• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

donderdag 19 april 2018

Macron Claims: My Penis Is Just as Big


‘I’m the equal of Putin,’ Macron tells journalists over a drink

‘I’m the equal of Putin,’ Macron tells journalists over a drink
France’s Emmanuel Macron said he considers himself an equal to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and that the strike on Syria was meant to show he was “part of this,” journalists who interviewed the French leader have revealed. 
President Macron gave a nearly three-hour-long interview on the results of his first year in office to RMC radio host Jean-Jacques Bourdin, and Edwy Plenel of Mediapart website on Sunday. After the program went off the air on BFMTV, the President shared a drink with the journalists and the liquor apparently loosened his tongue.
“I am an equal of Putin,” Macron was cited as saying by Bourdin, who told RMC radio that an informal conversation with the head of state provided an insight into the French role in the Syrian crisis and Marcon’s attitude towards Vladimir Putin.
“By the way, Putin understands me. And I decided to strike Syria in order to convey to Putin that we are also part of this,” the journalist cited Macron’s words. According to Bourdin, the French leader also called Saturday’s missile attack on Syrian civilian and military facilities, carried out by the US, UK and France, “a decision that will lead to peace in Syria.”
During Sunday’s interview, Macron said that he convinced his US counterpart, Donald Trump, that it was “necessary” to maintain American military presence in Syria and that the coalition strikes should be limited to the alleged chemical weapons facilities. Shortly afterwards the US reiterated that its troops will be returning home from Syria "as quickly as possible.” 

The French president ordered French forces to join the US-led attack without receiving consent from France’s parliament. Macron was grilled over his decision on Monday as the MPs called the missile strike illegal, due to its being carried out without a UN mandate and any reliable evidence to back the claims of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government. 
Putin and Macron are expected to meet during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in May. The French president decided not to cancel his Russian visit despite the current turmoil in relations between Moscow and the West over Syria and the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal. The Kremlin has welcomed Macron over his “constructive approach” and willingness to “solve problems through dialogue,” which, it said, completely matches Putin’s take on things.

'De gifgasaanval in Douma heeft NIET plaatsgevonden'; Stan van Houcke en Karel van Wolferen

'De gifgasaanval in Douma heeft NIET plaatsgevonden'; Stan van Houcke en Karel van Wolferen

Dat er een chemische aanval heeft plaatsgevonden in Douma, Syrië is volgens meerdere vooraanstaande Amerikaanse en Westerse correspondenten in die regio een leugen. Ook de mainstream media in Amerika, plaatsen er nu openlijk vraagtekens bij.

In Nederland lijken de staatsmedia daar nog niet openlijk over te willen berichten.
de tegels van een grof geopolitieke leugen.

Van Wolferen en Van Houcke lichten in dit gesprek, tegen de journalistieke stroom in,




