All posts by Algora Blog

16-Feb-17 – Obama Expanded NSA Powers Days Before Leaving Office, Now They’re Being Used to Sabotage Trump

By Chris Menahan

Information Liberation [1]
February 16, 2017

After President Trump won the election, Obama quietly expanded the NSA’s ability to spy on innocent Americans just days before leaving office.

Seeing as how the deep state, which includes the NSA and FBI, appear to be leaking all of Trump’s private phone calls with foreign leaders and took down General Michael Flynn by spying on his calls and leaking them to their friends in The Washington Post and The New York Times, the story is being looked at in a completely new light.

As the The New York Times reported on January 12th [2]:

In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.

The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.

Trump questioned whether the NSA and FBI were behind a multitude of leaks handed to the New York Times and Washington Post.

The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch signed the new rules, permitting the N.S.A. to disseminate “raw signals intelligence information,” on Jan. 3, after the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., signed them on Dec. 15, according to a 23-page, largely declassified copy of the procedures.

These are Obama loyalists who reports suggest may have worked to sabotage Trump by ousting Flynn in order to preserve Obama’s Iran deal [3].

Previously, the N.S.A. filtered information before sharing intercepted communications with another agency, like the C.I.A. or the intelligence branches of the F.B.I. and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The N.S.A.’s analysts passed on only information they deemed pertinent, screening out the identities of innocent people and irrelevant personal information.

Now, other intelligence agencies will be able to search directly through raw repositories of communications intercepted by the N.S.A. and then apply such rules for “minimizing” privacy intrusions.

“This is not expanding the substantive ability of law enforcement to get access to signals intelligence,” said Robert S. Litt, the general counsel to Mr. Clapper. “It is simply widening the aperture for a larger number of analysts, who will be bound by the existing rules.”

But Patrick Toomey, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, called the move an erosion of rules intended to protect the privacy of Americans when their messages are caught by the N.S.A.’s powerful global collection methods. He noted that domestic internet data was often routed or stored abroad, where it may get vacuumed up without court oversight.

“Rather than dramatically expanding government access to so much personal data, we need much stronger rules to protect the privacy of Americans,” Mr. Toomey said. “Seventeen different government agencies shouldn’t be rooting through Americans’ emails with family members, friends and colleagues, all without ever obtaining a warrant.”

Is this what happened to Flynn?

Is this why Trump’s calls with foreign leaders are being illegally leaked to the press in order to sabotage his presidency?

It sure as hell looks like that’s the case.

Remember, the point at which Donald Trump broke away from the pack and secured his victory during the primaries was when the Colorado GOP decided to deny Americans their right to vote and handed Ted Cruz all the state’s delegates, then tweeted: “We did it. #NeverTrump.”

A very similar story is now happening with the deep state’s open sabotage. Even though Americans came out in droves to elect a populist leader promising massive change, the deep state is sabotaging his presidency to prevent him from implementing the agenda his supporters voted for.

The Colorado GOP’s act of sabotage backfired spectacularly and was the turning point which secured Trump and his supporters their victory, if this deep state sabotage is exposed just the same, this too could be the turning point which sinks the establishment and secures our populist revolution..

16-Feb-17 – Trump White House Links to Neo-Nazis a Reminder of a Sordid Past

By WAYNE MADSEN |

via Strategic-Culture.org

Washington, DC has now joined Kiev as a capital city where neo-Nazis and nationalists rub shoulders with policymakers on an all-too-frequent basis. Ever since the 2014 coup in Ukraine, neo-Nazis in the mold of their «hero», World War II Ukrainian pro-Nazi nationalist Stepan Bandera, have provided the Ukrainian regime of Petro Poroshenko with crucial political support from the far right.

President Donald Trump’s «brain trust» of advisers also includes a close-knit group of far right American nationalists, some with links to a resurgent neo-Nazi movement in the Washington, DC region. These advisers include Trump’s chief political strategist Stephen Bannon; senior policy adviser Stephen Miller; deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka; and Katharine Gorka, Sebastian Gorka’s wife and a reported adviser in the Department of Homeland Security. Bannon has cobbled together an inner White House advisory consisting of far right activists known as the Strategic Initiatives Group. Sebastian Gorka, the son of anti-Communist émigré parents who fled Hungary in 1956, is the former national security editor of the right wing «Breitbart News», where Bannon served as chief editor before joining Trump’s flagging 2016 presidential campaign as the chief executive officer. Gorka proudly wears an «Order of Vitezi» medal bestowed on him by the Hungarian government. The Order of Vitezi was established in 1920 by Hungarian regent Miklos Horthy, who later became an ally of Adolf Hitler.

On the periphery of the Trump White House is the recently relocated headquarters of the National Policy Institute (NPI), a rather innocuous name for what is essentially a re-branded American Nazi Party. NPI leader Richard Spencer, an avowed white supremacist, relocated the NPI’s headquarters from his former home town of Whitefish, Montana to a townhouse in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Whitefish is a center for neo-Nazi activities. As Spencer took advantage of Trump’s election victory by pulling up stakes and moving to the Washington area, the neo-Nazis announced plans to hold a march in Whitefish to protest against «Jews, Jewish businesses, and everyone who supports either».

Although Miller is now denying it, he and Spencer were reportedly close friends while they attended Duke University in 2006 and were stalwarts of the Duke Conservative Union. Spencer, who conjured up the alt-right term used to describe far right conservatives, moved his headquarters to Alexandria because he is an avid supporter of the agenda of his old friend Miller, Bannon, and Trump. In mid-November, while Washington was still reacting to Trump’s surprise upset election, Spencer held a rally at the Ronald Reagan building for 200 supporters of the NPI who made the Nazi salute while he and the crowd shouted out, «Heil Trump, heil our people, heil victory!» Spencer railed against «the Jews» but made no mention of his close relationship with Miller, who is Jewish. However, Spencer appears to be fond of Theodore Herzl, the Zionist leader whose inspiration helped create the modern state of Israel. However, there is a precedent for such odd alliances in the history of neo-Nazi politics in the Washington area.

In the 1950s and 1960s, northern Virginia, specifically Arlington, was the home and headquarters of George Lincoln Rockwell, the enigmatic leader of the American Nazi Party. Rockwell’s parents worked in vaudeville and their best friends included Groucho Marx, Benny Goodman, Fanny Brice, Walter Winchell, Jack Benny, and George Burns, all of whom were Jewish. Benny, Marx, and Burns attended George Lincoln Rockwell’s church christening.

After serving in the Navy during the Korean War, Rockwell published U.S. Lady magazine from New York City. Among his major advertisers were all the major Jewish-owned department stores in New York, including Macy’s, Gimbel’s, Abraham & Strauss, Saks, Bergdorf-Goodman, B. Altman, and Bonwit-Teller. Ironically, Bonwit-Teller’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue was demolished in 1980 to make way for the Trump Tower.

In 1955, Rockwell moved to Arlington, Virginia. From a brick building on Jackson Street, Rockwell issued orders to his Nazi gauleiters to stage Nazi marches around the United States. Rockwell lived in a hilltop home, which locals nicknamed «Hatemonger Hill». A German shepherd, who Rockwell named «Gas Chamber», guarded the home. Phone calls to Rockwell’s home were answered by tape recorded anti-black and anti-Jewish messages by William Pierce, a Rockwell lieutenant. Pierce later founded the neo-Nazi National Alliance and National Vanguard Books. Pierce also wrote the neo-Nazi inspirational book «The Turner Diaries» under the pseudonym of Andrew Macdonald. Pierce died in 2002. However, Spencer and David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, eventually took up Pierce’s cause. During the presidential campaign, Trump claimed he never heard of Duke after the former Klan leader endorsed him. Trump’s claim was a lie, one of many the now-president would utter during the campaign trail to the White House.

