ICYMI: Pulling troops out of Syria leads to geopolitical whack-a-mole for Trump (VIDEO)

Donald Trump pulled US troops out of north-eastern Syria, claiming he wants to put an end to America’s ‘endless wars.’ Unfortunately, it’s not that easy and he started a game of geopolitical whack-a-mole.

While bringing troops home might sound like a good idea, the US President soon found himself having to put out fires at every turn. He faced accusations of betraying one ally, threatened another, and was then attacked by friends and foes back home.

ICYMI asks whether there might be a very good reason why those wars are ‘endless.’

CYMI: Syria Pullout: Geo-pol Whack-a-Mole...

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‘We don’t need aircraft carriers, we need weapons to sink them with’ – Russian defense minister

The US may have a military budget that far exceeds that of Russia, but it doesn’t matter since the Russian military is there to defend the country, not attack other nations, the Russian defense minister said.

Russia’s military budget received a hike a few years ago for a massive rearmament program, but has been rolled back in recent years. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute estimated Russia to be the world’s sixth biggest defense spender in 2018, behind the US, China, Saudi Arabia, India, and France. Meanwhile, the Pentagon has been showered with money under the Trump administration, dwarfing other nations’ military budgets.

Also on rt.com US Navy’s most expensive ship ever can’t get ammo to deck, can’t launch new F-35 fighters...

But the man in charge of the Russian Defense Ministry says his fellow Russians have no reasons to worry, because their taxpayer rubles are well spent.

“The US spends huge amounts of money on private military contractors, on aircraft carriers. Well, does Russia really need five to ten aircraft carrier strike groups, considering that we do not intend to attack anyone?” Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu told a Russian newspaper.

We need the means we could use against the enemy’s carrier strike groups should our country come under attack. They are far less costly and more efficient.

The minister also criticized Washington for its habit of justifying its military interventions throughout the world by the interests of the people living in the nations it targets.

“In which of the nations they went ‘to bring democracy’ did democracy flourish? Was that Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria?” Shoigu said. “And one certainly can forget about sovereignty and independence after American involvement.”

Also on rt.com Trump deploys reinforcements to Persian Gulf to defend ‘American oil’ & other assets, not US allies....

He added that the US doesn’t seem to be losing its appetite for ruining other nations, be it through military intervention or other means.

“Our Western colleagues love to accuse Russia of waging ‘hybrid wars’ or whatever. Well, I say [the] West is the one conducting actual hybrid warfare. The US now is about to leave Afghanistan in half-ruins and at the same time they work hard to stir things in Venezuela – all for the ‘triumph of democracy’ of course.”

The US tried this year to topple the Venezuelan government by supporting Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim president of the Latin American country. His pretendership, however, has not been that successful. His two attempts at triggering a large-scale public uprising and ousting President Nicolas Maduro fizzled despite Washington’s promise that it would lift crippling economic sanctions against Venezuela once their man takes control.

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There are no independent countries in the world, Putin says

Europe can’t oppose the US deployment of missiles, even if it is contrary to their interests, because no country can be truly independent these days, Vladimir Putin believes.

The Russian president thinks “the modern world is the world of interdependency” and there are no truly independent countries these days.

“Do you think European countries want missiles in Europe? Nobody wants it. But they keep silent. Where is their sovereignty?” Putin asked during his visit in Sochi.

Also on rt.com INF Treaty is about European security, not American; US left it to get new missiles – Russian envoy...

The EU Parliament, he said, makes more decisions on behalf of the member countries than “the Supreme Soviet of USSR on behalf of constituent republics” back in the days.

There are no fully independent states in the world.

On Thursday leaders from Russia, Turkey and Iran gathered in the Black Sea city of Sochi to discuss ways of ending Syria’s crisis. The talks were held amid hostile talk emerging from a meeting of the US and its allies in Warsaw, where they talked about their take on the Middle East.

Also on rt.com EU states fold like cheap tents to US demands on Venezuela, Italy one of few to stay independent...

During the meeting in Sochi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani expressed doubts over Washington’s plan to remove troops stationed with Kurdish forces in northern Syria. But Putin seemed to be the most optimistic that the move would actually happen soon.

