcoming election cycle and I will contribute to his effort to wipe them out of office and I suspect others will as well. There will be no coup on my watch if I can help it by helping him.

Posted by: frances | Aug 6, 2017 4:46:10 PM | 49

rather than press China directly in the south China Sea, it seems DC keeps on pressing the North Koreans to do something rash and the Chinese having to invade to forestall the rash attack then being stuck in a long Guerrilla war against Korean resistance.
the US strategy seems to be to create a problem and force other nations to choose "the Axis of Evil" or "the Free World"

Posted by: heath | Aug 6, 2017 4:50:46 PM | 50

Xi has made 6 visits to Russia. I am not sure how often Putin has been to Beijing. The number of heads of state visits is remarkable. I've never seen anything like this in history. Has anyone else noticed this? Clearly they are trying to form a significant economic and military power block to challenge US "Full Spectrum Dominance".

Posted by: goldhoarder | Aug 6, 2017 4:56:09 PM | 51

b--would you check the spam grabber and rescue my links-filled post from @4pm blog time? Thanks!!

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 6, 2017 5:03:32 PM | 52

The following, is for all you folks that believe voting in the U$A can make a difference.

https://www.rt.com/usa/397907-defcon-first-voting-village/

Until we trash the e-voting systems, our voting means nothing..

Posted by: ben | Aug 6, 2017 5:04:51 PM | 53

Grieved @36--

If you haven't yet, you'll want to read my several posts related to yours a few threads ago beginning here, http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/07/countdown-to-war-on-venezuela.html#c6a00d8341c640e53ef01b8d29b37ca970c

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 6, 2017 5:06:39 PM | 54

LawrenceSmith @1

There are two faces to Europe - the ordinary elected representatives and business people see the futility and danger of the sanctions. The bought Eurocrat and high political placemen will repeat what they are paid to say as the waters rise above their lips.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 6, 2017 5:25:41 PM | 55

Trump can go on TV anytime and appeal to the Public with some creative truth. Why not? Afraid of the PTB? or he's a fraud like Obama going along with the PTB?

Mostly from Trump we get boilerplate global terror war bullshit, immigrant and gay bashing - gruel for the knuckleheads.

There is no question that Pence would gladly run the bus over Trump and be a real warmonger for Zion. The "real" Republicans (and the "business-friendly New Democrats") would love President Pence. Everything (media) would quiet down.

Posted by: fast freddy | Aug 6, 2017 5:26:57 PM | 56

Regarding the Mercouris article myself and others have linked to and discussed, one possibility he didn't really explore was Trump Pocket Vetoing the bill. Congress would then upon returning from its recess need to reenact the entire measure after getting lots of heat from constituents for their votes during recess. Indeed, I think the overwhelming Pro vote was due to many congresscritter's assumption that Trump would do just that.

For me, the important question is why the Deep State instigated this move; so, I posted links to 6 incisive articles also looking for an answer in one manner or other that all together pointing to a Deep State flailing its arms in the deep end of the Hubris Pool realizing its drowning in its own effluent yet unable to utter that truth as it never will--it will break the mirror before allowing it to utter the truth. The Law of Diminishing Returns is finally laying the lumber to the Deep State after 130 years of grossly naked imperialism. Luce would be spinning in his grave if he knew how his American Century was being destroyed for A Few Dollars More.

Perhaps, John Pilger's latest essay will provide an explanation, https://www.rt.com/op-edge/398789-us-russia-china-war/

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 6, 2017 5:35:50 PM | 57

h@37

My take on Trump is informed by facts such as:

>> The US political system is designed to prevent real populists from ever gaining office. Examples: Citizens United and the rules to qualify for inclusion in candidate debates.

>> Obama was a faux populist and Sanders was a sheep-dog. Are we to believe that these populists were phonies but Trump is the real deal?

>> Only Sanders and Trump positioned themselves as populists. And even more importantly, Hillary didn't counter Trump by taking a more populist approach.

>> Hillary made it clear that she wanted to face Trump in the general election. The media dutifully covered Trump as a serious candidate. Supposedly, she felt that she had a better chance to defeat him. She then ran a terrible campaign (see: NYPost: Hillary ran the worst presidential campaign ever despite having every advantage.

>> Why would any oligarch oppose the establishment? Especially since Trump was so close to Hillary who was considered to be the likely next President. In fact, Trump served Hillary by becoming a leader of the 'Birthers'. Hillary was the first to question if Obama was foreign born.

>> Pence is a friend of McCain's. Why would any populist pick Pence as VP?

>> One of Trump's first announcements after he was elected was that he would not seek to prosecute Hillary. The strange, and short-lived, media frenzy regarding Hillary's health helped Trump to make this choice. It seems likely that this was coordinated.