Unlike Spencer, Rockwell never had a single friend or contact in the White House administrations of Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, or Lyndon Johnson. A former Nazi lieutenant assassinated Rockwell in 1967. When Rockwell and his Nazis lived in Arlington, area newspapers were reluctant to expose them and their activities for fear of retribution. Similarly, Spencer’s renting of a townhouse apartment in Alexandria, which sits above a chocolate shop, has resulted in protests from town folk but Washington area newspapers and websites have been reluctant to publish the actual address. Spencer has indicated that the townhouse, located on the second floor of 1001 King Street in Old Town, will serve as a hub for his alt-right activities. Rents in northern Virginia are extraordinarily high and it is not certain who financed Spencer’s relocation from Montana to Virginia. However, Spencer’s NPI receives financing from the Pioneer Fund, a «junk science» institute promoting eugenics that has been around since 1937 and pushes the notion of white genetic supremacy over other races. Spencer also runs a neo-Nazi publishing house called Washington Summit Publishers.

Spencer’s influence is definitely being felt in the White House. Trump’s favorite saying is the «lying press» or the «lying media». The «fake news» meme used by Trump to describe The New York Times and CNN, among others, is a derivative of the «lying media» trope. Spencer’s favorite slogan in German is «Lügenpresse», the German word used by Hitler’s Nazis for «lying press». The term was a familiar refrain in the speeches of Nazi Propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels to describe the mainstream media in Weimar Germany.

Others members of the far right who are involved with the Trump White House include Charles «Chuck» C. Johnson, who offered a bounty for anyone who could find «Satanic pedophile tunnels» beneath pizza parlors on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC. The so-called «pizzagate» story was a ridiculous hoax proffered by several unhinged right-wing conspiracy fanatics, all loyal followers of Trump. A Breitbart reporter, Julia Hahn, now works for Bannon in the White House. Hahn made her mark on Capitol Hill by attacking the conservative Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan as being too moderate.

The effect of the far right on U.S. foreign policy is hard to judge just a few weeks into the Trump presidency. However, given the past rhetoric of the propagandists inside the Trump White House regarding settling old scores with Iran, China, Cuba, Venezuela, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Palestine, it is not difficult to see the end game. Although Trump proclaims «America First», his administration is full of extremists who see an ultimate U.S. war with China, Iran, and, in the case of retrograde advisers like the Gorkas, Russia.

15-Feb-17 – Is the Two-State Solution Already Dead? A Political and Military History of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

By Hasan Afif El-Hasan

Via Algora Publishing

Born in Beit Eiba, a small village near Nablus, while Palestine was still ruled under the British Mandate, Hasan Afif El-Hasan, Ph.D, is a political analyst and journalist whose work is published in Al-Ahram, PalestineChronicle.com and other print and online media.

Dr. El-Hasan lived through the 1948 Arab–Israeli war, then the annexation of the West Bank to Jordan. He witnessed the defeat of the Arab armies, the exodus of the Palestinians, the total dissolution of their community and the ensuing chaos. The Iraqi military contingent camp was on his village’s land in 1948 but as the Iraqi commanding officer said, “We have no orders to fight.” This paradoxical situation inspired the author’s future research and writing. After completing high school in the West Bank, Mr. El-Hasan earned his teaching credentials in Nablus and taught math and science in its secondary schools. Later he came to the United States, where he earned a B.S. degree in electronics engineering and an M.S. in electrical engineering, and enjoyed a successful career in technology. He then earned a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Riverside and went on to study the origins and the context of the current conflict.

The “Palestinians” or “Palestinian Arabs” in this book are the people identifying themselves as Arabs who had been living in Palestine just before the establishment of Israel, as well as their descendants. The West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem are referred to as “the occupied land.” The Israelis call the indigenous Palestinians only “Arabs” to deny their linkage to Palestine and refer to the West Bank by its Biblical names “Judea and Samaria” to make the historical connection of the Jewish people with this land or the “disputed territory,” to deny its status as occupied land. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) estimates that there were more than nine million Palestinians scattered throughout the world as of 2006. More than one million were living in Israel proper, three and a half million lived in the West Bank and Gaza, two and a half million lived in Jordan and the rest were dispersed through the Arab world, Europe and North and South America. The American–Israel Demographic Group disputed these findings and concluded that the PCBS total numbers are inflated by one million three-hundred thousand.

I strongly argue against the concept of using ethnic origin to define nations today because every community within a geographic area is a mixture of races that came in contact through conquest, migration and intermarriages across time. This applies especially to the self-identified Arabs and Jews in Palestine. Arabs or Jews, or any race for that matter, throughout the world, cannot support their claim of being closely related genetically, by biology. Palestine was successively conquered by Canaanites, Philistinians, ancient Israelites, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Turks, by Muslims and by Christian crusaders. The groups that lived in Palestine fought, interacted and collaborated, but no group was obliterated in history. The Palestinians are the descendents of all the groups that inhabited the land since the ancient Canaanites and beyond. I therefore reject the myth of race and racial superiority including the ideology that fed the Fascism of the last century.

No population has struggled more than the Palestinians to hold onto their land or to return to the homes they were forced to leave — and achieved so little, if anything. Only the American Indian tribes and the indigenous peoples of New Zealand and Tasmania suffered similar injustice when they were systematically destroyed and ethnically cleansed to make room for British and European colonialists. The Palestinians used diplomacy, negotiations, protests, uprisings and wars but they have failed to save their lands and the refugees never returned to their homes. Even after the establishment of the State of Israel, the signing of peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and the recognition of Israel by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Israel still controls all of historic Palestine and the Palestinians, dispossessed and oppressed, are either living under brutal occupation in cantons surrounded by Jewish-only settlements and roads, check-points and the Israeli wall of separation, or they are living in refugee camps across the Middle East, and a sizable minority inside Israel is treated as second if not third class citizens.

This work condemns all violence for any reason and advocates for a just peace in Palestine based on human rights and international law, a peace which all parties to the century-old conflict and the people of the region need. To that end, the Palestinians should unite and do what is necessary to strengthen the “peace camp” in Israel; the Israelis should abandon the ideology of conquest and stop electing governments that may foreclose the possibility of peace with justice; and the international community (the US and Europe) should live up to the principles of justice that they claim their civilized societies hold dear.

Supporting the right of Israel to exist and prosper should not mean supporting it in subordinating Palestinians’ claims to their historical rights and controlling their destiny. Many Israeli individuals and groups love their country and also support the Palestinians’ right to have their independent state, but they are still in the minority. They question how their Jewish people can celebrate their ancient struggle against slavery and the anti-Semitism of today, claiming moral superiority, but at the same time accept oppressing another people, occupying and colonizing their land under false narratives. The Israeli novelist David Grossman spoke for many Israeli intellectuals and peace advocates when he wrote, “I could not understand how an entire nation like mine, an enlightened nation by all accounts, is able to train itself to live as a conqueror without making its own life wretched.”[1]

This study will put the stories of the two parties to the Palestinian conflict, the Israelis and the Palestinians, side by side and leave it to the reader to conclude why a just peace that addresses the rights of the Palestinians serves the interests of the Israelis as well. To that end, I try to present a critical political discussion based on facts that Israel cannot be simply erased, and it will prosper and be more secure without being a colonial power. And despite their weakness, the Palestinians will refuse to continue living under oppression and in refugee camps. Chapter 1 summarizes what this study is all about. It is an effort to explain the historical and ideological background of the parties to the conflict. It covers briefly major historical events since the 19th century that led to the present sorry state. Only by understanding what has transpired in the past, the reader may grasp the Palestinian issue and why it is time the international community should act with more responsibility and a commitment to resolve the conflict according to international law and justice.

Chapter 2 is a brief review of the Arab nationalism since the 19th century. The link between Arab nationalism and the Palestinian issue today is more emotions and less substance, but under Arab nationalism, regular armies of the neighboring Arab states waged wars against Israel. Palestine was ruled by the Ottoman Turks as a part of Syria for four-hundred years before Britain and France defeated Turkey in World War I (WW I). Syria was the center of Arab nationalism when the Ottoman Empire was dismantled and Palestine was promised as a homeland for the Jews by the triumphant British. Syria was home of al-Baath Party and the Syrian Socialist National Party, organized nationalist parties that advocated the establishment of national state which included Palestine. The two political parties were strong opponents to the establishment of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. President Nasser of Egypt championed the Palestinian cause as the self-proclaimed leader of the Pan-Arab nationalism. After the 1967 war, Arab nationalism has been replaced by local traditional and sectarian Islamic nationalism. But most Arabs today, even in the countries that made peace with Israel, continue to support the Palestinians and refuse to accept normalization with the Israelis before the Palestinian issue is resolved.

