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The war party is back in power and the odds of normal relations with Russia have dropped to zero.

The appointment of Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster to the position of national security adviser indicates that Trump has done an about-face on his most critical foreign policy issue, normalizing relations with Russia. General Michael Flynn– who recently stepped down from the post following allegations of lying to Vice President Mike Pence –was the main proponent of easing tensions with Moscow which is a position that had been enthusiastically embraced by President Donald Trump. But McMaster does not support normalizing relations with Russia, in fact, McMaster sees Russia as a “hostile revisionist power” that “annex(es) territory, intimidates our allies, develops nuclear weapons, and uses proxies under the cover of modernized conventional militaries.” So, what’s going on? Why has Trump put a Moscow-hating hawk like McMaster in a position where he’ll be able to intensify the pressure on Russia, increase the provocations and, very likely, trigger a conflagration between the two nuclear-armed superpowers?

The appointment of McMaster is an attempt by Trump to placate his enemies in the Intel agencies and foreign policy establishment. Trump is signaling to his adversaries that he will cooperate in carrying out their strategic agenda provided they allow him to finish his term. Trump doesn’t want to end up like Flynn nor does he want to do battle with the all-powerful deep state operatives who can launch one demeaning propaganda blitz after the other followed by years of excruciating investigations leading inevitably to a lengthy and humiliating impeachment that leaves Trump a broken, discredited shambles. That’s not how Trump wants to end his career in politics. He wants to end it on a high note, riding a wave of burgeoning affection and love.

That’s why he picked McMaster. The neocons love him, the liberal interventionists love him, the media loves him and the entire political establishment loves him. Everyone loves him. He’s the “warrior-scholar” who ‘speaks truth to power’ and writes futuristic books on ‘generation warfare’, ‘information superiority’ and ‘predictive battlespace awareness’ all of which delight his devoted admirers. The downside of McMaster is that he is a hard-boiled militarist with a driving animus towards Russia. Judging by his writing on the topic, I would expect a broader and more lethal conflict to flare up in either Syria or Ukraine as soon as he gets settled in his new job.

Bottom line: The removal of Flynn has convinced Trump that powerful elements within the national security state have him in their crosshairs. As a result, Trump has relinquished control of foreign policy and handed the whole mess over to gladiator McMaster who will coordinate with Sec-Def General James Mattis on a new strategy to deploy US troops to East Syria and West Iraq to establish a permanent military presence in “occupied” Sunnistan. (The area will also be used for natural gas pipeline corridors connecting Qatar to the EU) The strategy in Ukraine will focus primarily on luring Russia into a long and resource-draining war that will further depress the ailing Russian economy precipitating political instability, social unrest and regime change. That is the hope at least, that Russia’s wars abroad will lead to the ousting of Vladimir Putin.

Here’s a few clips from a presentation McMaster gave at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on May 4, 2016. They help to clarify the man’s ominous world view:

“…what I’d really like to talk to you about is (the) period we’re in right now, a period of increasing risks…risks to our nation, to our allies, and really all of humanity……….

globally – the situation in connection with U.S. vital interests and security – .. is changing really in a direction that’s going to raise additional challenges to the U.S. and U.S. national security…. what we’re seeing is a shift in geopolitics in a way that imposes great dangers and has elevated the risk of a major international military crisis to the highest level in the last 70 years. A number of scholars are writing about this – Jakub Grygiel and Wess Mitchell in particular in their great recent book “Unquiet Frontier,” where they describe revisionist powers, Russia and China in particular on the Eurasian landmass, that are surrounded by weak states which are now becoming battlegrounds, areas of competition at the far reaches of American power.” (“Harbingers of Future War: Implications for the Army with Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster”, The Center for Strategic and International Studies)

We have discussed the “pivot to Asia” ad nauseam in this column. McMaster’s comments help to underscore the fact that the struggle to control the “Eurasian landmass”, the center of economic growth for the next century, is at the heart of the US imperial crusade which is now entering a new and more dangerous phase.

McMaster: “I also think Margaret MacMillan’s great essay written in 2014 making the analogy between 2014 and 1914, and really making the point that geopolitics is back; maybe our – what we might call our holiday from history in the post-Cold War period is over.”

So in McMaster’s mind, another global conflagration on a par with World War 1 is now in the making. Unlike most people, he sees this as a challenge rather than an apocalyptic event that should be avoided at all cost.

McMaster: “I think what might have punctuated the end of the post-Cold War period is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Now, this was – this was not really a new development in terms of Russian aggression. I think you can go back to the denial-of-service attacks on the Baltic states in 2007, certainly the invasion of Georgia in 2008.”

McMaster is extremely well read and follows the news closely. He knows that Georgia attacked South Ossetia and that Putin –who was at the Olympics at the time– merely responded. Why is McMaster deliberately misleading his audience about the details? And why doesn’t he explain how the elected government of Ukraine was toppled in a CIA-State Department coup? Those facts are readily available to anyone who has seriously researched the incident.

It seems obvious that McMaster is twisting the truth to make his case against Russia.

McMaster:

“…even though it may have been apparent at least since 2008 that Russia was changing its geostrategic behavior … what we’re seeing now is we’ve awakened to, obviously, this threat from Russia, who is waging limited war for limited objectives – annexing Crimea, invading Ukraine – at zero cost, consolidating gains over that territory, and portraying the reaction by us and allies and partners as escalatory.”

The “threat from Russia”? In other words, NATO is not responsible for its relentless push eastward expanding its grip on all the former Soviet satellites in east Europe, deploying its tanks, heavy artillery, troops and missile systems right onto Russia’s doorstep. No. Instead, Russia should be blamed for its fictitious invasion of Crimea.

McMaster is basing his argument on fake facts and a convoluted interpretation of events that doesn’t square with reality. Russia is the victim of US-NATO aggression not the perpetrator.

McMaster then offers a remedy for so called ‘Russian aggression’: “…what is required to deter a strong nation that is waging limited war for limited objectives on battlegrounds involving weaker states … is forward deterrence, to be able to ratchet up the cost at the frontier, and to take an approach to deterrence that is consistent with deterrence by denial, convincing your enemy that your enemy is unable to accomplish his objectives at a reasonable cost rather than sort of an offshore balancing approach and the threat of punitive action at long distance later, which we know obviously from – recent experience confirms that that is inadequate.”

“Forward deterrence”? This needs to be clarified.

What McMaster is saying, is that, instead of threatening to retaliate at some time in the future, the US should use ‘deterrence by denial’, that is, make it as hard and as costly as possible for Russia to achieve its strategic objectives. By defeating ISIS in Eastern Syria and establishing permanent US military bases, McMaster intends to prevent Russia from restoring Syria’s sovereign borders which is one of the primary goals of the mission. The “safe zones” that Trump has talked about recently, fit perfectly with this same strategy as they undermine Moscow’s efforts to reunify the state and bring the conflict to an end.

This appears to be the plan that McMaster will pursue as national security adviser. Expect US ground troops to be deployed to Syria as soon as the details are worked out.

More from McMaster:

“… what Russia is employing…is a sophisticated strategy…that combines conventional forces as cover for unconventional action, but a much more sophisticated campaign involving the use of criminality and organized crime, and really operating effectively on this battleground of perception and information, and in particular part of a broader effort to sow doubt and conspiracy theories across our alliance. And this effort, I believe, is aimed really not at defensive objectives, but at offensive objectives – to collapse the post-World War II, certainly the post-Cold War, security, economic, and political order in Europe, and replace that order with something that is more sympathetic to Russian interests.”

The Russian strategy employs “criminality and organized crime” to effect “perception and information”?

This is just more demonization of Russia intended to make the case for war. Putin does not want a war with the US nor does he want to “collapse the post-World War II order… and replace that order with something that is more sympathetic to Russian interests.”

Putin is a firm believer in capitalism and still participates in the G-20 and WTO. What Putin objects to is the US using its extraordinary power to topple regimes it doesn’t like spreading death and instability across the planet. That’s what he opposes, the persistent meddling that undermines global security. Is that so unreasonable?

McMaster:

“So what do all these conflicts have in common is they’re about the control of territory, people and resources. ….what we need is that synergy between the joint force, where our forces have the capability and the capacity to deter conflict and, if that fails, to resolve conflict in our interest – to protect our security and our vital interests. And that may entail imposing outcomes without the cooperation of the enemy, and that has significant implications for the Army in particular.”

In other words, we are going to continue to fight for oil and markets (our “vital interests”), we’re going to go it alone if necessary, and if somebody tries to stop us, we’re going to annihilate them.

Isn’t that what he’s saying?

You know it is. There’s not going to be normal relations between Russia and the US on McMaster’s watch. The man believes we are in a life or death struggle with an evil enemy that wants to do us harm. That’s not the basis for building peaceful relations. It’s a justification for war.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

(Reprinted from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
 

The New York Times is currently engaged in one of its most ambitious projects: Removing a sitting president from office. In fact, Times columnist Nicolas Kristof even said as much in a recent article titled “How Can We Get Rid of Trump?”

