• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

zaterdag 22 april 2017

Neocon Invasion of Trumpland

The Looming Neocon Invasion of Trumpland

Saturday, April 22, 2017 By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed 
President Donald Trump during a joint news conference with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy, at the White House in Washington, April 20, 2017.  (Doug Mills/The New York Times)President Donald Trump during a joint news conference with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy, at the White House in Washington, April 20, 2017. (Doug Mills / The New York Times)
I can't dance
I can't talk
Only thing about me
Is the way I walk
I can't dance
I can't sing
I'm just standing here
Selling everything …
-- Genesis, "I Can't Dance"
Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin and Kid Rock dined with Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday night. No, really. Nugent and Trump likely revisited their shared birther/terrorist obsession with Obama, while Palin and Rock explored the higher sociological meanings to be derived from the song "American Bad Ass." Palin later tweeted a photograph of the four of them in the Oval Office, stooped over the Resolute Desk like a murder of crows. The desk, a true piece of history itself, is said to have wept through the night and far into the following morning.
Nugent may be an oaf, Palin a fool and Rock a beer commercial footnote, but all three combined did not hold a candle to their host, the president of the United States, who somehow managed to lose a whole aircraft carrier. The USS Carl Vinson -- more than three football fields long, launch platform for dozens of military aircraft, floating home to more than 6,000 sailors and service members, a weapon so large and lethal that it is known as "God's Machine" to those who serve aboard it -- was part of an "armada" Trump was sending to the hostile waters off North Korea. The Vinson, in fact, was some 3,500 miles to the south, steaming sedately for Australia and some joint naval exercises … but no one quite knew what the orders really were and where the aircraft carrier was supposed to be. The Vinson eventually turned around and began steaming north, its captain announcing the crew would now be operating "in the Western Pacific." This is the nautical version of saying they would be somewhere on Planet Earth.
It's been almost 100 days, and these people still can't find the car keys. They've managed to enflame a fairly routine dust-up with North Korea to the point that even China's military is going on high alert, all so Trump can look tough and distract everyone from the numerous, burgeoning scandals tied to his presidency and his business relationships. Mike Pence is running around yelling about swords at a country that can't feed itself. North Korea is a struggling country with a stout paint job; its government pulls these attention-grabbing stunts every so often to raise its visibility in the world, and to broker a back-room deal to get food on the sly so the population doesn't starve to death. It's been like this for decades, but leave it to Trump to turn it into the potential strikepad for World War Whatever while losing track of the largest flotation device in maritime history. These guys could screw up the recipe for tap water.
From a foreign policy perspective, this is all certainly nerve-wracking and undeniably perilous. No one enjoys contemplating the seeming fact that the chain of command for the most dangerous fighting force in history has collapsed and gone completely sideways.
However, the way in which this administration's foibles -- and its potentially catastrophic decisions -- have been portrayed in much of the media is worrisome, to say the least. The pundits all agree what a shame it is that this White House lacks focus and discipline, not to mention experience. "We" all want this president to "succeed," we are told, because if he "succeeds," the country succeeds. These people control the entire federal government; if they could only get organized, they could really get some stuff done.
Nope, sorry. The only thing we've had going for us since this whole nightmare began is the fact that these people have been falling down open elevator shafts almost every time they try to accomplish one of their sordid goals. "Ban all Muslims! (falls down shaft)" followed by "Repeal Obamacare! (falls down shaft)" followed by "Ban all Muslims again! (falls down shaft)." They got a Supreme Court Justice they were going to get anyway. Bully for them; McConnell still had to break the Senate to get it done.
Thank you, no, I don't want this administration to succeed, because "success" on their terms would transmogrify this nation -- and, potentially, the rest of the world -- into a dystopian wasteland that makes The Grapes of Wrath seem like a spring break movie by comparison.
The ultimate nightmare scenario is still in the offing, however, but could come to pass any day. The ragged remnants of the neo-conservative cabal that came together under George W. Bush is still out there, plotting and scheming, concocting novel new ways to light the world on fire for power and profit. The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), think-tank mothership for every bad neocon idea that led us into Iraq and a wider conflict in the Middle East, never died; it just got new offices down the block. Unlike their counterparts in the current administration, the neocons know how the gears of government work, where the levers are, and how to actually get things done. Combine the wild fervor of Trump's band of wreckers with the ice-eyed competence of the neocon assassins, and the result could be horrific beyond any known measure.
It is already in the works, if you listen with the right kind of ears. Neocon dean Robert Kagan, thrilled by Trump's decision to bomb a parking lot in Syria, publicly offered a series of murderous suggestions earlier this month that sounded for all the world like a job interview. As co-founder of PNAC and a long-time advocate for the violent overthrow of virtually every Middle Eastern government, Kagan would make a dynamic -- and terrifying -- addition to the Trump administration. Elliot Abrams, another PNAC alum with two convictions under his belt from the Iran-Contra scandal, came within an eyelash of becoming the No. 2 man at the State Department last February. The fact that either of these men is being taken seriously by anyone in power today, after we have spent so many years digging out from under their catastrophic policy imperatives, is unsettling in the extreme.
So we're clear on what it is we're talking about when we talk about a neocon investment into the Trump administration, here is a bite of some reporting I did on PNAC from February of 2003:
The Project for the New American Century seeks to establish what they call "Pax Americana" across the globe. Essentially, their goal is to transform America, the sole remaining superpower, into a planetary empire by force of arms. A report released by PNAC in September of 2000 entitled 'Rebuilding America's Defenses' codifies this plan, which requires a massive increase in defense spending and the fighting of several major theater wars in order to establish American dominance.

