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Who are the New York Watchmen?

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Alex Findijs
WSWS.ORG


 

The New York Watchmen are a recently formed right-wing militia based in Western New York. They have chapters in Buffalo and Rochester and have reported interest as far away as Westchester County.

The New York section is part of a larger organization headquartered in North Carolina. It is unclear how large the national organization is, but the New York Watchmen are reporting around 200 members with the aim to reach 500 by election day. While they publicly claim to not be a militia, they have been organizing pistol permits and training, and have set up a GoFundMe page to fund the purchase of weapons, equipment and medical supplies.

The Watchmen hold a pro-government and pro-police stance, describing their main missions as supporting the police and protecting property and “innocents.” While Charles Pellien, the founder and director of the group has claimed that they are not partisan, he and other leading members of the group have publicly expressed their support for President Trump on social media.

The leaders of the Watchmen have organized appearances at Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests. They have also organized marches in support of the police that Republican government officials have attended. New York Assemblyman David DiPietro has attended their rallies, as well as Assistant Director of Health and Human Services Michael Caputo, who worked for the Reagan administration with Oliver North to pursue the interests of US imperialism in Central America.

Caputo is a close friend of Charles Pellien. In a rant posted on Facebook, Caputo called on New Yorkers to stock up on ammunition and to contact his “friend Charlie” and join the Watchmen. He has also given him “words of wisdom from the Roger Stone tree of coaching” according to Pellien.

They worked together in 2014 to organize 12th Man Thunder, a fan group of the Buffalo Bills football team that worked to block Jon Bon Jovi’s attempts to purchase the team. It was revealed in 2017 that Donald Trump was behind the organization as part of his own attempt to buy the Bills.

The extent of the New York Watchmen’s connections to Caputo and Trump are not known. Pellien has stated that Caputo is not a member, but their close relationship and Caputo’s connections to the Trump administration raise questions about what influence the President or his close affiliates may have in such an organization.

Rightwing militia members being arrested in New Mexico by police, on suspicion of homicide. This type of image may soon become a thing of the past as the police simply stops policing the militia subculture in the US.

What is more clearly understood is the political orientation of the New York Watchmen and its leading members.

Charles Pellien is a former police and corrections officer who formed the New York Watchmen in August of 2020 in response to the wave of protests against police violence that have swept across the country.

By September 10, he claimed that they had organized “80 former Law Enforcement Officers, Corrections Officers, Special ops Veterans, Marines, Martial Arts Black Belts, Body Builders, Bikers, Patriots, and some very tough women all ready to Back the Blue if needed.”

By “Back the Blue” he means intimidate protesters as an auxiliary wing of the police department. On October 9, after the Watchmen organized an appearance at a protest in Tonawanda, a suburb of Buffalo, he stated on his Facebook page that “this was only a dress rehearsal, a dry run, and a learning experience. And everyone better realize that we are not going to tolerate this [rioting] in our communities. We promise you that.”

He proceeded to then direct a post at the Tonawanda police, who did not respond to the protests as aggressively as the Watchmen would prefer, stating that they must “Do your fucking job or we will do it for you!”

It is clear that the Watchmen wanted a confrontation with the protesters. Pellien claimed that the Tonawanda police were “holding us back so Antifa can terrorize the town with no resistance.” In this sense, the group serves to mobilize fascists within the police to violate orders from elected officials in the Democratic Party-run city.

The most aggressive expression of this comes from Pete Harding, a leading organizer for the Watchmen and several other right-wing and anti-mask groups.

Harding has taken to posting regular Facebook livestreams in which he rants against the “Marxist radicals” that he believes have infiltrated the state and are sponsoring terrorism. He frequently refers to BLM and Antifa as “terrorist organizations” and has argued that “any business that donates to Black Lives Matter should be arrested and criminally charged because they are supporting a terrorist organization at this point.”


In an unhinged rant, Harding accused the town of Tonawanda supervisor and police chief of being BLM and Antifa sympathizers who should be “locked up.” This came as a correction to his prior call for the town supervisor to be lynched. He quickly backtracked, saying it was not the right word, but the word “lynch” is not one that is used accidentally.

Harding’s hostile attitude towards Democratic politicians is a common thread in his social media posts. On October 8, following the revelations of the plot to kidnap and execute Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Harding posted the following on Facebook:

So let me see if I understand this right. If you murder thousands of the people in your state that you govern, if you destroy the lives of millions in your state with treasonous and unconstitutional decisions, if you bring your state down to its knees with you [sic] terrorism and terrorist decisions, if you invite violent terrorists into your state and cities who destroy those cities and you do nothing about it to arrest, charge or try those terrorists, law enforcement will do nothing to you.

If you are an actual terrorist burning, destroying, occupying, assaulting, murdering property and people in Michigan, you are protected and you will not be charged arrested or prosecuted. If you commit acts of hate, terror and violence and hold cities hostage for weeks, nothing will happen to you.

If you plot to unseat these terrorists and hold them accountable for their actions, you will be arrested and face up to life in prison.

Harding’s support for the coup plot of 14 fascist militiamen to kidnap and murder a government official is telling and raises concerns about how many people with possible ties to the Trump administration share his views. He has accused Diane Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters of being “psychopaths who are inciting riots,” further stating that “I don’t know why that isn’t treason, I don’t know why they aren’t being arrested.”

Harding has directed his vitriol towards protesters as well. He has claimed to have informants in protest groups that allow the Watchmen to “show up to events even before they do.” In a Facebook video posted on October 16 he began reading out the names of protesters to his audience before informing them that they “better put that helmet on. .. because we know who you are.. . I’m not giving your last names guys, but we got ‘em.”

The possibility of the New York Watchmen violently clashing with protesters is not out of the question. Neither is the possibility that their connections to the Trump administration go beyond cordial relations with Michael Caputo.

The working class must be wary of groups like the New York Watchmen. As they grow and as the political crisis deepens, they may very well be welcomed by police to join in violent clashes with protesters and striking workers.

Alex Findijs writes for wsws.org, a Marxian publication



Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.


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The Political Insights of MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch

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This is an article from our series on septic media


 

MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch is a Wall Street advertising executive and political commentator who can, I think, be relied upon to honestly convey the true thoughts of the Democratic National Committee.

Three of his comments this year stand out.

(1) First, he declared (February 20 on “Morning Joe”) that he was “absolutely panicked” that Bernie Sanders was “running away with the nomination.” He declared that Sanders could never win the election versus Trump because “Americans will never vote for a socialist.”

As a paid “expert,” he asserted this on MSNBC as an empirical fact. He even intimated that he himself would vote for Trump over Sanders, causing host Joe Scarborough to raise his eyebrows briefly, then nod matter of factly.