After the summit on Syria ended, Putin stayed on in Sochi to hold talks with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

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‘Most Americans have no idea’: With all eyes on Russia, China spends millions influencing US

China has unleashed a massive multi-pronged propaganda effort across the US, using a combination of money and influence to sway key policy and opinion-makers, says a new Congress-backed report.

Completed at the behest of US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the 39-page report focuses on United Front, an umbrella organization for Beijing’s soft power, which lead author says has dramatically expanded under the rule of Xi Jinping.

“United Front work serves to promote Beijing’s preferred global narrative, pressure individuals living in free and open societies to self-censor and avoid discussing issues unfavorable to the Chinese Communist Party, and harass or undermine groups critical of Beijing’s policies,” states the report.

READ MORE: China, North Korea & Iran may target US elections, Bolton says

According to the report, prominent US institutions, such as Johns Hopkins University, and think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, Brookings Institution and the Carter Center are either receiving funding directly from various arms of the Chinese government, or cooperating on projects financed by United Front.

"Beijing seeks to outsource its messaging in part because it believes foreigners are more likely to accept propaganda if it appears to come from non-Chinese sources," says the report.

The Chinese government is also nurturing a network of “grassroots” organizations, such as the 142 US-based Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSA) and over 100 Confucius Institutes. Nominally, these organizations promote cultural exchange, and access to Chinese language, connections and culture, but according to the report, in actual fact they serve as a front for intelligence recruitment and activities, and a vehicle for ruthless promotion of Chinese agendas, including in its dealing with geopolitical adversaries, such as Taiwan.

 
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) May 16, 2018. © Joshua Roberts 

"Most Americans and many members of Congress have no idea of the range of activities undertaken by this Chinese Communist Party web," Larry Wortzel, a member of the Congress commission told the Washington Free Beacon.

Wortzel said that Congress has been briefed about the findings, and called for more Chinese-backed organizations to be given the foreign agent designation, which would bring their intent out into the open.

Such complacency about China is made starker by paranoia over Russia, where even a casual connection to Moscow is sufficient for insinuations of treason. Prominent Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein, who has enjoyed close connections with the very quasi-governmental entities listed in the report, employed a Chinese spy on her staff for 20 years. The discovery of the agent has had almost no repercussions on her political career.

With China singled out as a political rival by Donald Trump, the current administration has tried to whip up a level of alarm. National Security Advisor John Bolton said that China was potentially involved in meddling in the upcoming US election. But so far, the concern has not taken hold, with the US media much impressed with the supposedly tangible villainy of Vladimir Putin over the nebulous Chinese threat.

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Russia World Cup: the West Have Failed

Moscow (PL) The tacit plan wished by the West to prevent the celebration of the Soccer World Cup in Russia was a failure as soon as the first chords of the inaugural ceremony in Luzhniki Stadium -where 32 teams of the world had an appointment- started to sound.

To make matters worse, the national team showed in the inaugural game a soccer match never seen in this country for high-level competitions, at least after the formation of the Russian Federation: five goals against Saudi Arabia.

Although the Saudis were not the best team in the tournament, there were much optimism during the organization of the World Cup, but predictions about the local team's potential were really pessimist.

One of the main slogans of the press and even some high-ranking politicians said: we already won by hosting the World Cup, but we can also win... experience.

The truth is that the first eight goals scored by the host squad, led by Stanislav Cherkesov, to ensure its exit from the qualifying round, became a historic achievement, dreamed by few in this nation.

No matter how far the Russian team can go, this will undoubtedly strength the success of this country against the struggle started by the West through at least three intentional maneuvers to spoil the competitive event.

The first was the case of the alleged poisoning of Serguei Skripal and his daughter Julia.

During more than three months of unfounded accusations, diplomatic actions and sanctions against Russia, London was unable to prove the presumed chemical attack against the former Russian military intelligence agent.

In fact, the last thing London wants to talk about now is precisely the Skripal case. Some media came to speculate that as soon as the World Cup ends, the whereabouts of the former Russian agent will be completely uncertain.

At the time and in the heat of the anti-Russian euphoria in the United Kingdom's parliament, the Foreign Minister of that country, Boris Jhonson, came to threaten the suspension of England's attendance at the World Cup.

