Category Archives: Foreign Policy

Greenwald: Empowering the “Deep State” to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy, by Nermeen Shaikh and Glenn Greenwald

This is the transcript of an interview between Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh, and Glenn Greenwald, who has changed his tune quite a bit from his article SLL posted last Wednesday. From Shaikha and Greenwald from informationclearinghouse.info:

Transcript
NERMEEN SHAIKH: We’re looking at the growing scandal over the Trump administration’s alleged dealings with Russia before and after the November election. In early January, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show and suggested the intelligence community may try to get back at Donald Trump.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So, even for a practical, supposedly, hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, in January.

Some supporters of Trump, including Breitbart News, are now accusing the intelligence agencies of attempting to wage a “deep state coup” against the president. Meanwhile, some critics of Trump are openly embracing such activity, like Bill Kristol, the prominent Republican analyst who founded The Weekly Standard. He wrote on Twitter, “Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”

So, still with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, speaking to us from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Glenn, explain what the deep state is, and respond.

GLENN GREENWALD: The deep state, although there’s no precise or scientific definition, generally refers to the agencies in Washington that are permanent power factions. They stay and exercise power even as presidents who are elected come and go. They typically exercise their power in secret, in the dark, and so they’re barely subject to democratic accountability, if they’re subject to it at all. It’s agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world’s worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads. This is who not just people like Bill Kristol, but lots of Democrats are placing their faith in, are trying to empower, are cheering for as they exert power separate and apart from—in fact, in opposition to—the political officials to whom they’re supposed to be subordinate.

To continue reading: Greenwald: Empowering the “Deep State” to Undermine Trump is Prescription for Destroying Democracy

 

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Western Interests Aim To Flummox Russia, by Paul Craig Roberts and Michael Hudson

If Russia decideds to break away from China and Iran, and throw in its lot with the West, it will get very little in return. From Paul Craig Roberts and Michael Hudson at paulcraigroberts.org:

An article by Robert Berke in oilprice.com, which describes itself as “The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News,” illustrates how interest groups control outcomes by how they shape policy choices.

Berke’s article reveals how the US intends to maintain and extend its hegemony by breaking up the alliance between Russia, Iran, and China, and by oil privatizations that result in countries losing control over their sovereignty to private oil companies that work closely with the US government. As Trump has neutered his presidency by gratuitously accepting Gen. Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor, this scheme is likely to be Trump’s approach to “better relations” with Russia.

Berke reports that Henry Kissinger has sold President Trump on a scheme to use the removal of Russian sanctions to pry President Putin away from the Russian alliance with Iran and China. Should Putin fall for such a scheme, it would be a fatal strategic blunder from which Russia could not recover. Yet, Putin will be pressured to make this blunder.

One pressure on Putin comes from the Atlanticist Integrationists who have a material stake in their connections to the West and who want Russia to be integrated into the Western world. Another pressure comes from the affront that sanctions represent to Russians. Removing this insult has become important to Russians even though the sanctions do Russia no material harm.

We agree with President Putin that the sanctions are in fact a benefit to Russia as they have moved Russia in self-sufficient directions and toward developing relationships with China and Asia. Moreover, the West with its hegemonic impulses uses economic relationships for control purposes. Trade with China and Asia does not pose the same threat to Russian independence.

Berke says that part of the deal being offered to Putin is “increased access to the huge European energy market, restored western financial credit, access to Western technology, and a seat at the global decision-making table, all of which Russia badly needs and wants.” Sweetening the honey trap is official recognition of “Crimea as part of Russia.”

Russia might want all of this, but it is nonsense that Russia needs any of it.

To continue reading: Western Interests Aim To Flummox Russia

War In Asia, by the Zman

Here is a more optimistic appraisal on the possibility of war with China that “Is President Trump Headed for a War with China?” From the Zman on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

There is a class of pundit that lives to talk about various war scenarios, almost always involving the United States. In the Cold War, this was a lucrative profession as most people thought war with Russia was an inevitability. Back then, the scenarios were all built around a chain of events that would lead to a nuclear exchange. The big set piece battles in Europe would give way to one side or the other deciding to launch their ICBM’s. In retrospect, the only way that was going to happen was though human error.

