Ukraine: The subtle foreign policy of the USA

Ex-Vice President Biden chatters unreflectively on how to enforce own interests in Washington.

That is interesting. Ironically, a commentary by Leonid Bershidsky in Bloomberg.com shows how the US government enforces the “liberal world order,” the one that matches Washington’s interests. It has long been known that former US Vice President Joe Biden had an increased interest in Ukraine and fomenting conflict with Russia. His son Hunter had been involved shortly after the fall of the Yanukovych government with the gas company Burisma Holdings, where the father was probably also because of corruption allegations had been active. In a relaxed environment, Biden chatted at a Council on Foreign Relations event on how politics goes on stage. Apparently little diplomatic. He told how, possibly because of his son, President Poroshenko and the then Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, whom the Americans successfully hired into office, led to dismiss Attorney General Viktor Shokin. He resigned in March 2016. Supposedly he had done too little against the rampant corruption in Ukraine, which was not surprising and is because Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk are involved. Even after his resignation, of course, little has changed.

Biden called for the dismissal of Shokin, underlining that the Ukrainian government would otherwise not receive a loan guarantee amounting to one billion US dollars. He told the president and the head of government that he was only six hours in Ukraine. If the attorney general did not release in time, they would not get the money: “son of a bitch, he was fired, and they put somebody in their place, who was solid at the time.”

That’s nice. Yuriy Sevruk, previously Deputy of Shokin, also flew shortly thereafter. After that, in May 2016, Poroshenko’s confidant and Yuriy Lutsenko, who had a criminal record, arrived after parliament decided that law schooling should not be a prerequisite for an Attorney General. Also Lutsenko did not change anything, because he does not act independently, but is a stooge of Poroshenko, who does not prosecute corruption, but the competitors of Poroshenko and the National Anti-Corruption Agency (NABU), as practical (anti-corruption authority under pressure).

Already alone how Biden describes the process of his political action is revealing in the reflectionless narrative. Here is the Bloomberg-derived transcription:

I said, nah, I’m not going to – or, we’re not going to give you the billions of dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said – I said, call him. I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to leave here, I think about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in someone who was solid at the time.

Even Bloomberg asks what lies behind Biden’s alleged success story. Poroshenko has been able to better protect the West’s efforts to reduce corruption for the billion or three billion loan guarantees under Obama. Biden, too, seems to have doubts about the outcome in the end, since he admits to being concerned about Kiev’s re-slipping into corruption.

However, he was more concerned about the American regime change policy, which unscrupulously supports any opposition, in the case of Ukraine even right-wing extremists, and only replaces one oligarch with another, western-oriented.

It is beginning to dawn on those in the West as to who has come to power in Ukraine. Poroshenko, according to Bloomberg, has become a virtuoso, purportedly to obey the wishes of the West, but to safeguard his interests as an oligarch. The Russian threat is an essential part of the strategy. Therefore, there is no interest in finding a peaceful solution with the “people’s republics”. What the American geostrategists are afraid of is not that the Russians are marching with tanks to Ukraine, only that they are ruining the economy: “And that’s when it all goes to hell.”

By (Florian Rötzer)

 

byAlfonso

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Intel Vets Tell Trump Iran Is Not Top Terror Sponsor

A group of U.S. intelligence veterans urges President Trump to stop his administration’s false claims about Iran being the leading state sponsor of terrorism when U.S. allies, such as Saudi Arabia, are clearly much guiltier.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

 FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: Is Iran the “World’s Leading Sponsor of Terrorism?”

 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY/BACKGROUND 

We are concerned by recent strident and stark public statements from key members of your Administration that paint Iran in very alarmist terms. The average American, without the benefit of history, could easily be persuaded that Iran poses an imminent threat and that there is no alternative for us but military conflict.

We find this uncomfortably familiar territory. Ten years ago former President George W. Bush was contemplating a war with Iran when, in November of 2007, intelligence analysts issued a formal National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) debunking the prevailing conventional wisdom; namely, that Iran was on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon.  The NIE concluded that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003.

