Tag Archives: Russia

US State Department ‘Concerned’ Over Syrian Government Operations in…Syria! by Daniel McAdams

The US government reserves unto itself the exclusive right to tell other countries what they can do in their own countries. From Daniel McAdams at ronpaulinsitute.org:

undefined

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert released a statement today warning the Syrian government to cease and desist from its final military push against ISIS and al-Qaeda groups in southwest Syria. The United States is “deeply troubled by reports of increasing Syrian regime operations in southwest Syria” because such operations are within the “de-escalation zone negotiated between the United States, Jordan, and the Russian Federation last year and reaffirmed between Presidents Trump and Putin in Da Nang, Vietnam in November,” the statement says.

What a strange warning. The United States, which illegally occupies territory of a country nearly 6,000 miles away, is warning Syria, the country it partly occupies, not to conduct military operations against terrorist organizations within its own borders!

Aside from the absurdity of Nauert’s press release, there is the important matter that the whole statement is a lie.

First, the “deconfliction zone” to which she refers has been unilaterally declared by the United States. Syria never agreed to cease military operations within its own borders. Suggesting that Damascus is violating some agreement when it was never party to the agreement is shockingly dishonest.

Second, even the “de-escalation zones” agreed between Russia, Iran, and Turkey in Astana, Kazakhstan, in May, 2017, exempted UN-recognized terrorist groups from the deal. So even if Syria was a party to the US-claimed “de-escalation” agreement, its current advance on ISIS and al-Qaeda controlled territory would not be a violation.

Third, the State Department’s claims on the “Da Nang” agreement between Presidents Putin and Trump are purposely misleading. The very first sentence of the “Da Nang” statement affirms the two leaders’ “determination to defeat ISIS in Syria,” demonstrating the high priority placed on fighting ongoing terrorist occupation of parts of Syria.

So why now, seven months later, is the US warning Syria against completing the very task that Trump and Putin made a top priority?

To continue reading: US State Department ‘Concerned’ Over Syrian Government Operations in…Syria!

Advertisements

The Eagle, the Dragon, and the Bear, by Robert Gore

Does Trump recognize the limits of US power?

Trump’s new world order comes straight from The Godfather. There are three global powers: the US, Russia, and China. None of these powers can militarily defeat either of the other two, and even an alliance among two of them would have trouble defeating the third.

Like Don Corleone, Trump is dividing up the larger territory into smaller, great-power controlled sub-territories. He is tacitly recognizing Russia and China’s dominance in their own spheres of influence, and holding them to account in their territories. The implicit agreement among the three is apparently that each power will, in their, “sphere of influence…enforce peace.”

Trump’s New World Order,” SLL 3/20/18

In one week President Trump confirmed that his first concern is the United States, that he has what may be a workable vision for its place in the world, and he loathes globalism and the globalists. A good measure of his efficacy is the outrage he generates. By that measure, that week was his finest hour…so far.

Europe won’t have a seat at Trump’s great-power table. Its welfare states are addicted to their handouts, deeply in debt, rely on uneven trade arrangements with the US, and have below-replacement birth rates. They are cowed by Soros-sponsored propaganda—Immigration is the answer!—and haven’t shut off the immigrant invasion. Refusing to spend on their own militaries, they’ve used what they save on defense to subsidize welfare spending and state bureaucracies.

They’re ignoring a lesson from history: nations that rely on other nations for their defense generally come to regret it. Instead, they’re wedded to the globalist acronyms: NATO, EU and UN. They have frittered away their power and their glory—Europe’s heritage and civilization—opting for overrun masquerading as assimilation by dogmatic and implacable foes.

Trump is all about power and despises weakness. There isn’t always strength in numbers. A confederation of weaklings doesn’t equal strength, especially when the weaklings’ premises and principles are fundamentally wrong. Strongest of the weaklings is Germany, a trade powerhouse but a US military vassal. It’s hard to say if Trump’s dislike of Angela Merkel is business—she’s one of the world’s most visible and vociferous proponent of globalism, or personal—it’s always her way or the highway. Probably both, and it looks like Germany may finally be rejecting her way on immigration.

