A Canadian responds to John Bachtell’s report
| February 19, 2017 | 7:43 pm | About the CPUSA, V.I. Lenin | No comments

Read this excerpt from Bachtell’s report  http://www.cpusa.org/article/standing-together-in-protest-unity-will-trump-hate/   and compare it to Lenin’s critique of Kautsky in the State and Revolution, last chapter (“Kautsky’ s Controversy with the Opportunists”)

Thirdly, we are not dropping Leninism or the ideas of Lenin. This includes Lenin’s concept of the revolutionary party rooted in the working class with the aim of socialism – a party devoted to developing strategy and tactics, studying stages of struggle, following the democratic path, and centered around the press (in the current day, this means the digital media, i.e. PeoplesWorld.org).”

My emphasis.

The closing of Bachtell’s report is also revealing in the same sense – what it does not contain.

I think the first paragraph of the last chapter in S&R says it all
“The question of the relation of the state to the social revolution, and of the social revolution to the state, like the question of revolution generally, was given very little attention by the leading theoreticians and publicists of the Second International (1889-1914). But the most characteristic thing about the process of the gradual growth of opportunism that led to the collapse of the Second International in 1914 is the fact that even when these people were squarely faced with this question they tried to evade it or ignored it.”

Confirmation of Sam Webb’s resignation from the CPUSA
| February 19, 2017 | 7:34 pm | About the CPUSA | 1 Comment

Standing together in protest: Unity will Trump hate

From John Bachtell’s report:

Finally, Sam Webb’s resignation caused some confusion, concerns, and brought some differences to the surface. We’ve discussed them in the National Board, National Committee, and also held face-to-face discussions with leadership collectives in New York and Ohio. We are happy to have them anywhere else.

Given the gravity of the new political situation, in my opinion, it is far better to focus our efforts on developing our strategy and tactics and moving the entire party into action, rather than attempt to arrive at a consensus over why Sam Webb resigned or his legacy.

He should be counted amongst our socialist and democratic allies and our attitude, as with any ally, should be to work together where we can for the betterment of the movement overall.

Sam may have left, but we remain to continue the collective project of building the party, elaborating our Marxist analysis, broadly applying our strategy and tactics, engaging with a larger audience through People’s World and cpusa.org, and immersing ourselves in building the people’s coalition led by labor and the broadly based all-people’s alliance to defend democracy and contest Trump and the GOP at every turn.

PAME strongly denounces ETUC for attempting to exploit class Trade Union movement
| February 18, 2017 | 7:09 pm | Analysis, class struggle, Greece, Labor, PAME, WFTU | No comments

Saturday, February 18, 2017

PAME strongly denounces ETUC for attempting to exploit class Trade Union movement