(Recall how Sanders in fact swept the early primaries as Americans embraced a “socialist,” but was defeated badly on Super Tuesday after the DNC arranged for the other candidates to back Joe Biden, who’d been in fourth place.)

(2) After rejoicing at Joe Biden’s emergence as the Democratic nominee, Deutsch counseled the party to keep him in his basement using the Coronovirus as the excuse, minimizing his appearances. On May 13 Deutsch actually said on MSNBC, “I think the less [we see] of Joe, the better!” You get it? The idea is, he’ll get elected as the non-Trump without having to say or do anything. And he might well blow it if let out of the barn to talk.

(3) Deutsch has stated (Aug. 13) that one-third of the U.S. population is “racist” and that this racist population is Trump’s hard base.

(Polls do in fact show that about 33% support Trump’s “handling of racial issues.” I think it’s reasonable to conclude these people are racists, and of course they’re just part of the problem. But this figure, combined with a similar figure for those who think Trump has handled the coronovirus well, suggests that there is a hard core that combines white nationalism and general ignorance of science based on religious brainwashing. This is the hard core of Trump’s broader support base. His general approval rate has been 40-43% nationally all this year. These statistics are actually quite terrifying, especially in their consistency over time.)

In sum: the Democrats needed to satisfy Wall Street by choosing a centrist candidate, who will be marketed as the only alternative to Trump, who for his part can rely on an automatic 33% of votes (from racists).

My question for Deutsch would be this: Having actively attacked Sanders as un-electable, and having rejoiced in the selection of the most Establishment candidate imaginable, aware of his public performance problems, and having noted that the despised Trump has a real hard-core base of about 1/3 of the population, where do you find Biden’s comparable base?


Spoiled brat Donny Deutsch is famous for his NYC socialite antics and irreducible stupidity. With his outsize narcissism and runaway hedonism, he incarnates bourgeois decadence—a perfect figure for a putrid media. But in the age of hyper priggishness and #metoo, he also eventually went too far.

Many if not most Trump supporters see themselves as part of a movement of resistance to liberals, political correctness, socialism, communism, anarchists, agitators, baby killers, people who hate God, etc. Especially when combined with religious idiocy, their passion is a mighty force. They will turn out on election day.

The Sanders campaign was also a movement. It generated passion, and caused countless mostly young volunteers to go door to door with genuine enthusiasm. There was no other campaign in the race to compete with it. Deutsch, panicking about “socialism,” wanted to defeat it. Well, okay, boss; that happened, so now the masses must choose Trump or Biden. But there is no Biden movement, much less a Trump-like cult.

About 60% of the people despise Trump. That does not mean they will vote for Biden.

A recent Pew poll showed that only 33% of likely Biden voters view their vote as an expression of support for him, as opposed to 67% who view it as vote against Trump. (In contrast 76% of Trump voters say they’ll vote proactively for him.) The expression “hold my nose” keeps coming up. It is a question of lesser-evil voting for a candidate who’s being sold not on the basis of his record, which is all too embarrassing, but on the basis of “decency.” He’s the other candidate, the decent one, the compassionate one—the antithesis to the hateful, cruel Trump. Our ticket back to Obama-era normalcy.

That’s not 33% of the electorate but only the figure from people saying they will probably vote for Biden. In other words, Biden support is super-soft. Meanwhile the Democratic National Convention seemed consciously designed to alienate former Sanders supporters. There was nothing progressive about it at all! THAT charade was supposed to rally the troops?

The talk by Meghan McCain, celebrating her dad’s close friendship with Joe Biden? Sen. John McCain would have started World War III over Georgia in 2008. He was the worst imaginable war hawk and war criminal. Why emphasize Biden-McCain friendship? And why include Colin Powell among the speakers? Is he some sort of hero because he was the first black Secretary of State to lie to the United Nations to justify a criminal war? The convention was a bipartisan circus, almost as insulting to the intelligence as the Republican one.

The Democrats have shifted their attack on Trump from accusations of complicity with Russia (which was always a hoax, and very reactionary, stoking the new Cold War) to his incompetence in responding to the coronovirus and his deployment of federal forces in response to Black Lives Matter protests. They have had to support BLM (while Trump attacks the group as “terrorists”), because the movement is diverse and powerful and a potential source of votes. In that sense BLM (as much as the Sanders campaign) has pushed the party to the left, if only rhetorically. (It’s quite amazing, the things recently coming out of the mouths of suddenly radicalized mainstream anchors.)

But the Democrats are asking BLM activists to vote for a police-union advocate and Crime Law author and one-time opponent of school busing, and his running mate, a former prosecutor.

The Republican convention has meanwhile been a terrifying display of white nationalism, crude religious pandering, and some presentations one can truly call fascistic. Quite possibly many of those watching (although perhaps the viewers are few) are so terrified by the prospect of these idiots getting another four years that they will indeed turn out for Biden.

Deutsch did not include in his analysis the idea that opposition to Trump could be mobilized around the fear of fascism.


There are surely 33% of the people who see themselves as anti-racist who could challenge the Trump racist base. But will they vote for the author of the Crime Bill and a former prosecutor? How to generate some positive support for Biden?

One possibility is to focus on the prospect of a looming fascist police state. This would require a shift in Democratic policy; so far the Democrats have attacked Trump for his alleged ties with Russia, or withholding of arms to Ukraine, or his inaction on the coronovirus. It’s only because of the sudden revival of Black Lives Matter, mass demonstrations and Trump’s dispatch of federal forces to repress them, and his fascistic rhetoric about law and order, that this issue has entered the race.

If lackluster Biden (with his history of supporting police unions) can be depicted as the “antifa” candidate versus the fascist one, and the election depicted as an urgent choice between martial law and a return to normalcy, perhaps enough people would mobilize to defeat the “fascist.” That’s a bit different from Deutsch’s “anybody but Trump strategy.” It would draw on specific fears of unprecedented mass police repression.

Whether or not Trump is a fascist technically, or the Republican party is really a fascist party, is not as important as the potential of the anti-fascist cause and argument to mobilize people to vote for Biden. It would draw in antifa groups, possibly, and some BLM forces; it might be enough to win over more Democratic Socialists to vote. But I can’t see the Biden campaign asking the people “Do you want a police state?” It is rather left forces who see Biden as the lesser evil who will do that.

***

These might include the Revolutionary Communist Part,USA that has called Donald Trump a fascist since his first day in office and framed its opposition to him through the Refuse Fascism organization and slogan. It has recent;y dropped its 45-year-old practice of boycotting bourgeois elections and urged its supporters to vote for Biden this year, specifically to do that (refuse fascism). I disagree with the group’s analysis but see its potential utility in getting Biden elected.

