US versus Russia in Syria. “A Fake ‘Revolution’ Using Islamic Gangs”

At the request of Syria’s government in September 2015, Russia intervened in the country to combat ISIS and other US/NATO/Israeli-backed jihadists.

Moscow’s freedom-fighting operations turned the tide of battle, enabling Syrian forces to liberate most parts of the country.

Most of Idlib province remains occupied by many thousands of jihadists — heavily armed and trained by the Pentagon and CIA.

Along with illegally occupied northern and southern parts of the country by US forces, Idlib remains to be liberated so Syrians again may be free from the scourge of US aggression — launched by Obama/Biden, continued by Trump.

There’s nothing “civil” about a near-decade of US-launched war in Syria — part of its longstanding aim to redraw the Middle East map to control the region unchallenged.

In his important truth-telling book titled “The Dirty War on Syria,” Tim Anderson explained what US involvement since March 2011 is all about.

Separately he said the following:

“Washington and its allies tr(ied) another ‘regime change’ in Syria.”

“A fake ‘revolution’ uses Islamic gangs, during an ‘Arab Spring.’ The Western media constantly lie about this covert, dirty war.”

US, NATO, Israeli, Turkish, Saudi-backed jihadists “carry out a series of massacres, falsely blaming them on the Syrian Army and President Assad.”

“Most of Syria’s opposition backs the state and army against terrorism. Washington calls a puppet exile group ‘the Syrian opposition.’ ”

So-called “moderate rebels” are US-recruited jihadists.

What’s been ongoing in Syria for a near-decade is a failed US imperial effort to transform the country into a vassal state — replacing legitimate President Assad with puppet leadership subservient to US and Israeli interests.

It’s also about wanting Iran isolated regionally. Longstanding US policy calls for gaining control over all independent states not bending to its will — by whatever it takes to achieve its aims, endless wars by hot and other means its favorite strategies.

On Tuesday, Sergey Lavrov explained what Moscow faces on the world stage, saying the following:

“Washington and a number of EU capitals have redoubled their efforts to contain Russia’s development.”

“They are trying to punish us for an independent foreign policy, for consistently upholding our national interests.”

“To justify their actions, the introduction of ever new anti-Russia sanctions, they throw in various accusations and insinuations.”

“At the same time, no one has shown any facts or evidence.”

Anti-Russia Western “rhetoric is always being kept at the ‘highly likely’ innuendo level.”

“Those claims are based on fabricated accusations and run contrary to even elementary logic.”

“All the proposals we make to set up a professional dialogue on any concerns remain without any reaction.”

“So we have no other choice but to conclude we cannot count on” respect from Washington and EU governments.”

“(T)he West has made it a rule to talk with Russia based on the presumption of its guilt.”

Western nations forgot “what diplomacy is and have sunk to the level of vulgar rudeness. Our retaliatory steps in the US and EU are well known.”

Among other issues, hardliners in the US, UK, and other Western nations are smarting over defeat of their imperial project in Syria by Russia’s involvement.

Yet they continue endless war and efforts to starve and otherwise immiserate 17 million Syrians into submission — part of endless US war on the country.

On Monday, Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for the Middle East and African countries/Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with Syrian ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad, saying the following:

Views (were exchanged) on the current situation in and around Syria,” adding:

“The Russian side reiterated its unfailing solidarity with the Syrian people, support to its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, as well as its readiness to continue efficient cooperation in restoring the socio-economic infrastructure.”

In mid-October, Russian airstrikes in southwestern Idlib reportedly killed or wounded “over 200…Turkish-backed” jihadists in response to their “shelling and rocket fire,” according to AMN News.

Southfront reported that these elements are “being trained on anti-tank weapons and mountain warfare by Turkish officers and private contractors…”

“(P)hotos released by RusVesan.RU confirm that the strikes targeted military installations located far from any urban area.”

Claims of numerous civilian casualties were fabricated like most always in response to Syrian and Russian military strikes on US/Western/Israeli or Turkish-backed jihadists — serving as their proxies against Syrian sovereign independence.

