TNHP - July 2016

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Washington fears Brexit to unravel its anti-Russia policy

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.

27 June 2016

By Finian Cunningham

Britain’s stunning referendum vote to leave the European Union has thrown a cat among the pigeons, not least in Washington, where it is feared that the “Brexit” could scupper its anti-Russian policy.

That tacit policy is a foundation of the postwar international order whereby Washington – thanks to its trusty British acolyte – has been able to exert hegemony over Europe. Nearly seven decades of American transatlantic domination are at risk of crumbling.

The unscheduled, hasty visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Brussels followed by London on Monday is a sure sign that Washington is alarmed at the historic decision by the British electorate to quit the EU – after 43-year membership of the bloc.

“Kerry urges Britain, EU to manage their divorce responsibly,” was how American news outlet ABC reported the diplomat’s detour. The outlet went on to say with a pretense of chivalry that Kerry’s concern was “for the sake of global markets and citizens”.

More to the point, Washington’s perplexity is specific and self-serving. In particular, the loss of British influence inside the EU will impact on Washington’s carefully constructed policy of trying to isolate Russia. American objectives to isolate Russia go much further back than the past two years over Ukraine. Indeed, one can trace the anti-Russia policy to immediately after the Second World War, a policy that was intimately shared by the British establishment, as expressed by Winston Churchill in his famous 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech, marking the onset of the Cold War against the West’s erstwhile wartime Soviet ally.

Former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, gave full expression to these fears in an opinion piece in the Washington Post at the weekend. The headline read: “How Brexit is a win for Putin.”

The tone is almost panic-stricken. McFaul alludes to Russia’s growing economic and political influence with China and Eurasian integration: “Europe is now weakening as Russia, its allies and its multilateral organizations are consolidating, even adding new members. Putin, of course, did not cause the Brexit vote, but he and his foreign policy objectives stand to gain enormously from it.” (More)

Turkey apologizes to Russia for ambushing and killing

pilot over Syria; hard reality prompts a return to sanity

President Erdogan could have been remembered as an important statesman of this era, said political writer Dan Glazebrook. However, the Turkish president preferred a disastrous policy and threw all his chances away, said Glazebrook.

On Monday 27 June the Kremlin received an apology from Turkey's President Recep Erdogan over the death of a Russian pilot. The serviceman's jet was downed by Turkish war planes over Syria last November.

Russia expects compensation for downed Su-24

for full normalization of relations with Ankara – envoy

Russia expects compensation from Ankara for the downed Su-24 bomber before full normalization of relations with Turkey, RIA Novosti quoted Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov as saying. Moscow will continue contact with Ankara to solve the issue on compensation for the downed bomber, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov told reporters on Thursday, TASS said. “There will be contact on this,” Ushakov said, adding that he does not know what the outcome will be. On November 24, 2015, a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber involved in Russia’s antiterrorism operation in Syria.]

Michael Maloof, a former Pentagon official, commenting on what could have been behind Turkey’s apology, said “it was geopolitical reality.”

“Coming unexpectedly as it did; that was a good gesture. It is going to be interesting to see what the Russian response will be, whether they are going to reopen trade relations and also tourism,” Maloof told RT.

“Erdogan has realized he has isolated himself pretty much in the region. You can see him reaching out right now to the Israelis; you can see him trying to mitigate things with the Americans. So it is going to be interesting to see how far he goes, but there clearly is a continuing problem in the relationship,” Maloof said.

Erdogan’s apology was a good step, “a good effort” in an attempt to improve relations with Moscow, Maloof said. However, it will be a long process as there are issues that continue to “strain the relationship” between the two coountries and they will have “to be worked out.” Among those, he named Turkey’s continuing “support for the jihadi Salafists in neighboring Syria; the differences between Moscow and Ankara over Syria itself,” as well as “the pressure coming in from the Saudis.” It is going to be a long drawn out process – I don’t think it is going to be something immediate.

It took Ankara seven months to apologize for the jet incident. Political writer Dan Glazebrook explains the timing of the announcement by Turkey realizing that the Syrian government will not be removed.

