Category Archives: Geopolitics

Obama’s revenge: Russian diplomats expelled


Angered over those alleged Russian hacking attacks on his party, President Barack Obama has ramped up the pressure on Moscow, today expelling a host of Russian diplomats.

Cold War 2.0 is escalating once again, though we suspect the new Oval Office occupant will do what he can to damp it down, perhaps the one silver lining in a very dark cloud.

Form teleSUR English:

The United States expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland in response to an alleged campaign of harassment against American diplomats in Moscow, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

The move against the diplomats from the Russian Embassy in Washington and consulate in San Francisco is part of a series of actions announced on Thursday to punish Russia for a campaign of intimidation of American diplomats in Moscow and interference in the U.S. election.

The Obama administration was also announcing on Thursday a series of retaliatory measures against Russia for allegedly hacking into U.S. political institutions and individuals and leaking information to help President-elect Donald Trump and other Republican candidates, two U.S. officials said.

Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has called for better relations with Russia. It was not clear if he will be able to immediately overturn the measures announced on Thursday.

The Russian diplomats would have 72 hours to leave the United States, the official said. Access to the two compounds, which are used by Russian officials for intelligence gathering, will be denied to all Russian officials as of noon on Friday, the senior U.S. official added.

And on a related note. . .

Lori Harfenistis a Manhattan-based punk artist who did a show cal The Resident for the weekly show for the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, a public access channel, then moved it over to RT America in 2003.

In this brief segment she points out a conflict for the news medium that’s been doing so much on the alleged Russian hacking of the American political system. You might even call it financial hacking.

It’s short and well worth watching:

WaPo refuses to add disclosure about $600M CIA contract

Program notes:

In 2013, Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million. Only 4 months later, he was awarded a $600 million contract with the CIA. So the CIA has a direct connection to the Washington Post, the paper of record in our nation’s capital, but they refuse to add a disclosure to stories they write about the CIA.

Chart of the day: Adding fuel to MENA flames


From Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2008-2015, a report by the Congressional Research Service, a look at who’s selling arms to nations in the inflamed Middle East/North Africa region [click on the image to enlarge]:

blog-mena-arms

Trump, the most dangerous man in the world


And the reason isn’t the obvious one.

No, it’s not his vanity, and it’s only partly related to his arrogance.

No, what makes Donald Trump the most dangerous man in the world is that he is utterly untrustworthy, a man whose word means nothing and who will say anything to get his way.

In other words, he’s a unprincipled liar.

And that’s what makes him dangerous.

To Trump, the art of the deal is say whatever works toward his end, and when the deal is done he will brag about the lies he told to get there.

From the Daily Show:

Trump Lets the Truth Come Out Post-Election

Program notes:

While out on his “Thank You Tour,” President-elect Trump smugly admits to lying about his campaign promises to lock up Hillary Clinton and “drain the swamp.”

No foreign leader will be able to trust anything Donald Trump says, and for that reason they will always assume the worst.

And when the stakes are high and the folks on the other side of the table are armed with nuclear weapons, we can only expect the worst.

Scary, ain’t it?

Trump’s not Adolf Hitler, says Noam Chomsky


While Adolj Hitler was a sincere, dedicated ideologue, Donald Trump is a thing-skinned megalomaniac, firing off tweets at 3 a.m. when anyone angers him, says Noam Chomsky in this extended interview with Al Jazeera.

And in some ways he’s worse: “The most predictable aspect of Trump is unpredictability. I think it’s dangerous, very dangerous.”

And in many ways, he says, it’s the Republican Party itself that’s the greatest threat to humanity’s future.

Topics covered include the failure of the news media to cover real issues, climate change, Barack Obama’s assassination program, NATO and threats to peace in Eastern Europe, and more

From Al Jazeera English’s UpFront:

Noam Chomsky on the new Trump era

Gulliani may be out as AG, but in as Sec. of State?


Holy cap!

Hold on to your hats, folks. We’re in for a really bumpy ride.

From the New York Times:

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, is the leading contender to be secretary of state in the Trump administration, campaign officials said on Tuesday, as Vice President-elect Mike Pence plans to join President-elect Donald J. Trump in New York to accelerate the process of filling out his cabinet.

Mr. Giuliani, a loyal, often ferocious backer of Mr. Trump’s candidacy, would be a startling choice to be the nation’s chief diplomat – a relentless former federal prosecutor who has viewed foreign policy largely through the prism of the Sept. 11 attacks, which turned him into a national figure.

Though that ordeal gave Mr. Giuliani a firm grounding in domestic security issues, his formal diplomatic experience is slim. Like other New York City mayors, he made occasional ventures into foreign policy, on issues like the Middle East peace process or more parochial concerns, like going after foreign diplomats for their unpaid parking tickets.

Mr. Giuliani, who mounted brief bids for the Senate in 2000 and the White House in 2008, is now best known for his full-throated advocacy of his fellow New Yorker, Mr. Trump. He delivered a speech on his behalf at the Republican National Convention in which he condemned President Obama, saying he had failed to protect Americans from “Islamic extremist terrorism.”

Giuliani may be one of the few Republicans ever more frightening tan Trump, a President elect who’s says he’s willing to press the nuclear button.

Trump and Giuliani, two loose cannons. . .

Nuclear cannons.

World leaders react to the Trump presidency


And their takes are hardly surprising, with fear from the center and left and glee from the right.

From Deutsche Welle:

EU Parliament President Martin Schulz said the result “must be respected” as he said that Trump “managed to become the standard-bearer of the angst and fears of millions of Americans.”