Recalling this moment in his memoir, Decision Points, President Bush noted that the NIE’s “eye-popping” intelligence findings stayed his hand.  He added this rhetorical question: “How could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?”

We believe that you are facing a similar situation today. But instead of an inaccurate claim that Iran has nuclear weapons, the new canard to justify war with Iran is the claim that Iran remains the “world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.” This is incorrect, as we explain below.

 * * *

One of the recurring big bipartisan lies being pushed on the public with the enthusiastic help of a largely pliant media is that Iran is the prime sponsor of terrorism in the world today.

In the recent presentation of your administration’s National Security Strategy for 2018, the point is made that:

“Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, has taken advantage of instability to expand its influence through partners and proxies, weapon proliferation, and funding.

Iran continues to perpetuate the cycle of violence in the region, causing grievous harm to civilian populations.”

Those sentiments are echoed by several other countries of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, for example, declared in October 2015 that: Iran “is the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world, and it is working on destabilizing the region.”

The Saudi foreign minister conveniently declined to mention that 15 of the 19 terrorists who hijacked planes and attacked America on 11 September 2001 were Saudis, not Iranians.  And, while Iran was an active promoter of terrorism two decades ago, it is no longer in the forefront of global terrorism. Ironically, that dubious distinction now goes to Iran’s accusers — first and foremost, Saudi Arabia.

The depiction of Iran as “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism” is not supported by the facts. While Iran is guilty of having used terrorism as a national policy tool, the Iran of 2017 is not the Iran of 1981. In the early days of the Islamic Republic, Iranian operatives routinely carried out car bombings, kidnappings and assassinations of dissidents and of American citizens. That has not been the case for many years. Despite frequent claims by U.S. officials that Iran is engaged in terrorism, we simply note that the incidents recorded annually in the U.S. Department of State’s Patterns of Global Terrorism rarely identifies a terrorist incident as an act by or on behalf of Iran.

Iran’s relationship with Hezbollah also has evolved radically. In the early years of the Islamic Republic, Hezbollah was often a proxy and sub-contractor for Iran. But during the last 20 years Hezbollah has become an entity and political force in its own right. It fought Israel to a standstill in 2006 in southern Lebanon, which was a watershed moment in establishing Hezbollah’s transformation into a conventional army. In the intervening years, Hezbollah, which is now part of the Lebanese government, also has turned away from the radical, religious driven violence that is the hallmark of the Sunni extremists, like ISIS.

Iran’s Asymmetrical Response

After Iran fell under the rule of the Ayatollah in 1979 terrorism, its role in high profile terrorist attacks, such as the taking of U.S. hostages and the bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the Marine barracks in Lebanon, fed understandable U.S. animosity towards Iran.  But Iran’s actions were not driven primarily by blind hatred or radical religious views.  For Iran terrorism was a way to punch back against more powerful foes, principally the United States, which was providing military and intelligence support to Iran’s neighbor and enemy, Iraq.

Portrait of the late Ruhollah Khomeini by Mohammad Sayyid

The Iranians were also pragmatic and had direct dealings with Israel. During the early days of the Iranian revolution the Mullahs, despite publicly denouncing Israel, happily accepted secret military support from the Israelis. Israel was equally pragmatic. The Israeli leaders ignored the Mullahs and gave the support as a means of helping counter the threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. A classic case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

The public image of Iran as a hotbed of fanatical terrorists has been usurped since the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in east Africa by Al Qaeda and other radical Sunni entities. The U.S. Government’s own list of terrorist attacks since 2001 shows a dramatic drop in the violence carried out by Iran and an accompanying surge in horrific acts by radical Sunni Muslims who are not aligned with Iran.  The latest edition of the Global Terrorism Index, a project of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, shows that four groups accounted for 74 percent of all fatalities from terrorism in 2015 — Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS.

