Category: Syria
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.

Reports: US troops deploy along Syria-Turkish border
| April 28, 2017 | 3:07 pm | Analysis, political struggle, Syria | No comments
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/chemical-weapons-team-ready-visit-syria-safety-assured-47078360

The Associated Press
OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu speeches during a ceremony marking the OPCW’s 20th anniversary in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. The global chemical weapons watchdog’s ceremony comes just three weeks after dozens of people were killed in a suspected nerve gas attack in Syria. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, POOL)

U.S. armored vehicles are deploying in areas in northern Syria along the tense border with Turkey, a few days after a Turkish airstrike that killed 20 U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters, a Syrian war monitor and Kurdish activists said Friday.

Footage posted by Syrian activists online showed a convoy of U.S. armored vehicles driving on a rural road in the village of Darbasiyah, a few hundred meters from the Turkish border. Clashes in the area were reported between Turkish and Kurdish forces Wednesday a day after the Turkish airstrike which also destroyed a Kurdish command headquarters.

The Turkish airstrikes, which also wounded 18 members of the U.S.-backed People’s Protection Units, or YPG, in Syria were criticized by both the U.S. and Russia. The YPG is a close U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State group but is seen by Ankara as a terrorist group because of its ties to Turkey’s Kurdish rebels.

Further clashes between Turkish and Kurdish forces in Syria could potentially undermine the U.S.-led war on the Islamic State group.

A senior Kurdish official, Ilham Ahmad told The Associated Press that American forces began carrying out patrols along the border Thursday along with reconnaissance flights in the area. She said the deployment was in principle temporary, but may become more permanent.

A Kurdish activist in the area, Mustafa Bali, said the deployment is ongoing, adding that it stretches from the Iraqi border to areas past Darbasiyah in the largely Kurdish part of eastern Syria.

“The U.S. role has now become more like a buffer force between us and the Turks on all front lines,” he said. He said U.S. forces will also deploy as a separation force in areas where the Turkish-backed Syrian fighting forces and the Kurdish forces meet.

It is a message of reassurance for the Kurds and almost a “warning message” to the Turks, he said.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, did not dispute that U.S. troops are operating with elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) along the Turkish border, but he would not get into specifics. The SDF is a Kurdish-dominated alliance fighting IS that includes Arab fighters.

“We have U.S. forces that are there throughout the entirety of northern Syria that operate with our Syrian Democratic Force partners,” Davis said. “The border is among the areas where they operate.” He said the U.S. wants the SDF to focus on liberating the IS-held town of Tabqa and the extremist group’s de facto capital, Raqqa, “and not be drawn into conflicts elsewhere.”

Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the deployment seems limited and is aimed to “prevent fighting” between the two sides.

The U.S. has recently shifted from working quietly behind the scenes in Syria’s conflict toward overt displays of U.S. force in an attempt to shape the fight.

Last month, about 200 Marines rolled into northern Syria backed with howitzers, significantly widening America’s footprint in a highly toxic battlefield. The Marines’ deployment came days after another intervention, when dozens of army troops drove outside the town of Manbij, riding Stryker armored vehicles, following an earlier conflagration of fighting between Syrian Kurdish troops and Turkish troops. The U.S. deployment in Manbij intentionally put Americans in the middle of that rivalry, hoping to cool it down.

The SDF retook Manbij from IS control, and Turkey — with its troops nearby — said it won’t allow the town to be under Kurdish control, threatening to move on it. The American presence appears intended to reassure Ankara the Kurds don’t hold the town.

But the new deployment puts U.S. troops directly along the border with Turkey, another flashpoint, and immerses Washington into that increasingly hot fight.

Separately, the chief of the international chemical weapons watchdog said on Friday that he has a team of experts ready and willing to travel to the site of this month’s deadly nerve gas incident in Syria if their safety can be assured.

“We are willing to go to Khan Sheikhoun and we have undertaken some actions,” Ahmet Uzumcu of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons told a small group of reporters in The Hague.

Syrian ally Russia has called for an international investigation into the April 4 attack that killed nearly 90 people. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov this week expressed regret that the OPCW turned down the Syrian government’s offers to visit the site of the attack and investigate. Russia has rejected Western accusations that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government was behind the attack.

