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September 22, 2020

The End Of The 'Rules Based International Order'

The 'western' countries, i.e. the United States and its 'allies',  love to speak of a 'rules based international order' which they say everyone should follow. That 'rules based order' is a way more vague concept than the actual rule of law:

The G7 is united by its shared values and commitment to a rules based international order. That order is being challenged by authoritarianism, serious violations of human rights, exclusion and discrimination, humanitarian and security crises, and the defiance of international law and standards.

As members of the G7, we are convinced that our societies and the world have reaped remarkable benefits from a global order based on rules and underscore that this system must have at its heart the notions of inclusion, democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, diversity, and the rule of law.

That the 'rules based international order' is supposed to include vague concepts of 'democracy', 'human rights', 'fundamental freedoms', 'diversity' and more makes it easy to claim that this or that violation of the 'rules based international order' has occurred. Such violations can then be used to impose punishment in the form of sanctions or war.

That the above definition was given by a minority of a few rich nations makes it already clear that it can not be a global concept for a multilateral world. That would require a set of rules that everyone has agreed to. We already had and have such a system. It is called international law. But at the end of the cold war the 'west' began to ignore the actual  international law and to replace it with its own rules which others were then supposed to follow. That hubris has come back to bite the 'west'.

Anatol Lieven's recent piece, How the west lost, describes this moral defeat of the 'west' after its dubious 'victory' in the cold war:

Accompanying this overwhelmingly dominant political and economic ideology was an American geopolitical vision equally grandiose in ambition and equally blind to the lessons of history. This was summed up in the memorandum on “Defence Planning Guidance 1994-1999,” drawn up in April 1992 for the Bush Senior administration by Under-Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and subsequently leaked to the media. Its central message was:
...
While that 1992 Washington paper spoke of the “legitimate interests” of other states, it clearly implied that it would be Washington that would define what interests were legitimate, and how they could be pursued. And once again, though never formally adopted, this “doctrine” became in effect the standard operating procedure of subsequent administrations. In the early 2000s, when its influence reached its most dangerous height, military and security elites would couch it in the terms of “full spectrum dominance.” As the younger President Bush declared in his State of the Union address in January 2002, which put the US on the road to the invasion of Iraq: “By the grace of God, America won the Cold War… A world once divided into two armed camps now recognises one sole and pre-eminent power, the United States of America.”

But that power has since failed in the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, during the 2008 financial crisis and now again in the pandemic. It also created new competition to its role due to its own behavior:

Cont. reading: The End Of The 'Rules Based International Order'

Posted by b at 17:59 UTC | Comments (81)

September 21, 2020

A Ukrainian/CIA Plot To Incite Belarus Against Russia Unraveled - The NYT Story Thereof Is Hiding The Failure

Just yesterday we flogged the false and misleading reports in the New York Times about Russia's Covid-19 vaccine. Today a different New York Times report by Ivan Nechepurenko, who is also with its bureau in Moscow, proves to be of similar shoddy quality:

In Belarus, Russian Mercenaries Turned From Saboteurs to Friends
President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko accused Russia of sending a group of mercenaries to disrupt his re-election. With mass protests consuming the country after the vote, he briskly changed his tune.

Diligent readers of Moon of Alabama will remember what the story is about. On August 7 we reported how the Ukrainian intelligence service SBU, in the guise of a private military company, hired former Russian and Ukrainian soldiers allegedly for jobs in Venezuela. All the hired men had previously fought on the 'Russian side' of Ukrainian civil war in the Donbas region. The men were told to go to the Belorussian capital Minsk from where they were supposed to be later flown to Venezuela to guard oil installations.

The Ukrainian SBU then told the Belorussian security service KGB that the Russian mercenaries, who were then waiting in a resort near Minsk, were in Belarus to overthrow its president Lukashenko. The men were arrested and Lukashenko made a public fuss about the alleged Russian coup against him. Ukraine then asked for the extradition of the men. It had plans to indict them for their involvement in the Donbas war.

But just a few days after the men were arrested the whole plan unraveled. Russian media proved without doubt that the men had been tricked to go to Belarus and that they had no plans to overthrow Lukashenko. The Belorussian president apologized and the men were returned to Russia. As the Russian broadsheet kp.ru summarized (machine translation):

[I]t can be stated that the Ukrainian special services managed to create a fake project, in which they involved 180 Russian citizens, while including in the first group of war veterans in the Donbas. At the same time, it is quite possible to admit that the entire fascinating and instructive story was brought to the Belorussian side in a very truncated form - without details about air tickets.

Through this entire operation, the SBU seems to have intended to kill several birds with one stone - the ubiquitous, nightmarish and terrible PMC Wagner was supposed to ricochet on Rosneft - as one of the largest Russian companies, but the main blow, undoubtedly, on the Russian-Belorussian relationships. Not to mention the possible extradition of Russian citizens to Ukraine, which Kiev would be incredibly happy about - such an opportunity to avenge its sailors, whom Poroshenko sent "to slaughter" in the Kerch Strait.