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/02/pame-strongly-denounces-etuc-for.html
Snapshot from the article on “equaltimes.org”
where the altered photo from PAME’s rally
was used (click to enlarge).
In article for Greece, published in its e-magazine, ETUC attempts to take credit for the struggles of the Greek, Class Oriented, trade union movement, by using photo from demonstration of PAME!!!
The ETUC, this notorious part of ITUC in Europe, which acts as the right hand of the employers and the European Union, has played an extremely dirty role in the imposition of the memoranda and the antiworkers’ policies of the EU in Greece, raised the level of its lies and hypocrisy.
Though the ETUC has 2 affiliate unions in Greece (GSEE and ADEDY), which have co-signed the wage cuts and attack on workers’ rights in Greece, the ETUC attempts to falsely take credit for the great struggles of the Greek workers, in which has played vanguard role the class oriented trade union movement of Greece, PAME, WFTU affiliate, and opposition to the ETUC’s aims.
Specifically, in article of ETUC, dated February 16, 2017, in its e-magazine, Equaltimes, under the title Greek workers face ever more precariousness, (https://www.equaltimes.org/greek-workers-face-ever-more#.WKa-ptJ97cd ), the article has as main photo, picture from a demonstration of unions of PAME, from which (by accident or on purpose) flags of PAME have been distorted. In addition, in the specific demonstration, which ETUC attempts to take credit for, main speaker was also the General Secretary of the WFTU!
This article is used by the ETUC, copied by the French newspaper Le Monde, where it was published under a different photo. That means, that the ETUC, copied and article, with statements of its affiliate in Greece, GSEE, in which the ETUC added a photo from a demonstration of PAME! This a clear attempt of ETUC, to falsely take credit for the struggles of the class trade unions!
The role of GSEE-ADEDY in Greece, as generally the role of the ETUC affiliates in Europe, has lead the trade unions in disrepute, demassification, rottenness, and removal from working masses. It is example of this, the fact that in the last General Strike in Greece (December 8), the GSEE tried to bring workers from all over Greece, in Athens, so as to be able to hold a Strike Demonstration. A plan, which failed, because no matted the effort and money spent, they only managed to gather a few hundred people.
The same date, PAME, the unions, the Federations and Labour Centres that rally with PAME, held Strike Demonstrations all over Greece, with the participations of dozens of thousands of workers. Only in the Athens region (Attica), on December 8, PAME held 4 different Strike Demonstrations in Athens center, in Piraeus, Lavrio and Elefsina, with participation that was much larger than that of the one gathering of GSEE.
This nakedness, this degeneration, ETUC attempts to hide and name itself militant, by using photos (altered) from demonstrations of PAME.
The ETUC is a mechanism of imperialism, servant of the EU and the monopolies. It is proud for being anti communist and for supporting imperialist interventions and many other “successes” against the workers and the peoples.
In Greece the ETUC supported the imposition of the anti-workers policies and memoranda, specifically in the 2015 Referendum, when it called the workers to vote in favor of the anti-workers’ measures, the same measures that today the ETUC is supposedly condemning.
PAME, since its foundation, is affiliated with the WFTU, part of the international class trade union movement. Its forces, the class trade unions, are in the first line of struggle against the antiworkers’ policies, against the EU, NATO and the imperialist interventions and wars.
The false attempt of ETUC’s forces, to take credit for the struggles of the class unions is not new. But, it is provocation to name themselves fighters, those, who openly are scabs, undermine the strikes and the struggles, those who cultivate disappointment, fatalism and defeatism to the workers.
PAME, the struggles of the workers of Greece, have no relation with the dirty mechanisms of ETUC. The honored flags of PAME have no place in the webpages and the media of the imperialists and their servants. But lies and hypocrisy, is second nature for them.
We call the working class of Greece and Europe to isolate these forces, to strengthen the struggle to reveal their dirty role.
New Developments in Political Economy: The Demise of “Globalization”

New Developments in Political Economy: The Demise of “Globalization”

– from Zoltan Zigedy is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

“Globalization” is a slippery term: 1. Sometimes it is used as a description of the quantitative changes in the global economy that emerged in the 1980s. 2. Sometimes it is used to express a set of policy prescriptions that gained traction in that same period. 3. Sometimes it is used to name a theory positing a new era, epoch, or stage of capitalism, a qualitative change in the way that contemporary capitalism functions.