All during the 1980s, while its chairman Bob Avakian was leading his party from France, the RCP argued that World War III between the two imperialist superpowers, the U.S. and USSR, was inevitable due to the laws of capitalist competition—unless prevented by revolution in the U.S. Then the USSR collapsed along with its bloc, more or less peacefully. Afterwards, with the threat of World War III receding, the RCP focused in the 1990s on a different urgent threat: “Christian fascism.” This, like the above-mentioned inevitable U.S.-Soviet war, was inevitable if not prevented by revolution.

In fact the Clinton, G.W. Bush, and Obama administrations did not bring Christian fascists to power. The Christian right has declined and the Christian population drops by about one percent a year. Young people are more irreligious than ever before, and more politically progressive; more embrace than reject “socialism.” Avakian’s thesis about imminent fascism was as questionable as his confident prediction of world war in the eighties.

Still, Trump won the 2016 election with strong Evangelical support. So Avakian’s prophecy seemed validated in a way when Christian fascism finally arrived—in the form of Donald Trump. Now Trump must be overthrown, by voting for Biden. The curious might wonder how the chairman arrived at his current position after writing “To those Black People Who Are Voting for Joe Biden,” posted on the “Bob Avakian Institute” site earlier this year.

“Congratulations. You are supporting someone [Joe Biden] who started his campaign for president by bragging about his history of finding common ground with white supremacist southern segregationists and saying this was proof he could ‘bring the country together!’… Putting an end to this [system] can never be done by getting behind someone like Joe Biden, who for a long time has been a big-time representative and functionary of this criminal system and now wants to become the criminal-in-chief.”

TO THOSE BLACK PEOPLE WHO ARE VOTING FOR JOE BIDEN

Makes you wonder what happened.)

***

In any case, the fact is, Trump is sending federal forces into cities all over the country to “preserve law and order.” He’s talking and acting like a fascist; a Philadelphia district attorney calls him a “wannabe fascist.” There is longstanding legal institutional architecture for him to proclaim a state of emergency and martial law. (This pertains to Biden too, of course.) He is a grotesque, scary human being. To bring the “F” word into the campaign makes sense. I see that the mainstream media is increasingly talking about it.

So back to the bourgeois analyst Deutsch, who railed against Sanders, and was relieved at the Biden choice although urging that he remain under wraps; Deutsch who observes that Trump can count on the votes of the 1/3 racist population. He would surely want his candidate to stress his “moderation in all things,” his opposition to socialist ideas like single-payer health insurance, his opposition to police defunding, his support for “our allies” around the world.

But would he want Biden to say: “Look, I’m the anti-fascist candidate. I stand between you and fascism in this country! It’s me or an authoritarian police state”?

My guess is that Deutsch would oppose that—as sounding much too radical. If that’s the case to be made, it will have to made on Biden’s behalf by radical proponents who have up to now eschewed “lesser evil” politics. They may have to save the Democrats from their choice to dump Sanders (which—to repeat—Deutsch had urged), hoping among other things that the (non-fascist) Biden won’t do something too fascist himself right after election.

Something like pulling Ukraine—a country important to the Bidens, in which real, live, Nazi-loving fascists hold high posts—into Joe’s beloved expanding NATO.

Surely attention to foreign affairs will affect your vote, if you plan to vote?

[su_shadow]
 Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu
[/su_shadow]


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 ALL CAPTIONS AND PULL QUOTES BY THE EDITORS NOT THE AUTHORS

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Russia’s FM Sergey Lavrov’s interview with the newspaper Argumenty i Fakty

Another important dispatch from The Greanville Post. Be sure to share it widely.


This essay is part of our special series on disgusting imperialists

The Saker


Original interview in Russian

Question: Can an improvement in the relations with the United States be expected in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: An improvement will hardly materialise any time soon, since it is anything but easy to sort out the mess that our relations are in, which is not our fault. After all, bilateral relations require reciprocal efforts. We have to meet each other half way.

Russia is ready to move in this direction, as we have said on a number of occasions. We proceed from the premise that Russia and the United States bear special responsibility. We are the two largest nuclear powers, the founding members of the United Nations and permanent members of its Security Council. Cooperation between our two countries is key to ensuring stability and predictability in international affairs. However, not everything depends on us. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes.

The situation is quite complicated on the American side. On the one hand, President Donald Trump talks about seeking to be on good terms with Russia, but this attitude is far from prevalent in Washington. We see this in unfriendly steps, such as various groundless accusations Russia faces, imposing financial and economic sanctions, seizing diplomatic property, kidnapping Russian nationals in third countries, opposing Russia’s foreign policy interests, as well as attempts to meddle in our domestic affairs. We are seeing system-wide efforts to reach out to almost all countries around the world and persuade them to scale back their relations with Russia.

Many US politicians are trying to outshine each other in ramping up anti-Russia phobias and they are using this factor in their domestic political struggles. We understand that they will only escalate in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Nevertheless, we will not give up in despair. We will continue to look for common ground with the US despite all the challenges that there are.

It is essential that the Russian and US presidents both understand that there is a need to end the deadlock in our relations. During their June meeting which took place in Osaka the two leaders spoke out in favour of stepping up economic cooperation, combining efforts to settle regional crises, resuming dialogue on strategic stability, and also said that they appreciated dialogue on combatting terrorism. Vladimir Putin invited Donald Trump to Moscow to take part in the events to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in WWII.

All in all, it has to be recognised that Washington has been inconsistent and quite often unpredictable in its actions. For this reason, trying to predict anything in our relations with the US is a fruitless task. Let me reiterate that as far as Russia is concerned we are ready to patiently work on improving our relations. Of course, this will be possible only if Russia’s interests are respected, and based on equality and mutual respect.

Question: Our diplomats’ access to several Russian properties in San Francisco has been restricted. What practical actions are you taking to protect our property?

Sergey Lavrov: Washington has actually expropriated six Russian buildings which have been registered with the US Department of State as diplomatic property. These are two buildings of the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco, the Consul General’s residence in Seattle, the countryside facilities of the Russian Embassy and Trade Mission in New York, as well as our Trade Mission in Washington. We have no diplomatic presence on the West Coast, where tens of thousands of Russian citizens and compatriots live. We have been denied the right to visit these places by the US State Department. All this is a flagrant violation of the United States’ international legal obligations.

We have responded to these openly coercive actions. We have shut down the US Consulate General in St Petersburg, which incidentally was not a US property. We are mulling over a choice of possible methods to reclaim the illegally seized Russian property. We regularly raise the subject of Washington’s violation of its obligations at the bilateral level and also at multilateral platforms. We will continue to do this.

