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Trump or Clinton?

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Joaquin Flores, Special Associate Editor

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Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 2.38.28 PM[su_shadow][su_panel background=”#f6f6f6″ color=”#1d1919″ border=”2px solid #cecaca” shadow=”7px 0px 1px #eeeeee” radius=”2″]As a prefatory statement, let me say that Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) is closest to my own values followed by Jill Stein of the Green Party. It is unlikely that either of these parties will garner enough votes in the upcoming election, though it would be interesting to see what would happen if the people would stand up and vote for one third party. Unfortunately, the system is structured in such a way that it would be almost impossible for a third party candidate to win even if they got the majority of votes on the states for which they are certified.[/su_panel][/su_shadow]

Every four years, Americans suspend disbelief, and pretend that there is some democratic process underway.

I’ve been asked to clarify where I stand on Trump vs. Clinton, and how the importance of this election lines up with my long-held analysis that the US is an oligarchical Republic but not the ‘Democracy’ it pretends to be. Rather, the ‘Optimates‘ (as in ancient Rome) on behalf of the Patricians (Oligarchs) choose the president, not the ‘Populares’ on behalf of the proletarians and plebians (the people). (Contrary to traditional views disseminated by upper class historians, Julius Caesar was a leader of the populares, and his reforms in favor of the masses prompted the aristocracy to call him a tyrant and plot his murder. For more on this, see Michael Parenti, The Assassination of Julius Caesar, A People’s History Of Ancient Rome
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Within the US establishment, there are many individuals, many geniuses, a fair share of dullards, insatiable self-serving crooks, maniacs, and many big egos. Power is created and recreated everyday. Power can change hands very quickly, within a limited sphere of action, normally among the Optimates.
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How do we reconcile that the Optimates choose the president they want anyway, but that simultaneously, ‘who’ the president is will have some distinct and concrete ramifications that separate him or her from the other candidate? It is complex, but can be explained in simple terms:
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Simply put, whoever the establishment wants, they will get. But for the last year, they have been trying to sort out which way they will go forward.
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If they choose Clinton, it is because they think they can maintain the same model they have been using, based on a particular type of Empire building on the neo-liberal model. It means they have some confidence in the efficacy of militarism, war, and adventurism. For this to be effective on a broader scale than under Bush, and more towards the very very scary direction we’ve seen under Obama, the left must be tied to the power institution (see Wilson, Roosevelt, Johnson etc. etc.).
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“When the thick veneer of propaganda is peeled off, it’s not that difficult to see that Clinton represents the party of war, imperialism, murder, and a wanton disrespect for civilized norms and the future of existence on planet earth…”
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If they choose Trump, it is because they do not think they can maintain the same model they have been using, and will draw themselves in, and do some time saving or re-configuring of the US economy and its power mechanisms, which takes into account the US’s diminished role in the world. This ‘America First’ is also called isolationism or non-interventionism. This is because the US is broke. It would want to hide its weakness and bankruptcy under the authoritarian-ish guise of a somewhat comical made-for-reality TV ‘Strongman’.  Americans could feel either very good or very scared about their president, instead of feeling either very good or very scared about the failing empire.
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Unless this election turns out to be a real upset, with drastic differences between the Clinton and Trump ledgers, this will be a “51-49” race (actually, 47-48). That means that Diebold will come into play and perhaps be used to see the victory of the candidate which represents the 4-8 year plan. So it is not a question of who we vote for, but who they want for us. But even ‘they’ do not know who they want for us, and ‘they’ are divided.
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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s clear that there is a serious contradiction: Clinton represents the party of war, imperialism, murder, and a wanton disrespect for civilized norms and the future of existence on planet earth; but those Americans focused purely on America’s navel-gazing internal boring drama crap, the stuff policy wonks get boners for, believe she is more ‘peace like’ in the sense that she nominally makes more well publicized nods at things which, symbolically, ‘feel’ like something ‘progressive’. At any rate, poverty and the incarceration of ‘minorities’, and as well the deportations of 1st peoples and indigenous peoples from their own historic migratory lands, increased under Obama and will increase under Clinton.
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Trump, upsetting conventional analysis and norms, represents a ‘coup’ within a Republican party which no longer has a central locus of power in neo-conservatism, as these neo-conservatives, like the parasites they are, migrated into the Democratic Party where they are firmly entrenched for the coming decade or half decade. While breaking all of the internal American rules of ‘convention’ and ‘offending those with sensitive ears’, riling up the dangerous-because-still-uncivilized plebian populists, Trump is positioned to roll back US adventurism, and this has perhaps very little to do with any internal machinations of his psyche as a motivating force, or his own desires and proclivities. At the same time, if we take his words so far at face value (which we should not), he has verbalized numerous times this desire to de-escalate from any number of global conflicts, even floating the idea of recognizing the referendum in Crimea.
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I have forecasted that since Sept 2013, the US lost its claim to unchallenged empire. In a way, we can thank an unassuming but finally larger than life person, Mother Superior Agnes Mariam de la Croix in Syria, who exposed the chemical weapons lie. (Obama’s “red line” had been set to trigger an attack by the US on account of putative Assad regime atrocities, but it was soon discovered that the chemical weapons attack had been carried out by the “rebels”, and facilitated by US and Saudi intel, with the notorious Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a royal bastard, literally, as chief plotter and coordinator.)  The fallout—unexpected by the imperialists—was swift: Britain could not be moved to bomb Syria, and the US —in a move to save face and gain some maneuvering time without letting go of its ultimate plan to overthrow Assad—pretended that Congress had to vote on such a matter. Not to mention that Russian diplomacy carved up the necessary space to let all sides save some face and agree to at least a momentary freeze on direct US assaults.
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Therefore, I would like to see Trump win not because ‘we’ are going to have that call to make, but because of what it probably represents on the institutional level.
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[dropcap]I [/dropcap]wrote in December of 2015 that a Trump presidency would radicalize elements of the left, especially those rank and file democrats tied to organized labor (safely in the hands of the Democratic Party) as well as community and civil organizations which comprise the non-profit industrial complex. Recently, Rafael Correa, also made a similar statement about Latin America and that a Trump presidency would be good for radicalizing Latin America – Democrats—as amply demonstrated by the nefarious “Obama effect”— lull everyone to sleep while the same crimes, or worse, take place. I can’t say I agree with his contradictory conclusion though that Hillary would be better overall, which he doesn’t seem to try to justify. Nevertheless, the logical part of his statement makes perfect sense.
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Retreating to a world of make-believe, where formal democratic processes in the US would carry meaningful weight in political outcomes, I would say that Jill Stein and some of the energy around her and the Green Party platform, are closest to at least some of the values and positions that I would advocate for if I thought the US was a project that was either salvageable or worth saving. What is also important here in the Stein campaign is that the Green Party – through its name alone – reminds us of an another looming danger to the growing geopolitical conflict which threatens world war, and which has taken much of our attention away from the other – ecological disaster.
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At the same time, the Clinton-bots will invariably say – and they would be right – that in the two-party winner-take-all system in the US, a vote for Stein is in effect a vote for Trump. Indeed, a vote for Stein would take votes from Democrats, and in swing states this would have a significant impact, especially since we are looking at a ’51-49′ election. For these reasons, we must also not get tripped up here.
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To quote clear minded revolutionary and lucid thinker Mumia Abu-Jamal – “If Trump is the price we have to pay to defeat Clintonian neo-liberalism, then so be it”.  Trump is a challenge we are prepared to take, and some of the non-voters and Stein voters will be able to find energy moving forward – even more so if the following possible scenario takes place:
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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f Trump is serious about winning, a very important strategic move would be to channel millions upon millions into the Stein campaign in swing states. I suspect that Gary Johnson’s Libertarians will get most of their financing in the coming months from organizations connected to the Clintons.
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At any rate, these are very trying times. As I wrote in December of 2015 about the need to support Trump’s campaign, Americans need to understand that this time around they need to take one for the world team.
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The Clintons are not just politicians, they are murderers, human traffickers, drug runners, and imperialists extraordinaire. Their resume would make King Leopold II of Belgium blush. Moreover, they are some of the most public living members of the deep state – in the executive branch—because of their direct and personal relationships with the military’s top brass as well as the owners of the military industrial complex, they can launch a war without congressional approval.  Trump, on the other hand doesn’t have such connections – indeed, his only connection to deep politics is through the Clintons. If the Trump campaign is not a total sham; which is to say, the Republican version of Obama – and there are indications that it is not, then what we have here would be an executive who would be quite ineffectual on foreign policy matters. 
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In sum, what the world needs right now is an America with an ineffective and inexperienced ‘leader’, who doesn’t have connections to the military structures, and who will be coming to power through his own finances and mass popular support of millions of disaffected Americans. 

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About the author
 joaquin2Joaquin Flores, Special Associate Editor; Belgrade Correspondent, is a Mexican-American expat based in Belgrade. He is a full-time analyst and director at the Center for Syncretic Studies, a public geostrategic think-tank and consultancy firm, as well as the co-editor of Fort Russ news service. His expertise encompasses Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and he has a strong proficiency in Middle East affairs. Flores is particularly adept at analyzing ideology and the role of mass psychology, as well as the methods of the information war in the context of 4GW and New Media. He is a political scientist educated at California State University. In the US, he worked for a number of years as a labor union organizer, chief negotiator, and strategist for a major trade union federation. His work at TGP can be found here


 

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The Trump/Clinton Dilemma: Lesser Evilism on Steroids

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—THE POLITICS BEHIND THE MASKS—
Joaquin Flores
The Wages of Contrarianism
Wherein the author explains all about a likely Clinton-Trump Deal, why “support” for Donald Trump (barf) is theoretically preferable, and how Hillary can still win it. 


OPEDS

Donald-Trump-SyrianVictim

Faced with the very serious problem of being simultaneously widely despised, and yet entitled to be the next President of the United States, Clinton’s superiors and handlers devised a brilliant strategy. Let’s have Hillary run against Trump, the only human being in the US who fulfills the two most important roles for her: makes her look better by comparison, and scares voters into voting.

Hillary Clinton is your standard Zionist, pro-War, pro-Empire, austerity candidate.  These are expected positions for any realistic candidate in the American system to be considered electable. Except for the problem that she’s extraordinarily unlikeable, which actually makes her unelectable. Yet oddly – while she’s an overachiever – thanks to consultants and other people paid to be honest, she’s somewhat aware of this tiny image problem. Imagine yourself as the guy or gal whose job it is to lay out the ugly truth for Clinton, and you’ll instantly understand the enormity of that task, and also why Clinton believes she’s a better person for ‘admitting’ this problem privately, and tackling it head-on. 

