Having an enemy, even a made up one, greatly increases spending on the military. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:
One’s opinion on the multiplicity of Russia-inflected-“gates” is now a lucidity litmus test. Spoiler alert: D.C. is apparently an open-air psych ward.
In America’s Emerald City these days, if there’s even a hint of a war-wind-down, imperial-deescalation, or military budget-cuts, Washington’s (non-dribbling) Wizards have a ready response: Russia! Indeed, these military’s magicians have a far-simpler and more effective playbook than the city’s aptly-named NBA franchise. Since President Donald Trump’s election year, basketball’s Wizards are a meager 148-162; the Wizards of Warfare are essentially undefeated – not a single war hath ended. The first-place War Wizards rely on two go-to moves to maintain militarism:
Invent or Exaggerate a “new” Russian threat (anywhere and everywhere).
And, if that hasn’t done the trick:
Plant, time, or twist a “new” media story evincing Trump’s collusion, favoritism, or blindspot for Vladimir Putin.
Enter this last, now typical, Wednesday. At a morning Pentagon press conference, Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed that 12,000 U.S. troops will be removed from Germany per the president’s previously stated intentions. Later that same night, the Daily Beastreported that according to three ironclad sources – “two senior American officials and another individual with knowledge of the matter” – that the State Department “Warn[ed] Russia on Bounties While Trump Cries ‘Fake News.’” The article’s subtle subtitle offered the gist (and motive-rub): “The secret warnings stand in contrast to what President Trump has said about the intelligence in question.”
Close on the heels of breaking the Chabahar-Zahedan rail project agreement, Iran appears set to deny India’s state-run ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL), exploration and production rights for the key Farzad B gas field.
The granting of rights to OVL was already delayed with New Delhi moving slowly on the issue, but came to a complete standstill after the 2018 imposition of US sanctions on Tehran.
Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency quoted India’s External Affairs Ministry (EAM) as saying on Thursday Tehran would develop the Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf region “on its own” and might engage India “appropriately at a later stage”.
Translation: “Stop stalling for Trump’s sake and make good on your promises or the project goes to China.”
Because that’s where this leads in light of the announced mega-deal between Iran and China worth a reported $400 billion.
If an asteroid runs into the earth, any surviving press will blame it on Russia. From Craig Murray at consortiumnews.com:
Craig Murray lambasts a Russophobic media that celebrates a supposed cyber attack on UK vaccine research, ignores collapse of key evidence of a “hack” and dabbles in dubious memorabilia.
The Guardian’s headquarters in London. (Bryantbob, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
The Guardian a few days ago carried a very strange piece [which has since been removed] under the heading “Stamps celebrating Ukrainian resistance in pictures.” The first image displayed a stamp bearing the name of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).
The UPA was, without any shadow of a doubt, responsible for the slaughter of at least 200,000 Polish civilians; they liquidated whole Polish communities in Volhynia and Galicia, including the women and children. The current Polish government, which is as anti-Russian and pro-NATO as they come, nevertheless has declared this a genocide.
It certainly was an extremely brutal ethnic cleansing. There is no doubt either that at times between 1942 and 1944 the UPA collaborated with the Nazis and collaborated in the destruction of Jews and Gypsies. It is simplistic to describe the UPA as fascist or an extension of the Nazi regime; at times they fought the Nazis, though they collaborated more often.
There is a real sense in which they operated at the level of medieval peasants, simply seizing local opportunities to exterminate rural populations and seize their land and assets, be they Polish, Jew or Gypsy. But on balance any reasonable person would have to conclude that the UPA was an utterly deplorable phenomenon. To publish a celebration of it, disguised as a graphic art piece, without any of this context, is no more defensible than a display of Nazi art with no context.
If Trump is intentionally trying to piss the Europeans off, he’s doing a good job of it. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
The one thing I never thought I’d say is that Donald Trump is consistent, and yet on the subject of the Nordstream 2 pipeline he has been.
