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James George Jatras

Did the West Just Lose World War III by Forfeit?

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In the fall of the year 1480, at a point not far from Moscow, two armies faced each other on the opposite banks of the Ugra River.


On the one side were the forces of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, whose ruler, Grand Prince Ivan III (known as “the Great” and the “gatherer of the Russian lands”), had recently rejected further payment of tribute to the Great Horde.

On the other were the forces of Grand Khan Ahmed bin Küchük, who had come to lay waste to Moscow and instruct the impudent Prince Ivan to mend his ways.

For weeks the two assembled hosts glared at one another, each wary of crossing the water and becoming vulnerable to attack by the other. In the end, as though heeding the same inaudible signal, both withdrew and hastily returned home.

Thus ended more than two centuries of the Tatar-Mongol yoke upon the land of the Rus’.

Was this event, which came to be known as “the great standing on the Ugra River,” a model of what happened in Syria last week?

Almost immediately upon reports of the staged chemical attack in Douma on April 7, speculation began as to the likely response from the west – which in reality meant from the United States, in turn meaning from President Donald J. Trump. Would Trump, who had repeatedly spoken harshly of his predecessors’ destructive and pointless misadventures in the Middle East, and who just days earlier had signaled his determination to withdraw the several thousand Americans (illegally) stationed in Syria, see through the obvious deception?
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Syrian Strikes are 'Legal' – But Only According to the 'Law of the Jungle'

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The full extent of the damage to international peace and security caused by the US-led Syrian strikes will take some time to become clear. But its impact on the very concept of legality in international affairs is already evident.

Simply put, the most powerful county in the world and its chief satellites, the UK and France, have thrown the rule of law into the trash can. The only "law" now is the law of the jungle. There is no going back.

Ironically, the attack itself was claimed by its perpetrators as enforcement of legality, not of its obliteration. For example, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces "a clear breach of international norms and agreements" that "calls for a collective and effective response by the international community."

Leaving aside for a moment the question of what really happened in the Syrian city of Douma, Stoltenberg knows very well what the mechanism is for a collective response by the international community.
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What Would an ‘America First!’ Security Policy Look Like?

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Republicans love to caricature Democrats as big spenders whose only approach to any problem is to throw money at it. As with most caricatures, it is made easy by the fact that it is mostly true. At least when it comes to domestic entitlement programs, nobody can top the party of FDR and JFK when it comes to doling out goodies to favored constituencies paid for by picking someone else’s pocket.

However, Republicans are hardly the zealous guardians of the public purse they would have us believe. While quick to trash their partisan opponents for making free with taxpayers’ money, they are no less happy to do the same – at least when it’s called “national defense.”

Over the next five years, the Trump administration will spend $3.6 trillion on the military. The GOP-controlled Congress’s approved, with Republicans voting overwhelmingly in the affirmative, the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018” (HR 1892) and the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018” (HR 2810). With respect to the former, the watchdog National Taxpayers Union urged a No vote:
‘An initial estimate of approximately $300 billion in new spending above the law’s caps barely scratches the surface in terms of total spending. The two-year deal also includes $155 billion in defense and non-defense Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending, $5 billion in emergency spending for defense, and more than $80 billion in disaster funding. $100 billion in proposed offsets are comprised of the same budget gimmicks taxpayers have seen used as pay-fors over and over and are unlikely to generate much of a down-payment on this new spending.’  
Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) poses the question that few in Washington – and certainly few Republicans – are willing to ask: “Is our military budget too small, or is our mission too large?”
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The US-UK Deep State Empire Strikes Back: ‘It’s Russia! Russia! Russia!’

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There’s no defense like a good offense.

For weeks the unfolding story in Washington has been how a cabal of conspirators in the heart of the American federal law enforcement and intelligence apparat colluded to ensure the election of Hillary Clinton and, when that failed, to undermine the nascent presidency of Donald Trump. Agencies tainted by this corruption include not only the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) but the Obama White House, the State Department, the NSA, and the CIA, plus their British sister organizations MI6 and GCHQ, possibly along with the British Foreign Office (with the involvement of former British ambassador to Russia Andrew Wood) and even Number 10 Downing Street.

Those implicated form a regular rogue’s gallery of the Deep State: Peter Strzok (formerly Chief of the FBI’s Counterespionage Section, then Deputy Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division; busy bee Strzok is implicated not only in exonerating Hillary from her email server crimes but initiating the Russiagate investigation in the first place, securing a FISA warrant using the dodgy “Steele Dossier,” and nailing erstwhile National Security Adviser General Mike Flynn on a bogus charge of “lying to the FBI”); Lisa Page (Strzok’s paramour and a DOJ lawyer formerly assigned to the all-star Democrat lineup on the Robert Mueller Russigate inquisition); former FBI Director James Comey, former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and – let’s not forget – current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, himself implicated by having signed at least one of the dubious FISA warrant requests. Finally, there’s reason to believe that former CIA Director John O. Brennan may have been the mastermind behind the whole operation.
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Is the Steele Dossier Full of ‘Russian Dirt’ – or British?

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With text messages between US Justice Department (DOJ) conspirators Peter Strzok and his adulterous main squeeze Lisa Page now revealing that then-President Barack Obama “wants to know everything we’re doing,” it now appears that the 2016 plot to subvert the rule of law and corrupt the US organs of state security for political purposes reached the very pinnacle of power. To call the United States today a “banana republic” increasingly may be seen as a gratuitous insult to the friendly spider-infested nations to our south.
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Playing ‘Kurdish Card’ in Syria Backfires on US As Turks Move In

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What the result will be of Turkey’s offensive against the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin in northwest Syria may not be clear for a while, but two things are already certain. Bad decisions in Washington provided the trigger, and Washington’s regional position will suffer as a result of Ankara’s Orwellian-named “
Operation Olive Branch.”