Question: The United States abducts and hunts down Russian citizens around the world, imprisoning them under far-fetched pretexts, whereas we appear to be afraid of giving an appropriate response to these international bandits.

Sergey Lavrov: We are not afraid of anything. But we will not act like bandits either, because we respect international law.

The hunt for Russian citizens in other countries is nothing other than an instrument of US pressure on Russia. Washington has flatly refused to cooperate with our law enforcement agencies on the basis of the 1999 Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. Instead, it puts pressure on its allies and other states to arrest Russian citizens on their territory and subsequently to extradite them to the United States. This is being done quietly, furtively and without any reliable proof [of these people’s guilt]. Some of our citizens have been abducted, as it happened to Konstantin Yaroshenko in Liberia in 2010 and to Roman Seleznev in the Maldives in 2014.

Of course, we will not leave our citizens alone with their problems. We carefully examine all the cases of Russian citizens detained at Washington’s request. The Russian authorities are working on measures to enhance the effectiveness of the legal protection of our citizens abroad. The Foreign Ministry and Russian diplomats in the United States are taking all possible measures to protect the rights and interests of our compatriots in distress. We are doing our best to ensure that Russian detainees have access to consular and legal assistance around the clock, as well as to improve their detainment conditions. In our contacts with the Americans, we invariably demand that our citizens be released and returned home as soon as possible. This also concerns the widely publicised cases of Viktor Bout and Maria Butina.

We raise this question at multilateral platforms, including the UN Human Rights Council, as well as in our contacts with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.

Unfortunately, knowing the aggressive methods of the American system, which does not just stop at using illegal methods, we cannot guarantee that nothing bad will happen to Russian citizens abroad. In this context, I would like to use this occasion to recommend that our citizens thoroughly consider the risks of foreign trips, especially ones to the countries that have extradition agreements with the United States.

Question: Why would Russia pay for PACE membership if it is constantly subject to the assembly’s provocations?

Sergey Lavrov: Just to clarify, there are no separate fees for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Our country makes payments to the Council of Europe’s budget pursuant to the council’s Statute and Russian law. PACE-related expenses account for a small fraction of the Council of Europe’s common budget.

Strictly speaking, Council of Europe membership is a source of a number of benefits for our citizens and the country in general. They include refining our national legal system, solving a whole range of social and humanitarian issues, and fighting corruption. Every single ministry and agency that is part of the Inter-Agency Commission on Russia’s Council of Europe Membership (around 20 in total) confirm the importance of proactive participation in this organisation, including mechanisms of over 60 conventions that our country joined. 

As concerns provocations, they are engineered by the aggressive Russophobic minority egged on by the United States, an observer in the Council of Europe. Of course, this sours the atmosphere and does not bode well for constructive PACE work. But then again, the sensible majority of PACE members who support Russia’s return to the fold of this parliamentary structure is sick and tired of this meaningless vagary. This is indicated by the fact that at the June session, the assembly issued a resolution to restore Russia’s powers without any reservations, thus meeting the condition of Russia’s resuming payments.

Question: It is outrageous to watch the Ukrainian army’s rampage against LPR and DPR residents. Innocent civilians, children and defenders of these two republics are being killed. It was reported that local people addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin with a request to send in troops. Why not do it and force Ukraine to make peace as was the case with Georgia?

Sergey Lavrov: True, the situation in Donbass remains extremely disturbing. To this day, hardly anything has been done to cease fire and shelling continues. Of course, the suffering of the people in these two unrecognised republics strikes a painful chord in our hearts.

The signals that President Vladimir Zelensky sent during his election campaign and right after being elected were rather contradictory. We hope that Kiev’s recent pledge to fully comply with the Minsk Agreements will take the shape of a practical policy after the pre-term Verkhovna Rada elections. The most important thing is to end the war and hear the people in southeastern Ukraine who want peace to be restored, who want to freely speak their native Russian language and their socioeconomic rights to be observed. All this was committed to writing in the Package of Measures.

I really hope that the new Ukrainian leadership will not continue the disastrous course of Poroshenko’s regime and will successfully convert the credit of trust it has into actual efforts to restore civil peace in Ukraine. The long-awaited disengaging of forces and equipment that began in late June in Stanitsa Luganskaya that had been blocked by the previous administration for two and a half years is a convincing indication that where there is political will there can be progress.  

Question: Does Russia intend to officially recognise the DPR and the LPR as independent states?

Sergey Lavrov: Our position on this matter is well known. According to the Minsk Package of Measures, where Russia acts as a guarantor, Donbass has to be granted special status that is permanently enshrined in Ukraine’s constitution. We believe in the need to focus at this point in time on implementing the Minsk Agreements as approved by a UN Security Council resolution, which makes them a binding instrument.

The Ukrainian leadership must look its own citizens straight in the face and renounce the policy of putting Donbass in an economic chokehold, recognise the right of Donetsk and Lugansk residents to speak their native language and celebrate the dates and public holidays they hold as sacred, and honour the memory of their national heroes. Without this it would not be serious, to say the least, to talk about restoring trust among DPR and LPR residents toward official Kiev. Of course, establishing meaningful and direct dialogue between Kiev and the unrecognised people’s republics is the central condition of the Minsk Agreements. This requires streamlining the work of the Contact Group formed by Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk representatives and supported by Russia and the OSCE. In this case, the Normandy Format can also be effective in facilitating the work of the Contact Group. There can also be other ways to support the settlement process in Donbass from the outside, as long as they are acceptable for all sides, and, of course, do not water down the tenets of the Minsk Agreements. President Vladimir Putin was abundantly clear in reaffirming his position, including during his telephone conversation with President Vladimir Zelensky on July 10.

Question: What is Russia’s Foreign Ministry doing to liberate Russian journalist Kirill Vyshinsky from detention in Kiev? He has spent more than a year in prison, in essence, for his professional activity. Why cannot Russia put pressure on Ukraine to free him?

Sergey Lavrov: The court proceedings in the case of RIA Novosti Ukraine editor-in-chief resemble the theatre of the absurd. There is no doubt that the journalist was subject to an illegal arrest, just for working for a Russian media outlet and honestly reporting on the ongoing developments. Even Ukrainian prosecutors seem to understand this, since they have been postponing hearings under the pretext of studying the investigative materials.

Russia demands that Kiev immediately release Kirill Vyshinsky and fully restore all his rights. Our diplomats maintain close contacts with the journalist’s lawyers, since Ukraine declined consular access. We do everything we can to reach out to our foreign partners, including on international platforms, calling on them to work with Kiev in order to bring about a positive resolution as soon as possible.

Question: What measures should the Georgian government take in order to prevent individuals who are a disgrace for Georgia from holding anti-Russia demonstrations near the country’s parliament?

