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Tag Archives: President Trump

The Real Reason Why US-Turkey Relations Have Hit an All-Time Low, by Jim Carey

This is an excellent survey and analysis of the US-Turkey relationship. From Jim Carey at theantimedia.com:

Over the past week, US-Turkey relations have hit an all-time low, but how did these two allies end up at odds with each other?

If you’ve been watching the news over the past week you may think the current hostility between Washington and Ankara is about the US pastor, Andrew Brunson. Brunson, who has been in police custody or under house arrest in Turkey since October 2016, has now apparently become a high priority for the Trump Regime.

But why did this take so long? Vice President Mike Pence has known about Brunson since day one of the administration thanks to his ties to the US evangelical community but neither he or the President have previously expressed this level of outrage. There have already been low key talks between Washington and Ankara in the past concerning the return of Brunson to the US, but what the Western media isn’t reporting now is how these talks to return a US national fit into the bigger geopolitical picture of US-Turkey relations.

Andrew Brunson and Fethullah Gulen: “A Pastor for a Pastor”

Behind the general request by the US to return Andrew Brunson is a several-year-long process involving several closed-door meetings about the pastor between US and Turkish officials. During all of these meetings, the US demand was the same as it is now, but they weren’t the only one who wanted something out of the negotiations.

You aren’t hearing much about Ankara’s demands right now but Turkish President Recep Erdogan has previously said he would be willing to return the US pastor in exchange for Turkey’s own expat “pastor,” Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan made this perfectly clear at a rally for Turkish police officers in March, saying that the trade should be a no-brainer since “the one that we have [in our hands – Brunson] is being tried, the one you have [in your hands – Gulen] is not being tried.”

Gulen is the exiled cleric and former-Erdogan ally alleged to be behind a failed coup in July 2016 with supposed US assistance. Turkey has been asking for the return of Gulen since before the dust even settled after the coup attempt but the US has so far refused to extradite the charter-school magnate and religious leader.

To continue reading: The Real Reason Why US-Turkey Relations Have Hit an All-Time Low

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Why Trump Cancelled the Iran Deal, by Eric Zuesse

Trump is aligning with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Israel to maintain US economic and financial preeminence, which means opposing Iran at every juncture. From Eric Zuesse at strategic-culture.org:

The following is entirely from open online sources that I have been finding to be trustworthy on these matters in the past. These sources will be linked-to here; none of this information is secret, even though some details in my resulting analysis of it will be entirely new.

It explains how and why the bottom-line difference between Donald Trump and Barack Obama, regarding US national security policies, turns out to be their different respective estimations of the biggest danger threatening the maintenance of the US dollar as the world’s leading or reserve currency. This has been the overriding foreign-policy concern for both Presidents.

Obama placed as being the top threat to the dollar, a breakaway of the EU (America’s largest market both for exports and for imports) from alliance with the United States. He was internationally a Europhile. Trump, however, places as being the top threat to the dollar, a breakaway of Saudi Arabia and of the other Gulf Arab oil monarchies from the U.S. Trump is internationally a Sunni-phile: specifically a protector of fundamentalist Sunni monarchs — but especially of the Sauds themselves — and they hate Shia and especially the main Shia nation, Iran.

Here’s how that change, to Saudi Arabia as being America’s main ally, has happened — actually it’s a culmination of decades. Trump is merely the latest part of that process of change. Here is from the US State Department’s official historian, regarding this history:

By the 1960s, a surplus of US dollars caused by foreign aid, military spending, and foreign investment threatened this system [the FDR-established 1944 Bretton Woods gold-based US dollar as the world’s reserve currency], as the United States did not have enough gold to cover the volume of dollars in worldwide circulation at the rate of $35 per ounce; as a result, the dollar was overvalued. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson adopted a series of measures to support the dollar and sustain Bretton Woods: foreign investment disincentives; restrictions on foreign lending; efforts to stem the official outflow of dollars; international monetary reform; and cooperation with other countries. Nothing worked. Meanwhile, traders in foreign exchange markets, believing that the dollar’s overvaluation would one day compel the US government to devalue it, proved increasingly inclined to sell dollars. This resulted in periodic runs on the dollar.