Thirteen of the 14 Muslim Groups identified by the U.S. intelligence community as actively hostile to the US are Sunni, not Shia, and are not supported by Iran:

– ISIS (Sunni)

– The Al-Nusra Front (Sunni)

– Al-Qa’ida Central (Sunni)

– Al-Qa’ida in Magheb (Sunni)

– Al-Qa’ida in Arabian Peninsula (Sunni)

– Boku Haram (Sunni)

– Al-Shabbab (Sunni)

– Khorassan Group (Sunni)

– Society of the Muslim Brothers (Sunni)

– Sayyaf Group in the Philippines (Sunni)

– Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan (Sunni)

– Lashgar i Taiba (Sunni)

– Jemaa Islamiya (Sunni)

– Houthis (Shia)

The last major terrorist attack causing casualties that is linked to Iran was the July 2012 bombing of a bus with Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. That departure from Iran’s more recent policy on terrorism was retaliation for what Iran perceived to be Israel’s role in assassinating five Iranian scientists involved with Iran’s Nuclear program, between January 2010 and January 2012 (the dates and names of those attacked are appended).

One can easily imagine the outrage and lust for revenge that would sweep the U.S., if Americans believed a foreign country sent operatives into the United States who in turn murdered engineers and scientists working on sensitive U.S. defense projects.

 

Special Operations

There have been other terrorist attacks inside Iran bearing the handprint of support from the United States. Author Sean Naylor, Relentless Strike, which details the history of operations carried out by U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) over the past 30 years, sheds light on this uncomfortable truth:

 

“JSOC personnel also worked with the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), a militant Iranian exile group that had based itself in Iraq after falling afoul of the ayatollahs’ regime in Tehran. The State Department had placed the MEK on its list of designated terrorist organizations, but that didn’t stop JSOC from taking an attitude of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” toward the group. “They were a group of folks that could transit the border, and they were willing to help us out on what we wanted to do with Iran,” said a special operations officer.”

The MEK were classified as a terrorist group, until the United States decided that as long as the MEK would help kill Iranians rather than Americans, that they were no longer terrorists. The MEK’s history of terrorism is quite clear. Among more than a dozen examples over the last four decades these four are illustrative:

  • During the 1970s, the MEK killed U.S. military personnel and U.S. civilians working on defense projects in Tehran and supported the takeover in 1979 of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
  • In 1981, the MEK detonated bombs in the head office of the Islamic Republic Party and the Premier’s office, killing some 70 high-ranking Iranian officials, including Iran’s President, Premier, and Chief Justice.
  • In April 1992, the MEK conducted near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian embassies and installations in 13 countries, demonstrating the group’s ability to mount large-scale operations overseas.
  • In April 1999, the MEK targeted key military officers and assassinated the deputy chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff.

Despite this history, a bipartisan parade of prominent U.S. political and military leaders has lobbied on behalf of MEK and has been well compensated in return.

Benighted Policy So Far

In the ultimate ironic turn, the U.S.-led 2003 war in Iraq played a critical role in Iran’s resurgence as a regional power. Saddam Hussein was replaced by Shia muslims who had received sanctuary in Iran for many years and Baathist institutions, including the Army, were taken over by Iraqis sympathetic to Tehran.

Iran has come out ahead in Iraq and, with the 2015 nuclear agreement in place, Iran’s commercial and other ties have improved with key NATO allies and the other major world players—Russia and China in particular.

Official pronouncements on critical national security matters need to be based on facts. Hyperbole in describing Iran’s terrorist activities can be counterproductive. For this reason, we call attention to Ambassador Nikki Haley’s recent statement that it is hard to find a “terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran’s fingerprints all over it.” The truth is quite different. The majority of terrorist groups in the region are neither creatures nor puppets of Iran. ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra are three of the more prominent that come to mind.

You have presented yourself as someone willing to speak hard truths in the face of establishment pressure and not to accept the status quo. You spoke out during the campaign against the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq as a historic mistake of epic proportions. You also correctly captured the mood of many Americans fatigued from constant war in far away lands. Yet the torrent of warnings from Washington about the dangers supposedly posed by Iran and the need to confront them are being widely perceived as steps toward reversing your pledge not to get embroiled in new wars.