Sergey Lavrov: Relations between the government and the opposition are Georgia’s internal affair. We have no intention to interfere in this process. However, we are definitely concerned about any attempts made by some radical representatives of the Georgian political elite to whip up Russophobic sentiment and pit our peoples against one another. I doubt that these individuals thought about the damage their action was causing to their country and the prosperity of its people, which depends to a significant extent on the state of economic and humanitarian relations with Russia.

We expect the Georgian leadership to recognise as soon as possible the detrimental nature and danger of further efforts to fan anti-Russia hysteria. After all, it is essential that official Tbilisi found the strength to condemn the shameful actions of a local television network that offended the President of Russia, causing misgivings even within the Georgian society.

We hope that the Georgian authorities will be able to restore social and political stability in the country and remove the existing security threats Russians currently face there. Should this happen, the necessary conditions will be created in order to look into the possibility for removing the precautionary measures Russia has taken, including a ban on air travel to Georgia. We want to be friends and to cooperate so that Russians and Georgians can benefit.

Question: The Chinese media have recently started referring to Siberia as “Chinese land.” Some 12 million Chinese currently live in Russia’s Far East and Siberia. Can it happen that China actually takes over Siberia and Russia’s Far East in the near future?

Sergey Lavrov: Border disputes between Russia and China were settled for good a long time ago. The bilateral Treaty of Good-Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation adopted in 2001 states that there are no territorial claims between the two countries. Against this backdrop, those who have misgivings over the constructive development of Russian-Chinese relations seek to spread the myth of the Chinese threat.

As for the 12 million Chinese who allegedly live in the Far East and Siberia, I have great doubts about the accuracy of this figure. The associated fears are clearly blown out of proportion.

The policy by Russia and the People’s Republic of China to strengthen their neighbourly relations is a multifaceted and long-term effort that cannot be affected by short-term fluctuations. Sino-Russian cooperation is not aimed against anyone. Its main purpose is to facilitate socioeconomic development and prosperity for our countries and peoples. As Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping said following the June 5 talks in Moscow, the two countries are entering a new era in their comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation. The growing mutual trust in military and political affairs, record-high trade figures and expanding cultural and humanitarian contacts, as well as better coordination with Beijing on international affairs speak volumes of the positive momentum in our bilateral dialogue.

Question: Relations with Iran are essential for Russia’s geopolitics. However, Iran has indulged in unacceptable aggressive rhetoric against the state of Israel on numerous occasions and went beyond words. How is Russia’s position any different from that of European countries in the 1930s when they encouraged Hitler’s anti-Soviet stance?

Sergey Lavrov: Russia sees intrinsic value in its relations with Iran, Israel and all other Middle East countries. Russia has a multipronged foreign policy that is free from the principle of “being friends against someone.” In our contacts with the leaders of all regional countries we are consistent in calling on our partners to find peaceful solutions to the problems that may arise and renounce the use or threat of force.

The escalating tension in the region we are witnessing today is the direct result of Washington and some of its allies raising the stakes in their anti-Iranian policy. The US is flexing its muscles by seeking to discredit Tehran and blame all the sins on the Islamic Republic of Iran. This creates a dangerous situation: a single match can start a fire. The responsibility for the possible catastrophic consequences will rest with the United States.

As for the historical aspect of your question, it is not appropriate to project what happened in Europe in the 1930s on the current developments in the Middle East. As we all know, Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier sought to appease Hitler in order to direct the German military might against the USSR. We are not seeing anything of this kind today.

Iran regularly reaffirms to us its interest in regional stability through dialogue with all the interested countries, including the Gulf Arab states. In addition to this, Tehran has always stressed that it did not intend to undertake any aggressive action.

As far as Russia is concerned, we are taking steps to de-escalate tensions. We are proactive in promoting the concept of collective security in the Persian Gulf implying a stage-by-stage approach to resolving conflicts and devising confidence building and control mechanisms. We are working with our partners to preserve the multilateral agreements to promote a settlement on the Iranian nuclear programme.

Question: Do you think that we are geopolitically losing in Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia and allowing a belt of “Russia’s enemies” to build up around us from among some of the former “brotherly nations” who earn money in Russia and on Russia, repatriate it and still consider us if not enemies, definitely not friends?

Sergey Lavrov: The political processes in Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia concern us, there is no question about it, because they are our brotherly peoples and we are tied by a long history of relations, including being part of one state.

Unfortunately, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union the West came to believe that it was the end of history and the West can now blatantly interfere with the affairs of any country and presumptuously call the shots in its domestic politics. Ukraine is perhaps the most flagrant example.

Armenia is a different story. This country is Russia’s key partner in the South Caucasus with whom we have strong strategic relations and an alliance. We are engaged in an extensive political dialogue and cooperate between parliaments and on the international scene. Russia is Armenia’s leading economic partner. Our links in the education, culture, investment, military and technical sector are on the rise.

As concerns Georgia, I am certain that Georgians do not see us Russians as enemies. Unfortunately, right now we see certain politicians in Georgia competing in anti-Russian rhetoric to achieve their mercenary and opportunistic goals. I am sure that everything will be ironed out sooner or later and that our countries will again enjoy neighbourly relations.

Broadly speaking, our agenda in the post-Soviet space has a unifying nature and is aimed at stimulating the socioeconomic development of respective countries, promoting and harmonising integration in the region, strengthening collective security and the potential of our coordinated response to threats and challenges. 

Question: What is the status of the talks with Iraq over bringing back our women and children from prisons? What are the prospects of them returning back home?

Sergey Lavrov: So far, we have managed to bring back home 90 children. According to our records, some 30 more children remain in Iraq. We plan to bring them back within the next months.

Unfortunately, the situation is more complicated when it comes to their mothers. All of them are convicted for breaking Iraqi law, by illegally crossing the border, staying in the country illegally and participating in terrorist activities. Sixty-six Russian nationals are currently in prison. The Russian Embassy in Baghdad is constantly monitoring their cases and providing necessary help.

To recap, we started working on the humanitarian operation to return our minor citizens back to Russia in the autumn of 2017 when Iraqi officials informed us that Russian women and children were detained during a counter-terrorist operation in Mosul.

The office of the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova established a commission to coordinate the operation. The commission involves representatives of competent government bodies, including the Foreign Ministry. Together with the Iraqi authorities we agreed on a course of action to locate the children and prepare the necessary documents for their repatriation. Russian specialists collected the children’s and mothers’ biological material for DNA relationship testing. Meanwhile, we were looking for relatives to establish formal guardianship. Then we received rulings of the Baghdad Central Court on returning the children.

We continue to work hard on this matter.