Finally, he chose to allow English squad to participate, but the Foreign Office -like its colleagues in France, Poland, Denmark and other European nations- spent its time inventing another Russia, to which no one should travel.

Precisely, the fans from the mentioned countries were responsible for denying or rather denouncing the calumnies they heard about Russia when they were about to travel.

A second maneuver was to intensify the attacks of the western coalition led by the United States in Syria, including a greater support to the terrorist groups to create a new atmosphere of war tension in the south of the Levantine country.

The third action was an attempt at provocation to create a large-scale conflict in Donbass coal region. In fact, Kiev's authorities publicly declared that they intended to 'spoil' the sports tournament.

But the self-defense formations of Donetsk and Lugansk Republics launched several counter-offensives in late May and June that cooled off Kiev's ambitious military plans for a major offensive.

It is worth noting that Donbass is adjacent to the Russian region of Rostov-on-Don, whose capital is one of the 11 cities hosting the World Cup since June 14.

DIFFERENT OPINION

If the Western campaign's failure were measured in terms of the convening power achieved by Russia, we should refer to the fact that only Mexico brought to this country about 50,000 fans who move like a real green tide through Russian cities.

Many of the almost three million fans, not counting the tourists who simply come to enjoy the World Cup's atmosphere, were from Latin America, whose region brought teams from eight countries to compete for the round of 16.

Therefore, in the streets of Moscow, in St. Petersburg, in the southern spa of Sochi, in the beautiful Kazan, in the Republic of Tatarstan and in other regions, Spanish was heard more than any other language.

The fans from Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia and Panama became so popular among the Russians that many locals came to propose offers to acquire Mexican hats or other Latin American clothes.

We were told that the police could confiscate the mobiles, that we were coming to a concentration camp, to a country with dirty streets, with rough and rude people, but it has been the opposite. That would be several foreigners' opinion.

In fact, the West is scared by the evidence that Russia is establishing a record of organization, cleanliness, hospitality, attention of volunteers, preparation of cities to meet foreigners and safety conditions.

The uncovered defamatory campaign lead some politicians like Jhonson to change their rhetoric. What option do they have? Thousands of Englishmen who dared to travel to Russia can deny all those lies.

The head of British diplomacy published an article in The Sun, where he said that his country reinforced the work of its consulates in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, as well as organized mobile groups of diplomats for other cities.

In addition to the mentioned cities, the World Cup is also held in Kaliningrad, Samara, Saransk, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don and Nizhny Novgorod.

Apart from the economic and political dividends that the celebration of the event will give Russia, the World Cup's success will reduce the Western countries' arguments to continue with their anti-Russian policy and sanctions against this nation.

Could a country with a population so hospitable and ready to attend and share with dozens of countries that came here to enjoy the world's best soccer threaten or wish an attack on other nations?

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Trump Orders Creation Of New "Space Force", Sixth Branch Of Armed Forces

Washington:  US President Donald Trump said Monday that he would direct the Defense Department and the Pentagon to create a new "Space Force" - an independent sixth branch of the armed forces.

Trump has floated this idea before - in March, he said he initially conceived it as a joke - but has offered few details about how the Space Force would operate.

Trump said Monday that the branch would be "separate but equal" from the Air Force. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would oversee its creation.

Saying that he does not want "China and other countries leading us," Trump said space was a national security issue.

The Outer Space Treaty, which the United States signed in 1967, bars states from testing weapons and establishing military bases on the moon and other celestial bodies. It also prohibits the placement of weapons of mass destruction in orbit around Earth. But the treaty has no enforcement mechanism (indeed, the Air Force's unmanned space plane, the X-37B, has completed several clandestine missions).

Trump has floated creating a Space Force for months, but the idea goes back at least a year to a proposal by Rep. Mike D. Rogers, R-Ala., and Rep. Jim Cooper, D.-Tenn. Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, and Cooper, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, argued that it made sense to have a "Space Corps," a separate branch of service with its own four-star general serving on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Under their plan, it would have reported to the Department of the Air Force, in similar fashion to how the Marine Corps reports to the Department of the Navy.

Last fall, that proposal was scrapped amid resistance from senior Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, who said it would create unnecessary costs and bureaucracy.