We encourage you to reflect on the warning we raised with President George W. Bush almost 15 years ago, at a similar historic juncture:

“after watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced that you would be well served if you widened the discussion … beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”

 

APPENDIX

LIST OF IRANIAN SCIENTISTS ASSASSINATED IN IRAN

January 12, 2010: Masoud Alimohammadi, Iranian Physicist:

Killed by a car bomb.  The perpetrator reportedly confessed to having been recruited by Israeli intelligence to carry out the assassination.

November 29, 2010: Majid Shahriari, Iranian nuclear scientist:

Killed by a car bomb.  According to German media, Israel was the sponsor.

November 29, 2010: Assassination attempt on Fereydoon Abbasi Iranian nuclear scientist:

Wounded by a car bomb.

July 23, 2011: Darioush Rezaeinejad, Iranian electrical engineer, unclear scientist

Killed by unknown gunmen on motorcycle.  Specialist on high-voltage switches — a key component of nuclear warheads.  Assassinated by Israeli intelligence, according to the German press.

January 11, 2012: Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, Iranian nuclear scientist

Killed at Natanz uranium enrichment facility by a magnetic bomb of the same kind used in earlier assassinations of Iranian scientists.

________________________

Signed:

Richard Beske, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

William Binney, former NSA Technical Director for World Geopolitical & Military Analysis; Co-founder of NSA’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center

Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) and Division Director, State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research

Bogdan Dzakovic, Former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security, (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Larry C. Johnson, former CIA and State Department Counter Terrorism officer

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (Ret.); ex-Master SERE Instructor for Strategic Reconnaissance Operations (NSA/DIA) and Special Mission Units (JSOC)

John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003

Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Near East, CIA and National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Torin Nelson, former Intelligence Officer/Interrogator (GG-12) HQ, Department of the Army

Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)

Greg Thielmann — Former director of the Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs Office of the State Department’s intelligence bureau (INR) and former senior staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee

Kirk Wiebe — former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel (USA, ret.), Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary (associate VIPS)

Sarah G. Wilton, CDR, USNR, (Retired)/DIA, (Retired)

Robert Wing — former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)

Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret.); Foreign Service Officer (who resigned in opposition to the war on Iraq)

Published in Consortium

By alfonso

Close Camp Bondsteel!

Rising tensions in the global relations and hot beds of old and new crisis call for unity and efforts of all peace forces for closing foreign military bases, particularly US and NATO foreign military bases, around the globe. The peace forces are obligated to send clear message that US and NATO foreign military bases represent the tools of hegemonies’, aggression, occupation, and that as such must be closed.
Peace and inclusive development, elimination of hunger and misery require redistribution of spending for maintained of military bases in favor of development needs, education and health services. After the end of the Cold War the whole humanity expected stability, peace and justice in the world of equal states and nations. Such expectations, however, turned to be futile beliefs.
In the last two decades, instead of closing US and NATO military bases in Europe, the continent has been interknitted by whole chain new US military bases in Bulgaria, Rumania, Poland, Baltic states. As a consequence, there are today more US military bases in Europe than at the pick of the Cold War. Peace and security have become more fragile and quality of life jeopardized.
This dangerous development was triggered in 1999 by NATO-US led aggression against Serbia (FR Yugoslavia). At the end of the aggression US established military base in the occupied part of the Serbian territory Kosovo and Metohija, called Bondsteel, which is one of the most expensive and the largest USA military bases, established after the Vietnam War. It was not only an illegal, but brutal act of disrespect of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and other basic principles of international law. Now, there is even a plan to expand the base Bondsteel transforming it into a permanent location of American troops and a hub of US military presence in South East Europe for geostrategic purposes and confrontations.
We demand that the Bondsteel military base be closed as well as all other US military bases in Europe and in the World. Preparations for furthering confrontation and new wars are senseless waste of money, energy and development opportunities.
The Belgrade forum as an integral part of the world peace movement, stands firmly by the initiative to close all military bases in the world and redirect resources to rising development needs and people yearnings for better life.

The Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals 

Belgrade, January 12, 2018

by alfonso

 

 

Österreich: Mit permanenten Tabubrüchen wird eine neue Normalität geschaffen

Österreichs Rechtsregierung bekennt sich immer offener zu ihrer lang verleugneten Zuneigung zum Nationalsozialismus.