No single project has caused more wailing and gnashing of teeth than Nordstream 2. And since Nordstream 2 is simply the substitute for South Stream, which was supposed to come across the Black Sea into Bulgaria and then feed eastern Europe, this U.S. opposition to another Russian pipeline spans multiple administrations.
So, this is policy that goes far beyond simple 2020 electoral politics, Trump trying to look tough on the Russians, or his misguided Energy Dominance policy.
But here’s the thing, I think Trump is doing this for updated reasons that fit a different agenda than why the U.S. opposed Nordstream 2 previously, because he knows he can’t stop the pipeline now. All he can do is further alienate Germany, who he has targeted as the main problem in Europe.
Before I go any further, though, I think a little history lesson is in order.
U.S. opposition to Nordstream 2 is deeply ingrained on all sides of the political aisle in D.C. From Republicans still fighting the cold war to Democrats having deep ties to Ukrainian gas transit there are a multitude of reasons why Nordstream 2 is verboten in D.C.
On the other hand, Europe’s relationship with Nordstream 2 is, in a word, complicated.
President Trump and his foreign policy team have driven Iran into the loving arms of Russia and China. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
For more than three years I’ve tried to explain that President Trump’s foreign policy was having the exact opposite effect of its intended purpose.
Trump, under the advice of people like John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has pursued a maximum pressure campaign against Iran in the hopes of the regime either crumbling or suing for peace.
Trump was warned by both Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin that Iran would ‘rather eat dirt’ than submit to him on nuclear weapons, support for Hezbollah, Iraq and President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
In effect, Trump and Pompeo have argued for Iran to give up its sovereignty to appease the fears of Netanyahu in Israel, and they have steadfastly told Bibi and The Donald to go pound sand.
Every six months or so, depending on the state of domestic affairs, tensions with Iran ratchet up another notch. Over the past couple of weeks a series of explosions at key Iranian military facilities occurred with fingerprints of Israel striking deep into Iran to cripple strategic targets.
Trump, distracted by the domestic insurrection against him, has left foreign policy strictly to Pompeo who is avidly pursuing a ‘have his cake and eat it too moment,’ trying to extend the weapons embargo against Iran at the United Nations while still claiming the unilateral right to leave the JCPOA without further consequences.
In a word, Russia, China and Europe are telling him, “No.”
Russia has caused every US problem, including the US failure to elect Hillary Clinton, since Vladimir Putin became Russia’s leader. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com:
Washington again becomes hysterical
There is particular danger at the moment that powerful political alignments in the United States are pushing strongly to exacerbate the developing crisis with Russia. The New York Times, which broke the story that the Kremlin had been paying the Afghan Taliban bounties to kill American soldiers, has been particularly assiduous in promoting the tale of perfidious Moscow. Initial Times coverage, which claimed that the activity had been confirmed by both intelligence sources and money tracking, was supplemented by delusional nonsense from former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who asks “Why does Trump put Russia first?” before calling for a “swift and significant U.S. response.” Rice, who is being mentioned as a possible Biden choice for Vice President, certainly knows about swift and significant as she was one of the architects of the destruction of Libya and the escalation of U.S. military and intelligence operations directed against a non-threatening Syria.
The Times is also titillating with the tale of a low level drug smuggling Pashto businessman who seemed to have a lot of cash in dollars lying around, ignoring the fact that Afghanistan is awash with dollars and has been for years. Many of the dollars come from drug deals, as Afghanistan is now the world’s number one producer of opium and its byproducts.
The news organs that have found Russians in every closet and under every bed found a few more. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
All western mass media outlets are now shrieking about the story The New York Timesfirst reported, citing zero evidence and naming zero sources, claiming intelligence says Russia paid out bounties to Taliban-linked fighters in Afghanistan for attacking the occupying forces of the US and its allies in Afghanistan. As of this writing, and probably forevermore, there have still been zero intelligence sources named and zero evidence provided for this claim.