That version story has since been confirmed by the Ukrainian side (see below).

But today's New York Times report does not tell that story at all. It makes it seem as if Lukashenko changed his mind about the 'Russian coup' not because he gained knowledge of the real plot, but because he was under pressure from election protests:

Cont. reading: A Ukrainian/CIA Plot To Incite Belarus Against Russia Unraveled - The NYT Story Thereof Is Hiding The Failure

Posted by b at 16:50 UTC | Comments (60)

September 20, 2020

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-75

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

> Asked whether the US is considering the possibility of appointing Dahlan, who lives in the UAE, as the next Palestinian leader, Friedman replied: "We're thinking about it," but we have no desire to engineer the Palestinian leadership. <
> Bad, bad times, made worse by one old woman’s selfish disregard for everyone else. If that offends you, so be it. Important people don’t get “don’t say bad things about the dead” when everyone else has to suffer because of their decisions. <
Michael Tracey @mtracey - 0:01 UTC · Sep 20, 2020

After the death of R.B. Ginsburg (87) the US political system falls into disarray. J. Biden (78) and D. Trump (74) declare the future of the nation is at stake. N. Pelosi (80) is bereft with grief. M. McConnell (78) plots his strategy. Spring chicken C. Schumer (69) vows revenge

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-75

Posted by b at 15:00 UTC | Comments (183)

NYT First Reinforces, Then Silently Debunks Its False Claims About Russia's Covid-19 Vaccine

Western reporters do not like to correct their own false reporting. They rather reinforce it as much as possible. Only when overwhelmed by the facts will they silently admit that they were wrong in the first place. Here is a prime example of how that's done.

In mid-August we exposed how 'western' media lied about the approval for phase-3 testing of the Russian Sputnik vaccine against Covid-19. They said that Russia claimed the vaccine was ready to go population wide. That never was the case.

'Western' Media Falsely Claim That Russia's Covid-19 Vaccine Is Ready To Go

Russia has not approved a vaccine against Covid-19 and it is not skipping large-scale clinical trials. The Russia regulator gave a preliminary approval for a vaccine candidate to start the large-scale clinical trial. [...]

Science Magazine is one of the few media who got it right: ...

One of the false reports we pointed out was by the New York Times Moscow correspondent Andrew E. Kramer:

Russia Approves Coronavirus Vaccine Before Completing Tests

Russia has become the first country in the world to approve a vaccine for the coronavirus, President Vladimir V. Putin announced on Tuesday, though global health authorities say the vaccine has yet to complete critical, late-stage clinical trials to determine its safety and effectiveness.
...
By skipping large-scale clinical trials, the Russian dash for a vaccine has raised widespread concern that it is circumventing vital steps — and potentially endangering people — in order to score global propaganda points.

Russia had, as we and Science Magazine reported, never the intent to skip large-scale clinical trials. Kramer made that up.

In a new report today Kramer reinforces his previous false and disproven claims to lament about an alleged slow distribution of the Sputnik vaccine in Russia:

Russia Is Slow to Administer Virus Vaccine Despite Kremlin’s Approval

More than a month after becoming the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine, Russia has yet to administer it to a large population outside a clinical trial, health officials and outside experts say.

The approval, which came with much fanfare, occurred before Russia had tested the vaccine in late-stage trials for possible side effects and for its disease-fighting ability. It was seen as a political gesture by President Vladimir V. Putin to assert victory in the global race for a vaccine.

It is not clear whether the slow start to the vaccination campaign is a result of limited production capacity or second thoughts about inoculating the population with an unproven product.

The Times author reinforces his own lie that Russia had declared its vaccine ready for population wide application. It had never done that. The official registration of the vaccine by the relevant authorities was only a necessary precondition to start the large scale phase-3 testing of the vaccine. There never was a Russian intent to distribute the vaccine to a large population without phase-3 testing.

In the bottom third of his long piece Kramer comes near to admitting that. There he describes that the Sputnik phase-3 testing is now ongoing. That contradicts all of his previous reporting on the issues though he himself never says that. But even now he is getting the details wrong:

Cont. reading: NYT First Reinforces, Then Silently Debunks Its False Claims About Russia's Covid-19 Vaccine

Posted by b at 12:12 UTC | Comments (33)

September 19, 2020

Supreme Court Fight Exposes Bipartisan Hypocrisy

On Friday the liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. The discussion about the Senate confirmation of her replacement reveals the utter hypocrisy of U.S. politics and politicians.