JOHN W. WHITEHEAD: Crimes of a Monster



Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work

 
Photo by DAVID HOLT | CC BY 2.0
“Is ours a government of the people, by the people, for the people, or a kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools?”
— James Russell Lowell, 19thcentury American novelist
Let us not mince words.
We are living in an age of war profiteers.
We are living in an age of scoundrels, liars, brutes and thugs. Many of them work for the U.S. government.
We are living in an age of monsters.
Ask Donald Trump. He knows all about monsters.
Any government that leaves “mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air” is evil and despicable, said President Trump, justifying his blatantly unconstitutional decision(in the absence of congressional approval or a declaration of war) to launch airstrikes against Syria based on dubious allegationsthat it had carried out chemical weapons attacks on its own people. “They are crimes of a monster.”
If the Syrian government is a monster for killing innocent civilians, including women and children, the U.S. government must be a monster, too.
In Syria, at least 80 civilians, including 30 children, were killed when U.S.-led air strikes bombed a school and a packed marketplace.
In Yemen, a U.S. drone bombed a caravan of vehicles on their way to or from a wedding, leaving “scorched vehicles and body parts … scattered on the road.” As investigative journalist Tom Engelhart documents, that 2013 bombing was actually the eighth wedding party (almost 300 civilians dead) wiped out by the U.S. military, totally or in part, since the Afghan War began in 2001. “Keep in mind that, in these years, weddings haven’t been the only rites hit,” notes Engelhart. “US air power has struck gatherings ranging from funerals to a baby-naming ceremony.”
Then there was a Doctors without Borders hospital in Kunduz that had 12 of its medical staff and 10 of its patients, including three children, killed when a U.S. AC-130 gunship fired on it repeatedly. Some of the patients were burned alivein their hospital beds.
Yes, on this point, President Trump is exactly right: these are, indeed, the crimes of a monster.
Unfortunately, this monster—this hundred-headed gorgon that is the U.S. government and its long line of political puppets (Donald Trump and before him Obama, Bush, Clinton, etc.), who dance to the tune of the military industrial complex—is being funded by you and me.
The blood of innocent civilians is on our hands whether we choose to recognize it or not.
It is our tax dollars at work here, after all.
Unfortunately, we have no real say in how the government runs, or how our taxpayer funds are used.
We have no real say, but we’re being forced to pay through the nose, anyhow, for endless wars that do more to fund the military industrial complex than protect us, pork barrel projects that produce little to nothing, and a police state that serves only to imprison us within its walls.
The only alternative to paying one’s taxes is jail, and there are few people willing to go to jail for a principle anymore.
Still, while we may not have much choice in the matter of how our taxes are used, we still have a voice and a vote, and it’s time the American people made their voices—and their votes—heard about the way our taxes are used and misused by this government of wolves and thieves and liars.
Consider: we get taxed on how much we earn, taxed on what we eat, taxed on what we buy, taxed on where we go, taxed on what we drive, and taxed on how much is left of our assets when we die.
Indeed, if there is an absolute maxim by which the federal government seems to operate, it is that the American taxpayer always gets ripped off.
This is true whether you’re talking about taxpayers being forced to fund high-priced weaponrythat will be used against us, endless warsthat do little for our safety or our freedoms, or bloated government agencies such as the National Security Agencywith its secret budgets, covert agendas and clandestine activities. Rubbing salt in the wound, even monetary awards in lawsuits against government officials who are found guilty of wrongdoing are paid by the taxpayer.
Not only are American taxpayers forced to “spend more on state, municipal, and federal taxes than the annual financial burdens of food, clothing, and housing combined,” but we’re also being played as easy marks by hustlers bearing the imprimatur of the government.
With every new tax, fine, fee and law adopted by our so-called representatives, the yoke around the neck of the average American seems to tighten just a little bit more.
Everywhere you go, everything you do, and every which way you look, we’re getting swindled, cheated, conned, robbed, raided, pickpocketed, mugged, deceived, defrauded, double-crossed and fleeced by governmental and corporate shareholders of the American police state out to make a profit at taxpayer expense.
Yet as Ron Paul observed, “The Founding Fathers never intended a nation where citizens would pay nearly half of everything they earn to the government.”