>> Trump acts or doesn't act in ways that are inconsistent with 'America First' and/or fuel the scaremongering over Russia:

> The missile attack on Syria (despite tweeting warnings to Obama not to bomb Syria in 2013) and sword dancing with the Saudis (WTF?);

> Not dismissing Comey early in his Administration - then alluding to 'tapes' after he did;

> Drip-drip of info regarding Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian; Publicly attacking Sessions; etc.

> Trump complains about 'Fake News' but has accepted that Russia interfered in the election;

For more:

How Things Work: Betrayal by Faux-Populist Leaders

Taken In: Fake News Distracts Us From Fake Election

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 6, 2017 6:01:45 PM | 58

h, Greived...
Some of the points in the Mercouris article, Trump has most likely played a bad hand the best way possible. What I see in the article though is that Trump/White House managed to have a few changes made to the wording to try to protect US/European companies and individuals from the new sanctions.
I would have preferred it to hit the European companies hard. If the peasants do it tough, nobody cares, but when big manufacturing, and the likes of European based oil companies get hit, then something may happen.
With Trumps amendments? to the law, the European dog may keep crawling back to its master rather than turning to Russia/China and the multi polar world.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Aug 6, 2017 6:07:06 PM | 59

Berry Friesen@43 - "...A president doesn't commit an impeachable offense when using his veto..."

Depends. From Mercouris:

With the President totally isolated in Congress his opponents would be in a position to say that by vetoing the law the President was obstructing action by Congress to protect the integrity of the US electoral process from interference by Russia, and that he was therefore guilty of committing a “high crime or misdemeanour” by preventing action against Russia, the US’s main international adversary, on an issue of fundamental importance to the US. On those grounds they would say that he should be impeached and removed from office.

Since the Constitution does not say what a “high crime or misdemeanour” is and leaves the definition entirely to Congress, it is not impossible that in the present hysterical atmosphere the President’s constitutional use of his veto to block an unconstitutional sanctions law could be successfully misdefined in that way, and that Congress would accept this mis-definition and would vote for impeachment on that basis.

This was only one of the many other twisted 'facts' that will eventually support the thesis that Trump colluded with the Russians to interfere with elections. And as Mercouris points out, the interpretation of those facts and a vote for impeachment is entirely up to Congress, not the courts. Whether an indictment for such imagined collusion would stand up in US courts and result in a conviction is immaterial - they have no say.

An impeachment resolution HR 438 has already been filed by members of our lower house. It's rather weak, citing Trump's firing of former FBI Director, James Comey, as an obstruction of justice. The bill's sponsor acknowledges it is weak, but says it "gets the ball rolling". It will either be amended with additional articles of impeachment, or a new resolution will replace it. If one assumes all Democrat lower house representatives vote for the bill (~195 of 435), they will only need an additional 24 Republicans to pass it. It has not been submitted to a vote, but will when the representatives think the charges are numerous and strong enough that 2/3rds of the Senate will vote for Trump's removal. This is not necessarily a Democrat vs. Republican fight - Republicans would be delighted to give Trump the boot for a much more obedient replacement, Republican yes-man Vice President Pence. Hence the near unanimous vote for the sanctions bill. I can almost hear Congress screeching: "Trump must go!

They are waiting to assemble the final package of articles of impeachment so it looks credible and the MSM has sold it as such. One shouldn't look at Mercouris' logic regarding the veto as the only thing Congress will eventually use in the articles of impeachment against Trump. The bill will have to look legitimate and will be accompanied by a dumpster of manufactured evidence to confuse the little people and raise doubt.

FBI Director Muller's current investigation is to whether the Trump team colluded with Russia. It has TWO purposes: indicting someone close to Trump including his family, and (as a side-effect) blessing manufactured evidence as factual that can then be used by Congress to impeach Trump. If Trump fires Muller (perfectly legal) then - Aha! More evidence!

If Trump pardons any of his family members or close associates as a result of an indictment (perfectly legal), then that will be used against him suggesting that the charges are true. In any case, the investigation will probably produce more manufactured facts which will be used to strengthen the argument that Trump colluded with Russia to interfere with elections. A veto to the sanctions bill would have been used to support that thesis, not 'prove' an impeachable offense by itself.

An Articles of Impeachment bill - the 'charges' - are just for show. The Senate is free to interpret them any way it wants. Their decision overrides 'the law' so it doesn't matter if they prove the thesis by law or logic.

The US Congress - Democrats and Republicans - want Trump gone and Pence as the replacement lackey taking us into war. The 'facts' supporting an impeachment will eventually prove sufficient. They've got the whole Borg working on them. The veto ploy was far from the only 'evidence' that will be used for impeachment. Linear thinking...Trump Must Go!