Frankly, it’s an idea that I find attractive, mainly because I think Trump’s views on immigration, the environment, human rights, civil liberties and deregulation are so uniformly horrible, they could destroy the country. But the Times objections are different from my own. The reason the Times wants Trump removed is because Trump wants to normalize relations with Russia which threatens to undermine Washington’s effort to project US power deeper into Central Asia.

Trump’s decision to normalize relations with Moscow poses a direct threat to Washington’s broader imperial strategy to control China’s growth, topple Putin, spread military bases across Central Asia, implement trade agreements that maintain the dominant role of western-owned mega-corporations, and derail attempts by Russia and China to link the wealthy EU to Asia by expanding the web of pipeline corridors and high-speed rail that will draw the continents closer together creating the largest and most populous free trade zone the world has ever seen.

This is what the US foreign policy establishment and, by inclusion, the Times are trying to avoid at all cost. The economic integration of Asia and Europe must be blocked to preserve Washington’s hegemonic grip on world power. That’s the whole deal in a nutshell.

So don’t be fooled, the Times doesn’t care any more about the suffering of immigrant families who have been victimized by Trump’s extremist policies than they do about the three million refugees that have fled America’s wars in Libya and Syria. The fact that the Times continues to mischaracterize this vast human exodus as some sort of natural disaster instead of the predictable spillover from persistent US aggression, just confirms the fact that the Times is not a reliable source of unbiased information at all. It is a political publication that crafts a political narrative reflecting the views of politically-minded elites whose strategic objectives cannot be achieved without more brainwashing, more coercion and more war.

Let’s consider, for a minute, the Times article that precipitated the current furor over Trump’s alleged connection to Russian intelligence. This is the article that’s been held up by numerous members of congress and the media as ironclad proof of Trump’s collusion with Moscow. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.” (“Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence”, New York Times)

There’s no reason to read any further, because the entire article follows this same basic pattern, that is, the article is shaped to create the impression that the Trump camp teamed up with the Russians to torpedo Hillary’s campaign. Unfortunately, the Times presents no hard evidence that the “call logs and intercepted communications (that) are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I.” even exist. Nor have they proved that anyone in the Trump camp ever communicated with people in Russia (excluding Michael Flynn, of course) let alone, collaborated to undermine the presidential election. It’s all 100% uncorroborated fluff.

So what’s going on here? Why would the Times run an article alleging impeachable offenses –which has sharpened the attacks on Trump by his critics in the media, the congress and in foreign capitals– without providing any evidence that their claims are true? None of the intelligence agents cited in the article have come forward and identified themselves (as one might expect when the charges are this serious), and as the Times admits, “The F.B.I. declined to comment.”

So they have nothing, right?

One can only conclude that the real intention of the article was to generate as much suspicion as possible –in order to damage to Trump as much as possible– without really saying much of anything, that is, to create the impression of wrongdoing without providing any proof of wrongdoing. And, in that regard, the Times certainly succeeded. It has been a very impressive smear campaign.

(By the way, in a Sunday morning interview on Fox News White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said that top intelligence officials told him that their was no collusion between Trump’s people and Russia. Priebus said that “top-level people,” in the intelligence community told him “that that story in the New York Times is complete garbage. And quite frankly, they used different words than that.”

Not surprisingly, Fox News host Chris Wallace demanded that Priebus reveal his sources, a demand that Wallace never made of the Times.)

Here’s more from the Times piece:

“The intercepted calls are different from the wiretapped conversations last year between Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, and Sergey I. Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. In those calls, which led to Mr. Flynn’s resignation on Monday night, the two men discussed sanctions that the Obama administration imposed on Russia in December.”

More disinformation. So far, all we know about Flynn’s conversations was that he said that the administration would “review” the newly-imposed sanctions when after Trump was sworn in as president. There’s no evidence at all that Flynn did something illegal or in violation of the Logan Act. None. The media has used the incident to suggest that illicit activities had taken place when in fact, there is no evidence of wrongdoing at all. As far as we know, Flynn was just doing his job.

What’s more interesting is the fact that Obama decided to impose the new sanctions on Russia in late December (after Trump had already been elected) knowing that Trump probably wouldn’t support the sanctions.

That seems strange, don’t you think? Why would Obama do something so disrespectful at the eleventh hour unless he had something else up his sleeve? Was Obama setting a trap to get rid of the man who was the driving-force behind better relations with Russia? (Flynn)

I don’t know, but the facts are pretty suspicious. First, Obama imposed the sanctions in late December knowing that Trump would oppose them.

Second, Obama knew that Russia would want to discuss the sanctions with Flynn, right?

Right. So was it a trap set by Obama to trip-up Flynn?

Maybe “yes”, maybe “no”. It’s hard to say. But what we know is that 17 days before Obama left office, he issued an executive order expanding the powers of the NSA “to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.” (NYT)

Why does that matter?

It matters because Flynn had already had his conversation with the Russian ambassador, so if the Intel agency that illegally gathered the information wanted to escape prosecution, the best way to do that would be to spread the information around to other agencies making it impossible to hold any one agency accountable. Simply put: They were taking the precautionary step of removing their bloody fingerprints from the murder weapon.

Check this out from Zero Hedge: “According to civil rights expert and prominent First Amendment Supreme Court lawyer, Jay Sekulow, what the agencies did by leaking the Trump Administration information was not only illegal but “almost becomes a soft coup”, one which was spurred by the last minute rule-change by Obama, who intentionally made it far easier for leaks to propagate, and next to impossible to catch those responsible for the leaks…

This is his explanation:

‘There was a sea-change here at the NSA with an order that came from president Obama 17 days before he left office where he allowed the NSA who used to control the data, it now goes to 16 other agencies and that just festered this whole leaking situation, and that happened on the way out, as the president was leaving the office.

Why did the Obama administration wait until it had 17 days left in their administration to put this order in place if they thought it was so important. They had 8 years, they didn’t do it, number one. Number two, it changed the exiting rule which was an executive order dating back to Ronald Reagan, that has been in place until 17 days before the Obama administration was going to end, that said the NSA gets the raw data, and they determine dissemination.

Instead, this change that the president put in place, signed off by the way by James Clapper on December 15, 2016, signed off by Loretta Lynch the Attorney General January 3, 2017, they decide that now 16 agencies can get the raw data and what that does is almost creates a shadow government. You have all these people who are not agreeing with President Trump’s position, so it just festers more leaks.

If they had a justification for this, wonderful, why didn’t they do it 8 years ago, 4 years ago, 3 years ago. Yet they wait until 17 days left.’

One potential answer: They knew they had a “smoking gun”, and were working to make it easier to enable the information to be “leaked” despite the clearly criminal consequences of such dissemination.” (“Jay Sekulow: Obama Should Be “Held Accountable” For The “Soft Coup” Against Trump“, Zero Hedge)

It’s an intriguing twist to the larger story, but it is not one that I can independently verify. Besides, what really concerns me is the emerging alliance between the Dems, the agenda-driven media, the deep-state agencies, the all-powerful foreign policy establishment and the progressives that are desperate to get rid of Trump by hook or crook. Glenn Greenwald summed it up perfectly in a recent post at The Intercept. He said:

“I happen to think that the Trump presidency is extremely dangerous…. They want to dismantle the environment. They want to eliminate the safety net. They want to empower billionaires. They want to enact bigoted policies against Muslims and immigrants and so many others. And it is important to resist them. …(But) if you’re somebody who believes that both the CIA and the deep state, on the one hand, and the Trump presidency, on the other, are extremely dangerous, as I do, there’s a huge difference between the two, which is that Trump was democratically elected and is subject to democratic controls… But on the other hand, the CIA was elected by nobody. They’re barely subject to democratic controls at all. And so, to urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity. That is a prescription for destroying democracy overnight in the name of saving it.” (“Greenwald: Empowering the “Deep State” to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy“, Democracy Now)

In other words, if you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas. Leftists should avoid the temptation of aligning themselves with groups and agencies that might help them achieve their short-term goal of removing Trump, but ultimately move them closer to a de facto 1984 lock-down police state. Misplaced support for the deep state Russophobes will only strengthen the national security state’s stranglehold on power. That’s not a path to victory, it’s a path to annihilation.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

(Reprinted from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
 

The Flynn fiasco is not about national security advisor Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador. It’s much deeper than that. It’s about Russia. It’s about Putin. It’s about the explosive rise of China and the world’s biggest free trade zone that will eventually stretch from Lisbon to Vladivostok. It’s about the one country in the world that is obstructing Washington’s plan for global domination. (Russia) And, it’s about the future; which country will be the key player in the world’s most prosperous and populous region, Asia.

That’s what’s at stake, and that’s what the Flynn controversy is really all about.

Many readers are familiar with the expression “pivot to Asia”, but do they know what it means?