The overt and costly signs of the despotism exercised by the increasingly authoritarian regime that passes itself off as the United States government are all around us: warrantless surveillance of Americans’ private phone and email conversations by the NSA; SWAT team raids of Americans’ homes; shootings of unarmed citizens by police; harsh punishments meted out to schoolchildren in the name of zero tolerance; drones taking to the skies domestically; endless wars; out-of-control spending; militarized police; roadside strip searches; roving TSA sweeps; privatized prisons with a profit incentive for jailing Americans; fusion centers that collect and disseminate data on Americans’ private transactions; and militarized agencies with stockpiles of ammunition, to name some of the most appalling.
Meanwhile, the three branches of government (Executive, Legislative and Judicial) and the agencies under their command—Defense, Commerce, Education, Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury, etc.—have switched their allegiance to the Corporate State with its unassailable pursuit of profit at all costs and by any means possible.
As a result, we are now ruled by a government consumed with squeezing every last penny out of the population and seemingly unconcerned if essential freedoms are trampled in the process.
As with most things, if you want to know the real motives behind any government program, follow the money trail. When you dig down far enough, you quickly find that those who profit from Americans being surveilled, fined, scanned, searched, probed, tasered, arrested and imprisoned are none other than the police who arrest them, the courts which try them, the prisons which incarcerate them, and the corporations, which manufacture the weapons, equipment and prisons used by the American police state.
It gets worse.
Because the government’s voracious appetite for money, power and control has grown out of control, its agents have devised other means of funding its excesses and adding to its largesse through taxes disguised as fines, taxes disguised as fees, and taxes disguised as tolls, tickets and penalties.
The government’s schemes to swindle, cheat, scam, and generally defraud Americans have run the gamut from wasteful pork barrel legislation, cronyism and graft to asset forfeiture schemes, the modern-day equivalent of highway robbery, astronomical health care “reform,” and costly stimulus packages.
Americans have also been made to pay through the nose for the government’s endless wars, subsidization of foreign nations, military empire, welfare state, roads to nowhere, bloated workforce, secret agencies, fusion centers, private prisons, biometric databases, invasive technologies, arsenal of weapons, and every other budgetary line item that is contributing to the fast-growing wealth of the corporate elite at the expense of those who are barely making ends meet—that is, we the taxpayers.
Those football stadiums that charge exorbitant sums for nosebleed seats? Our taxpayer dollars subsidize them.
Those blockbuster war films? Yep, we were the silent investors on those, too.
Same goes for the military equipment being peddled to local police agencies and the surveillance cameras being “donated” to local governments.
In other words, in the eyes of the government, “we the people, the voters, the consumers, and the taxpayers” are little more than indentured servants.
We’re slaves.
If you have no choice, no voice, and no real options when it comes to the government’s claims on your property and your money, you’re not free.
You’re not free if the government can seize your home and your car (which you’ve bought and paid for) over nonpayment of taxes.
You’re not free if government agents can freeze and seize your bank accounts and other valuables if they merely “suspect” wrongdoing.
And you’re certainly not free if the IRS gets the first cut of your salary to pay for government programs over which you have no say.
It wasn’t always this way, of course.
Early Americans went to war over the inalienable rights described by philosopher John Locke as the natural rights of life, liberty and property.
It didn’t take long, however—a hundred years, in fact—before the American government was laying claim to the citizenry’s property by levying taxes to pay for the Civil War. As the New York Times reports, “Widespread resistance led to its repeal in 1872.”
Determined to claim some of the citizenry’s wealth for its own uses, the government reinstituted the income tax in 1894. Charles Pollock challenged the tax as unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor. Pollock’s victory was relatively short-lived. Members of Congress—united in their determination to tax the American people’s income—worked together to adopt a constitutional amendment to overrule the Pollock decision.
On the eve of World War I, in 1913, Congress instituted a permanent income tax by way of the 16thAmendment to the Constitution and the Revenue Act of 1913. Under the Revenue Act, individuals with income exceeding $3,000 could be taxed starting at 1% up to 7% for incomes exceeding $500,000.
It’s all gone downhill from there.
Unsurprisingly, the government has used its tax powers to advance its own imperialistic agendas and the courts have repeatedly upheld the government’s power to penalize or jail those who refused to pay their taxes.
All the while the government continues to do whatever it likes—levy taxes, rack up debt, spend outrageously and irresponsibly, wage endless wars that make no one safer but fatten the bank accounts of the defense contractors—with little thought for the plight of its citizens.