I personally have no dog in this hunt either way - it's not like either outcome will make much difference. I'm close enough to strategic US targets that I won't feel a thing for more than, say, a microsecond or two.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Aug 6, 2017 6:11:05 PM | 60

karlof1 @56

Alternative to signing the bill:

1. Veto and explain why to the public: partisan politics / Russian witchhunt / etc.

2. Pocket veto and appeal to the public in the weeks before Congress returns from its summer recess. Congress-critters would then have to explain why they disagree with the President.

3. Veto/pocket veto and issue an executive order that imposes sanctions but doesn't tie his hands. If Congress re-enacted, it would ONLY be to unconstitutionally impinge on Presidential authority. (This strategy was suggested by someone at ZeroHedge.)

4. A combination of 2+3: first 2, then 3 if Congress decided to re-enact.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Aug 6, 2017 6:16:36 PM | 61

karlof1 56

Thanks for the link to the Pilger article. I don't check his site very often because he only writes a few articles, but worth reading when they appear.
Another of the Vietnam era investigative journalists who can no longer get articles printed in MSM.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Aug 6, 2017 6:29:32 PM | 62

At this point, it is the EU's duty to actually tell the US to go fuck itself with a nuclear warhead. And then to throw in the dumpster all the current economic treaties with it.
If EU leaders don't do it, then break the whole sorry useless Union that can't even be bothered to defend its constituency, and if needed create another better one, that is one with the clear, open and deliberate intent to stand up against the US bully, a Union which will forever stand as an opponent to the US, ready to side with China, Russia or India if needed.
But then, any sane European leaders would've understood 20 years ago that the only sensible move for EU would be a formal alliance with Russia and a loosening of the trans-atlantic ties. It's probably too late for that, and this might cost once again the vassalization of a third of Europe to Moscow; so be it then, these dumb fuckers should've seen the light earlier when that kind of moves would've been far less costly.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Aug 6, 2017 6:37:47 PM | 63

It's possible that the US strategic end game is not one we understand and highly effective. What that might be is obscured by reason.

Hahahahahaha! oh I slay me!

Posted by: Shh | Aug 6, 2017 6:47:33 PM | 64

Not Off Topic: Learned of yet another head of state assassination done by CIA prior to JFK's, Pakistan's first PM, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, "according to State Department documents," http://www.thedailystar.net/world/south-asia/cia-killed-first-pm-pakistan-1442917

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 6, 2017 6:49:46 PM | 65

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
- Mark Twain, a Biography

Posted by: Fidelios Automata | Aug 6, 2017 9:58:07 PM | 66

@53 karlof1

I realize I never did acknowledge your various comments in that thread - I was grateful, and should have said so. I copied them all to a note for my reference, and thank you for offering all of that material. Time is my great enemy and I'm something of a hit-and-run poster in threads - but this one I did come back to scan, as I do increasingly with most of these MoA threads nowadays, it seems...

By the way, I read - and value - all of your comments here that I see.

Posted by: Grieved | Aug 6, 2017 10:05:09 PM | 67

@42 james

It's rare that LOL actually means what it says but reading your comment I burst out laughing. Thank you.

On reflection, however, I have to say that I feel the US system has great merit. The country may well be fucked, but the underlying system has the potential to be workable, in suitable hands.

I don't know of any representative system in the world that isn't gamed by the big boys. This business of the people's actually having a say in how a nation is run is a newish thing, by and large, I think. I can't imagine how anyone could think it's been perfected yet. To me, it's still a miracle that even the pretense of having it exists - and this speaks loudly of something real that inheres in the people and that rulers remain wary of, at every turn.

I don't know if before the American Revolution anyone in the world ever published the paradigm that national sovereignty derives exclusively from the sovereignty of the individual persons that comprise the nation. I only know where I heard it first, and still hear it today.

I actually admire what the framers of the Constitution put together, having read their discussions verbatim. But it was the Bill of Rights that enabled that document to be ratified - it would not have happened without the Ten Amendments. And that powerful piece of negotiation came from the people, and their States. So we see in the US system a combination of interests.

I'm not ready yet to write it off, and I don't say that it was in itself compromised from the beginning. Gamed and bypassed, yes, certainly. We're still working on ruling ourselves, we sovereign individuals. Story not finished yet.

Posted by: Grieved | Aug 6, 2017 10:26:56 PM | 68

Anyone else seen this little beauty from Foreign Policy?

"According to a source familiar with the matter, McMaster is trying to dismiss anyone involved with a controversial memo arguing that the so-called “deep state” is engaged in a Maoist-style insurgency against the Trump administration. The author of that memo, NSC staffer Rich Higgins, has already been fired, and at least two other anti-globalist NSC staffers have also been forced out."

Heh heh heh the trumpeters Vs the corporatists - every oppressive theocracy should be made to play this game; of course the audience is susceptible to table-tennis watchers neck from swivelling to follow the dried dog turd bouncing back n forth, but the popcorn is pretty good.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Aug 6, 2017 10:27:47 PM | 69

okay - got a chance to read others comments..