Now there are quite a few well-known tricks in politicking, and a few of these are all about ‘image’.  Yes, you look at your opponent and their image, and you find that it’s based on how they look and act, and other things they represent – mind you, not their positions, but what they ‘represent’, their ‘image’: a whole array of non-verbal, non-textual and socially-based cues.  Then you contrast yourself to that.  You want to contrast your image on those things which you think makes you shine, and either creates that ‘halo’ effect around you, or makes the other person look like Satan. This much is pretty basic, and we all get this. 

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles before speaking on American leadership at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. The CFR is Wall Street's main council for its depredations—via the US government—across the globe. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles before speaking on American leadership at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. The CFR is Wall Street’s main oracle for its depredations—via the US government—across the globe.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)


When it comes to issues, well in America really these are much less important in politics than symbolic representation.  Now activists and policy wonks may not agree with this because in their religion all voters are actually passionate about abortion, global warming, immigration, the new Cold War and other things that possibly matter. But the reality is that they are a slim minority who are essentially just pawns in the early stage of an election, the part where you mobilize the base. After that, it’s all just ‘feelings’, posturing, and tossing around slogans and key phrases, which are rarely backed by actual policies and real plans.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he key to Obama’s success was in understanding this fact. But issues can sort of relate to what you represent, so it is important at times to mutter a few things that basically gesture in the direction of your image. Also, your image serves as a substitute for having to say anything on the issues that sort of seem to relate to your image, but sometimes it’s okay to vaguely reference the thing that the character you’re playing might actually say in real life.  So long as it isn’t too definitive or something you can be held to account for later on, you’re in the clear.  Look, it works just like casting. If you aren’t a good writer, say you are George Lucas, and you need a villain, you just cast someone who looks, well, villainous. That saves you the trouble of actually having to flesh out and develop the character. You just use these short cuts and appeal directly to the base expectations of the lowest common denominator.

“For a lot of really funny reasons that aren’t at all actually related to the historical record, Republicans carry with them this sort of aura of ‘fiscal responsibility’, which voters interpret as lower taxes and prudent decision-making…”

So, image is very important, and human beings – as social beings – have an image and a meaning only in contrast to the world and to other human beings. That’s one thing that makes elections – popularity contests – such a human thing indeed. The issues aren’t very important, you can have them, you can change them, you can explain your changes, but mostly voters can’t remember what they were or how they changed anyways.  What is extremely difficult to change, and what probably will never change, is your image. Now to be clear, there is just one single way that an image can change, and that is through a very convincing, very public, but not too drawn-out repentance.

If your opponent is actually right or close to right in messaging on certain ‘issues’, then – if time is on your side and nothing is urgent – you let them play out the discourse on that issue, get a read on the feedback and the most popular criticisms of that position, and then stake out a position which says all the popular things of your opponent, but also includes the criticism.  It doesn’t matter if it’s contradictory. Voters who are really into the whole voting thing really just project their hopes and fears onto a candidate, so naturally they will just filter out those things and just hear the things they want to hear anyway.  It’s a wonderful thing, and it’s a problem that solves itself.

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Trump pushing the Trump brand—all he’s ever done, and he’s good at it, especially in a political culture without decent principles of any kind.

[dropcap]D[/dropcap]emocrats start the game with a certain advantage, which is that there are more registered Democrats than there are Republicans.  The real problem comes when we realize that Democrats are slightly less likely to vote, and are slightly more likely to vote for a Republican in the case that they prefer them. This means that a Democrat candidate has to work on ‘GOTV’ (get out the vote) and making sure that they contrast their image, and positions, in such a way that speaks to the hearts of these luke-warm Democrat swing voters. To turn out the vote, you can’t just have a center candidate running against a center candidate. And, you can’t have a basically decent person running against a basically decent person. Nothing is at stake in that case. No one really cares too much. For a lot of really funny reasons that aren’t at all actually related to the historical record, Republicans carry with them this sort of aura of “fiscal responsibility”, which voters interpret as lower taxes and prudent decision-making – and so all other things being equal, this normally turns things for Republicans, and a few Democrats just sit it out.

Therefore every winning Democrat election which reaches beyond the local, practical issues, has to be large in scope, it has to be historic and symbolic, representative and – yes – the most important election in your lifetime.  It has to be larger than life.  It must encapsulate the struggle of ‘democracy against fascism’, of good vs. evil, that really fires people up to vote.

(Credit: DonkeyHotey, via flickr)

Few bourgeois demagogs have ever attained the level of abject duplicity represented by Obama, his color contributing to the grand trickery. (Credit: DonkeyHotey, via flickr)

Obama ran on ‘hope’, and through his image [liberal] voters were able to find redemption for their racist sins, cleanse the country of its shameful history of slavery, to make a real change and dream the dream of MLK; they could partake in communion and drink of the blood and eat of the flesh of this great savior of American humanity. Voters were ‘fired up!’ for Obama.

The thick crust of historical and political ignorance that befouls US politics permits any kind of imbecility to be widely embraced by significant segments of the population. The idea that Obama—a Wall Street imperialist shill is actually a socialist is one of them, popular with the Yahoo crowd.

The thick crust of historical and political ignorance and confusion that befouls US politics permits any kind of imbecility to be widely embraced by significant segments of the population. The idea that Obama—a Wall Street imperialist shill is actually a socialist is one of them, popular with the Yahoo crowd.

Clinton does not possess these fantastic traits, so she has to come up with something. Now, there is probably something even stronger than hope, and it’s a function of the oldest part of the brain, the amygdala. It controls the famous four F’s. Two of these are immediate fear based instincts – fighting and fleeing.  So without hope, you have ‘fear’ to campaign on.  From an evolutionary perspective, it’s very simple. You can hope for something, but if you fail to respond to your hopes, you are still where you are – nothing gained, nothing lost. But if you fail to respond to your fears, you may not survive to ever ‘hope’ for anything ever again. So fear is a stronger instinct than hope. We are probably just wired that way. It should probably be mentioned that some Obama voters were probably also motivated by fear, not fear of the other candidate, but a fear of being considered racist, reactionary, and well, simply behind the times.

“…fear is a stronger instinct than hope.”

But people are genuinely afraid of Clinton. Besides her cackles and sneers, besides her image as an arrogant, sociopathic, spiteful and selfish, power-mad person, people are just genuinely afraid of her. It goes beyond the trail of dead bodies behind her that started to pile up in Arkansas in the 80’s. It even goes beyond her direct and very personal murdering of one of the greatest African leaders in the history of the world. It’s more than this.  She provokes this instinctual response in people. It’s a part of her essence that just oozes from every pore. It’s an inseparable part of her existence on this temporal plane. Clinton has simply incarnated on Earth in this way.

The woman card is actually not going to play well for Clinton, it never has.  She possesses actually not one of the qualities that make female candidates generally likable.  And in general, it’s not an issue.  While the US has never had a woman president, it’s old hat in the rest of the world. It’s nothing at all like the first black president – which would be in France like having a French Algerian win the race. But we’ve already had our Thatchers, Kirchners, and Merkels and so on.  It’s no big deal. 

So Clinton cannot really run as Clinton, she has to just be as unremarkable and inoffensive as possible during this election; she has to be the person that those wishy-washy Democrat voters will turn out for, because there is a much greater and far more evil danger if they do not. Enter Donald Trump.

“It’s time to be real again. When Democrats are in office, real social movements are made complacent, they give way to empty promises, and real grass-roots activism dies. Just look at the anti-war movement pre-Obama, and post-Obama…”

Thank God for focus groups.  When shown a photo of Hillary Clinton, respondents were no doubt asked: what are the first six words that come to mind?  Arrogance, Sociopathy, Entitlement, Greed, Soullessness, Selfishness.

This is a giant hurdle. Her goal then is to make this election about voting against Trump, not voting for Clinton per se. It’s more than the lesser of two evils – it’s the idea of villanizing Trump (by just letting Trump play the role, mostly based on his own real life character) to such an extent that we actually forget who Clinton is, what she has done, that she is a murderer and war criminal, and that across the political spectrum from left-to-right, we all basically despise what she represents, and who she is, in a deep and profound way.

So this campaign must focus on the real and sheer danger that Donald Trump represents. Now of course it’s clear that he’s actually going to excite and motivate some real grass roots and populist elements of the Republican Party, and with some of his foreign policy ‘gestures’, he’s also going to pick up some of the Ron Paul crowd too. But remember for Clinton this is about just two types of voters, both of which are already Democrats: Democrats who wouldn’t otherwise turn out to vote, and Democrats who are sometimes prone to vote for a Republican.  If nearly all Democrats vote, and if nearly all Democrats who vote indeed vote for the Democrat candidate – then, presto-change-o – Clinton is your president.

For this to work, conclusively and indisputably, Donald Trump must fulfill two important roles: first his image must contrast to Clinton’s so that all of her worst image traits: arrogance, sociopathy, entitlement, greed, soullessness, selfishness — are in fact transferred into him. Second: these passive, standing traits must be transformed into a platform of action, one that we must all be terribly afraid of. We must see Trump as Bush on steroids, and prepared to destroy life on earth.  Trump must compel voters to run out of fear to the voting booths and poke the chads for Clinton.

Let’s be real.

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]olitical campaigns are both an art and a science. In the US, they are also highly corrupt and – okay painfully naive people may just not want to read further (spoiler alert!) – the whole thing is basically staged and a set-up. Most of the time, both candidates from the ‘two’ (actually one) parties are carefully vetted by the important power elite groups – what the hard left calls the ‘capitalist class’, and what the radical right calls ‘globalists’ and ‘banksters’ (oh yes and ‘the jooz’) – ranging from the military industrial complex, to the Zionists, the CFR, the Bilderberg group, Wall Street and the ‘too big to fail’, even the old Trilateral Commission has a say.

No matter who wins, domestic and foreign policy will be about the same, and life will go on. America’s complex and problematic, irresolvable issues of class and race will continue to eat away at the inside, while its disastrous foreign policy and the global de-dollarization process will weaken the dollar and reduce the scope and authority of the US as a ‘global leader’. Sometimes these power elite groups, for bigger narrative reasons important to the overall script of the ‘America story’ will all get behind one candidate beforehand.  That was probably the case actually with most of the presidents in the last three decades, at least with Reagan, Bill Clinton, Bush and Obama.  If the ‘slated to lose’ candidate – who is absolutely safe and vetted, but not ‘right’ for the ‘America story’ script at this time – looks like they have bucked the media campaign and the smear efforts and just may take it on election day itself, then Diebold will produce an undoubtedly beautiful array of anomalies that will bestow victory onto the chosen candidate.