Was war das für eine nationale Empörungswelle, die Österreich kurz nach der Wahl der Rechtskoalition aus FPÖ und ÖVP erschütterte – als ein Frankfurter Satiremagazin es wagte, sich über den als “Baby Hitler” verspotteten österreichischen Regierungschef Sebastian Kurz lustig zu machen. In Reaktion auf die Satire des Titanic-Magazins wurden Strafanzeigen erstattet, Verfassungsämter bemüht, Revolverblatt-Kampagnen gestartet und Unmengen von Hassmails gen Frankfurt verschickt.

Nun, nach den ersten Monaten rechtsösterreichischer Regierungspraxis, scheint es aber eher so, dass das Frankfurter Satiremagazin keine Satire, sondern eine Prognose abgeliefert habe. Der österreichische “Baby-Hitler” scheint beängstigend schnell seinen braunen Windeln zu entwachsen. Die Koalition aus FPÖ und ÖVP, deren Anhängerschaft bei jedem Hitler-Vergleich wutschäumend um sich schlägt, scheint geradezu besessen zu sein vom großen historischen Vorbild des Nationalsozialismus. Sowohl Ästhetik als auch die Rhetorik der NS-Ära halten Einzug im politischen Alltag in Österreich.

Die mit ehemaligen Nazis besetzte Regierungsmannschaft des als “Baby-Hitler” verspotten Jungkanzlers (31) Kurz macht einerseits einfach dort weiter, wo sie im Wahlkampf aufhörte: bei der rechtspopulistischen Provokation, beim barbarischen “Tabubruch”, bei dem zivilisatorische Mindeststandards zwecks Aufmerksamkeitsgenerierung bewusst unterschritten werden. Das Problem in Österreich besteht aber darin, dass diese zivilisatorischen Standards nach jahrelangen rechten Tabubrüchen so niedrig sind, dass deren Unterschreiten nur noch im tiefsten brauen Morast möglich ist.

Flüchtlinge in Kasernen “konzentrieren”

Es muss schon offener NS-Jargon sein, um in einem Land, in dem die Rechte die Hegemonie errungen hat, noch den intendierten Skandal auszulösen. Der neue österreichische Innenminister und FPÖ-Stratege Herbert Kickl sprach jüngst davon, Flüchtlinge in Österreich künftig in Lagern “konzentriert” zu “halten”. Auf Nachfrage, ob Kickl damit bewusst auf den NS-Jargon zurückgreife, erklärte dieser, mit der Formulierung, “keinerlei Provokation” beabsichtigt zu haben.

Wiens Vizebürgermeisterin bezeichnete diese Entgleisung hingegen als ein “unerträgliches Spiel mit der dunkelsten Zeit unserer Geschichte”. Die BBC und die New York Times meldeten, dass der in österreichischen Regierung wieder “Nazisprache” Verwendung finde. Ähnlich “nationalsozialistisch” argumentieren übrigens inzwischen auch die Rechtsausleger der CSU, deren Politiker im NS-Jargon die “finale Lösung der Flüchtlingsfrage” fordern und eine “konservative Revolution” ausrufen.

Wie sich die FPÖ den ersten Schritt in ein Konzentrationslagersystem im 21. Jahrhundert vorstellt, machte der österreichische Vizekanzler und ehemalige Neonazi Heinz-Christian Strache kurz zuvor deutlich: Er könne sich vorstellen, künftig Flüchtlinge in Kasernen unterzubringen – und diese mit einer Ausgangssperre zu belegen.

Strache sprach sich somit offen für die Internierung von Flüchtlingen aus, wobei er das Recht auf Asyl generell infrage stellte: “Es braucht ja auch Ordnung, solange es noch ein offenes Asylverfahren gibt.” Eine solche Freiheitsentziehung würde gegen die europäische Menschenrechtskonvention verstoßen. Kurz danach legte Strache noch einen drauf, indem er in Österreich eine “Minuszuwanderung” von Flüchtlingen forderte.

Von TELEPOLIS

alfons