On Tuesday, RT reported that leaked documents revealed a “UK-(run) secret training and PR (operation) for” jihadists in Syria, “costing millions” of dollars, adding:

“(T)he hacktivist collective Anonymous…expose(d) a variety of covert actions undertaken by the UK government against the Syrian state over many years.”

Britain partners with all US wars of aggression against invented enemies.

Efforts to replace Syria’s Bashar al-Assad with pro-Western puppet rule failed.

Yet endless war continues despite Trump’s earlier vow to exit US troops from the country.

More recently he said that US troops are in Syria “only for oil…to “secure the oil” — code language for stealing it.

A near-decade of US proxy war with Pentagon air support is all about gaining control over the country and replacing the government of an Israeli rival state.

On Tuesday, AMN News reported that “Turkish-backed” jihadists “resumed…large attack(s)” in northern Idlib province — in “retaliation” for Russian airstrikes against their fighters that took a heavy toll.

They “launched dozens of rockets and artillery shells towards the government areas…mostly hit(ting) open fields…”

“At the same time, Russian and Syrian military reconnaissance planes are conducting flights over the militant positions to identify where the shelling and rocket fire is coming from” to strike back.

The struggle for Syria’s soul continues to keep the country and its people free from US imperial control.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from Sputnik International

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Will US Continue to Further Implement RAND Corporation’s Strategy in Relation to Russia?

The recent conflicts in the Russian zone of influence have attracted attention around the world. But little has been said about the possibility that such conflicts are part of a single common plan, designed to geopolitically destabilize Russia. This possibility is what we can deduce when we recall some recent writings of the renowned think tank RAND Corporation, which, in 2019, openly defended the adoption of a series of measures to weaken Moscow, exploiting its vulnerabilities. Among such measures in the economic sphere the document proposed the manipulation of oil and gas prices that affect the Russian defense budget, as well as the imposition of increasingly rigid sanctions and in the political sphere – the spread of regional conflicts in its “periphery” which could perfectly include Nagorno-Karabakh, Kyrgyzstan and others.

Several of the points highlighted in the RAND’s document entitled “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia”, in its more than 350 pages, have been implemented so far, especially in the “immediate periphery”. The recent Belarusian political crisis itself, for example, highlights the role of external agents interested in the destabilization of this historic Russian ally – something that is openly defended in such a document which proposes a colorful revolution in Belarus. In addition, the incitement of conflicts in the Caucasus and Central Asia, the deterioration of the Syrian and Ukrainian situations, among others, are also strategic points raised by the dossier.

RAND’s goal is to define the areas where the US can compete most effectively, providing reports and proposals based on concrete data. Such reports must accurately define the vulnerabilities in the economic and military spheres of each nation against which the United States is competing, helping Washington to create its strategies. Several of the policies adopted by the US are the result of advices from RAND’s analysts. In this sense, RAND’s analysis about Russia and its draft strategy for a competition between the US and Russia today proposes that the best way to weaken Moscow is through a siege of conflicts in its territorial proximities. Obviously, it is not proposed to attack Russia, but to create wars along its entire border, destabilizing international security in the region – a scenario from which many other possibilities arise.

Despite all the complex political and military strategy, in the RAND document it is highlighted that the biggest Russian weakness in a dispute with the US is the economic issue. The think tank’s proposal focuses on heavy investment in energy production, mainly renewable energy, as well as encouraging domestic production of such energy sources in countries allied to the US, with the aim of reducing Russian exports – which would strongly affect Russian defense budgets. The central role of the US in the boycott against the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a clear example of how such strategies are being put into practice.

Another type of measures that RAND recommends is in the ideological and informational spheres. The Corporation advises a vigorous pro-Western information campaign aimed at highlighting aspects allegedly present in the Russian regime, such as endemic corruption. In any case, RAND considers this disinformation strategy to be “risky”, as it would encourage Moscow to highlight the weaknesses of Western democracies, leading to a new ideological war through disinformation campaigns.