Donald Trump speaks during the National Rifle Association's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 10, 2015. REUTERS/Harrison McClary

Donald Trump speaks during the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee April 10, 2015. “He is an unabashed and self-actualized asshole.”  Imagine what this says about the army of celebrity sycophants that have disgraced themselves on his idiotic show The Apprentice.  || REUTERS/Harrison McClary

Trump is not entirely an idiot and rather displays some strong innate abilities, moments of good intuition about human nature, and in part of his own thinking, he’s perhaps hoping to use this deal with Clinton – oh, did I forget to mention that this is a deal between them? – to leverage himself to an actual position to win. It definitely places him big-time in politics, a place he’s never really been before.

It’s been well documented for over a decade that Trump and the Clintons are close; in fact Trump is a lifelong Democrat (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-money-drew-hillary-clinton-wedding/story?id=32936868) and has donated millions upon millions to the Clintons in particular. At the end of the day, though, the reason that Clinton also really likes Trump and sought him out for this project is that Trump probably doesn’t care about winning and he’s a loyal friend.

But he likes to look like a winner.  And if he’s not elected president, but still feels like a winner, that’s great for Trump. If Clinton wins the presidency, then the presidency is a loser title anyhow, and the whole thing is rigged. It’s rather simple for Trump. His brand only grows from all of this, and there will be innumerable ways that he can pull something later from this. Image is everything for Trump; even his ‘success’ is an image. In fact he inherited his money, and the image of success is just the product of his own self-promotion. There are over 500 billionaires in the US, and we can only name a few – because these are the people who go out of their way to be noticed and seek attention. Attention is what they crave; actual results, not so important. 

Still, Trump is a man with a broad and untamable ego, only surpassed by Clinton’s, but if she makes the mistake of arousing some real ambition in him, he may decide to go for gold.  And there’s a good chance she’ll do that, especially if she makes a remark about his hair.  We’ve already seen how that goes. Trump can actually win. See, the thing with people is that sometimes they are unpredictable.  Trump doesn’t care about losing so long as he’s seen as a winner.  If this image of ‘winning’ is trounced on, who knows what Trump will try to pull… He’s already broken most of the PC rules and hasn’t been successfully crucified yet, and this only brings him more support.  Even the UN’s against him now apparently, and something like this can arouse non-voters to vote for him.  It’s like an Obama strategy, but instead of focusing on youth and minorities, it’s for white guys who have either never voted or voted last for Reagan. There’s a whole percentage point right there at least. Obama’ handlers discovered that it was more efficient to get new voters interested than it was to fight over the universe of existing potential voters. True fact.

Trump is not afraid of saying something offensive, or being hated – and there’s this peculiar thing about human beings that innately senses the totalitarian nature of the PC cult, and yearns for a bigger than life public figure who can run against it all. There’s something refreshing about this devil-may-care approach to the ‘respectable’ positions which American society so narrowly defines. Regular people inherently detect the elitist, proper, bourgeois nature of this rigid parameter, even if they wouldn’t verbalize it in those terms.

There’s something refreshing about this devil-may-care approach to the ‘respectable’ (“PC”) positions which American society so narrowly defines.

Unthinkable, yes for some, but in fact Trump is better plugged into the ‘pulse’ and is more attuned to new media, and he and his team have probably rightly determined that, despite the anti-Trump campaign that Clinton is placing all her hopes in, Trump is still the more likable person than Clinton. Of course, what voters want doesn’t matter. The image matters more, and the messages around the talking points are flexible and can be crafted to sort of line up with the collective consciousness of the voting mass at any given time. To begin with the ‘collective consciousness’ is developed out of this more recent interplay between old and new media, the balance of systemic ‘mainstream’ views with counter-systemic memes, and so on.

So, Trump really does stand a chance.  Clinton may not actually be able to fully comprehend just how hated she is. So the real question will be if Trump tries to throw the election for Clinton. The problem is that all of the unimaginable and unspeakable things he might say to throw the election, just might arouse yet another cross-section, people who never otherwise vote at all. These aren’t swing voters, and they aren’t stay-home Democrats who Clinton needs to appropriately scare into voting. This leaves three real options:

1.) he randomly bows out,

2.) the media tries to staple some horrible ‘scandal’ to him. In the second option, that’s difficult by itself because, again, voters just may react the other way to that. And last,

3.) He runs as an independent, splitting the Republican vote, and in this way hands victory to Clinton (the infamous Ross Perot move, redux).

The honest truth, though, is that Trump simply should be president if the other option is Hillary. What you have with Trump is essentially an ‘honest liar’, being full of shit, a sensationalist troll, is his visibly and outwardly something that reflects his actual essence.

I don’t think anyone really believes he has a problem with Muslims or Mexican immigrants. He’s clearly engaging in showmanship, trolling for headlines, and just saying the naughty things that scores of millions of Americans really think but aren’t allowed to say anymore. And democracy, as an open ended project, isn’t about protecting the speech of the politically correct and polite things to say, but about keeping every door open and protecting the speech of the things which otherwise wouldn’t be allowed to be said.

He’s also a man fundamentally in touch with who he is, there are no ‘naughty parts’ that he thinks he has to cover up. He is an unabashed and self-actualized asshole. We are talking about egos here and people just aren’t as turned off by people with big egos as they are with people with egos who fake humility. Clinton is just such a sheer and utter fake on every level, that this penis-forward comb-over approach to life of Trumps is really just a bit more appealing. Human beings are animals and retain all of these instincts, and we can all ‘smell’ this sort of thing on people. Trump smells just like who he says he is, Clinton does not.

There are some other really truly compelling reasons to vote for Trump. And most of these are actually the reasons that many people will be fooled into voting for Clinton.

The US right now is in a very difficult position geostrategically and geopolitically. Its power is waning which means that any given moment it is more powerful than it will be in the next moment. It must strike now, strike fast, and strike hard.  That’s why we see this sudden return to a Monroe Doctrine in Latin America, and the doubling-down on Ukraine supporting neo-Nazis, Syria supporting ISIS, Africa supporting warlords, sabotaging the Euro in Europe, and hysteria over Chinese sand islands in the Pacific rim. The main targets are primarily Russia and China, and any other country that wants to break from the yoke of US economic and military oppression.

Obama served a really important role for the US, because the forces behind him were able to unite the neo-cons (the old Plan B), who are the modern incarnation of the Committee on the Present Danger – with their old arch rivals the Trilateralists. The outcome of this success of the Obama brand here was in bringing Europe back on board with the wars in the Middle-East, which are part of a larger pivot to control the ‘rimland’ Middle-East and contain the ‘Heartland’ which is the Russian continental power.  Bush and the neo-cons were unable to push Schroeder and Chirac towards an Atlanticist position on these things. The people who brought you Obama were also able to place Sarkozy and Merkel into European politics, and create some coherency around that.

Clinton expects to really serve just the same function as Obama in this major, in fact primary, area of US foreign policy. Part of this new ‘Great Game’ is also the new ‘Cold War’, and it’s all about continuing the artificial primacy of the US over the world.

Trump is an absolute non-starter, not because he can’t play ball, but because no French or German politician could effectively, well, even shake hands with him without it decreasing their own credibility.  It, in that sense, really is like a Bush on steroids as far as the Europeans are concerned, and Trump as a ‘symbol’ really cuts against the ability for the French and the Germans to work openly with the Americans either on Russia or the Middle East.  For people who are not fans of American global hegemony, and think that America needs to focus on its own problems first, then Trump really is the better candidate between the two.

As a white man, and suddenly we are to believe a Republican, this makes him instantly an easy target for any European on the center-left.  He is instantly a racist and a misogynist. Just look at his wives. They look so good, he must really hate women. His statements about immigration and Islam, surely make him like a leper and entirely out of step with European values. For people concerned about war, this is actually very good. If America cannot get Europe to take an active role in the coming wars, well, they just might not happen at all. And based on the gestures he’s made on foreign policy, he actually lines up well with Euroskepticism, and would dovetail nicely with a France led by Marine Le Pen, who has herself been quite vocally opposed to the increase in tensions with Russia. 

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]nd what about America’s own problems?  It’s the fear mongering here that Clinton hopes will push voters to vote against Trump, which means of course only incidentally voting ‘for’ Clinton (a mere technicality to be sure!). 

It’s time to be real again. When Democrats are in office, real social movements are made complacent, they give way to empty promises, and real grass-roots activism dies. Just look at the anti-war movement pre-Obama, and post-Obama.  What Democrats do is co-opt social movements, tell the activists what they want to hear, then once elected we are lucky if they do not do the exact opposite. It’s really better to have an open reactionary in charge, and this unites people on the basis of real activism and grass-roots movements. There is no ‘angle’ with Democrats, there is no ‘gradual process of reforms’ going on. This isn’t 19th century Germany. The Democrats are not a labor or social-democratic party.

The Democrats control organized labor, and Democrat Party agents lead the major trade union federations in the US, whether SEIU or the AFL.  The Democrat Party must be smashed in order to create the disruptions and power vacuums within organized labor so that some real room for militant organized labor struggles and new leaders may be born.  Just as with anti-war activism, the real triumphs were never made at the ballot box and were always made on the picket line. Clintons friends in the AFL and SEIU, like Mary Kay Henry, really think they can scam more Americans with a fake astro-turfed ‘labor campaign’ against – for example –  Wal-Mart, even though Clinton and Wal-Mart are two sides of the same coin.

Democrats mean war, and every major war in the 20th century required a Democrat president to lead it – why? Precisely because through the Democrat Party, labor is chained politically to the decisions and politics of capital, the possibility for popular opposition to the war, jingoism, and austerity is cut back by ten-fold. The Democrat Party is America’s ”Corporatist war model” – fake labor leaders organized by industry, vertically, absolutely put the squash on any horizontal, bottom-up, independent, militant, labor action.

Without a Democrat in office, a major war is hard to build support for. Right now, and for the next four years for sure, the chances for a major global war are greater than they have been at any time since the late 1930’s.

In America, politics is broken – it’s the only way you could possibly have someone has despicable as Clinton and perhaps slightly more tolerable like Trump (not yet a war criminal or murderer) be the two candidates to choose from.

And really, truly, there’s something very ugly and glaring, and it’s something Americans need to address. In the words of Morrissey, “America is not the world”.  That’s right – and what does this concretely mean? America has the potential to destroy the world, but not the potential to save the world. The honest truth is that all of the most interesting things going on in the world right now, developmentally, are happening outside of the US, and moreover, in distinct opposition to US hegemony and imperialism.