The first step towards the establishment of this Pax Americana is, and has always been, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the establishment of an American protectorate in Iraq. The purpose of this is threefold: 1) To acquire control of the oilheads so as to fund the entire enterprise; 2) To fire a warning shot across the bows of every leader in the Middle East; 3) To establish in Iraq a military staging area for the eventual invasion and overthrow of several Middle Eastern regimes, including some that are allies of the United States.
Kagan and Abrams are not the only neocons scratching at Trump's backdoor. Bill Kristol, former PNAC director and editor of the Weekly Standard, has been making positive noises in the direction of the new administration. None other than former Bush Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has also taken to the op-ed pages to gently chide Trump & Co. toward the neocon dark side regarding the Middle East.
Mark my words: One of these days, Reince Priebus or someone of equal status will finally get fed up with looking like The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight, pick up the phone, and say, "Get me Donald Rumsfeld, now." The temptation in the end, will simply be too great.
Donald Trump wants victories so he can look good on television. These neocons want victories so they can establish permanent US hegemony over the world via military might, and get nice and rich in the process. A combining of forces gives both sides everything they ever wanted.
Someone in Trump's crew is going to make that phone call, I think. After that, it's hats over the windmill, and God have mercy on us all.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

WILLIAM RIVERS PITT

William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to KnowThe Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.


    Leaked Tape About Obama Terrorism


    Please listen to this recording, John Kerry says and I quote:" Russia was invited" and "Russia came to fight IS/DASH"
    -2:08
    36,967 Views
    Miguel ValenzuelaFollow
    January 6
    LISTEN: The U.S Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Russia for interfering with their strategy of using ISIS to topple the Syrian President in this leaked recording. It's like that scene in a superhero movie where the villain who thinks he's better than everyone unveils his plan, only this is real. John Kerry starts out by saying the problem is that "Russians don't care about international law and we do" then he complains about the U.S not having any legal reason to be in Syria since it was not invited by the legitimate Syrian government like Russia was. 
    The hypocrisy is not subtle here.
    He talks about all the money and weapons they're pouring into Syria, while also talking about how the fighting will kill a lot of Syrians. He casually throws in a factoid that they watched ISIS grow and were hopping that it would topple the Syrian government and then he complains that Russia stopped them because they didn't want an ISIS government in Damascus. He also says that another reason why they can't topple the Syrian government is because Congress won't vote for an invasion like Iraq since a lot of Americans don't want to send young Americans to fight and die in another country. 
    The audio was leaked by an unnamed attendee of John Kerry's meeting with Syrian Opposition members in New York City on Sep 22, 2016. The woman who's telling Kerry that the only solution is to kill Assad is Marcell Shehwaro, an activist who's often quoted as a 'credible source' on Syria in hundreds of mainstream media reports. The leaked audio was initially posted on Sep 30, 2016 by the New York Times, but they left out all the juicy bits, so I've put them in this video. CNN also posted the audio but quickly removed it.