Chapter 3 is a brief history of the Palestinians since the dawn of the 20th century when Palestine was ruled by the Turks. It covers the pre-1948 period, the 1948 war, the PLO and Fatah history in Jordan and Lebanon and the rise of Hamas movement.

Chapter 4 is a review of Zionism and its early leaders and how it succeeded in the creation of modern Israel. The State of Israel has been the crowning achievement of the Zionist movement. Zionism has been the most successful international political movement in modern history. Its founder promised a homeland for the Jews in fifty years, and he was on target. The Jewish community in Palestine before the establishment of Israel is sometimes called the “Yishuv” in this study.

Chapter 5 is a narrative of the Hashemites’ relations with Palestine since World War I. The histories of the Hashemites and Palestine are so intertwined that they can hardly be separated. Sherif Hussein Ben Ali, the patriarch of the Hashemite dynasty, lost his kingdom for refusing to accept the Balfour declaration, and when he was on his death bed, he asked to be buried in Jerusalem. King Abdullah the First of Jordan succeeded in keeping Jerusalem and the West Bank in Arab hands after the 1948 war. And until the 1967 war, the West Bank and Jerusalem were an integral part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It was only in1988 that King Hussein Ibn Talal disclaimed his sovereignty over the occupied West Bank and recognized the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinians.

Chapter 6 describes the relationship between Egypt and Palestine since 1914. Egypt fought four bloody wars against Israel, controlled the Gaza Strip from 1948 till 1967, and now it shares Gaza’s life-line border. Jamal Abdel-Nasser championed the Palestinian cause under the banner of Arab Nationalism.

Chapter 7 reviews the development of Palestinian–Israeli relations after the 2003 Quartet “Roadmap for Peace” plan was announced. Representatives of the “Quartet,” an ad hoc American-dominated committee made up of the US, the EU, Russia, and the UN, endorsed a 2003 US-proposed schedule of conditions and events dubbed the “Roadmap” for breaking the Palestinian–Israeli impasse and paving the way to a peace settlement based on a two-state solution.

Chapter 8 reviews the politics of the Palestinians after the Legislative Council Elections of 2006 and the Hamas victory. The victors in these elections were boycotted by the West, and Israel refused to cooperate with any government headed by Hamas. The Palestinian experiment in democracy was aborted by the very countries that rightly criticize Arab states for their lack of democracy.

Chapter 9 describes the 2006 Lebanese–Israeli war and its impact on Israeli politics. The Lebanese Shiite military group Hizbullah ambushed an Israeli military patrol in a cross-border raid; Israel responded by bombarding Lebanese roads, bridges, ports and airports, as well as other targets. Hizbullah’s response was to fire hundreds of rockets on Israeli targets across the border, killing Israeli civilians including Israeli Arabs. Once it disengaged from Lebanon, the Israeli government was criticized for mismanaging the war, moved even more forcefully against the Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip which was governed by the Hamas faction and besieged by Israel.

Chapter 10 analyzes the so-called “peace process” including the 2002 Arab peace proposal and the 2007 US-sponsored Annapolis conference. The Palestinians have been clinging to the US “Roadmap” for peace and the Arab states have tried to revive the peace process, but Israel does not consider itself an occupier. Instead of withdrawing, Israel has built the separation wall and hundreds of new homes in major settlements in the West Bank.

Chapter 11, as the last chapter of the book, talks about the failure of Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to reach a final peace agreement. This study concludes that if there is any hope for establishing a sovereign Palestinian state, the Palestinians must end factionalism; the Israeli electorate political orientation must move away from the ideology of conquest; and the United States must transform its traditional Middle East policy of blind support to Israel into a genuine even-handed approach. The problem is that none of these players is ready to correct course. Chapter 11 thus reviews nonviolent options that the Palestinians may consider if the two-state solution is declared dead.

15-Feb-17 – Euro Error

The Dilemma: Prosperity Or The Single State, A Choice Must Be Made

By Prof. Jean-Jacques Rosa

via Algora Publishing

Dr. Rosa was an economic adviser to the French Prime Minister, 1997-1999. He founded the MBA program and two doctoral programs in business finance at the Inst. of Political Studies, Paris, which takes a practical and broad-based approach to the study of economic, political and social problems; he taught at Sciences Po from 1978 to 2008 and is now a Professor Emeritus.

Who among Europeans could be anti-Europe? In the entire world, the Old continent is the place where the standard of living is the highest, where the culture is the oldest and, at the same time, the richest in diversity, where the way of life is most pleasant, and where democracy is the most widespread.

But if Europeans are so happy with their continent, what kind of Europe do they want for the future? Starting with the formation of the common market at the end of the Fifties, intended to restore the free exchange of goods, services, men and capital after the wave of protectionism and isolationism of the depression years and the war, the European leadership have gone on to erecting a plan for a monetary and thus a political Europe, that of a very great and a single State.

Without that, they would have it, we would be relegated to decline and impotence and finally to obliteration. Not to want Europe unified, statist and monetarist, would be not to want Europe at all, as if the latter could admit only that one definition, only that one design; a typical example of politically correct thinking.

Actually, the European plan and consequently the future of the continent are marked by a deep ambiguity. The concept is economic and liberal when it comes to reintroducing free trade on a continent that had been given over to state intervention and protectionism for half a century: a single market and competition, in contrast to national statist intervention. Initially intended to support the United States against the Soviet threat, the European enterprise has retained a statist and military purpose, which tends to be defined as an end in itself.

It is this statist aspect that today comes into question precisely at the moment when the Soviet threat is disappearing, whereas the aspect of the market and competitive free trade has pretty much been carried out or is about to be completed. This is the moment that the European political leadership chooses to prod us down the path toward a single currency that leads logically and necessarily to the construction of a single federative or confederate State.

As long as Europe wants to preserve a political role in the world, that would appear to be a natural ambition. Of course, it does not please the Americans, who are afraid of competition in managing the planet’s affairs. But that is all the more reason to do it! And it would be so much simpler for companies and travelers to use only one currency for the whole continent.

Unfortunately, this apparent simplicity is misleading. As scientists know, complex problems always have a solution that is clear, common sense, simple . . . and false! Upon superficial examination, the diversity that generates competition, the complexity of States and currencies as well as that of companies, always seems wasteful. To manufacture one product for every consumer, be it the black Ford Model T of the beginning of the century or the unisex uniform imposed on the Chinese by Mao, has a fatal allure for the social engineer slumbering inside each one of us.

In the same way, a single State seems as though it would be more efficient, more “rational” than several, to the Platonic and Cartesian minds that populate the hierarchical and administrative organizations.

That was the “solution” of Soviet planning invented by Lenin: to manage the country as one immense enterprise. We know how that turned out. The source of the error, as Hayek explained, is that central planning atrophies the production and diffusion of information that, by contrast, competition encourages. The single hierarchy dramatically reduces society’s level of information and diminishes the quality of products as well as that of policies.

But what can we say, then, about the example of the United States? Do they not collectively prove the greater effectiveness of a great continental State able to create and multiply wealth at a rate never before achieved? Why not imitate them once again by creating the United States of Europe?

This parallel is tempting but false. Conditions at the end of the 20th century differ radically from those of the end of the 18th. When the American Federation was constituted, its population was homogeneous and very small. Creating the United States, in 1776, was rather like creating a country the size of Switzerland today. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Union hardly counted more than eight million inhabitants and it reached thirty million only on the eve of the War of Secession.

Thereafter, a small federal State was crowned with exceptional success; it became large because it was effective, it was not a State that was more effective because it was large from the outset. At the time, no one had in mind the creation of a giant by merging highly diverse nation-states. The United States represents the example of the small firm that succeeds, and thus grows, not that of the “national champion” imagined by civil servants who pride themselves in playing one of those construction games, like Lego’s. So the American adventure was and will remain the exception.

Another fundamental difference should give the eurocrats pause. For a long time the Americans did not need a single currency. And they transitioned toward a central bank at the federal level over more than a century, from 1790 until the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913.