You will never get an American president who will promise peace and then deliver peace based on anything she or he has done, at least not directly.  The forces of stability, development, and peace in the world today are succeeding only where America is failing to succeed.  Do you believe in sacrifice? If you really care about the world, and really want to see more peace in the world and more autonomy and self-determination for people of the 2nd and 3rd world, and indigenous communities, then you have to support Trump this time.  Trump’s election will electrify the now zombified social movements in the US, and will make a War Party, whether domestically or internationally, extremely difficult to build.

The President of the US has many powers on paper, more so than even twenty years ago. In reality of course there are teams of military officers and intelligence agents who have loyalties to powers much more lasting and institutional than a rotating electable official. So, a president serves mostly just a symbolic role, lately it’s more like the offspring produced by several institutional powers, such as with love-child Obama.

So we support Trump really for three reasons:

[box] 1.) The ego and vanity or Clinton, a murderous, cackling, and unrepentant war-criminal on-par with Bush or Blair, simply cannot be allowed to succeed.  She must be stopped from realizing her ambitions for the pure and simple reason that they are her ambitions. Tying labor and social movements to the party in power gives America ‘both wings’ to attack with, and greatly enhances the chances of war. Combined with Clinton’s hawkishness…


2.) A white male Republican president will bring back to life a culture of resistance to imperialism and the exploitation of labor, at home. While there is a large and growing libertarian and ‘box other – [x]’  of anti-imperialists in the US which are decidedly ‘not’ from the left, the historic core of anti-imperialism in the US is tied to militant labor action which has for a long time been associated with the left. This can draw fresh blood into a new, non-Democrat led labor movement, from across the political spectrum, and focus instead on issues directly connected to labor and capital, and not the old ‘new-left’ concerns of identitarianism. It also helps to shatter illusions about change in the US. There’s a saying, “all’s well that ends well”.  Well, the US did not start well, is not well, and it all will not end well. Reforms are out of the question. Trump represents a backlash against generations of hypocrisy and divisive politics from Wall Street and Washington. The character of the period of his presidency will not be defined by his own views so much as the social movements they create room for.


3.) Trump is fundamentally a sane person whose showmanship and antics are staged, rooted in a fundamentally honest self-actualization, whereas Clinton is fundamentally a detached psychopath (not exaggerating), with a severe personality disorder, a dangerous and murderous lunatic, on the loose, who billions on this planet (outside of Europe) would like to see brought to justice for war crimes against humanity.[/box]

But Clinton can still win. 

Most indicators point to Trump being Clinton’s ploy to get elected. But the scam should be reversed on her, everything else aside, for the fundamental reason that scams should backfire in principle. Call that cosmic justice. Still, for reasons we’ve outlined, Trumps campaign may be like a drill that suddenly goes live.

Even if Trump winds up “in it to win it”, and if Clinton really looks like she’s losing, there is really just one last thing she can do – it’s her Hail Mary. At the climax of the campaign, just when things look like they cannot get worse, she must perform the ‘arc of transformation’. It can be done through a – yes! –  “very convincing, very public, but not too drawn-out repentance.”  She must cry, and we will cry with her. “The world is a cruel place, and I had wrong ideas about what success meant. I started with all the right intentions, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions. I was blind to it. I once was lost. But now I’m found. Yes I became a part of this cruel world. I cannot be this person any longer. Looking at Trump, I almost saw myself, and I said – this is not who I want to be. Amazing grace. My heart must heal, and this nation’s heart must heal” Then she changes, the country changes, and we change with it.  This will change the hearts and minds of literally thousands of voters. And for the millions more needed, she’ll rely on Diebold. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
joaquinFloresBiopicJOAQUIN FLORES is a Mexican-American expat residing in Serbia. He serves as a Special Associate Editor and Belgrade Correspondent. Flores is a full-time analyst and director at the Center for Syncretic Studies, a public geostrategic think-tank and consultancy firm, as well as the co-editor of Fort Russ news service. His expertise encompasses Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and he has a strong proficiency in Middle East affairs. Flores is particularly adept at analyzing ideology and the role of mass psychology, as well as the methods of the information war in the context of 4GW and New Media. He is a political scientist educated at California State University. In the US, he worked for a number of years as a labor union organizer, chief negotiator, and strategist for a major trade union federation.


Note to Commenters
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A Turkish Act of War Against Russia – Public Security Brief: Flores

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 =By=  Joaquin Flores
Fort Russ
Lizard
Turkey has committed an act of War against the Russian Federation, in its downing of a Russian Su-24 fighter jet. 


russianPilot-killedbyTurkmen
A Turkish fighter jet shot down the Russian plane.  Turkmen militia, under Turkish command, have killed one pilot who attempted to surrender. The pilot, being one man surrounded by hostile forces, clearly unable and not wanting to fight, followed protocols and Geneva convention proscribed procedures, and would have attempted to surrender. Instead, he was either killed in the field, while landing, or executed by the Turkmen militia once captured.  At the time of writing this, the other pilot is still MIA.  
 …
It is highly probable that these actions taken by Turkmen militia, as a proxy force under direct command from Ankara, carried out these actions with tacit state approval.  Turkmen militias have played a supportive role in supporting ISIS border crossings and ISIS oil shipments into Turkey.
 …
Turkey claims the jet violated airspace, and that therefore the aggression was Russia’s.  There are numerous problems with this claim, leading to the conclusion that the ‘Act of War’ is Turkey’s.
 …
First, the question here is whether the airspace was in fact violated.  The previous Russian response to the October 5th incident should be deemed a short-term diplomatic success, but an overall strategic failure.  Russia did not challenge that a technical violation had occurred, but relied on technical-legal factors such as degree of the violation, the intent of the pilot (scope of mission) and that no harm was done. Two stories ran immediately following the October 5th incident – 1.) that the violation was accidental, and contrary to this, 2.) that the violation was a maneuver meant to avoid anti-air activity from the ground in Syria. Instead of sticking to the second story, the first story was more heavily promoted and became dominant. This precludes an ‘easy course’ for Russia to use this pretext in the event of a future incident, which has now happened.
 …

A violation of airspace is in and of itself a legal matter within international law and agreements between states.

The manner and degree in which airspace is trespassed, and the probable intentions of the pilot, are both factors that must figure into a state’s legal and diplomatic justifications in deciding to shoot down a plane that has allegedly violated airspace.

 …
Thus, justifiable responses are largely considered as those which contain sufficient elements of parity or mirroring of the initial activity in question. The factors are the degree of the violation (how many km into the territory), which also speaks to the intention itself; the official mission of the pilot(s) and whether an ulterior mission is probable or possible. In connection with this, whether the offending party, in this case Russia, has any actual or possible targets in Turkey; if it posed any threat immediate to Turkish national security (immediate threats are dealt with immediately, other kinds dealt with diplomatically, etc.). Finally, there is the question as to whether the offending party has any overt goal in an outright provocation.
 …
Therefore, the first factors which lead us to conclude that the Turkish response did not mirror the Russian actions are that,
 …
1.) Russia has no formal or informal targets in Turkey – The plane posed no threat to Turkish national security, when construed legally or militarily.
2.) Russia has no geopolitical gain to be made from violating Turkish airspace (therefore, incidental).
 …
This means that Turkey’s act was not merely responsive, but exceed this and become an overt act of its own, and therefore can be construed as an act of war.

Turkey is performing NATO’s task – establishing a No-Fly zone in Northern Syria
 …
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he No-Fly zone is to protect ISIS supply lines in the north and north-east, including into Iraq as well.
 …
In response to the Turkish aggression, Putin today has openly declared that the Turkish state itself is supporting ISIS terrorism. This follows a major report released last week showing the individuals and private-co-public institutions from certain states (Qatar, Turkey, KSA, etc.) supporting ISIS. Today’s statement from the Kremlin is aimed at disambiguation.
 ..
Were Turkey’s actions against Russia  a provocation, or a response?
 ..
Analysis indicates a bit of both, but tending towards response.
 ..
Turkey struggles to maintain its interest in the Syrian conflict, importing oil from ISIS controlled areas.  Russia recently dealt a serious blow to ISIS, striking a convoy of oil trucks headed for Turkey. From this perspective, Turkey has retaliated against Russia.
 ..

Bilal Erdogan (center) has also been involved in numerous allegations of corruption.

Bilal Erdogan (center) has also been involved in numerous allegations of corruption.

Erdogan’s son Bilal Erdogan is the owner of some 500 of the trucks used by ISIS to transport oil into Turkey.  It was these trucks that were struck by Russian attack jets during the past week. Therefore, Erdogan’s decision to shoot down the Russian Su-24 met these important requirements for NATO and Erdogan’s increasingly unstable AKP rule:

 ..
1.) Develop a NATO No-Fly Zone in northern Syria.
 .
2.) Establish Turkey unabashedly as a supporter of ISIS (to deflate the impact of the Russian investigation).
 .
3.) Force increased NATO official action, possible invocation of Article 5 which would, for France, make independent or even Russian-coordinated anti-ISIS action extremely difficult. It would also openly activate German anti-air batteries located on the Turkish border.
 .
4.) Force a Russian response, which regardless of the nature of the response, has the advantage of requiring the opponent to make a move at a predictable time (known time of move is very important in strategy).
.
5.) Further activate anti-Russian, pro-Atlanticist opposition within Russia. Inside Russia, the 5th and 6th column will use this against the Russian state – the 5th saying this is proof that the Russian activity in Syria produces unwanted consequences.  The 6th will say that this is proof that Russia needs to push further (pursue a course of blind entanglement).  
 .
6.) Eliminate all positive speculation about Turkish-Stream – push Russia into a one-track solution ‘Nordstream II’, which later can be singled out and attacked by NATO through pressure on Berlin.
 .
7.) Retaliate and ‘make a strong statement’ about Bilal Erdogan’s personal business being targeted.
 .
8.) Marginalize anti-Erdogan forces within Turkey, shift the national dialogue from internal to external.
 .
At the present time it is difficult to order these by significance, except that the last two points are probably secondary or tertiary in importance in the broad geostrategic schemata.
 .
What will Russia’s response be?
 .
[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ussia’s response, to be sufficient, must address each of the above NATO and Turkey goals. These are ordered in direct relation to the above.  Some responses are short term, others more long term, in relation to the actions of Turkey and NATO.
 .
“Among Turkmen fighters in Syria are Turkish nationals as advisers and leaders: Deploying a Syrian, Iranian, or Russian special force to neutralize or arrest these individuals would be an example of a mirrored/parity based response…”
 .
1.) Continue to be active in Northern Syria – it has 4 mandates for this: legal, political, sovereign, and strategic. The loss of this plane, even several others, is militarily and strategically acceptable. 
 .
2.) Concretize the discourse – following up on the ISIS finance investigation and Putin’s statements today –  that Russian activity in Syria that happens to be anti-Turkish is in fact anti-Terrorist and therefore lawful action. Distinguish between Turkey as a sovereign state, Turkish long term interests, and thirdly the individual players running the Turkish establishment (Erdogan, AKP, et al) in anti-Turkish activities in Syria. Make Turkish support for ISIS a criminal matter of ‘the regime’ and its supporters, and not Turkish security and the Turkish state all together.
.
3.) Continue to invoke the Paris attacks as further pretext for anti-ISIS actions in Syria: Perpetuate the rift between anti-ISIS France and pro-ISIS Turkey, focus and broaden the scope of this obvious contradiction. Create a security related ‘amicus brief’ to the French prosecutors and courts pursuing the Paris attack matter: this should focus on Turkish connections to ISIS. Push the Paris-Berlin axis to oppose Article 5 invocation. 
 .
4.) Russia must not be controlled by any forced response, but must forge its own activity. Initial public statements may suffice – further actions should follow the doctrine of mirrored/parity based response.  These do not need to be carried out immediately.  Again, single plane and the loss of a single pilot is an acceptable loss in purely strategic and military terms. The only possible problems are internal public discourse, as well as diplomatic. Russia must regain control time and timing. Among Turkmen fighters in Syria are Turkish nationals as advisers and leaders: Deploying a Syrian, Iranian, or Russian special force to neutralize or arrest these individuals would be an example of a mirrored/parity based response.
 .
5.)  Activated Russian 5th and 6th column threats exist at top levels, but cannot create  much political instability in Russia outside of mass media. Thus, their modes of attack in this stage are primarily rhetorical.  Therefore, activities to neutralize these should be rhetorical. 
a.) The Kremlin must continue its course of public statements. Rule number 1 – never directly address the 5th and 6th columnists, only make statements which are totally based in one’s own policy and proclivities, and never as a response to the critiques of others, which may seem to give the specter of legitimizing such criticisms.  The opposition cannot be helped to exist as a viable source of policy formation, in any way.
b.) Neutralizing the 5th column, this is along the lines of acknowledging the risks and responsibilities that go along with military action – emphasizing the need for them, invoking a combination of the Sinai terrorist attack, the Paris terrorist attack, and Russia’s own experience with Wahhabi terrorism from Chechnya. 
c.) Neutralizing the 6th column, reaffirm the need and plan for a robust and adequate counter-measure, while emphasizing the need to avoid being ensnared or losing sight of the mission; this will tacitly accuse the 6th column of promoting an irresponsible course without ever addressing them.
6.) Aggressively push Bulgaria back onto a South-Stream course.  All options on the table including the complete utilization of the Color-Spring technology: ‘peaceful’ regime change in Bulgaria if necessary
a.) Russia can here capitalize on its successes to thwart NATO attempts at Color-Spring maneuvers in Macedonia and Montenegro.  Publicly affirm that Serbia’s course towards the EU is a positive one. Welcome increased security integration of the Serbian military and deep-state into already developing Russian structures in Serbia. 
b.) Alternately, Romania can be a surrogate for Bulgaria in South-Stream – at least as a stand-in to push Bulgarian energy and political elites into the course of a pro-Russian oriented power transition. Romania can be brought in with adequate resolution of Moldova and Transnistria issues, as well as other more mundane – but still outstanding – matters relating to grain and real estate.
 .
7.) Publicize Bilal Erdogan’s role in supporting ISIS – engage in a media campaign which personalizes an otherwise state-based, abstracted accusation into a personality based, anthropomorphic version of the same. Publicly connect Turkey’s actions against Russia to the criminal activities of Bilal Erdogan. 
 .
8.) Re-activate the pro-Eurasianist NGO’s which took part in the ‘Turkish Spring’ at Taksim Gezi park in Istanbul. Here is where Russia first showed its ability to utilize the Color-Spring tactic outside of defensive internal counter-operations.  Capitalize from the Russian success in getting Dogu Perincek released from prison, along with other pro-Eurasian military leaders, former generals, and members of the Worker’s Party (now called Patriotic Party), following the so-called Ergenekon conspiracy and Sledgehammer cases. Raise the demands – “political reform, anti-corruption, infrastructure, healthcare, education, anti-war/militarism, pluralist and civil rights”.  Pursue full support for the active socialist or social-nationalist opposition groups in Turkey today. These are not likely to succeed in taking power, will succeed in creating internal disruptions that make present Turkish regional aims more difficult to pursue. 

Other theatres of Russia-Turkey Conflict – Recipe for Total War
 
[dropcap]R[/dropcap]ussia does not want war.  Ultimately, war only benefits the US ruling class, safely across the Atlantic, and supports the needs of both the Military Industrial Complex and City of London and Wall Street based banking elites. To that end, we should expect the following,
 .
1.) Increased Turkish support for Tatar extremist groups in Crimea, making a two-pronged attack on Crimea following the recent Kiev backed attack on the power station. These extremist groups exist based on Turkish support, actual Crimean laws in the wake of the constitutional process to re-join Russia have granted minority status rights to Tatars which were denied to them by previous Kiev governments, including rights to language, schools, and plural and civic institutions. Therefore, today’s Crimean Tatar extremist groups cannot exist outside of artificial foreign backing.  Moderate Crimean minority leadership is institutional and supports the Crimean government and, by extension, Russia. 
 .
2.) Increased support of Turkey for Azerbaijan – supporting their aims in the conflict with Armenia over the contested border regions.  Russia will increase its support for Armenia.  This will act in connection with the Azeri natural gas project controlled presently by the Shah Denis consortium, now running the Shah Dennis 2 or Full Field Development (FFD) project. This will revive the Nabucco project in the wake of the total freezing of Turkish-Russian stream speculation. This will mitigate the economic/speculative impact on energy markets of this major cooling in Russian-Turkish bilateral relations. 
 .
3.) Turkey will collaborate further in supporting ISIS with Qatar and KSA in Khorasan/Kwarazem and Turkmen regions east of the Caspian, broadly speaking, Turkic lands – creating a total or final link between Caucus conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Syria-Iran conflict with Qatar/Israel/Turkey/KSA, and Afghan ‘Al Qaeda’ Mujahideen who will attempt push into Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.  
 .
4.) Final short-term goal will be breach of security in pro-Russian Kazakhstan, and Russian Dagestan, and Chechnya. Uzbekistan pulled from the CSTO in 2012, but remains in the Chinese SCO: NATO destabilization attempts in the region hold the promise of pushing Uzbekistan closer to Russia (while remaining close to China). 

  • SIXTH COLUMN: 
    The aggregate of persons in a country at war who assist the subversive activities of the fifth column by defeatist talk, the spreading of rumors, and other activities that weaken resistance or appease the enemy

About the Author
 joaquin2Joaquin Flores is a Mexican-American expat based in Belgrade. He is a full-time analyst and director at the Center for Syncretic Studies, a public geostrategic think-tank and consultancy firm, as well as the co-editor of Fort Russ news service. His expertise encompasses Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and he has a strong proficiency in Middle East affairs. Flores is particularly adept at analyzing ideology and the role of mass psychology, as well as the methods of the information war in the context of 4GW and New Media. He is a political scientist educated at California State University. In the US, he worked for a number of years as a labor union organizer, chief negotiator, and strategist for a major trade union federation.


Note to Commenters
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We apologize for this inconvenience. 

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Behind the Syrian War: Part 1 Introduction

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By Joaquin Flores
A FORT RUSS DISPATCH
A six part report investigating the real causes of the war on Syria
joaquin-syrianSeries-1

Part I:  Overcoming obstacles in writing and reporting on the Syrian Conflict – Introduction

The debate surrounding the origins of the war in Syria is of critical importance.  The outcome of this conflict will be a major factor in determining the balance of power in the world during the coming period.  With the recent and interestingly sudden refugee surge from the region into Europe, followed later by an increase in participation of Russian military forces in the conflict, being able to make sound and unbiased assessments of the causative factors in this conflict is a pressing need.

In looking at the question, we first would like to discuss the reasons for the writing of this report. The political sciences contain the taxonomic and conceptual framework, and explanatory power, to describe the causes of the Syrian conflict.  But in the West, lay journalistic and semi-analytic write-ups, and otherwise accessible writing on the subject, does not make adequate use of much of these well developed ideas.  These relate perhaps to practical problems relating to publishing space, as well as to how writers and publishers have assessed the capacity of mass audiences to make use of, or absorb, said writing.  

In cases where western analytic works are in question, documents coming from mainstream think-tanks which deliver analysis both to governmental institutions and to the public, may indeed be engaged in willful misrepresentation of the operating schema. The approach of the author in related works has been to target the ‘real audience’: already well informed citizen-activists and ‘geopolitical trainspotters’ who have read possibly hundreds of articles on the subject, only to be confronted with recurring characterizations, recirculated memes and tropes, which problematically combine the recitation of facts alongside politically convenient narratives.

Our main task therefore is to bridge the gap between objective and systematic analysis and accessible presentation: making use of standardized tools without prejudice, delivered without reliance on references not already generally accessible to the audience.  This necessarily involves some discussion of the histories of all of the players.  While the total work will require 6 parts, each being slightly longer than a standard article’s length, it will condense and present information with a discussion in such a way that in fact contextualizes much of the public writing on the subject, and indeed perhaps will liberate the reader from the onerous task of data-mining in – what would otherwise be – hundreds of other articles.

Indeed, as mentioned above, the present public and accessible literature on the subject of the Syrian conflict is problematic.

Incoherencies in other attempts to describe the Syrian conflict arise from factors external to the present body of literature on the subject: there are few if any really concealed facts or truths which could make understanding the conflict difficult.  Real issues arise in narratives, over-focus on some facts to the exclusion of others, and real-politik concerns relating to political polarization. This report will not review this existing literature and public writing, but instead will take a ‘clean slate’ approach, and rely on either uncontested facts, generally accepted facts, or otherwise easy to reference findings and assertions.   

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]ndeed the Syrian crisis since its inception has generated a significant volume of western public literature, as attempts have been made to address the fundamental question of the war’s causes, and what the primary issues were that catalyzed and fueled its genesis. While some of these efforts were well-intentioned and partially thorough, and yet other efforts intentionally disingenuous, they were similar in their attempts to provide an answer to one of the greatest apparent geopolitical debates of the present time.  