It means the United States has embarked on an ambitious plan to extend its military grip and market power over the Eurasian landmass thus securing its position as the world’s only superpower into the next century. The pivot is Washington’s top strategic priority. As Hillary Clinton said in 2011:

“Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests… Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology…..American firms (need) to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia…

The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade…. we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia…and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.”(“America’s Pacific Century”, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”, Foreign Policy Magazine, 2011)

In other words, it’s pivot or bust. Those are the only two options. Naturally, ruling elites in the US have chosen the former over the latter, which means they are committed to a strategy that will inevitably pit the US against a nuclear-armed adversary, Russia.

Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, wanted to normalize relations with Russia. He rejected the flagrantly hostile approach of the US foreign policy establishment. That’s why he had to be removed. And, that’s why he’s been so viciously attacked in the media and why the threadbare story about his contacts with the Russian ambassador were used to force his resignation.

This isn’t about the law and it isn’t about the truth. It’s about bare-knuckle geopolitics and global hegemony. Flynn got in the way of the pivot, so Flynn had to be eliminated. End of story. Here’s a clip from an article by Robert Parry:

“Flynn’s real “offense” appears to be that he favors détente with Russia rather than escalation of a new and dangerous Cold War. Trump’s idea of a rapprochement with Moscow – and a search for areas of cooperation and compromise – has been driving Official Washington’s foreign policy establishment crazy for months and the neocons, in particular, have been determined to block it.

Though Flynn has pandered to elements of the neocon movement with his own hysterical denunciations of Iran and Islam in general, he emerged as a key architect for Trump’s plans to seek a constructive relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Meanwhile, the neocons and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks have invested heavily in making Putin the all-purpose bête noire to justify a major investment in new military hardware and in pricy propaganda operations.” (“Trump Caves on Flynn’s resignation“, Consortium News)

US foreign policy is not developed willy-nilly. It emerges as the consensus view of various competing factions within the permanent national security state. And, although there are notable differences between the rival factions (either hardline or dovish) there appears to be unanimity on the question of Russia. There is virtually no constituency within the political leadership of either of the two major parties (or their puppetmaster supporters in the deep state) for improving relations with Russia. None. Russia is blocking Washington’s eastward expansion, therefore, Russia must be defeated. Here’s more from the World Socialist Web Site:

“US imperialism seeks to counter its declining world economic position by exploiting its unchallenged global military dominance. It sees as the principal roadblocks to its hegemonic aims the growing economic and military power of China and the still-considerable strength of Russia, possessor of the world’s second-largest nuclear arsenal, the largest reserves of oil and gas, and a critical geographical position at the center of the Eurasian land mass.

Trump’s opponents within the ruling class insist that US foreign policy must target Russia with the aim of weakening the Putin regime or overthrowing it. This is deemed a prerequisite for taking on the challenge posed by China.

Numerous Washington think tanks have developed scenarios for military conflicts with Russian forces in the Middle East, in Ukraine, in the Baltic States and in cyberspace. The national security elite is not prepared to accept a shift in orientation away from the policy of direct confrontation with Russia along the lines proposed by Trump, who would like for the present to lower tensions with Russia in order to focus first on China.” (“Behind the Flynn resignation and Trump crisis: A bitter conflict over imperialist policy“, WSWS)

Foreign policy elites believe the US and its NATO allies can engage Russia in a shooting war without it expanding into a regional conflict and without an escalation into a nuclear conflagration. It’s a risky calculation but, nevertheless, it is the rationale behind the persistent build up of troops and weaponry on Russia’s western perimeter. Take a look at this from the Independent:

“Thousands of Nato troops have amassed close to the border with Russia as part of the largest build-up of Western troops neighbouring Moscow’s sphere of influence since the Cold War…Tanks and heavy armoured vehicles, plus Bradley fighting vehicles and Paladin howitzers, are also in situ and British Typhoon jets from RAF Conningsby will be deployed to Romania this summer to contribute to Nato’s Southern Air Policing mission…

Kremlin officials claim the build-up is the largest since the Second World War.” (“The map that shows how many Nato troops are deployed along Russia’s border“, The Independent)

Saber-rattling and belligerence have cleared the way for another world war. Washington thinks the conflict can be contained, but we’re nor so sure.

The inexperienced Trump– who naively believed that the president sets his own foreign policy–has now learned that that’s not the case. The Flynn slap-down, followed by blistering attacks in the media and threats of impeachment, have left Trump shaken to the core. As a result, he has done a speedy about-face and swung into damage control-mode. On Tuesday, he tried to extend the olive branch by tweeting that “Crimea was taken by Russia” and by offering to replace Flynn with a trusted insider who will not veer from the script prepared by the foreign policy establishment. Check out this blurb on the Foreign Policy magazine website on Wednesday:

“President Donald Trump offered the job of national security advisor to retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward on Monday night…If, as expected, Harward accepts the job today, he is likely to bring in his own team, from deputy on down, with a focus on national security types with some experience under their belts…

Harward also would work well with Defense Secretary James Mattis. When Mattis was chief of Central Command, Harward was his deputy. Mattis trusted him enough to put him in charge of planning for war with Iran. Mattis has urged Harward to take the NSA job.

If Harward becomes NSA, Mattis would emerge from the Flynn mess in a uniquely powerful position: He would have two of his former deputies at the table in some meetings. The other one is John Kelly, now secretary for Homeland Security, who was his number two when Mattis commanded a Marine division early in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.” (“A Mattis protégé poised to take the helm of Trump’s NSC,” Foreign Policy)

In other words, Trump is relinquishing control over foreign policy and returning it to trusted insiders who will comply with pre-set elitist guidelines. Trump’s sudden metamorphosis was apparent in another story that appeared in Wednesday’s news, this time related to Rex Tillerson and General Joseph Dunford. Here’s a clip from CNN:

“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford meet face to face with their Russian counterparts Thursday, as the Trump administration evaluates the future direction of US-Russian relations….But even as Tillerson’s plane was taking off in Washington, the Pentagon announced the meeting between Dunford and his Russian counterpart Valeriy Gerasimov, which will take place Thursday in Baku, Azerbaijan….

“The military leaders will discuss a variety of issues including the current state of U.S.-Russian military relations …Trump’s envoys have been expressing positions more keeping with previous US policies. …

Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, indicated the US would maintain sanctions on Russia for annexing Crimea in 2014. She condemned what she called the “Russian occupation” of the Ukrainian territory…

The US has deployed thousands of troops and tanks to Poland and Romania in recent weeks, while other NATO allies have sent troops to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

“There is a common message from the President, from his security team, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, that they stay strongly committed to NATO,” he added.

Let’s summarize: The sanctions will remain, the tanks are on the border, the commitment to NATO has been reinforced, and Dunford is going to explain Washington’s strategic objectives to his Russian counterpart in clear, unambiguous language. There will be no room for Tillerson, who is on friendly terms with Putin, to change the existing policy or to normalize relations; Dunford, Haley, and Defense Secretary James Mattis will make sure of that.

As for Trump, it’s clear by the Crimea tweet, the sacking of Flynn and the (prospective) appointment of Harward, that he’s running scared and is doing everything in his power to get out of the hole he’s dug for himself. There’s no way of knowing whether he’ll be allowed to carry on as before or if he’ll be forced to throw other allies, like Bannon or Conway, under the bus. I would expect the purge to continue and to eventually include Trump himself. But that’s just a guess.

The hope that Trump would bring an element of sanity to US foreign policy has now been extinguished. The so called “Trump Revolution” has fizzled out before it ever began.

In contrast, the military buildup along Russia’s western flank continues apace.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

(Reprinted from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
 

On Friday, the Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, used his first trip abroad to present Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef with the CIA’s highest award for fighting terrorism, the George Tenet Medal. Although the ceremony wasn’t covered by any of the major media, it was picked up on various blogsites where the news was greeted with predictable howls of outrage. Not surprisingly, most American’s still see Saudi Arabia as the epicenter of global terrorism, a point which was underlined in a recent article at The Atlantic titled “Where America’s Terrorists Actually Come From”. Here’s an excerpt:

“….after sifting through databases, media reports, court documents, and other sources, Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration expert at the libertarian Cato Institute, has arrived at a striking finding: Nationals of the seven countries singled out by Trump have killed zero people in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015.

Zero….

Nowrasteh has listed foreign-born individuals who committed or were convicted of attempting to commit a terrorist attack on U.S. soil by their country of origin and the number of people they killed. … the countries at the top of the list, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are not included in Trump’s ban…

The 9/11 attacks were carried out by 19 men—from Saudi Arabia (15), the United Arab Emirates (2), Egypt (1), and Lebanon (1). The incident remains influential in how Americans think about the nature of terrorism.” (“Where America’s Terrorists Actually Come From“, The Atlantic)

While it’s true that 9-11 has shaped the way that Americans think about terrorism, it’s also true that most people are unaware of the deeper operational relationship between the CIA and the Saudis that dates back to the funding of the Mujahidin in Afghanistan in the 1970’s. This is where bin Laden and al Qaida first burst onto the scene, which is to say, that the sketchy CIA-Saudi connection created the seedbed for the War on Terror. Unfortunately, even now– 16 years after the attacks of 9-11– the relationship between the notorious intel agency and its Middle East allies remains as foggy as ever. As a result, the Saudis are typically fingered as the main source of the problem while the CIA’s role is conveniently swept under the rug. For example, take a look at this clip from an article in the Independent:

“Saudi Arabia is the single biggest contributor to the funding of Islamic extremism and is unwilling to cut off the money supply, according to a leaked note from Hillary Clinton.