@6 blues.. good post.. thanks.

@22 fast freddy..good comments too, but your link doesn't work.

@38 Wwinsti.. i think what blues is trying to say is if you don't have any engineers, or manufacturing capabilities which have been in a state of decline for many years, all the talk of reverse engineering is just that - talk and nothing more..

@48 frances.. it is funny that russian pawn claptrap was given such a regular viewing in the msm, that some now seem to truly believe it.. i am still waiting for the tooth ferry myself.. let me know if anyone sees it, lol...

@50 goldhoarder. yeah, as b notes - if the usa was trying to throw russia and china together - they are going about it the right way!!!

@56 karlof1.. good article.. thanks!

@59 paveway quote "This was only one of the many other twisted 'facts' that will eventually support the thesis that Trump colluded with the Russians to interfere with elections." as i mentioned earlier the usa is fucked in the head.. but maybe a better way to put it is in an opening quote in naomi kleins latest book (2017) called "NO is not enough"... "I'm not looking to overthrow the American government, the corporate state already has." John Trudell - Santee Dakota activist, artist, and poet ( 1946-2015) in the msm we trust, lol - it's in the national anthem... i like how you ended your post, lol..

@62 clueless joe.. i had heard they cleaned up the bill to make it more palatable for europe.. i don't know if that is true, but i read that somewhere.. they put some usa #1 export sugar on top of the large dose of arsenic.. lets see if the poodles go for it, lol...

@64 karlof1.. sounds about right.. i guess the leader was a bit too democratic for his own good, lol.. clearly he was doing something right for the cia to want to get rid of him..

@67 grieved.. thanks.. i use the lol way too much and clearly i am mostly talking to myself and laughing at my own stupid jokes that most people find boring..i admire your optimism and the fact you don't fall prey to cynicism nearly as quickly as me! i hope you are right, but man we are at a tipping point here in a major way circa 2017... i don't see things moving forward all that favourably but i do admire those who can stay positive in spite of what we are seeing here..

@68 debs is dead.. thanks.. too many pop ups from fp, so i'm closing the window.. sounds about right though.. to quote the pilger article that karlof1 left @64 - "A coup against the man in the White House is under way. This is not because he is an odious human being, but because he has consistently made clear he does not want war with Russia." msm verses trump... msm is winning, lol... trump is going to have to pick up the twitter pace or he is in deep doo doo, or deep 6'd by the deep state.. mcmaster - what a disgrace to the scottish clan this man is.. he needs to change his friggin nam...


Posted by: james | Aug 6, 2017 10:56:31 PM | 70

Debsisdead@68 - Everyone seems to take a side on McMaster. Some conservative press claims he's cleaning house of Israeli-firsters, a claim denied by TimesofIsrael despite their description of Ezra Cohen-Watnik as a "Jewish official". They see a common thread of 'Iran hawks' in the McMaster purge. Other conservative press sees McMaster as the puppet of Saudi-controlled Soros, wonderfully illustrated here. Their association with the Richard Higgins memo is less clear, and the memo (and Higgins views in general) are usually portrayed as nutty. The Atlantic just published an article that gives a more rational-sounding (relative, I know...) description of Higgins views in the memo as:

"...Higgins’s memo describes supposed domestic and international threats to Trump’s presidency, including globalists, bankers, the “deep state,” and Islamists. The memo characterizes the Russia story as a plot to sabotage Trump’s nationalist agenda. It asserts that globalists and Islamists are seeking to destroy America. The memo also includes a set of recommendations, arguing that the problem constitutes a national-security priority..."

I have to say that the threat to Trump's presidency seems real enough regardless of the debate about who or why.

The real reason I think Higgins was fired: he had called for whistle-blowers in US law enforcement and the DHS to come forward with evidence of being ordered to allow suspected terrorists into the US and systematic blindness at all levels of any monitoring or investigation. This is all (according to him) being driven by political correctness and the globalist's/Soros' 'open borders' scheme. Nutty conspiracy theory? I'm not so sure. I keep hearing the same thing from European nations - an official (but secret) policy of turning a blind eye to terrorism suspects entering their country. That's a damn strange 'conspiracy theory' coincidence across the pond, if I do say so myself.

Back to the McMaster 'purge' - who knows? Nobody is in charge at the White House and everyone is purging everyone else (apparently even Trump). McMaster himself is thought to be in danger of dismissal - his grand hawkish plans for a renewed, invigorated Afghanistan War version 2.0 were quickly rejected by Trump. The plans were essentially, "We'll try again in Afghanistan, but with more troops... and we'll REALLY mean it this time!"

I don't necessarily think Trump is against US world domination schemes. He is just skeptical of the clownish, sure-to-fail linear-thinking plans the neocons have typically choked out. Incometence - sad! Trump would rather bumble into a war all on his own, I guess...

