Tag Archives: Russian sanctions

Russia-gate’s Fatally Flawed Logic, by Robert Parry

Having taken away Trump’s negotiating ability with Russia, Iran, and North Korea, Congress has left him only one option: belicosity. From Robert Parry at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: By pushing the Russia-gate “scandal” and neutering President Trump’s ability to conduct diplomacy, Democrats and Congress have encouraged his war-making side on North Korea, writes Robert Parry.

There was always a logical flaw in pushing Russia-gate as an excuse for Hillary Clinton’s defeat – besides the fact that it was based on a dubious “assessment” by a small team of “hand-picked” U.S. intelligence analysts. The flaw was that it poked the thin-skinned Donald Trump over one of his few inclinations toward diplomacy.

President Trump delivers his brief speech to the nation explaining his decision to launch a missile strike against Syria on April 6, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

We’re now seeing the results play out in a very dangerous way in Trump’s bluster about North Korea, which was included in an aggressive economic sanctions bill – along with Russia and Iran – that Congress passed nearly unanimously, without a single Democratic no vote.

Democrats and Official Washington’s dominant neocons celebrated the bill as a vote of no-confidence in Trump’s presidency but it only constrained him in possible peacemaking, not war-making.

The legislation, which Trump signed under protest, escalated tensions with those three countries while limiting Trump’s power over lifting sanctions. After signing the bill into law, Trump denounced the bill as “seriously flawed – particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.”

As his “signing statements” made clear, Trump felt belittled by the congressional action. His response has been to ratchet up bellicose rhetoric about North Korea, bluster appearing to be his natural default position when under pressure.

Remember, in April, as the Russia-gate hysteria mounted, Trump changed the subject, briefly, by rushing to judgment on an alleged chemical-weapons incident in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, and firing off 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian military base.

He immediately won acclaim from Official Washington, although Hillary Clinton and other hawks argued that he should have gone further with a much larger U.S. invasion of Syria, i.e., establishing a “no-fly zone” even if that risked nuclear war with Russia.

What Trump learned from that experience is that even when he is going off half-cocked, he is rewarded for taking the military option. (More careful analysis of the Khan Sheikhoun evidence later raised serious doubts that the Syrian military was responsible.)

To continue reading: Russia-gate’s Fatally Flawed Logic

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European Business Seethes Over New US Sanctions Law, by Alexander Mercouris

The new Russia, Iran, and North Korea sanctions law is not just stupid, it’s venal, an attempt to give US natural gas producers at leg up in the European market, at the expense of the Europeans. From Alexander Mercouris at the duran.com via lewrockwell.com:

The dispute between the US and Germany over the anti-Russian pipeline provisions of the new sanctions law continues to mount, with RT reporting Klaus Schaefer, a German businessman whom it describes as the CEO of German energy major Uniper fiercely denouncing the new sanctions as a ploy to force Europe to buy expensive liquified American natural gas instead of cheap Russian pipeline gas.

The core reason (for the sanctions) are strategic economic interests, meaning the targeted dominance of the US in energy markets.

RT reports Schaefer saying that liquified natural gas from the US would cost 50% more than pipeline gas from Russia, and that “Nobody wants to pay such a premium“.

I have previously discussed the economics for Europe of buying expensive American liquified gas in place of cheap Russian pipeline gas in a lengthy article, in which I also discussed how this was at least one motive for the new sanctions law.

In truth the new sanctions law serves multiple agendas.  There is the wish of some people in the US to give the highly contested claim that Russia meddled in the US election the stamp of legal authority by imposing on the country and the President a law which insists it.  There was the desire of some people to provoke Donald Trump into a head-on collision with Congress in a way that might have set the scene for his impeachment (discussed by me at length here).  There was the desire of some people to protect the Maidan regime in Ukraine by blocking the building of Russian gas pipelines that bypass Ukraine.  There is the widespread wish in the US – extending far back into the Cold War – to limit economic contacts between the US’s European allies and Russia as much as possible.  Above all there is the overarching desire of the overwhelming majority of the US political class – including above all its intelligence and media communities – to maintain the confrontation with Russia and to block President Trump’s attempt to end it.

To continue reading: European Business Seethes Over New US Sanctions Law

Oliver Stone Slams “Exceptional” America’s “Vast Stupidity” In Sanctioning Russia, by Tyler Durden

Oliver Stone demonstrates a rare independence from the Hollywood Herd. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

In a scathing Facebook post entitled “Mid Summer Anger,” movie director (and infamous Putin interviewer), Oliver Stone lashes out at Washington’s passage of the Russia sanctions bill, suggesting that US intelligence agencies aren’t doing their job and are misleading the public in the “false-flag war” against Moscow.

Congress passed its beloved Russia sanctions last week by a vote of 419-3! The Senate followed with a vote of 98-2!!

I guess ‘American Exceptionalism’ includes the vast stupidity inherent in having two giant oceans to distance us from the rest of humanity.

With all the Apples and Microsofts and computer geniuses we have in our country, can we not even accept the possibility that perhaps our intelligence agencies are not doing their job, and maybe, just maybe, are deliberately misleading us to continue their false-flag war against Russia? Or for that matter, that Russia itself may not be that invested in screwing up our vaunted democracy with such sloppy malware as claimed? Especially in view of the strong statement put out by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of reform-minded veterans throwing a dose of acid on the infamous ‘Brennan-Clapper Report’ of January 6, 2017. With this report alone, much less the overt lying and leaking that’s been going on, both James Clapper (‘We don’t do surveillance on our own citizens’) and John Brennan (‘Drones and torture? None of our business’) should be investigated as thoroughly as Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son, etc.

What’s happened to Elizabeth Warren, Barbara Lee, or any of the people who’ve displayed some independent thinking in the past? Have they actually read this report? Somebody out there in DC, please explain to me this omission of common sense. Are the Washington Post and the New York Times so powerful that no one bothers to read or think beyond them? It seems the TV stations in this country take their copy from them.

I accept the US decline. That’s a given — after all, compare our broken-down New York subway system with Moscow’s, as well as many other cities’ pristine and impeccable services. These sanctions, which I pray Europe can independently judge and discard, are as dumb as giving out medals to Generals who keep losing wars.

To continue reading: Oliver Stone Slams “Exceptional” America’s “Vast Stupidity” In Sanctioning Russia

Russiatosis, by James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler can’t find even a tiny thing to like about the Russian sanctions law, and all sorts of big things to hate. From Kunstler at kunstler.com:

Russia hysteria has become a full-blown national psychosis at a moment in history when a separate array of troubles poses the real threat to America’s well-being. Most of these have to do with the country’s swan dive into bankruptcy, but meeting them honestly would force uncomfortable choices on the grifters and caitiffs in congress. Meanwhile, the Treasury Dept is burning through its dwindling cash reserves, and all government activities will face a shutdown at the end of the summer unless congress votes to raise the debt ceiling — which may be way harder than passing the stupid Russia sanctions bill.

That bill, vaingloriously called The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act will only blow up in America’s face. This country’s actual trade with Russia is negligible, but the bill aims to interrupt and punish Europe’s trade, centering on oil and natural gas, which they need desperately. Mainly, the US bill seeks to interrupt a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea that would bypass several of the Baltic Nations currently being used by America — under the NATO banner — as staging areas for unnecessary and provocative war games on Russia’s borders.

Germany is certain to not stand for it, and like it or not, they are the straw that stirs the European drink. The sanctions pretend to seek to isolate Russia, but the effect will only be to isolate the United States. Europe will laugh at the measure as impinging on their sovereign prerogatives to trade as they please. And Russia can turn around and sell all the natural gas it wants to customers in Asia. Left undiscussed in the moronic American media is the American gas industry’s hidden role in pushing the sanctions so it can sell liquefied gas overseas — which would only end up raising the price for American gas customers to heat their homes.

To continue reading: Russiatosis

 

Russia Sanctions and The Coming Crackdown on Americans, by Daniel McAdams

The Russian sanctions bill that was signed into law last week may contain provisions that may allow persecution and prosecution of the alternative media. From Daniel McAdams at ronpaulinstitute.org:

Last week I wrote an article and did an interview explaining that in my reading of the new Russia sanctions bill just signed by President Trump, there is a measure opening the door to a US government crackdown on some of the non-mainstream media. In particular, Section 221 of the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” would punish “persons” who are “engaging in transactions with the intelligence or defense sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation.”

At first one might think this is reading too much into the text, however as a twelve year Capitol Hill veteran bill-reader I can assure you that these bills are never written in a simple, expository manner. There is always a subtext, and in this case we must consider the numerous instances where the Director of Central Intelligence and other senior leadership in the US intelligence community have attempted to establish the idea that foreign news channels such as RT or Sputnik News are not First Amendment protected press, but rather tools of a foreign intelligence organization.

You can see in the current atmosphere, where anti-Russia hysteria has spread like typhoid, how readily-accepted such a notion would be by many. The reds are under our beds and the Russkies have taken over our airwaves.

I don’t think the crackdown will stop at Russian government funded news organizations like RT and Sputnik, however. Once the initial strike is made at the lowest hanging fruit, the second wave will target Russia-focused organizations not funded by governments but that challenge the official US government line that Russia is our number one enemy and its government must be overthrown. Popular private alternative websites like The Duran and Russia Insider will likely be next on the list for prosecution.

Sound farfetched? Think of it this way (I can assure you the neocons do): if the Russian government and RT are opposed to sanctions and you operate a website that also takes a line in opposition to Russia sanctions are you not doing the work of Russian intelligence? Are you not seeking to influence your readers in a manner that Russian intelligence would want? Are you not “engaging in transactions” even over the airwaves?

And after this second wave you can be sure there will be a push to move on other alternative media that has nothing to do with Russia but that opposes US interventionist foreign policy: ZeroHedge, Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul Institute, ConsortiumNews, etc.

To continue reading: Russia Sanctions and The Coming Crackdown on Americans

The U.S. Empire Continues to Stumble Towards Ruin, by Michael Krieger

One reason empires crumble is that they arrogantly piss of both their friends and enemies, and everyone in between. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

There is a true law, a right reason, conformable to nature, universal, unchangeable, eternal, whose commands urge us to duty, and whose prohibitions restrain us from evil. Whether it enjoins or forbids, the good respect its injunctions, and the wicked treat them with indifference. This law cannot be contradicted by any other law, and is not liable either to derogation or abrogation.

Neither the senate nor the people can give us any dispensation for not obeying this universal law of justice. It needs no other expositor and interpreter than our own conscience. It is not one thing at Rome and another at Athens; one thing today and another tomorrow; but in all times and nations this universal law must for ever reign, eternal and imperishable. It is the sovereign master and emperor of all beings. God himself is its author,—its promulgator,—its enforcer. He who obeys it not, flies from himself, and does violence to the very nature of man. For his crime he must endure the severest penalties hereafter, even if he avoid the usual misfortunes of the present life.

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

There’s been a lot going on this week, so it’s unsurprising that an extremely important vote in Congress failed to get the attention it deserves. What I’m referring to is the recent Russia/Iran/North Korea sanctions bill passed by the House of Representatives in a frighteningly lopsided 419-3 vote.

Let’s turn to Bloomberg for a quick analysis on the Russian reaction:

Russia threatened to retaliate against new sanctions passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, saying they made it all but impossible to achieve the Trump administration’s goal of improved relations.

The measures push U.S.-Russia ties into uncharted territory and “don’t leave room for the normalization of relations” in the foreseeable future, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday, according to the Interfax news service.

Hope “is dying” for improved relations because the scale of “the anti-Russian consensus in Congress makes dialogue impossible and for a long time,” Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said on Facebook. Russia should prepare a response to the sanctions that’s “painful for the Americans,” he said.

To continue reading: The U.S. Empire Continues to Stumble Towards Ruin

Moscow Warns Of “Painful Response” To US Sanctions; EU Ready To Retaliate In “A Matter Of Days”, by Tyler D

A History of Sanctions Which Have Achieved Their Objectives would be a very thin book. Nevertheless, Congress would like to slap still more sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea, and make it virtually impossible for Trump to relax or eliminate those sanctions in the interests of promoting better relations with those nations. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Following yesterday’s almost unanimous House vote to pass new sanctions against Russia, on Wednesday Moscow threatened to retaliate, saying that – as expected the action has made it all but impossible to achieve the Trump  administration’s goal of improved relations, and vowed to retaliate to the latest sanctions which Russia views as senseless and destructive according to its deputy foreign minister said.

As described yesterday, the bill passed by a vote of 419-3 on Tuesday , boosted sanctions against Russia just 3 weeks after Trump and Putin held their first official meeting. The legislation, which now goes to the Senate, requires Trump to seek congressional approval before easing sanctions imposed under the Obama administration for “Russian meddling” in the 2016 presidential elections and its support for separatists in Ukraine. So far Trump has not definitively stated if he will support the bill with the White House sending mixed signals whether Trump will sign it.

The bill seeks to impose new economic sanctions against North Korea, Iran, and Russia, and received overwhelming support from US legislators. Moscow is being targeted for alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election, an allegation that Russia denies and which has not been backed by convincing public evidence. Russia’s foreign ministry expects the bill to become law, which would inevitably prompt Moscow to retaliate, Ryabkov warned.

“What is happening defies common sense. The authors and sponsors of this bill are taking a very serious step towards destroying any potential for normalizing relations with Russia,” Sergey Ryabkov told the media on Wednesday, referring to an act adopted earlier by the US House of Representatives.

“We told them dozens of times that such actions would not be left without a response. I believe the signal went through even though present-day Washington tends to listen to and hear from no one but itself,” Ryabkov added.

To continue reading: Moscow Warns Of “Painful Response” To US Sanctions; EU Ready To Retaliate In “A Matter Of Days”