Interestingly, Russia is constantly accused of interfering in the American electoral process through campaigns of disinformation and cyber war since the rise of Donald Trump four years ago. Now, with the new elections, the tendency is for such accusations to grow exponentially, showing a strategy of mass disinformation meticulously planned by strategists with clear goals.

In fact, there is no doubt about the power of influence of RAND Corporation’s analysis in the construction of US foreign policy strategies. The siege that is being proposed in the document gradually materializes, with strategies of economic suffocation, disinformation and inciting regional conflicts, but it remains to be seen what the consequences for the US domestic scenario will be. The RAND report had no way of predicting the emergence of a global tragedy such as the new coronavirus pandemic. In the context of more than 220,000 deaths due to the virus in the US, popular rebellions and inflamed racial tensions across the country and in the midst of a decisive electoral process, will the Washington be able to maintain such a siege strategy? Is it sustainable for the US to stir up conflict in the vicinity of Russia when its internal bases are crumbling?

Perhaps the strategies designed by RAND last year are absolutely useless today. The pandemic structurally changed the dynamics of world geopolitics and currently the idea of an American siege against Russia is not conceivable. The tendency is that all conflicts will diminish as no major military power will intervene. The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh shows how the tendency is for conflicts to gradually stabilize. On the contrary, within the US, everything just tends to get worse. Perhaps Washington is taking a step beyond its reach. Or perhaps the interests of strategists at RAND Corporation and the American Deep State do not exactly imply what is best for the US.

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Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

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70+ Climate Journalists Pen Open Letter Condemning Barrett for Enabling the ‘Ecological Crisis of Our Times’

“At the moment when the facts of the case were presented to her, this arbiter of justice freely chose to side with mistruths. Judge Coney Barrett’s responses are factually inaccurate, scientifically unsound, and dangerous.”

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More than 70 science journalists have signed an open letter warning that Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett‘s close ties to the fossil fuel industry and refusal to publicly acknowledge the established science behind human-caused climate change make her an enabler of “the ecological crisis of our times.”

First published in Rolling Stone on Sunday, the letter slams Barrett’s responses to basic climate questions during her confirmation hearings as “factually inaccurate, scientifically unsound, and dangerous.” As Common Dreams reported, the right-wing judge insisted she has “no firm views” on the climate crisis and, in later written responses, called the science of climate change “controversial.”

“It is frightening that a Supreme Court nominee—a position that is in essence one of the highest fact-checkers in the land—has bought into the same propaganda we have worked so hard to dispel,” reads the letter, which was signed by author and environmentalist Naomi Klein, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, and other prominent climate writers.

“How can Judge Coney Barrett rule on pending issues of climate change liability, regulation, finance, mitigation, equity, justice, and accountability if she fails to accept even the underlying premise of global warming? The answer is that she cannot,” continues the letter, which came hours before the Republican-controlled Senate cleared a procedural hurdle and paved the way for a final vote on Barrett’s confirmation Monday.

Below is the full letter and list of signatories:

We are science and climate journalists. We are researchers and weavers of information, creating a fabric that explains the work of scientists who themselves are working to describe our natural world and universe. We are published in the nation’s leading outlets, both large and small, including Scientific American, Nature, National Geographic, MIT Technology Review, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and many more. Over decades of reporting on the threats and now deadly and devastating harms of worsening climate change, we have succeeded in at least one respect. The vast majority of the world’s people, including those in the United States, not only acknowledge the scientific certainty of climate change, but also want action taken to address it.

We have succeeded because the science is clear, despite there being a massive well-orchestrated effort of propaganda, lies, and denial by the world’s largest fossil fuel corporations, including ExxonMobil and Koch Industries and fossil-fuel-backed institutes and think tanks. It is frightening that a Supreme Court nominee—a position that is in essence one of the highest fact-checkers in the land—has bought into the same propaganda we have worked so hard to dispel.