Somewhere over the course of the past 240-plus years, democracy has given way to kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves), and representative government has been rejected in favor of a kakistocracy (a government run by the most unprincipled citizens that panders to the worst vices in our nature: greed, violence, hatred, prejudice and war) ruled by career politicians, corporations and thieves—individuals and entities with little regard for the rights of American citizens.
The American kleptocracy continues to suck the American people down a rabbit hole into a parallel universe in which the Constitution is meaningless, the government is all-powerful, and the citizenry is powerless to defend itself against government agents who steal, spy, lie, plunder, kill, abuse and generally inflict mayhem and sow madness on everyone and everything in their sphere.
This dissolution of that sacred covenant between the citizenry and the government—establishing “we the people” as the masters and the government as the servant—didn’t happen overnight.
It didn’t happen because of one particular incident or one particular president.
It has been a process, one that began long ago and continues in the present day, aided and abetted by politicians who have mastered the polarizing art of how to “divide and conquer.”
By playing on our prejudices about those who differ from us, capitalizing on our fears for our safety, and deepening our distrust of those fellow citizens whose opinions run counter to our own, the powers-that-be have effectively divided us into polarized, warring camps incapable of finding consensus on the one true menace that is an immediate threat to all of our freedoms: the U.S. government.
We are now the subjects of a militarized, corporate empire in which the vast majority of the citizenry work their hands to the bone for the benefit of a privileged few.
Adding injury to the ongoing insult of having our tax dollars misused and our so-called representatives bought and paid for by the moneyed elite, the government then turns around and uses the money we earn with our blood, sweat and tears to target, imprison and entrap us, in the form of militarized police, surveillance cameras, private prisons, license plate readers, drones, and cell phone tracking technology.
All of those nefarious government deeds that you read about in the paper every day: those are your tax dollars at work. It’s your money that allows for government agents to spy on your emails, your phone calls, your text messages, and your movements. It’s your money that allows out-of-control police officers to burst into innocent people’s homes, or probe and strip search motorists on the side of the road, or shoot an unarmed person. And it’s your money that leads to innocent Americans across the country being prosecuted for innocuous activities such as raising chickens at home, growing vegetable gardens, and trying to live off the grid.
Just remember the next time you see a news story that makes your blood boil, whether it’s a child being kicked out of school for shooting an imaginary arrow, or a homeowner being threatened with fines for building a pond in his backyard, remember that it is yourtax dollars that are paying for these injustices.
So what are you going to do about it?
There was a time in our history when our forebears said “enough is enough” and stopped paying their taxes to what they considered an illegitimate government. They stood their ground and refused to support a system that was slowly choking out any attempts at self-governance, and which refused to be held accountable for its crimes against the people. Their resistance sowed the seeds for the revolution that would follow.
Unfortunately, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, in the 200-plus years since we established our own government, we’ve let bankers, turncoats and number-crunching bureaucrats muddy the waters and pilfer the accounts to such an extent that we’re back where we started.
Once again, we’ve got a despotic regime with an imperial ruler doing as they please.
Once again, we’ve got a judicial system insisting we have no rights under a government which demands that the people march in lockstep with its dictates.
And once again, we’ve got to decide whether we’ll keep marching or break stride and make a turn toward freedom.
But what if we didn’t just pull out our pocketbooks and pony up to the federal government’s outrageous demands for more money?
What if we didn’t just dutifully line up to drop our hard-earned dollars into the collection bucket, no questions asked about how it will be spent?
What if, instead of quietly sending in our checks, hoping vainly for some meager return, we did a little calculating of our own and started deducting from our taxes those programs that we refuse to support?
If we don’t have the right to decide what happens to our hard-earned cash, then we don’t have very many rights at all.
If the government can just take from you what they want, when they want, and then use it however they want, you can’t claim to be anything more than a serf in a land they think of as theirs.
This was the case in the colonial era, and it’s the case once again.
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Shielding Zionist Terror


Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy

 
Photo by Swithun Crowe | CC BY 2.0
The term ‘media bias’ does not do justice to the western corporate media’s relationship with Israel and Palestine. The relationship is, indeed, far more profound than mere partiality. It is not ignorance, either. It is a calculated and long-term campaign, aimed at guarding Israel and demonizing Palestinians.
The current disgraceful coverage of Gaza’s popular protests indicates that the media’s position aims at suppressing the truth on Palestine, at any cost and by any means.
Political symbiosis, cultural affinity, Hollywood, the outreaching influence of pro-Israel and Zionist groups within the political and media circles, are some of the explanations many of us have offered as to why Israel is often viewed with sympathetic eyes and Palestinians and Arabs condemned.
But such explanations should hardly suffice. Nowadays, there are numerous media outlets that are trying to offset some of the imbalance, many of them emanating from the Middle East, but also other parts of the world. Palestinian and Arab journalists, intellectuals and cultural representatives are more present on a global stage than ever before and are more than capable of facing off, if not defeating, the pro-Israeli media discourse.
However, they are largely invisible to western media; it is the Israeli spokesperson who continues to occupy the center stage, speaking, shouting, theorizing and demonizing as he pleases.
It is, then, not a matter of media ignorance, but policy.
Even before March 30, when scores of Palestinians in Gaza were killed and thousands wounded, the US and British media, for example, should have, at least, questioned why hundreds of Israeli snipers and army tanks were ordered to deploy at the Gaza border to face-off Palestinian protesters.
Instead, they referred to ‘clashes’ between Gaza youth and the snipers, as if they are equal forces in an equivalent battle.
Western media is not blind. If ordinary people are increasingly able to see the truth regarding the situation in Palestine, experienced western journalists cannot possibly be blind to the truth. They know, but they choose to remain silent.
The maxim that official Israeli propaganda or ‘hasbara’ is too savvy no longer suffices. In fact, it is hardly true.
Where is the ingenuity in the way the Israeli army explained the killing of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza?
“Yesterday we saw 30,000 people,” the Israeli army tweeted on March 31. “We arrived prepared and with precise reinforcements. Nothing was carried out uncontrolled; everything was accurate and measured, and we know where every bullet landed.”
If that is not bad enough, Israel’s ultra-nationalist Minister of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, followed that self-indictment by declaring there are “no innocent people in Gaza”; thus, legitimizing the targeting of any Gazan within the besieged Strip.
Unfair media coverage is not fueled by the simplistic notion of ‘clever Israel, imprudent Arabs’. Western media is actively involved in shielding Israel and enhancing its diminishing brand, while painstakingly demolishing the image of Israel’s enemies.
Take for example, Israel’s unfounded propaganda that Yasser Murtaja, the Gaza journalist who was killed in cold blood by an Israeli sniper while covering the Great March of Return protests at the Gaza border, was a member of Hamas.
First, ‘unnamed officials’ in Israel claimed that Yasser is ‘a member of the Hamas security apparatus.’ Then, Lieberman offered more (fabricated) details that Yasser was on Hamas’ payroll since 2011 and ‘held a rank similar to a captain.’ Many journalists took these statements and ran with them, constantly associating any news coverage of Yasser’s death with Hamas.
It turned out that, according to the US State Department, Yasser’s start-up media company in Gaza had actually received a small grant from USAID, which subjected Yasser’s company to a rigorous vetting process.
More still, a report by the International Federation of Journalist claimed that Yasser was actually detained and beaten by the Gaza police in 2015, and that Israel’s Defense Minister is engineering a cover-up.
Judging by this, Israel’s media apparatus is as erratic and self-defeating as North Korea; but this is hardly the image conveyed by western media, because it insists on placing Israel on a moral pedestal while misrepresenting Palestinians, regardless of the circumstances.
But there is more to western media’s approach to Palestine and Israel than shielding and elevating Israel, while demonizing Palestinians. Oftentimes, the media works to distract from the issues altogether, as is the case in Britain today, where Israel’s image is rapidly deteriorating.
To disrupt the conversation on Palestine, the Israeli Occupation and the British government’s unconditional support of Israel, British mainstream media has turned the heat on Jeremy Corbyn, the popular leader of the Labor Party.
Accusations of anti-Semitism has dogged the party since Corbyn’s election in 2015. Yet, Corbyn is not racist; on the contrary, he has stood against racism, for the working class and other disadvantaged groups. His strong pro-Palestine stance, in particular, is threatening to compel a paradigm shift on Palestine and Israel within the revived and energized Labor Party.
Sadly, Corbyn’s counter strategy is almost entirely absent. Instead of issuing a statement condemning all forms of racism and moving on to deal with the urgent issues at hand, including that of Palestine, he allows his detractors to determine the nature of the discussion, if not the whole discourse. He is now trapped in a perpetual conversation, while the Labor Party is regularly purging its own members for alleged anti-Semitism.
Considering that Israel and its allies in the media, and elsewhere, conflate between criticism of Israel and its Zionist ideology, on the one hand, and that of Jews and Judaism on the other, Corbyn cannot win this battle.
Nor are Israel’s friends keen on winning, either. They merely want to prolong a futile debate so that British society remains embroiled in distractions and spares Israel any accountability for its action.
If British media was, indeed, keen on calling out racism and isolating racists, why then is there little discussion on Israel’s racist policies targeting Palestinians?
Media spin will continue to provide Israel with the needed margins to carry out its violent policies against the Palestinian people, with no moral accountability. It will remain loyal to Israel, creating a buffer between the truth and its audiences.
It is incumbent on us to expose this sinister relationship and hold mainstream media to account for covering up Israel’s crimes, as well as Israel for committing these crimes in the first place.
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Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: ramzybaroud.net

