All posts by Algora Blog

April-16-17 – We Just Survived World War III

Here we have it. First, The Donald’s tough talk – “I’m crazy. I can start WW 3. I fear nothing!”

The tough talk is immediately followed by weak facts as we have a fake gas attack, all staged, like on a movie set.

Then we have a fake Tomahawk attack where 60% of the missiles disappeared and “nobody knows where.” The Russians are saying that they were not within their reach; the Syrians are mum; and the US declares it was a complete success, a wipe-out strike, without accounting for anything on their side. No signs of damage on the Syrian side, either, although the US claims to have inflicted a devastating blow to “the Syrian regime” (20% of Assad’s air force, which would be something like 100 planes, and the air base “disabled forever,” and so on).

Now comes the second act in this Kabuki theater: the Tough Donald takes on North Korea.

First we have 600,000 people evacuated from Pyongyang and preparations for a “major event,” then all the foreign journalists are summoned, just to announce a street opening.

Then we have the gathering of the entire military leadership and dozens and dozens of Korean submarine-launched missiles, ICBM missiles, medium-range missiles, all within a one-mile radius brought together in the center of Pyongyang creating an open invitation for an all-out American bulls-eye strike. One would expect a Mother Of All Bombs to wipe out the entire military leadership and at least 20% of their toys, as in Syria.

But the devastating blow came later, not with a Boom but the Hiss of a deflating balloon — in this case, a failed launch of a Korean missile. Was it the launch of a state-of-the-art ICBM? No, just a routine medium range, maybe even short-range missile. Maybe no range at all.

So now McMaster, and all the other masters of the US full-spectrum dominance, supposedly took out a toy missile. The mountain gave birth to a mouse.

Maybe it was the overwhelming concentration of forces by the “full spectrum dominant” force, their satellites, aircraft carriers, submarines, THAAD, cyber/electronic warfare, all brought together to stop this missile in its flight. But maybe, also, the Korean Boy who runs the fearless Korean war machine set up a prank, maybe together with the Chinese (maybe agreed at the famous chocolate-cake war room conference at Mar-a-Lago), so that they had a launch and self-destroyed it instantly.

Now everybody can go home and have their Easter eggs. Oof, we avoided World War III! Or, maybe we that was it, we just had it. Who knows?

But we all survived, and now the Donald has had himself awarded the title of a war president, and he can now negotiate with the Chinese and the Russians – from a position of strength . . . the demise of the United States.

Happy Spring to a new world.

April-12-17 – U.S. Intelligence Source: Syria Chemical Weapons Attack Launched From Saudi Base

Trump Withholds Syria-Sarin Evidence

April 12, 2017

Exclusive: Despite President Trump’s well-known trouble with the truth, his White House now says “trust us” on its Syrian-sarin charges while withholding the proof that it claims to have, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

After making the provocative and dangerous charge that Russia is covering up Syria’s use of chemical weapons, the Trump administration withheld key evidence to support its core charge that a Syrian warplane dropped sarin on a northern Syrian town on April 4.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis welcomes Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman to the Pentagon, March 16, 2017. (DoD photo by Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

A four-page white paper, prepared by President Trump’s National Security Council staff and released by the White House on Tuesday, claimed that U.S. intelligence has proof that the plane carrying the sarin gas left from the Syrian military airfield that Trump ordered hit by Tomahawk missiles on April 6.

The paper asserted that “we have signals intelligence and geospatial intelligence,” but then added that “we cannot publicly release all available intelligence on this attack due to the need to protect sources and methods.”

I’m told that the key evidence was satellite surveillance of the area, a body of material that U.S. intelligence analysts were reviewing late last week even after the Trump-ordered bombardment of 59 Tomahawk missiles that, according to Syrian media reports, killed seven or eight Syrian soldiers and nine civilians, including four children.

Yet, it is unclear why releasing these overhead videos would be so detrimental to “sources and methods” since everyone knows the U.S. has this capability and the issue at hand – if it gets further out of hand – could lead to a nuclear confrontation with Russia.

In similarly tense situations in the past, U.S. Presidents have released sensitive intelligence to buttress U.S. government assertions, including John F. Kennedy’s disclosure of U-2 spy flights in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and Ronald Reagan revealing electronic intercepts after the Soviet shoot-down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 in 1983.