Uzumcu said that the area of the town of Khan Sheikhoun where the incident happened is controlled by opposition rebels, adding that the watchdog experts will “need to strike some deals with them,” such as a temporary ceasefire, to assure the team’s safety before it can deploy.

The OPCW has been extremely cautious about sending investigators to Syria since a team of its experts came under attack there in 2014. Uzumcu said the organization is in daily contact with U.N. authorities over the security situation in Syria.

The Syrian president has categorically rejected accusations that his forces were behind the attack.

Uzumcu is not yet calling the April 4 incident a chemical weapons attack, but he has said that tests by his organization have established beyond doubt that sarin or a similar toxin was used.

Other nations, however, have already labelled it an attack and blamed the Syrian government.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said earlier this week that the attack “bears the signature” of Assad’s government and shows it was responsible.

Uzumcu said his organization is not yet in a position to confirm the French findings.

The OPCW’s team is already gathering evidence from victims and survivors and testing samples outside Syria. Uzumcu said he expects an initial report to be issued in about 10 days. The initial OPCW investigation will not apportion blame — that is left to a separate investigative mechanism made up of OPCW and U.N. experts.

———

Burns reported from Washington, DC. Associated Press writers Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.

There Will Be No Russophobia Reset
U.S. President Donald Trump reacts after delivering his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, U.S., February 28, 2017

There Will Be No Russophobia Reset

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In the end, there was hardly a reset; rather a sort of tentative pause on Cold War 2.0. Interminable days of sound and fury were trudging along when President Trump finally decided NATO is “no longer obsolete”; still, he wants to “get along” with Russia.

A picture taken on April 4, 2017 shows destruction at a hospital in Khan Sheikhun, a rebel-held town in the northwestern Syrian Idlib province, following a suspected toxic gas attack.
© AFP 2017/ Omar haj kadour

Just ahead of meeting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin had stressed on Russian TV that trust (between Russia and the US) is “at a workable level, especially in the military dimension, but it hasn’t improved. On the contrary, it has degraded.” Emphasis on a pedestrian “workable,” but most of all “degraded” – as in the National Security Council releasing a report essentially accusing Moscow of spreading fake news.At the apex of the Russia-gate hysteria, even before the extremely the controversial chemical incident in Syria and the subsequent Tomahawk show – arguably a cinematographic show-off — a Trump-conducted reset on Russia was already D.O.A., tomahawked by the Pentagon, Capitol Hill and media-misguided public opinion.

Yet only armchair Dr. Strangeloves would argue it’s in the US national interest to risk a direct hot war against Russia — and Iran — in Syria. Russia has all but won the war in Syria on its own terms; preventing the emergence of an Emirate of Takfiristan.

The notion that Tillerson would be able to issue an ultimatum to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov – you’re either with us or with Damascus and Tehran – is laughable. Moscow simply is not going to yield its hard-earned sphere of influence in Southwest Asia to the Trump administration or the US deep state. What Moscow really wanted to know is who’s making Russia policy in Washington. Now they’ve got their answer.And then, there’s the Big Picture. The Iran-Russia strategic partnership is one of the three key nodes, along with China, in the big story of the young 21st century; Eurasia integration, with Russia and Iran closing the energy equation and China as the investment locomotive.

That leads us to the real heart of the matter: the War Party’s fear of Eurasia integration, which inevitably manifests itself as acute Russophobia.

Russophobia is not monolithic or monochord though. There’s room for some informed dissidence – and even civilized inflections.

Enter Dr. K

Exhibit A is Henry Kissinger, who as a Lifetime Trustee recently spoke at the annual meeting of the Trilateral Commission in Washington.The Trilateral Commission, created by the late David Rockefeller in 1974, had its members meticulously selected by Dr. Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski – whose whole career has been a slight variation on the overarching theme that the US should always prevent the emergence of a “peer competitor” in Eurasia – or, worse still, as today, a Eurasian alliance.

