Category Archives: Governments

Can WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Get a Fair Trial? by Reese Erlich

Reese Erlich ponders the possibility of Assange getting a fair trial. His conclusion: don’t hold your breath. From Erlich at antiwar.com:

British police dragged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on April 11, witnessed by a scrum of international media. Authorities in the United Kingdom and US then tried to drag Assange’s reputation through the mud.

The official story was that Assange wore out his welcome at the embassy. News stories reported that he skateboarded through the offices, dirtied his bathroom, and let his cat poop in the halls. The man who had exposed government wrongdoing around the world had become the Hacker Who Came to Dinner.

Whatever the truth to those accusations, in reality, Assange was the victim of regime change. In 2017, Ecuadorians elected Lenin Moreno president and, in asharp departure from previous government policy, the new president sought closer relations with the US. Moreno decided to expel Assange as part of the bargain.

The US cares nothing about cat poop in the embassy hallways. But it does want to send a warning to the media, according to John Kiriakou, a former CIA case officer and whistleblower. He says in an interview that Presidents Donald Trump, like Barack Obama before him, has a “Nixonian obsession with national security leaks.” But the real goal is to send “a message to all journalists that there’s a lot less freedom of press than you might think.”

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Middle East Resistance Is Stiffening, by Tom Luongo

Slowly but surely, countries in the Middle East are resisting US dictates and drifting away from the US orbit. The latest is Egypt. From Tom Luongo at strategic-culture.org:

Amidst all of the truly terrible things happening geopolitically around the globe I find it’s important to take that big step back and assess what’s really going on. It’s easy to get caught up (and depressed) by the deluge of bad news emanating from the Trump administration on foreign policy matters.

It seems sometimes that it’s pointless to even discuss them because any analysis of today will invariably be invalidated by the end of the week.

But that’s also why the big picture analysis is needed.

Resistance to the US empire’s edicts is rising daily. We see it and we see the counter-reactions to them from the useful idiots who make up Trump’s Triumvirate of Belligerence – John Bolton and Mikes Pompeo and Pence.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about sovereigntist movements across Europe threatening the apple cart of the wicked European Union or something as small as Syria granting Iran a port lease in Latakia.

The Trump administration has abandoned diplomacy to such an extent that only raw, naked aggression is evident. And it has finally reached the point where even the world’s most accomplished diplomats have dispensed with the niceties of their profession.

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The Saker Interviews Dmitry Orlov

Dmitry Orlov’s perspective on Russia and its environs is both provocative and probably far closer to the truth than anything promulgated within the US government. This interview is long but well worth the read. From the Saker at unz.com:

“I think that the American empire is very much over already, but it hasn’t been put to any sort of serious stress test yet, and so nobody realizes that this is the case”

If I had to characterize the current international situation using only one word, the word “chaos” would be a pretty decent choice (albeit not the only one). Chaos in the Ukraine, chaos in Venezuela, chaos everywhere the Empire is involved in any capacity and, of course, chaos inside the US. But you wouldn’t know that listening to the talking heads and other “experts” who serve roughly the same function for the Empire as the orchestra did on the Titanic: to distract from the developing disaster(s) for a long as possible.

I decided to turn to the undisputed expert on social and political collapse, Dmitry Orlov whom I have always admired for his very logical, non-ideological, comparative analyses of the collapse of the USSR and the US. The fact that his detractors have to resort to crude and, frankly, stupid ad hominems further convinces me that Dmitry’s views need to be widely shared. Dmitry very kindly agreed to reply to my questions in some detail, for which I am most grateful. I hope that you will find this interview as interesting as I did.

The Saker

* * *

The Saker: How would you assess the current situation in the Ukraine in terms of social, economic and political collapse?

Dmitry Orlov: The Ukraine has never been viable as an independent, sovereign state and so its ongoing disintegration is to be expected. The applicability of the concept of collapse is predicated on the existence of an intact, stand-alone entity capable of collapse, and with the Ukraine this is definitely not the case. Never in its history has it been able to stand alone as a stable, self-sufficient, sovereign entity. As soon as it gained independence, it just fell over. Just as the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), it had reached its peak of economic and social development just as the USSR was about to collapse, and it has been degenerating and losing population ever since. Thus, the right model for discussing it is not one of sudden collapse but of steady degeneration and decay.

The Ukraine’s territory was stuck together by the Bolsheviks—first by Lenin, then by Stalin, then by Khrushchev. It was Lenin who lumped in its eastern regions (Donetsk and Lugansk specifically) who previously were part of Russia proper. Stalin then added eastern lands, which were at various times Polish, Austro-Hungarian or Romanian. Finally, Khrushchev tossed in Russian Crimea in a move that was unconstitutional at the time, since no public referendum had been held in Crimea to decide this question as was required by the Soviet constitution.