The US Secretary of State says in a secret memorandum that donors in the kingdom still “constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide” and that “it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority”…..

Saudi Arabia is accused, along with Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, of failing to prevent some of its richest citizens financing the insurgency against Nato troops in Afghanistan. Fund-raisers from the Taliban regularly travel to UAE to take advantage of its weak borders and financial regulation to launder money.

However, it is Saudi Arabia that receives the harshest assessment. The country from which Osama bin Laden and most of the 9/11 terrorists originated, according to Mrs Clinton, “a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Toiba and other terrorist groups, including Hamas, which probably raise millions of dollars annually from Saudi sources, often during the Haj and Ramadan”.

(“Saudi Arabia is ‘biggest funder of terrorists“, Independent)

Then there’s this gem from ex-Vice President Joe Biden:

“Biden said that “our biggest problem is our allies” who are engaged in a proxy Sunni-Shiite war against Syrian President Bashar Assad. He specifically named Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“What did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad – except that the people who were being supplied were (Jabhat) Al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world,” Mr Biden said.” (“Joe Biden forced to apologize to UAE and Turkey over Syria remarks“, Telegraph)

The evidence against Saudi Arabia is overwhelming and damning, and that’s what makes Pompeo’s performance in Riyadh so confusing. Why is the head of the CIA bestowing an award on a man who could undoubtedly identify some of the world’s biggest terrorist donors, unless, of course, the CIA derives some benefit from the arrangement?

Is that it? Is there is a quid pro quo between Washington and the Saudis that no one knows about but from which Washington reaps tangible geopolitical benefits?

It’s certainly within the realm of possibility.

Is it too far-fetched to think that the Saudis are actually a franchise that acts as Langley’s primary subcontractor carrying out operations deemed too sensitive for its own agents while obscuring the Company’s role behind a cloak of plausible deniability? Isn’t that what Friday’s freakishly Orwellian awards ceremony really suggests, that the skullduggery is much darker, deeper and more complicated than anyone would care to imagine?

Washington’s support for the Mujahidin helped to push the Soviets out of Afghanistan which is why the Brzezinski crowd thought it was a success story. If that’s the case, then isn’t it logical to assume that subsequent administrations might have used the same model elsewhere, like Kosovo, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan?

Isn’t it at least worth investigating?

And, another thing: Is it possible to uncover the root of terror by capturing and interrogating individual terrorists to find out what they know?

No, it’s not possible, because the individual cogs have never revealed the source of the funding-streams which originate from within the deep state. Every effort has been made to distance the authors from their illicit handiwork, to remove the tracks and erase the fingerprints. Once again, it’s all about plausible deniability and preventing the public from identifying the real perpetrators. Which means the only way to end this madness is by shedding light on the shadowy goings on between the Intel agencies and their Middle East proxies. There’s no other way.

One thing is certain, you’re not going to win the war on terror by handing out medals to the prime suspects.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

(Reprinted from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
 

Donald Trump wants to rip up the financial rule book and let the bankers go hog-wild. But haven’t we tried that before?

Last Friday, the president announced a plan to scrap the rules that were put in place in 2010 to prevent another financial meltdown. Trump wants to return to the ‘good old days’ when the financial services industry could rip off clients with impunity, pile on the red ink, and operate trillion dollar brokerage houses on mere slivers of capital. Naturally, Wall Street applauded the president’s ‘bold idea’ by sending all three major stock indices soaring into record territory. The investor class knows a good deal when they see it.

Flanked by his crony friends for an après-announcement photo op, the billionaire president said he was going to roll back the toothless provisions in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill so the banks and other financial institutions could resume the destabilizing and predatory activities that vaporized the financial system, wiped out an estimated $14 trillion in capital, forced 9 million homeowners into foreclosure, and left the global economy in a smoldering pile of rubble. According to Trump, the benefits of ditching the rules far exceed the risks which, of course, will be shouldered exclusively by the blue collar working stiffs who naively supported Trump’s bid for president thinking he had their best interests at heart. Hopefully, these people will realize that President Silverspoon has allied himself with the same thieving scoundrels who precipitated the 2008 financial crash and whose sole ambition in life is to feed their voracious appetite for more money.

Trump is particularly annoyed with the so called “fiduciary rule” which requires financial advisors to put the interests of their clients above their own. What kind of crazy idea is that? How’s a guy supposed to pay off his 32-bedroom beachfront estate in the Hamptons if he can’t shake down a few credulous punters from time to time?

Trump sees the rule as another example of onerous over-regulation and namby-pamby government meddling. He thinks it reduces lending and limits investor choice, when in fact it merely protects mom and pop investors from getting fleeced by incentives-driven werewolves who adeptly pick the pockets of gullible clients in order to beef up their own commissions. That’s the name of the game right there; scamming grandma to fatten the bottom line. Here’s more from the Wall Street Journal:

“The Dodd-Frank law spawned thousands of pages of rules designed to make banks safer. Now, with President Donald Trump looking to undo much of that legislation, banks are scurrying to prepare their wish lists….

Next up on bankers’ wish lists are changes to the so-called stress tests administered each year by the Federal Reserve. The exam is meant to gauge a bank’s ability to weather big shocks that could upend the financial system. While banks say stress tests have merit, they want a process that is more quantitative, less unpredictable and more collaborative. This is crucial for them since the tests help determine how much capital banks can return via dividends or share buybacks…

Aside from specific rules changes, many banks would welcome a change in tone among regulators, who have leeway in how they interpret rules. Some say relations between banks and regulators have become too adversarial in recent years.

That is one area where the administration may be able to have the most immediate impact. In the next 18 months, President Trump is expected to get the chance to appoint a variety of financial regulators from key Federal Reserve governors to the heads of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“There could be major changes just through the changes at the heads of the agencies,” said H. Rodgin Cohen, senior chairman of law firm Sullivan & Cromwell LLP. “And in some critical respects, [bank] supervision is the most important element. You don’t actually need legislation.” (How Big Banks Want Donald Trump to Change Regulation, Wall Street Journal)

Let’s summarize: Dodd-Frank created thousands of pages of rules designed to make banks safer. Trump wants to toss the whole damn rulebook on the burnpile ASAP. Got that?

Second, the banks want weaker stress tests so they don’t have to hold as much capital, that way they can juice stock prices by loading up on more of their own shares and creaming hefty profits off the gains. Unfortunately, “less capital” means more risk for the public because undercapitalized banks are more prone to go belly-up. Naturally, that doesn’t bother Trump who favors the riskier but more profitable option. And, why not? After all, Trump knows from experience that the cost of any meltdown will be borne by US taxpayers just like it was last time. So why worry about it?

Third, the banks want friendlier regulators (“Less adversarial”) that are more willing to bend the rules to make them look safer than they really are. Did I mention that G-Sax alums will hold posts at both the SEC (Jay Clayton) and the US Treasury (Steve Mnuchin)? That oughta do the trick, don’t you think?

So– in other words– whatever regulations President Wreckingball can’t obliterate outright, he’s going to undo by appointing ‘hands off’ regulators who simply ‘look the other way’ and ignore the predatory and fraudulent activities going on right under their noses. The Wall Street Journal even admits it openly. Check it out:

“The administration plans to change how postcrisis rules are enforced, many of which are at the discretion of regulators. This includes lighter enforcement of the so-called Volcker rule, which bars banks from making proprietary trades. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also could see a change in personnel.

There could even be some relief on capital requirements. ….The administration has enough power on its own to move the needle considerably, especially for the biggest Wall Street firms. Financial stocks, already among the biggest winners since the election, just got fresh fuel to go higher.” (Trump Reforms Are Stuff of Banker Dreams, Wall Street Journal)

This serious stuff, folks. Trump’s deregulatory rampage is going to impact the lives and living standards of every man, woman and child in this country. He’s going to turn Wall Street into a financial Fukushima that reduces the sputtering US economy to a toxic waste-dump incapable of supporting the nearly-extinct middle class. And, for what? To add a little more helium to a grossly-inflated stock market bubble? It makes no sense.

By the way, when the WSJ talks about “lighter enforcement of the so-called Volcker rule”, what they really mean is that the banks are going to have greater flexibility in the way they use government-insured deposits in their casino operations. Wouldn’t you like that? Wouldn’t you like to plop-down a big chunk of change on Seabiscuit at Churchill Downs, knowing that if you lose, the government will pick up the tab?

