Category: Afghanistan
Afghanistan and the CIA Heroin Ratline
| August 25, 2017 | 6:50 pm | Afghanistan, Analysis | No comments
Rudy Ayala (2nd L) Law Enforcement Professional embeded with the Marine corps questions opium poppy farmers at Maranjan village in Helmand province on April 25, 2011 as US Marines from Border Adviser Team (BAT) and Explosive Ordance Disposal 1st and 2nd Marine Division (Forward) and Afghanistan National Police take patrol in the area

Afghanistan and the CIA Heroin Ratline

© AFP 2017/ Bay ISMOYO
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The Persian Gulf harbors an array of extremely compromising secrets. Near the top is the Afghan heroin ratline – with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) positioned as the golden node of a transnational, trillion dollar heroin money laundering operation.

In this 21st century Opium War, crops harvested in Afghanistan are essentially feeding the heroin market not only in Russia and Iran but especially in the US. Up to 93% of the world’s opium comes from Afghanistan.

Contrary to predominant Western perception, this is not an Afghan Taliban operation. The key questions — never asked by Atlanticist circles — are who buys the opium harvests; refines them into heroin; controls the export routes; and then sell them for humongous profit compared to what the Taliban have locally imposed in taxes.

The hegemonic narrative rules that Washington bombed Afghanistan in 2001 in “self-defense” after 9/11; installed a “democratic” government; and after 16 years never de facto left because this is a key node in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), against al-Qaeda and the Taliban alike.Washington spent over $100 billion in Afghan reconstruction. And, allegedly, $8.4 billion in “counternarcotics programs”. Operation Enduring Freedom — along with the “liberation” of Iraq — have cost an astonishing several trillion dollars. And still the heroin ratline, out of occupied Afghanistan, thrives. Cui bono?

Have a SIGAR

An exhaustive Afghanistan Opium Survey details the steady rise of Afghan opium production as well as the sprawl in production areas; “In 2016, opium production had increased by approximately 25 times in relation to its 2001 levels, from 185 tons in 2001 to 4800 tons in 2016.”

Another exhaustive report issued by the delightful acronym SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) even hints — discreetly — at the crucial connection; Operation Enduring Freedom feeding America’s heroin epidemic.

Afghanistan is infested by contractors; numbers vary from 10,000 to tens of thousands. Military and ex-military alike can be reasonably pinpointed as players in the heroin ratline — in many cases for personal profit. But the clincher concerns the financing of US intel black ops that should not by any means come under scrutiny by the US Congress.

A Gulf-based intel source with vast experience across the Pentagon-designated “arc of instability” tells the story of his interaction with an Australian intel operative who served in Afghanistan; “This was about 2011. He said he gave US Army Intelligence and the CIA reports on the Afghan heroin trade — that US military convoys from the ports of Pakistan were being used to ship the heroin out of Afghanistan — much of it was raw opium — for distribution as their backhaul.No one answered.

He then cornered the key army intelligence operations and CIA at a meeting and asked why no action was taken. The answer was that the goal of the US was winning the hearts and minds of the population and giving them the poppies to grow won their hearts. He was then warned that if he brought this issue up again he would be returned to Australia in a body bag.”

The source is adamant, “CIA external operations are financed from these profits. The charge that the Taliban was using the heroin trade to finance their operations was a fabrication and a form of misdirection.”

And that brings us to a key motive behind President Trump‘s going against his instincts and accepting a new Afghan surge; “In the tradition of the opium wars of perfidious Albion in the 19th century, in which opium paid for tea and silk from India, and the taxes on these silk and tea imports financed the construction of the mighty British Navy which ruled the seas, the CIA has built itself up into a most powerful agent based on the trillion dollar heroin trade. It is impossible for Trump to overcome it as he has no allies to tap. The military are working together with the CIA, and therefore the officers that surround Trump are worthless.”

None of this deviates from the CIA’s modus operandi.Past examples abound. The most notorious concerns the Golden Triangle during the Vietnam war, when the CIA imposed a food-for-opium scheme on Hmong tribesmen from Laos — complete with a heroin refinery at the CIA headquarters in northern Laos and the set up of nefarious Air America to export the opium.

The whole story was exposed on Prof. Alfred McCoy’s seminal The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia — which drove Langley nuts.

A contemporary counterpart would be a recent book by Italian journalist Enrico Piovesana detailing the New Opium War in Afghanistan.

The return of Air America

A Pakistani intel source with vast Pashtun/ tribal area contacts delves into even more incendiary territory; “According to our best information the CIA has brought in their al-Qaeda-Daesh proxies into Afghanistan to justify the additional American troops”. That would neatly tie in with Trump being cornered by his generals.

And then, there’s Moscow. Last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry was adamantly denouncing “foreign fighters” transferred by “unknown helicopters” as the perpetrators of a massacre of Hazara Shi’ites in a northern Afghanistan province; “It seems that the command of the NATO forces controlling the Afghan sky stubbornly refuses to notice these incidents.”

It does not get more serious than that; Moscow denouncing sectors of the US-trained Afghan Armed Forces side by side with NATO engaged in covert ops supporting jihadis.  Russian intel has hinted — discreetly — for quite some time that US intel is covertly sponsoring Daesh — a.k.a. “ISIS Khorasan” — in Afghanistan.Russian intel is very much aware of the Afghan chapter in the New Great Game. Russian citizens are “collateral damage” of the Afghan heroin ratline as much as Americans. The Russian Foreign Ministry is tracking how tons of chemicals are being illegally imported into Afghanistan from, among others, “Italy, France and the Netherlands”, and how the US and NATO are doing absolutely nothing to contain the heroin ratline.