Posted by: PavewayIV | Aug 7, 2017 12:09:28 AM | 71

Thanks for this insight into the Sanctions bill - b.

What I'm waiting for is the response of the EU ( Germany)
Will they stop nord stream 2 ?

Also do these sanctions affect Turk stream?

I can't see Erdogan stopping this pipeline which will underpin Turkeys economic developments and build stronger reflations with those in Southern Europe - Hungary, Bulgaria, and the ex-Yugoslavia countries.

As for the Baltic countries and Poland - they are the fly in the EU ointment making a unified EU response impossible - always ready to do the US bidding especially if it involves attacking Russia.
But even here does economic concerns come even before this? as LNG from the US will cost far far more than Russian gas.

Poland would loose transit fees due to nordstream 2 . Then we have Ukraine who need the transit fees - it's part of their budget. The Infrastructure however needs investment - and who will do that.

Also the does anyone know if the pipeline to china - can't remember its name - is being built and when that is due to be operational

All in all the sanctions bill just codified the domestic Russophobia and if anything should kill off the Pro - American wing that exists in Russia. The accusations against Russia were unjust and have not been proved.

The main response from Russia will be to further insulate itself from these type of attacks which are only possible through being part of the dollar economy.


P S - I disagree with b that medvedev could be president again. Most Russians don't even want him as prime minister! His statement read to me as a reflection of his personal disappointment in Trump.

Posted by: James | Aug 7, 2017 1:40:27 AM | 72

@ b who wrote:
"
These sanctions will shape U.S.-Russian relation for the next 30 plus years.
"
I think that the geo-political situation is too volatile at this time to make this claim and one, multiple and/or a sequence of events is going to precipitate a crisis that will end the current shape of our world and birth something else....the crisis will include a global debt "reset" of some sort if not frontal on attack on private finance global tools......whatever is going to happen will occur in less than 30 years is my point to counter b's statement.

What will the US do to precipitate the crisis TPTB seem to be jonesing for?....or will the rest of the world continue to stand by and watch the center of empire collapse of its own deathly dissonance?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Aug 7, 2017 1:54:44 AM | 73

I concur with everything in this piece but this line: "Core European countries will resist pressures that endanger their economies." I doubt there is any European country that has the backbone to stand up against the US interest at this moment.

Posted by: Steve | Aug 7, 2017 3:19:43 AM | 74

Whats worse is the stupid sanctions on NK, pushed by neocons and supported by not only stupid warmongering EU but also Russia and China! Talk about being naive and a sell out!

Posted by: Anon | Aug 7, 2017 4:46:34 AM | 75

Are we underestimating the importance of it being Medvedev who sent such a blunt and honest critique of the sanctions scheme? He is the spokesboy for the pro-West/oligarch/integrationist half of the Russian government. For him to make such a statement must have been either as a plea or warning ("Dude! You're killing your own agents over here!); or perhaps its more grave and is more of an indication that even the lapdogs in Russia are disgusted and angry and prepared to side with Putin's sovereign Russia camp and make some of the financial changes Putin has been sneaking up on for the last few years. Either way, sounds like it could be good news for Russia, and more strengthening of Putin's hand as we approach their election cycle. He may already have the political capital to kick out or hamstring most of the foreign NGOs, which he certainly needs to do as a follow-up to the diplomatic staff reductions. Should be interesting.

Posted by: J Swift | Aug 7, 2017 7:37:02 AM | 76

a million laughs how so much commentary in its infinite wisdom still confers such faith in our hallowed institutions. be it a Congress that votes unanimously to sanction a sovereign nation based on unproven absurdities while ignoring their president's lobbing of 60 cruise missiles into another sovereign nation for, well, for no real reason at all, actually, oh yeah, for other unproven absurdities, to some purported strategy for the Supreme Court in its infinite wisdom to presumably restore good sense and order to perfidious political shenanigans(oooh, the intrigue)...that would be the same Supreme Court that protects scum-of-the-earth corporate personhood above all else(remember Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker?).

Posted by: john | Aug 7, 2017 7:41:19 AM | 77

Google: Lost in translation?

by Seamus Padraig In an article sure to breathe life into the old conspiracy theories about Silicon Valley and the CIA, The Guardian recently reported that: Google has fixed an “automated” error which saw its online translating tool convert “Russian Federation” into “Mordor”. Other erroneous translations included “russians” becoming “occupiers” and the name of Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, rendered as “sad little horse”. Mordor is the fictional realm in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books, also known as the land of shadows. The error, which Google said is down to an automatic bug, appeared in the online tool when users converted the Ukranian [sic] language into Russian. Google, naturally, denied any ‘evil’ intent, telling The Guardian in a written statement that its translator tool works “without the intervention of human translators”. Sure it does! And no doubt the problem was fixed automatically too, wasn’t it! Down in the comboxes, many took the opportunity to bash Russia and all things Russian, but at least one commenter decided to take a shot at the messenger.