Sure, you would. Everyone wants that deal, but Trump thinks the perks should go exclusively to the banks because they’re part of the big club. And as George Carlin says, “You and me are not part of the big club.”

And what’s Trump’s beef with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, after all, didn’t they just fine Wells Fargo $100 million for opening bogus accounts without customers’ consent?

Yep, they sure did. And that’s what has Trump so rankled. The president doesn’t like the idea that his banking chums can get their wrists slapped by an upstart regulator on a crusade to clean up Wall Street corruption. He doesn’t like that at all. He’s going to decapitate the pesky CFPB, slash its budget, and make sure its troublemaking Director, Richard Cordray, is put out to pasture. You can’t have consumer advocates in positions of power who actually do their jobs. That just won’t do at all!

Gutting Dodd-Frank is just part of Trump’s masterplan to cozy up to the Wall Street heavyweights in order to consolidate his own personal power. That’s what’s really going on. Trump has already made the same ingratiating appeal to muck-a-mucks in the military, law enforcement and the intelligence community, now he wants to be buddy-buddy with the big money guys. It’s all a powerplay.

It’s just a pity his base hasn’t figured it out yet.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

(Reprinted from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
 

Why is the Trump administration threatening Iran?

On February 1, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn announced that the administration was “putting Iran on notice” after it tested a ballistic missile which the US sees as a violation of Iran’s treaty obligations. Flynn’s frigid tone made it clear that the administration is considering the use of military force. But why?

Under current UN resolutions (Resolution 2231), Iran is forbidden “to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” Read that over again. Iran is not forbidden from testing ‘all ballistic missiles’ just missiles that are ‘capable of delivering nuclear weapons.’ The resolution could not be clearer. There’s no gray area here, none at all. Flynn is just fudging the resolution’s meaning, so he can rattle a saber. But, why? And why are other members of the administration, including the president himself, making equally belligerent remarks? In a tweet last week, Trump said, “I won’t be as ‘kind’ to Iran as Obama” which was followed by a speech by US Defense Secretary James Mattis who called Iran “the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”

What’s going on? Why the full court press against Iran? And how are these threats consistent with Trump’s campaign promise to avoid pointless confrontations abroad? Here’s an excerpt from a speech Trump delivered in Cincinnati on December 1:

“We will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past…We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments…. Our goal is stability not chaos …In our dealings with other countries, we will seek shared interests wherever possible and pursue a new era of peace, understanding, and good will.”

Where is the “peace, understanding, and good will” towards Iran? There doesn’t seem to be any. This is the same incendiary rhetoric we’re heard from every US administration dating back to the Iranian Revolution in 1979. But, why?

Isn’t the problem the same as it was with Iraq, Libya, Syria and every other country the US has either toppled or tried to topple in the last 65 years?

Of course it is. Washington abhors any country that conducts its own independent foreign policy or resists US attempts to install its own puppet government. With Iran, the problems run even deeper since Iran sits on a vast ocean of oil and natural gas to which the western oil giants feel they are entitled. They think the oil is theirs and they expect Washington to help them expropriate it.

Washington wants to return Iran to the glory days of the Shah, an era in which the USG had a trusted ally in Tehran who would follow its directives, crush the domestic opposition, and preserve the privatization-model of oil production. It’s worth noting that the Shah was installed in a CIA coup that triggered a nearly 40-year reign of terror for which the US is entirely responsible. Here’s a short except from The Harvard Crimson that will help readers to understand the horror Washington unleashed on the Iranian people to achieve its foreign policy objectives:

“The Shah systematically dismantled the judicial system of Iran and the country’s guarantees of personal and social liberties. …. Nearly every source of creative, artistic and intellectual endeavor in our culture was suppressed.

The SAVAK conducted most of the torture, under the friendly guidance of the CIA which set up SAVAK in 1957 and taught them how to interrogate suspects. Amnesty International reports methods of torture that included “whipping and beating, electric shocks, extraction of teeth and nails, boiling water pumped into the rectum, heavy weights hung on the testicles, tying the prisoner to a metal table heated to a white heat, inserting a broken bottle into the anus, and rape.”…

The Shah greatly expanded the military and turned it against his own people. With newfound oil wealth the Shah bought $2C million of U.S. arms. The U.S. military trained Iranian officers. Despite claims that a strong army was needed to prevent external aggression, its real purpose became clear when the army murdered more than 50,000 Iranians fighting the Shah.” …. The number of students tortured, lost or murdered is unknown.” (“Life Under the Shah“, The Harvard Crimson)

This is America’s legacy in Iran: “Whipping, beating, electric shocks, extraction of teeth, boiling water pumped into the rectum, and rape.” This is how the exceptional nation exported democracy to Iran.

The US has never tried to make amends for the suffering or death it inflicted on the Iranian people, nor have its crimes ever been prosecuted at an international tribunal, nor has there ever been any talk of monetary reparations. Instead, the US has done everything in its power to further isolate and punish Iran for resisting Washington’s savage intrusion into their affairs. For many years, Washington has justified its cruelty by claiming that Tehran was developing nuclear weapons that would endanger the region and the world. As it happens, there’s no evidence that Iran ever had nuclear weapons program, it’s all a hoax concocted by the political class and their allies in the media. Here’s a quote that sums up the “Iran nukes” fable in one short paragraph:

“It is essential to recognize that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapons program, nor does it possess a nuclear weapon. On February 26, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Ayatollah Khomenei, the supreme leader of Iran, ended his country’s nuclear weapons program in 2003 and “as far as we know, he’s not made the decision to go for a nuclear weapon.” This repeats the “high-confidence” judgement of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) that was first made in November 2007.”

(Micah Zenko, “Putting Iran’s Nuclear Program in Context”, Council on Foreign Relations)

There it is in one, short clip: No nukes, no nuclear weapons program, no diversion of nuclear fuel, and no sinister nuclear project aimed at blowing up Israel and establishing a region-wide Islamic Republic. It’s all 100 percent bunkum conjured up by the same group of journalists who produced the mobile weapons labs, the yellowcake uranium, the aluminum tubes, curveball and the myriad other lies that preceded the invasion of Iraq.

But if Iran is not building nukes and is actually complying with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (aka– The Iran Nuclear Agreement) then why all the fiery rhetoric and saber rattling? Is Trump seriously considering an attack on a country that poses no recognizable threat to the United States or its allies in the region?

Many people seem to think so, but I am not at all convinced.

Keep in mind, that a war with Iran would not be a cakewalk, it will be a bloody and protracted affair that would require significant military resources and tens of thousands of American troops on the ground. US warplanes would not be able to selectively bomb designated targets without provoking asymmetrical retaliatory attacks on US military bases, oil platforms and strategic allies in the region.

Iranian special forces would be deployed to locations beyond their borders where they would wreak havoc while plunging the Middle East into a broader regional war. The transport of oil through the Straits of Hormuz would be blocked indefinitely which would send gas prices skyrocketing while global equities went off a cliff.

More important, Washington would have no allies in the conflict excluding a few of the corrupt Gulf monarchies whose military value is negligible at best. The traditional European allies would abandon the US in order to maintain their ever-dwindling political base which is fed up with American adventurism. The war in Iraq, followed by the Wall Street-generated global financial crash, followed by the flood of refugees fleeing US conflicts in Syria, Libya and beyond, have made it impossible for EU leaders to support another bloody US-led fiasco in the Middle East. Washington would have to go it alone which would, in turn, strengthen the position of rising rightwing politicians in the EU that want to sever relations with the US and develop an more Euro-centric foreign policy.

The end of the Atlantic Alliance would mark the end of imperial America and the collapse of the current global order. If Washington were to lose its ability to persuade or coerce the vassal states to follow its edicts, it would be cut off from its greatest source of geopolitical power. An attack on Iran would precipitate a speedy unraveling of the global system the US has painstakingly stitched together over a seventy year period. US dominance would progressively erode while foreign governments would ditch the dollar leaving Washington to face a future of pariah-like isolation and grinding poverty.

In my opinion, an attack on Iran would trigger a series of events that would greatly accelerate US economic decline while exacerbating tensions between allies that would lead to the inevitable breakup of the Atlantic Alliance and the end of the dollar’s dominant role as the world’s reserve currency. Is Trump really willing to risk all that in order to punish Iran or is something else going on below the radar?

In order to understand what Trump is doing, we need to clarify a few details regarding the Iranian nuclear deal or JCPOA. In very broad terms, the Iranian leadership accepted the strictest nuclear inspections regime in history (overseen by the IAEA) in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. (which, by the way, were imposed without any hard evidence that Iran was developing nuclear weapons) Donald Trump believes that this is the worst deal in history when, in fact, Iran was being unfairly punished for crimes it never committed.

The question is: Why would Trump oppose an agreement that clearly eliminates any chance for Iran to cheat and secretly build a nuclear weapon?