Today, the focus of the great game is usually on Asia, particularly China. That’s because the formerly dirt poor Chinese are suddenly rich and spending tons of money on their military. That means they have started to bully their neighbors, most notably Japan and Taiwan. As the patron of North Korea, they also can push the South Koreans around a bit too. The Chinese also have a strange way of being unnecessarily hostile to the US by letting it be known they are ready for a fight, just as soon as they can start one.

The assumption in the West is that China has plans to displace the US as the regional hegemon. That’s not an unreasonable assumption. A civilization with a billion people and 5,000 years of history should swing a big stick in its own neighborhood. The mistake is in thinking they are in a big hurry to confront the US in order to take control of the Pacific Rim. That’s a Western way of looking at things and it ignores a lot of history. China has always taken a long view. They don’t have to rush into anything. Instead, they can wait and let nature takes its course.

To continue reading: War In Asia

Lessons and Propaganda From the Botched Raid on Yemen, by William J. Astore

The Trump administration has yet to offer a convincing rationale for why US special forces are in Yemen, or why the US is aiding Saudi Arabia in its war on that impoverished and starving country. From William J. Astore at antiwar.com:

Nora al-Awlaki, 8 years old, killed in the Yemen raid

Nora al-Awlaki, 8 years old, killed in the Yemen raid

The Trump administration’s first “kinetic” military action, last weekend’s raid on Yemen that killed a Navy SEAL as well as fifteen women and children, was an operational failure. Aggravating that failure has been the aggressive propaganda spin applied by the White House. According to White House spokesman Sean Spicer, the operation was a major success:

“Knowing that we killed an estimated 14 AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] members and that we gathered an unbelievable amount of intelligence that will prevent the potential deaths or attacks on American soil – is something that I think most service members understand, that that’s why they joined the service.”

Later, Spicer doubled down, accusing Senator John McCain (and other critics of the raid) of defaming the dead Navy SEAL when he suggested the raid had been something less than a towering success. McCain, Spicer said, owed the dead SEAL an apology.

Trump himself then joined the fray, accusing John McCain in a tweet of emboldening the enemy and suggesting he’d “been losing so long he doesn’t know how to win anymore.”

Yet, by Spicer’s logic, President Trump himself owes an apology to all U.S. troops killed in the Iraq and Afghan wars, since Trump has criticized these wars as either unnecessary or botched in execution. Recall here that Trump said he was against the Iraq invasion in 2003, but once the US invaded, he said the US government botched it by not taking Iraq’s oil, which, he claimed, would have prevented the rise of ISIS.

To continue reading: Lessons and Propaganda From the Botched Raid on Yemen

Is President Trump Headed for a War with China? by Rajan Menon

War with China is not a good idea. From Rajan Menon at tomdispatch.com:

All Options Are “On The Table”

Forget those “bad hombres down there” in Mexico that U.S. troops might take out. Ignore the way National Security Adviser Michael Flynn put Iran “on notice” and the new president insisted, that, when it comes to that country, “nothing is off the table.” Instead, focus for a moment on something truly scary: the possibility that Donald Trump’s Washington might slide into an actual war with the planet’s rising superpower, China. No kidding. It could really happen.

Let’s start with silver-maned, stately Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state. Who could deny that the former ExxonMobil CEO has a foreign minister’s bearing? Trump reportedly chose him over neocon firebrand John Bolton partly for that reason. (Among other things, Bolton was mustachioed, something the new president apparently doesn’t care for.) But an august persona can only do so much; it can’t offset a lack of professional diplomatic experience.