Yet, in this current case, as U.S.-Russian relations spiral downward into what is potentially an extermination event for the human species, Trump’s White House insists that the world must trust it despite its record of consistently misstating facts.

In the case of the April 4 chemical-weapons incident in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, which reportedly killed scores of people including young children, I was told that initially the U.S. analysts couldn’t see any warplanes over the area in Idlib province at the suspected time of the poison gas attack but later they detected a drone that they thought might have delivered the bomb.

A Drone Mystery

According to a source, the analysts struggled to identify whose drone it was and where it originated. Despite some technical difficulties in tracing its flight path, analysts eventually came to believe that the flight was launched in Jordan from a Saudi-Israeli special operations base for supporting Syrian rebels, the source said, adding that the suspected reason for the poison gas was to create an incident that would reverse the Trump administration’s announcement in late March that it was no longer seeking the removal of President Bashar al-Assad.

President Trump at a news conference with Jordan’s King Abdullah II on April 5, 2017, at which the President commented on the crisis in Syria. (Screen shot from whitehouse.gov)

If indeed that was the motive — and if the source’s information is correct — the operation would have been successful, since the Trump administration has now reversed itself and is pressing Russia to join in ousting Assad who is getting blamed for the latest chemical-weapons incident.

Presumably, however, the “geospatial intelligence” cited in the four-page dossier could disprove this and other contentions if the Trump administration would only make its evidence publicly available.

The dossier stated, “Our information indicates that the chemical agent was delivered by regime Su-22 fixed-wing aircraft that took off from the regime-controlled Shayrat Airfield. These aircraft were in the vicinity of Khan Shaykhun approximately 20 minutes before reports of the chemical attack began and vacated the area shortly after the attack.”

So, that would mean – assuming that the dossier is correct – that U.S. intelligence analysts were able to trace the delivery of the poison gas to Assad’s aircraft and to the airfield that Trump ordered attacked on April 6.

Still, it remains a mystery why this intelligence assessment is not coming directly from President Trump’s intelligence chiefs as is normally the case, either with an official Intelligence Estimate or a report issued by the Director of National Intelligence.

The photograph released by the White House of President Trump meeting with his advisers at his estate in Mar-a-Lago on April 6, 2017, regarding his decision to launch missile strikes against Syria.

The White House photo released late last week showing the President and a dozen senior advisers monitoring the April 6 missile strike from a room at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida was noteworthy in that neither CIA Director Mike Pompeo nor Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was in the frame.

Now, it is the White House that has released the four-page dossier supposedly summing up the assessment of the “intelligence community.”

An Argumentative Dossier

The dossier also seems argumentative in that it assumes that Russian officials – and presumably others – who have suggested different possible explanations for the incident at Khan Sheikdoun did so in a willful cover-up, when any normal investigation seeks to evaluate different scenarios before settling on one.

It is common amid the “fog of war” for people outside the line of command – and even sometimes inside the line of command – to not understand what happened and to struggle for an explanation.

On April 6, before Trump’s missile strike, I and others received word from U.S. military intelligence officials in the Middle East that they, too, shared the belief that the poison gas may have resulted from a conventional bombing raid that ruptured containers stored by the rebels, who – in Idlib province – are dominated by Al Qaeda’s affiliate and its allies.

Those reports were cited by former U.S. intelligence officials, including more than two dozen who produced a memo to President Trump urging him to undertake a careful investigation of the incident before letting this crisis exacerbate U.S.-Russia relations.

The memo said “our U.S. Army contacts in the area” were disputing the official story of a chemical weapons attack. “Instead, a Syrian aircraft bombed an al-Qaeda-in-Syria ammunition depot that turned out to be full of noxious chemicals and a strong wind blew the chemical-laden cloud over a nearby village where many consequently died,” the memo said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addressing the audience at a concert for Palmyra, Syria, via a satellite link on May 5, 2016, after the ancient city was liberated from the Islamic State. (Image from RT’s live-streaming of the event)

In other words, to suggest possible alternative scenarios is not evidence of a “cover-up,” even if the theories are later shown to be erroneous. It is the normal process of sorting through often conflicting initial reports.

Even in the four-page dossier, Trump’s NSC officials contradicted what other U.S. government sources have told The New York Times and other mainstream news outlets about the Syrian government’s supposed motive for launching the chemical-weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun.