The stakes are high:

The blunt fact is that the opportunity to seat a third justice represents a monumental political opportunity for President Trump. He would go down in history as one of the most significant presidents, whether or not he wins a second term. The last Republican president to install three justices in his first term was Richard M. Nixon. A likely Trump nominee would be Notre Dame’s Amy Coney Barrett, whom Trump has previously considered for a seat on the court.

Trump will have the opportunity to put the final seal of defeat on the liberal era that began with the Roosevelt administration and ran through the Obama administration. A sixth Republican justice would essentially ensure that any sweeping liberal programs a President Joe Biden or another Democratic president might endorse would be condemned to the ash heap of history before it even had an opportunity to become established.

The Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is now arguing that any decision over the new supreme court judge should be left to the next president:

The Senate shouldn't take up the vacancy on the Supreme Court opened by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg until after voters have expressed their choice in the election, former Vice President Joe Biden said Friday.

The Democratic presidential helpful kept in lockstep with his colleagues now in the Senate minority, who wasted little time after the announcement of Ginsburg's death in stating their belief that Washington must wait.

Unsurprisingly the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell disagrees with Biden:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said unequivocally Friday night that President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Four and a half years ago the situation was inverse. Then President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace the deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The Republican led Senate blocked the decision:

Cont. reading: Supreme Court Fight Exposes Bipartisan Hypocrisy

Posted by b at 12:12 UTC | Comments (85)

South Africa's Government Debunks Politico Fakenews Of Threats Against A U.S. Ambassador

On Monday we trashed a shady Politico report which falsely claimed that Iran had plans to assassinate the U.S. ambassador to South Africa:

[A]s one fake news zombie finally dies others get resurrected. Politico's 'intelligence' stenographer Natasha Bertrand produced this nonsensical claim:
The Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against the American ambassador to South Africa, U.S. intelligence reports say, according to a U.S. government official familiar with the issue and another official who has seen the intelligence.

News of the plot comes as Iran continues to seek ways to retaliate for President Donald Trump’s decision to kill a powerful Iranian general earlier this year, the officials said. ...

Ambassador Lana Marks is known for selling overpriced handbags and for her donations to Trump's campaign. To Iran she has zero political or symbolic value. There is no way Iran would ever think about an attack on such a target. Accordingly the South African intelligence services do not believe that there is such a threat: ...

U.S. President Donald Trump used the fake Politico story to threaten Iran:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 3:04 UTC · Sep 15, 2020

According to press reports, Iran may be planning an assassination, or other attack, against the United States in retaliation for the killing of terrorist leader Soleimani, which was carried out for his planning a future attack, murdering U.S. Troops, and the death & suffering...
...caused over so many years. Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!

Yesterday the government of South Africa officially debunked the obvious nonsense Politico's Natasha Bertrand was spreading:

Senior South African Government officials have met with their counterparts from the United States of America (USA), and other relevant stakeholders.

At present, the information provided is not sufficient to sustain the allegation that there is a credible threat against the United States Ambassador to South Africa.

There never was and there will be no threat from Iran against some irrelevant U.S. ambassador in a completely unrelated country.

Iran will take revenge for the U.S. assassination of its General Qasem Soleimani by doing what it has announced to do. It will expel all U.S. forces from the Middle East.

That process is ongoing. That the U.S. now had to send armored fighting vehicles to protect its occupation forces which are 'guarding the oil' in Syria is a sign that the Iranian plan is proceeding well:

The US military announced Friday that it is deploying armored vehicles and other military assets to Syria to protect US troops fighting ISIS amid tensions with Russia as President Donald Trump told a White House news conference that "we are out of Syria," saying the remaining US forces are there exclusively "guarding the oil."

U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq are now coming under daily attacks. These will only intensify until all U.S. forces retreat from those countries.

Posted by b at 6:34 UTC | Comments (20)

September 18, 2020

New Documents Reveal Secret British Efforts To Arm, Assist And Propagandize 'Moderate Rebels' In Syria

In November 2018 some anonymous people published a number of documents that had been liberated from a clandestine British propaganda organization, the Integrity Initiative.

The same group or person who revealed the Integrity Initiative papers has now released several dozens of documents about another 'Strategic Communication' campaign run by the British Foreign Office. The current release reveals a number of train and assist missions for 'Syrian rebels' as well as propaganda operations run in Syria and globally on behalf of the British government.

Moon of Alabama, as well as other sites, had published a series of pieces about the Integrity Initiative. There were also connections between the Integrity Initiative and the Skripal 'novichok poisoning' affair.

They newly released documents about British operations in Syria are accessible under:

All the now published documents archived in one file are available for download under:

Most of the documents are detailed company responses to several solicitations from the Foreign Office for global and local campaigns in support of the 'moderate rebels' who are fighting against the Syrian government and people.