The idea of a single currency and a Very Great State belongs in the domain of administrative Utopia. First, because it proposes to create ex nihilo a common currency for several States, which has never succeeded in the past. Then, because it requires the construction of a single State, the continental Super-State, by merging great States of very different nature, and with heterogeneous populations, which has never been seen either.

The effort appears all the more absurd since the single currency will serve practically no useful purpose. On the contrary, it will necessarily harm the national economies. What is more, the Single State would be a fundamental aberration in the general development of private and public organizations. It will be expensive, useless, and will make still more difficult the essential reform of hypertrophied national States.

The elites in power in Europe actually propose to reproduce on this continent the model of ancient China, against the very spirit of the “European miracle” which led the nation-States of this small extension of Asia to dominate the world. How indeed did Europe come so far?

Through competition and rivalry among the States, a process well described by British historian E.L. Jones1. It is the competition between rival nations that explains the unusual quality of the public services which the European populations enjoyed and which in turn determined the exceptional progress of the economy and the techniques characteristic of our continent, in modern times. This is the reverse of China, which very early on established a gigantic empire in which the State held a hierarchical monopoly on the production of low quality publicservices, which paralyzed innovation and destroyed the entrepreneurial spirit for several centuries. Tomorrow China will explode like the USSR and Yugoslavia. Europeans should avoid such a dead-end.

Hayek described the route toward servitude along which the victorious democracies were unwittingly advancing at the end of the Second World War. Today, we must avoid the dangerous slope of a decline that would affect Europe alone. The danger is no longer that of external totalitarianism, it is our own capacity for error and the soft totalitarianism of our elites.

Thus continental Europe is taking a wrong turn. The last decade of the 20th century will go down in history—for this club of old countries that count among the richest in the world—as a period of moral discouragement and economic decline.

Paradoxically, this period should have been marked by optimism and dynamism. The European nations succeeded in making a flawless economic comeback and achieved remarkable growth since the disaster of the Great Depression and the Second World War. In thirty years, between 1945 and 1975, they caught up with the standard of living and the technology of this century’s world leader, the United States. With the disappearance of the communist threat on its eastern doorstep, and the opening on a world in full process of market globalization, Europe should enjoy a time of full optimism and daring changes. The reduction of the defense effort, the normalization of the price of energy, and the triumph of the democratic market system should have resulted in abundant peace dividends. But quite to the contrary, we see moroseness and stagnation, an incapacity for reform, and aging of the structures that dominate since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Continental growth is stunted since the disinflation of the Eighties and the German reunification which was supposed, according to official speeches of the time, to bring an extraordinary dynamism to the economy beyond the Rhine as well as, by contagion, to those of all the other European partners. Instead, unemployment is now reaching levels close to those of the Thirties. The prospect of an indefinite pursuit of restrictive financial policies that choke expansion discourages those more enterprising who now choose to invest elsewhere.

Against this backdrop of deceleration and economic and social difficulties, the governments lack the courage to tackle fundamental reform of the welfare state—inordinately swollen since the last war by the easy tax receipts that readily flow during exceptional growth.

Taxes and costs are reaching the limits of what the active population can support, inflating the underground economy and contracting the job market. Investors are turning away from a continent where the cost of labor has become prohibitive compared to its productivity.

The productive basis of our societies is eroding, while the diminished growth hinders the modernization of businesses.

Having been reformed in-depth, North America, Latin America (having digested its debt crisis), Asia (the dragons, but also continental China, in spite of inevitable mishaps along the way), and Great Britain all already feel the effects of a new world dynamism; but as a result of their restrictive fiscal policies the majority of the continental European economies are just limping along.

15-Feb-17 – Dmitry Drobnitsky: Constitutional Crisis and the Specter of American Authoritarianism

Vzglyad, February 13, 2017
by Dmitry Drobnitsky
Translated by Alice Decker

What if Donald Trump really starts to act like a populist, spitting on the procedural formalities and deciding to end the constitutional crisis by addressing himself directly to the people, relying on the law enforcement agencies?

To say that Donald Trump is being criticized harshly and his policies desperately resisted is an understatement. The crux of the matter is that the mainstream media, professional politicians, lobbyists and PR people are conducting an organized persecution of the newly elected 45th president of the United States.

This is not surprising.

The master of the White House promised to make a lot of changes, and apparently he is going to fulfill his promise. The losers in the elections —the left-leaning liberals, foreign policy hawks and captains of transnational business — fear losing their influence in Washington, and so every day they are attacking the White House in an effort to create an unbearable situation for Trump.

But if Trump’s opponents would put themselves in his place for a moment, they would almost certainly realize how dangerous a game they are playing.

The Donald is not in this for the money, fame or influence. He already has all of that. He has had to radically change his life at the age of almost 70, jumping into a previously unknown field and engaging in a struggle against the entire political class and the media, which together heretofore have easily torn apart any objectionable candidate.

He won — largely due to the fact that those Americans who for too long have felt voiceless and forgotten believed in him. He awakened a social movement, which blew past all the “inevitable winners” and put him in the White House in the hope of change.

And what now?

In the current crisis, almost all the law enforcement agencies are on Trump’s side.

No president before Trump — not Andrew Jackson or Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan — having won the election, faced such defamation in the media, with such a dirty slander and such well-organized protests, with undisguised politically motivated opposition from the judiciary bureaucratic sabotage and obstruction from the congressional opposition.

And even the new president’s own party is behaving strangely, to put it mildly.

On Trump’s candidate appointees, some interim agreement has probably been achieved with the Senate majority — in every instance with difficulty, but they won the vote in the upper house of Congress. But the Republicans are giving no moral support to the new president even though they owe their party’s victory entirely to him. Worse, they behave as if moral truth is on their side and that it is they who are “allowing” him to become the head of the US executive branch.

This allowed a bipartisan group of senators led by John McCain to take the demarche of proposing a bill requiring the new president (if the law is adopted) not only to explain to Congress in advance why he wants to remove certain sanctions against Russia, but also to prove that his cooperation with Russia meets US national interests.

Yes, the “Russia Sanctions Review Act” is unlikely to be adopted (and it certainly will not overcome a veto by the White House), but such experienced senators as McCain, Graham, Rubio, Cardin, Brown and McCaskill cannot help but understand that they are attempting to limit the constitutional powers of the US president.

Similarly, the District of Seattle Court (Washington State) and the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals (located in San Francisco, California) could not fail to understand that with its decision to suspend Donald Trump’s immigration decree they are initiating a direct confrontation between the branches of power and hence, a constitutional crisis.

Here we should give some explanations.

In accordance with the US Constitution and Federal Statute 8 USC 1182 (f), the United States Congress gave the president the right to ensure national security at his discretion, to prohibit entry into the United States to any category of persons for a period which he considers necessary. That is, the court has clearly exceeded its powers.

Protecting American citizens from external threats — military, economic, or any other — has always been the prerogative of the Executive. Every time Congress, or individual states, or the courts have encroached on it, American history has seen trouble.

The most glaring example is the US Civil War. But there were other examples.

Jefferson, Adams, Jackson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and other masters of the White House were not shy in using all means to call the state governments and the courts to order. They used everything at their disposal: impeachment of judges, the threat invasion by federal troops, and even orders to arrest the servants of Themis.

Thus, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson impeached Judge Samuel Chase, Jackson ignored the ruling of Judge John Marshall, and Lincoln sent federal troops to arrest Judge Roger Taney.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt — in the 20th century! — having heard that the Supreme Court was planning to recognize certain provisions of an unconstitutional “new course,” threatened to “add to the court six new judges to castrate nine old men,” and the judicial branch found it best to quiet down.

Of course, the liberal press prefers not to discuss these examples.

Instead, over and over again they tell the story of Richard Nixon, who was forced to resign in 1974 as a result of the Watergate scandal. The media are trying to present the case from 43 years ago to make it sound as though it was the media who overthrew the White House.

Meanwhile, the security services (primarily the FBI) and Congress played a key role in Nixon’s dismissal from power, having, in the apt words of the historian Arthur Schlesinger, “came to their senses and rushed to save themselves and the Constitution.”

In the current crisis, almost all the law enforcement agencies (perhaps with the exception of the CIA) are on the side of the President.