According to the earlier accounts, the Syrian government either was trying to terrorize the population in a remote rebel-controlled area or was celebrating its impunity after the Trump administration had announced that it was no longer seeking Assad’s removal.

But the dossier said, “We assess that Damascus launched this chemical attack in response to an opposition offensive in northern Hamah Province that threatened key infrastructure.” Although Khan Sheikhoun was not near the fighting, the dossier presented the town as an area of support for the offensive.

Assuming this assessment is correct, does that mean that the earlier explanations were part of a cover-up or a propaganda operation? The reality is that in such complex situations, the analyses should continue to be refined as more information becomes available. It should not be assumed that every false lead or discarded theory is proof of a “cover-up,” yet that is what we see here.

“The Syrian regime and its primary backer, Russia, have sought to confuse the world community about who is responsible for using chemical weapons against the Syrian people in this and earlier attacks,” the dossier declared.

But the larger point is that – given President Trump’s spotty record for getting facts straight – he and his administration should go the extra mile in presenting irrefutable evidence to support its assessments, not simply insisting that the world must “trust us.”

[In a separate analysis of the four-page dossier, Theodore Postol, a national security specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, concluded that the White House claims were clearly bogus, writing:

“I have reviewed the document carefully, and I believe it can be shown, without doubt, that the document does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria at roughly 6 to 7 a.m. on April 4, 2017.

“In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document points to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of April 4. This conclusion is based on an assumption made by the White House when it cited the source of the sarin release and the photographs of that source. My own assessment, is that the source was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House.”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

April-12-17 – U.S. Intelligence Source: Syria Chemical Weapons Attack Launched From Saudi Base

Award winning journalist Robert Parry says incident was likely a false flag

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
April 12, 2017

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Award-winning Iran-Contra journalist Robert Parry says the chemical weapons attack in Syria was launched from a joint Saudi-Israeli special operations base in Jordan, according to his intelligence sources.

U.S. intelligence analysts determined that a drone was responsible for the attack and “eventually came to believe that the flight was launched in Jordan from a Saudi-Israeli special operations base for supporting Syrian rebels,” according to the source.

“The suspected reason for the poison gas was to create an incident that would reverse the Trump administration’s announcement in late March that it was no longer seeking the removal of President Bashar al-Assad,” writes Parry.

As we highlighted back in 2013 after another chemical weapons attack in Ghouta that was blamed on Assad, rebels freely admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they had been given the weapons by Saudi Arabia but had “handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions.”

Parry’s background lends the information credibility. He covered the Iran-Contra scandal for the Associated Press and Newsweek and was later given a George Polk award for his work on intelligence matters.

The contention that the incident was a “false flag” to create a justification for air strikes has also been voiced by former Congressman Ron Paul as well as numerous other prominent voices, including Vladimir Putinhimself, who went on to warn that rebels could now stage a similar incident in Damascus to goad the U.S. into toppling Assad.

Whoever was responsible for the attack does not take away from the horror of the event and the fact that innocent people and children died.

Parry dismissed the four page report released by President Trump’s National Security Council that blames the Syrian government for the chemical attack as being heavy on assertions but lacking actual evidence.

The white paper states, “we cannot publicly release all available intelligence on this attack due to the need to protect sources and methods,” although as Parry points out, “In similarly tense situations in the past, U.S. Presidents have released sensitive intelligence to buttress U.S. government assertions, including John F. Kennedy’s disclosure of U-2 spy flights in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and Ronald Reagan revealing electronic intercepts after the Soviet shoot-down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 in 1983.”

Parry challenged the Trump administration to make its evidence publicly available, while also questioning why both CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats were not show in a photo released by the White House which shows the President and a dozen of his senior advisers monitoring the April 6 missile strike from a room at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

“Given President Trump’s spotty record for getting facts straight – he and his administration should go the extra mile in presenting irrefutable evidence to support its assessments, not simply insisting that the world must “trust us,” concludes Parry.

Sent from my iPad

April-9-17 – Tillerson Will Not Be Meeting with Putin

Rossiyskiy Dialog April 9, 2017, 16:42

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will not fly to Moscow this Tuesday, April 11, to meet with President Vladimir Putin, despite the fact that just yesterday it was understood that Washington wants to persuade Russia to stop supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The meeting between Putin and Tillerson has been cancelled, as Steve Herman, head of Voice of America in the White House, made public Sunday afternoon, April 9.