Kissinger is the only geopolitical practitioner that manages to get President Trump’s undivided attention. He had been, so far, the top facilitator of a dialogue — and possible reset — between Washington and Moscow. I have argued this is part of his remixed balance of power, Divide and Rule strategy – which consists in prying away Russia from China with the ultimate aim of derailing Eurasia integration.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (File)
© AP Photo/ Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA

Kissinger felt compelled to tell his supposedly well-informed audience that Putin is not a Hitler replica, does not harbor imperial desires, and to describe him as a global super-evil is an “error of perspective and substance.”So Kissinger favors dialogue – even as he insists Moscow cannot defeat Washington militarily. His conditions: Ukraine must remain independent, without entering NATO; Crimea is negotiable. The key problem is Syria: Kissinger is adamant Russia cannot be allowed to become a major player in the Middle East (yet with Moscow backing up Damascus militarily and conducting the Astana peace negotiations, it already is). Implicit in all that is the difficulty of negotiating an overall “package” for Russia.

Now compare Kissinger with Lavrov who, while quoting Dr. K, recently issued a diagnostic that would make him cringe: “The formation of a polycentric international order is an objective process. It is in our common interest to make it more stable and predictable.” Once again, it’s all about Eurasia integration.

The Russian and Chinese national flags are seen on the table as Russia's President Vladimir Putin (back L) and his China's President Xi Jinping (back R) stand during a signing ceremony at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on November 9, 2014.
© AFP 2017/ HOW HWEE YOUNG

Putin was already outlining it, in detail, five years ago, even before the Chinese fully fleshed out the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) concept in 2013. OBOR can certainly be interpreted as an even more ambitious variation of Putin’s idea: “Russia is an inalienable and organic part of Greater Europe and European civilization… That’s why Russia proposes moving towards the creation of a common economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, a community referred to by Russian experts as ‘the Union of Europe’ which will strengthen Russia’s potential in its economic pivot toward the ‘new Asia.'”The West – or, to be more precise, NATO – vetoed Russia. And that, in a flash, precipitated the Russia-China strategic partnership and its myriad subsequent declinations. It’s this symbiosis that led the recent report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission to admit China and Russia are experiencing what is arguably their “highest period of bilateral [military] co-operation.”

The War Party never sleeps

Exhibit B, on a par with Kissinger stressing that Putin is no Hitler, reveals the theoretically preeminent professional journal of American diplomacy compelled to publish a quite remarkable essay by Robert English from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in politics at Princeton.

Under careful examination, the inevitable conclusion is that Prof. English did something very simple, but unheard of: with “careful scholarship,” he challenged “the prevailing groupthink” and “thrashed the positions” of virtually the whole US foreign policy establishment addicted to Russophobia.The Russia-China strategic partnership – uniting the Pentagon’s avowed top two threats to America — does not come with a formal treaty signed with pomp and circumstance. There’s no way to know the deeper terms Beijing and Moscow have agreed upon behind those innumerable Xi-Putin meetings.

It’s quite possible, as diplomats have let it slip, off the record, there may have been a secret message delivered to NATO to the effect that if one of the strategic members is seriously harassed — be it in Ukraine or in the South China Sea – NATO will have to deal with both. As for the Tomahawk show, it may have been a one-off; the Pentagon did give Moscow a heads up and Tillerson, in Moscow, guaranteed the Trump administration wants to keep all communication channels open.

The War Party though never sleeps. Notoriously disgraced neocons, re-energized by Trump’s Tomahawk-with-chocolates show, are salivating over the “opportunity” of an Iraq Shock and Awe remix on Syria.

Moscow sights
© Sputnik/ Grigoriy Sisoev

The War Party’s cause célèbre is still a war on Iran, and that now conflates with the neoliberalcon’s Russophobia – deployed via the currently “disappeared” but certainly not extinct Russia-gate. Yet Russia-gate’s real dark story, for all the hysterics, is actually about the Orwellian surveillance powers of the US deep state, as stressed by former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and whistleblower Bill Binney.Whatever the practical outcome, in the long run, of the turbulent, two-hour, trilateral Putin-Lavrov-Tillerson meeting, ultimately Russophobia – and its sidekick, Iranophobia – won’t vanish from the US-NATO geopolitical spectrum. Especially now that Trump may have finally shown his real face, a “housebroken dog to neocon dogma.”