To continue reading: Why Trump Cancelled the Iran Deal

 

Latest Sanctions Against Russia Show Trump Not in Control of his Administration, by F. Michael Maloof

The Skripal poisoning story is full of holes, but that’s not stopping the Trump administration from levying additional sanctions against Russia. From F. Michael Maloof at rt.com:

US President Donald Trump is not in control of his own administration, as evidenced by the latest round of sanctions imposed against Russia for the alleged involvement in the poisoning of the Skripals in the UK in March.

The sanctions came the same day that US Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced on a trip to Moscow that he had handed over a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin from Trump calling for better relations between the two countries.

For that reason, the timing appears to be suspect, suggesting strongly that Trump has his own foreign policy while the Trump administration, comprised mainly of bureaucrats referred to as the Deep State, have their own. Right now, they appear to be in control, not President Trump, over his own administration, and it is having the adverse effect of further alienating Washington and Moscow.

The neocons, led by National Security Advisor John Bolton, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, comprise the Trump “war cabinet” ostensibly aimed at directing a harder line toward Syria, North Korea, Iran but also Russia.

Bolton, in particular, has been outspoken in calling for regime change in some of  these countries. Trump not so much so. In fact, he has said just the opposite. Nevertheless, their anti-Russian flair in Washington has breathed new life into the neocons who, along with the Democrats, Deep State and much of the mainstream media, have pushed the false narrative of collusion between Russia and Trump.

This persistent anti-Russian rant and repeated sanctions which have been imposed have had the effect of leading to further threats of sanctions for questionable reasons, raising the potential prospect of suspension of diplomatic ties.

To continue reading: Latest Sanctions Against Russia Show Trump Not in Control of his Administration

Rand Paul Against the World, by Jack Hunter

Rand Paul is apparently tempering some of the foreign policy advice Trump gets from his more wild-eyed advisors. From Jack Hunter at theamericanconservative.com:

Not long ago, Donald Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton was promising regime change in Iran by the end of this year. Uber-hawk Bolton has long wantedwar with Tehran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo isn’t much different, and has even advocated bombing Iran. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has previously recommend U.S. airstrikes against Iranian targets.

Today, Bolton says the U.S. does not to seek regime change in Iran. So does Pompeo. So does Mattis.

Why?

President Trump has been known to be hawkish on Iran. Politico observedWednesday: “Trump has drawn praise from the right-wing establishment for hammering the mullahs in Tehran, junking the Iran nuclear deal and responding to the regime’s saber rattling with aggressive rhetoric of his own….” There are also powerful factions in Congress and Washington with inroads to the president that have been itching for regime change for years. “The policy of the United States should be regime change in Iran,” says Senator Tom Cotton, once rumored to be Trump’s pick to head the CIA.

So what, or who, is stopping the hawks?

Politico revealed Wednesday some interesting aspects of the relationship between Senator Rand Paul and the president, particularly on foreign policy: “While Trump tolerates his hawkish advisers, the [Trump] aide added, he shares a real bond with Paul: ‘He actually at gut level has the same instincts as Rand Paul…’.”

On Iran, Politico notes, “Trump has stopped short of calling for regime change even though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and Bolton support it, aligning with Paul instead, according to a GOP foreign policy expert in frequent contact with the White House.”

But this part of the story was the most revelatory: “’Rand Paul has persuaded the president that we are not for regime change in Iran,’ this person said, because adopting that position would instigate another war in the Middle East.”

This is significant, not because Trump couldn’t have arrived at the same position without Paul’s counsel, but because it’s easy to imagine him embracing regime change, what with virtually every major foreign policy advisor in his cabinet supporting something close to war with Iran. “Personnel is policy” is more than a cliché.