According to Herman, the private talks with Putin scheduled for April 11–12 disappeared from his working schedule less than two days beforehand. The reasons for this cancellation have not been made clear.

[Earlier today, CBS News was still broadcasting that “Ahead of Moscow visit, Tillerson blames Russia’s ‘failure’ in Syria for killings.” At the same time, Stratfor reports that the “meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin has been removed from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s schedule…” but that, “Regardless, Tillerson will continue discussions on Syria in person in Moscow on April 11-12.” ]

The American media reports that Tillerson is allegedly flying to Moscow with evidence that Damascus organized the chemical attack on Idlib on April 4, and with a demand that the Kremlin desist from further supporting the legitimate authority in Syria.

As previously reported by "Russian Dialogue," Tillerson has accused Russia of ignoring its obligations to dispose of chemical weapons in Syria, charging Moscow with responsibility for their possible presence in Damascus.

April-9-17 – Dacian Cioloş Should Defend Romania’s Interests, Not the Lords of Brussels

President of the Romanian Senate Calin Popescu-Tariceanu called for Dacian Cioloş to "defend Romania’s interests, not those of the bigwigs in Brussels." He says the former premier is in the service of a faction that feels Romania “should be content with the status of a colony within the EU."

"I’ve been quite surprised by the criticism coming lately from the technocrat Dacian Cioloş, former premier, and I think it’s worth a response. Not a personal response, because I don’t want to ascribe to Mr. Cioloş a greater importance than he merits. Dacian Cioloş speaks for a faction in Romanian politics that says Romania should content itself with the role of a colonial state within the European Union. We have politicians going around Europe with the same mindset of 250 years ago when the Phanariot rulers approached the Sublime Porte [seat of the Ottoman government] with the attitude, ‘better to bow your head than wind up dead.’ There are politicians out there who present it like a great victory for Romanians that the notion of a ‘multi-speed Europe’ has been replaced with a Europe ‘at different paces and intensity.’ It’s like the saying, ‘Still the same Mary, but in a different hat,’ Tariceanu wrote Saturday evening on Facebook.

He maintains that EU decisions are taken after "hard negotiations" in which each state has a responsibility to work "vigorously" to protect its own interests.

"Probably, some of these people think it’s better to be a slave with a generous master than to stand on one’s own feet. Others have gotten used to their luxurious lives as high-status functionaries with the same salary as the CEO of a private company, without even having to worry about getting in trouble with your employer. Whatever their motive, one thing is clear as daylight: all these politicians know that MCV is a political mechanism, and that decisions that have to do with Romania, like all the other second-tier Member States, are not automatically taken in accordance with European principles but have to be negotiated on the basis of economic or political interests. Even Dacian Cioloş says as much in a statement he sent in reference to discussions he’s had with other European leaders about postponing the country’s admission to the Schengen area. To use an expression that President Iohannis is fond of: that’s the elephant in the room, that everybody knows about. In the EU, decisions are made following tough negotiations in which each state has to act vigorously to protect its interests. “If you don’t do that, you’re going to lose.”

The Senate President gives Poland as a model negotiator and pleads in favor of a one-speed European Union.

"This is a fact that states like Poland understand, but people like Prime Minister Dacian Cioloş do not apply it. They still believe in the logic whereby, if in the final negotiations they offer a several-billion-euro contract to a Dutch company to build ships, without putting it out to bid, they will gain the goodwill of the Netherlands. Posing as convinced Europeans, they say all this to me, who was Prime Minister at the time we joined the European Union. I believe in the European Union, but a single-speed European Union, not one with ‘colonies’ and ‘great powers,’ not a Europe with ‘first-tier citizens’ and ‘second-tier citizens.’ I believe such a European Union can be achieved, in which Romania will be a strong state, possibly even the seventh largest economic power in Europe, as befits the size of its territory and population. This is one of my objectives in traveling Monday to Brussels, where I am going to meet with Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and with Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Justice," said Tariceanu.

According to him, Romania must uphold its "interests" in Brussels.