And sometimes the word is used in all three senses:
  • In the 1980s and early 1990s, global trade began to expand at a rate greater than its historic average. Revolutionary changes in logistics– containerization, transportation, inventory control, and information transfer– dropped the cost of transportation and shipping dramatically. Political changes unified the global market with the integration of the PRC economy and the breakup of the socialist economic community. Many emerging nations joined the global market when the socialist development model lost its sponsors. Similarly, capital flows expanded with the removal of political and Cold War obstacles. The workers formerly buffered by an alternative economic system– over a third of the global workforce– were cast into capitalist labor markets, an unparalleled infusion of cheaper labor. Capital mobility, political hegemony, and the logistical revolution brought additional low-cost labor from emerging economies into the global nexus. All of these factors and others achieved an increase in the rates of production, economic growth, and trade that persisted for over two decades.
  • The recognition of the failure of the Keynesian consensus among policy makers led to a return to classical market fundamentalism. The long stagnation and rampant inflation of the 1970s defied and discredited the various iterations of pump priming and fiscal mending that had served as tools since the Great Depression. The political reaction– the ascendency of Thatcher, Reagan, and their political offspring– brought a new set of prescriptions founded on free, unfettered markets. International capitalist structures — IMF, World Bank, Bank of International Settlements, OECD, GATT etc. — and new ones– WTO– unhesitatingly embraced the return to market fundamentalism. In the wake of the new consensus, a slew of free-trade agreements was constructed to formalize the born-again faith in free markets, the most celebrated of which was the North American Free Trade Agreement. In the mid-1990s, the OECD attempted to secretly establish the most ambitious international compact, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, an accord that would have given virtually unimpeded freedom of action to multinational corporations. The efforts to canonize market fundamentalism and formalize the tenets in institutions and trade agreements continue to this day– for example, in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • For some, including a significant part of the academic left, the quantitative and policy changes unfolding in the 1980s signaled a new era of capitalism. As two influential theorists ominously put the matter: “Today we are in the early phases of the fourth epoch of capitalism.” In a hurry to replace Lenin’s theory of imperialism, they, and others, posited a stage where corporations eschewed a home base and adopted the entire global economy as their domain. At the same time, they saw a decline in the authority and significance of the nation state. International organizations like the IMF and the WTO were seen as nascent replacements for the nation state. Clearly, the concept of imperialism plays a diminished role in this picture.
The notion of a “centerless” capitalism reached its extreme with the publication in 2000 of Hardt and Negri’s Empire. This impenetrable, rambling exercise in pretension and intellectual indiscipline became an academic best seller and a fixture on the coffee table of every petty bourgeois rebel. The book wiped away in one fell swoop the identities relevant to left politics and replaced them with the amorphous concept of “the multitude.”
                                                     The Demise
The economic collapse of 2007-2008 put to rest the quantitative basis for “globalization.” From 1983 to 2008, global trade growth averaged over 6% with many double-digit spikes. Since then, global trade growth has dropped to 3% or lower (growth in 2016 was below 2%, the lowest since 2009).
The World Trade Organization calculates that, historically, typical trade growth runs at about 1.5 times GDP growth. During exceptional periods like the so-called globalization era, trade often grows at twice the rate of GDP. But WTO notes that today (and since the crisis began) the rate of growth is approximately the same for both trade and GDP (trade growth was actually below GDP growth in 2016).
After years of brisk growth, global container traffic slowed to 1.1% in 2015 and was virtually flat in 2016. Thus, the primary impetus for the globalization thesis– global trade growth– has evaporated.
Other indicators hailed as signposts for globalization have also collapsed: foreign direct investment, the harbinger of future trade growth, was 40% less in 2015 than its pre-crisis peak. International lending, as measured by the Bank for International Settlements, dropped 9% over the two-year period, 2014-2015.
Clearly, the 2007-2008 collapse choked off the growth celebrated as “globalization” as emphatically and dramatically as it was heralded in the 1980s. Those who saw a new stage or epoch of capitalism emerging are surely chastened by its demise. Rather than signaling a new, triumphant age of capitalism, the global burst of growth beginning in the 1980s came from a unique, unrepeatable conjuncture of factors fortuitous to global capitalism. An unparalleled expansion of skilled, low-cost labor, a revolution in technology and logistics, and US political hegemony created momentum unusually favorable to capitalist growth. That momentum is now spent.
The theorists who foresaw a post-imperialism accompanying globalization were quickly dispelled of this illusion with a succession of imperialist wars masking as humanitarian intervention. In 1998, France, the poster child for national pride, squelched the MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment) that threatened to erode national sovereignties and hand them to the corporations.