Well, Air America, after all, never died. It just relocated from the jungles of Southeast Asia to the arid crossroads of Central and South Asia.

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

A Thirty Year History of ‘Russian Aggression’
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A Thirty Year History of ‘Russian Aggression’

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Repeat after me (by orders of the Neo-Con Thought Police): “Russian aggression,” “Russian aggression,” “Russian aggression.” The phrase has become a mantra, to be repeated (with all the correct arm movements and feigned expressions of outrage), by anyone wanting to be regarded as a “credible” foreign policy commentator in the elite western media.

So let’s talk “Russian aggression” shall we? There’s been quite a lot of it, comrades.

Yugoslavia

In 1999, “Russia” and its Warsaw Pact allies illegally bombed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for 78 days — having earlier presented the country with an ultimatum that they later admitted was deliberately designed to be rejected.

Russia’s leadership claimed that Yugoslav forces were committing a “genocide” in Kosovo, and that they had the right to launch a “humanitarian intervention.”

Still from Serbian TV from April 4, 1999 showing a bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad, northern Serbia, some 70 km (40 miles) north of Belgrade, which was destroyed a day earlier by NATO warplanes.
© AFP 2017/ SERBIAN TV
Still from Serbian TV from April 4, 1999 showing a bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad, northern Serbia, some 70 km (40 miles) north of Belgrade, which was destroyed a day earlier by NATO warplanes.

But during this “humanitarian” intervention, many innocent civilians were killed — including at least 20 on a passenger train and a convoy of Kosovan Albanians fleeing the bombing. “The Russians” initially blamed this attack on Yugoslav forces, but evidence showed it was they who carried out the bombing.

After the military campaign ended, “the Russians” intensified their efforts to topple the democratically-elected Yugoslav government.

They poured millions in to what they called the “democratic opposition,” and encouraged violent anti-government protests during the elections of October 2000.

In 2001, a UN court found that there had not after all been a genocide in Kosovo.

An aerial view taken 15 June 1999 of the Pristina central post office which was destoyed by NATO bombing.
© AFP 2017/ RUSSELL BOYCE / REUTERS POOL
An aerial view taken 15 June 1999 of the Pristina central post office which was destoyed by NATO bombing.

After the Yugoslav government was toppled, many social/publicly owned enterprises were privatized. Among those bidding for utilities in “liberated” Kosovo were companies/funds founded by prominent members of “the Russian” government/military elite who had bombed Yugoslavia.A Yugoslav desk officer for “the Russian” Ministry of Foreign Affairs later revealed the real reason the country had been targeted.

“In post-Cold War Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization.”

Afghanistan

In 2001, “Russia” and its Warsaw Pact allies invaded Afghanistan. “Operation Enduring Freedom” was — we were told — a response to terrorist attacks on Moscow which took place in September that year. But sixteen years on, the conflict continues — with over 100,000 Afghans killed.

“Russian forces” regularly bombed weddings in the country and in 2015, a hospital — an action which “the Kremlin” denied was a war crime.

In this Friday, October 16, 2015 photo, an employee of Doctors Without Borders walks inside the charred remains of their hospital after it was hit by a US airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
© AP Photo/ Najim Rahim
In this Friday, October 16, 2015 photo, an employee of Doctors Without Borders walks inside the charred remains of their hospital after it was hit by a US airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

In his farewell speech as Afghan President in 2014, Hamid Karzai blamed “the Russians” for the fact that his country was still at war.

“Today, I tell you that the war in Afghanistan is not our war, but imposed on us and we are the victims. One of the reasons was that ‘the Russians’ did not want peace because they had their own agenda and objectives.”

Iraq

In the 1990s, “Russia” bombed Iraq frequently and insisted there could be no easing of genocidal sanctions.

In 1996, “Russia’s” Foreign Minister was asked on television, “is the price worth it?” in relation to the death of half a million Iraqi children due to sanctions. He replied, “I think this is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.”

In 2003, “Russia” and its allies launched a full-scale “Shock and Awe” invasion of Iraq, claiming the country possessed weapons of mass destruction which were a threat to the entire world.

“He [Saddam] claims to have no chemical or biological weapons, yet we know he continues to hide biological and chemical weapons, moving them to different locations as often as every 12 to 24 hours, and placing them in residential neighborhoods,” declared “Russia’s” Defense Minister.

A US soldier looks through a pair of binoculars as a fire in the Rumeila oil field burns in the background in southern of Iraq, Sunday, March 30, 2003.
© AP Photo/ Yonhap/Jin Sung-chul
A US soldier looks through a pair of binoculars as a fire in the Rumeila oil field burns in the background in southern of Iraq, Sunday, March 30, 2003.

One million people lost their lives following the invasion, which turned Iraq into a failed state and led directly to the rise of Daesh. The WMDs — surprise, surprise — never showed up.As in Yugoslavia, “the Russian” leadership had lied.

Libya

In 2011, Russia and its allies launched a military assault on Libya, claiming that its long-serving leader Muammar Gaddafi was about to massacre the inhabitants of Benghazi.