"This EU, which I think every Romanian wants, can be achieved only if we uphold our interests in Brussels and do not accept the status of a servant. Politicians like Dacian Cioloş want to sell an illusion to those few Romanians who still believe him. The illusion that if we behave ourselves and don’t bother anyone, we will get what we deserve. The illusion that if we keep still while our rights and freedoms are infringed, we will be counted among “the good guys.” The illusion that if we applaud every decision made by today’s leaders in Brussels, we will be given a front-row seat. But if there is a lesson to be learned from Romanian history, it’s this: when we were other people’s servants, we were weaker and lived poorly. When we dared to look up from the ground, we were stronger. I hope that Dacian Cioloş and the other politicians like him will find this courage. Whether they do or not, I, together with ALDE and our partners in government, will continue to work to gain a stronger position for Romania in the EU,” said Tariceanu.

Agerpres / (Author: Livia Popescu, editor: Nona Jalbă, online editor Anda Badea. Translated by Alice Decker.)

April-7-17 – Trump’s Attack in Syria

My reading of the attack is that it is a highly choreographed non-attack, fake news attack.

Not real. Having the Chinese President at his side, and hitting empty fields, Trump (and Putin) prevents a real attack and might even set the stage for a backlash against possible false flag attacks.

Not real.

Don’t kid yourselves, Trump is bluffing. All he can do and all he is doing is hard bargaining the “controlled demolition” of the US. He might get an extra 10 years from Xi. But the writing is on the wall and has been for some time.

Can you imagine Trump notified the Russians in advance: “herefrom these two little ships we will volley our cruise missiles, just over your heads, you can see them with naked eye”. And the Russians were “defeated”, just like that. This a war-story for children.

Nothing is real in this episode.

5-March-17 – They Planned and He Plans

Source: Katehon.com
Source: Katehon.com

06.03.2017

USA

Nader Talebzadeh

The American enlightenment has started. The dormancy of over three decades, and the miseries that the United States has put dozens of nations through, have begun to cease. The torment that the Vietnamese went through and the innocent lives that perished under US drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan are beginning to find their answers. But not on International tribunals or world system of justice. No. In people’s conscious, the great divide in the American population is the first sure sign of a change to come.

Ever since the unwelcome appearance of Donald Trump on the US governmental scene, the first president not to be placed in place by the deep state, the inquisition over what is going on has begun. Americans more than ever are perplexed about their future. Their past is vague and no matter how hard they peer into the rear view mirror, it doesn’t make sense.

9/11 doesn’t make sense.

The occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan doesn’t make sense.

The admittance to not finding any WMDs in Iraq and yet occupying it, doesn’t make sense.

To kill 500, 000 children and say it was worth the kill by the administrators doesn’t make sense.

The cover-up for 9/11 doesn’t make sense.

To start a global war on terror and not explain how 9/11 occurred, or how a third building collapsed nine hours later, doesn’t make sense.

Obama’s sudden appearance on the scene, doesn’t make sense.

The hundreds of books and articles that question the mechanism of the selection of Obama and never discussing them on the mainstream media, doesn’t make sense.

Obama placed in that position by the establishment, the deep state as they said, doesn’t make sense.

The blanked out middle-class of America, still pondering what happened, doesn’t make sense.

The fact that they lost their jobs beginning three decades ago, and having had to let go of their comfortable insured life working in an American factory, doesn’t make sense.

The abandoned factories and grand industries that once made America great, lying obsolete and deserted, doesn’t make sense.

Half of Detroit abandoned and deserted, doesn’t make sense.

The media cheering on its hallucinatory concussions all throughout these disasters, doesn’t make sense.

The PTSDed war veterans and the official suicide rates of US soldiers on and off duty, go undetected and barely seen in the rear view mirror of the media, never make sense.

All the common man sees today is one man attacked by the same mass media that pushed them into the illegal wars and illegitimate debts from zero to 20 trillion by some estimates ( between 1979-2017) . Zero in 1979 and almost 20 trillion in 2017.

But the “buck stops here” as President Eisenhower once famously said. The heavy train loaded with old rusted debris is coming to a screeching halt. Meanwhile the curious are looking wide-eyed. NATO doesn’t know where it really stands. The think tanks of Washington – the hub of all mesmerizing strategies – are vacant or their curtains half drawn. The neocons are contemplating plan B. The Israeli “firsters” are caught off guard. They are planning ahead of time desperately. But whose ears do they have this time?! A man who calls the weapons of the think tanks, the mainstream media, “liars “, “fake news”!?

