Mês: maio 2017

Cold War

The week that ushered in new Cold War   M. K. Bhadrakumar Jul. 29, 2014   If future historians were to pinpoint the transition when the post-cold war era morphed into the new Cold War, they are bound to take a close look at this week. The Barack Obama administration is in a triumphalist mood after the success, finally, in rallying the US’s major European allies — UK, France, Germany and Italy — behind its concerted strategy to isolate Russia from Europe and impose biting sanctions against it. Obama could have made a stirring Iron Curtain speech this week — but for the mess-up in Libya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, et al, and the horrendous massacre in Gaza that has marred his own reputation, and, besides, don’t forget, he’s a Nobel and is not supposed to give a war cry. All the same, Obama’s video teleconference Monday with his European counterparts signifying the agreement on “coordinated sanctions measures on Russia” suggests beyond doubt that the post-cold war era is ending. Within the next “12-48 hours” Brussels will be announcing new sanctions against Moscow based on the US blueprint involving a broad package of measures aimed at bringing the Russian economy to its heels. Washington will thereupon announce its own sanctions against Russia. These so-called Tier Three sanctions are expected to hit Russia’s financial institutions, arms deals and energy exploration technology. The Russian...

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War in Syria

A multi-level analysis of the US cruise missile attack on Syria   The Saker Apr. 11, 2017   The latest US cruise missile attack on the Syrian airbase is an extremely important event in so many ways that it is important to examine it in some detail.  I will try to do this today with the hope to be able to shed some light on a rather bizarre attack which will nevertheless have profound consequences.  But first, let’s begin by looking at what actually happened. The pretext: I don’t think that anybody seriously believes that Assad or anybody else in the Syrian government really ordered a chemical weapons attack on anybody.  To believe that it would require you to find the following sequence logical: first, Assad pretty much wins the war against Daesh which is in full retreat.  Then, the US declares that overthrowing Assad is not a priority anymore (up to here this is all factual and true).  Then, Assad decides to use weapons he does not have.  He decides to bomb a location with no military value, but with lots of kids and cameras.  Then, when the Russians demand a full investigation, the Americans strike as fast as they can before this idea gets any support.  And now the Americans are probing a possible Russian role in this so-called attack.  Frankly, if you believe any of that,...

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War in Syria

Trump Escalates Syrian Proxy War   At the start of the Trump presidency, it looked like the U.S. covert “regime change” war in Syria might be ending, but it has returned, zombie-like, in a slightly different form   Steven Chovanec May 18, 2017   Back in February, it was quietly reported that the CIA had discontinued its support program to rebels in Syria. A month later, a knowledgeable source from the region disclosed to me that the Trump administration and the Saudi defense minister, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had agreed during their meetings in mid-March for the Gulf states to re-open supply channels to their rebel proxies. This was done, the source said, to keep the Syrian government’s army and its allied Russian air force occupied so that the U.S. and its Kurdish allies could continue dividing northern Syria, establishing a zone-of-influence throughout the lands they recapture from the Islamic State. Concurrent with this was a similar effort in the southeast, where U.S. and Jordanian backed forces have been battling ISIS while attempting to establish control over the border with Iraq. The strategy was to use the fight against ISIS as a pretext for establishing a de-facto occupation of Syrian territory, where in the Kurdish-held regions the U.S. has already established multiple military bases and airfields. A major motivation behind Russia’s push to establish de-escalation zones, now implemented after...

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Gore Vidal

An Intellectual and His Lofty Contempt   ‘Gore Vidal: United States of Amnesia,’ a Documentary   Stephen Holden May 22, 2014 When Gore Vidal declared in an old television debate with William F. Buckley Jr. that 5 percent of Americans had 20 percent of the income and the bottom 20 percent had 5 percent, he was raising an alarm. That observation may be the most shocking moment in “Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia,” Nicholas Wrathall’s admiring documentary portrait of Vidal, who died in 2012 at 86. Why shocking? It illustrates the astounding degree to which perceptions have changed over time. By the standards of today, when income inequality has widened exponentially and the middle class is shrinking, statistics that infuriated Vidal sound like the answer to a socialist’s prayer. Intellectual celebrities nowadays eschew the lofty, disdainful tones affected by Vidal and Buckley, his conservative opponent, who died in 2008. Public discourse is louder, angrier and coarser. No liberal of comparable eloquence has taken Vidal’s place in the public square, although Christopher Hitchens, who died in 2011, deemed himself Vidal’s heir apparent, until the two men had a falling out. Heavily seasoned with epigrams worthy of Oscar Wilde, this entertaining documentary portrays Vidal as a pessimistic political prophet with streaks of paranoia and misanthropy, but a truth teller nonetheless. In carefully selected excerpts from interviews and conversations conducted...

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War in Syria

The Astana Process: A Possible Solution to An Impossible Situation in Syria   DAMASCUS –  A significant event took place last week, but you wouldn’t know it if you reside in North America or Europe. Patrick Henningsen May 10, 2017 This past Thursday, a three-page memorandum was signed in Astana, Kazakstan calling for the creation of four “De-escalation Zones” in Syria. This latest proposed peace deal is the latest product of the Astana Process chaired by three nations, Russia, Iran and Turkey, an effort designed to support the previous UN Security Council Resolution 2254. This document is controversial to say the least, because it calls for the establishment of “islands of safety,” which are analogous to Washington’s previously called for ‘Safe Zones.’  These four zones include the northwestern province of Idlib, the Al-Rastan Plain just north of the city of Homs, the area of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, and areas in the Daraa’a and Al Quneitra governorates of southern Syria. According to the memorandum, the aim of the agreement is to try and end violent clashes between militant groups and the Syrian and Russian military, and to “provide the conditions for the safe, voluntary return of refugees.” The ceasefire will also be used to send humanitarian relief and essential supplies to the four de-escalation zones. Critics of the plan are opposing it for a number of reasons, including Iran’s involvement and accusations that it will lead to an eventual break-up of the current Syrian nation state. For the Syrian government...

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