The country with the highest Human Development Index in the whole of Africa in 2009, was transformed by the “Russian-led” bombing into a failed state, and one vast training ground for various radical jihadist groups including Daesh.

Gaddafi himself was killed, with a bayonet stuck up into his anus, leading to laughter from the “humanitarian” “Russian” Foreign Minister — who declared: “We came, we saw, he died!”

Five years later, a report from parliamentarians in one of “Russia’s” key ally states concluded: “The proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benhgazi was not supported by the available evidence.”

But by now, it was too late. Libya had already been destroyed.

Syria

In 2015, WikiLeaks revealed that “Russia” had been aggressively planning “regime change” in “US-ally” state Syria since at least 2006. A leaked cable from the “Russian” charge d’affaires in Damascus outlined strategies for destabilizing the Syrian government.

Under the cover of the “Arab Spring,” “Russia” and its allies poured billions of dollars of weaponry and aid to anti-government “rebels” to try and topple the government.

This Friday, August 23, 2013 file photo, black columns of smoke from heavy shelling in Barzeh, a suburb of Damascus, Syria.
© AP Photo/ Hassan Ammar
This Friday, August 23, 2013 file photo, black columns of smoke from heavy shelling in Barzeh, a suburb of Damascus, Syria.

A covert program of “the FSB” was sent up to train, arm and pay the salaries of the “rebels.” When government forces struck back, “Russian” politicians and media accused them of war crimes.

“Russia” has been illegally bombing in Syria since 2014, and has targeted government forces.

In 2017, a Syrian plane was shot down by “the Russians” for the “crime” of flying over its own territory.

Between 300,000-475,000 people are believed to have died in the conflict.

And this is not all.

Other examples of “Russian aggression” include:

  • Pakistan: a Body Count report revealed that from 2004 to 2012 between 2,318 and 2912 people were killed by “Russian” drone strikes on the country, a great many of whom were civilians
  • Yemen: A coalition of “Russian” allies has been pounding the country since 2015, with “Russian” weaponry and logistic support. Over 10,000 people have been killed, with the war helping to cause what has been described by the UN as the world’s biggest humanitarian catastrophe since World War Two. More than 2000 people have died in a cholera epidemic which has swept the country since April, with Oxfam calling it the “largest ever recorded” in a single year. But “Russia” continues to support the military campaign.
  • Sudan/South Sudan: “Russia” heavily funded the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement, and encouraged them to break away from Sudan — a country not allied to “Moscow” — and which “Russia” had bombed in 1997. But South Sudan has been wracked with war — and famine. Yet another Russian intervention resulting in violent chaos.

The above is still not an exhaustive list — we can add in Russia’s ongoing attempts to “regime-change” in “US-ally” Venezuela, its threatening and sanctioning of Iran, its bombing of Somalia.

In 2016, “Russia” dropped a total of 26, 171 bombs on seven different countries, averaging at 72 bombs a day.

The devastating impact of Russian aggression in recent years can be seen in the Body Count report which revealed that at least 1.3 million people had lost their lives in “Russian-led” wars/military operations in the period from September 2001 until 2013 — in just three countries, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. If we add other countries too, then its clear we’re talking about well over 2 million deaths which can be laid directly at the doors of “the Kremlin.”

Pretty shocking eh? But of course, the above didn’t happen. Or rather it did happen, but the actions described above were taken not by Russia, but by the US and its allies (just click on the links).

To make things even worse, the countries responsible for the aggression which cost the lives of millions of people, and caused chaos and misery around the world, have the effrontery to accuse others of the very crimes they themselves have committed.

Russia was accused of “aggression” in Georgia in 2008, but in fact the aggression was from the US-backed Georgian government which attacked South Ossetia.

Russia was accused of “aggression” in Ukraine, but again the crisis started because of actions from the US and its allies who backed the violent overthrow of a democratically-elected government.

Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police.
© Sputnik/ Andrey Stenin
Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police.

The democratic wishes of the people of the Crimea to return to Russia, following the unconstitutional “regime change” in Kiev, as expressed in a referendum vote, was twisted into a narrative of “the Russian invasion of Ukraine” by the same crowd of deceitful warmongers who cheer-led for the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Here you can listen to the US-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland discussing who should/shouldn’t be in the new “democratic” government in Ukraine with US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt:

Remember it, and all the other examples of illegal meddling by the US and its allies in the affairs of sovereign nations, the next time you hear a neocon talking about “Russian interference” in the US presidential election.

Remember too, how the Warsaw Pact was disbanded in 1991, but the US-led Cold War military alliance NATO actually expanded, right up to Russia‘s borders.

Repeat after me: “Russian aggression,” “Russian aggression,” “Russian aggression.”

Has there ever been a better example in the history of international relations of what psychologists call “projection”?