The nation state was far from dead as the aggressor or the victim. In the twenty-first century, the aggressors were, time after time, the wealthy, powerful nations (in alliances of convenience) and the victims were the poorer, weaker states.
The copies of Empire have long vanished from the coffee tables. On the left, the heavy lifting against the “left” post-imperialism, globalization thesis was done by the editors and many of the writers at the estimable US magazine, Monthly Review. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, MR carried on an intense campaign against the notion that capitalism had morphed into an economic system unrecognizable by classical Marxism. That battle has been won.
                                   The Remains of Globalization
Globalization lives today only as an ideology, a set of policy prescriptions intimately linked to market fundamentalism. It sets the goal of removing any and all international barriers to markets. It draws its support from those who benefitted the most from the nearly three decades preceding the 2007-8 crash. In the advanced capitalist countries of Europe and North America, the capitalists, their courtiers, and a substantial petty bourgeoisie enjoyed large gains in income and wealth. The shift of manufacturing to low-wage countries and the growth of demand for raw materials trickled some benefits to workers in emerging economies.
But few benefits accrued to the traditional workforce of Europe and North America. Deindustrialization, redundancy, deunionization, income stagnation, reduced and underfunded social services, and crumbling physical infrastructures have created working-class communities of hopelessness and despair. The ubiquitous signs of social deterioration– alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, violence, unhealthy lifestyles– have accompanied globalization in these countries.
The crash of 2007-2008 brought the misery of working-class communities to a head, with harsh political consequences. The bourgeois and social democratic political parties of Europe and North America were unable to contain the anger and frustration of most workers. Further, the post-Soviet-era retreat from Marxism left most political parties heartily embracing the harsh tenets of market fundamentalism and its accompanying global trade policies. The so-called era of globalization coincided neatly and significantly with the rise of “New” Democrats, “New” Labour, and “New” Socialists, the “left” purveyors of market fundamentalism. Their dominance of their respective parties drove the last remnants of welfare statism to the exits.
Excepting a few remaining mass Communist Parties committed to sweeping capitalism into history’s dustbin, workers were left with no real choices, no alternative to parties wedded to free markets, corporate success, and the decidedly failed slogan that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
To step into this void, to present an alternative for workers, to establish a working-class beachhead, new political figures and formations sprung up throughout Europe and North America. Presenting a nationalist alternative to the internationalism of globalization, promising jobs on the basis of protected borders from foreign workers and global trade, and conjuring imagery of a lost golden age, politicians and parties challenged the monolithic ideology of unrestricted market relations and global exchange that brought such pain to the working classes.
This awkward amalgam of right-wing nationalism and populist rhetoric gained traction in recent years only because of the failure of traditional parties to break away from the dogmas of market fundamentalism and the failure of the left to establish an alternative to it. The feeble attempts by social democrats to conjure their own distant memories of the welfare state have fallen on deaf ears. Likewise, the anarchist-inspired turn to vague, utopian radical democracy offers no counter vision to capitalist economic relations.
Against the backdrop of two bourgeois political parties with an overlapping core commitment to the same failed economic philosophy, the fact that the first successful election of a right-wing “populist” occurred in the US should come as no surprise. Trump represents an alternative in desperate times, a false alternative, but an alternative nonetheless.
For Europeans, Trump provides a foretaste of the contradictory character of the nationalist-populist brew. As Trump’s first month demonstrates, there is no content to “populism” beyond the fawning service to monopoly capital, cheerleading for small businesses, and an occasional soundbite for the working class. All the benefits to the working class are supposed to come from closing the borders to commodities, both human (labor power) and material (imports).
Assuredly, the nationalist alternative to marketization, commodification, and globalization will fail. At best, it will intensify competitive rivalries in the short run, creating bigger winners and bigger losers. But ultimately, economic nationalism will cost the global economy in terms of growth and inequality.
It must be noted, however, that the fierce fight against Trump and the forthcoming political struggles to stop the nationalist parties from power in Europe are tragically misguided if they simply succeed in reproducing the disastrous market fundamentalism and globalization policies that produced Trump and his counterparts in the first place.
Only something different from the false choice of market internationalism or narrow, fear-driven nationalism will spare the working class even greater pain. The two ideologies that are contesting for global hegemony are merely two versions, two faces of imperialism.
Nostalgia for a long-lost, never-to-be-recovered, welfare-state capitalism will not serve the left in this time of crisis. Instead, we need to craft a bold socialist alternative.
Zoltan Zigedy