As we discussed yesterday, the only correct response to unsubstantiated claims by anonymous spooks in a post-Iraq invasion world is to assume that they are lying until you’ve been provided with a mountain of hard, independently verifiable evidence to the contrary. The fact that The New York Times instead chose to uncritically parrot these evidence-free claims made by operatives within intelligence agencies with a known track record of lying about exactly these things is nothing short of journalistic malpractice. The fact that western media outlets are now unanimously regurgitating these still 100 percent baseless assertions is nothing short of state propaganda.
The consensus-manufacturing, Overton window-shrinking western propaganda apparatus has been in full swing with mass media outlets claiming on literally no basis whatsoever that they have confirmed one another’s “great reporting” on this completely unsubstantiated story.
This means that the Russian Urals crude is trading at a premium to the European benchmark Brent. The premium is $1.55 per barrel in North-Western Europe and $2.55 – in the Mediterranean.
Argus names competition as the reason of Urals reaching such a high price. After the United States imposed sanctions against Venezuelan oil, American refineries began to willingly buy Russian heavy oil, very similar to the one exported by the Venezuelan PDVSA. In addition, demand for Russian oil in Asia is growing.
Traditionally, Urals trades at a discount to Brent because of a lack of a unified benchmark price for it. The July Shanghai Crude Oil futures contract closed at ¥299 (or $42.30) per barrel this week, putting it at a ~$1.70 premium to Brent Crude.
Pepe Escobar knows a very important of the world that most Americans know little about—Eurasia. From Escobar at consortiumnews.com:
The Indo-China border is a strategic chessboard and it’s gotten way more complex.
Valley near Kangan, Kashmir. (Kashmir Pictures, Flickr)
It was straight from an Orientalist romantic thriller set in the Himalayas: soldiers fighting each other with stones and iron bars in the dead of night on a mountain ridge over 4,000 meters high, some plunging to their deaths into a nearly frozen river and dying of hypothermia.
In November 1996, China and India had agreed not to use guns along their 3,800 km-long border, known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which sports an occasional tendency to derail into a Line Out of Control.
Yet this was not just another Himalayan scuffle. Of course there were echoes of the 1962 Sino-Indian war – which started pretty much the same way, leading Beijing to defeat New Delhi on the battlefield. But now the strategic chessboard is way more complex, part of the evolving 21st Century New Great Game.
The situation had to be defused. Top military commanders from China and India finally met face to face this past weekend. And on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister spokesman Zhao Lijian confirmed they “agreed to take necessary measures to promote a cooling of the situation.”
The Indian Army concurred: “There was mutual consensus to disengage (…) from all frictions areas in Eastern Ladakh.”
Trump could pick up substantial votes if he’d just quit hawking and let Joe Biden have that vote, which is essentially a vote for the Deep State. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:
Joe Biden keeps trying to out-warmonger Donald Trump, and by Joe Biden I of course mean the team of handlers who are animating the dementia-ravaged corpse of the Biden campaign like a ventriloquist operating a wooden dummy.
In response to Trump suggesting an openness to scaling back his administration’s murderous Venezuela policy and meeting with President Nicolás Maduro, whoever runs Biden’s Twitter account for him seized upon the moment to assert that the former vice president will be doing no such thing if elected commander-in-chief.
“Trump talks tough on Venezuela, but admires thugs and dictators like Nicolas Maduro,” tweeted Biden Incorporated. “As President, I will stand with the Venezuelan people and for democracy.”
“Translation: if Trump retreats from his current policy of trying to sanction and suffocate Venezuelan into submission, Biden will make sure to revive it,” journalist Aaron Maté said in response.
“To be clear, Joe Biden is now attacking Donald Trump from the right on Venezuela,” said journalist Walker Bragman.
Unlike many websites, Straight Line Logic does not solicit donations. If you're going to lay out your hard-earned money, you should get something in exchange. If you like the site and want to support it, buy The Golden Pinnacle or The Gordian Knot, either as a book or download. The links are on the right-hand side of the page, in the Blogroll section. You'll be supporting the site, and getting a great book and hours of enjoyable reading.