As for the Congress, the Republican majority, however they make feel about Trump, are hardly pleased with the fact that the country is trying to set straight some of the courts located in the most liberal cities in America.

But it is not only in Congress. Conservatives across America are beginning to lose patience. The press on the right is full of unconcealed irritation at the judicial obstructionism.

Political commentator Charles Hart in the publication The Washington Times called the judges of the 9th District “legal tyrants,” while Patrick Buchanan, in his recent column, called on legislators to take advantage of Section 2 of Article 3 of the US Constitution and limit the powers of the judiciary, which, according to him, is over stepping the bounds.

Tempers are rising in the White House. And for good reason!

The media and Democratic congressmen are fabricating more and more accusations every day against presidential advisers Michael Flynn and Stephen Bannon. In addition, quite an ugly campaign has been unleashed in the press against the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump.

Protesters tried to keep Betsy DeVos, recently approved as Education Secretary, out of a public school that she was going to visit.

Meanwhile, the White House has not put a stop to the leaks, which are very unpleasant for the president, and which are probably arranged by the technical staff.

Well, two miles from the White House, at the fund named for him, Barack Obama has settled in and begun working with the NGO “Organizing for Action” with 30,000 employees who specialize in preparing mass protests.

In general, the Big Donald must feel he is surrounded by universal conspiracy and betrayal.

It is possible that this is all calculated — Trump could get angry and try to take revenge on his detractors, exceeding his authority or directly violating the law, and then the Liberals could legitimately begin a campaign for his impeachment.

But this coin has a flip side.

Donald Trump hates the political establishment and strongly believes that his actions are supported by the people who elected him. The media call him a “populist,” comparing him with authoritarian rulers of the past and present. But what if he really starts to act as a populist?

What if he spits on political etiquette and procedural formalities and decides to put an end to the constitutional crisis by addressing himself directly to the people and relying on the law enforcement agencies?

From a psychological point of view it is quite natural — he is the victim; he became the head of the country and the system met him with hostility. Destroying this system could become his biggest wish.

Of course, opponents of Trump are not enemies of the United States, at least, not most of them. But in calling his policy “un-American,” they provoke the legally elected head of state to make symmetrical charges and take a tough response.

Venezuelan economist Andres Miguel Rondon recently wrote for The Washington Post a quite remarkable article in which he argues that American liberals make the same mistakes that the political opponents of Hugo Chavez made in their day.

Rondon claims that the intransigence of the opposition, the constant threat to overthrow the president, and the demonstration of open hostility to him ended up dividing the society, and Chavez took advantage of this to convince the majority of the population that his political opponents were enemies of the country.

In fact, this is how authoritarianism starts — by identifying those who disagree with you as enemies.

Thus in the escalation of a confrontation, both sides are usually equally at fault. I would even say that, in a democratic society, the opposition has a much greater responsibility.

By abandoning civilized political debates and declaring the person who is in power illegitimate or unfairly elected, by insulting and ridiculing him, they impel him to authoritarian solutions, decisions that are justified as being the will of the voters.

So if I were in the place of American liberals, I would seriously rethink about this behavior.

Calling the 45th president “dangerous,” they may sooner or later turn out to be right, when he casts convention to the winds and takes very tough actions against them; especially because he feels in danger himself.

The darling of the left-liberal public and mainstream media, Barack Obama, too, was often angry and offended when “they didn’t understand him” — he used to say that about Congress; he replaced laws with own his decrees, and under a cloud of scandal dismissed subordinates (think of the resignations of Chuck Hagel and Tom Donilon!). But the former president was a professional politician; he grew up in the party environment and was coddled by it.

Donald Trump, from the beginning of his incredible political campaign in 2015, has felt at war with the entire political class.

And if this class does not submit to the will of the voters and does not at least stop putting a spoke in the wheels of the head of state, he will take full responsibility for the fact that if he goes down, he will take the whole US political system with him.

14-Feb-17 – Trump = Business vs War

by Thierry Meyssan
Republished via Voltairenet
Translated by Pete Kimberley, with Alice Decker

Thierry Meyssan invites us to observe Donald Trump without judging him by the same criteria as his predecessors, but by trying to understand his own logic. He notes that the President of the United States is trying to restore peace and relaunch world commerce, but on new foundations, completely different from the current system of globalization.
To understand the Trump administration, read also —
« Anti-Donald Trump war propaganda», 7 February 2017.
« Trump enough of 11 September! », 24 January 2017.

Donald Trump inaugurates the “Strategy and Policy Forum” at the White House (3 February 2017).

Seeking to overthrow the Power that preceded him, which is still trying hang on despite him, President Trump cannot rely on the political class or on senior civil servants when putting together his administration. He has therefore sought new collaborators, entrepreneurs like himself, despite the risk of conflicting roles that this may entail.

According to the puritanical ideology which has been in fashion since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, mixing state policy with one’s own private affairs is a crime one of the reasons why a strict separation has been installed between these two worlds. On the contrary, though, during the last few centuries, politics has not been regarded from a moral standpoint but from that of efficiency. It was therefore considered normal to associate entrepreneurs with politics. Their own personal enrichment was not considered to be “corruption” when they developed it on their own, but only if they grew fat on the proceeds of the Nation.

Concerning his relations with the Great Powers, President Trump approaches Russia on the political level and China on the commercial level. He is relying on Rex Tillerson (ex-head of Exxon-Mobil), a personal friend of Vladimir Putin, as his Secretary of State — and on Stephen Schwarzman (the head of the capital investment company Blackstone), a personal friend of President Xi Jinping, as President of a new consultative organization tasked with proposing the new commercial policy — the Strategy and Policy Forum, inaugurated by President Trump on 3 February at the White House [1]. The meeting brought together 19 top-level entrepreneurs.

Contrary to previous practice, his advisors were not chosen according to whether or not they had supported the President during his electoral campaign, nor in terms of the size and influence of the businesses they managed, but rather in terms of their personal capacity as managers.

Rex Tillerson

As CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson has created a new form of partnership with his Russian counterparts. First Gazprom, then Rosneft, authorized the United States to come and work with them, on the condition that the US would allow them to co-operate with them elsewhere. So the Russians have now invested one third of the funds for ExxonMobil’s projects in the Gulf of Mexico, while the multinational has assisted with the discovery of a gigantic field of hydrocarbons in the Kara Sea [2].

This was this shared success that earned Rex Tillerson the Medal of Friendship from the hands of President Vladimir Putin.

The Press has underscored the personal links that Tillerson has developed with the Russian President and with Igor Sechin, Putin’s right-hand man. As head of ExxonMobil, he confronted the Rockefeller family, the founders of the company. In the end, he managed to impose his point of view, and the Rockefellers have since begun to sell their shares with a view to quitting the company [3].

According to the Rockefellers, oil and gas are depletable resources which will soon be running out (Peak Oil, a theory which was popularized in the 1970s by the Club of Rome). Using these fuels expels carbon particles into the atmosphere and thus provokes global warming (a theory popularized in the 2000s by the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” and Al Gore) [4]. It is time to move on to renewable sources of energy. On the contrary, according to Rex Tillerson, nothing we know so far can truly validate the idea that oil is a sort of compost made of scraps of biological matter. We are continually discovering new deposits in areas bereft of source rock, and at ever-increasing depths. Nothing proves that hydrocarbons will run out in the centuries to come. And nothing proves that carbon particles expelled into the air by human activity is really the cause of climate change. In the absence of a conclusive argument, each of the two camps has financed an intense lobbying campaign in an attempt to convince the political deciders in this debate [5].

These two camps are of course are defending diametrically opposite positions in terms of foreign policy. This is why the fight between the Rockefellers and Tillerson had a real impact on international politics. For instance, in 2005, the Rockefellers advised Qatar — whose wealth is derived from ExxonMobil — to support the Muslim Brotherhood, and then, in 2011, to invest in the war against Syria. The Emirate sank tens of billions of dollars in supporting the jihadist groups. But quite the reverse, Tillerson considered that although clandestine war might be good for imperial politics, it is not good for business. Since the defeat of the Rockefellers, Qatar has progressively been withdrawing from the war and is now dedicating its spending to the preparations for the Soccer World Cup.