Posted by: okie farmer | Aug 7, 2017 8:18:22 AM | 78

A Russian MP talking to RT has an interesting and simple take: Trump made no mistake and is no puppet. He knowingly declared a trade war onto Russia, while retaining a "good cop" attitude designed to shift the blame and hopefully to keep a good image among his anti-war voters, Obama-style, of "prisoner in the White House" (poor guy is "forced to be tough" against his will, sob).
Sometimes, the simplest explanation makes the most sense, all the more as, every time Trump has made amicable noises in the past, something bad has ensued. What if it's no accident?
https://www.rt.com/politics/398429-trump-is-no-puppet-russian/

Posted by: Lea | Aug 7, 2017 8:24:50 AM | 79

While the percentage of Germans mentioning Russia as the largest foreign threat dropped to 33% (below 35 for USA), Poland has hefty 65%. Main political parties vigorously insult each other, and Russian/Putin stooge is a favorite (although creativity in that field exceeds American standards, polite Britain not really competing). Thus I was surprised that the current foreign minister made an effort to allow several interviews with Russian media. Among others, he stated that while Poland is interested in American liquified natural gas, at this time it is not competitive with Russian natural gas (it seems that European gas prices are at least double of those in Europe, but liquifying, transporting highly explosive cargo etc. adds a lot to the cost). And the purchase of American Patriots is needed, but not finalized (the government talks a lot about expanding the military to face the Russian threat, but they are surprisingly stingy with arms budget, so far they got a big fleet of armored limousines for VIPs and few Being planes, also for VIPs).

Basically, even most Russophobic politicians do not want real breakdown in trade, and given that arms industry is mostly non-domestic, they have measured enthusiasm for the arms race. I guess Waszczykowski (English phonetics: Vashchikofky) does not support new American sanctions. The other aspect is that the current government is in conflict with "EU bureacracy", but what alternatives does Poland have? Well... there are some, right?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Aug 7, 2017 9:24:06 AM | 80


I agree with the post at 78. Trump is all in with these sanctions -he is just trying to fool his base.

Does anyone really think he did not know the bill was being drafted - Paul Ryan and Priebus would have told him.

An article on antiwar.com states the following

Tillerson says he's told Russia that US will respond by Sept. 1 to Moscow's move to expel US diplomats.

They want an escalation and Cold War

Posted by: James | Aug 7, 2017 9:49:40 AM | 82

". This a little disguised attempt to press European countries into buying expensive U.S. liquefied natural gas instead of cheap Russian gas delivered by pipelines. The immediate target is the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany which passes through the Baltic Sea to avoid potential conflict points in east Europe. The sanctions are a threat to an independent German energy policy. " b

Seems to me that Russian gas probably has a much smaller carbon footprint than fracked, compressed, shipped and regassified USA shale gas? I have searched but not found any carbon footprint comparisons online.

if Russian gas is much cleaner, they could win at least on the public opinion front on this issue....


Posted by: Bluemot5 | Aug 7, 2017 10:21:52 AM | 83

For Putin to whine and cry about sanctions vs Russia whilst hammering North Korea with sanctions is just pure hypocrisy - raging, insane hypocrisy - at best. Putin, it's clear now, is just a punk and a thug and ultimately a US vassal. Xi the same. Before I thought that somehow those two leaders, bad as they are, were pillars of decency and integrity compared to US misleaders. That, it seems, has changed. US misleaders are worse than ever. Trump is a total creep. Both parties exude nothing but stench. Yet Xi and Putin are Trump's/US' vassals, even more disgusting. When called upon to jump, they do a dance and jump right through the ring as commanded.

A couple of weeks ago China and Russia made a reasonable statement pointing out that the way to peace had to involve regard for the security issues on both sides. Now they've burned that statement just because they were commanded to. Oh yes it's sort of there in the UNSC fine print, which I guess makes for a nice fig leaf.

Posted by: paul | Aug 7, 2017 10:27:41 AM | 84


Paul @ 83
Putin has not commented on the sanctions
Medvedev did.

As for North Korea - that's a separate topic all together which I am sure b will cover.

Posted by: James | Aug 7, 2017 10:36:38 AM | 85

paul

Yeah, one day before China and Russia blast sanctions imposed on themselves by Trump, then next day - they follow through with Trump and do the same onto North Korea. Hypocrisy and treachery!

Posted by: Anon | Aug 7, 2017 10:47:28 AM | 86

A system of represntative government that severely limited the power of the rich was that of ancient Athens. Council members and most government officials were chosen by lot from the whole body of adult male citizens. As a reading of elite authors like Plato will reveal, the rich didn't like this system at all.