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Russiagate is Dead! Long Live Russiagate! by Gerald Sussman

Russia is not the threat to world peace, the US is. From Gerald Sussman at counterpunch.org:

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Now that Mueller’s $40 million Humpty Trumpty investigation is over and found wanting of its original purpose (to retire Trump), perhaps the ruling class can return without interruption to the business of destroying the world with ordnance, greenhouse gases, and regime changes. A few more CIA-organized blackouts in Venezuela (it’s a simple trick if one follows the Agency’s “Freedom Fighter’s Manual”), and the US will come to the rescue, Grenada style, and set up yet another neoliberal regime. There is a small solace that with Trump, Pompeo, and Bolton, there is at least a semblance of transparency in their reckless interventions. The assessed value of Guaido and Salman, they forthrightly admit, is in their countries’ oil reserves. And Russians better respect the Monroe Doctrine and manifest destiny if they know what’s good for them. Crude as they may be, Trump’s men tell it like it is. And when Bolton speaks of “the Western Hemisphere’s shared goals of democracy, security, and the rule of law,” he is of course referring to US-backed coups, military juntas, debt bondage, invasions, embargoes, assassinations, and other forms of gunboat diplomacy.

That the US is not already formally at war with Russia (even with NATO forces all along its borders) has only to do with the latter’s nuclear arsenal deterrent. Since World War II, a period some describe as a “a period of unprecedented peace,” the US war machine has wiped out some 20 million people, including more than 1 million in Iraq since 2003, engaged in regime change of at least 36 governments, intervened in at least 82 foreign elections, including Russia (1996), planned more than 50 assassinations of foreign leaders, and bombed over 30 countries. This is documented here and here.

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Trump’s Embrace of Netanyahu Will Haunt the Middle East for Years, by Phyllis Bennis

Not too long ago there were stories about a Trump-Putin “bromance.” If you’re looking for a bromance, how about Trump-Netanyahu, with Netanyahu clearly the dominant one? From Phyllis Bennis at antiwar.com:

For Israelis, the questions had been hovering for months.

Would the right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claim victory and a fifth term, moving his far-right Likud government coalition even further right? Or would the supposedly “centrist” challenger, former army chief of staff General Benny Gantz, ride to victory among corruption allegations against Netanyahu?

Netanyahu faces three – and potentially as many as five – separate indictments for various scandals. If his Likud party forms the new government, which now seems likely, will it pass a new law prohibiting the indictment of a sitting prime minister?

Those questions remain central to Israeli political discussion. But among Palestinians, there was little need to ask about what the election meant for them: Whatever government emerged seemed guaranteed to maintain current Israeli positions in support of occupation and apartheid, against international law, for war with Iran, for full-throated alliance with the US president and US military aid, and against human rights for Palestinians and equality for all.

During the campaign, Netanyahu not only vowed to annex illegal Israeli West Banks settlements in violation of international law, but also expressly disavowed the state of Israel’s obligations to its Palestinian citizens. Yet his challenger Gantz was little better, running ads bragging about how many Palestinians he killed bombing Gaza “back to the stone age” while commanding Israel’s 2014 military assault on Gaza.

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From The Ashes, by Joel Bowman

The global black market, even excluding drugs, arms, and other contraband, is huge. From Joel Bowman at internationalman.com:

“Nothing makes a man so adventurous as an empty pocket.”

~ Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

As Paris’ most iconic cathedral was engulfed in flames earlier this week, crowds of somber onlookers gathered on the banks of the Seine.

They sang hymns. They embraced each other. They watched in shocked, helpless silence as 850 years of history looked as though it might collapse.

“It feels like a national hero was shot,” writes a friend, who was standing amongst the crowd. “The mood in the air is like at a funeral. Everyone is in mourning.”

Thankfully, all was not lost. Although the Gothic spire – once the highest point in the city – fell… and the roof was badly damaged… the 12th century oak beams stood, and the towers remain.

The city will rebuild, says the president. (Already, €300 million has been pledged for the purpose, mostly from wealthy families and private companies.)

Of course, the cathedral was more than simply a religious structure. It was a symbol of human achievement… and perseverance.

Recalling our own time living in Paris, where we stayed not two blocks from La Grande Dame, we remember vividly another sort of strength, a type of character that is forged in the crucible of necessity and adversity and even deprivation.

You see it on the streets… and in the peripheral arrondissements … particularly late at night.

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The U.S. Is Losing Influence In The World’s Biggest Oil Region, by Gregory R. Copley

The US is trapped in the Middle East by its own policymakers’ myopia and lack of understanding of the region. From Gregory R. Copley at oilprice.com:

Egyptian President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi’s visit to the White House on April 9, 2019, resulted in one of the worst setbacks for U.S. Middle Eastern policy under the Donald Trump Administration.

What was supposed to be a fence-mending exercise between the two countries essentially ended many of the meaningful strategic aspects of the U.S.-Egyptian relationship, despite the fact that the public appearances between the two presidents appeared to be cordial. There have been significant areas of difference and frustration between Egypt and the US, even since the Trump Administration came to office, but there was at least a concerted effort on both sides to work harmoniously.

The question now is who in the Washington bureaucracy will take the blame for pushing Trump to insist on actions by al-Sisi which any fundamental analysis of the situation points to being infeasible and against Egypt’s view of its own strategic interests.

That is not to say that Egypt wishes to end cordiality and cooperation between Washington and Cairo; it does not. But certain battle lines have been drawn in the greater Middle East, and Cairo and the U.S. are not altogether on the same side. Both sides will need to undertake significant, careful action to put relations back on a positive path before the break becomes calcified.

The failure on this occasion lay at the door of the U.S. for failing to realize that Washington now needs Egypt more than Egypt needs the U.S.

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