The obvious answer is that the hawks in his administration want to (eventually) topple Iran’s government which requires that they weaken the regime as much as possible through economic sanctions. This is how Washington typically conducts its regime change operations; economic strangulation usually precedes the coup d’ etat followed by the installing of a US puppet. Wash, rinse, and repeat.

But here’s the rub: The administration cannot unilaterally terminate the JCPOA because it’s a multi-lateral agreement endorsed by the UN Security Council. As one analyst said, If Trump rejects the deal “the international sanctions regime that incentivized Iran to negotiate would unravel…. Russia and China, for instance, won’t continue sanctions on Iran because the GOP says they should. If this were to happen, Iran would receive sanctions relief without having any constraints on its nuclear program.” Besides, If Trump walks away from the JCPOA, then “the next round of negotiations will be the US sitting at a table for one.”

So even though Trump doesn’t like the deal, he’s stuck with it, because if he bails out, the allies are not going to support him. Here’s a little more background that helps to explain things:

“Some opponents of the deal advocate for threatening the international community: You can either do business with Iran or business with the United States. But this threat lacks credibility. As Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew explained in a New York Times Op-ed, 40% of American exports go to the European Union, China, Japan, India, and Korea. By threatening to exclude these countries from our banking system, the U.S. would be placing a significant portion of its own economy at risk. Moreover, the major importers of Iranian oil (China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey) also account for one-fifth of U.S. exported goods and own 47% of foreign-held American treasuries. Even threatening to terminate this economic connectivity could have negative ramifications for both the US economy and the economies of our allies.

Our negotiating partners will not maintain sanctions that hurt their economies simply because the U.S. Congress insists they do so. Threatening our allies with economic warfare is a ludicrous approach, especially when compared to the practical and widely supported alternative of implementing the agreement….”(“Iran Nuclear Deal: Debunking the Myths“, The Center for Arms Control and Non Proliferation)

What does it all mean?

It means that coercion and arm-twisting aren’t going to work this time. The agreement is written in a way that make it nearly impossible for the administration to achieve its objectives, which is to return to a bygone era when the US could inflict excruciating economic punishment on Iran without anyone uttering a word of protest. Those days are gone.

But if that’s the case, then why have Trump and his lieutenants stepped up the hectoring, the demonization and the saber rattling? What’s that all about?

That’s where it gets interesting. The Trump team has settled on a strategy of cat and mouse, which means they’re trying to beat Iran by tricking them into making a mistake that will give the US the advantage. In other words, Trump does not want a shooting war with Iran, he simply wants Iran’s leaders to overreact to Washington’s bullying by abandoning JCPOA. That’s the goal. The fact that the administration can’t unilaterally reject the nukes deal, doesn’t mean that Iran can’t be duped into doing it for them. And, if Iran takes the bait and withdraws from the agreement, then Trump will have the allies on his side for another painful round of economic sanctions. That’s what Trump wants.

So the best thing Iran can do is nothing. They need to continue to stay the course, shrug off the provocations, and keep up their end of the deal. That’s it; just hang tight and stay cool.

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

(Reprinted from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Counterpunch Archives, Donald Trump, Iran 

Why did President Donald Trump fire off an angry and threatening tweet early Thursday morning following the violent protests that had broken out the night before on UC Berkeley campus? Here’s a copy of Trump’s tweet:

“If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

Maybe the impulsive President was just angry that a controversial, rightwing speaker like Milo Yiannopoulos was unable to deliver his presentation because masked agitators began to rampage across the campus breaking windows, burning signs and wreaking havoc. That’s certainly one possibility, but there are other more intriguing explanations that seem equally likely.

Consider this: Like most Americans, Trump knows that these anarchist groups show up routinely at peaceful demonstrations with the intention of raising hell and discrediting the groups that peacefully assemble to express their opinion on one issue or another. In this case, the protestors had gathered in opposition to a man who seemingly advocates religious intolerance and Islamophobia. Trump was well aware of this.

He also knew that the UC Berkeley Chancellor and his staff did everything in their power to provide security to both the speaker and the groups that had gathered for the event. Check out this excerpt from an article at Bloomberg:

“Some advocates for universities and education said they were surprised by Trump’s tweet…

“I have never seen anything like this,” said John Walda, president of the National Association of College and Business Officers. “Why would you infer that you want to punish a university” when it was only trying to protect people. The university “did exactly the right thing,” he said…

The university said Chancellor Nicholas Dirks had made clear that Yiannopoulos’ “views, tactics and rhetoric are profoundly contrary to those of the campus,” but that the university is committed to “enabling of free expression across the full spectrum of opinion and perspective” and condemned the violence.

Berkeley seems to have done everything it can to protect students’ First Amendment rights, Cohn said.”

(“Trump Threatens U.C. Berkeley Funding Over Violent Protests“, Bloomberg)

So if the Chancellor had already gone the extra mile to protect free speech, then why did Trump decide to lower the boom on him? Was he genuinely angry with the Chancellor’s performance or did he interject himself for political reasons? In other words, how did Trump stand to benefit from getting involved in this mess?

Isn’t his tweet crafted to win support from his red state base who identify Berkeley with the erratic behavior of the “loony left” that burn flags, spit on veterans, and hate America? Isn’t it designed to discredit the millions of liberal and progressive protestors who have peacefully participated in pro-immigration demonstrations or anti-Trump marches across the country? Isn’t Trump’s interference intended to make him look like a strong, decisive leader willing to defend free speech against hypocritical leftists thugs who violently oppose anyone who doesn’t share their narrow “librul” point of view. Isn’t the action part of a broader plan to reinforce a stereotypical view of liberals as sandal clad, fist pumping, Marxist firebrands who want to burn down the country so they can create their own Soviet Utopia?

Isn’t this really why Trump decided to parachute into the event, to enlarge and polish his own image while exacerbating existing political divisions within the country?

Trump’s reaction to the incident in Berkeley is worth paying attention to if only to grasp that –what we are seeing– is not the random act of an impulsive man, but a governing style that requires an identifiable threat to domestic security, “the left”. A divisive president only prevails when the country is divided, when Americans are at each others throats and split between Sunni and Shia. That’s the goal, driving a wedge between people of differing views, exacerbating historic animosities in order to enhance the authority of the executive and usurp greater control over the levers of state power.

Once again, we’re not excluding the possibility that Trump’s tweet may have been a “one off” by an impulsive man but, by the same token, it might be an indication of something more serious altogether.

Keep in mind, that Trump’s chief political strategist, Steve Bannon, is a man who produced documentary movies on Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, and Occupy (Wall Street). According to Salon:

“Bannon does not hide his affinity for propaganda. He has cited as an inspiration Nazi propagandist and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. She famously directed “Triumph of the Will,” a film commissioned by Adolf Hitler in 1933 that portrays Germany as a country returning to world power.” (“Three lessons we learned about Steve Bannon from this weekend’s New York Times and Boston Globe profiles “, Salon)

So at best Steve Bannon is a public relations magician and at worst an unapologetic propagandist. But what is so telling about Bannon is his position in the administration. Bannon occupies the seat closest to the throne which shows how much emphasis Trump places on image, public perception and narrative. Bannon is Trump’s most trusted ally, the spinmeister whose job it is to create the Great Leader who is admired and loved by his loyal base but feared and despised by his enemies. All of this fits seamlessly with Trump’s Berkeley tweet.

And it also fits with Trump’s governing style which is geared to deepen divisions, increase social unrest, and create enemies, real or imagined. In this view, Berkeley was just a dry run, an experiment in perception management orchestrated to sharpen Trump’s image as the hair-trigger Biblical father who will intercede whenever necessary and who is always ready to impose justice with an iron fist.

So the masked rioters actually did Trump a favor, didn’t they? They created a justification for presidential intervention backed by the prospect of direct involvement. One can only wonder how many similar experiments will transpire before Trump puts his foot down and bans demonstrations altogether?

Of course, that may very well be the objective.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

(Reprinted from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
 

It’s amazing how Obama was able to dupe the American people into believing that the weakest expansion in the postwar era, was an “economic recovery.” Frankly, it boggles the mind.

Think about it for a minute: Productivity, business investment, personal consumption, inflation and growth have all been either sputtering-along at half speed or at historic lows for the entire period, and yet, President Flimflam has been out taking bows and high-fiving for his stellar performance as premier steward of the world’s biggest economy. It’s ridiculous. The whole storyline is completely fake.

So let’s settle this once and for all. The economic machinations that transpired under Obama cannot be accurately called a ‘recovery’, which is merely the public relations handle he used to conceal what was really going on below the surface.

And what was going on below the surface?

Why structural adjustment of course. The economy was being rejiggered in a way that deliberately kept growth weak (by withholding fiscal stimulus) in order reduce upward pressure on wages that would have pushed inflation higher forcing the Fed to raise rates. That may sound complicated, but it’s actually a very simple and straightforward way to keep inflation at bay.

But why would Obama deliberately want to slow growth merely to keep inflation low?