De burgeroorlog in Oekraïne

Ronald van Amerongen:
De burgeroorlog in Oekraïne.  (waarschuwing, confronterende beelden)

Beelden die jullie nooit in Nederlandse media gezien hebben.
Deze maand is het 4 jaar geleden dat onder leiding van de VS de junta in Kiev operatie ATO (Anti Terroristische Operatie) begon tegen de bevolking van Donbass. (waar ik woon)   Deze video is een van de eerste die ik publiceerde (2014), in mijn hoofd-profiel is deze video vanwege blokkade niet voor iedereen te zien dus nu hier nog een keer.  Alleen al in mijn woonplaats, het kleine Perevalsk ruim 70 slachtoffers gevallen.  En nee, er is geen "Russische invasie" er zijn geen reguliere Russische troepen, alleen de inwoners, de vrienden en aangetrouwde familie die de wapens oppakten tegen de junta in Kiev.
Nu sluimert de oorlog, maar maak geen vergissing, het is een potentieel kruitvat dichtbij de Russische grens.
De burgeroorlog in Oekraïne.  (waarschuwing, confronterende beelden)


Trump and the Neocons

First Joust

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With slight disappointment the public regarded the field. Just a minute ago, two knights were converging in fearsome joust, their spears pointing forth, plumage blowing, horses galloping, ladies out waving their handkerchiefs to their champions, – and now we see they have passed each other, both firmly in the saddle, plumage unruffled, spears unbloodied, horses trotting away joyfully.
“Cowards!” – the boys shouted, while the ladies are happy to see their knights riding off the field unharmed. We all know this was just the first joust, where prudence often inhibits the testosterone flush. Soon, the knights will ride again.
This is a brief summary of the Syrian strike. An external force had pushed the leaders of Russia and the US into confrontation; Putin and Trump were equally unwilling to fight, but they couldn’t avoid the charge. The best they could do, they did: they avoided each other.
This was the somewhat unexpected conclusion of the carefully planned encounter. It plainly did not make sense to fire up fear and loathing of Russians to its unprecedented heights for such a finale. A mountain gave birth to a mouse, as Horace said. Presumably, the mountain will make another effort.
The last thing I want is to cheer and encourage the next encounter. The two presidents already have displayed vigour and courage by limiting the damage to a minimum. It is unwise to troll them for failing to defeat their opponent, though this is now being done by hundreds of pundits and by millions of private persons.
On the US side, Trump has been castigated by such brilliant humanitarians as Mr Mohammed (brother to late unlamented Zahran) Alloush, the leader of Jaysh al-Islam, a moderate Jihadi fighter group supported and paid for by that most progressive prince and lady drivers’ best friend, Mohammed bin Salman. The airstrikes were “a farce”, he said. Israel is also upset that President Trump “did the minimum he could”.
If Trump hasn’t been skinned yet by the neocons in Washington, it’s because he judiciously brought into his camp the worst warmongers, John Bolton and Nikki Haley as human shields in the case of a neocon attack: nobody can accuse a man whose security adviser is Bolton and the UN ambassador is Haley of being soft on Putin. Now they can’t voice their indignation. As they say in the army, it’s better to have them inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.
Well, some guys are anyway unhappy. Vil Mirzayanov, the Russian expert, who had spied over the development of the Novichok chemical weapon and immigrated to the US,, wrote in his blog to his erstwhile CIA masters: “[by this strike], Trump confirmed that he is a Putin’s agent! Poor Nikki [Haley] should slam the door and leave, as an honest person can’t serve under Kremlin’s agent”.
Real Kremlin’s agents, trolls and scribes, or alternatively, Western dissidents presented the strike as a “huge victory for Putin”. This is the common ground of Putin and anti-Putin trolls: whatever the Kremlin ruler does, has to be presented as his great victory. Afterwards, they part their ways, and Putin’s agents bless the Lord for Putin, while anti-Putin trolls call to fight him harder and accuse everybody softer than Genghis Khan of collaboration with the tyrant.
It is silly to present the strike as Putin’s achievement. Kremlin tried to avoid the strike altogether, spoke darkly of a harsh response, of “carriers” being shot at, of Satan 2.0 and nuclear winter, but the talk failed to stop the strike. No British or American planes were downed, or even shot at. The Russians didn’t use their S-300 or S-400 SAM systems, claiming the US missiles didn’t approach Russian bases. This is a dubious argument: Putin tried to stop at attack on Damascus; and Damascus is not a Russian base. Let us face it: Putin did not stop the strike and he didn’t make the offender pay a price for this breach of the Law of Nations.