The masks, at least, have fallen — and these relentless intimations of Cold War 2.0 should be seen for what they are: the War Party’s primal fear of Eurasia integration.

 

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

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.

Party of Communists, USA: Statement of the PCUSA Peace and Solidarity Commission on Global War

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Party of Communists, USA: Statement of the PCUSA Peace and Solidarity Commission on Global War

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/04/party-of-communists-usa-statement-of.html
Statement of the PCUSA Peace and Solidarity Commission on Global War.
US imperialist aggression and military preparations throughout the world are solely menacing an imminent outbreak of WWIII. All its desperate confrontational maneuvers in every embroiled theatre, whether through a growing number of European states to threaten the Russian Federation, or in Syria, Iraq or Yemen, on the Korean Peninsula or in the South China Sea threatening China, are toward that unified (rationally unthinkable) strategic objective.
US provocative actions globally are one in purpose; they are not at all comprehensible as interventions in separate conflicts. US disturbance in other countries is posed conjunction with its major front, NATO, through US inspired neo-Nazi movements in several European countries (notably the Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Romania); with its highly reactionary regional vassal states in Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Persian Gulf principalities), with its subordinates in Asia (Japan, South Korea, and Australia); by its promotion of civil unrest in Latin America (prominently in Venezuela at the moment); and by its rapidly increasing militarization of the Artic in conjunction with its servant Canada.
US military and political involvement raising protracted regional tensions has instigated violent crises in several countries in both hemispheres, whether by wars of indirect or direct aggression or subterfuge. Intervention is simply an empty pretext: it is not predicated on independent or pre-existing civil conflicts in other countries or propagandistically imagined threats to the peace of the world by other states. Neo-Nazi movements in Europe would not exist without US organization and funding for previously suppressed and dispersed criminal elements in those societies. There is no civil war in Syria, inherently a stable, secular society and republic, not divided ethnically or religiously. The war there is one of indirect aggression on the part of the US since 2011 through brutally barbaric foreign mercenary terrorists, not Syrian rebels, from over 80 countries, ostensibly seeking to impose a theocratic autocracy but serving as a purely invented rationale for intended US-Saudi-Turkish partition of Syria. Indirect aggression and the pursuit of pretext for intervention leads of false flag operations, such as the sarin gas attack in Syria in 2013 and the currently alleged sarin gas attack in that country, when the known supplies for sarin gas to US-backed terrorist elements in Syria is coming from NATO through Turkey. The struggle in Yemen is not one of an Iran allied Houthi minority posing a threat against a US ally, the Absolute Monarchy of Saudi Arabia, but the opposite: a national resistance struggle of all popular democratic forces in Yemen against US-Saudi imperialist aggression. Oppositional elements in Venezuela are being directly organized and funded by the US, which would otherwise have no power to disturb the political order of that popular Bolivarian state. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, seeking only to defend itself from constant US threats for its destruction throughout its existence after an artificially US imposed partition empowering Japanese collaborationists among Korean capitalists and landlords against the unified Korean anti-imperialist resistance, is being demonized absurdly as if a representing a threat of global aggression. All conflicts threatening the peace of the world today have been instigated or contrived by US imperialism, which are being resisted at national levels by popular and progressive forces in the different forms confronted.
The political style of US aggression, whether conducted at the sole initiative of the presidency or with the consent of the Congress (by either declarations of war or authorizations for the use of force), is not the issue: US imperialist designs now threatening WWIII are. The constitutional question is a serious misdirection of the US peace movement. From 1812, the Congress of the United States has overwhelming supported all US wars, whether apparently defensive or aggressive. The US Congress today is fully behind all current US wars of indirect aggression and of military strike build-up throughout the world. Formal declarations of war or stronger resolutions of authorization will only give the appearance of popular support for continued and intensified aggression that does not exist and provide a pretext for treating opposition as treasonous, as is already occurring within the government under the anti-Russia hysteria generated during and since the 2016 US presidential elections.
What needs urgently to be done as a first step to stop US imperialist aggression in the world is the illegalization by the General Assembly of the United Nations of all wars of indirect aggression, as the Soviet representative to the League of Nations, Maxim Litvinov, appealed for prior to WWII but failed to achieve, and of any moves outside the UN framework to disarm other states. The Peace and Solidarity Commission of the Party of Communists, USA, calls on all domestic peace and anti-imperialist organizations to support the illegalization in international law of wars of indirect aggression and to support universal disarmament by negotiations under multilateral treaties (the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in particular), and the illegalization of any show of force by one state to compel other states to disarm.
False Flag Attack: Ex-CIA Officer Unravels Idlib Chemical Incident
| April 24, 2017 | 8:49 pm | Analysis, Donald Trump, political struggle, Syria | No comments
A civil defence member breathes through an oxygen mask, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017.