It’s obvious, isn’t it? Because if inflation began to rise, then the Fed would be forced to raise rates and stop shoveling trillions of dollars to the big Wall Street investment banks which, by the way, happened to be drowning in red ink at the time. In other words, the economy was deliberately strangled to save the banks. But then you probably knew that already, didn’t you?

Tell me you haven’t noticed how all the money has been flowing upwards for the last eight years while the economy languished on life support? Tell you haven’t noticed how the chasm between rich and poor has only gotten wider under Obama?

Do you seriously think it was all an accident? Do you really think that physically stuffing the coffers of banks with truckloads of cash behind the silly Madison Avenue-coined moniker “Quantitative Easing” was supposed to trigger more lending, boost hiring, and stimulate growth??

C’mon now, let’s be serious. The whole idea is preposterous. We the People have been corn-holed bigtime, that’s what really happened. There’s no other way to put it.

Why do I bring this up now?

Because on Friday the Commerce Department released its report on 4th quarter GDP, so now we can evaluate Obama’s economic record en toto and put the whole matter to rest. The new data essentially cuts through the bullshit and allows us to see what a complete catastrophe President Snake-oil really was. Here’s a clip from an article in the Wall Street Journal:

“The U.S. ended 2016 on a familiar trajectory of roughly 2% economic growth, the lackluster trend that has prevailed through most of the current expansion… Gross domestic product, a broad measure of the goods and services produced across the economy, expanded at an inflation and seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.9% in the fourth quarter…… That has made this the slowest expansion since World War II.”
(Economy Returns to Lackluster Growth, Wall Street Journal)

This is the flaccid, underperforming, pathetically-anemic economy about which Obama has been doing handstands and cartwheels for the last eight years. What a joke. No president in modern times has ever squeezed so many accolades out of– what amounts to –a complete failure. Here’s more from the Journal:

“So much for that economic “boom” that President Obama was supposed to have left his successor. That has been the spin among Democrats and progressive economists, but Friday’s GDP report for the fourth quarter provided another in eight years of reality checks on the Obama economic record….

Growth for all of 2016 clocked in at 1.6%, the slowest since 2011 and down from 2.6% in 2015. That marks the 11th consecutive year that GDP growth failed to reach 3%, the longest period since the Bureau of Economic Analysis began reporting the figure. The fourth quarter also rings out the Obama era with an average annual growth rate of 1.8%, which is right down there with George W. Bush for the lowest among modern Presidents.

…You have to work hard to suppress growth after a deep downturn… (Obama) achieved the remarkable feat of slower growth and more inequality.” (About that Obama “Boom”, Wall Street Journal)

Sounds pretty grim, eh? But we haven’t even gotten to the punchline yet. The real kicker is the fact that, had it not been for swelling inventories– that is, the excessive and unwanted growth in accumulated, cobweb-strewn widgets piling up to the ceiling in warehouses across the country– forth quarter GDP would have crawled in at a measly .9%. In other words, Obama’ great recovery would have been stretched out stiffly on the emergency room gurney with a sheet over its face before being rushed off hastily to the nearest belly-puncher. (Mortician)

This is the crapola economy Obama is now passing off to Donald Trump who promises to strengthen growth by cutting taxes, boosting fiscal stimulus and purging all those onerous regulations that protect the public from increasingly-frequent financial meltdowns. Trump figures that all those niggling rules just get in the way of good old profitmaking. (Where have we heard that before?)

In any event, Trump promises to lift GDP to a mighty 4% by spending $1 trillion rebuilding America’s dilapidated bridges, roads and infrastructure. Regrettably, neither the Fed nor the Senate are prepared to support his plan. “No Growth” Janet Yellen has already indicated that –at full employment with inflation gradually rising– she sees no need for additional stimulus which could lead to “overheating”, while Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has given the spending strategy a big thumbs down unless the plan is “revenue neutral” which is a sobriquet for deep cutbacks to Medicare and Social Security. If McConnell doesn’t get his blood money, Trump won’t get his stimulus, it’s as simple as that.

So, it’s gridlock once again, right?

Right. But why would Yellen and McConnell want slower growth when a little splash of stimulus could rev up activity, boost business spending, turbo-charge consumer spending, and get the economy sprinting again? Why?

Because the basic wealth transfer mechanism is different now. Fatcat CEOs no longer make their bones by scraping the gains off worker productivity. Those days are over. The way they beef up profits now is by hustling cash from the bond market that they pump into their own shares sending stocks into the stratosphere. That allows them to rake off hefty sums from their executive compensation packages while cheery shareholders walk away with a bundle. That’s how the game is played now. Ripping off workers is passe’ while financial engineering is all the rage.

But like we pointed out earlier, the game can only be played as long as inflation is kept in check. (so the Fed can keep interest rates low) When inflation takes off, the Fed has to raise rates, which means CEOs can’t get hold of all that cheap cash floating around the bond market to buyback their own shares. When that happens, the whole scam goes kaput.

Bottom line: Neither Yellen nor McConnell can allow Trump to kickstart the economy, because stronger growth puts upward pressure on wages which lifts inflation and pushes up interest rates. Higher rates are the death knell for cheap money which is the secret ingredient that keeps the nation’s wealth flowing upwards to the glorious 1 percent. That’s the whole deal in a nutshell.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

(Reprinted from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
 

In 2008, the American people voted overwhelmingly for change. They never got it. Hence, Trump.

To pretend there’s no connection between Obama’s failed presidency and the subsequent rise of Donald John Trump, is to ignore the obvious and shrug off responsibility for the situation the country is in today.

Obama created Trump, the man didn’t simply emerge from the ether. Had Obama acted in good faith and kept his promises to shake up the status quo, end the foreign wars, restore civil liberties, hold Wall Street accountable and relieve the economic insecurity that working families across the country now feel, Hillary Clinton would have been a shoe-in on November 8th. As it happens, Obama made no effort to achieve any of these objectives, which is why Hillary was defeated in the biggest political upset in the last century.

The point we want to emphasize here is that the Democratic leadership is responsible for Trump, not the working class people in the red states who merely did what they had to do to effect change. These people can’t be blamed for voting for their own best interests. That’s what people always do. Had Obama done anything to genuinely improve the economy, things might have turned out differently. But he didn’t, in fact– as popular as Obama was– a full two-thirds of the American people thought the country was headed in the wrong direction. In other words, the election was a referendum on Obama’s performance as the primary steward of the US economy. Obama lost that referendum.

Even so, the DNC could have reloaded and taken a different approach to the economy under Hillary. But they didn’t. They thought the “recovery” meme would be effective enough to put them over the finish line. But it wasn’t effective enough, because too many people saw that the recovery was a fraud, that there was no recovery, that it was all a slick Madison Avenue public relations swindle aimed at concealing the fact that Obama had restructured the US economy in a way that deliberately kept growth at-or-below 2 percent so the Fed could continue pumping cheap cash to its constituents on Wall Street while everyone else saw their personal debt-load grow, their standards of living slip, and their retirement savings vanish into thin air. Isn’t that what really happened?

Obama’s grand restructuring project has resulted in perennial economic stagnation and widespread pessimism about the future. The former president oversaw the greatest transfer of wealth from working class people to parasitic plutocrats in the history of the country. It wasn’t an accident. Obama was following a blueprint that was given to him by his handlers at the DNC.

So now the country is going to be led by a brash billionaire reality TV celebrity who has no previous political experience and who seems unusually sensitive to any kind of personal criticism. Not surprisingly, there’s no sign that the Democratic leadership has either learned its lesson or feels any responsibility for this extraordinary development.

Why is that? Why hasn’t anyone in the DNC admitted their failure, admitted that they didn’t accurately gage the mood of the country or the hunger for change? Why haven’t they acknowledged that putting the most untrustworthy candidate of all time –a thoroughly dislikable, warmongering harridan– on the ticket was a mistake? Why?

It’s because this vile collection of corporate Dems who run the party are incapable of self reflection, right? It’s because the Podesta throng — who still hold the party in their deathgrip –truly believe that bamboozling their base with Potemkin executives like Barack Obama, is a tip-top way to run the government. They think Obama’s tenure as president was a success story, mainly because his grandiloquent bloviating and larking around on stage with sleeves rolled up like some comical mid-level plant manager– diverted attention from the trillions of dollars that were being sluiced to the banking whores and speculators on Wall Street. Isn’t that why the Dems haven’t changed?

They actually think they’ve discovered the secret formula for winning elections, and that the election of Trump in 2016 was just a “one off”, a temporary setback.

But it’s not a one off. The rise of Trump has been accompanied by the rise of rightwing parties and ideology across the planet. What we are seeing is a fundamental change in the zeitgeist, which is “the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.” In this view, Obama represents the culmination of the values and ideas that emerged during the 1960s and persisted until just recently when they collapsed. The utter corruption of the progressive vision –due, in large part, to the cynical and reactionary policies of the Democrats– has paved the way for a new era, the Trump Era, in which state repression is bound to increase even while personal liberty and economic security are steadily eviscerated.