Question: What is the reason for facilitating access to Russian citizenship for people living abroad?

Sergey Lavrov: These decisions are based above all on humanitarian considerations. This is why we have adopted a facilitated procedure for the granting of Russian citizenship to the residents of certain districts in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The procedure was formalized in April of this year by a presidential executive order.

Kiev’s blockade has made the living in certain districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine unbearable. The people have been deprived of everything, including social payments, pensions, wages, as well as the national system of banking, education and healthcare services. They have been stripped of their voting rights, as neither election commissions nor polling stations were established in their districts. In other words, Kiev has de facto turned these people into stateless persons.

It was our duty to provide assistance to these people in that situation. Russian citizenship will allow them to tackle their current problems, give them freedom of movement as well as access to healthcare services, education, banking services and transportation.

At the same time, Russia is not forcing anyone to adopt its citizenship or abandon the Ukrainian citizenship. Each resident of Donbass makes the decision independently.

Besides, this is not a new practice at all. A number of European countries, for example, Poland, Hungary and Romania, have been doing this for years.

The general procedure for granting Russian citizenship is regulated by a federal law, which says that the basic condition is the applicant’s residence in Russia. But the law also stipulates preferences for foreign nationals living outside Russia if at least one of their parents is a Russian citizen living in Russia. An exception has been made for the stateless persons who used to hold Soviet citizenship and are living in the former Soviet republics. They can receive Russian citizenship without taking up residency in Russia. In addition to this, parents holding Russian citizenship can register their children born in mixed marriages as Russian citizens. We are working to improve this procedure.

In reality, Russian offices abroad issue Russian passports to some 50,000 people every year. Over half of them are children born in mixed marriages. Their parents usually write in their applications that they want to maintain the legal and spiritual connection to Russia.

Question: Have you ever developed good personal relations with foreign colleagues even though you may have political differences with their home countries? Can you provide an example of such friendship?

Sergey Lavrov: Good and trust-based personal relations are extremely important in the diplomatic profession. In some cases communications are maintained and solutions to problems are found only thanks to such personal relations. In general, I believe that the ability to maintain close contacts, avoid emotional decision-making and never forget about your country’s strategic interests when dealing with short-term concerns are the required qualities of all diplomats irrespective of rank and post.

Of course, partners and counterparts do change. For example, as a Foreign Minister I have worked with five US Secretaries of State. But this does not mean [personal] ties are broken off when my colleagues retire or are appointed to another position. After all, this is a small world.

As for giving examples, I would not like to name anyone now, including out of respect for the other colleagues. After all, friendship is a very personal matter. Besides, many of my friends are still working in the diplomatic service or are prominent in the socio-political sphere.

Question: What quality distinguishes a real diplomat from a fake one?

Sergey Lavrov: As for the qualities a professional diplomat must have, I would say that the most important of them is a deep understanding of your country’s development goals and foreign policy interests. Of course, this calls for special training, good knowledge of history, constant involvement in all aspects of life, as well as colossal erudition. Diplomats routinely work with people from other countries, ethnicities and cultures. So they must be well-versed in a country’s specifics. Of course, it is very important to have a knowledge of foreign languages, which is, by the way, a strong point when it comes to our diplomacy. Overall, diplomatic work consists of active contacts with people, which is why a real diplomat must make a good impression, find common language with others in any situation, as well as be able not only to hear but also to listen to what the counterparts say.

 


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Groundhog Jesus Day

HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.


By Darwin Holmstrom


[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or decades American policy has focused on serving the interests of Israel at least as much as serving the citizens of the United States. Americans are just starting to wake up to that fact, but Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged it on camera in 2001, when he was filmed saying: "I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction.”

Israeli control of U.S. policy is largely due to the effectiveness of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC exerts greater control over America’s congressional representatives than virtually any other lobbying organizations. AIPAC has long flaunted this fact, boasting about the power it exercises in Washington. Illinois Senator Charles Percy declined to sign onto an AIPAC-sponsored initiative and was then defeated in his 1984 re-election campaign. AIPAC raised more than a million dollars to help defeat Percy, which was a lot of campaign money in those days. In 1992, AIPAC’s president David Steiner bragged (on tape) that he was personally responsible for President George H.W. Bush providing $3 billion in foreign aid to Israel. In the years since, AIPAC has grown even more powerful. In 2013 Jan Harman, a former congressional representative with a sterling record of defending Israeli interests in Washington, told CNN that her congressional colleagues had resisted backing Obama’s Iranian nuclear agreement because Israel had lobbied against it.

AIPAC is not a political action committee in the traditional sense; it doesn’t provide money directly to candidates. Rather, it operates more like a brokerage, directing Jewish PACs and individual donors—along with a growing network of Christian Zionist groups and similar organizations—to contribute money to candidates through a vast network of AIPAC-controlled organizations at the national, state, and local levels. This arrangement allows AIPAC to inject vast amounts of cash into campaigns across the country while avoiding contribution limits and other laws, as well as avoiding public scrutiny of AIPAC’s activities.

Israel’s behavior is not making AIPAC’s job any easier. Revulsion against Israel’s genocide, apartheid, land theft, and internment of the Palestinian people is growing around the world On March 1, 2019 the United Nations announced the results of an investigation by the U.N. Independent Commission of Inquiry, which concluded that Israel had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 2018 Gaza border protests. During these largely peaceful protests Israeli soldiers shot and killed 189 Palestinians and injured another 6,100 between March and December of 2018. During this period, “Israeli snipers shot at journalists, health workers, children, and persons with disabilities, knowing they were clearly recognizable as such,” according to Santiago Canton, chair of the independent commission. Canton said the report “found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli security forces committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. These violations clearly warrant criminal investigation and prosecution.”

The Colonization of the United States

The degree to which Israel dominates U.S. governmental policy approaches the level of colonization. Israel’s priorities become America’s priorities. If Israel wants a country destabilized or a regime changed, it doesn’t send in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) to accomplish the task; it has its colony the United States do its dirty work. When Israel wanted Saddam Hussein ousted from Iraq, it was the U.S. military that ousted Hussein, not the IDF. If the U.S. goes to war with Iran, the war will only serve Israeli interests, not American interests. AIPAC directs U.S. policy to such a degree that it achieves returns on the money it invests that are disproportionately massive compared to the original expenditure. For AIPAC, the U.S. congress is a relatively cheap date.

Representative Ilhan Omar from Minnesota brought this situation to the public’s attention when she tweeted that U.S. politicians represented the interests of Israel because of AIPAC money, adding: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”


Pastor John C. Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio Texas at the U.S. Capitol on July 18, 2007 during CUFI's (Christians United for Israel) annual conference. Religious lunatics and charlatans have always been a fixture of American culture.