False Flag Attack: Ex-CIA Officer Unravels Idlib Chemical Incident

© REUTERS/ Ammar Abdullah
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https://sputniknews.com/politics/201704211052868763-cia-idlib-false-flag/

While US Defense Secretary James Mattis is pushing ahead with the claim that the Assad government still has chemical weapons, former CIA officer Robert David Steele told Radio Sputnik that the claim bears no relation to reality and added that evidence mounts that the Idlib incident was a false flag operation.

The alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun was nothing but a false flag attack, Robert David Steele, a former CIA officer who personally managed false flag operations, told Radio Sputnik.

“We now know from a source that serves on the staff of one of three American traitors that I will name: Senator John McCain, former CIA Director John Brennan, and National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Herbert McMaster  — [that] they conspired with Israel and Saudi Arabia. The White Helmets were paid over $300,000 and this was a false flag attack and an MIT professor [Theodore A. Postol] provided superb analysis which says that it was a ground improvised-explosive device and that was not sarin gas,” Steele said.

He referred to MIT professor of Technology and National Security Policy Theodore A. Postol’s research busting the US intelligence report blaming the Syrian government for the suspected attack in Idlib province.

“This was a false flag attack carried out and organized by American traitors working with Israel and Saudi Arabia,” the former CIA officer reiterated.

Speaking to Sputnik on Tuesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that the alleged use of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun was actually a false flag operation, which was supposed to justify a US missile strike on a Syrian air base.

“This is totally correct,” Steele remarked commenting on Assad’s statement.

What was the reason for the alleged false flag operation?

The former CIA officer pointed out that different geopolitical actors are pursuing their own goals. For instance, Saudi Arabia wants Syria so that they can run a pipeline to the sea and not be dependent on the Strait of Hormuz for shipping.On the other hand, “Goldman Sachs wants war in the Middle East because they made some very bad bets on oil and they are about to lose a ton of money and a war will drive up the price of oil,” Steele explained.

For their part, US neoconservatives want a war in the Middle East “because that’s what Israel pays them to want.”

“Last but not least is the US military industrial complex,” he noted. “They want a war in order to use up the US military so we have to buy it again.”

The only people who don’t want a war are everybody else in the American public, according to the former intelligence officer.Steele pointed out that the American people’s growing anti-war sentiment shouldn’t be underestimated.

On April 13 Eli Lake of Bloomberg reported that General H.R. McMaster’s critics accuse him of seeking to beef up the US military presence in Syria.

According to Steele, a full-scale US military operation would deal a tremendous blow to Donald Trump’s presidency.

“If Donald Trump puts troops on the ground in Syria, I predict that he will be impeached,” the former intelligence officer told Radio Sputnik.

Steele assumed that, purportedly, it could have been yet another goal of the so-called American “deep state” — “to subvert and control the legitimately elected President of the United States of America.”

Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary James Mattis is pushing ahead with the narrative that the Syrian government still possesses chemical weapons. His claims come as the US and EU decision makers try to block attempts to launch an impartial investigation into the chemical incident in Idlib.

What’s behind Mattis’ claims?

“Secretary Mattis is an honorable man in principle,” Steele responded, “but this is an absolute lie. Now, whether he is saying this knowing that this is a lie or whether he has been lied to by the Central Intelligence Agency or the Defense Intelligence Agency I do not know. But it is absolutely a lie. A Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to those who successfully and comprehensively removed all chemical weapons from Syria in the past.”

“We know this was a false flag,” Steele added.