Posted by: lysias | Aug 7, 2017 10:48:13 AM | 87

The Trump Presidency is effectively over. It ended on the day he signed the Sanctions Bill. A velvet junta has assumed control of the executive branch. Trump's family and advisors await conviction. The Generals are now in charge and will lead us into the next war sooner than later.

Posted by: RenoDino | Aug 7, 2017 10:50:25 AM | 88

Sanctions, but US still buying billions of dollars worth (including baksheesh) of rocket engines and screwing around with international space station boondoggle (million dollar toilet seats, hammers and widgets). And more baksheesh.

Try to google search a fixed price on one Russian rocket engine.

Posted by: fast freddy | Aug 7, 2017 11:36:47 AM | 89

This 'Pipelineistan' [Bullshit?] conspiracy: The war in Syria has never been about gas
Paul Cochrane
Wednesday 10 May 2017 10:57 UTC


The pipeline hypotheses do not stand up to the realities of how energy is transported through the Middle East in the 21st century

3. No Qatari offer to Damascus

The pipeline narrative, from 2013 onwards, also makes much mention of Damascus rebuffing an alleged Qatari offer in 2009 to build a pipeline. This part of the story hinges around statements by unnamed diplomats in a 2013 Agence France-Presse article about a meeting between Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's Bandar bin Sultan.

Qatar's then-Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (R) and First Lady Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Misned (L) welcome Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma at Doha airport in January 2010 (AFP)

The report says: "In 2009, Assad refused to sign an agreement with Qatar for an overland pipeline running from the Gulf to Europe via Syria to protect the interests of its Russian ally, which is Europe's top supplier of natural gas."

But Dargin says: "There are no credible sources that show that Qatar even approached Syria in 2009 and was rebuffed in the process. I am not saying it definitely did not occur, rather there is no evidence supporting this claim."

Syrian experts also support Dargin's rebuttal, highlighting the burgeoning economic and political ties between Doha and Damascus.

'An important aspect that we don't talk about is the Syrian government never said the Qataris were fighting for a pipeline' - Jihad Yazigi, Syria Report

Yassin-Kassab says: "The absurdity is that relations between the Assad regime and the Qataris were excellent until summer 2011. Assad and his wife and the Qatari royal couple were also being portrayed as personal friends."

Although Assad may have repeatedly criticized Qatar since late 2011 onwards for supporting "terrorists," he has never publicly stated that Qatari support for the rebels was over a future pipeline.

Jihad Yazigi, editor of economy website Syria Report, says: "An important aspect that we don't talk about is the Syrian government never said the Qataris were fighting for a pipeline; that is telling in itself, that Assad never mentioned it."


4. The Moscow-Tehran connection

Then there's the other part of the Pipelineistan puzzle – the Iran-Syria pipeline, also known as the Islamic Pipeline.

Yazigi explains: "The Islamic pipeline has been talked about for years. There were pre-contract memorandums of understanding, but until July 2011, there was no formal signing [between Syria and Iran]. You can't argue this is a serious reason to destroy the whole country."

While the project was politically expedient, it ignored economic and energy realities. First, the project was estimated to cost $10 billion, but it was unclear who would foot the bill, particularly as Tehran was – and still is – under US and international sanctions, as is Syria, since 2011.

Second, Iran lacks the capabilities to export significant amounts of gas. Sanctions mean it cannot access the advanced US technology that would allow it to exploit gas from the South Pars field that borders Qatar.

Posted by: Just Sayin' | Aug 7, 2017 11:39:59 AM | 90

@71 James, there are many small contractors involved in Nordstream in several countries. The sanctions are designed to squeeze them out and make Nordstream impossible.

It's not unlike the strategy being used against NK. They are designed to make life even more difficult for ordinary people....perhaps drive them into China and cause China to attack NK.

Posted by: dh | Aug 7, 2017 11:41:03 AM | 91

@90 Should have included this link...it mentions the situation with the Black Sea pipeline.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-sanctions-gazprom-analysis-idUSKBN1AJ1AN

Posted by: dh | Aug 7, 2017 11:57:30 AM | 92

@15

"Not me! Term limits mean nothing more than the elimination of the ability of the voters to assess candidates based on legislative track records. The result is that every two years the voters will have to choose representatives with no past history of legislation. Disaster."

Gag me with a spoon. This argument is so old and so worn thin. Statistically 95+% of these fools are reelected because the highly cerebral voters you refer to have elevators that almost never go to the top of the building.

Money, money money. That's what drives the engine of elections. Incumbents have it working for them in so many ways: PACs, corporate centers of influence; radio and teevee.

All of the alternatives you propose are red herrings. They are only workable in heaven, not here on Terra Firma.

Remember, all of that institutional memory brought about by all of the 'experienced' members of congress got us where we are today. And, it's gotten them a 10% approval rating.