“It has finally dawned on them that the Syrian government is not going away; Assad is not going to go away; that the whole plan to destroy the country along with Britain and the US and the Gulf allies is in tatters and the Syrian government is going to survive; Assad is going to survive. And if they want any kind of role in shaping the future of Syria and any kind of influence there and to avoid the last of their proxy groups getting wiped out, then they are going to come to some sort of accommodation with Russia,” he said. “Their whole attitude towards both Russia and Syria has been utterly self-defeating. It is absolutely clear that the long-term economic and geo-political and strategic logic for Turkey in its relations with Syria and Russia would be to have friendly relations with them,” Glazebrook told RT. (More)

Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Paradox – Analysis

Paradoxically, although US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is relying on her extensive foreign policy experience to bolster her electoral appeal, her actual track record as a foreign policy decision maker is worrisome.

By Evan N. Resnick

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama waded into the rough and tumble 2016 U.S. presidential contest by endorsing Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. In his videotaped announcement, Obama declared: “I don’t think there has ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.”

In a widely acclaimed address in San Diego just a few days prior to Obama’s endorsement, Clinton contrasted her own foreign policy credentials with those of her presumptive Republican rival Donald Trump. A former First Lady, U.S. senator, and secretary of state, Clinton professed to have acquired “some experience with the tough calls and the hard work of statecraft,” adding that she has “sat in the Situation Room and advised the president on some of the toughest choices he faced.” By comparison, Clinton mocked Trump, a political neophyte, for claiming that “he has foreign policy experience because he ran the Miss Universe pageant in Russia”.

Hawkish proclivities, disastrous decisions

Paradoxically, although Clinton has amassed considerable experience in foreign policy, her substantive track record as a foreign policy decision-maker is worrisome. Repeatedly since she entered the Senate in 2001, Clinton’s hawkish proclivities have placed her on the wrong side of some of the most catastrophic national security decisions of the post-Cold War era.

Most importantly, in October 2002 then-Senator Clinton voted in favour of the congressional resolution that authorised President George W. Bush to invade Iraq. The 2003-11 Iraq War ranks among the greatest calamities in the history of U.S. foreign policy. Not only was the conflict exorbitantly costly in every sense of the term, but it accomplished little.

The war transformed a ramshackle dictatorship that lacked any capacity to endanger the United States into a failing state riven by bloody sectarian conflict. After presiding over the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, President Obama subsequently had to re-deploy several thousand troops back into the country to combat Islamic State (IS), a vicious insurgent group that was midwifed by the initial American invasion.

In her first year as President Obama’s secretary of state, Clinton pressed for a large-scale “surge” of U.S. ground forces into the stalemated war in Afghanistan. During the administration’s prolonged Afghanistan policy review, Clinton helped tilt the scales in favour of an expanded US commitment to Afghanistan.

Siding with the secretary of defence and Obama’s senior uniformed advisers, Clinton advocated the deployment of 40,000 additional US troops to support an ambitious counterinsurgency mission against the Afghan Taliban. In so doing, Clinton helped marginalise Vice-President Joseph Biden, who both opposed the troop increase and nation-building mandate.

In the end, a reluctant Obama acquiesced to a somewhat leaner and temporally restricted surge. Ultimately, the costly initiative failed to quash the Taliban or consolidate popular support for the corrupt government in Kabul and the longest war in American history continues to grind on with no end in sight.

Obama sends his impotent Pentagon to

the South China Sea, for a new failure

The Pentagon’s Great Wall of Impotence

Unprincipled Carter sites 'principal' 37 times

By Pepe Escobar

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia.

07 June 2016

No one ever lost money betting on the Pentagon refraining from exceptionalist rhetoric.

Once again the current Pentagon supremo, certified neocon Ash Carter, did not disappoint at the Shangri-La Dialogue – the annual, must-go regional security forum in Singapore attended by top defense ministers, scholars, and business executives from across Asia.

Context is key. The Shangri-La Dialogue is organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which is essentially a pro-Anglo-American think tank. And it takes place in the privileged aircraft carrier of imperial geostrategic interests in South East Asia: Singapore. 

As expressed by neocon Carter, Pentagon rhetoric – faithful to its own estimation of China as the second biggest “existential threat” to the U.S. (Russia is first) – revolves around the same themes; US military might and superiority is bound to last forever; we are the “main underwriter of Asian security” for, well, forever; and China better behave in the South China Sea – or else.

This is all embedded in the much ballyhooed but so far anemic “pivoting to Asia” advanced by the lame duck Obama administration – but bound to go on overdrive in the event Hillary Clinton becomes the next tenant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  

Real threats are predictably embedded in the rhetoric. According to Carter, if Beijing reclaims land in the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea, “it will result in actions being taken by the both United States and ... by others in the region.”

What’s left for China, in Pentagonese, is just to be a member of a hazy “principled security network” for Asia – which will also help protect the East against “Russia’s worrying actions”. Carter mentioned "principled" no less than 37 times in his speech. “Principled” cheerleaders so far include Japan, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Australia.

So here’s an instant translation: we do a NATO in Asia; we control it; you will answer to us; and then we encircle you – and Russia — for good. If China says no, that’s simple. Carter proclaimed Beijing will erect a "Great Wall of self-isolation" in the South China Sea.

If this is the best Pentagon planners have to counteract the Russia-China strategic partnership, they’d better go back to the classroom. In elementary school. (More)

'American state department has devolved into an

insane asylum where the inmates are in control'

The state department's collective madness

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s
By Robert Parry
Consortium News

19 June 2016

More than 50 U.S. State Department “diplomats” sent a “dissent” memo urging President Obama to launch military strikes against the Syrian army, another sign that Foggy Bottom has collectively gone nuts, writes Robert Parry.

Over the past several decades, the U.S. State Department has deteriorated from a reasonably professional home for diplomacy and realism into a den of armchair warriors possessed of imperial delusions, a dangerous phenomenon underscored by the recent mass “dissent” in favor of blowing up more people in Syria.

Some 51 State Department “diplomats” signed a memo distributed through the official “dissent channel,” seeking military strikes against the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad whose forces have been leading the pushback against Islamist extremists who are seeking control of this important Mideast nation.

The fact that such a large contingent of State Department officials would openly advocate for an expanded aggressive war in line with the neoconservative agenda, which put Syria on a hit list some two decades ago, reveals how crazy the State Department has become.

The State Department now seems to be a combination of true-believing neocons along with their liberal-interventionist followers and some careerists who realize that the smart play is to behave toward the world as global proconsuls dictating solutions or seeking “regime change” rather than as diplomats engaging foreigners respectfully and seeking genuine compromise.

Even some State Department officials, whom I personally know and who are not neocons/liberal-hawks per se, act as if they have fully swallowed the Kool-Aid. They talk tough and behave arrogantly toward inhabitants of countries under their supervision. Foreigners are treated as mindless objects to be coerced or bribed.

So, it’s not entirely surprising that several dozen U.S. “diplomats” would attack President Barack Obama’s more temperate position on Syria while positioning themselves favorably in anticipation of a Hillary Clinton administration, which is expected to authorize an illegal invasion of Syria — under the guise of establishing “no-fly zones” and “safe zones” — which will mean the slaughter of young Syrian soldiers. The “diplomats” urge the use of “stand-off and air weapons.”

These hawks are so eager for more war that they don’t mind risking a direct conflict with Russia, breezily dismissing the possibility of a clash with the nuclear power by saying they are not “advocating for a slippery slope that ends in a military confrontation with Russia.” That’s reassuring to hear. (More)

While the lamebrains in Clinton's Washington

beat war drums, China is on commercial course

Central And Eastern Europe and China’s ‘Belt And Road’: Xi Jinping’s 2016 state visits to Czech Republic, Serbia, and Poland – Analysis

By Alvin Cheng-Hin Lim

22 JUNE 2016

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visits to Serbia and Poland in June 2016 follow his state visit to the Czech Republic just 3 months earlier, underscoring the importance China places on the markets of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

The countries of the CEE are likewise interested in Chinese trade and investment. Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in Europe reached €20 billion in 2015, and while most of this FDI went to the UK, Germany, and France, the CEE countries are seeking to increase their share of Chinese FDI. Recent Chinese economic engagement with the CEE include an agreement for China to construct a high-speed rail line between Belgrade and Budapest, a recent €46 million acquisition of a Serbian steel plant, and China Everbright Group’s investment in Albania’s international airport.1 (More)

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