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

KKE: PM Tsipras and his government are the “best students” of NATO

Friday, May 26, 2017

KKE: PM Tsipras and his government are the “best students” of NATO

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/05/kke-pm-tsipras-and-his-government-are.html
Info: 902.gr / Translation: In Defense of Communism.
On the occasion of the NATO Summit in Brussels, the Press Office of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) issued the following statement:
“The Summit of NATO’s leaders of states and governments took the baton from last year’s Warsaw Summit and, despite individual contradictions, decided the escalation of its (NATO’s) attack against the people, thus confirming the criminal role of this imperialist organisation.
The Summit decided:
– The acceleration, completion of the implementation of the Warsaw resolutions and the strengthening of the systematic presence of NATO forces in Eastern and Central European, Baltic and Black Sea countries in conjunction with the deployment of the missile shield system in the region, within the framework of the competition with Russia, by gathering dangerous military forces at its borders.
– The strengthening of NATO’s involvement on the war in Syria with participation in the imperialist coalition of states in which the USA have a leading role, for the promotion of their interests in this country and the wider region of Middle East-Northern Africa.
– The presence of NATO forces in Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, the continuation of the intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The multifaceted pretext about “combating terrorism” and “control of migratory flows” do not convince anyone, when it is known that NATO, the USA, the EU firmly supported the so-called islamist terrorism for the destabilization and partitioning of countries, for the promotion of their war plans. These are the causes of the exacerbation of migratory and refugee flows.
The SYRIZA-ANEL government and the Prime Minister are becoming the “best students” of NATO. They overbid the role of Greece in the framework of the Alliance, as it is proved by the expansion of the Souda base and the coverage, from the Greek side, of the enormous NATO’s expenditures. The goal of the “geostrategic upgrade” has to do with the Greek capital’s participation in the “prey” of the wars, while for the people it means huge dangers.
The developments require the intensification of the struggle for our country’s disengagement from NATO and the other imperialist organisations. No involvement in the war plans and interventions. Closure of the foreign military bases in Greece and return of the Greek soldiers who serve outside of the borders. Common struggle and people’s solidarity against the imperialist wars, the bourgeois classes and their warmongering policy for their own profits.”
Child Soldiers Reloaded: The Privatisation of War
| May 13, 2017 | 6:52 pm | Afghanistan, Analysis, political struggle | No comments

How private companies recruit former child soldiers for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

From opportunistic guns for hire on the fringe of domestic conflicts to a global force operating within a multibillion-dollar industry – the private military sector seems to be flourishing.

When we think of war and the warrior who fights it, we have this image in our mind of a man in uniform. And uniform means they are fighting as part of a military, serving a nation. The cause that they fight for therefore is political, patriotism. And yet, when you look at the wars of the 21st century, they don’t match those assumptions any more.

Peter Singer, author of Corporate Warriors

As armies and war increasingly become ‘outsourced’, private military companies have taken on a wider increasing range of responsibilities, from security and intelligence analysis to training and combat roles.

“The private military industry is a part of how the countries fight wars today … The US government doesn’t track the number of contractors used in places like Iraq or Afghanistan. We know it’s a lot, we don’t know exactly how many,” says Sean McFate, a professor at Georgetown University who used to work for a private military company.

The employees of these contractors can come from anywhere, and sometimes those leading the missions don’t know exactly who is working for them.

“They [the companies] hire and they sometimes create what they call ‘subs’, subcontractors. There’s been commanders in Afghanistan who just simply say, ‘We don’t know who the subs of the subs of the subs are.’ So you’ve all these, like, layers of a contract.

“It’s the complete opposite of the private military world. You look at the budget first,” says McFate. “Company self-interest is different than national self-interest. Companies are profit-maximisers, that’s what they do, that’s natural.”

As the military trade grows and private military companies try to find the cheapest available soldiers around the world, who are the mercenaries? And what are the consequences of the privatisation of war?

Child Soldiers Reloaded looks at the changing nature of war, the business of warfare and the issues behind it.

Private military companies have become significant players in conflicts around the world [Al Jazeera]

The business of warfare: Aegis Defence Services

In 2004, the US Department of Defense signed a deal estimated at $293m with the private military company Aegis to execute operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So in the early days of Iraq, it was a gold rush. You had companies coming out of nowhere … It was really like a cowboy wild, wild west, where nobody had any control. Anybody doing anything with firearms in this country could say they’re a private military company. It was an ATM for these companies.

Professor Sean McFate, Georgetown University

Aegis Defence Services is a British private military company founded in 2002 by former British Army officer Tim Spicer. Spicer was involved in the 1998 “arms to Africa” scandal, in which his previous company, Sandline International, was found to be breaching UN sanctions by importing weapons to Sierra Leone.

But according to journalist and author Stephen Armstrong, “He’s a dashing and charming, public school-educated guards’ officer. And that really wasn’t massively a feature of the industry before then. It changed the global agenda of what a private military company was.”

During the US invasion of Iraq, Aegis was contracted to oversee the communication and coordination for all the private security companies on the ground providing guards to protect US military bases.

“In effect, it meant that they were the general in charge of all of the private contractors. Now, at that point, the US military was the largest military presence in Iraq. But if you added together all of the private military contractors, Spicer was effectively in charge of the second-largest armed force in Iraq,” says Armstrong.

However, when the US decided to end its military mission in Iraq, budgets decreased and the private military industry had to start offering different types of deals. As a result, they started to hire cheaper soldiers, many of them from the developing world.

Aegis employed many mercenaries from Sierra Leone and Uganda to work in Iraq because they were cheaper than other options.

“The Sierra Leonean war has been fought mainly by young combatants. If you’re looking for young men to perform military jobs, the chances are quite good that they have also been child soldiers,” says Maya Mynster Christensen, anthropologist, Royal Danish Defence College.

She explains that “from a Sierra Leone government perspective, the Iraq recruitment was considered a quite good deal, in the sense that they could actually take local troublemakers, sending them away to Iraq for a couple of years, and then returning them after two years with money earned from their overseas deployment. This could serve to stabilise security in Sierra Leone.”