Once the invisible sword, the likes of New York Times and CNN are today exposed and blunted. Who dared call CNN “liars”?! CNN engaged America meticulously into two “fake” wars and indebted the United states and never got any blame. It was almost scripted and storyboarded like a Hollywood movie. Now, it is still loose, with acrobatic skills evading all detection like a skilled serial killer breathing in our civilized world.

Now the eye- opening process has begun. Watch out for the six-packers and their evaporated illusions! You have finally awaken the slumbering slave of America, and awakened they are Alas! All empires go through these stages. The awkward moments must be tolerated i.e. the president without a cabinet, the supporters with semi-automatic weapons guarding his speeches in Georgia and Florida. The anti-Semitic accusations that are being discussed in the morning regular sessions on CNN. The angry obliterated Alan Dershowitz who is nervously accusing CNN’s moderator Don Lemon, of giving the anti-Semites their fifteen- minute moment of fame. The fear that it will catch fire on the colleges and universities.

The masquerade however is over. The Paul Wolfowitzs, the Richard Perles, the Daniel Pipes have to face the masses. The not- so – innocent masses that succumbed to the beast’s demands also wait. The confrontation lingers silently. No one even knows these people as Thomas Friedman of the New York Times once famously said in his interviews with the Haaretz. 25 neocons have planned and executed what has happened in the past two and a half decades.

The wakeup call has rung, the moment of illusion has disappeared. The apparent, sudden sun is beginning to shine gloriously, one ray at a time. Wash your face and watch the unfolding.

Sent from my iPad

5-March-17 – Putin ramps up Syria pact with Iran in US absence

Putin ramps up Syria pact with Iran in US absence

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis March 5, 2017, 6:30 PM (GMT+02:00)
Russian Special Ops Forces retake Palmyra


Constantly bombarded by allegations that his campaign associated with Russian intelligence, US President Donald Trump has held back from going through with his original plan for teaming up with Moscow in Syria for the important campaigns of wiping out the Islamic State and relieving Syria of Iran’s iron grip.

His entire Middle East policy is up in the air, while he grapples with domestic foes. The much talked-of US coalition with its regional allies, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel, is also in abeyance.

Amid the uncertainty about the Trump administration’s future steps, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is unlikely to make much headway in his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday, March 9,
debkafile’s intelligence and military sources report that, even if does persuade Putin to stick to his promise to prevent Iran and Hizballah from deploying troops on the Syrian-Israeli border opposite the Golan, he won’t get far in his bid to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military and naval presence in Syria.

This is the situation stacking up against Netanyahu:

1. The Trump administration has decided not to decide on Middle East policy – and Syria, in particular – while engaged in dodging his domestic enemies’ Russian arrows.

2. Some of the president’s advisers maintain that the state of indecision in Washington may turn out into an advantage. It might not be a bad thing for Moscow to carry the heavy lifting of tackling ISIS, Iran and Hizballah, rather than putting US troops in harm’s way.

3. Putin is not waiting for Trump and is already on the move, debkafile’s sources report.

Friday, March 3, Russian special operations units recovered the Syrian town of Palmyra from the Islamic State.
That day too, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), composed predominantly of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and Arab tribesmen from the north, agreed to hand over their positions in the strategic town of Manjib to the Russians and the Syrian army,
The SDF was created, trained, armed and funded by the United States as the potential spearhead force for the offensive against the Islamic State. This force was able to last year to capture the small (pop: 50,000) northern town of Manjib, 30km west of the Euphrates, thanks only to US aerial bombardments of ISIS positions and American advisers.
How come that this important US ally suddenly surrendered its positions to the Russians and Assad’s army?

There is more than one reason. Firstly, the SDF’s Kurdish and Arab commanders apparently decided to give up on waiting for Washington to come round, especially since the only weapons they had received from the Obama administration for fighting ISIS were Kalashnikov AK-74 rifles.
Moreover, the Kurds’ most implacable arch enemy is breathing down their necks. On March 1, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan threatened to order his army, which has occupied northern Syria since last year, to seize Manjib. He said: “Manjib is a city that belongs to the Arabs and the SDF must not be in Raqqa either.”