Trump clearly relished snubbing her and her G-6 buddies, particularly boy toys Trudeau and Macron, who may actually believe his bone-crushing handshakes intimidated Trump. When you’re paying for a continent’s defense and you’re giving them a better deal on trade than they’re giving you, that’s leverage, and Trump knows it. He’s not intimidated.

US Atlanticists have used that leverage to cement Europe into the US’s confederated empire. That Trump is willing to blow off Europe suggests that he may be blowing off empire. America’s imperialists equate backing away from empire with “decline,” but such a sea change would be the exact opposite. Empires require more energy and resources to maintain than can be extracted from them. They are inevitably a road to ruin.

Nothing is as geopolitically telling as Trump leaving Europe’s most “important” heads of state early to meet with the leader of one of Asia’s most impoverished backwaters. Europe’s time has passed, the future belongs to Asia. Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia may look like the same recognition, but it was not. That pivot was designed to encircle China diplomatically, economically, and militarily. That thinking persists among much of the US military, but Trump may have something different in mind.

China has its problems. Much of its economy, especially its financial sector, is state-directed, despite the capitalistic gloss. There will be a reckoning from its debt binge. The repressive social credit system typifies the government’s immoral objective: keeping China’s people compliant but productive drones. However, enforced docility and innovation—the foundation of progress—mix as readily as oil and water, and theft of others’ innovations can’t fill the void.

Notwithstanding its issues, China is a major power and is not going to be encircled or regime changed by the US. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) it cosponsors and finances with Russia is the centerpiece of a basket of initiatives designed to further those countries’ influence and leadership within Eurasia and among emerging market countries. BRI is an apt symbol of the movement towards multipolarity, with competition shifting from the military to the economic and commercial sphere.

Trump tacitly accepts Russian and Chinese dominance in Eurasia. However, Trump doesn’t give without receiving; he’s going to extract concessions. Number one on the list is North Korea and its nuclear weapons. We’ll probably never know what has gone on behind the scenes between Kim Jong Un, Xi Jinping, and perhaps Vladimir Putin, but Kim may have received an offer he couldn’t refuse. Both China and Russia would be well-served by a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons and US troops. Whatever transpired, Kim came around. Trump ameliorated any potential humiliation, journeying to Kim’s neck of the woods, laying on an inspirational movie video, and flattering the North Korean leader and his country. Kim the farsighted leader may be able to reach a deal; Kim the browbeaten puppet couldn’t. If he tried, he’d probably be deposed, always a danger for dictators.

As global competition moves from military to economic, Trump is also going to make sure he tilts, as much as possible, the rules of that competition back towards the US. There are the existing trade arrangements with Europe, Canada, and Mexico that he’s willing to blow up, presumably to obtain better arrangements.

China is in a league of its own when it comes to gaming trade, and it’s getting the Trump treatment as well. Much of the Chinese “advantage” stems from Chinese overcapacity, fueled by below market interest rates in China and around the globe. Trump can’t do much about that “advantage.” The low-interest regime will eventually crash and burn, but it’s going to take a depression to clear overcapacity in China and elsewhere.

Innovation and intellectual property are America’s one indisputable comparative economic advantage. It will be a tough nut, but Trump is bent on curbing China’s acquisitions, by fair means and foul, of US know how. If he succeeds it will slow, but not stop, the Chinese economic juggernaut. It has millions of smart, well-educated, industrious people who will continue to fuel indigenous innovation (notwithstanding state-enforced docility).

Three realities confronted Trump when he assumed office. The US empire is unsustainable, so too is the trajectory of its spending and debt, and the government is fundamentally corrupt. It would be foolish to bet Trump doesn’t understand these issues and the linkages between them.