And what is the Democrats response to this new phenom?

Why, nothing at all. The whole matter seems to be over their heads entirely. They don’t seem to grasp the shifting public mood, the changing epoch, or how it will impact their future plans. Instead, they are doing everything in their power to make themselves even more irrelevant. It’s pathetic.

And keep in mind, that ever since the election, the Dems have made no effort at course correction, no effort to reconnect with the millions of working people in the red states who used to vote Democrat but switched because they wanted change. No. Instead, party leaders have embarked on a moronic character assassination campaign aimed at discrediting the new president by alleging Russian “hacking” of the election. And while they have produced absolutely zero hard evidence to substantiate their loony claims, the Dems, the media and the thoroughly unreliable Intel agencies have continued this scapegoating onslaught thinking that they are shaping public opinion in a way that undermines President Trump.

It would all be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. But it is serious. The rise of Trump poses significant challenges to democratic government, but, regrettably, the opposition party is in the middle of a major nervous breakdown. How are they going to stop this autocratic juggernaut in their present state of collapse?

They won’t be able to. They’re going to continue to get beaten to a pulp unless they get it together and stop running around with their hair on fire yelling, “The Russians are coming”. That kind of idiocy doesn’t win elections. It’s a turn-off.

The Democratic Party has to be more than a membership register attached to a donor’s list. It needs to reconnect with its base by committing itself to basic progressive values, civil liberties, non intervention, and economic fairness. It needs to try to understand why working people are either leaving the party altogether or are so disgusted they won’t even make the effort to vote.

How about a little self examination, eh? How about clearing out the deadwood starting with crooked Hillary and her sleazy compadre, Podesta? How about committing to a vision for change that’s more than a public relations scam aimed at hoodwinking your base? How about ending the buck-passing bullshit and pushing legislation that offers some tangible relief for student debt, dwindling retirements, stagnant wages, and spiraling health care costs.

The Democratic party doesn’t have to be a place where progressive ideas go to die. But they’d better get it together fast or it’s going to be game-over.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

(Reprinted from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
 

The election of Donald Trump has sent millions of people pouring out onto the streets to protest a man they think is a racist, misogynist, xenophobic bully who will destroy US democracy in his quest to establish himself as supreme fascist ruler of the country.

Maybe they’re right. Maybe Trump is a fascist who will destroy America. But where were these people when Obama was bombing wedding parties in Kandahar, or training jihadist militants to fight in Syria, or abetting NATO’s destructive onslaught on Libya, or plunging Ukraine into fratricidal warfare, or collecting the phone records of innocent Americans, or deporting hundreds of thousands of undocumented workers, or force-feeding prisoners at Gitmo, or providing bombs and aircraft to the Saudis to continue their genocidal war against Yemen?

Where were they?

They were asleep, weren’t they? Because liberals always sleep when their man is in office, particularly if their man is a smooth-talking cosmopolitan snake-charmer like Obama who croons about personal freedom and democracy while unleashing the most unspeakable violence on civilians across the Middle East and Central Asia.

The United States has been at war for eight straight years under Obama, and during that time, there hasn’t been one sizable antiwar march, demonstration or protest. Nothing. No one seems to care when an articulate bi-racial mandarin kills mostly people of color, but when a brash and outspoken real estate magnate takes over the reigns of power, then ‘watch out’ because here come the protestors, all three million of them!

Can we agree that there is at least the appearance of hypocrisy here?

Indeed. Analyst Jon Reynolds summed it up perfectly over at the Black Agenda Report. He said:

“If Hillary had won, the drone strikes would have continued. The wars would have continued. The spying would continue. Whistleblowers would continue being prosecuted and hunted down. And minorities would continue bearing the brunt of these policies, both in the US and across the world. The difference is that in such a scenario, Democrats, if the last eight years are any indication, would remain silent — as they did under Obama — offering bare minimum concern and vilifying anyone attacking their beloved president as some sort of hater. Cities across the US would remain free of protests, and for another 4-8 years, Democrats would continue doing absolutely nothing to end the same horrifying policies now promoted by a Republican.” (“Delusions Shattered“, Jon Reynolds, The Black Agenda Report)

He’s right, isn’t he? How many of the 800,000 protesters who marched on Sunday would have flown to Washington to express their contempt for would-be President Hillary Clinton?

Zero, I’d wager, and yet it’s Hillary who wanted to implement the no-fly zones in Syria that would have put Washington in direct confrontation with Moscow, just like it was Hillary who wanted to teach Putin a-thing-or-two in Ukraine. But is that what the people want? Would people prefer to be led into World War 3 by a bonefide champion of liberal values than concede the post to a brassy billionaire who wants to find common ground on fighting ISIS with his Russian counterpart?

It seems like a no-brainer to me. And it’s not like we don’t know who is responsible for the killing in Syria either. We do.

Barack Obama and his coterie of bloodthirsty friends in the political establishment are entirely responsible. These are the people who funded, armed and trained the Salafist maniacs that have decimated the country and created millions of refugees that are now tearing apart the EU. That’s right, the spillover from America’s not-so-covert operation is ripping the EU to shreds. It’s just another unfortunate side-effect of Obama’s bloody Syrian debacle. As journalist Margaret Kimberly says in a recent post at The Black Agenda Report: “All of the casualties, the sieges, the hunger and the frantic search for refuge can be placed at America’s feet.”

Amen, to that. All the violence can be traced back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, home of Barack Hussein Obama, Nobel peace prize winner. What a joke. Here’s how analyst Solomon Comissiong sums it up in another article at the BAR:

“Supporters of Barack Obama, and liberals in general, are disingenuous frauds. They had no issues protesting the likes of the amoral warmongering George W. Bush or the racist xenophobe, Donald J. Trump, however when it comes to Barack Obama they can find no reason to protest his mass murdering escapades. Obama supporters were recently nostalgic and teary eyed after he gave his last major speech as president of the United States, yet can find little reason to shed tears over the masses of civilians who were destroyed directly as a result of Obama’s policies. Where were the emotions and tears when men, women and children were getting blown to bits by USA drone attacks, indiscriminate air strikes and bombs?…Those who protested the racist and xenophobic Trump, but not Obama or Clinton, are nothing more that disingenuous frauds and amoral cowards.” (“As Obama Exits the White House, Never Forget His Destructive Imperialist Legacy“, Solomon Comissiong, Black Agenda Report)

Let’s be honest, Obama got a pass from his supporters strictly because of appearances; because he looked and sounded like a thoroughly reasonable bloke who only acted on the loftiest of principles. Obama was hailed as a moral giant, a political rock star, a leader among leaders. But it was all fake, all make-up and glitz behind which operated the vicious national security state extending its tentacles around the world, toppling regimes wherever it went, and leaving anarchy and destruction in its wake. Isn’t this Obama’s real legacy when you strip away the sweeping hand gestures and pompous rhetoric?

Of course it is. But Trump won’t have that advantage, will he? Trump is not a public relations invention upon which heartsick liberals pin their highest hopes. Trump is Trump warts and all, the proverbial bull in the china shop. That’s not to say Trump won’t be a lousy president. Judging by the Wall Street cutthroats and hard-edged military men he’s surrounded himself with, he probably will be. But the American people are no longer asleep, so there’s going to be limits to what he can hope to achieve.

So the question is: How should one approach the Trump presidency? Should we denounce him as a fascist before he ever sets foot in the Oval Office? Should we deny his “legitimacy” even though he was elected via a process we have honored for over 200 years? Should we launch impeachment proceedings before he’s done anything that would warrant his removal from office?

Veteran journalist Robert Parry answers this question in a recent piece at Consortium News. Here’s what he said:

“The current danger for Democrats and progressives is that – by bashing everything that Trump says and does – they will further alienate the white working-class voters who became his base and will push away anti-war activists.

There is a risk that the Left will trade places with the Right on the question of war and peace, with Democrats and progressives associating themselves with Hillary Clinton’s support for “endless war” in the Middle East, the political machinations of the CIA, and a New Cold War with Russia, essentially moving into an alliance with the Military (and Intelligence) Industrial Complex.

Many populists already view the national Democrats as elitists disdainful of the working class, promoters of harmful “free trade” deals, and internationalists represented by the billionaires at the glitzy annual confab in Davos, Switzerland.

If — in a rush to demonize and impeach President Trump — Democrats and progressives solidify support for wars of choice in the Middle East, a New Cold War with Russia and a Davos-style elitism, they could further alienate many people who might otherwise be their allies.

In other words, selectivity in opposing and criticizing Trump – where he rightly deserves it – rather than opportunism in rejecting everything that Trump says might make more sense. A movement built entirely on destroying Trump could drop Democrats and progressives into some politically destructive traps.” (“Selectivity in Trashing Trump“, Robert Parry, Consortium News)

Right on, Bob. A very reasonable approach to a very thorny situation.

Bravo!

(Reprinted from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)