    Main Issue in French Election: National Sovereignty

    The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty

    Photo by Blandine Le Cain | CC BY 2.0
    Photo by Blandine Le Cain | CC BY 2.0


    Paris.
    The 2017 French Presidential election marks a profound change in European political alignments. There is an ongoing shift from the traditional left-right rivalry to opposition between globalization, in the form of the European Union (EU), and national sovereignty.
    Standard media treatment sticks to a simple left-right dualism: “racist” rejection of immigrants is the main issue and that what matters most is to “stop Marine Le Pen!”  Going from there to here is like walking through Alice’s looking glass. Almost everything is turned around.
    On this side of the glass, the left has turned into the right and part of the right is turning into the left.
    Fifty years ago, it was “the left” whose most ardent cause was passionate support for Third World national liberation struggles. The left’s heroes were Ahmed Ben Bella, Sukarno, Amilcar Cabral, Patrice Lumumba, and above all Ho Chi Minh.  What were these leaders fighting for?  They were fighting to liberate their countries from Western imperialism.  They were fighting for independence, for the right to determine their own way of life, preserve their own customs, decide their own future. They were fighting for national sovereignty, and the left supported that struggle.
    Today, it is all turned around.  “Sovereignty” has become a bad word in the mainstream left.
    National sovereignty is an essentially defensive concept. It is about staying home and minding one’s own business.  It is the opposite of the aggressive nationalism that inspired fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to conquer other countries, depriving them of their national sovereignty.
    The confusion is due to the fact that most of what calls itself “the left” in the West has been totally won over to the current form of imperialism – aka “globalization”.  It is an imperialism of a new type, centered on the use of military force and “soft” power to enable transnational finance to penetrate every corner of the earth and thus to reshape all societies in the endless quest for profitable return on capital investment. The left has been won over to this new imperialism because it advances under the banner of “human rights” and “antiracism” – abstractions which a whole generation has been indoctrinated to consider the central, if not the only, political issues of our times.
    The fact that “sovereignism” is growing in Europe is interpreted by mainstream globalist media as proof that “Europe is moving to the right”– no doubt because Europeans are “racist”. This interpretation is biased and dangerous. People in more and more European nations are calling for national sovereignty precisely because they have lost it. They lost it to the European Union, and they want it back.
    That is why the British voted to leave the European Union.  Not because they are “racist”, but primarily because they cherish their historic tradition of self-rule.
    The Socialist Party shipwreck
    As his five-year presidency drew to its ignominious end, François Hollande was obliged by his drastic unpopularity to let his Parti Socialiste (PS) choose its 2017 presidential candidate by primary.  In a surprising upset, the Socialist government’s natural candidate, prime minister Manuel Valls, lost to Benoit Hamon, an obscure member of the PS left wing who refused to vote for the unpopular, neo-liberal, anti-labor laws designed by Hollande’s economic advisor, Emmanuel Macron.
    To escape from the unpopularity of the PS, Macron formed his own movement, “En Marche!” One after another, Valls, Hollande and other prominent PS leaders are tiptoeing away, leaving Hamon at the helm of the sinking ship.  As Hamon justifiably protests against their betrayal, the party bigwigs pledge their support to Emmanuel Macron.
    Macron ostentatiously hesitates to welcome his shopworn converts into the fold, fearing that their conversion makes it too obvious that his “En Marche!” is a clone of the right wing of the PS, on the way to becoming the French subsidiary of the U.S. Democratic Party in its Clintonian form. Macron proclaims that he is neither left nor right, as discredited politicians from both left and right jump on his bandwagon, to his embarrassment.
    Hamon himself appears to be unaware that the basic cause of the Socialist Party’s shipwreck is its incompatible devotion to two contrary principles: traditional social democracy, and the European Union (EU). Macron, Hollande and their fellow turncoats at least have made their choice: the European Union.
    The Twilight of the Traditional Right