The Kurdish-Arab force decided to take the Turkish leader at his word. Believing him to be close to Trump, its leaders decided their services were being dispensed with. They saw no point therefore in wasting and risking their troops in battles in the US interest. In this situation, Moscow looked like a better bet.

debkafile’s military sources stress that, when the Russians say they are working with the Syrian army, they really mean the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the pro-Iranian Shiite militias and Hizballah, because most Syrian army’s units were decimated by nearly six years of civil war, or exist only on paper.

That being so, even if Putin does promise Netanyahu to distance Iranian and pro-Iranian troops from the Syrian-Israeli border, he may not be in a position to honor his pledge. With the Americans far away, they are Russia’s main partners on the ground for achieving his future goals in Syria.

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19-Feb-17 – Can America reverse its decline?

It’s about Trump. It’s about America. And it’s about America’s role in the world.

Can Trump make it? Can America recover? In an ideal world, what would the magic solution be for America’s revival? As it is, America is just chugging along, at over $1 trillion in Federal debt alone, per year, plus state and local debt, and consumer loans such as mortgages, student loans, car loans and credit cards. At an average of 1.5% economic growth per year, for the last eight years[1], (as opposed to the average post WWII of 2.9%) while the population alone has been growing at 0.8%, this is actually, close to negative growth and it is self-destructive. But when the debt growth is added, it is negative both in relative and absolute terms.

Another ten years of this, and there is nothing left of the US. So again, in an ideal world, what would the magic solution be?

Besides cutting down on the over-extended military reach, and the corporate welfare (including the wastefully comprador health industry, 20 percent of the GDP), what would be the engine of growth?

Trump is proposing $1 trillion spending on infrastructure, such as highways, airports and bridges. But how would that be an engine of economic growth?

When a city’s port is too small to handle the traffic of the growing economic activity, spending on doubling the port capacity does represent a capital investment which is part of the government/business expansion. But building a beautiful boulevard in the middle of the city is a luxury, and it only offers an enhanced lifestyle. More highways, more fast trains, by themselves, cannot generate more productive forces.

If we look at the old book of the Soviet regeneration after the First World War, the programmatic manifesto, which was the basis of their economic revival, was the Leninist call to develop “the heavy industry with the machine-building industry as its pivot.” In the industrial age, “heavy industry” meant steel production and its derivatives, while the machine-building industry meant tool factories. 

Industrial England was the model where the ultimate productive branch of the economy, let’s say, the textile industry, or nail making factories, were premised on the condition of having textile machinery at hand, which presupposes a textile machine fabrication, which presumes an iron- and steel-making industry, Which is also conditioned on having a mining industry to produce the raw material for all of this, which was iron, coal, etc.

So the shortcut for a country like Russia or China was to start with the primordial industry: the extraction/mining industry which included oil and gas, and, for decades, pumping resources into the upstream industrial development.

If we look at today’s situation, what are the equivalents? What is the industry of the future that can build an economic powerhouse? Probably it is the robot industry. So where do you start with the robot industry? Definitely not with highways and infrastructure; but with the same paradigm: energy resources (that is extraction/mining, oil and gas industries), the heavy industry (such as steel, pipe-making industry, in the words of Trump), and the machine-building industry. One then needs qualified engineers and technicians.

Now, look at the US education system today. The only engineers that the US has are imported from India, China, Russia, etc. Where are the indigenous technicians? They are all getting Bachelor’s in business (19%), health (10%), social sciences (9%), etc. Master’s: MBA’s (25%), education (21%), health (13%). Doctorate  degrees: health (39%), legal (25%), education (6%), engineering (5%), biology (5%), psychology (4%), physical sciences (3%) [2].[3]

So, what are the chances of President Trump putting all this together? So far, his emphasis seems to be on the generals, law and order, and the “fake news media” epidemic – which is all to the good, at least as far as a wake-up call and a minimal re-establishment of the framework for going forward with a new plan, but it’s nowhere near to affecting the deep roots of the US malaise and its path to recovery.

Where are the builders of the future industry and of the new economy? I don’t see them as of yet.

[1] https://hudson.org/research/12714-economic-growth-by-president

[2] Of the 1,870,000 bachelor’s degrees conferred in 2013–14, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of business (358,000), health professions and related programs (199,000), social sciences and history (173,000), psychology (117,000), biological and biomedical sciences (105,000), and education (99,000).