The documents lay out large scale campaigns which have on-the-ground elements in Syria, training and arming efforts in neighboring countries, command and control elements in Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, as well as global propaganda efforts. These operations were wide spread.


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Most of the documents are from 2016 to 2019. They detail the organization of such operations and also portray persons involved in these projects. They often refer back to previous campaigns that have been run from 2011/2012 onward. This is where the documents are probably the most interesting. They reveal what an immense effort was and is waged to fill the information space with pro-rebel/pro-Islamist propaganda.

The documents are not about the 'White Helmets' which were a separate British run Strategic Communication campaign financed by various governments. While the operations described in the new documents were coordinated with U.S. efforts they do not reference the CIA run campaigns in Syria which included similar efforts at a cost of $1 billion per year.

The various projects and the detailed commercial offers to implement them from various notorious companies are roughly described in the above two links. I will therefore refrain from repeating that here. Some of the documents' content will surely be used in future Moon of Alabama posts.  But for now I will let you rummage through the stash.

Please let us know in the comments of the surprising bits that you might find.

Posted by b at 15:51 UTC | Comments (54)

September 17, 2020

CIA Intercepts Suggest U.S. Lied About Biological Weapon Use During Its War On Korea

During the early 1950s War on Korea the U.S. used biological weapons against North Korea and China. Bombs designed to spread leaflets were filled with plague infested rats and dropped on Korean towns. Various infecting insects were released. Leaflets were contaminated with small pox and then distributed. Several local epidemics were caused by these attacks.

The program was a continuation of one which a special unit of the Imperial Japanese Army had developed during the second world war. Unit 731 and its leaders were not indicted for the war crimes they had committed during the war but integrated into the U.S. biological warfare program.

The Soviet Union and China made political noise about the use of biological weapons but the U.S. stoically denied that it ever used such weapons. U.S. pilots, shot down and imprisoned by the North Korean forces, admitted that they had dropped such bombs. The U.S. then falsely alleged that the pilots had been tortured and must have lied. This led to demands to train all pilots to resist torture measures:

Since World War II the U.S. Airforce and Navy had established training courses in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) for pilots that might be captured by enemies. During these courses interrogations were staged to provide realistic training. After the Korea War anti-torture training was added. Torture of "prisoners" was "simulated" with the trainees. Decades later, during the war of terror and on Iraq, the CIA hired two psychologists from the SERE training staff as "behavioral science consultants" to teach its agents how to use torture on prisoners. The absolutely inhuman and dangerous methods those SERE "experts" devised proliferated to the U.S. military which, together with the CIA, used them on alleged enemy combatants in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and other places.

Now back to the War on Korea. The Chinese and Soviets sponsored the International Scientific Commission (ISC) headed by one of the foremost British scientists of his time, Sir Joseph Needham, to investigate the use of biological weapons during the war. Three years ago we wrote about its report:

For a long time the commission's report and its appendices with the witness statements were suppressed and not available online. Jefferey Kay, a psychologist and author living in northern California, dug them up and recently published them (recommended) on the web for the first time. You can read them here:

Sir Joseph Needham was blacklisted by the U.S. during the McCarthy anti-communist campaign.

Needham's investigations have since been confirmed by other scholars investigating the general case.

Now Jeffrey Kaye has dug up additional documents which confirm the other reports of U.S. germ attacks on North Korea and China. Interestingly these documents are from the CIA.

Cont. reading: CIA Intercepts Suggest U.S. Lied About Biological Weapon Use During Its War On Korea

Posted by b at 15:13 UTC | Comments (156)

September 16, 2020

Now Trump's Middle East Event May Really Become "A Historic Moment"

ABC News: Trump plays global dealmaker with Israel and two Arab countries

In a historic signing ceremony hosted by President Donald Trump at the White House, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain on Tuesday became the third and fourth Arab nations to move toward establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel.
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avi scharf @avischarf - 11:33 UTC · Sep 16, 2020

Crazy story here:
Netanyahu's WH delegation requested an exemption, and received a major reduction in quarantine upon their return – 5 days instead of the 14 required for U.S. arrivals

Whacko - considering the total lack of distancing + masks yesterday

>>> Netanyahu's White House Delegation Pushed for Quarantine Exemption, and Got a Reduction

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Ivanka Trump @IvankaTrump - 12:18 UTC · Sep 16, 2020

A historic moment...


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Noga Tarnopolsky @NTarnopolsky - 17:40 UTC · Sep 16, 2020

Multiple White House staffers have tested positive for #COVID-19 today one day after after Israeli PM Netanyahu, UAE FM Abdullah bin Zayed & Bahraini FM Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani met with them.

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How long will it take for the herd that met in they White House yesterday to achieve immunity?

Posted by b at 18:35 UTC | Comments (106)

Open Thread 2020-74

News & views ...

Posted by b at 17:47 UTC | Comments (121)