“Trump’s New World Order”

If Trump has recognized that first reality and is implementing Don Corleone’s spheres of influence concept, he may get some breathing room to address the intractable second and third realities: the trajectory of US spending and debt, and the fundamentally corrupt government. On the debt, all the breathing room in the world isn’t going to save him. The US keeps adding to principal, which is compounding at rising rates. Cutting imperial expenditures would help some, although transfer payments are the biggest enchilada. To make even the first step on the thousand mile journey to solvency, however, the US government will have to run a bona fide surplus for many years. That prospect is not on the horizon.

As for corruption, thousands of articles by bloggers and commentators, including SLL, may have less instructional value for the populace at large than one simple demonstration: most of America’s rulers and its captive media are speaking out against a peace initiative, not on the merits of the initiative itself, but because Donald Trump was one of its initiators. That tells those Americans who are paying attention all they need to know about their rulers and their captive media. Whether they do anything about it is another question.

You Should Be Laughing At Them!

Amazon Paperback

Kindle Ebook

Despite ‘New, Tough Sanctions’, US Takes Delivery Of Russian Rocket Engines, by Tyler Durden

This is an odd situation that has persisted for years: the US gets rocket engines from Russia. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

The Trump administration and the U.S. Department of the Treasury last week slapped sanctions on several Russian companies and billionaires for allegedly supporting Russia’s military and intelligence agencies in fueling more cyber attacks and other malicious activities.

Despite the newest round of tough U.S. sanctions, Russia will supply two batches of rocket engines to the U.S. Air Force in 2018, Chief Developer of Energomash Scientific and Production Association [the engines’ developer] Pyotr Lyovochkin told TASS on Friday.

“Currently, the production of commercial engines at Energomash is proceeding in compliance with the contracts signed. The dispatch of the first batch of RD-180 and RD-181 engines to the United States is planned for the second quarter of 2018,” the chief developer said.

“And the next batch of these engines will be supplied to the customer at the end of the year,” he added, without specifying the number of engines.

The Atlas III and Atlas V rockets, manufactured by the Convair Division of General Dynamics, along with Antares rockets are the cheapest and most viable solution for the U.S. Air Force in launching heavy payloads into high orbits.

Atlas V’s Business End with Russian RD-180 Engine – (Source: NASA) 

The new “enhanced” Antares at the Horizontal Integration Facility at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport with RD-181 Engine. (Source: Jared Haworth/SpaceFlight Insider)

Unbeknownst too many, the Atlas family of rockets and Antares rely on Russian rocket engines for the first stage. This has become a dangerous national security threat, as the Air Force has become Russian dependent on RD-180 and RD-181 rocket engines. The Air Force’s contract with Energomash extends into the second half of 2019.

The issue about using Russian rocket engines was raised at a recent Air Force budget hearing by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

“Congress has consistently supported funding to rapidly transition from our current dependence on the Russian-made RD-180 rocket engine for national security space launches while maintaining assured access to space as a matter of U.S. policy,” Shelby said.

He then directed a question to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson: “Is the Air Force on track to successfully transition the RD-180 rocket engine by the end of 2022?”

Wilson responded: “Yes, sir. We are.” Shelby: “So you feel good about that?” Wilson: “Yes, sir. I do.”

To continue reading: Despite ‘New, Tough Sanctions’, US Takes Delivery Of Russian Rocket Engines

Mr. Trump Attacks Aluminum, Russia Attacks the Debt, by Tom Luongo

Is Russia selling its US government debt to retaliate against US sanctions? From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Looking at the unfolding trade war between Donald Trump and the world the phrase that should come to mind is “One good turn deserves another.”

In the case of the insane sanctions on Oleg Deripaska and Russian Aluminum giant, Rusal, back in April, we finally got some clarity as to how Russia can and will respond to future events.

In yesterday’s Treasury International Capital (TIC) report, we saw clearly that Russia activated its nearly half of its $100 billion in U.S. Treasury debt to buy dollars in April.  More than $47 billion in U.S. debt was dumped into the market to cover the chaos engendered by Trump’s overnight diktat for the world to stop doing business with Rusal.