 

Munich Security Report: Here comes the apocalypse

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/377466-munich-security-trump-russia-eu/

John Wight
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
Munich Security Report: Here comes the apocalypse
In advance of the 2017 Munich Security Conference (MSC) the organizers have published a report with the subheading ‘Post Truth, Post West, Post Order?’ The question answers itself, though not for reasons Western liberals will likely accept.

In the interests of accuracy let us be clear: it is not the West, it is Western liberalism that is in crisis. The two entities are distinct and indeed, as events have and continue to prove, completely antithetical to one another.

The first paragraph of the MSC report reads as if the end of the world is upon us.

“The world is facing an illiberal moment. Across the West and beyond, illiberal forces are gaining ground. From within, Western societies are troubled by the emergence of populist movements that oppose critical elements of the liberal-democratic status quo. From outside, Western societies are challenged by illiberal regimes trying to cast doubt on liberal democracy and weaken the international order. And Western states themselves seem both unwilling and unable to effectively tackle the biggest security crises – with Syria as the prime example.”

Implied in this statement is the assumption that liberalism, or liberal values, should be considered sacrosanct, the sine qua non of cultural, political, economic and moral virtue, and as such the values according to which every country, society, and people must exist, regardless of cultural, regional, or historical specificities.

Therein lies the problem. Despite the carnage, chaos, instability, conflict without end, societal collapse, and economic dislocation that has been wrought in the name of those very ‘sacrosanct’ liberal values and liberal democracy in recent times, its proponents continue to live in a state of abject denial. Try telling the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Africa, Latin America, who’ve seen their countries and societies destroyed in service to liberal democracy, about this “illiberal moment” they are meant to fear. Try telling the ever and shamefully-increasing number of victims of poverty, lack of education, poor housing, bad or non-existent healthcare provision in Western countries, where liberal values predominate, about them also.

And when it comes to Syria, cited in the report as evidence of a “security crisis” which “Western states seem unwilling and unable to effectively tackle,” have these people no shame? The bestial, brutal, and near sui generis barbarism that has engulfed Syria over the past six years is the product of the destabilization of the region caused by the 9/11 wars – their series of wars and conflicts unleashed and which have erupted in the wake of the terrorist atrocity planned and carried out by Al-Qaeda against the US in 2001.

In what has to count as the irony of our time, rather than succeed in destroying the threat of terrorism and ideology of Al-Qaeda, Washington, and its allies have only succeeded in ensuring its growth and intensification. Frankly put, their determination to exploit 9/11 as a pretext for regime change in the Middle East opened the gates of hell out of which the monster of Salafi-jihadism emerged bent on genocide and death and destruction as an end in itself. The grievous consequences are there for all to see in the shape of a refugee crisis that parallels the one that followed in the wake of the Second World War, religious sectarianism and extremism, the proliferation of terrorism, both regional and international, and human suffering on a scale that makes a mockery of the term ‘Western civilization’.

Further on in the MSC report, we encounter the following:

“Donald Trump’s comments about NATO being “obsolete” have caused great uncertainty among America’s allies, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. The European Union is under pressure, too, as it has to deal with Brexit, a populist surge, the refugee crisis, a potential return of the euro crisis, jihadist attacks, and a revisionist Russia.”

Again, we are confronted with evidence of an intellectual disjuncture between the cherished beliefs of champion of liberal hegemony and reality. NATO is not the force for universal peace, security, or democracy and freedom that its adherents proclaim. It is in truth a military alliance concerned with the projection of Western imperialist power, one that carries a baneful legacy of regime change – i.e. in the former Yugoslavia and Libya. It is a relic of the Cold War that has in recent years been resurrected and elevated in importance in line with a return to a Cold War paradigm – embraced with the objective of deflecting from the political, economic and geopolitical wreckage liberal-democratic values and norms have wrought.