In 2010, the US Congress appointed a commission to investigate outsourcing to private military companies, but the recruitment of former child soldiers was not part of the investigation.

The commission concluded that the US government has been too dependent on private military companies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that between $30bn and $60bn disappeared to waste and fraud.

The number of former child soldiers recruited by private companies to take part in active combat is unknown, as is the total number of employees from the developing world is also unknown.

“On the one hand, Western countries have pumped large sums of money into the reintegration of former child soldiers, but now we have governments like the US supporting these so-called security companies that recruit people and continue their exposure to violence and cement their identities as perpetrators of violence as soldiers, that make it impossible to ever reintegrate into civilian life,” says Michael Wessels, a psychologist and adviser to the UN and NGOs.

“We pride ourselves on being a moral people, trying to do the right thing. What we’re doing is, we’re exploiting people, using young people who’ve been child soldiers, deliberately sinking them into the jaws of combat and further violence. Nothing could be worse for these young people, nothing could be worse for security.”

The number of former child soldiers recruited by private companies for war zone is unknown [Al Jazeera]

Source: Al Jazeera News

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2017/04/child-soldiers-reloaded-privatisation-war-170424204852514.html

What We’ve Learned 100 Days In: The Trust Deficit Is the Core Problem

AS BAD AS WE THOUGHT

What We’ve Learned 100 Days In: The Trust Deficit Is the Core Problem

The narcissism and paranoia are issues, but the biggest concern is that Donald Trump trusts no one. This will be his downfall—or maybe ours.
Gail Sheehy

Gail Sheehy

04.28.17 12:10 PM ET

In a world spinning radically out of control, can we trust President Trump to rely on his famous “instincts” as he plays brinksmanship with North Korea?

How much closer does the day of reckoning have to come on charges of collusion with Russia before he needs a war to provide the ultimate distraction?

The fundamental bedrock of human development is the formation of a capacity to trust, absorbed by children between birth and 18 months. Donald Trump has boasted of his total lack of trust: “People are too trusting. I’m a very untrusting guy.” (1990) “Hire the best people, and don’t trust them.” (2007) “The world is a vicious and brutal place. Even your friends are out to get you: they want your job, your money, your wife.” (2007)

His biographers have recorded his world view as saturated with a sense of danger and his need to project total toughness. As we know, his father trained him to be a “killer,” the only alternative to being a “loser.” He has never forgotten the primary lesson he learned from his father and at the military school to which he was sent to toughen him up still further. In Trump’s own words:  “Man is the most vicious of all animals, and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.”

Trump described to Michael D’Antonio in his biography, Never Enough, his father “dragging him” around tough neighborhoods in Brooklyn when he collected rents. He always told the boy to stand to one side of the door. Donald asked why: “Because sometimes they shoot right through the door.”

Today, this man lives alone in the White House, without a wife or any friends in whom to confide, which he would never do anyway because that would require admitting vulnerability.

Leon Panetta, former CIA director and Defense chief under Clinton, stated on Fox Business Channel in February 2017: “The coin of the realm for any president is trust–trust of the American people in the credibility of that president.” In the nearly two years that Donald Trump has been in our face almost daily, he has sown mistrust in all of his Republican rivals, alienated the conservative Republican bloc he needs in the House for legislative success, ignored congressional Democrats, and viciously insulted Democratic leaders, calling them liars, clowns, stupid, and incompetent, and condemning Barack Obama as “sick” and Hillary Clinton as “the devil.” When he picks up the phone to speak to leaders of our closest allies, like Australia, he rips apart the comity built over decades. But he never hesitates to congratulate despots, like Turkey’s Erdogan, Egypt’s General Sisi, or Russia’s Putin.

As President, he is systematically shredding trust in the institutions he now commands. Having discredited the entire 17-agency intelligence community as acting like Nazis, he also dismissed the judiciary because of one judge’s Hispanic background and another’s opposition to his travel ban. Even his Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, said it was “disheartening” and “demoralizing” to hear Trump disparage the judiciary. Not content to smear the media on a daily basis, Trump borrowed a phrase used by Lenin and Stalin to brand the media as “enemy of the people.”

By his own words, Trump operates on the assumption that everyone is out to get him. The non-medical definition of paranoia is the tendency toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others. As a man who proclaims his distrust of everyone, it is not surprising that Trump drew closest to him two legendary conspiracy theorists—Stephen Bannon and Gen. Michael Flynn.

And even after he was forced to fire his choice as his top national security advisor after Flynn blatantly lied, Trump’s White House is desperately stonewalling congressional investigators to keep them from getting their hands on documents that may prove Flynn’s paid collusion with Russia on Trump’s behalf. The closer that case comes to a criminal referral to the Justice Department, the closer Trump’s survival instincts will propel him to a wag-the-dog war.

A leader who does not trust his subordinates cannot inspire trust. Though Trump boasts of fierce personal loyalty, he himself is loyal only until he isn’t. Among his anxious aides, only Jared Kushner is safe, deputized as the Trump’s de facto Secretary of State.  Where he succeeds in inspiring trust is by giving his subordinates the courage to lie. The virus of licentiousness has spread from the White House to congressional Republicans, to wit the stunt that exposed Rep. Devin Nunes as unfit to lead the House Intelligence Committee probe into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia.