"I oppose the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions," Mattis said in October in a memo to Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Some are worried that the Space Force would duplicate existing efforts. The Air Force already maintains a Space Command, for example.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, dean of the Air Force Association-founded Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, described the decision to create a Space Force as "another example of ready, fire, aim," in a Monday news briefing.

The announcement was made at a meeting of the National Space Council, at which Trump signed a new space policy directive aimed at reducing debris in Earth's orbit. The policy sets up new guidelines for satellite design and operation, as well as tracking the growing amount of clutter in space.

But, citing the number of regulations his administration has dismantled since he took office, Trump warned the space council, "Don't get too carried away."

The president also reasserted plans to land astronauts on the moon again and, eventually, Mars. But his administration has provided few specifics about the architecture of its moon program or a timeline for returning to the lunar surface.

The Washington Post's Aaron Gregg contributed to this report.

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NATO was never a defensive alliance, and its behavior since 1991 shows it

Throughout the Cold War, NATO was advertised as a defensive alliance. That was not really the case then, and certainly hasn’t been since, with NATO engaging in interventions and regime change from Bosnia to Libya.

Though the alliance’s founding document was signed in April 1949, it wasn’t until a year later that the foreign ministers of the 12 member countries sat down in London to give shape to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. On May 18, 1950, led by US Secretary of State Dean Acheson, they signed a communique establishing the permanent structures of NATO.

“This business of building for peace is a very grim business, and it has to be worked for day in and day out,” British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin said after the meeting.

How much NATO was really into “building peace” became clear in 1954, after the death of Stalin, when the Soviet Union’s new leader Nikita Khrushchev asked to join the alliance. Not only did NATO say no, the alliance invited West Germany to join. The date chosen for the occasion was symbolic: May 9, the tenth anniversary of Nazi capitulation in the Second World War.

@starsandstripes Security experts say Germany's military is virtually undeployable. For example, none of its submarines are operational and only four of its 128 Eurofighter jets are combat-ready. https://www.stripes.com/news/as-germany-prepares-for-nato-crisis-response-role-its-military-readiness-is-abysmal-1.527253 

The USSR saw this as an open provocation, and responded by establishing the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, also known as the Warsaw Pact.

After the Warsaw Pact dissolved in 1991, NATO not only remained in existence but expanded its membership and mission, usurping the role of the UN by openly intervening in Yugoslavia. The alliance’s first military action was in Bosnia (1994-95), followed by an all-out war against the remnant Yugoslavia (1999) and the subsequent occupation of the Serbian province of Kosovo.

 
© Reuters

NATO has also taken part in the US war in Afghanistan since 2001. The alliance did not officially join the 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq, though many members chose to join George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing.”

The most overt NATO military action since 1999 was the 2011 intervention in Libya. It unfolded in much the same fashion as the mission creep in Bosnia, only much faster. Within hours of the UN Security Council authorizing the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya on March 19, the US, France, UK and Canada began airstrikes.

NATO officially took over the war on March 31, flying 26,500 sorties during Operation Unified Protector until the death of Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi in October.

Drive to the East

Though US Secretary of State James Baker assured the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand “not one inch eastward” if Germany reunified, the alliance did just that. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were officially admitted into NATO even as alliance warplanes were bombing Yugoslavia in April 1999.

Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia joined in 2002. The last former Warsaw Pact country, Albania, joined in 2009. The alliance has also expanded to include the former Yugoslav republics of Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro, as well as the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, bringing NATO to Russia’s doorstep.

As if that wasn’t enough, NATO pushed further, into Georgia and Ukraine. Believing NATO had his back, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili attacked Russian peacekeepers in the disputed region of South Ossetia in 2008. His NATO-trained military was disarmed in six days. NATO has continued to flirt with Georgia since, though the current government in Tbilisi doesn’t appear eager for another war with Russia.

@NATO_MARCO Four NATO ships conducting a port call in Poti, Georgia  https://civil.ge/archives/241621

The phantom menace

The most recent escalation of tensions with Russia began in 2014, after the US-backed regime that took over Ukraine in a February 2014 coup. Alliance troops have since set up bases in the far west of the country, and have been providing weapons, supplies and training to Kiev’s military and neo-Nazi militias to “counter Russian aggression.”

Under the guise of “deterring Russia,” NATO has also established permanent military bases in the Baltic States, Romania and Poland, and conducted a series of massive military drills right on the Russian border. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has condemned the troop buildup, saying in February that Washington is using an “imaginary Russian threat” to ensure its dominance in Europe.

The alliance’s first secretary general (1952-57), Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay, reportedly once said NATO’s purpose was to “keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.”

NATO’s behavior since the 1990s shows not only that it has become an aggressive, expansionist body, but one serving the foreign policy priorities of the US first and foremost. With Europe now contemplating breaking from Washington over Iran, its leaders would do well to keep Ismay’s words in mind.

@Ruptly Tusk on Trump: 'friends like that, who needs enemies?'

 
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Syria: U.S. increases support for terrorists

The latest chemical attack against civilians has once again served as a new pretext for U.S. to justify a greater intervention against the Arab country, without resigning itself to the continued defeats of the terrorist groups it has armed, trained and organized, and whose greatest percent is made up by contractors, as many elegantly call these mercenaries, and Islamic fundamentalist individuals who give their lives ignoring the manipulation they have been subjected to by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The entire anti-Syrian plot, and eventually anti-Russian, is seasoned with a funding that increases, despite the defeat and withdrawal of many of the aggressors, and having received extensive supplying of US, British and Israeli weapons, including chemical ones, which have been generously paid by the satraps of the Persian Gulf, and Arab League members, which are Arab by their name, rather than by their spirit, as has shown their hypocritical and empty support to the Palestinian people so far.

The United States does not resign itself to the defeat of its protégées at the hands of the Syrian army and the solidarity intervention of the Russian air force, which only participates in actions in rural areas, not in the cities, geared at avoiding what usually happens to the Empire’s army, “collateral damage”.

In this context, the CIA, of a long record of support to terrorists and mercenaries, used once again, as we have stated, the pretext of the chemical attacks, carried out by its hosts, with the support of the US mainstream press, after which the missiles launched by US troops targeted a Syrian airbase in the province of Homs, amid the rhetoric of the Trump Administration telling that preps are underway to intensify their military operations in Syria.

Like in previous episodes of chemical attack charges, the public is being overwhelmed with unverified recordings of agonizing victims, as official reports and corporate press, before any probe and groundless; hold the government of Bashar al Assad and its Iranian and Russian allies responsible of a war crime.

In a matter of minutes, The New York Times and The Washington Post posted articles pinning the blame on the Syrian and Russian governments for the alleged attack. For its part, British newspaper The Guardian declared in an editorial that, “the renewed use of chemical weapons by Syria against its own people over the weekend is shameless and barbaric”.

All this farce takes place shortly after a very painful event for the Empire: because after having used the region of eastern Ghouta for years to cut off supplies to Damascus and to attack unfriendly embassies, such as Russia’s, the Syrian army forced the opposition groups, mainly armed by Israel, to withdraw to other remote spots, but they previously evacuated the hundreds of thousands of locals held hostage by the aggressors.

It’s worth adding that Trump is already devising plans to attack the Syrian army with missiles there, as part of the chemical pretext, unlike what his predecessor, Barack Obama, did in a similar event, also plotted by the CIA, since he did not want to bombard Ghouta in 2013, which earned him furious criticisms until the day he left the White House.

The investigations that have been conducted since then prove that the attack was actually perpetrated by the “rebels” at the service of the U.S., together with the Turkish government that openly supported the aggression against Damascus at that time.

In April 2017, an alleged gas attack was used to justify a significant bombardment with cruise missiles against a Syrian airfield. Similarly, it turned out to be an airstrike targeting facilities used by the “opponents” to collect poisonous gases.

But with Trump, I stress, the hawks that control the cabinet have no problems, and with the head of the National Security  Agency, John Bolton, they should be considering to carry out new actions at the expense of the blood of the Syrian people.

For the moment, as it is actually happening in Iraq, the Empire does not have its hands free for other terrorist actions, such as the immolation of fundamentalist individuals deceived by their own CIA-hired chiefs, not aimed at primarily occupying cities or territories, but at sowing chaos, destruction and uncertainty among citizens.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

 

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