TIC Report.png

Also of note, U.S. ally Japan continues to shed Treasuries at around 8-10 billion per month.  Ireland dumped $17 billion and Luxembourg nearly $8 billion.

While China dropped $5 billion this is noise, ultimately as its holdings of U.S. debt have been stable for over a year now.  What is interesting is Belgium, the home of Euroclear, seeing a $12 billion inflow.  Likely that’s where some of the Russian-held debt was traded to.

The Russians likely sold from their balance on reserve with the Federal Reserve.  Here’s the latest iteration of the chart I keep for just such an occassion.

USTs Treasury

Rusal’s shares and bonds went bidless but the damage wasn’t contained there as major Russian banks like VTB and Sberbank were hit hard as well.   So, while Rusal didn’t have much in the way of dollar-denominated debt.  It did have major dollar-related obligations as accounts receivable on its balance sheet because of the sheer size of its trade conducted in dollars.

And that’s why there was such an outflow from Russia’s stock of Treasuries.  But, here’s the thing.  It didn’t matter one whit.  Why?  It didn’t undermine Russia’s Foreign Exchange Reserves.

Russia Forex Reserves

No Dip in Russia’s Foreign Exchange Reserves During Rusal Crisis

Russia just sold Treasuries into the market, raised dollars and swapped out Rusal’s bonds, holding them as collateral for a Repo.

Bank of Russia debt.png

The Bank of Russia Intervened to keep Rusal and Other Banks Solvent by Dumping U.S. Treasuries

This went on for most of the month and into May.  Zerohedge’s reporting on this leads the way. 

To continue reading: Mr. Trump Attacks Aluminum, Russia Attacks the Debt

 

Is Europe Too Brainwashed To Normalize Relations With Russia? by Paul Craig Roberts

Europe is perhaps not too brainwashed, but probably too cowed by the US. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

Judging from statements made by G-7 leaders at the recent meeting, President Trump’s application of US sanctions to Europe and disregard of European interests, just as Washington dismisses every country’s interests except Israel’s, has not caused Europeans to disassociate from Washington’s hostility to Russia.

The prime minister of England said that the G7 “agreed to stand ready to take further restrictive measures against Russia if necessary.” The American puppet in France, Macron, falsely accused Russia, the only country trying to enforce the Minsk agreement, of violating the Minsk agreement. The French president also falsely accused Russia of invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea, despite the fact that Russian forces have been present in Crimea for years under a 50-year lease that provides Crimea as a Russian naval base. As the French president surely knows, all Russia did was to accept an unanimous vote of Crimeans to return to Russia. Crimea had been a part of Russia for three centuries, longer than the existence of the US, before it was illegally transferred to Ukraine.

The G7 politicians accused Putin of “destabilizing behavior,” of “undermining democratic systems,” and of “supporting Syria.”

Europe remains subservient to Washington despite everything Trump has done to humiliate Washington’s European vassals.

Putin’s response to what he called “creative babbling” was that Europe should get to work with Russia working out their common interest.

There are common interests, and Putin sees them, but, as the G7 statements make clear, the G7 sees only a Russian enemy.

From the West’s standpoint Putin is a problem because of his insistance on Russian sovereignty. When the West accuses Russia of “destabilizing behavior,” the West is saying that it is Russia’s independence that is destabilizing Washington’s world order. Russia is regarded as a destabilizing entity, because Putin does not accept Washington’s hegemony. Putin cannot overcome this attitude toward Russia with concessions and reasonable behavior. It could be a mortal delusion for Russia to believe that soft words can turn away the wrath of spurned hegemony.

To continue reading: Is Europe Too Brainwashed To Normalize Relations With Russia?

Does Singapore Have Relevance to an Eventual Trump-Putin Summit? by Gilbert Doctorow

Even if Trump and Kim reach a meaningful agreement, Gilbert Doctorow cautions against thinking it will have much applicability to US-Russian relations. From Doctorow at antiwar.com:

Now that the document concluding the US-North Korean summit in Singapore has been signed by President Trump and Chairman Kim, the world’s political commentators are busy making their assessments of what exactly its vague points on denuclearization really mean, in what ways it is historic and unlike previous agreements between US administrations and the North Korean regime of Kim’s father and grandfather.