    The great advantage of Republican candidate François Fillon is that his policies are clear.  Unlike Hollande, who tried to disguise his neoliberal policies as something else, and based his claim to be on the left on “societal” issues (gay marriage), Fillon is an unabashed conservative.  His policies are designed to reduce the huge national debt. Whereas previous governments (including his own, when he was President Sarkozy’s Prime Minister) beat around the bush, Fillon won the Republican nomination by a program of sharp cutbacks in government spending.  Fillon claims that his austerity measures will lead French capitalists to invest in France and thus save the country’s economy from being completely taken over by foreign corporations, American retirement funds and Qatar.  This is highly doubtful, as there is nothing under EU rules to encourage French investors to invest in France rather than somewhere else.
    Fillon departs from EU orthodoxy, however, by proposing a more independent foreign policy, notably by ending the “absurd” sanctions against Russian. He is more concerned about the fate of Middle East Christians than about overthrowing Assad.
    The upshot is that Fillon’s coherent pro-capitalist policy is not exactly what the dominant globalizing elite prefers. The “center left” is their clear political choice  since Tony Blair and Bill Clinton revised the agendas of their respective parties. The center left emphasis on human rights (especially in faraway countries targeted for regime change) and ethnic diversity at home fits the long-term globalist aims of erasing national borders, to allow unrestricted free movement of capital. Traditional patriotic conservatism, represented by Fillon, does not altogether correspond to the international adventurism of globalization.
    The Schizophrenic Left
    For a generation, the French left has made “the construction of Europe” the center of its world view.  In the early 1980s, faced with opposition from what was then the European Community, French President François Mitterrand abandoned the socializing program on which he been elected.  Mitterrand nursed the hope that France would politically dominate a united Europe, but the unification of Germany changed all that. So did EU expansion to Eastern Central nations within the German sphere of influence. Economic policy is now made in Germany.
    As the traditional left goal of economic equality was abandoned, it was superseded by emphatic allegiance to “human rights”, which is now taught in school as a veritable religion.  The vague notion of human rights was somehow associated with the “free movement” of everything and everybody. Indeed the official EU dogma is protection of “free movement”: free movement of goods, people, labor and (last but certainly not least) capital. These “four freedoms” in practice transform the nation from a political society into a financial market, an investment opportunity, run by a bureaucracy of supposed experts. In this way, the European Union has become the vanguard experiment in transforming the world into a single capitalist market.
    The French left bought heavily into this ideal, partly because it deceptively echoed the old leftist ideal of “internationalism” (whereas capital has always been incomparably more “international” than workers), and partly due to the simplistic idea that “nationalism” is the sole cause of wars.  More fundamental and complex causes of war are ignored.
    For a long time, the left has complained about job loss, declining living standards, delocalization or closure of profitable industries, without recognizing that these unpopular results are caused by EU requirements. EU directives and regulations increasingly undermine the French model of redistribution through public services, and are now threatening to wipe them out altogether – either because “the government is bankrupt” or because of EU competition rules prohibit countries from taking measures to preserve their key industries or their agriculture.  Rather than face reality, the left’s reaction has mostly been to repeat its worn-out demand for an impossible “Social Europe”.
    Yet the dream of “social Europe” received what amounted to a fatal blow ten years ago. In 2005, a referendum was called to allow the French to approve a Constitution for united Europe. This led to an extraordinary popular discussion, with countless meetings of citizens examining every aspect of this lengthy document. Unlike normal constitutions, this document froze the member States in a single monetarist economic policy, with no possibility of change.
    On May 29, 2005, French voters rejected the treaty by 55% to 45%.
    What seemed to be a great victory for responsible democracy turned into its major failure.  Essentially the same document, renamed the Lisbon Treaty, was ratified in December 2007, without a referendum.  Global governance had put the people in their place. This produced widespread disillusion with politics as millions concluded that their votes didn’t matter, that politicians paid no attention to the will of the people.
    Even so, Socialist politicians continued to pledge undying allegiance to the EU, always with the prospect that “Social Europe” might somehow be possible.
    Meanwhile, it has become more and more obvious that EU monetarist policy based on the common currency, the euro, creates neither growth nor jobs as promised but destroys both. Unable to control its own currency, obliged to borrow from private banks, and to pay them interest, France is more and more in debt, its industry is disappearing and its farmers are committing suicide, on the average of one every other day.  The left has ended up in an impossible position: unswervingly loyal to the EU while calling for policies that are impossible under EU rules governing competition, free movement, deregulation, budgetary restraints, and countless other regulations produced by an opaque bureaucracy and ratified by a virtually powerless European Parliament, all under the influence of an army of lobbyists.
    Benoit Hamon remains firmly stuck on the horns of the left’s fatal dilemma: determination to be “socialist”, or rather, social democratic, and passionate loyalty to “Europe”. While insisting on social policies that cannot possibly be carried out with the euro as currency and according to EU rules, Hamon still proclaims loyalty to “Europe”. He parrots the EU’s made-in-Washington foreign policy, demanding that “Assad must go” and ranting against Putin and Russia.
    Jean-Luc Mélenchon Grasps the Nettle
    Not only is the drab, conformist Hamon abandoned by his party heavies, he is totally upstaged on the left by the flamboyant Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a maverick ready to break the rules.  After years as a PS loyalist, Mélenchon broke away in 2005 to oppose the Constitutional Treaty, gaining prominence as a fiery orator. In 2007, he left the Socialist Party and founded the Parti de Gauche (Left Party). Allied with the much weakened Communist Party, he came in fourth in the first round of the 2012 Presidential election with 11% of the vote.  This time he is running for President with his own new movement, La France Insoumise, which can be translated in a number of ways, including “the France that does not submit”.
    Submit to what?  Mainly, to the euro and to the antisocial, neoliberal policies of the European Union that are ruining France.
    French flags and la Marseillaise have replaced the Internationale at Mélenchon rallies. “The Europe of our dreams is dead,” he acknowledges, vowing to “end the nightmare of dictatorship by banks and finance”.
    Mélenchon calls for outright disobedience by violating EU treaties that are harmful to France. That is his Plan A.  His Plan B is to leave the EU, in case Plan A fails to convince Germany (the current boss) and the others to agree to change the treaties. But at best, Plan B is an empty threat to strengthen his hand in theoretical negotiations.  France is such a crucial member, he maintains, that a French threat to leave should be enough to force changes.
    Threatening to leave the EU is just part of Mélenchon’s vast and complicated program which includes calling a national convention to draft a constitution for France’s “sixth Republic” as well as major ecological innovation.  Completely changing both France and the European Union at the same time would require the nation to be in a revolutionary effervescence that is by no means visible. It would also require a unanimity among the EU’s 28 member States that is simply impossible.
    But Mélenchon is canny enough to have recognized the basic problem: the enemy of jobs, prosperity and public services is the European Union. Mélenchon is by far the candidate that generates the most excitement.  He has rapidly outdistanced Hamon and draws huge enthusiastic crowds to his rallies. His progress has changed the shape of the race: at this moment, he has become one of four front-runners who might get past the first round vote on April 23 into the finals on May 7: Le Pen, Macron, Fillon and himself.
    The Opposites are (almost) the Same
    A most remarkable feature of this campaign is great similarity between the two candidates said to represent “the far left”, Mélenchon, and “the far right”, Marine Le Pen.  Both speak of leaving the euro.  Both vow to negotiate with the EU to get better treaty terms for France. Both advocate social policies to benefit workers and low income people. Both want to normalize relations with Russia. Both want to leave NATO, or at least its military command.  Both defend national sovereignty, and can thus be described as “sovereignists”.
    The only big difference between them is on immigration, an issue that arouses so much emotion that it is hard to discuss sensibly.  Those who oppose immigration are accused of “fascism”, those who favor immigration are accused of wanting to destroy the nation’s identity by flooding it with inassimilable foreigners.