Publicly criticizing AIPAC has long constituted political suicide and exposing the control AIPAC has over American policy elicits bipartisan condemnation. AIPAC is one of the most important money teats for U.S. politicians, and our congressional representatives love nothing more than suckling from a swollen money teat leaking large amounts of cash from its nipple. Democrats and Republicans alike denounced Omar for publicly stating what is obvious to anyone with enough capacity for abstract thought to perform basic ablutions after eliminating solid waste and these political piglets made a bipartisan effort to smear Omar as “anti-Semitic.”

Critics of Israel’s control of U.S. policy are invariably labeled “anti-Semitic”; every critic of Israel must be marginalized, and applying the anti-Semite label has historically been the quickest way to destroy such critics. That’s not the case in Israel itself, which has a relatively free press; Americans can find more actual reporting about Israel’s genocide, apartheid, land theft, and other war crimes against the Palestinian people in Israeli news sources like Haaretz and Mondoweiss than they can find in U.S. corporate media, which labels the slightest mention of Israel’s crimes against humanity “anti-Semitic.” This is the case even when the people criticizing Israel’s atrocities are themselves Jewish.

U.S. corporate media sources dutifully parroted the pro-Israeli talking points espoused by their masters in the ruling elite when attacking Ms. Omar, but this time the Zionist propaganda spewing from the talking heads elicited an unpredictable response from the peasantry. This time Americans generally sided with Ms. Omar rather than the chattering propagandists on cable news, rendering the ruling elite’s attempt to direct the peasantry into providing unquestioned support for Israel ineffective, perhaps for the first time in modern history. “Ilhan Omar’s... presence disrupts a status quo of bipartisan, uncritical support of Israel,” human rights attorney Noura Erakat said in an article published in Middle East Eye.

“That Omar keeps raising her hand and sticking her neck out after all that speaks to her character and will, both of which appear to have been forged in steel,” wrote the Minneapolis weekly City Pages.

Ms. Omar proved City Pages’ assessment of her character correct when she told an audience at a Washington bookstore: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” This was obviously “anti-Semitic,” at least according to Steve Heungs, a former Minnesota assistant attorney general, but the fact that a semi-corporate news organ like City Pages defended Ms. Omar indicates that opposition to the United States acting as a subservient colony of Israel is growing from the ground up.

Strange Bedfellows

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne would think Israel’s control of U.S. governmental policy might begin to wane after the U.N. determined that Israel was actively engaging in crimes against humanity and the American people are increasingly questioning congressional allegiance to Israel, but AIPAC has found a strange-but-powerful bedfellow: Christian Zionists. Christian Zionists have developed a peculiar interpretation of the Bible, taking to heart obscure and random bits and pieces of scripture that support their Israel-centric worldview. The hardcore among them believe that the Jewish people need to gather in Israel and rebuild the third Jewish temple on the Temple Mount. The first temple was destroyed by the Babylonians and the second temple was destroyed by the Romans. The Christian Zionists believe that building a third Jewish temple on the Temple Mount is a prerequisite for Jesus to come back and rapture them up to heaven. We don’t really know if they developed this theory based on some bizarre interpretation of Biblical scripture or if it evolved from some twisted folk tale, as did Groundhog Day, for example. Most likely it was a combination of the two.

The Christian Zionists’ celestial retirement plan has a slight problem in the form of the three Muslim mosques built on the Temple Mount, including the Dome of the Rock, which was completed in 692 CE and is still standing, making it one of the oldest Muslim structures on earth. Most people find this impressive, but for the people who believe the Dome of the Rock needs to be razed and replaced by a third Jewish temple to entice Jesus to come out of hiding, it’s just a very old annoyance, an obstacle between them and their rapture. The same is true of the Palestinian people themselves, who are nothing but a speed bump in the Christian Zionists’ plan to make Jerusalem a goyim-free zone, so Christian Zionists are the most fervent supporters of Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians. Every decent Jewish person is appalled by Israel’s slow-paced genocide of that country’s indigenous Palestinian population, but America’s Christian Zionists are frustrated with the leisurely pace and want Israel to step up its genocide. They’re tired of waiting for Jesus and want to force His Hand.

The sane world, however, is having a different reaction. For reasons known only to those few people invited into the most exclusive meetings at the annual gathering of the Bilderberg Group, the ruling elite continues to support Israel’s criminal regime, but Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people are disgusting the rest of the world. The revulsion people feel toward Israel’s criminal behavior has grown to a point where talking heads repeating the ruling elite’s propaganda on television can no longer placate that disgust. You can blow out a candle, as Peter Gabriel pointed out the last time the world became fed up with a criminal apartheid state, but you can’t blow out a fire.

But Israel will always have the support of Christian Zionists, at least until Jesus crawls out of his hidey hole and raptures them. Unless, of course, the Christian Zionists have confused the rapture with Groundhog Day. If that’s the case, when Jesus emerges on the Temple Mount and sees his shadow, he might just crawl back into his hole and resume hibernation. Then the Christian Zionists will have to wait another 2,000 years for him to come back out and rapture their dumb asses.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Darwin Holmstrom has worked as a farmhand, factory laborer, assistant potato inspector, adjunct professor, and book publisher, but mostly he writes. He’s written, co-written, contributed to, and ghost written over 40 books on subjects ranging from goats in mythology and Les Paul guitars to Indian motorcycles and action-adventure novels. He’s currently working on How to Build a Guillotine from Upcycled Pallets and other Ecologically Sound Tips for the Environmentally Conscious Revolutionary. His hobbies include sedition and collusion with Russians and other communists.

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Countering Washington’s Confrontation

HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.

BRIAN CLOUGHLEY } CROSSPOST WITH STRATEGIC CULTURE

Countering Washington’s Confrontation


[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he United States continues to brandish its military power all round the globe and has recently been concentrating on confronting Russia and China. Its policy and deployments were explained by the US Air Force Secretary in September when she declared that Washington felt threatened because “Less than a week ago Russia began the largest exercise on Russian soil in four decades… with more than 300,000 troops and 1000 aircraft.

On the other side of the world, China’s first aircraft carrier was declared combat ready this year, and promptly sailed into the Pacific to conduct flight operations.”

The absurdity of that statement escaped fitting comment by the West’s mainstream media, which also considers it astonishing that Russia should carry out a military exercise in its own territory following the massive build-up by the US-NATO military alliance along its borders. As pointed out on November 15 by Russia’s Foreign Ministry, this expansion can be seen “along the entire stretch of land connecting the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea. Since October, vast operational resources have been concentrated in the Baltic Region and the north of Europe, due to a series of major international exercises. They are being deployed in addition to NATO regiments already present in the countries of the eastern flank. Those regions have never seen such a military presence since the end of the World War II”.