In other words, Russia is being held up as a convenient bogeyman around which people in the US and Western Europe are being encouraged to cohere, painted as a threat to their security and national interests. As George Orwell wrote, “War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”

No right thinking person is opposed to the concept of a united, stable, and secure Europe. How could they when such a Europe is in everyones interest. But the main impediment to achieving this unity, stability, and security is the idea that Russia cannot and should not be part of the solution in this regard, and must be viewed as part of the problem.

What they describe as a “revisionist Russia” is really code for a Russia that refuses to bend at the knee to Western imperialism, domination, and hegemony. Replace “revisionist” with “strong,” and you arrive at the real problem that Western liberal imperialists have with Russia in 2017. They much prefer the country that was ravaged and decimated by free market fundamentalists in the early 1990s, exploiting the chaos and shock in the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union to conduct a mass experiment in human despair on an entire society.

Russia’s recovery from this dark decade is one that has never been forgiven by the likes of Javier Solana, David Miliband, and George Soros, each of whom sits on the MSC advisory council.

The contents of the 2017 MSC report merely confirm that there is nothing more illiberal than a liberal for whom the world is one giant chessboard upon which states, governments, and entire peoples are mere pieces to be moved around at their behest.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Insanity of NATO 2.0 for MidEast
| February 16, 2017 | 9:24 pm | Donald Trump, political struggle | No comments
President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participate in a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House

Insanity of NATO 2.0 for MidEast

© AP Photo/ Evan Vucci
Columnists

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Finian Cunningham
61118192

As US President Donald Trump hosts Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House this week on the agenda is the formation of a “NATO-style” alliance for the Middle East, according to reports.

As if one US-led warmongering alliance in Europe and the North Atlantic were not enough. Now the world will see a clone of NATO let loose on the already conflict-torn Middle East region, if the reported discussions materialize.

Instead of combating alleged Russian aggression, the putative US-led Middle East alliance – which one could designate as NATO 2.0 – is defining Iran as the top regional threat.

According to the Times of Israel, Trump and Netanyahu and their officials have been engaged for some time in planning the creation of the new military alliance that would also include Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Other Arab countries involved in forming the proposed military bloc are said to be Egypt and Jordan.“Trump trying to broker Israel-Arab NATO-style alliance,” headlined the Times of Israel, which cited the Wall Street Journal for details of the discussions being held by Trump and Netanyahu.

Already the new Trump administration has riled Iran with renewed accusations that the Islamic Republic is “the number one state-sponsor of terrorism”. The Trump White House imposed fresh economic sanctions on Tehran last week following Iran’s testing of ballistic missiles at the end of January.

Both Russia and China – close allies of Iran – have denounced the new American sanctions as provoking regional tensions. Moscow also rejected Washington’s terror accusations against Iran, saying that Tehran is a key partner in defeating Islamist extremist networks in Syria and Iraq. Russia also said Iran did not break any international law in testing defense technology.

The proposal to create a formal military alliance between the US, Israel and Sunni Arab regimes will further alarm mainly Shia Iran that Washington is pushing ahead with an unprecedented hostile agenda towards the Persian power house which is a major source of oil and gas exports.Before his election on November 8, Trump repeatedly vowed to tear up the international nuclear accord with Iran that was negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama along with five other world leaders, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Trump described the so-called P5+1 nuclear agreement as the “worse deal ever”.

It’s not clear if the Trump administration will follow through on its earlier promises to rip up the nuclear accord, which offers Iran relief from Western economic sanctions in return for Tehran’s self-imposed limits on developing nuclear weapons.

But one thing seems clear: Trump is moving ever closer to Iran’s regional foes Israel and Saudi Arabia who both impugn Iran as an existential threat.

The United States has a decades-old military partnership with Israel and the Sunni Arab monarchs, selling them billions of dollars worth of weaponry every year.

However, the formation of a formal military alliance between the US and these states in the shape of a NATO-style organization would be seen an incendiary move by Iran.Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the US and its Arab partners were the main backers of Iraq under Saddam Hussein which launched a war on Iran that lasted eight years and caused up to one million deaths.