General (Ret) Leonid Ivashov, an important Russian military observer, said the strike had annihilated Russian deterrence, exposed Putin’s bluff of his powerful new weapons and, worst of all, proved him indecisive and unable to respond to an attack. We walked away with our tail between our hind legs, as punished dogs, he continued. Russia’s achievements in Syria have been erased by this shameful inaction.
What is worse, Trump’s strike destroyed what was left of the international law structure established by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin. These three giants created the UN and its Security Council in order to avoid such eventualities by forbidding aggression, and the strike has been definitely an act of aggression against a sovereign state despite an objection of a permanent SC member, namely Russia. Now the gates of hell are open, international law has been demolished, and this happened because Putin agreed to accommodate Trump’s strike, said Ivashov.
Though official Russian media speaks of a great Russian victory, as no Russian or Syrian soldiers were killed, many Russians subscribe to the bleak view of Ivashov. The main question is whether this Russian fight aversion will encourage the Americans to carry out a future strike, or whether Trump will rein in his adversaries.
It is hard to accept the official Russian version saying the Syrian SAM systems intercepted 70% of the incoming missiles, as the excellent journalist Pepe Escobar did. This would be too good a result even for the best, latest, and most update systems. The unimpressive outcome of the attack can be explained easier by Trump’s decision to minimise the damage, as indeed the Israeli military says.
The Russian military experts here in Moscow told me that out of a hundred missiles fired by the US and their allies, only one or two were modern cruise missiles (“nice and smart”)and they destroyed the research institute in Barzeh. (It was not a “chemical weapons centre”, just a chemical research institute; it’s destruction was a copy-paste of Bill Clinton’s bombing of the pharmaceutical factory in Sudan over a similar pretext.)
All other missiles were old and at the end of their service; they had to be utilised somehow, and so they were. A few of them might have been downed by Syrian anti-aircraft fire, others fell without inflicting much damage. Syrian air defence is not able to blow modern cruise missiles out of sky; Syrian appeals to supply them with modern SAM systems have been refused at the request of Israel. (Netanyahu came to Moscow saying that S-300 in Syrian hands will turn all Israel into a no-fly zone; Putin agreed with him, and the Syrians were denied modern SAMs.) Now, hopefully these modern systems will find its way to Syrian army.
The Russian experts who were in contact with the US military told me that the US military used this occasion for retraining and refreshing reserve pilots; what they call “a milk run”. This combination of old missiles and less experienced pilots helped to lower the efficiency of the strike. And both sides, the Russians and the Americans, admitted that the deconfliction line was operative all the time, to avoid eventualities.
I’d consider that a good conclusion of the fictional chemical weapons story. The story has fallen to pieces altogether, anyway. The poisoning of Skripal ended with the old spy in good health; with Boris Johnson being caught lying; with [the chemical weapons control body] OPCW refusing to connect Skripal’s poison to Moscow; and with Brits keeping Miss Skripal incommunicado under duress, away from her fiancé and the rest of her family, a clear sign of a collapsing story. Hopefully, Jeremy Corbyn will be able to use May’s debacle for his political advantage.
The Syrian part of this story collapsed as well, after Robert Fisk, one of the very best British Middle East observers (next to David Hirst) visited Douma and delivered a report straight from the donkey’s mouth, i.e. as told by a doctor of the clinic videoed by the White Helmets. He said:
“There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night – but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. People began to arrive here [to the clinic] suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a “White Helmet”, shouted “Gas!”, and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia – not gas poisoning.”
The Russians actually located some people who are seen in the video, and they say it was staged. (Western media says they were threatened into saying what they said). I have more trust in Fisk’s report, than in the Russian one, but that may be my own prejudice. Anyway, both versions are not mutually exclusive, they do not contradict each other, but they undermine the fake story that provided the cue for the strike.