The offensive is the latest twist from Turkey’s erratic and unpredictable leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Let’s recall that “Sultan” Erdogan was an early and active participant in what was supposed to have been a relatively easy regime change operation in Syria starting in 2011, on the pattern of NATO’s overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi that same year. Turkey, with its lengthy border with Syria, was (and to some extent still is) a major supporter of al-Qaeda-linked jihadist groups in Syria, working with Saudi Arabia and Qatar under American guidance, with Israel as a silent partner. The appearance of ISIS (Daesh, ISIL) as an outgrowth of al-Qaeda in Iraq was a direct and foreseen consequence of that effort, as the Obama Administration was warned in 2012 by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), then under the command of General Michael Flynn.

To the surprise of many, the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad didn’t just roll up and die but displayed an unexpected tenacity in defending that country’s secular, multi-religious society against outside efforts to impose a Wahhabist sectarian state. The clincher came with Russia’s September 2015 intervention, a distinctly unwelcome development for the “Assad must go!” crowd.
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Iran and Myths of Revolution

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In just the past few days during which Iran has seen anti-government protests, much has been written and said about Iranians’ desire for freedom, mixed with speculation about whether or not the ayatollahs’ Islamic republic is in danger of collapse. The following is not another such analysis. Rather, this is an attempt to address the underlying assumptions of most of the sage pronouncements to which we are treated – assumptions that are as lacking in substance as they are ubiquitous. Three of these myths are noted below.
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Attack on RT Is Another Step Towards Sovietization of American Media

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This week the US Department of Justice Criminal Division forced the Russian-funded television network RT (formerly Russia Today) to register as a “foreign agent” under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Failure to comply would have risked arrest of RT’s management and seizure of its assets. The move comes on the heels of Senators’ recent demands that terrified tech giants Twitter, Facebook, and Google act as ideological filters.

With no discernable defenders among America’s media establishment, RT rightly denounced the selective FARA mandate as an attack on media freedom – which it is. But more ominous is what the move against RT says about America’s rulers’ further intention to limit the sources of information available to its subjects.

As Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute writes: "RT America is a news organization operating in the United States that is funded at least partly by a foreign government. So is the BBC. So is Deutsche Welle, France24, Al-Jazeera, and numerous other foreign media organizations. It is assumed that they all to a degree reflect the editorial interests of those who pay the bills."
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Bombshell Revelation of US and Saudi Culpability in Creating ISIS Ignored by Mainstream Media – and by Team Trump

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Here it is, right from the horse’s mouth! Qatar’s former prime minister spills his guts about how his country worked with Saudi Arabia and Turkey under the direction of the United States – meaning then the Obama Administration – to funnel arms and money to jihad terrorists in Syria:

‘The explosive interview constitutes a high level "public admission to collusion and coordination between four countries to destabilize an independent state, [including] possible support for Nusra/al-Qaeda." ...  Former Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, who oversaw Syria operations on behalf of Qatar until 2013,... said while acknowledging Gulf nations were arming jihadists in Syria with the approval and support of US and Turkey: "I don't want to go into details but we have full documents about us taking charge [in Syria]." He claimed that both Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (who reigned until his death in 2015) and the United States placed Qatar in a lead role concerning covert operations to execute the proxy war.

‘The former prime minister's comments, while very revealing, were intended as a defense and excuse of Qatar's support for terrorism, and as a critique of the US and Saudi Arabia for essentially leaving Qatar "holding the bag" in terms of the war against Assad. Al-Thani explained that Qatar continued its financing of armed insurgents in Syria while other countries eventually wound down large-scale support, which is why he lashed out at the US and the Saudis, who initially "were with us in the same trench."’ [“In Shocking, Viral Interview, Qatar Confesses Secrets Behind Syrian War,” Zero Hedge, October 29]

Busted! Consider the vulnerability of the former U.S. officials who were in charge at that time, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Just now, the latter had had her worst week since losing the election with the revelations about the Steele dossier, the Uranium One caper, and the Podesta Group’s implication in “RussiaGate.” The only thing now is to sit back and watch the fireworks show!
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An Attack on Iran or North Korea Wouldn’t Be Putting ‘America First’

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Almost every day I am asked by someone what the likelihood is that we may soon be at war with Iran or North Korea, or conceivably both. As it’s unlikely either of those countries will attack the United States since it would be suicidal, the question of war really means: are we going to attack them?

There are those who say all the tub-thumping emanating from Washington is just bluster. For example, Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com writes that President Donald Trump is just engaging in “rhetorical pyrotechnics and scor[ing] political points with certain [domestic] constituencies while maintaining the status quo: in short, he gets to engage in what is essentially a theatrical performance entirely unrelated to what is actually occurring on the ground. His enemies, mistaking rhetoric for reality, have risen to the bait.”

I hope Raimondo is right but I fear otherwise. Underlying his analysis is the all-too-factual reality that attacking either country would result in catastrophe. “Millions would die, on both sides of the demilitarized zone,” if we were to move first, he writes. “For this reason, the US – despite Trump’s tweets – is not going to launch an attack on North Korea.” Similar logic applies to Iran.

Unfortunately, if a prudent assessment of costs and benefits had guided American policy in recent years, none of our other wars of choice would have taken place either – yet they did. The fact that foreseeable consequences may appear “unthinkable” to rational minds does not mean they are not regarded as quite thinkable to those making the decisions.
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