Israel is the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East and has routinely joined in echoing American threats of “no options off the table” with regard to Iran – meaning that a pre-emptive military strike is possible.

The bitter irony in all this is that the real danger to Middle East peace is not Iran, but rather is Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian land, as well as Saudi Arabia and the oil-rich Arab monarchies funding Islamist terror groups.

The six-year that has ravaged Syria largely stems from an externally driven covert war for regime change against the Assad government which is an ally of Russia and Iran. The war in Syria has been instrumented by proxy jihadist mercenaries, including Al Qaeda-linked terror groups, which are funded, armed and directed by the US, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.Israel is also believed to have played a covert role in fomenting the regime-change war in Syria, working in collusion with the US and Saudi Arabia. That war has been stymied due to the military intervention by Russia and Iran over the past year.

Saudi Arabia has a long, despicable history of fomenting Wahhabi terror groups going back to the 1970-80s when it funded the precursors of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to fight the then Soviet-backed government. Saudi Arabia has traditionally supplied the money and weapons while the American CIA and Israeli’s Mossad provided the military logistics and intelligence. The awarding last week of Saudi spy chief Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef by CIA director Mike Pompeo was seen by some critics as a particularly nauseating testimony of this nefarious relationship.

The very idea of this US-led axis in the Middle East now setting up a formal alliance along the lines of NATO is a harbinger of ramped up conflict in the region. And especially given the stated purpose of such an alliance being dedicated to “contain Iran”.

The US-led NATO alliance in Europe has already plunged relations with Russia into deeper hostility. The ongoing build up of NATO forces on Russia’s border – allegedly to contain Russian aggression – has stoked fears that a nuclear war could be precipitated.NATO continually claims to be a force for stability and defense – whenever any sane-minded observer can see that the opposite is true, inciting tensions in Europe and Russia to levels not seen since the heyday of the Cold War.

The same manic double-think is being replicated in the Middle East with the latest American plans to form a NATO 2.0 with Israel and terror-sponsoring Arab monarchs.

World security is already under grave strain from US-led military expansion in Europe. How much more multiplied the danger with these reported plans to bring a second NATO-style front to the Middle East.

President Trump is coming under increasing pressure from hawkish power circles in Washington to “get tough on Russia”. The forced resignation of his national security advisor Michael Flynn this week is unleashing pressures on Trump to “prove” that he is not soft on Russia.Trump got elected largely because of his vague intentions to curb American overseas militarism and to restore friendlier relations with foreign states, including Russia.

How fiendish then that Trump appears to be sliding towards belligerence at an alarming rate. NATO’s escalation continues apace against Russia, and if that wasn’t bad enough, Trump is overseeing a second incarnation of NATO in the Middle East to target Iran.

And this NATO 2.0 comprises rogue states that are up to their eyes in lawlessness and terrorism. Saudi Arabia is currently slaughtering civilians in Yemen with American firepower, allegedly to contain Iran.

If this is to be the new NATO for the Middle East then the world is truly about to descend into barbarism on a scale not seen since the Second World War.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

The Swamp Strikes Back
| February 16, 2017 | 9:21 pm | Donald Trump, political struggle, Russia | No comments
Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (File)

The Swamp Strikes Back

© AP Photo/ Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA
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Pepe Escobar
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https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201702151050696849-flynn-trump-administration-swamp/

The tawdry Michael Flynn soap opera boils down to the CIA hemorrhaging leaks to the company town newspaper, leading to the desired endgame: a resounding victory for hardcore neocon/neoliberalcon US Deep State factions in one particular battle. But the war is not over; in fact it’s just beginning.

Even before Flynn’s fall, Russian analysts had been avidly discussing whether President Trump is the new Viktor Yanukovych — who failed to stop a color revolution at his doorstep. The Made in USA color revolution by the axis of Deep State neocons, Democratic neoliberalcons and corporate media will be pursued, relentlessly, 24/7. But more than Yanukovych, Trump might actually be remixing Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping: “crossing the river while feeling the stones”. Rather, crossing the swamp while feeling the crocs.