To continue reading: Rand Paul Against the World

Lenin Updated: ‘Turn the Globalist War into a Race War’, by James George Jatras

Death wish: maybe the powers that be want to kill everyone off, including themselves. From James George Jatras at strategic-culture.org:

Lenin Updated: ‘Turn the Globalist War into a Race War’
First US President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and appears to make some progress towards his stated goal of putting ties between Washington and Moscow on a positive course. Immediately, all hell breaks loose. Trump is a called a traitor. The “sanctions bill from hell” is introduced in the Senate. Trump is forced on the defensive.
Next Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky visits Moscow, where he meets with Putin and gives him a letter from Trump proposing moderate steps towards rapprochement. Paul also talks with Russian Senators and invites them to come to Washington to continue the dialogue. Immediately, all hell breaks loose. Paul is called a traitor. The State Department “finds” the Russians guilty of the using illegal chemical weapons (CW) in the United Kingdom and imposes sanctions. Trump is forced even more on the defensive.

In each instance the actions of the Washington establishment, both in Congress and in even in departments and agencies allegedly part of the Executive Branch of government headed by Trump, moved quickly to nip in the bud even the most tentative efforts by Trump to keep his campaign pledge. With regard to the new CW sanctions it is unclear whether Trump had anything to do with them at all; most likely they either were imposed without his participation or he acceded to them because he felt he had no other option.

It is debatable how much of the US government Trump actually controls. The baseless CW finding by the State Department (with heavy pressure from Congress) is the work of Trump’s globalist enemies in the bureaucracy and in Congress (all of the Democrats, and almost all of the Republicans), with the complicity of his own appointees, to undermine his overtures to Moscow and further erode his Executive authority. Besides blocking every possible path to détente with Russia, this is another step to setting Trump up for removal from office.

To continue reading: Lenin Updated: ‘Turn the Globalist War into a Race War’

Trump’s Turkey Tariffs Are Retaliation For A Major Military Escalation, by Duane Norman

Trump’s tariffs on Turkey may be about a lot more than the American pastor being held by Turkey. From Duane Norman at fmshooter.com:

The Trump administration recently levied additional tariffs against Turkey, with Trump himself tweeting about how “Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”:

The Wall Street Journal was just one among many mainstream media voices that suggested the tariffs are retaliation for Turkey’s refusal to release US Pastor Andrew Brunson…

During high-level talks in Washington, U.S. and Turkish officials were unable to produce a breakthrough in an impasse that has pushed Turkey’s economy into turmoil, the officials said. Turkey’s currency has plunged amid the crisis amid fears that the U.S. could take tougher steps before the standoff is resolved.

The Trump administration is now positioned to impose new penalties on Turkey for refusing to free Andrew Brunson, an evangelical North Carolina pastor who was detained in Turkey as part of a sweeping crackdown after a failed July 2016 coup.

…but a much more plausible reason for the tariffs is due to Turkish threats to raid Incirlik Air Base, the major US air base in Turkey:

The 60-page criminal complaint also calls for Turkish officials to shut down U.S. military flights from Incirlik, a portion of which the U.S. Air Force has sole control over, and execute a search warrant at the facility to look for additional evidence. So far, the Turkish government does not appear to have acted on any of the charges.

The complaint specifically calls for the arrest of 11 individuals, but it’s not clear if any of them are still assigned to Incirlik. The first two are U.S. Air Force Colonels John Walker and Michael Manion, who were, respectively, the commander and vice commander of the 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik in 2016.

Incirlik is of pivotal importance to US military interests, and not just for its role in basing/launching aircraft involved in Syria and all across the middle east – the base also houses “as many as” 50 B-61 nuclear bombs:

According to open-source estimates, the United States may store as many as 50 B61 gravity bombs at Incirlik. Those make up one-third of the approximately 150 nuclear weapons thought to be housed in five nations in Europe as part of NATO’s nuclear sharing arrangements.