These problems have hitherto been represented in the public presentations of think-tanks, both governmental (and related, such as the Council of Foreign Relation’s ‘Foreign Policy’) and independent, alike. The debate over the war and its origins has once again polarized non-interventionist and anti-imperialist socio-political movements in the West as well, and has made strange political bedfellows of advocates, activists, analysts, and even the players themselves, on ‘either side’ of this conflict. 

The Syrian conflict has drawn particular attention to questions revolving around national sovereignty and the right of peoples to self-determination; to the role of NGOs and non-profits sanctioned by the UN; to the relationship and shared rights between minority and majority demographic groups, whether religious or ethnic, within a modern nation-state; and as well as issues revolving around the inherent and internationally recognized rights of nations to preserve their security and represent their people(s) within the framework of international law and the UN charter. 

Furthermore the conflict has shed light on issues relating to foreign states’ use of proxy or mercenary armies; the role of weaponized and proxy volunteer or ideologically/religiously based social-movements deployed for use in another country.

Finally the conflict has drawn attention to the roles and relationships of governments in their efforts to balance between ‘legitimacy’ on the one hand, and the external pressures placed on them to increasingly ‘liberalize’ (i.e. privatize and open to foreign control and ownership) their economies as well as the liberalization of  pluralist civil institutions. 

Complexity and Polarization: why public writing on the Syrian conflict is deficient

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he theories provided to date which attempt to summarize the issue in any case have different problems, but in the case of honestly and well presented literature, the authors are not at fault per se.  Rather, the deficiencies of these writings are a product of two problematic factors at work: the multitude of factors at play combined with the polarizing nature of the conflict.  

Measures undertaken to simply “point a finger” and suggest that, that there is one specific reason this crisis came to be is an erroneous conclusion, and counterproductive to a more complete and accurate understanding of the question: what caused the Syrian crisis?

What caused the Syrian crisis?

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he answer to this question is far from simple and requires in-depth analysis of all associated materials and variables rather than attempting to identify one specific causative agent (i.e. person, state, process, phenomenon, or ideology). Politics and sociology are anything but simple, and foreign policy and geostrategy is of even equal complexity.

Complex answers are unpopular, and are not ready-made for mass circulation.  Understanding of the problems involves something of a learning curve, and certain processes and the underlying theories which describe them are currency among experts, but are somewhat unknown to lay readers, even those with considerable fact-based information on the subject.

Polarization

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]olarization of the subject, as stated, is another reason for problematic analysis.  Out of concern that certain conclusions related to the cause of the war will be taken out of context by later critics or readers, ultimately opposed  to the conclusions of the author, or used by other analysts and writers in a decontextualized manner, work to greatly discourage an analytic piece which looks at all of the causes of the conflict.

It is impossible to reach conclusions about the reasons for a war which has caused such a catastrophic loss of life, especially when issues of war-crimes and crimes against humanity are at issue, which do not conclusively provide ammunition to one of the various sides in a real-existing and still on-ongoing conflict. Thus, researchers are prone to omit or soften focus on causes for the conflict which may be deemed to work against the general conclusions or narrative being presented.  

One of the necessary sources to look at in attempting to analyze the causes of this conflict are military leaders themselves.  Many of the military leaders that are interviewed to provide their feedback about the Syrian crisis often respond—“Syria is complicated.” While this answer is in many respects seemingly evasive or inconclusive, it is actually the best answer that can be provided.

Complexity

[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]es, Syria is complicated, but why?

What is so complicated about a state one-third the size of Texas? What factors make it so? What is the origin of this apparent complexity? Why is a solution so difficult to arrive at? Why has the conflict in Syria become one of the greatest human tragedies in recent decades?

A deeper and more critical analysis of the associated factors must be applied. In order to adequately describe the conflict in Syria, one must understand the history and this act is best accomplished if each involved party is examined independently and also concomitantly;  It is the attempt of this analysis to do exactly that.

Many in the Middle Eastern region and outside unequivocally assign primary responsibility to one state, person, process, or ’cause’. In order to better identify the Syrian crisis all involved states, or more specifically persons with interests, must be contemplated. Arriving at the answer is not a simple task because many persons and states are involved, both directly and indirectly.

Rather than focusing on every party and state involved and how they have contributed to the Syrian crisis this analysis will focus on the primary state candidates—Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel. It is best to examine each state independently to better identify the cause for their involvement, but before this is done we must take a moment and understand what Syria is and why “it’s complicated.”

joaquin-saa-20131121-1

Syrian Army soldiers (SAA).

To summarize the findings, historical background and information about the various players is presented elsewhere inconsistently. Regarding the conflict itself,  there are multiple causative factors, some the products of direct human agency, and others – when going back in time – are  indirect or unintentional ‘perfect storm’ types of causes or catalysts.  These involve what a number of external actors such as neighboring states and hegemonic powers did, whether as a result of their own agency as such, or as a result of being compelled, yet, by still other causative factors.  These are complex.  

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 10.19.55 PM

Polarization of the subject made reporting difficult.  Recognition of 1.)  the rational and/or legitimate basis of the demands of the opposition;  alongside of 2.) a recognition that government policy of the Syrian government was significantly problematic; together with 3.) a view that the Syrian state made notable errors, including violations of human rights – broadly defined, in the initial stages of the conflict, and that 4.) Syrian domestic and foreign policy for years leading up to the initial protests were a significant causative factor,  is difficult to do when a given analysts’ ultimate conclusion is that the best solution to the crisis involves the integrity of the Syrian state administered by and large by its present leadership. 

Likewise, recognition that the Syrian government has 1.) met either all or the most critical of the legitimate opposition’s demands;  2.) that the alternative to the present government posed by the predominant Islamist ‘rebel’ factions will be tremendously worse all around; and  3.) that public polling and elections during the course of the conflict have demonstrated increased rather than decreased support for the Syrian government; and that 4.) uninvited foreign states and foreign backed actors have not only exacerbated the conflict but indeed were involved in planning it, are practically impossible facts to include when the conclusion of a given analyst is that the ‘resolution’ talks must result in a devolution of power away from the present Syrian government, and a transition to a different government which satisfies the Western powers. 

Lizard


About the Author
joaquin2Special Associate Editor; Belgrade Correspondent Joaquin Flores is a Mexican-American expat based in Belgrade. He is a full-time analyst and director at the Center for Syncretic Studies, a public geostrategic think-tank and consultancy firm, as well as the co-editor of Fort Russ news service. His expertise encompasses Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and he has a strong proficiency in Middle East affairs. Flores is particularly adept at analyzing ideology and the role of mass psychology, as well as the methods of the information war in the context of 4GW and New Media. He is a political scientist educated at California State University. In the US, he worked for a number of years as a labor union organizer, chief negotiator, and strategist for a major trade union federation.

 

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A Hot Summer in the Balkans

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By Stevan Gajic – exclusive submission by the author, from Katehon – edited by Joaquin Flores
REVISED AND EXPANDED BY PATRICE GREANVILLE
Simulpost with Fort Russ

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[box type=”bio”] With several countries in the Balkans experiencing  instability, a combination of both real and contrived political issues, ranging from economic to Islamic terrorism, threaten to shake-up this historically volatile region. – . JF. ed [/box]

It seems that the Yugoslav ‘commotion among peoples’, as I like to call it, or a general atmosphere of insecurity and anxiousness started again to dominate the post-Yugoslav space. A series of political processes show a general insecurity and increased conflict potential throughout the Balkan Peninsula. This includes the sea border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia—both of them who are NATO and EU members—but that particular example is in fact the least of problems and serves just as an illustration of the current geopolitical neurosis in the Balkans.

Much more worrying are problems such as the massive (measured by tens of thousands) emigration of Kosovo-Metochia ethnic Albanians towards western countries; example: armed clash in May in Kumanovo, between ethnic Albanian terrorists and Macedonian police, leaving dozens of fatalities; Macedonia arresting numerous ISIS activists in August, yet unable to root-out terrorist camps on its territory; Serb-Croatian and Serb-Muslim tensions in Bosnia-Herzegovina; thousands of Middle-Eastern and Central-Asian (mostly Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan) refugees crossing across the Balkans in pursuit of happiness—or just bare survival—somewhere in western Europe; links of conflicts in Ukraine and Middle East to the Balkans; new energy and transport routes as sources of tensions … 

The list just goes on. In other (non-Yugoslav) parts of the Peninsula things are also getting warmed up and cooled down in waves. Greek crisis seems to be delayed for a while, yet nothing seems to be finished. It appears, however, that besides the internal reasons, these new tensions have their origins in the centres of power far away from the Balkans, as was the case so many times in the Peninsula’s history. In this article I will explain why I think so.

Albion’s Game

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he approaching of 11 July 2015 meant that Bosnian and regional politics were to be occupied on another Srebrenica anniversary. In 1995 the Serbian army (Serbian entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina) took the Muslim enclave in eastern Bosnia. Srebrenica was a UN protected zone, yet also a stronghold of Naser Orić, a notorious local warlord and criminal (both war and peacetime). Despite treaties between Serbs, UN and Muslims, he constantly sallied from the town and massacred Serbs in villages surrounding the enclave between 1992 and 1995. 

Mega-criminal Naser Orić.

Mega-criminal Naser Orić.

The death toll of these raids is at least 3287 Serbs . Just weeks before Serb forces entered the enclave finally, Orić and his top thugs abandoned it by helicopter for the safety of Sarajevo. The Serbian offensive resulted in many combat casualties among Muslim soldiers who defended their position and while attempting to cross Serb-held territory under combat, to reach Muslim-held territory in central Bosnia. 

In addition, many Muslim POWs were executed. The question regarding who ordered the executions has stayed unclear even after a series of trials at The Hague War Crimes Tribunal (ICTY), as there was no evidence that the Republika Srpska Army command gave such orders. Disputed is also the overall number of Muslim soldiers who died in July 1995. The official Bosnian Muslim leadership and the political West (US, UK and the Netherlands in the first place) insist on labelling events as genocide. This anniversary usually means that the tensions between Serbs and Muslims get heated in Bosnia, but the tensions this year were higher then ever. 

The reason for this was that the British proposal of UN Security Council resolution that would brand Srebrenica as genocide has forbid the labelling of that narrative as ‘genocide denial’ and in effect labels Serbs as a ‘genocide nation’. The resolution never passed Russia’s “veto”, but the debate about it heavily damaged relations between the communities. One of its effects was (in the contest of current geopolitical standoff between the West and Russia) supposed to contain the Serbs whom the UK views as the exponents of Russia in southern Europe and Mediterranean. 