That became all-too-apparent during Tillerson’s January 11th confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was asked for his view on the military infrastructure China has been creating on various islands in the South China Sea, the ownership of which other Asian countries, including Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei claim as well. China’s actions, he replied, were “extremely worrisome,” likening them to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, an infraction for which Russia was slapped with economic sanctions.

To continue reading: Is President Trump Headed for a War with China?

‘Isolationist’ Trump Rattles His Saber, by Sheldon Richman

On any given day Trump can sound like an America Firster, espousing a foreign policy of noninterventionism. On any other given day, he can sound like a full-throated neoconservative. From Sheldon Richman at antiwar.com:

A few libertarians and other principled opponents of the warfare state assured us we likely would sleep easier with Donald Trump, rather than any neoconservative or humanitarian interventionist, in the White House. How’s that working out? Not so well. I’m hoarding melatonin and buying stock in Lunesta.

In its opening days the Trump administration has rattled the saber at Iran, China, and North Korea. This is hardly comforting, considering that pronouncements from Trump and his closest advisers could have come from the foreign-policy establishment he supposedly upended. If this is disruption, I’d hate to see what an embrace of The Consensus would look like. The possible appointment of Elliott Abrams, the quintessential neoconservative — architect of and apologist for mass murder in the Middle East — as deputy secretary of state is just one more sign that Peaceniks for Trump have been gulled. [UPDATE: Trump has decided not to appoint Abrams.]

What about Trump’s position on Russia? they will ask. What about it? Not taking Bill O’Reilly’s bait (transcript here) doesn’t count as being pro-peace, especially when Trump had his UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, warn that sanctions against Russia won’t be removed until Vladimir Putin relinquishes Crimea. Haley’s declaration was a reversal of Trump’s earlier, better (though flawed) position that sanctions would be tied to a mutual reduction of both countries’ nuclear arsenals. Now we’re back to the Obama position. One need not defend Russia’s move on Crimea (even if most inhabitants favored it) to see the context: the U.S.-engineered coup (backed by neo-Nazi elements) against Ukraine’s elected president in favor of a neocon favorite — not to mention the larger context: the decades-long expansion of NATO to the Russian border and incorporation of former Russian allies into the U.S-led sphere. Provocation begets counter-moves, which in the Ukrainian case were hardly surprising, considering the historical and strategic importance of Crimea to Russia. The Soviet Union is not being reconstructed.

To continue reading: ‘Isolationist’ Trump Rattles His Saber

 

Not The Onion: Saudi Crown Prince Receives CIA Medal For “Efforts Against Terrorism”, by Tyler Durden

This is the biggest farce since Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, the world’s number one exporter of terrorism, is receiving a medal from the CIA for “efforts against terrorism.” From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

We are sad to report that despite the change in administration, the “new” CIA is exactly the same as the “old” one.

In a stunning mockery of fact, either real, “alternative” or gratuitously made up, on Friday the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who is also Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, received a medal from the CIA for his distinct intelligence-related counter-terrorism work and his contributions to ensure international peace and security, Al Arabiya proudly reported.

The medal, named after George Tenet, was handed to him by the new CIA Director Micheal Pompeo after the Crown Prince received him in Riyadh on Friday in the presence of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. The meeting came days after the Washington Times reported that Trump is set to unblock a multi-billion weapons shipment to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, including precision-guided missile technology and dozens of F-16s fighter jets.

The medal, named after George Tenet, was handed to him by CIA Director
Michael Pompeo after the Crown Prince received him in Riyadh

Taking the farce further, the Crown Prince – who until just a few months ago was a fervent supporter of Hillary Clinton yet appears to have changed his mind about Trump on a dime, just like every Wall Street hedge fund – said in a press statement after receiving the medal that he appreciated the CIA honor, stressing that his efforts were guided by the leaders of Saudi Arabia headed by King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, as well as the efforts of the Kingdom’s security forces.

To continue reading: Not The Onion: Saudi Crown Prince Receives CIA Medal For “Efforts Against Terrorism”