At the master’s degree level, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of business (189,000), education (155,000), and health professions and related programs (97,000).

At the doctor’s degree level, the greatest numbers of degrees were conferred in the fields of health professions and related programs (67,400), legal professions and studies (44,200), education (10,900), engineering (10,000), biological and biomedical sciences (8,300), psychology (6,600), and physical sciences and science technologies (5,800). https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=37.

[3] Between academic years 2002–03 and 2012–13, the total number of postsecondary degrees conferred increased at all degree levels: certificates by 49 percent (from 646,000 to 966,000), associate’s degrees by 59 percent (from 634,000 to 1.0 million), bachelor’s degrees by 36 percent (from 1.3 million to 1.8 million), master’s degrees by 45 percent (from 519,000 to 752,000), and doctor’s degrees by 44 percent (from 122,000 to 175,000). Reflecting the overall increase in the number of postsecondary degrees conferred at each level, the number of postsecondary degrees conferred also increased for all racial/ethnic groups at each level between 2002–03 and 2012–13. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=72.

19-Feb-17 – “Romania: from a “Two-Tiered Europe” to a Europe of the Double Bind”

By Modeste Schwartz.

via Visegradpost

Romania – Not only does Brussels act as a colonial despot toward all second-tier EU countries (or, even worse, considering that France, to take but one example, at least endowed its African colonies with infrastructure, whereas in Romania passenger trains currently run a bit more slowly than they did during the Austro-Hungarian era …), but, especially since the British referee walked off the pitch, a referee who, at times, succeeded in bringing a minimum of common sense to the Franco-German bargaining table, it has begun to look like a chip off the old block of its illustrious predecessor – the Austro-Hungarian empire.

To the question “what is a European”, after Brexit, we can reply by parodying Musil’s famous line: “it is a German, plus a Frenchman, minus the Frenchman”. Not only are the divergences of interest of this two-headed monster forbidding any long-term strategy, they even begin to affect its tactical effectiveness.

For example, in Romania, the Reich-Chancellor Merkel, through her official and unofficial representatives, supports the (nominally) National (and nominally) Liberal Party of president Klaus Johannis, which, alongside the Soros organizations and the secret services formerly controlled by Washington (fatherless since last December), strives, in defiance of both the popular vote and the constitution, to bring down the social democratic (PSD) government of S. Grindeanu, “guilty” (with the “complicity” of previous PSD governments) of having increased the minimum wage nearly two-fold (to the staggering sum of 300 €), without respect for the profits of the (chiefly German-owned) manufacturing sector, profits which up until now have been more than twice the European average.

In July of last year, this same Johannis, conscious of having (in spite of being of ethnic minority stock) a partly nationalist (although also Westernist and Russophobic) electorate, and some support from the ranks of local capitalists, ratified a law proposed by a provincial PSD official, aiming to impose a quota of local products to supermarkets, immediately arousing the ire of the large (mostly French-owned) supermarket chains operating within Romania. The commercial lobby in Brussels has taken up the matter, apparently convinced that a commercial oligopoly is better able to protect the “freedom of the Romanian consumer” (sic) than the government elected by this same consumer. As a result, the European Commission has just announced the initiation of an infringement procedure against Romania (and Hungary it should be noted, which has adopted similar laws). Romania therefore faces a fine of 1.8 million euros (plus 130,000 € / day of delay in compliance), for wanting to privilege the local producers so loudly praised in Western Europe by environmentalist movements, movements which tend to also be very vocal Europhiles (to the extent that some have even incorporated this profession of faith into the name of their respective political parties …).

And Brussels, under pressure from a lobby representing mainly French capital (hugely favored by the Keynesian stimulus policies planned by the Grindeanu government), is preparing to sanction a “protectionist” decision of the Johannis presidency, while Berlin is currently encouraging Johannis to depose the very same Grindeanu government, guilty of implementing … these very same stimulus policies. I can hardly wait to watch the wrestling bouts between EU commissioners, on the model of the Ukrainian Rada.

Having said that, let’s look at the bright side: according to my sources, for the time being, J. Cl. Junker has no intention of having his horse seated at the European Parliament. He would be too afraid of his horse being stolen.