Posted by: Skip | Aug 7, 2017 12:04:55 PM | 93

Grieved @66 & 67--

Thanks for your reply and endorsement.

Something to consider when dealing with the Revolutionary time period is what part of the populous is considered "The People," as in "We The People"? And just how equal in reality were those people in 1776 when the phrase "All men are created equal" appeared? This is of great importance when we look at the proportion of the populous that was allowed to have a stake in the process and compare that with the amount of time it took until a majority was finally deemed to have equal rights under the law--1920 within USA--although it can be argued that full equality under the law is still lacking as Glenn Greenwald did to great affect in With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality. Two works providing info on this issue are The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States and People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of American Civilization, although there are many others.

Is the United States federal government reformable? IMO, as currently constituted, no. A new document and associated institutions needs to be written and built, although some current institutions will have a place within the new construct. Yes, I did write a Constitution 3.0 using Madisonian principles not long after the fiasco of the 2000 election to use as a classroom discussion tool. But to have any chance at making that reality, the Rule of Law must be reinstated within the Outlaw US Empire in order to bring the Deep State to Justice and thus its destruction.

Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 7, 2017 12:16:45 PM | 94

@78 lea.. i agree.

@81 James.. i agree as well - "they want an escalation and cold war." keeping the us$ supreme is the forever game plan..

@83 paul.. as always thanks for the laugh..

Posted by: james | Aug 7, 2017 12:44:43 PM | 95

I was happily surprised to just read the BRZEZINSKI article which wasn't ruthless chessboard as portrayed here. The quote doesn't give a good idea of what the article says about the US working constructively>> with both Russia and China not for domination but less conflict. As he says, "The alternative to a constructive vision, and especially the quest for a one-sided militarily and ideologically imposed outcome, can only result in prolonged and self-destructive futility".
Zbigniew Brzezinski died in May, as late as April this year he was calling for closer relations between Russian and the US. I am sad to see this site misuse him in this article. Or rather I am glad because now I hold ZB a bit higher and will be even more cautious here.

Posted by: nurse.comic | Aug 7, 2017 1:02:13 PM | 96

One jewish journalist (link was posted here few days ago) nicely pointed out these sanctions are the stupidest thing US could have possibly done. Not only it forges even closer Russia-China-Iran alliance, it also alienates the closest and strongest ally US have - the EU.

@18 - or the opposite. If Trump really is isolationists and if he wants USA isolate itself on the two Americas, then he has two options: make America turn its back on the world, or make the world turn its back on America. The first option he failed, DC regime is stronger than POUTS. Then - the second option.

Posted by: Arioch | Aug 7, 2017 1:30:51 PM | 97

AT #88:


Russian Rocket Engines Exempted from Sanctions Bill – Parabolic Arc

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2017/06/17/russian-rocket-engines-exempted-sanctions-bill/

17 Jun 2017 ... Russian Rocket Engines Exempted from Sanctions Bill ... using at least one Russian engine to try to placate the Great Russia ... Which means that it could've been human rated or fixed to meet the NASA needs. Tom Billings • 1 month ago. And cost two to four times as much as an Atlas V. Those LHy/Lox ...

Posted by: William Bowles | Aug 7, 2017 2:33:33 PM | 98

Not only it forges even closer Russia-China-Iran alliance, it also alienates the closest and strongest ally US have - the EU.

Posted by: Arioch | Aug 7, 2017 1:30:51 PM | 96

What's wrong about that statement is that the EU nations are not US Allied states - they are US vassal states.

bit of a difference between those two: "allied state" and "vassal state"

Posted by: Just Sayin' | Aug 7, 2017 2:56:49 PM | 99

At #96:

or the opposite. If Trump really is isolationists and if he wants USA isolate itself on the two Americas, then he has two options: make America turn its back on the world, or make the world turn its back on America. The first option he failed, DC regime is stronger than POUTS. Then - the second option.

Everything continues as 'normal' with Trump as Prez, except, he's a bit of a loose canon, not one of the 'boys'. Worse still, he actually believes that the prez runs the show! I don't know prezs actually last ran the show, maybe Kennedy, maybe never. Big capital runs the show and uses structures like the CFR, Bilderberg, Chatham House, plus of course, the universities and 'think tanks'. They're not united however, as Trump so forcefully reveals. So how to deal with him without giving the game away? Pre-election, they tried ridicule. Post, they're trying to incriminate him and it shouldn't be difficult to do, without Russia. He is after all, a billionaire capitalist, who must have done all kinds shady, nee illegal deals and probably some in Russia as well. Show me a big capitalist who hasn't?

In a strange way, Trump is actually helping them by being such a big doofus. I think the lights are on but nobody's home. If only he'd behave the way Obummer did, and do as he's told!

Posted by: William Bowles | Aug 7, 2017 3:12:30 PM | 100

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