An interesting bit of data, proving that preparations for the strike were carried out before the alleged attack, has been published by the Cyprus banking community blog. They say the British air base of Akrotiri on Cyprus had its perimeter urgently strengthened (by the British company Agility) on April 5, that is before the alleged Douma gas attack. The second British air base, Dhekelia, carried out similar works on April 12, a week later, before the decision to strike had been adopted by the British government. The Dhekelia works were done with great speed and urgency, and road-constructing equipment had to be taken from the nearby villages of Xylotympou and Ormideia. The payment to the local workers had been routed via HSBC bank in Hong Kong, they say. And indeed these bases (forcibly retained by Britain) were used for the strike on Syria.
The OPCW could dispel the mist around both cases, that of Skripal and that of Douma, but do not hold your breath. It appears that OPCW is as integrated into the machinery of the Masters of Discourse as any other international body. Refusal of OPCW to allow Russia to take part in Skripal investigation, despite the clear requirement of its own charter, makes its conclusion doubtful, at best. While inability of OPCW inspectors to enter Douma despite all efforts of Damascus and Russians to facilitate their entry tells us they are not eager to investigate; like they weren’t eager to enter Khan Sheykhun last year.
Meanwhile, the Western media and the Jihadi groups on the ground are busy to create a new web of lies instead of the old one. Now they say the Fisk report is suspicious because he was allowed in by the Russians. We can learn of their attitudes from the following twit
“Salih @Salih90119797 Apr 17 More
Replying to @Elizrael
We salute Israel in spite their crimes in Palestine we hope they’ll continue their strikes every part of Syria; Iran regime should comedown”
These “Islamic rebels” are actually Israel’s stooges rather than warriors of the Prophet.
Anyway, people who manufactured these beautiful and complicated simulacra, are still around, and doubtless they will prepare a new one, if it will be necessary.
In my view, the two presidents have made heroic efforts at saving their countries and mankind from destruction; both risked their good names, their positions, their reputatiosn to go that far. Trump minimized the bombing, Putin minimized the response.
Both have made some mistakes. Mr Putin made his big mistake when he gave Israel carte blanche to bomb Syria whenever she feels like it. Israeli strikes (and there were more than a hundred of them last year) created the air of permissiveness and that allowed Trump to follow in Israel’s footsteps. If Israel bombs Syria, and Russians do not react, why can’t Trump? It appears unfair for the US to be bested by its satellite. If you permit Tom to grab your girlfriend’s pussy without a single objection, you must be expect that Dick and Harry will try to repeat this feat. Israel created the precedent, the US used it.
I asked Senator Alexey Pushkov, the head of the foreign relations committee, whether he doesn’t think it was a mistake, in hindsight. He justified the policy saying that Russia came to Syria in order to fight jihadi groups, ISIS, Al Qaeda et al, not Israel. Russia is friendly to Israel, Iran and Turkey, and it does not want to sort out local disagreements. Pushkov stressed that Russia always censured Israeli raids on Syria, though it didn’t act against them. As a matter of fact, if Russia criticized Israel, it was done very, very quietly. The only time this condemnation was made public, happened just now, when the Israeli strike occurred in a very tense moment.
Mr Trump made a mistake when he fired the missiles instead of firing Mueller. But anyway, thank you, Mr Trump, for limiting the damage. Try to complete the withdrawal from Syria, while at it.
However, the big problem is that the forces promoting war are still active. It feels that there is a big wave carrying the Russian and American boats into a collision and the rocks. This time, the leaders succeeded managed to avoid the confrontation. But the wave is still there, and the next time we may be less lucky.
We have entered a new phase of human conscience, when millions of social network users express their opinion. These opinions are often dangerous and our enemies know how to manipulate. Unless there is a serious effort to lower destructive feelings, mankind will perish, and we would have nobody to blame but ourselves.
It is necessary to counteract the US-Russian confrontation with a positive action. The bloodshed in Gaza provides a good cause for such action. A joint effort by Russia and the US to relieve the Gaza siege may change the agenda of the world. It will also take the mind of the warmongers off Syria and off Moscow.
Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net
This article was first published at The Unz Review.