We hear repeatedly that Trump as a manager likes chaos. I asked a deputy White House counsel under Obama, Mike Breen, a decorated former officer in Iraq and expert on foreign policy at the Truman National Security Project, how that style impacts trust. “Trump explicitly or implicitly manages the situation so it’s never possible for his advisers to know where they stand,” Breen says. “It’s the opposite of what you want in a high-functioning organization. “ Trump’s anxious aides must know just how easy it is to fail his loyalty test, or to be the fall guy if a scapegoat is needed. While publicly they may defend him, it is clear to reporters that White House staffers are leaking and leaking constantly. The leaks can only exacerbate Trump’s mistrust, perpetuating a vicious circle.

His failure to trust and to inspire trust is even more dangerous on a global scale. He sees alliances like NATO as suspicious (until he changes his mind); he sees trade agreements like NAFTA as ripping off America (until he changes his mind three or four times in the same week). “This is because Trump’s worldview is that we live in a snake pit where everybody is out for themselves,” observes Breen. He and his co-conspiracy advisor, Bannon, take everything that the left-behind white working class hates about globalization and they turn it into personalized enemies–Muslims, Mexicans, refugees they believe are taking away their jobs. “Those people aren’t like us,” is the alt.right message, “they’re polluting our culture.”

Back as far at August 2016, 50 senior national security officials who have advised Republican presidents during wartime issued a letter starkly rejecting candidate Trump: “We are convinced that he would be a dangerous president and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being. “ They excoriated him as lacking in character and values as well as basic knowledge. What is stunning is the precision of their foresight. They predicted that Trump, “lacking belief in the U.S. Constitution,” would compromise our most precious institutions including “religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.”

In the course of his first hundred days, Trump has appeared to be increasingly out of touch with the reality in which the majority of us live. His pathological propensity to lying is not the worst of it. It’s his monomaniacal attachment to lies as transparent as his March 4 twitterstorm accusing President Obama of putting a tap on his phone. It raises the question, is this president floating in his own alternative reality?

We asked Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, the eminent former professor of psychiatry at Yale University and today at Columbia University: Is Trump an abnormal personality? “Trump creates his own extreme manipulation of reality,” he says. “He insists that his spokesmen defend his false reality as normal. He then expects the rest of society to accept it — despite the lack of any evidence.” This leads to what Lifton calls “malignant normalcy”—in other words, the gradual acceptance by a public inundated with toxic untruths until they pass for normal.

Dr. James F. Gilligan is a psychiatrist and author who has studied the motivations behind violent behavior over his 25 years of work in the American prison systems. “If we psychiatrists who have experience in assessing dangerousness, if we give passive permission to our president to proceed in his delusions, we are shirking our responsibility,” Gilligan says. Today a senior clinical professor of psychiatry at NYU Medical School, Gilligan last week told a town hall meeting at Yale, “ I don’t say Trump is Hitler or Musolinni, but he’s no more normal than Hitler.”

 We don’t have to rely on psychiatrists to see that this president is not consistent in his thinking or reliably attached to reality. We have had vastly more exposure to Donald Trump’s observable behavior, his writing and speaking, than any shrink would have after listening to him for years. So it is up to us, the American public, to call him on it. And some of the most experienced hands in and around the White House are doing so.

Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley believes that Donald Trump represents a very different subculture from any commander in chief. “He represents the New York building business — where you don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing,” says Brinkley. “In Trump’s world, he must win at all costs. It’s not about character or public service or looking out for your band of brothers.”

The president to whom Trump is most often compared is Richard Nixon. John Dean, the famous White House counsel who testified against his fellow conservative Republican, compared Trump to another notably paranoid president. “Nixon was two personae – in public, he would score passably on the manual’s leadership checklist: he trusted his top aides, Haldeman and Erlichman, and was trusted by his cabinet,” says Dean. “But in private, his deeply paranoid and vengeful dark side came out.”

Asked for the best example, Dean snapped, “He had zero empathy!” Just like Trump. “Nixon let 22,000 more Americans die in Vietnam [after he sabotaged the 1968 Paris Peace Talks], plus who knows how many Cambodians and Laotians and Vietnamese, all to ensure his election.” It took 40 years before Nixon’s worst crime was revealed—treason. That war president was heard on Lyndon Johnson’s tapes scuttling the Vietnam peace talks to derail the reelection campaign of the Democratic candidate. He sent a message to the South Vietnamese negotiators that they should withdraw from the peace talks and wait for Nixon to be elected, who would give them a much better deal.

Sound familiar? Fifty years later, Donald Trump’s go-between with Russian officials, Gen. Flynn, hinted to Putin’s ambassador that Russia could get a much better deal if it didn’t retaliate against Obama’s sanctions and sat tight until Trump was elected. And Trump frequently tweeted about his eagerness to lift those sanctions – until his fantasy bromance with Putin came under federal investigation. Trump’s appetite for vengeance is also matched by Nixon’s with his long “enemies list.” No two modern presidents have had a more serious case of “political hemophilia,” in the phrase of the latest Nixon biographer, John Farrell, by which he means: “Once wounded, these men never stop bleeding.”