Flynn out may be interpreted as a Trump tactical retreat. After all Flynn may be back — in the shade, much as Roger Stone. If current deputy national security advisor K T McFarland gets the top job – which is what powerful Trump backers are aiming at – the shadowplay Kissinger balance of power, in its 21st century remix, is even strengthened; after all McFarland is a Kissinger asset.

This call won’t self-destruct in five seconds

Flynn worked with Special Forces; was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); handled highly classified top secret information 24/7. He obviously knew all his conversations on an open, unsecure line were monitored. So he had to have morphed into a compound incarnation of the Three Stooges had he positioned himself to be blackmailed by Moscow.

What Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak certainly discussed was cooperation in the fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, and what Moscow might expect in return: the lifting of sanctions. US corporate media didn’t even flinch when US intel admitted they have a transcript of the multiple phone calls between Flynn and Kislyak.  So why not release them? Imagine the inter-galactic scandal if these calls were about Russian intel monitoring the US ambassador in Moscow.

No one paid attention to the two key passages conveniently buried in the middle of this US corporate media story. 1) “The intelligence official said there had been no finding inside the government that Flynn did anything illegal.” 2) “…the situation became unsustainable – not because of any issue of being compromised by Russia – but because he [Flynn] has lied to the president and the vice president.”Recap: nothing illegal; and Flynn not compromised by Russia. The “crime” – according to Deep State factions: talking to a Russian diplomat.

Vice-President Mike Pence is a key piece in the puzzle; after all his major role is as insider guarantor – at the heart of the Trump administration — of neocon Deep State interests. The CIA did leak. The CIA most certainly has been spying on all Trump operatives. Flynn though fell on his own sword. Classic hubris; his fatal mistake was to strategize by himself – even before he became national security advisor. “Mad Dog” Mattis, T. Rex Tillerson – both, by the way, very close to Kissinger — and most of all Pence did not like it one bit once they were informed.

A “man of very limited abilities”

Flynn was already compromised by his embarrassingly misinformed book co-written with neocon Michael Ledeen, as well as his juvenile Iranophobia.  At the same time, Flynn was the point man to what would have been a real game-changer; to place the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff under White House control.

A highly informed US source I previously called “X”, who detailed to Sputnik how the Trump presidency will play out, is adamant “this decision makes Trump look independent. It is all going according to script.”

“X” stresses how “the NSA can penetrate any telephone system in the world that is not secure. Flynn was a man of very limited abilities who talked too much. You never hear from the real powers in intelligence nor do you know their names. You can see that in Flynn’s approach to Iran. He was disrupting a peace deal in the Middle East relating to Russia, Iran and Turkey in Syria. So he had to go.”

“X” adds, “the Russians are not stupid to talk among themselves on unsecured lines, they assumed that Flynn controlled his own lines. Flynn was removed not because of his Russian calls but for other reasons, some of which have to do with Iran and the Middle East. He was a loose cannon even from the intelligence perspective. This is a case of misdirection away from the true cause.”In direct opposition to “X”, an analytical strand now rules there’s blood on the tracks; the hyenas are circling; a vulnerable Trump has lost his mojo; and he also lost his foreign policy. Not yet.

In the Grand Chessboard, what Flynn’s fall spells out is just a pawn out of the game because the King would not protect him. We will only know for sure “draining the swamp” – the foreign policy section – is doomed if neocons and neoliberalcons continue to run riot; if neoliberalcons are not fully exposed in their complicity in the rise of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; and if the much vaunted possibility of a détente with Russia flounders for good.

What’s certain is that the fratricide war between the Trump administration and the most powerful Deep State factions will be beyond vicious. Team Trump only stands a chance if they are able to weaponize allies from within the Deep State. As it stands, concerning the Kissinger grand design of trying to break the Eurasian “threat” to the unipolar moment, Iran is momentarily relieved; Russia harbors no illusions; and China knows for sure that the China-Russia strategic partnership will become even stronger. Advantage swamp.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.