A USAF F-16 testing the latest B61-12 variable-yield thermonuclear bomb

To continue reading: Trump’s Turkey Tariffs Are Retaliation For A Major Military Escalation

America’s Kristallnacht? by Robert Gore

If the US government prosecutes Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, it will mark a point of no return.

We’ll never know what “average” Germans thought on November 11, 1938, the day after Kristallnacht. Perhaps a few recognized it for what it was: a turning point, an acceleration of Germany’s descent into hell. America’s Crystal Night looms, and if it occurs, only a few will recognize it for what it is.

The fate of Julian Assange is the fate of one man, but it is also the fate of one of our most important freedoms. There won’t be shattered plate glass from vandalized businesses littering the streets, synagogues smashed, graves unearthed, or people herded onto trains. But his prosecution by the US government would destroy an inestimable value, one enshrined in the First Amendment, for which generations of Americans have fought and died: the right of the people and its press to inform the people and to hold their government to account.

Aside from armed resistance and revolution, the one defense individuals have against governments is intellectual: the concept of individual rights. There is an argument as to whether those rights come from our Creator (Thomas Jefferson) or from our basic nature as humans and the requirements of our survival (Ayn Rand). Despite starting from different premises, both arguments lead to the same conclusion: individuals have inherent, inalienable, inviolable rights, and the only legitimate function of government is to protect those rights.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were explicit attempts to delineate a set of principles that recognized individual rights and tried to restrain government power. Though real-world implementation has fallen short, often far short, they were towering conceptual achievements.

In 1933, the year Hitler assumed power, the government began enacting laws that restricted Jews’ rights to earn a living, gain an education, or work in the civil service. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws stripped German Jews of their citizenship and forbade them from marrying non-Jewish Germans.

Kristallnacht’s hooliganism was encouraged by the German authorities, and none of the perpetrators bore any legal consequences. More than 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and deported to concentration camps. The government would not protect Jews from the depredations of thugs and the government itself was a thug. Kristallnacht was a point of no return: Jews no longer had any legally enforceable rights. Soon enough no German would.

In America, there is no one villain or group that one can point to as responsible for the erosion of rights. Begun the day the Constitution was ratified, it’s been a gradual process. We’ve reached the point where only a few of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights still receive any measure of government solicitude.

Property and contract rights are out the window; the government routinely abridges them. You have no right to your own income, or to conduct your legitimate business or trade free from government regulation and interference. Much of the Bill of Rights is either irrelevant now or has been rendered a dead letter. In terms of individual rights, only the Second Amendment’s much infringed right to bear arms, and the First Amendment—the prohibition against the government establishing a religion, free speech, press, and assembly, and the right to petition the government—are still hanging by a thread.

Which is why the fate of Julian Assange takes on such significance. While the government has prosecuted those like Chelsea (formerly Brad) Manning who have stolen government secrets and classified information, it has not prosecuted the press individuals and organizations who have published them. That is WikiLeaks’ business model: it receives, vets, and publishes stolen information, often from governments.

The government has not gone after publishers because it would be a frontal assault on the First Amendment that it would probably lose. Any exception would swallow the general rule of press freedom. Say the Supreme Court recognized an exception: classified information whose publication would constitute an imminent and grave threat to the security of the United States. Who decides what’s an imminent and grave threat? The government would have the power to classify whatever information it pleases under that exception and put those who publish it at risk of prosecution, their only recourse years of costly litigation spent arguing that the information didn’t fit the exception.

Many Trump admirers resist the notion that their man is interested in the acquisition and use of power, but his and members of his administration’s hostility to individual civil liberties belies that resistance. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a gung-ho supporter of the civil-liberties-eviscerating-government-power-expanding War on Drugs and civil asset forfeiture.