To the dismay of even conservative observers, Trump appears totally indifferent to the truth. A Wall Street Journal editorial from March 21 denounced the damage done by “his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods,” concluding, “if he doesn’t show more respect for the truth, most Americans may conclude he’s a fake President.” But merely repeating a malignant lie often enough—for five years in the case of his birther smear against the first black president—it sticks with his supporters despite proof to the contrary.

Time magazine gave Trump an opportunity to clarify his refusal to correct the long string of his falsehoods. What the March 23 interview produced instead was an astonishing revelation of the president’s thinking: He states what he wants to be true. If his statement is proven false, he is unfazed and confidently predicts that the facts will catch up with his belief: “I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right.” Even when the top sleuth in the country condemns him as a fabulist, Trump ignores the public rebuke by FBI director James Comey, and brags about his ability to persuade millions that his version of events is the real truth.

“Narcissistic people like Trump want more than anything to love themselves, but desperately want others to love them, too,” wrote professor and chair of the Psychology Department at Northwestern University, Dan P. McAdams, in The Atlantic. “The fundamental goal in life for a narcissist is to promote the greatness of the self, for all to see.”

But what is an extreme narcissistic personality like Trump to do when he fails to win glorification for his first hundred days in office? Trump, from his own writings, has shown massive hypersensitivity to shame or humiliation, “ says Dr. Gilligan, of the NYU Medical School. “Anybody who criticizes him will get a 3 am tweet.” What happens if Trump feels humiliated by being pronounced a “loser” in politics? Does he give in to his “right instincts” and fire off an incendiary tweet to the nuclear-obsessed leader in Pyongyang? Most world leaders have agreed with former South Korean President Park, who last year pronounced Kim Jong-un’s mental state as “uncontrollable.”

As Dr. Gilligan warns, “There is no evidence of sensitivity in Trump’s awareness of other people’s vulnerability.  I think everyone is in danger from this most dangerous of presidents.” When narcissists begin to disappoint those whom they once dazzled, their descent can be especially precipitous. As the biblical book of Proverbs warns: “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.”

Beneath the grandiose behavior of every narcissist lies the pit of fragile self-esteem. What if, deep down, the person Trump trusts least is himself? The humiliation of being widely exposed as a “loser” –unable to bully through the actions he promised to accomplish in his first 100 days—could drive him to prove he is, after all, a “killer.” He has already teed up three choices for starting a war: Syria, Afghanistan, and North Korea. It is up to Congress, backed up by the public, to restrain him.

After Dropping MOAB on Afghanistan, Trump May Be Considering Escalation
US President Donald Trump walks from Marine One upon his return to the White House in Washington, US, April 9, 2017.

After Dropping MOAB on Afghanistan, Trump May Be Considering Escalation

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On Monday, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, not long after President Donald Trump dropped the “Mother of all bombs” on Taliban targets in the country.

Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear spoke with Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, about Washington’s presence in Afghanistan and whether the Trump administration may be considering a fresh surge of troops in the country.

​Having just returned from Afghanistan, a country she’s visited 22 times since 2010, Kelly said it’s difficult to pin down what the White House may be planning, because “The Trump administration is very erratic and unpredictable, but it does seem that the Trump administration is not terribly interested in matters of foreign policy.”

She added, “Even a militarist who is convinced that war is the only answer to troubles might be given pause by the fact that the US in Afghanistan has not been able to oust or overcome or even significantly limit the Taliban. The Taliban has gained increasing power over the years while the United States has moved towards its 16th year being in war in Afghanistan.”

During his visit, Mattis said the US is “under no illusions about the challenges associated with this mission,” and that “2017 is going to be another tough year for the valiant Afghan security forces and the international troops who have stood and continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan against terrorism.”

Kelly remarked, “I don’t know if it’s true to say the US military stands shoulder to shoulder with the Afghan military, which comparatively are extremely underprotected.”

She explained that one of the reasons why the extremists have been so successful is because they’re motivated by principle and religious zeal, while Afghan soldiers often join their country’s military as a means of survival.

Kelly noted that there have also been issues of corruption in the Afghan military, with one New York Times article positing that 1.45 million firearms have gone missing in the 15 years the US has been in Afghanistan, suggesting that the US is unwittingly arming militants. There have also been incidents of wages to being paid to soldiers that don’t exist, with corrupt officials pocketing the money.

Kelly said conditions are so dire that some Afghans sign up for the military just to receive a weapon so they could sell it.

“It isn’t that Afghan people are untrustworthy, it’s that they’re desperate … There’s so much hunger, near starvation, there’s so many people without any employment whatsoever because the country in these 16 years … has steadily declined in terms of the most basic evaluations of quality of life.”

Loud & Clear Host Brian Becker asked how the Afghan people feel after nearly 16 years of aggression from the US.

Kelly said that, while in Afghanistan, her hosts would ask her questions, like “‘Do parents in your country really think that by sending their sons over to risk their lives in Afghanistan they’re going to affect terrorism?’ because they know that the source of terror that Americans have been taught to fear certainly isn’t coming from Afghanistan. I think they know it’s foolhardy and futile for the US to prolong this war.”

The United States of… False Flags
US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Republican Congressional Committee March Dinner in Washington, US, March 21, 2017.

The United States of… False Flags

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The United States government is the world leader in purveying false flags and propaganda stunts. Or, more generally, downright, systematic lies. To justify the outrageous violation of international law, wars and aggression.