And it is growing.

Foreign Policy in Focus observes that “In all NATO countries in Eastern Europe, the US Air Force is investing multimillion-dollar sums in the expansion of its air bases, with more than $50 million pouring into a base in Hungary, more than $60 million allocated to the modernization of two air force bases in Romania, and two bases in Slovakia that will be upgraded with more than $100 million, besides various base upgrades in other countries in the region.”

In October President Putin said that “Russia doesn’t threaten anyone and has strictly adhered to its obligations in the sphere of international security and arms control,” but made it clear there would be decisive action if an attack takes place, and “the aggressor should know that retaliation is inevitable, and he will be destroyed.” Russia has “precision hypersonic weapons” exemplified by the Kinzhal missile and a new system, the Avangard, that will enter service in the next few months.

His outlook and approach are echoed by China’s leader, President Xi Jinping, who reminded those attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea on November 17 that “History has shown that confrontation, whether in the form of a cold war, a hot war or a trade war, produces no winners.”



[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n early 2018 President Xi said plainly that China “will forge a powerful military that is ready to respond to the call, to fight and to win a war,” and in October, following Washington’s increasing military activity in and around the South China Sea, the President told his armed forces to “concentrate preparations for fighting a war”, which is as blunt a warning to Washington as might be expected in the circumstances, in which the US is deliberately provoking China by its widely-publicised support for Taiwan. This has gone so far as for the Defence Minister Wei Fenghe to announce that Beijing would never give up “one single piece” of its territory. He warned that “repeated challenges” to China’s stance on Taiwan would lead to military action.

What China and Russia are saying is plain, blunt and unambiguous : stay out of our territory; stop prodding our borders and cease your coat-trailing provocation.


US tanker in Poland. The US has hundreds of bases ringing the world and a huge footprint in Europe, which is now in aggressive expansion. With really no discernible enemies, Washington creates its own via incessant propaganda. Wars and war preparations are highly profitable. (US Army photo)


Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is an unpleasant person, but on November 17 he put things in perspective in his region. When questioned about US Navy operations in the South China Sea he asked in turn “Why do you have to create frictions that will prompt a response from China?”

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne of the more ridiculous observations by the US Air Force Secretary concerned the commissioning of China’s first aircraft carrier. In tones of hushed horror she revealed that it “was declared combat ready this year, and promptly sailed into the Pacific to conduct flight operations.”

What upsets the US military is the fact that China now has an aircraft carrier that can defend the country from beyond its shores, unlike America’s eleven enormous aircraft carriers which sail round the world’s oceans in order to impose Washington’s will. At the moment there are two carrier groups in the Philippines Sea, ready to move into the South China Sea to conduct more provocative operations.

The Air Force Secretary added to absurdity by declaring that “now all of Southeast Asia is within reach of China’s long-range bombers” — presumably considering it irrelevant that in October, in the latest of a series of provocative operations, two nuclear-capable USAF B-52 bombers from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, overflew the South China Sea. As reported in the Air Force Times “the flights were in support of US Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence, a mission focused on deterring regional challengers.”

Regional challengers? Just who is challenging whom with a “continuous bomber presence”?

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ike Russia, China has had to develop advanced weapons to counter the menace patrolling and probing its borders, and these could be employed effectively in the event of US confrontation getting out of hand.

CNN headline in October was “US Navy proposing major show of force to warn China” and it indicated that the “Pacific Fleet has drawn up a classified proposal to carry out a global show of force as a warning to China and to demonstrate the US is prepared to deter and counter their military actions . . . The plan suggests sailing ships and flying aircraft near China’s territorial waters in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait in freedom of navigation operations to demonstrate the right of free passage in international waters. The proposal means US ships and aircraft would operate close to Chinese forces.”

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f Washington is insane enough to go ahead with this deliberately confrontational fandango, there could be serious consequences. Chinese warships could manoeuvre to bar US Navy vessels from coming with 12 nautical miles of one of its islands in the South China Sea, and if there were attempts by the US to penetrate that barrier, there could well be a serious incident. Should this involve damage to a Chinese ship, Beijing would not stand idly by and would respond appropriately. Given its inventory of weapons, especially its advanced torpedoes, this could involve destruction of one of the US Navy’s carriers.

There are similar possibilities in the north. CNN noted that “Currently the aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman is taking the unexpected step of operating in the North Sea — sending a signal to Russia that US military forces can extend their reach to that area.” But if US warships behave aggressively it can be expected that Russia will counter such behaviour most forcefully.

James Foggo: drunk with a sense of superiority, this 59-year old acts like a schoolyard bully. Par for the course in the imperial military.

In October the Commander of US Naval Forces Europe, Admiral James Foggo, told the US Naval Institute that “it would be important to have a greater naval presence in Europe than the US has had in the last two or three decades, and that this year’s presence by the Harry S Truman Carrier Strike Group and the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group were part of the effort to boost presence to reassure allies and to keep an eye on Russian activity. With the Truman Strike Group now back in the region — spending time in Iceland and the North Sea ahead of Trident Juncture [the November 2018 anti-Russia US-NATO exercise based on Norway] — ‘that sends a very strong message that the United States will operate anywhere, either unilaterally or in collaboration with our NATO partners and allies. And like I said, nobody in the world can come close to a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in terms of firepower, dwell and endurance,’ he said.”

Foggo’s diatribe ended with the juvenile but still dangerous pronouncement that “And those guys and gals out on that carrier and the Marines are doing a fantastic job. So we’re keeping the adversaries back on their heels. They don’t know where we’re going next and that’s a good thing. And we’re working more with allies and partners because we have that additional capability. Right now I have — I think, at last count — 495,000 tons of grey-hulled shipping operating in the theatre. And that’s great. I love it.”

This type of trigger-happy immature belligerence is official warning of US policy as regards Russia and China, and it is not surprising that both nations are countering Washington’s confrontation.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 British and Australian armies’ veteran, former deputy head of the UN military mission in Kashmir and Australian defense attaché in Pakistan.  

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Words from an Irish patriot—

 

“There are three kinds of violence. The first, the mother of all the others, is the institutional violence, the one that legalizes and perpetuates the dominations, the oppressions and the exploitations, the one that crushes and flattens millions of men in its silent and well oiled wheels. The second is revolutionary violence, which arises from the desire to abolish the first. The third is repressive violence, the object of which is to stifle the second by making itself the auxiliary and the accomplice of the first violence, the one that engenders all the others. There is no worse hypocrisy to call violence only the second, by pretending to forget the first, which gives birth to it, and the third which kills it. ”

Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian Archbishop and liberation theologian