In any case, for the moment the Trump administration has made no decision in terms of Russia, other than abrogating the sanctions that were levied against Russia in reaction alleged interference in the Presidential election campaign supposedly noticed by the CIA.

Stephen Schwarzman

President Trump first of all shocked the People’s Republic of China by accepting a telephone call from the President of Taiwan, despite the “One China, two systems” principle. Then he apologized to Xi and warmly wished him a “Happy New Year of the Fire Rooster.”

Simultaneously, he offered him a sumptuous gift by cancelling the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This agreement had not yet been signed, but had been conceived, just like all globalist decisions over the last fifteen years, in order to exclude China from the decision-making process.

President Trump has opened a channel for negotiation with the main commercial and financial authorities of China via the members of his Strategy and Policy Forum. A 9.3% share of Stephen Schwarzman’s company, Blackstone, has been owned since 2007 by the sovereign fund of the People’s Republic, China Investment Corp. [6],whose Director at that time, Lou Jiwei, is today the Chinese Finance Minister.

Schwarzman is a member of the Advisory Board for the School of Economics and Management at the University of Tsinghua [7]. This Council, placed under the presidency of ex-Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, brings together the most important Chinese and Western personalities. Among these are Mary Barra from General Motors, Jamie Dimon from JPMorgan Chase, Doug McMillon from Wal-Mart Stores, Elon Musk from Tesla Motors and Indra K. Nooyi from PepsiCo; they also have chairs at the White House’s new Strategy and Policy Forum.

In a previous article, I pointed out that since his meeting with Jack Ma from Alibaba (also a member of the Advisory Board at the University of Tsinghua ), Donald Trump has been considering the possibility of joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). If this were to happen, the United States would cease hampering China and begin true cooperation to build the “Silk Roads,” thus rendering the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria pointless [8].

Cooperation Through Commerce

Since the breakup of the USSR, US policies have been set in accordance with the “Wolfowitz Doctrine.” To make sure their country remained the “leader,” successive administrations have not been shy to deliberately launch all sorts of wars — which have brought them to the brink of poverty [9].

Of course, this poverty did not affect everyone. We have witnessed an intra-capitalist struggle between the companies which profit from war (currently BAE, Caterpillar, KKR, LafargeHolcim, Lockeed Martin, Raytheon, etc.), and those which profit from peace.

The Trump administration intends to reboot the country’s development by dropping the ideal of being the “leader,” and instead becoming the “best.” This will have to happen quickly. It will take years to open the Silk Roads, even though their construction is already under way. Consequently, the United States does not have time to renegotiate the current major multilateral commercial Treaties. They will have to conclude bilateral agreements without delay, so that contracts can be implemented immediately.

Knowing how difficult it is to convert a war economy back into a peace-time economy, Donald Trump has associated with his Strategy and Policy Forum an entrepreneur from one of the companies which could develop as well in peace-time as it could in war-time: Jim McNerney (Boeing).

Notes

[1] “Remarks by President Trump at the Strategy and Policy Forum”, The White House, February 3rd, 2017.

[2] ““Rosneft” will have access to resources in the Gulf of Mexico”, by Juliana Gortinskaya, Translation by Deimantas Steponavicius, Оdnako (Russia), Voltaire Network, 10 January 2017.

[3] “The Rockefeller Family Fund vs. Exxon“, David Kaiser and Lee Wasserman, The New York Review of Books, December 8th, 2016.

[4] “1997-2010: Financial Ecology“, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation by Roger Lagassé, Оdnako (Russia), Voltaire Network, 7 December 2015.

[5] “Exxon Mobil Accuses the Rockefellers of a Climate Conspiracy“, John Schwartz, The New York Times, November 21st, 2016. “Rockefeller Foundations Enlist Journalism in ‘Moral’ Crusade Against ExxonMobil“, Ken Silverstein, The Observer, January 6th, 2017.

[6] Annual Report 2008, p. 40 & 56, The Blackstone Group.

[7] “The Advisory Board of Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management (2016-2017)“, Tsinghua University.

[8] “The Geopolitics of American Global Decline”, by Alfred McCoy, Tom Dispatch (USA) , Voltaire Network, 22 June 2015.

[9] The Wolfowitz Doctrine was elaborated in the Defense Policy Guidance for the Fiscal Years 1994-1999. This document has never been declassified, but its contents were revealed in “ U.S. Strategy Plan Calls For Insuring No Rivals Develop”, Patrick E. Tyler, New York Times, 8 March 1992. The daily also published large extracts from the report on page 14 : “Excerpts from Pentagon’s Plan : ‘Prevent the Re-Emergence of a New Rival’”. Extra information was revealed in “Keeping the U.S. First; Pentagon Would Preclude a Rival Superpower”, Barton Gellman, The Washington Post, 11 March 1992

10-Feb-17 – Mission Not Accomplished for the “Admiral Kuznetsov” Pilot training for carrier-based aircraft remains a problem

Alexei Mikhailov

Translated by Alice Decker

The Russian Navy’s heavy aircraft carrier, the “Admiral Kuznetsov,” has completed its first-ever combat campaign off the shores of Syria, using carrier-based aircraft against terrorist targets. There are at least two reasons to sum up the results.

On January 6, the Chief of Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov, announced that Russia is starting to reduce its groups in Syria. The first to leave the conflict zone is the “Admiral Kuznetsov” with the battle ships and support vessels of the Northern Fleet. January 15, when the carrier was still in the Eastern Mediterranean, marked three months from the beginning of the campaign.

Nothing has been officially reported on the composition of cruiser’s air wing. However, the aircraft and helicopters on board could be counted in the videos taken by Russian journalists and Western (for the most part military) operators.

Wing lightweight structure

As predicted by “VPK” (in an article titled “MiG-plus”), the “Kuznetsov” came into the campaign with a very lightweight wing structure. It carried on board ten Su-33s from the “old” 279th Independent Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment (OKIAP) of the Northern Fleet (eight of them have been upgraded and are capable of striking targets on land and at sea) and only four aircraft from the newly created 100th OKIAP — three MiG-29KRs and one MiG-29KUBR fighter jet, as well as 18 different types of helicopters. According to unconfirmed official data, there were only three combat MiGs as the fourth one belonged to the “MiG” corporation and was undergoing tests. Thus, it was confirmed that the 100th OKIAP “sitting” in Yeisk actually turned out to be unprepared for the campaign.

“On the ship, there is a sort of ‘black box’. This is the ‘Topaz-M’ system, and the state commission should study what it recorded.”

This brings to mind the officials who promised the Minister of Defense that the aircraft testing and training complex being built in Yeisk would be ready by the end of 2016. It isn’t done even now. At the same time the similar complex in Crimean Saki was subjected to unfair attention. Did anyone bother to prepare the pilots of the 100th OKIAP, even while the carrier was on its way to Syria? After all, they could fly aboard later, via the tried and true route over the Caspian Sea, Iran and Iraq.

The 279th OKIAP jets arrived on the aircraft carrier in July, after training at the complex in Saki. There, according to official data, only seven pilots practiced the essential skills in the MiGs, including three combatants that were not soldiers. Evil tongues say that these were the regiment commander and two squadron leaders, and the rest were civilian test pilots from the “MiG” Corporation and naval aviation military personnel. The question is, why was the 100th OKIAP in Yeisk at this time?

On October 15, the ship strike group (IBM) comprised of the Northern Fleet’s aircraft carrier “Peter the Great,” the heavy aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov,” two large anti-submarine ships, and supply vessels went to sea. Logically, they should have been accompanied by one or two multi-purpose nuclear submarines, but those are never mentioned, as a rule.

According to the Norwegian Navy, Su-33 training flights from onboard the aircraft carrier already began on October 18 over the northeastern part of the Atlantic. The Russian side, in full compliance with international regulations, announced that flight exercises would be held over international waters of the Atlantic, near the southwest tip of Norway, on October 19–21. On October 21, the naval strike group entered the English Channel, during which time one of the two fighters was always on duty, on the deck of the aircraft carrier. By October 27, the Northern Fleet ships passed Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean Sea. From October 27 to 29, the strike group replenished all their supplies from the support vessels.

On November 1, the Su-33 and MiG-29KR aircraft aboard the carrier resumed flights, this time over the Mediterranean Sea. All the Russian actions were carried out under the watchful eyes of maritime patrol aircraft from NATO bases and NATO ships.

The countries concerned were informed in advance that training flights were planned for November 9, southeast of the island of Rhodes. The notice stated that the flights of the Russian Naval aircraft would take place within the stated coordinates in the Greek air traffic control zone (ATC), over international waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, and in connection with this, six civil aviation routes would be changed. The combat aircraft were to be in constant contact with the Greek ATC centers and were to fly with their transponders enabled, the document specifies. Similar warnings were issued for the periods from 10 to 15 and from 17 to 22 November.

On November 9, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that a Dutch diesel-electric submarine, presumably “Walrus” class, had tried to follow the strike group. On November 10, according to the Pentagon, the Russian carrier-based aircraft began to make familiarization flights over Syrian territory, which meant that in the future they would be used in combat against terrorist organization targets. By this time the battle for East Aleppo was in full swing.

The losses were not military but from ineptitude

On November 14, the Russian Ministry of Defense acknowledged the loss of the MiG-29KR. According to official data, it crashed into the sea a few miles from the aircraft carrier while preparing to land. The pilot ejected and was picked up by a helicopter search and rescue service. According to one unofficial version, the fighter simply ran out of fuel while they were deciding where it should land; at the time, it could have been sent to the “Hmeymim” air base. In the end, a fully functional plane was sunk.

On November 15, the Minister of Defense announced that the carrier-based Su-33 had begun flying combat missions. True, he did not specify on which day it began. Then the War Department distributed a video with shots of planes taking off from the deck of the aircraft carrier with combat loads and returning minus the ammunition. At the same time, the frigate “Admiral Grigorovich” from the Black Sea Fleet launched “Caliber-NK” cruise missiles to strike terrorist targets. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Su-33s destroyed large groups of “Dzhebhat Fatah al-Sham” fighters (formerly “Dzhebhat en-Nusra,” banned in Russia) in the province of Idlib.

On November 26, Western media reported that eight Su-33s and two MiG-29KR were located at the “Hmeymim” air base. The fact that only two of the MiGs were there makes one think that something must have been wrong with the plane that was still onboard the ship. According to VPK’s source, it may have been disabled while landing on the deck — before the incident on 14 November.

On December 4, the latest reconnaissance and attack helicopters, the Ka-52K “Katran” (previously destined for the “Mistral”) were shown working from the aircraft carrier. According to media estimates, there were four of them on board.

The next day, the Ministry of Defense reported that one of the Su-33s had crashed in the sea while landing on the aircraft carrier. The reason, according to the agency, was a broken cable. It is known, however, that for some time now the ship has had a sort of “black box” that controls the brake mechanisms — the “Topaz-M” system. The state commission will have to examine its recordings. In addition, there are video recordings of each takeoff and landing. Because there is another version: the pilot simply did not get on the right course. The “Topaz-M” and the objective video recording will decide who is right.

In any case, the loss of two types of aircraft during practice meant no more flights until they can determine the causes of what happened.

All these points will be examined by the relevant Commission of the Defense Ministry.

Tripped Up During Training 

The “Admiral Kuznetsov” has not quite lived up to its mission. Despite official reports, the 100th OKIAP was not ready to accomplish its assigned task, and that’s not the fault of the regimental command. It’s legitimate to ask, will anyone be held responsible?

According to official information from the Ministry of Defense, in two months of fighting in this campaign, the Admiral Kuznetsov’s naval aviation pilots carried out 420 sorties, 117 of them at night. This means (based on the approximate composition of the air wing), that each MiG and Sukhoi (if we’re opnly talking about those) made 30 to 40 sorties. It has not been specified how many times they took off from the deck of the aircraft carrier and how many times from the “Hmeymim” airbase where they also worked.

It is unclear whether the helicopters are included in these slippery statistics or only the planes. Most likely the latter, since 1252 terrorist targets were destroyed, which roughly corresponds to the amount of ammunition these types of aircraft carry that can work on ground targets. Were the Americans right when they reported (only) 152 sorties operated from the deck?

In any case, the campaign from the aircraft carrier has had a positive effect. The carrier-based pilots received a baptism by fire. For the first time, they performed the operation of loading ammunition at sea.

It is expected that on its return to Severomorsk, the aircraft carrier will be sent in for repairs and upgrades. But when and where? The first bidder to carry out the works was the United Shipbuilding Corporation. The “Admiral Kuznetsov” was preparing for a long stay at her 35th Shipyard (an affiliate of the “Zvezdochka” Shipyard). By May, Murmansk promises to fit out a dock capable of taking the aircraft carrier. But a “market” competitor to USC suddenly appeared — the 82nd Shipyard. Their distinct advantage is the presence of a PD-50 floating dock (one of the largest floating docks in the world), designed just for the “Admiral Kuznetsov” class ships. So the competition for the contract is serious.

Let’s hope that the terms of the Defense Ministry’s tender call for competitive bids. In any case, the bureaucratic procedures take time, and anyway the work itself is expected to take two years. This means that the carrier will not be sailing again soon and the pilots of the 100th OKIAP will be on their own. // Waiting to fly…   Although they should still have been, and could have been, in the skies over Syria.

There are several issues. Was the promise fulfilled, to put into operation a land-based training program in Yeisk? If not — where are the carrier-based pilots to train? And how long will the training ground in Saki be on hold, which the Russian Navy Aviation command plans to modernize in 2017–2018? 2017 has already begun, and no committee has shown up at the site to define the scope of work, and no executors have been appointed to spell out where the funding is going to come from.

But the United Shipbuilding Corporation could be a responsible contractor; it is quite capable of this task. And what can be said, if Russia has had the training complex in Crimea for nearly three years and has not invested a dime 9according to Alexander Sannikov, a veteran of the complex)? As long as the training area was in Ukrainian hands, this situation was understandable. But now? Is this what we were waiting for?

Alexei Mikhailov

Published in issue number 3 (667) of 25 January 2017

Details: http://vpk-news.ru/articles/34857

 

8-Feb-17 Putin’s Tough Choice, or the US’s Tough Choice?

Remember the posting of the other day? “In conclusion, what Trump represents is the awareness, finally, in the US, that Russia is not there for the taking and a very hefty price would have to be paid to get half of Russia’s support. ”
Very interesting article in Zero Hedge: Putin’s Tough Choice: China Or The West.

Will he, or won’t he?

From the article: “Foreshadowing all of this was a news leak late last year in Germany’s Bild Zeitung, that Kissinger has drafted a plan to officially recognize Crimea as part of Russia and lift the Obama administration’s economic sanctions.”

Of course, the Russians will not be seduced by a man in his last hours, I mean Kissinger, but we should not lose sight of such real politics. Otherwise, how to explain this: Henry Kissinger becomes member of Russian Academy of Sciences

The US is in disarray, it is in conflict with itself and with everyone else. This is the gruesome spectacle of a dying elephant. Try not to get hurt.

5-Feb-17 Why all the antagonism against Trump?

A lot of conspiracy theories could be developed to explain this and that, but it’s not so much of a mystery as many would think. A book written in 1992, The New CommonWealth , basically explains that it is the rise of China that worried — and still worries — the white man’s world. Various tactics have been promoted on how to handle this long-term strategic threat.

Should the West conquer Russia first, just like Hitler attempted, and then focus on the main adversary (China)? Or ally with Russia?

Well, Russia has a “soul” and a mind of its own, and did not think it would be funny to be a colony of the West, and it refused to play along with the first option. Furthermore, Russia said, if you want us to be your allies against China, there is a price for that. That is, the whole of Europe and the Middle East. The West said, No Way! We’ll show you who dictates the terms.

Well, it turns out that Russia was weak on several points – low demographics, a strong fifth column, a weak consumer goods industry; but it had first class (second to none) military acumen and military technology. They said, OK, you want us as a colony? Come and take it!

And that is where things started to get messy. The US is a first-rate Madison Avenue PR superman, but a fifth-rate military power, such that they can only boast of conquering Grenada in a one-on-one fight.

The US bankrupted itself in 30 years, and now is begging Russia for an alliance against China. And you can see the signs of willingness to turn over the whole of Europe and the Middle East to Russia. But the Russians are still playing chess.

This past fall I’ve been visiting the Vladivostok and Irkutsk regions of Russia, and Moscow – all over Russia, and I can tell from first-hand experience of the appalling, numbing invasion of Chinese – crude, rude, aggressive, all over the main cities of Russia, while the Russians are sort of stunned, and mild. Ninety-five percent of the hotels are filled with Chinese. Trainloads, bus loads of them.

In conclusion, what Trump represents is the awareness, finally, in the US, that Russia is not there for the taking and a very hefty price would have to be paid to get half of Russia’s support. In the words of a British diplomat, the Russians played a weak hand brilliantly, while the US played a brilliant hand catastrophically poorly.

In the long run, China remains the number one rival/threat. We don’t know how this will all end, in another hundred years.

23-Jan-17 The General of PR Trump’s “Mad Dog” — one of the most controversial figures in the American military establishment

by Pavel Ivanov Originally appeared at VPK, translated by Alice Decker via SouthFront

The US Congress approved the candidacy of the former head of the Central Command of the Armed Forces (CENTCOM), General James Mattis, for the post of secretary of defense. It is noteworthy that for the appointment of the future head of the Pentagon, a special procedure was created.

Under US law, a retired military man can serve as secretary of defense only after at least seven years since his dismissal. And Mattis resigned in 2013. Therefore, his appointment required special coordination with the Congress and the Senate, as well as individual hearings in the Committee on Armed Services.

“In Afghanistan and Iraq, the future head of the Pentagon was nicknamed ‘Poser’ and ‘PR man’ ”

Judging by statements from experts and analysts, the nomination of the ex-general who has served for 41 years was based on simple military talents. There is an opinion that the appointment of Mattis was opposed by the civilian leadership of the Pentagon, in particular by the outgoing head of the department Ashton Carter. Reports have been published in the American mass media many times about conflicts among the Defense Department’s civilian leadership, who have little understanding of the military and approach the armed forces like a corporation. So the appointment of the distinguished general as head of the Pentagon is seen as a victory for the “war lobby.”

Meanwhile, the appointment of James Mattis signals a big problem ahead. In reality, the Marines general is an ambiguous figure. It was not only some abstract “civic leaders” who opposed his candidacy but specific generals in the US Army Command and Special Operations Forces. During operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, this very same future head of the Pentagon earned the unflattering nicknames ‘the Poser’ and ‘the incompetent PR man.’

Afghan hyper-cautious syndrome

In November 2001, a Special Forces team, ODA 574, was abandoned in Afghanistan. The “Green Berets” had quite a difficult task: to help the future Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s forces prepare an attack on Kandahar. It’s noteworthy that he went with the advisors to the rear of the Taliban with the ODA 574 and instructors from the CIA.

At that time, there were no regular units or divisions of the US military in the country except the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit on objective “Rhino” — an abandoned airfield 190 kilometers from Kandahar. Brigadier General James Mattis was commanding the Unit.

On December 5, due to a targeting error by the gunlayer, a bomb dropped from a B-52 hit the ODA 574, killing and wounding several soldiers. The Commander of the 5th Special Operations Group appealed to Mattis, requesting evacuation. But he was refused: allegedly, the general was not aware of what was going on in the area, and did not want to risk the helicopter.

Despite the fact that the headquarters of a battalion of special forces, and a “Delta” squadron which guaranteed helicopters cover from ground fire, were already operating in the area, Mattis remained adamant. He didn’t change his decision even after he was informed that a number of the injured needed urgent surgery or they would die.

MH-53 helicopters from Uzbekistan had to be used for their evacuation. Two “Hercules” flew to “Rhino” with special medical modules in the cargo hold and teams of doctors. The helicopters made it in time. However, due to lack of fuel, the crews were forced to conduct aerial refueling over Kandahar at an altitude of just several hundred meters, under Taliban fire. Well, none of the MD-53 was hit.

But Mattis did not want guests at the “Reno” and barred a C-130 with physicians from landing. The aircraft circled in the air for several hours. At some point, the crew decided to land on their own. Then General Tommy Franks, the head of CENTCOM and the commander of Operation Enduring Freedom, stepped in. He made Mattis allow the landing and ensured that MH-53 with the wounded would be accepted.

But despite Franks’ personal intervention, Mattis turned to minor mischief as “Green Berets” later described. While medical operations were being conducted, Marines began to warm up the engines of the AH-1 helicopters and then to operate them. This caused shaking of medical C-130 and hindered the work of the surgeons.

The Unified Command of Special Operations Forces (OKSSO) of the US Armed Forces demanded an investigation into the conduct of James Mattis at the “Reno” facility. After some time, the proceedings were closed, but Mattis had won himself enemies in the OKSSO.

A Dubious victory

It is believed that Mattis earned the nickname Mad Dog, and a reputation as a harsh and brilliant warrior, during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But the general’s merits are rather controversial.

‘Mad Dog’ stuck to him after the publication of the book “Generation Kill” (a chronicle of the actions of the Marine reconnaissance battalion in Iraq) and the eponymous series. A few snippets show the general as a charismatic leader, not afraid of danger. Suffice it to recall how Mattis scolded the commander of an Expeditionary Division group right on the bridge under fire from Iraqi troops.

However, in the memoirs of one of the participants in those events, Lieutenant Nathaniel Fick, these episodes are, to put it mildly, more ambiguous. The General does not look “the father of the Marines.” But the book and the film played a role — now the successful operations of the Marine Corps in Iraq is attributed to Mattis. Later, the PR effect was when a collection of the general’s quotes was released to the press.

But the official historiography of the Marine Corps published in the late 2000s indicated that the most important decisions and the most difficult actions in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 were made by Lieutenant General James Conway, who was then commander of the expeditionary forces of the Commission in Iraq. Mattis obeyed him (at that time Conway was the commander of the 1st Marine Division), and not vice versa, as stated in some publications.

No less controversial were James Mattis’s decisions during the fighting in Falluja. Traditionally, it is reported that the brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division failed to subdue the city. To prevent disturbances, the Pentagon rushed the Marine Division headed by Mattis to Fallujah and he completed the job.

After several works on the “Delta” operations in Iraq were published, the situation looked different again. Despite Mattis’ best efforts, fighting broke out in Fallujah. “Delta” Special forces officers who were active in the city at the time claimed that the general was always late. Barricades were already being built and weapons were being brought in, but the Marines took down some of their posts, to, as Matthis said in his orders, normalize life. When clashes were expected to break out any minute, the general ordered them to conduct patrols without helmets and body armor, so as not to provoke the civilians and not to show the US Marines as occupiers.

This decision was widely repeated in the media, as well as in Mattis’ daily briefings, where he often used his famous “military wisdom.” However, the Marines themselves were somewhat disillusioned with the division commander. When fighting broke out in the city in full force, the Marine Division was not ready for it.

Interestingly enough, James Mattis is one of the few lieutenants-general (the highest military rank in the ILC) who was not made a commander of the Marine Corps, or at least a lieutenant commander.

Since 2005, Mattis has not actually directed led military units. In 2006, he headed up the development of the joint command responsible for introducing new weapons systems, and then the joint command of the forces and funding — in fact, managing military training.

And if under the Bush administration the general’s career faded, under Barack Obama it blossomed. However, the attempt to appoint Mattis USMC commander failed because of tacit resistance from his potential subordinates. The ILC is one of the few positions in the US Armed Forces where the commander is appointed by the president, but only with the agreement of the corps itself. But with CENTCOM, with its commander General Petraeus having fallen out of favor, everything worked out.

James Mattis is a general with a fairly dubious reputation. In many respects, he did not score military achievements but rather ran a public relations campaign. And he has a pretty complicated relationship with his colleagues. Mattis frankly is not liked in the US Armed Forces, Special Operations Forces Joint Command and Special Operations Command. And the leadership of the latter group (it consists of “Delta” and DEVGRU) are considered “gray cardinals” not only the Pentagon but also in the national security system.