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel called Trump’s victory “a warning for Germany and Europe,” urging policy makers to listen more closely to people’s concerns. “Trump is the pioneer of a new authoritarian and chauvinist international movement. He is also a warning for us,” Gabriel told German publisher Funke Mediengruppe.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain and the US would remain “strong and close partners on trade, security and defence,” while French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said France would work with the new president, but warned: “We don’t want a world where egoism triumphs.” France’s Socialist government had openly endorsed Clinton. Ayrault also said he wanted clarification on US policy issues such as the conflict in Syria, Iran’s nuclear deal and climate change before a hastily arranged meeting of EU leaders in the coming days.

Hardliners embolded

the first French presidential candidate to comment on the US election was populist, anti-immigrant politician Marine Le Pen, congratulating Trump even before the final results are known. Le Pen, hoping to ride anti-establishment sentiment to victory in April-May French presidential elections, tweeted her support to the “American people, free!”

Britain’s EU exit campaign leader Nigel Farage, meanwhile, said he would “hand over the mantle” to Donald Trump as he congratulated the Republican on his win. “This is a year of two great political revolutions,” Farage said, drawing parallels between the US vote and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union in June.

In turn, Turkey — a key player on several fronts, from its stance on Syrian refugees and its own EU entry to its role in NATO and in relation to the Syrian conflict — said it wants US policy under Trump to recognize the strategic importance of the country and its “main priority is an effective fight against terrorism,” President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said on Wednesday.

Another democratically elected hardman, the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte — a fierce critic of Barack Obama who attacked his harsh anti-drug crackdown — was also quick to congratulate Trump.

Reactions from one quarter were as expected

From the Russian government-sponsored RT:

Russia is ready and looks forward to restoring bilateral relations with the United States, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, commenting on the news of Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.

“We heard [Trump’s] campaign rhetoric while still a candidate for the US presidency, which was focused on restoring the relations between Russia and the United States,” President Putin said, speaking at the presentation ceremony of foreign ambassadors’ letters of credentials in Moscow.

>snip<

Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin has also expressed hope that Trump’s victory in the presidential election will help pave the way for a more constructive dialogue between Moscow and Washington.

“The current US-Russian relations cannot be called friendly. Hopefully, with the new US president a more constructive dialogue will be possible between our countries,” he said.

“The Russian Parliament will welcome and support any steps in this direction,” Volodin added on Wednesday.

The London daily Mirror adds this:

The Russian Parliament also burst into applause after Donald Trump’s victory was confirmed, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

The view from China

From the Independent:

Chinese state media says that Donald Trump as president is what happens if people have democracies.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency has said that the election of the controversial Republican candidate just shows how America’s democracy brings about crisis, in contrast to the stability of China’s authoritarian rule.

The campaign – and Donald Trump’s ascension to the highest office in the world – shows how “the majority of Americans are rebelling against the US’s political class and financial elites”, the paper wrote.

The official Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily says in a commentary that the presidential election reveals an “ill democracy.”

>snip<

Like Russia, China was seen as favouring Trump because he appears less willing to confront China’s newly robust foreign policy, particularly in the South China Sea.

Hillary Clinton, by contrast, was disliked in Beijing for having steered the US “pivot” to Asia aimed at strengthening US engagement with the region, particularly in the military sphere.

Abby Martin tackles John Podesta and his emails


In one of her most important efforts yet, Abby Martin digs beneath the rhetoric to show the real importance of the cache of Wikileaked emails from the account of Democratic National Committee chair John Podesta.

What she reveals is the heart of darkness beating beneath the skin of the American political system, the same system that has given us a presidential race pitting the two most unpopular candidates since polling began.

In an attempt to discredit the emails and what they reveal, the mainstream media have presented without questioning claims that the hack was executed at the behest of the Russian government without offering any verification for their assertion.

But no less than James Bamford, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst and attorney who became the most distinguished journalist ever to cover and blow the lid off illegal spying programs by the National Security Agency, Bamford questioned the government’s claims in an incisive essay for Reuters, where he writes:

The problem with attempting to draw a straight line from the Kremlin to the Clinton campaign is the number of variables that get in the way. For one, there is little doubt about Russian cyber fingerprints in various U.S. campaign activities. Moscow, like Washington, has long spied on such matters. The United States, for example, inserted malware in the recent Mexican election campaign. The question isn’t whether Russia spied on the U.S. presidential election, it’s whether it released the election emails.

Then there’s the role of Guccifer 2.0, the person or persons supplying WikiLeaks and other organizations with many of the pilfered emails. Is this a Russian agent? A free agent? A cybercriminal? A combination, or some other entity? No one knows.

There is also the problem of groupthink that led to the war in Iraq. For example, just as the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and the rest of the intelligence establishment are convinced Putin is behind the attacks, they also believed it was a slam-dunk that Saddam Hussein had a trove of weapons of mass destruction.

Consider as well the speed of the political-hacking investigation, followed by a lack of skepticism, culminating in a rush to judgment.

But what is certain, beyond question, is that John Podesta represents everything that’s wrong about American politics, where claims of democratic openness are belief by secret deals in which big banks and powerful corporations, not workers and their families, are the real beneficiaries.

And Abby Martin is on the story.

From teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Abby Martin Exposes John Podesta

Program notes:

With the Wikileaks release of thousands of emails belonging to John Podesta, very little is known in US society about Podesta himself. While he’s maintained a low profile, John Podesta is actually considered one of Washington’s biggest players, and one of the most powerful corporate lobbyists in the world.

In this episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin explores John Podesta’s political rise, his vast network of corporate connections and his think tank “Center for American Progress.” Learn why the Podestas and the Clintons are a match made in ruling class heaven.