Having this in mind, the main goal of the resolution was to brand the Serbian republic a ‘genocide state’, which was to be used as a prelude for the revision of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement and for centralising Bosnia-Herzegovina at the expense of Serbs. Without their state, Serbs would be completely deprived of their rights, which would in effect move Bosnia back to 1992, reinstating the casus belli.

The commemoration ceremony in Srebrenica happened after the resolution has failed and turned out to become a major international scandal. Trying to calm the tensions, but also to please the western countries who supported his rise to power, Serbian PM Alexander Vucić went to the ceremony, but after it ended he was nearly lynched by an organised Bosnian Muslim mob. 

The Srebrenica massacre, such as it is, has a complex parentage, as the author makes clear in this article. This mass grave is near the village of Pilica, approx 55kms (32 miles) northeast of Tuzla, at a former pig farm.

The Srebrenica massacre, such as it is, boasts a complex parentage, as the author makes clear in this article. This mass grave is near the village of Pilica, approx 55kms (32 miles) northeast of Tuzla, at a former pig farm. Yugoslavia’s civil war, detonated by Western interference, was an ugly affair, displaying the marks of ancient hatreds between cultures that never quite fused in a true national identity.

It remains unclear if this was only supposed to be a ‘message’ or really a murder attempt, but tomorrow morning Serbian tabloid Alo named a supposed MI6 operative on their cover page , blaming him directly for a murder attempt that was supposed to be a provocation that would ‘burn down the Balkans’. The tabloid went so far to connect the British operative with the 2003 assassination of Serbian PM Zoran Đinđić. This meant that the ‘political honeymoon’ between Vučić and the UK abruptly ended. 

Not long after that Tony Blair ceased being one of Vučić’s advisors . The second half of the drama was painted with the message of peace that Vučić sent by hosting members of the collective Presidium of Bosnia-Herzegovina Bakir Izetbegovic (Muslim), Dragan Čović (Croat) and Mladen Ivanić (Serb). Although the whole scene was very kitsch, in general this turned out a good move of the Serbian PM, as it actually did ease the high emotional tensions that were potentially very explosive.

The response to all of this by Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik was to call a referendum to restore judicial powers vested to Republika Srpska by the Dayton Agreement, but stripped off by the so-called High Representatives of the international community, in effect the colonial-type viceroys of the political West. Dodik’s initiative was backed by Russia, which meant that Russia raised the stakes and adequately responded to the British challenge. 

Vučić previously politely suggested to Dodik to ‘rethink’ the decision already made by the parliament of Republika Srpska. However, after Russia supported the referendum, I doubt that Vučić was to oppose the referendum publicly, as this would be viewed badly by his own voters. Most of his supporters are fond both of Russia and especially of Russia’s firm position on defending the Serbian interest and their own obligations towards the Dayton Agreement (as Russia is one of the guaranties of the peace treaty). But even more relevant is that Vučić’s voters are fond of Dodik, whom they see as an independent brave Serbian voice in the Balkans.

The behaviour of the Serb leadership under President Dodik is absolutely rational, however it is only such because the Serb leadership is forced to behave like this in the circumstances where the Bosnian Muslim leadership is both NATO oriented, and leaning towards Islamist religious extremism. The ties of Bakir Izetbegović’s father Alija with the jihadists are well known. 

Bosnian Mujahedin, blessed by Clinton, and used against the Serbs in the Yugoslav civil war.

Bosnian Mujahedin, blessed by Clinton, and used against the Serbs in the Yugoslav civil war.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he first Islamist militia on European soil was the notorious El Mujaheed Brigade of jihadist volunteers fighting for Bosnian Muslims during the Yugoslav Civil War. Izetbegović Junior has excellent ties with Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and many young Bosnian Salafists fight in the ranks of ISIS, Al-Nusra Front and other extreme groups in Syria. Needles to say that both Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and PM Ahmet Davutoğlu—in the spirit of Neo-Ottomanism—repeatedly gave threatening statements on Bosnia-Herzegovina. 

These implied Turkey would militarily interfere against the Serbs if needed, which is not to be taken lightly keeping in mind that now the Turkish air force is engaged in bombing Kurdish positions in Syria, which essentially allied Turkey with ISIS, this being already an ‘open secret’ for some time. 

Nevertheless, in spite of the extremism of the Wahhabi sect in Bosnia they comprise from 5% to maximum 10% of the overall Bosnian Muslim population, while the vast majority of Bosnian Muslims are secular. The voice of the moderates who support peace and cooperation with Serbs and offer alternative narratives to both the past events and current processes in the Balkans are however silenced both by the official Muslim elite and media, but also by the Western discourse constantly produced in the media, which serves to maintain a constant state of tensions between Serbs and Bosnian Muslims. 

“Serbs (Orthodox Christians) and Bosnian Muslims should be natural allies, as they are both essentially the same people, divided by faith as a result of historical circumstances…”

Otherwise Serbs (Orthodox Christians) and Bosnian Muslims should be natural allies, as they are both essentially the same people, divided by faith as a result of historical circumstances. Furthermore, in the eyes of the West, both are in essence ‘Oriental’, so their cultures intertwine once again, having the historical civilisation centre in Constantinople. The 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina showed that such cooperation is quite possible when not interrupted from outside, as in the case of Serbs-Muslims coalition of the so-called Republic of Western Bosnia centred in the town of Velika Kladuša, led by Bosnian Muslim leader Fikret Abdić who disagreed with US-backed Alija Izetbegović’s intolerant policies.

Unfortunately, such cooperation was rarely seen as it did not fit the outside forces’ interests, in the most current case the UK that geopolitically manipulates the hostilities and tries to fuel another conflict.

Serbs and Anti-Serbs

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t is well known that Croatian nationalism is a negative type of nationalism. It is actually defined through negation of another identity. For a Croatian nationalist, the first thing they want to make clear is that they are not Serbian. Everything rest is secondary and derived out of that first principle. 

This of course has its origins in history that is not as ancient as often presented. From the beginning of the 19th century and the process of the formation of the Serbian state, the Habsburg Empire felt the danger that all the Serbian speakers might thrive to join the newly formed state. Many of these people were living in the Empire’s border areas, which represented a real security threat. 

With the help of the Vatican and a circle of intellectuals (both clerical and secular) the Black-Yellow Monarchy decided to implant a new identity into the masses of Serbian-speaking Roman Catholics. This is why the identity of the Serbian-speaking Balkan peoples started to be defined on the basis of religion, not language as it was the case for most other European nations, such as Germans. 

That is why the modern Croatian identity was based on a negative mirror identity. This case is far from unique. Similar was with the British Empire that facilitated the partition of India to secure the division and paralyse the potential rise of their former colony into a major power. Today we have India and Pakistan (as Anti-India). The same might come out with Ukraine (as Anti-Russia) if it remains an independent state, as it is today, after the war ends. 

Coming back to the present day, August began with another anniversary. Croatia celebrates the 20th anniversary of ‘operation Storm’ on 5 August 2015. That was a major offensive of the Croatian forces trained by the Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI), a private US mercenary company with strong ties to the Pentagon. The operation was a military attack against the Republic of Serbian Krajina which was (just like Srebrenica) a UN-protected zone, even some UN troops were killed by the Croatian army during the attack. 

The US was directly involved as its warplanes bombed Serbian air defence, radar and communication facilities , thus allowing the Croatian air force to bomb Serbian refugee convoys. The attack was utterly illegal from the point of international treaties, yet backed by the US, whose Ambassador Peter Galbraith personally joined in riding a Croatian tank. The result of the operation was that several thousand Serbian civilians were massacred by Croatian troops, while almost a quarter of a million Serbs were ethnically cleansed from their ancestral lands and forced to flee for safety in Republika Srpska or the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (today Serbia and Montenegro).

To commemorate the ‘victory day’, Croatia organised a military parade and events all over the country, while the leaderships of Republika Srpska and Serbia decided to commemorate it as a day of sorrow. The celebration in Croatia was followed by an outburst of WW2 Nazi symbolism (from flags, hate songs and WW2 Croatian Ustashe uniforms, to Nazi salutes) glorifying the genocide committed by the so-called Independent State of Croatia (Nazi puppet state in occupied and dismembered Yugoslavia) upon the Serbs. This should not surprise knowing the nature of the anti-Serb sentiment is a necessary integral part of modern Croatian nationalism.

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]aving in mind the 9 May ethnic Albanian terrorist attacks in Macedonia and a jihadist attack on a police station in Zvornik (east Bosnia), all these events combined show that tensions are immanent and can easily arise in the ex-Yugoslav space. This most recent wave of animosities in the ex-Yugoslav space seems to be coming out of nowhere. 

Although the bad feelings did not go away, the new clashes seem to be produced and controlled from abroad, for the time being. One thing is already clear, that none of the Yugoslav banana republics are ready for war. Primarily – because they have been heavily de-industrialised and demilitarised in post-war years. Even though weakened by ‘reforms and professionalisation’, the Serbian army remains a dominant military power in the post-Yugoslav realm, while the Serbian question remains the central question in the Balkans.

Frustrations are high on all sides, but it still seems that internal forces did not solely provoke the wave, which is why the British failed attempt for a UN resolution on Srebrenica and recent parade in Zagreb seem to be coming from the same kitchen. These Balkan skirmishes seem to be a part of a much greater picture. The Russia-West proxy war in Ukraine might be part of the answer, but the real answer lies in the shift the US is making globally – by leaving the Middle East and concentrating on the Pacific to contain China.

It should be said that the Ukrainian conflict is also somehow connected to the Balkans. The overwhelming majority of Serbs support the Russian population in Ukraine and Croats in general support the other side. This is why many Serb volunteers fight in the ranks of the pro-Russian militias, whereas some Croat Neo-Nazis joined the Azov battalion. Knowing that many Islamists from the Balkans fight in the ranks of ISIS and other groups in the Middle East, it seems that the response of the peoples in the region to the world crisis is very Huntingtonian.

Turkey, Saudi-Arabia, Iran, and the Balkan Muslim population

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]oth Turkey and Saudi Arabia are in grave danger now. It could even be said that both are in a danger of decomposition in the nearest future, in Syrian-Iraqi style, though time will only tell how much stamina they have. At the same time, their main regional adversary – Iran is in a geopolitical expansion and may rise further as the main regional power, as a result of the wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen which are all proxy wars of Turkey, Saudi and other minor Sunni Muslim courtiers against Shia Iran. 