    In a country suffering from unemployment, without jobs or housing to accommodate mass immigration, and under the ongoing threat of Islamist terror attacks, the issue cannot be reasonably reduced to “racism” – unless Islamic terrorists constitute a “race”, for which there is no evidence. Le Pen insists that all French citizens deserve equal treatment regardless of their origins, race or religion. She is certain to get considerable support from recently nationalized immigrants, just as she now gets a majority of working class votes. If this is “fascism”, it has changed a lot in the past seventy years.
    What is significant is that despite their differences, the two most charismatic candidates both speak of restoring national sovereignty. Both evoke the possibility of leaving the European Union, although in rather uncertain terms.
    The globalist media are already preparing to blame the eventual election of a “sovereignist” candidate on Vladimir Putin. Public opinion in the West is being prepared for massive protests to break out against an undesired winner, and the “antifa” militants are ready to wreak havoc in the streets. Some people who like Marine Le Pen are afraid of voting for her, fearing the “color revolution” sure to be mounted against her.  Mélenchon and even Fillon might face similar problems.
    As a taste of things to come, on April 20, the EU Observer published an article entitled “Russia-linked fake news floods French social media”. Based on something called Bakamo, one of the newly establishment “fact-check” outfits meant to steer readers away from unofficial opinion, the article accused Russian-influenced web sites of favoring Marine Le Pen, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, François Fillon, Francois Asselineau, and Philippe Poutou. (They forgot to mention one of the most “sovereignist” candidates, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, currently polling in sixth place.)  Since a large majority of the eleven candidates, including three of the four front-runners, are strongly critical of the EU and of NATO and want to improve relations with Russia, it would seem that Putin wouldn’t have to make a great effort to get a more friendly French government next time around.  On the other hand, the EU Observer article is only a small sample of blatant “interference in the French election” on the part of the globalists on behalf of their favorite, Emmanuel Macron, the most enthusiastic Europhile.
    The Future of France
    Among those listed as alleged Russian favorites, François Asselineau is by far the most thorough critic of the European Union.  Systematically ignored by the media since he founded his anti-EU party, the Union Populaire Républicain (UPR), ten years ago, François Asselineau has thousands of ardent supporters who have plastered his poster all over the country. His tireless didactic speeches, reproduced on internet, have driven home several key points:
    – there is no way to improve the EU from the inside, because any change would require unanimity among 27 member states who disagree on key issues.
    – the only solution for France is to use Article 50 of the EU treaties to withdraw entirely, as the United Kingdom is currently doing.
    – only by leaving the EU can France save its public services, its social benefits, its economy and its democracy.
    – it is only by restoring its national sovereignty that genuine democratic life, with confrontation between a real “left” and “right”, can be possible.
    – by leaving the EU, France, which has over 6,000 treaties with other countries, would not be isolated but would be joining the greater world.
    Asselineau is a single issue candidate.  He vows that as soon as elected, he would invoke Article 50 to leave the EU and immediately apply to Washington to withdraw from NATO.  He emphasizes that none of the other critics of the EU propose such a clear exit within the rules.
    Other candidates, including the more charismatic Mélenchon and Le Pen, echo some of Asselineau’s arguments.  But they are not ready to go so far as to advocate a clear immediate break with the EU, if only because they realize that the French population, while increasingly critical of the euro and alienated from the “European dream”, is still fearful of actually leaving, due to dire warnings of disaster from the Europeists.
    The first round campaign is an opportunity for Asselineau to present his ideas to a wider audience, preparing public opinion for a more coherent “Frexit” policy.         By far the most fundamental emerging issue in this campaign is the conflict between the European Union and national sovereignty.  It will probably not be settled in this election, but it won’t go away.  This is the major issue of the future, because it determines whether any genuine political life is possible.
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