In this brief essay, I will not join the pileup on that scrimmage line but look in a slightly different direction. I will be asking how the image of Donald Trump, the courageous peacemaker, as he immodestly styled himself in his remarks about this “very historical” event at the press conference which followed the signing ceremony, how this Trump can or cannot now move on to a similarly epochal summit with Vladimir Putin to end the risky and volatile confrontation with the world’s other nuclear super power so that we all can sleep calmly.

The idea of such a summit has recently been advanced publicly by some of my friends and colleagues in the Russian expert community who are alarmed by the recent incidents we have had with Russia in places like Syria where our troops are engaged backing opposing forces within close proximity. And they also think back to the promise of normalization of relations with Russia that Trump held out repeatedly in speeches during the electoral campaign of 2016 that brought him to the presidency. Some of these friends even hope that a Putin-Trump summit could be the starting point of a global strategic partnership between the United States and the Russian Federation.

In our times, Russia and its president are reviled daily in US media. In our times, the House of Representatives votes 419 – 3 and the Senate votes 98 – 2 for the Russia Sanctions bill (August 2017). Under these circumstances, it takes a large measure of courage to speak out in favor of a summit with Vladimir Putin and I take my hat off to these colleagues. However, I firmly believe they are dead wrong in their optimism over what is feasible and they are dead wrong in their pessimism over the risk of a great power war today.

To continue reading: Does Singapore Have Relevance to an Eventual Trump-Putin Summit?

G-6? 7? 8? How About the Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight? by Tom Luongo

President Trump doesn’t much like the EU, and he especially doesn’t like it’s guiding light, Angela Merkel. And they don’t like him. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me.com:

I have to say that as much as I don’t like the direction Trump’s foreign policy has gone, there are still plenty of moments of unbridled joy in watching the man work a crowd.

His suggestion of allowing Russia back into the G-7 is one of those moments.  Trump has a nearly preternatural way of getting under the skin of his opponents.  And this stink bomb was one of them.

It highlighted the divide between the G-7, one of the most important tools of control by the globalists, and Trump.  It also highlighted its irrelevance to him, since China was hosting Russia and six other important countries at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Quindao at the same time.

In effect, Trump was saying, “Why should I listen to you?  You aren’t important enough to listen to.”

It also highlights how he’s been tough on Russia while his domestic opponents still cling to the fantasy he’s somehow Putin’s water carrier.  Putin and Trump haven’t spoken since the end of March, according to Putin.

He’s moved on and, like Trump, makes no bones about not needing the G-7’s approval of his actions.

Most importantly, however, Trump dared them all to kick him out of the G-7 for not playing by their rules, just like they did to Putin for reunifying with Crimea.

I’ve been hard on Trump about his trade policy.  I fundamentally do not believe tariffs solve anything.  They are a symptom of deeper economic problems.  All they do is shift capital away from profitable endeavors to unprofitable ones for political purposes.

But, at the same time if he truly is using them to get all the protection barriers to trade dropped, then I will applaud him loudly.

I don’t, however, believe that is his ultimate goal.  So, a lot of this performance at the G-7 this weekend was just that, performance.

It’s Trump’s greatest strength, sowing chaos and discord, forcing everyone to reassess their positions.

Breaking Germany

The more I watch Trump in action the more I’m convinced his goal is to break Germany.  His antipathy for Angela Merkel is palpable.  He knows she’s the main conduit for the worst impulses of the globalists meeting at Bilderberg this weekend.

He knows her goal is to destroy Europe through forced immigration and internal wealth transfer payments.  So, it almost seems to me that any policy stance he takes is designed to harm Germany and that includes continually driving a wedge between Germany and Russia.

To continue reading: G-6? 7? 8? How About the Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight?