Tag Archives: Turkey

Journalist’s Disappearance Forces Trump’s Hand on Saudi Arabia, by Jason Ditz

The line out of the Trump administration, the mainstream media, and the well-funded Saudi Arabian public relations machine is that Saudi Arabia is becoming less repressive and is changing in other positive ways. It and Israel are the US’s strongest allies in the Middle East. From Jason Ditz at theantimedia.org:

he disappearance of high-profile Saudi journalist, and regular writer for the Washington Post, Jamal Khashoggi has put the Trump Administration into an uncomfortable position, obliging them to raise the questions about the disappearance and presumptive murder of the man by Saudi officials.

Khashoggi’s connections with the Washington Post made this a much bigger story than the disappearances of most dissident journalists in the Middle East. That he was in exile for writings critical to the Saudi Crown Prince, and entered a Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, but never came out, making it very likely he came to a bad end.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for a “thorough” investigation by the Saudis into Khashoggi’s disappearance as well, which also virtually obliges the US to follow through when such an investigation doesn’t happen.

The Saudis, after all, insist that nothing happened to Khashoggi, and barring the Turkish government coming across his corpse at some point in the near future, that’s a position they’re likely to stick to.

 

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U.S. Knew of Saudi Plan to Seize Missing Journalist, Post Says, by Vivian Nereim and Taylan Bilgic

This is a bombshell if it turns out to be true. From Vivian Nereim and Taylan Bilgic at bloomberg.com:

The Saudis were discussing a plan to lure Khashoggi back to the kingdom, The Washington Post reported, citing a person familiar with the communications, which were intercepted before he vanished. Khashoggi, a columnist for the newspaper, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and is feared to be detained or dead.

Protesters outside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 9

Photographer: Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images

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Naked Emperors Don’t Get Much Respect, by Robert Gore

What happens when most of your military infrastructure is suddenly obsolete?

The emperor was the last to realize he was naked. This is not unusual, emperors are the last to find out anything. Who has the fortitude to tell them the truth, especially an upsetting truth? And so it is with the US’s empire, the existence of which most of its citizens, media organs, and officials are unaware or won’t acknowledge. The truth is, the American empire, acknowledged or not, is over. It will be years before that’s accepted by the governing class. They’ll never officially inform their subjects, who are stuck with the tab for its immensely wasteful spending.

Empires are built on military strength. The American empire was no exception. Many Americans still think the US military enjoys the dominance it had back in 1946, a notion Vladimir Putin buried March 1. On that date he announced new weaponry which will render our naval surface fleet, ground forces, worldwide bases, and antiballistic systems obsolete (see here, here, and here). The US military leadership has grudgingly acknowledged many of Putin’s claims.

The unmistakable conclusion: most US military spending is the welfare state with epaulets. It pays for weapons, bases, and personnel whose uselessness would be revealed within half an hour after a non-nuclear war with Russia began. We have no conventional defenses against Russia’s new weaponry.

It’s cold comfort that US land installation, submarine, and airborne nuclear deterrents are still relevant. If Russia or anyone else launched a conventional or nuclear attack against us, we can annihilate the aggressor. The destruction we bore would be matched in kind, but the planet might be rendered uninhabitable.

Fortunately, it can be said with 99 percent certainty that Russia has no desire to launch a war, nuclear or conventional, against the US. That nation wants what many nations and US citizens want: for the US government to leave it alone. Although spending only 10 percent of what the US does on its military and intelligence, Russia now has the muscle to back it up. The Chinese are right behind.

The story doesn’t say what happened to the emperor and his courtiers after the lad revealed his nudity, but we can assume the emperor’s smarter toadies started heading for the exits. Why stay on a vessel that can’t navigate the shoals of reality?

Welfare states—giving money to people who haven’t earned it—so inevitably lead to corruption that they might as well be synonyms. For years the US has bought compliance with its dictates within its confederated empire, picking up the lion’s share of the defense tab. Nations hosting US military bases welcome the jobs and spending just like congressional districts back home.

Even before Putin’s March 1 announcement, asking how non-nuclear bases, domestic and abroad, actually made anyone in the US safer occasioned awkward silence. Russia’s military spending and economy are dwarfed by the US’s and its EU protectorate’s; a Russian invasion of Europe, even with its new weapons, would be suicidal. The chances of Russia or any other nation invading the US are even more remote. Russia has been invaded far more often than it has invaded, and other than securing its own neighborhood, exhibits no desire to launch offensive warfare. Putin stressed the new weapons’ role defensive role.

After the announcement, US bases will be targets, the personnel they house hostages. That includes the mobile bases known as the US surface fleet, from aircraft carriers on down. They have no defense against the Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missile, aircraft-launched with a range of 2000 kilometers, capable of reaching Mach 10.

Defending on sea or land against the Russians’ new nuclear powered cruise missiles—which have essentially unlimited range—is possible but problematic, especially if they’re launched in a swarm. Location has become irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if the US outpost is in Germany, Texas, or floating in the middle of the Pacific, they’re all vulnerable.

Poland’s recent proposal for the US to establish a military base there, at Poland’s expense, possibly to be named Fort Trump, is a strong contender for the year’s, perhaps the decade’s, most insane idea. Fort Courage, from the zany F Troop TV show, would be a more appropriate name. It’s one thing to hop on the US military spending gravy train, that’s just venal and corrupt. To install a useless military base and pay for it as well is incalculably stupid. The goal of politics is to get someone else to pay for your stupid ideas, but perhaps they do politics differently in Poland.

If you’re running one of the US’s protectorates, why should you accept the empire’s dictates when it can no longer defend your country? The question has added piquancy in Europe. Setting aside Russia’s new weapons, how would a country that’s botched military engagements in second string nations like Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria defend Europe short of nuclear war? If the answer is that it can’t, where does US leverage come from? The US demands more useless defense spending and presses Europe to curtail or cease profitable trade relations with Russia and Iran, both of which pose a minimal threat to Europe’s safety. Why should Europe comply?

President Trump has questioned the US subsidization of Europe’s defense. How much effort would the US make to defend Macedonia or Latvia? If the answer is not much, or if it can’t actually protect those or any other European country, then subsidies are the only “glue” for the American Empire, European division. It’s unclear if Trump realizes he can’t have his cake and eat it too. He may be happy to see Europe come unglued. Bankruptcy looms; the US has to start cutting spending somewhere.

It should come as no surprise that some countries aren’t toeing the US line, faithfully parroted by the EU. Turkey, straddling Europe and Asia, is edging toward Russia and China, and the goodies promised by their Belt and Road Initiative.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban and Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, head of the League party that shares power there, are seeking better relations with Russia, notwithstanding the US and Europe’s long running demonization of Vladimir Putin. Those two are also challenging received wisdom on the desirability of open borders and unlimited immigration. They and other nationalist leaders are finding an increasingly receptive audience among Europe’s voters.

The two Koreas are also writing their own script, one that diverges from the one the US has written for them since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Among those who favor the status quo, the line is that impoverished albeit nuclear-armed North Korea poses an offensive threat to South Korea, Japan, and the US. Kim Jong Un is singing a beguiling song of denuclearization, rapprochement, trade, and peace, but he’s not to be trusted. Only if he agrees beforehand to the complete subjugation of his country can negotiations proceed.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has other ideas. The people of both Koreas want reconciliation and an end to the war (there’s an armistice but no official peace). Moon appears willing to entertain the possibility that Kim would rather bring his country into the 21st century than launch nuclear strikes. The impetus for negotiations has come from these two leaders and Trump has jumped on the bandwagon, much to the consternation of a motley collection of swamp denizens who profit from current arrangements. Peace may come in spite of their efforts to prevent it.

As the US government continues to spend money for weapons, bases, and personnel our putative enemy can obliterate, defend countries that are under no threat, and intervene in conflicts that promise only interminable stalemate and lost blood and treasure, the question presents itself: are those running the empire and its satrapies stupid, rapaciously corrupt, evil, or all of the above? We’ll take the obvious: all of the above.

Those who have placed their safety in the hands of the US’s would-be emperors can no longer afford to ignore the emperors’ nudity…and insanity. The empire is fraying at the edges and it won’t be long before fraying becomes unraveling. Nobody respects a naked emperor, certainly not one who doesn’t even realize he’s naked.

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US Efforts To Halt Eurasian Integration Are Failing Miserably, by Federico Pieraccini

The US is trying to beat China and Russia on their home court. The US is relying on bullets and bombs as its “persuaders,” while China and Russia are relying on infrastructure development, arms sales, trade, and financing on preferential terms. Guess who’s winning? From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:

The operation of the Syrian Arab Army in the province of Idlib represents the last step of the central government of Damascus in the liberation of the country from the scourge of Islamist terrorism. With the defeat of Daesh and the removal of the remaining pockets of resistance, Assad’s soldiers have accomplished an extraordinary task. Meanwhile, the United States continues its illegal presence in Syria, through its support of the SDF in the north of the country for the purposes of sustaining the destabilizing potential of terrorist networks in the region and beyond. In light of this unfavorable situation for the Americans, it is easy to explain the transfer of commanders and high terrorist spheres from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan, as confirmed by several official Russian, Iranian, Syrian and Iraqi sources.

The logic behind such a move has everything to do with the ongoing process of Eurasian integration. Progress in this regard has been multifaceted in recent months and years. It ranges from the most important event, namely the entry of Pakistan and India into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), to other less known events, such as the signing of the Caspian Sea treaty by Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan. The United States is committed to stopping this integration. Staying true to Brzezinski’s grand strategy, based on the concepts of Heartland and Rimland, it has not been difficult for policy makers and advisors of the current US administration to understand the importance of Afghanistan in helping the process of Eurasian integration by fomenting terrorism. Afghanistan plays an important double role as a hinge between both Eurasia and the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Continue reading

What Turkey Can Teach Us About Gold, by Michael Lebowitz

Gold is one of the best insurance policies around against the depreciation of paper money. From Michael Lebowitz at realinvestmentadvice.com:

If you were contemplating an investment at the beginning of 2014, which of the two assets graphed below would you prefer to own?

In the traditional and logical way of thinking about investing, the asset that appreciates more is usually the preferred choice.

However, the chart above depicts the same asset expressed in two different currencies. The orange line is gold priced in U.S. dollars and the teal line is gold priced in Turkish lira. The y-axis is the price of gold divided by 100.

Had you owned gold priced in U.S. dollar terms, your investment return since 2014 has been relatively flat.  Conversely, had you bought gold using Turkish Lira in 2014, your investment has risen from 2,805 to 7,226 or 2.58x. The gain occurred as the value of the Turkish lira deteriorated from 2.33 to 6.04 relative to the U.S. dollar.

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Paving the Road to the End of NATO, by Tom Luongo

Is Trump trying to bring about the end of NATO? From Tom Luongo at strategic-culture.org:

It’s no secret that President Trump believes NATO is an anachronism. It’s also no secret that French President Emmanuel Macron wants a Grand Army of the EU and a single EU Finance Minister to further integration of the EU into the United States of Europe.

He and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been championing these two things since the day after Macron took office. They are both pushing hard for the EU to conduct independent foreign policy, framing Trump’s belligerence as the catalyst for its need now.

So, I’m not surprised in the wake of Merkel’s garden summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin recently that both of these policy initiatives are being pushed now.

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Repeating Churchill’s Bungles: Will US Drive Turkey into Joining the Shanghai Pact? by Martin Sieff

The West, led by Winston Churchill, has driven Turkey into the arms of its enemies before. Will it do it again? From Martin Sieff at strategic-culture.org:

Repeating Churchill’s Bungles: Will US Drive Turkey into Joining the Shanghai Pact?

In 1917, the professional head of the British Army, Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson in 1917 explained why the Allies were losing World War I because they kept pouring out lives, weapons and resources on capturing tiny unimportant locations on the Western Front while Imperial Germany conquered Eastern and Southern Europe, invading and occupying one major country after another:

“We take Bullecourt, they take Rumania; We take Messines, they take Russia; We don’t take Passchendaele, they take Italy,” Wilson told Winston Churchill.

Today, Washington is moving heaven and earth to integrate such major world powers as Macedonia, Montenegro and Georgia into NATO to join those vital pillars of world security Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. And at the same time, it is obsessed with imposing ruinous sanctions on Turkey.

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