In the latter, a government seizes assets it claims were involved with crimes and makes their owners jump through myriad legal hoops—including proving the negative that their assets weren’t involved in a crime—even if the owners themselves were never convicted, or even charged, with a crime. Assets that are not “acquitted”—cars, cash, boats, houses, etc.—are kept and used by the government. President Trump has endorsed civil asset forfeiture, and has extended it outside America’s borders via an executive order (see “By Imperial Decree,” SLL, 1/2/18).

Trump’s Secretary of State and former director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo has fashioned a legal approach the administration might use, in a case against WikiLeaks and Assange, to slither around the First Amendment. In April, still director of the CIA, he delivered a speech in which several passages demanded, but never received, careful parsing from the mainstream media. They are still obsessing over a February Trump tweet in which he declared the US media an “enemy of the people.” This is considered a threat to the First Amendment, but Pompeo’s speech was mostly ignored.

Pompeo called WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” Most press organizations, and almost all that consistently challenge the state, are non-state. WikiLeaks has published state secrets, undoubtedly considered hostile acts by those states, but how is it an intelligence service? Pompeo is arguing that WikiLeaks cannot be considered part of the press, consequently it’s not protected by the First Amendment.

As for the “abetted by state actors like Russia,” WikiLeaks has consistently denied it received the DNC emails from Russia, and nobody has proven otherwise. The best technical evidence indicates those DNC emails were directly downloaded to a portable storage device, indicating an inside job, and not remotely hacked, by Russians or anyone else.

Pompeo argued that “we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.” This is straight from Orwell: you are free to say what you want, as long as you don’t say anything against the government. He claimed that WikiLeaks “pretended that America’s First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice,” and, “they may have believed that, but they are wrong.” Now where would WikiLeaks get such a crazy idea? How about the plain language of the First Amendment?

Finally, Pompeo threatened: “To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.” Any government “secrets” the press publishes with the full approval of the government probably aren’t going to be terribly revealing. It’s the secrets the government doesn’t want revealed, the ones that are generally “misappropriated,” that reveal the most important secrets, which an informed and free people must know if they are to call their government to account.

From the excerpts quoted above, and the video of the relevant part of speech below, make up your own mind as to who’s perverting the Constitution.

Freedom of the press protects the rights of the press, but more importantly protects the right of all of us to be informed, especially about what was once considered “our” government. It amplifies the freedom of speech. Even a small newspaper reaches more people than someone shouting from a street corner.

If Assange and WikiLeaks are tried and convicted in a US court as “a non-state hostile intelligence service,” the government can slap that label on any person or organization publishing or otherwise disclosing its secrets. The case would probably make its way to the Supreme Court. If the court accepted the Pompeo exception to the First Amendment, freedom of the press and speech would become two more of the Constitution’s dead letters.

Just the prosecution of Assange and WikiLeaks would have a chilling effect. Not that most of the US’s supine mainstream and social media would be chilled. The mainstream media that have spoken out about Assange and WikiLeaks have come down on the side of the government. The social media companies, de facto arms of the government, are shutting down politically incorrect voices. Neither mainstream or social media have anything to lose from the termination of First Amendment freedoms because they don’t say, or allow anyone else to say, anything the powers that be don’t want heard.

Trump is a wild card on WikiLeaks and Assange. WikiLeaks’ disclosure of the DNC emails helped his campaign. He praised it back then, but now appears ready to prosecute. Trump administration officials and Trump himself often say one thing while Trump does another. It is not a given that Assange will be either extradited by the British government or prosecuted in the US.

Few totalitarian regimes take their people’s rights away all at once. It’s done gradually to reduce dissent, until that Kristallnacht moment where it’s impossible to evade the reality: there are no rights left. If the Trump administration prosecutes Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, that sinking feeling in your stomach will be the realization that the last remnant of your rights are gone, that the government and Trump are your enemies.

If Assange and WikiLeaks are prosecuted, who will dare tell the truth about the government? Trump will have destroyed one of the last vestiges of individual rights—and the freedom that goes with it—that once made America great.

 

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