The Iranian nuclear deal of Vienna will show its results in the near future, so it remains to be seen if Persia will cooperate with the US at the expense of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, but also at the expense of their own ties with their ally Bashar Assad, as French Middle East expert Thierry Meyssan suggests. 

So, what is the connection with the Balkans? All three sides supported the Bosnian Muslims during the 1990s wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina and all sent arms, money and fighters to Alija Izetbegović in the name of the Muslim cause. It seems, however, that Iranians have regretted this move, as the Bosnian Sunni Muslim leadership gave much more influence to Turkey and Saudi Arabia after the war. 

Furthermore, the Muslim leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina, now headed by Bakir Izetbegović (Alija’s son) made some directly anti-Iranian moves. They have voted for a UN resolution condemning Syria (Iran’s greatest friend in the Middle East), which was logically seen as a treason in the eyes of Teheran. But regardless of the obvious rise of their regional influence, Iran can hardly take the leading role among the Balkan Muslims, for the simple fact that most of them are Sunnis and Turkophiles. 

Yet the shift in power in the Middle East will in one way or another influence the relations in more remote regions with Muslim populations such as the Balkan Peninsula. The danger is ever more serious if Turkey gets more frustrated and desperate and tries to gain some success in the Balkans to compensate for defeats in the Middle East. This goes for Saudi Arabia too. 

The Balkans and the Gates of Tears 

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]hina bought the largest cargo terminal at the port of Piraeus and plans to build a fast railway to connect it with the heart of Europe – through Skoplje, Belgrade and Budapest. Russia wants to do the same with its Turkish stream gas pipeline through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary with final destination in Austria. 

These facts offer an obvious answer why we can see the new wave of destabilisation in the Balkans. Germany is not opposing these projects, as they would strengthen their energy security and supply of goods. The US on the other hand was and still is the dominant foreign power influencing external and internal politics of the Balkan ‘banana republics’, so they certainly are not happy about these projects.

Both of these grand construction projects provide a unique historical opportunity for the Serbs and Hungarians to find a firm common interest which would be a great opportunity for longstanding stability and cooperation between the two peoples and countries with a troubled bilateral history. They would also connect all the countries on their path and secure peace and economic stability for a foreseeable future. But instead of this, we can see all these countries being pushed on a path of instability.

This region is only a fragment of a picture that starts in the Middle East. The story starts in 2001 when the US started the war in Afghanistan and later in Iraq, which left their greatest regional foe Iran victorious, establishing a local hegemony. Another defeat for the US was the so-called Arab Spring that essentially deprived the US from the control over the Suez Canal. 

In Egypt they supported Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood against their old ally Hosni Mubarak, but eventually the military junta led by Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi turned out to be Nasserist and started cooperating with Russia soon after the coup d’etat. One wise thing the US did was not to repeat the Franco-British fiasco of 1956 and enter another disastrous war.

The Balkan construction projects—especially the fast railway as part of the Chinese ‘New Silk Road’—are directly connected to the current battle for the trade chokepoints in the Middle East: Suez Canal, Hormuz Straits and Bab-el-Mandeb (The Gates of Tears). If the Suez Canal or Bab-el-Mandeb is closed for even a short period, then what is the purpose of the Piraeus port for China ? 

None. 

“The Chinese are switching to a global commodities position, and that switch is the imperial switch,” said British historian Niall Ferguson. This Chinese ‘switch’ makes the US move its focus towards the Pacific, in the process trying to leave chaos behind in the Middle East and elsewhere in Eurasia including the Balkans. This is also the reason why we can see the navies of all major powers including China and Russia in and around these choke-points. 

The US is leaving the Middle East. It is gaining energy independence by developing fracking and containing China becomes a goal above all others. US President Barack Obama said this explicitly in his statement about concentrating of the US focus from the Middle East to the Pacific. This leaves an open space for Russia. 

We have seen recently that the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of two fierce regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran visited Moscow in a short period of time. The sudden change of attitude towards Russia among the absolutist monarchies of the Persian Gulf also shows that the Wahhabi monarchs realised that ISIS, the monster they created in Syria and Iraq, can easily collect their royal heads too. After all, the fate of former Western allies Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi tells more then a thousand words.

The main US goal in the Balkans is similar to the goal they had in Germany after the WW2 – to keep the EU in, the Serbs down and Russia out for as long as possible, but all of this without a ‘Marshal Plan 2’ to secure economic prosperity in the region, quite the opposite. The US is well aware this policy cannot be successful forever. The Russians should do just the opposite if they want to enlarge their share of influence in the region, and the best way to do so is to strengthen the Serb factor – being both central and Russophile.

Is the Refuge Crisis a Threat and, if it is, to What Extent?

[dropcap]B[/dropcap]elgrade—as many other Balkan cities—is witnessing a very new and surreal scene. The city parks around the central bus and railway stations are full of unfortunate travelers who walked their way on foot, trains, sea and by any means possible, to reach the Serbian capital and to continue their journey to the Hungarian border and then further westward to the ‘lands of opportunity’. 

The vast majority of these people are not economic, but war migrants – refugees who fled the warzones of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, all inflamed by the US, NATO and their ad-hoc formed ‘coalitions of the willing’.

The Balkan countries that have been hit the most by this wave are Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Serbia. The migrants reach Bulgaria through Turkey from which the road leads them through the Bulgarian Trace Valley to Serbia. Another—much longer—route goes trough the Greek islands onward through the Macedonian Vardar Valley and Morava Valley in Serbia, from which they try to enter Hungary (or Croatia, in a rarer case).

This flood of migrants raises new questions in already troubled societies. The press and numerous experts and commentators speculate that ISIS members might be infiltrated into the masses of refugees. The fear is further fueled by several threatening videos of ISIS that call for attacks on Serbia, Croatia and so forth in order to spread the ‘Caliphate’ westward. 

This is not an empty threat, knowing that many Balkan nationals—especially from Bosnia-Herzegovina and from NATO-occupied Serbian province of Kossovo-Metochia—fight and many have already been killed in the ranks of the extremist organisations in Syria and Iraq. Also the terrorist attack in April 2015 on a Republika Srpska police station was perpetrated by a local claimed to be associated with the Islamists. Some experts fear that in the event of a Muslim-Serb conflict, ‘sleepers’ hidden among the migrants might spread terror in major cities and join the fight in the regions of the Balkans (Bosnia, Macedonia, Kossovo-Metochia, southwest and southeast Serbia) that might be lit up in a hypothetical future war. 

Russian expert for the Balkans Elena Guskova claims this war may start as early as late-August . The potential conflicts are with the Albanian factor (Albania plus their population in the region) or the Bosnian Muslims if this fits the interests of the US. This should certainly not be taken without caution in the light of the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement about the ‘line of fire’ between Russia and the West, where he directly named a number of Balkan states. 

Another aspect of the problem is that Hungary started building a wire fence along the border with Serbia, as well as media speculations that Serbia and Macedonia should build refugee camps to host hundreds of thousands of refugees, and that the Western countries might send the refugees back not to their countries of origin, but to the first non-EU country they’ve entered before stepping into the Union. 

While these may well be mere sensationalist media speculations and orientalist xenophobic scaremongering, the end of the refugee crisis is not foreseeable. Only time will tell how serious the problem will get.

Conclusion

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Balkans should be not viewed only as part of Europe, where it geographically belongs, but also as part of the Greater Middle East problems, and one of the key hot-spots in the current world crisis and global shift of power. The US is retreating from the Middle East in general and moving politically and militarily to the Pacific to try to contain China. The US strategy is therefore also to create conflicts everywhere it can along the borders of Eurasia. 

The outline of this process was bluntly given by John Kerry in his famous ‘countries on the line of fire’ remark. This is done by the retreating US to divide the continent and lock it in conflicts for as long as it can. In that way Eurasia cannot consolidate and its countries cannot establish new trade and energy routes which would not be under the control of the US (or the West more broadly). 

As long as the US controls the main sea routes it will be the dominant world empire. While it may be losing its grip, it would certainly not want to let go without creating chaos before other powers of the emerging multi-polar world take control. If they break up, before managing to organise, even better, that is the logic of the US today. 

In pursuit of this, another goal seems to be a tendency to destroy classical nation states by creating civil unrest everywhere possible along the neuralgic points of Eurasia, the ‘Arab Spring’ that toppled secular Arab nationalist autocracies and brought Mad Max-style chaos offers proof of that. 

If a society is unraveled from the level of national entity to the level of ethnic group or tribe, thereby disorganized in a classical nation state manner, it is easier to be manipulated, and it becomes locked in conflicts with others. We have seen this scenario unveil in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, but the worst case scenario took place in Libya and Somalia. All the mentioned disputes and recent geopolitical skirmishes and processes in the Balkans need to be viewed in this perspective.

The American retreat from the Middle East towards the Pacific Ocean means that the influence of Russia is only likely to increase in the region (Middle East, South Caucasus and the Balkans), especially if Russia plays its cards well. This also means that the US may gradually retreat from its bases in Kosovo-Metochia and elsewhere in the Balkans, leaving a security gap and increasing a conflict potential. 

If Russia wants to benefit from this situation it should maximally support the Serbs in the Balkans to fulfill this security gap. By uniting the Serb space, it would do exactly the opposite from what the US and its European allies have been doing for the last 25 years. The Serbs occupy the heart of the Balkan Peninsula and still are the largest ethnic identity between Vienna and Constantinople, but they are also very vulnerable. 

They are surrounded by NATO and a bandwagon of traditional local enemies that could be activated with the help of US at any given moment. It should not come as a surprise if the US uses Hitler’s WW2 blueprint of occupying Serbian space by using local NATO countries to divide the terrain into occupying zones. Recent US military supplies to Bulgaria should not go unnoticed in this context, especially after the Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov’s threatening message to Macedonian PM Nikola Gruevski to resign. But not only did Borisov verbally attack Gruevski, he also sent the Bulgarian army to the border with Macedonia. 

In light of the above, I strongly believe Russia’s Balkan policy should focus on finding the means to significantly support Serbia (politically, economically and militarily) as soon as possible, so that it can overcome this immensely challenging period. 

Moscow should also support and help facilitate the aspiration of the Serbian people to reunite the Serb space in the future. This space is now divided into many failed state formations, but before any of this can be addressed Russia should help preserve the bare existence of the Serb population in hostile countries and territories. 

Bearing in mind that the Serbs are the south/westernmost outpost of the Orthodox Christian-Slavonic world, by doing so Russia would largely increase its influence in the south of Europe and the Mediterranean. Many challenges, however, some of which are mentioned here, lie ahead this long and wiggly road.

Lizard


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