Robert David Steele is a former Central Intelligence Agency operations officer who has recently been recommended for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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UN doesn’t send experts to Idlib ‘chemical incident’ site as West & US are blocking it – Assad

https://www.rt.com/news/385469-un-idlib-chemical-assad/

UN doesn’t send experts to Idlib 'chemical incident' site as West & US are blocking it - Assad
The Syrian government has asked the UN to send experts to investigate the alleged chemical attack in Idlib province, but the request remains unanswered due to pressure from US and other Western countries, Syrian president Bashar Assad told Sputnik in an exclusive interview.

“We formally sent a letter to the United Nations, we asked them in that letter to send a delegation in order to investigate what happened in Khan Shaykhun,” Assad said. “Of course till this moment they didn’t send (the experts), because the West and the US blocked any delegation from coming,” he added.

Bashar Assad believes that Washington is hampering the probe because if the experts arrive in Idlib, “they will find that all their (the US) narratives about what happened in Khan Shaykhun and then the attack on Shayrat airport was a false flag, was a lie.”

“Now the only contact I think is between Russia and maybe the other countries in order to send that delegation. Till this moment, we didn’t have any positive news regarding any delegation coming,” he added.

On April 4, an alleged chemical attack killed dozens of people in the town of Khan Shaykhun in Syria’s Idlib province.

Without any investigation carried out, the US labeled Assad’s government as perpetrators and fired a barrage of Tomahawk missiles at Shayrat airbase, which it said was the source of the attack.

Russia has called for a thorough investigation of the chemical incident, which would include an on-site inspection in the rebel-held territory, before coming to any conclusions.

“Actually, since the first attack a few years ago that happened in Aleppo by the terrorists against our army, we asked the United Nations to send investigation delegation in order to prove what we said about the terrorists having gases used against our army, and later many incidents happened in that way, and they didn’t send any delegation. It’s the same now,” Assad told Sputnik.

BREAD MORE: British chair to both OPCW probes on Syria ‘chemical attack’ is against int’l principle – Lavrov

Earlier this week, Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that it is identifying sarin in samples related to the April 5 incident.

However, the watchdog never explained how it obtained the samples, as its experts have not visited Khan Shaykhun yet.

The Russian military questioned the swift analysis of the samples, saying the OPCW did not act with such speed in another incident in which a militant group reportedly used mustard gas in Aleppo.

“Russian specialists on the site of the crime [in Aleppo] collected samples of the agent, which had been delivered to representatives of the OPCW and transported to the Hague. By the way, the Syrian leadership at the time offered safety guarantees and insisted that OPCW experts visit Aleppo, but nobody came,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Thursday.

“Four months later the OPCW still cannot come to a conclusion and call the mustard gas found there mustard gas, saying additional analysis is necessary,” he added.

Assad reiterated the Syrian stance that no chemical attack ever took place in Idlib.

He acknowledged that the Syrian government carried out airstrikes against Syrian Al-Qaeda branch, the Nusra Front terrorists, in Khan Shaykhun on April 4, but stressed that no chemical weapons were used.

The president pointed out that all the information about the Idlib incident the world currently has originates from the White Helmets group, which he called “humanitarian Al Qaeda,” that has a rich history of making fakes.

“Their story said that the attack happened at 6:00, 6:30 in the morning. We didn’t launch any attack at that time,” he said, adding that the Syrian planes bombed Khan Shaykhun at around noon.

“We believe it was a false flag for one reason and a simple reason: if there was gas leakage or attack, and you’re talking about 60 dead in that city, how could the city continue its life normally? They didn’t evacuate the city. No-one left the city, life continued as normal,” which would be impossible if weapons of mass destruction were used, Assad said.

According to the Syrian President, the US strike on Shayrat proved that their own claims of the airbase being the source of the chemicals were wrong.

“They attacked Shayrat where they said there was the gas depots, and they attacked all the depots, and there was no gas coming out of that airport. No-one of our army officers or military staff, was affected by any gas,” he said.

READ MORE: Idlib ‘chemical attack’ was false flag to set Assad up, more may come – Putin

“So, for us, there was no gas attack and no gas depot, it was a false flag play just to justify the attack on the Shayrat base.