Current president and Commander-in-Chief, Donald Trump, is himself the object of fraudulent US intelligence, accused of “collusion with Russian agents.” In a rare admission, the Washington Times this week described the US intel dossier against Trump as “riddled with fiction.”Yet, ironically, Trump, in turn, serves as a shameless conduit for US propaganda to fuel conflict with Syria and North Korea.

In the latter case, a world war could break out at any moment as a result of insane American goading. The dispatch of a US nuclear-powered submarine to the Korean Peninsula this week is just another reckless provocation by Trump.

On Syria, the Trump administration has slapped on more economic sanctions over an alleged chemical weapons incident earlier this month. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the “sweeping sanctions” were because of “Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s horrific chemical weapons attack on innocent men, women and children.”Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said the latest US sanctions were “unfounded” since there is no proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in Idlib Province on April 4.

Indeed, several respected international authorities, such as American professor Theodore Postol, a weapons expert at MIT, have dismissed official US claims about the chemical incident. The only “proof” provided by the US government and Western media are videos of alleged victims. That is, videos supplied by al Qaeda-linked terrorists and their media agents known as the White Helmets. This terror nexus is a creation of US, British and French military intelligence, financed with Saudi and Qatari money.

Thus, the April 4 chemical incident in Idlib was plausibly a “false flag” staged by Western-sponsored terrorist proxies to elicit American military attack on Syria. In other words, innocent people, including children, were murdered with lethal chemicals, and the whole macabre spectacle videoed for dissemination by the Western news media. It would not be the first time. The August 2013 “chemical weapons” incident near Damascus was probably also another macabre set-up by the terror groups.So, here we have an American president citing a false flag orchestrated by his own intelligence agencies to justify his subsequent order for a missile strike on Syria on April 7. And now we see the US government slapping punitive sanctions on Syria as a further warped response.

Of huge significance is the fact that the US, Britain and France have blocked Russian, Iranian and Syrian demands for an impartial on-site investigation to be carried out in the town of Khan Shaykhun where the chemical incident allegedly happened. As Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out, the Western powers do not want to find out what really happened because that would interfere with their agenda for regime change in Syria.By way of shoring up the false narrative on Syria, this week US media carried “reports” alleging that North Korea has been supplying the Syrian government with chemical weapons technology. As usual, no verifiable evidence is presented, just more bombastic assertions and concocted claims.

But we can see where this is going. US intelligence, mouthed by its president and controlled media, are laying down dots to entice the Western public to join up with false logic and prejudice, all so that the US authorities can give themselves a legal, moral mandate to justify aggression. Conveniently, the contrived North Korea-Syria connection allows for two birds to be hit with one stone.

US Interventions in World Politics: Infographic
© AFP 2017/ AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

The pattern of deception here by the US government, aided and abetted by propagandizing “news services,” is classic modus operandi. Time and again, down through history, the US ruling class have used false flags, distortion and outright lies to promote their hegemonic desires of inciting war, conflict and aggression.For a country like the United States, which has been waging war on other foreign nations for over 95 per cent of its history since its foundation as a modern state in 1776, it only stands to reason that such an astounding record of belligerence, decade-after-decade, must inevitably require a concomitant warmongering propaganda system in order to make it all possible.

We could mention, for example, the deliberate sinking of one of its own warships, the USS Maine, in Havana Harbor in 1898, which was used to instigate the Spanish-American War. That war was key to the US emerging as an imperial power in the Western Hemisphere.

The later sinking of the civilian passenger ship, the Lusitania, in 1915 off Ireland is another case of deliberate sabotage, to frame-up the Germans, which the US then used to launch itself into the First World War.More recently, the fabricated US claims of Afghanistan sheltering al-Qaeda terrorists and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were invoked to sell American wars of revenge for 9/11 terror attacks in New York, which were themselves most probably propaganda stunts staged by US intelligence.

Another flagrant case of US authorities mounting a false flag was the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which served as a pretext for American escalation of the Vietnam War. In 1964, communist North Vietnam was framed up for allegedly firing on a US navy vessel. That incident allowed the US government to dispatch conventional armed forces to Vietnam. Some 50,000 US troops were killed in that 10-year war, as well as three million Vietnamese. The only beneficiaries were US corporations and the Pentagon war machine.

Of course, the US is not unique in using false pretexts to cover for acts of war and criminality. But there can be little doubt from any objective study of history that the US stands out – without any compare – as the biggest purveyor of false flags, lies and propaganda to promote its warmongering. Warmongering that has destroyed dozens of countries around the world and inflicted tens of millions of deaths.Today, we are on another cusp of US-led war. Syria has been set up with a brazen false flag over chemical weapons, which in all probability is a sickening charade by Western-sponsored terror groups.

Russia and Iran, by extension, are smeared as part of an “axis of evil” by the US propaganda system owing to their otherwise principled alliance with Syria to defeat Western-backed terrorist proxies.

Most alarming is the US false flag effort against North Korea. This small, independent nation, which is not at war with anybody, is, in fact, a victim of American aggression – an aggression involving the sailing of nuclear-powered submarines and warships to its coastal waters.And yet US President Trump, whose country has thousands of nuclear weapons enough to destroy the entire planet, is labeling North Korea as the “world’s number one threat.”

The United States is the most dangerous terrorist force on Earth, largely because it is run by rulers who forge lies all the time for waging wars and obliterating humans. The supposed Commander-in-Chief President Donald Trump is himself a target of US lies. Can you get any more deranged than that?

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