And it is facts—a word under repeated assault by the Trump administration, which nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett—that are at issue here. “I’m certainly not a scientist…I’ve read things about climate change. I would not say I have firm views on it,” Judge Coney Barrett told Sen. John Kennedy during the Senate confirmation hearings on October 13th.

The next day, Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked Judge Coney Barrett if she believed “human beings cause global warming.” She replied: “I don’t think I am competent to opine on what causes global warming or not. I don’t think that my views on global warming or climate change are relevant to the job I would do as a judge.”

When asked that same day by Sen. Kamala Harris if she accepts that “COVID-19 is infectious,” Coney Barrett said yes. When asked if “smoking causes cancer,” Coney Barrett said yes. But when asked if “climate change is happening, and is threatening the air we breathe and the water we drink,” Judge Coney Barrett said that while the previous topics are “completely uncontroversial,” climate change is instead, “a very contentious matter of public debate.” She continued: “I will not express a view on a matter of public policy, especially one that is politically controversial because that’s inconsistent with the judicial role, as I have explained.”

Judge Coney Barrett repeatedly refused to acknowledge the scientific certainty of climate change. This is an untenable position, particularly when the world’s leading climate scholars warned in 2018 that we have just 12 years to act to bring down global average temperature rise and avert the most dire predictions of the climate crisis.

At the moment when the facts of the case were presented to her, this arbiter of justice freely chose to side with mistruths. Judge Coney Barrett’s responses are factually inaccurate, scientifically unsound, and dangerous.

How can Judge Coney Barrett rule on pending issues of climate change liability, regulation, finance, mitigation, equity, justice, and accountability if she fails to accept even the underlying premise of global warming? The answer is that she cannot.

Judge Coney Barrett’s ties to the fossil fuel industry have already proved problematic, forcing recusal from cases involving Shell Oil entities related to her father’s work as a long-time attorney for the company. She may also need to recuse herself from future cases due to her father’s former position as chairman of the Subcommittee on Exploration and Production Law of the American Petroleum Institute—the nation’s leading fossil fuel lobby.

Climate change is already an increasingly dominant aspect of American life, and an issue of growing import in American law. On the Supreme Court docket is BP P.L.C v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore—a case that involves Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and other major oil companies, and could impact about a dozen U.S. states and localities suing Big Oil over its contribution to climate change.

Judge Coney Barrett says, “I’m certainly not a scientist,” but she does not need to be a scientist, rather she needs to have faith in science. Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, is an ardent supporter of action on climate change, releasing in 2015 the “Encyclical on Climate Change & Inequality: On Care for Our Common Home.” The Pope embraces hard science in order to keep close to his faith.

Judge Coney Barrett has displayed a profound inability to understand the ecological crisis of our times, and in so doing she enables it.

Signed,

Bill McKibben, journalist and author, the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in environmental studies at Middlebury College

Rebecca Solnit, author and journalist

Sonia Shah, science journalist and author

Jonathan Weiner, Pulitzer Prize winning author, science journalist, and professor at Columbia Journalism School

Jeff Goodell, climate journalist and author of The Water Will Come

Naomi Klein, journalist and author

Michelle Nijhuis, science journalist and author

Amy Westervelt, climate journalist

Rachel Ramirez, environmental justice reporter

Iris Crawford, climate justice journalist

Anoa Changa, movement and environmental justice journalist

Tiên Nguyễn, multimedia science journalist

Eric Holthaus, meteorologist, climate journalist at The Phoenix

Jenni Monet (Laguna Pueblo), climate affairs journalist and founder of Indigenously

Nina Lakhani, environmental justice reporter

Samir S. Patel, science journalist and editor

Clinton Parks, freelance science writer

Meehan Crist, writer in residence in biological sciences, Columbia University

Elizabeth Rush, science writer, author of Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore

Anne McClintock, climate journalist, photographer and author, professor of environmental humanities and writing at Princeton University

Ruth Hopkins (Oceti Sakowin, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate), tribal attorney, Indigenous journalist

Wade Roush, science and technology journalist and author

Kim Stanley Robinson, New York Times bestselling author of climate science fiction, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards

Jason Mark, editor in chief, Sierra

Kate Aronoff, climate journalist

Richard Louv, journalist and author

Heather Smith, science journalist

Judith Lewis Mernit, California climate editor, Capital & Main

Madeline Ostrander, climate journalist

Julie Dermansky, multimedia environmental and social justice journalist

Kenneth Brower, environmental journalist and author

Alexander Zaitchik, science and political journalist and author

Hillary M. Rosner, science journalist and scholar in residence, University of Colorado

Wudan Yan, science journalist

Debra Atlas, environmental journalist and author

Rucha Chitnis, climate, environmental justice and human rights documentarian

Drew Costley, environmental justice reporter

Jonathan Thompson, environmental author and journalist

Carol Clouse, environmental journalist

Brian Kahn, climate journalist

Geoff Dembicki, climate journalist and author

Peter Fairley, energy and environment journalist

Nicholas Cunningham, energy reporter

Nina Berman, documentary photographer focusing on issues of climate and the environment, professor of journalism at Columbia University

Michele C. Hollow, freelance journalist

Ben Depp, documentary photographer, focusing on issues of climate and the environment

Virginia Hanusik, climate photographer

Philip Yam, science journalist and author

Maura R. O’Connor, science journalist and author

Chad J. Reich, audio and visual journalist covering energy and environment in rural communities

Steve Ross, environmental writer/editor, former Columbia environmental reporting professor

Starre Vartan, science journalist

Michael Snyder, climate photographer

Brandon Keim, science and nature journalist

Tom Athanasiou, climate equity writer and researcher

Hope Marcus, climate writer

Jocelyn C. Zuckerman, freelance journalist

Dana Drugmand, climate journalist

Tom Molanphy, climate journalist

Roxanne Szal, associate digital editor, Ms.Magazine

Dashka Slater, author and climate reporter

Jenn Emerling, documentary photographer, focusing on issues of climate and culture in the American West

Christine Heinrichs, science writer and author

Clayton Aldern, climate and environmental journalist

Karen Savage, climate journalist

Charlotte Dennett, author, investigative journalist, attorney

Carly Berlin, environmental reporter

Ben Ehrenreich, author and journalist

Ibby Caputo, science journalist

Lawrence Weschler, former New Yorker staff writer, environmental author, most recently with David Opdyke, of This Land: An Epic Postcard Mural on the Future of a Country in Ecological Peril.

Justin Nobel, science journalist

Antonia Juhasz, climate and energy journalist and author

From Common Dreams: Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

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The US Proposed a Partial Withdrawal and Ease in Sanctions, Damascus Rejected the Offer

Damascus confirmed the visit of President Donald Trump’s Special envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens and Senior Director for Counterterrorism Kash Patel to Syria and their meeting with the Syrian Director of the National Security Ali Mamluk (sanctioned by the European Union and the US administration). It was the last of three visits the US took to Damascus where the first one was in 2017 when the United Arab Emirates arranged for a visit of a political and a military US delegation whose plane landed at Damascus airport and met with Mamluk.

The title of the US visit concerned the release of US prisoners arrested in Damascus. More than one of these captured have double Syrian-American nationalities and others who visited the country without going through the official channel but were ‘sold’ by rebels.

Sources in Damascus said that “the leadership has no intention to boost President Trump’s election and no American captured is expected to be released this year as long as Trump is in power”.

“Brigadier general Ali Mamluk asked from the US officials who visited his office in the Syrian capital if they have a plan of the US withdrawal from the Syrian occupied territory starting with the oil and gas-rich area in north-east Syria. If the Syrian Army is allowed to cross the river to regain control of the sources of energy, then Syria is ready to look into the matter seriously not before”, said the source.

Mamluk rejected an offer by the US senior diplomatic delegation to ease sanctions on Syria imposed by the EU and the US in exchange for an immediate release of at least one hostage. The US delegation members were pressing for the time of release. Still, they had no authority to discuss the withdrawal of all US forces from the occupied Syrian territory in north-east Syria.“

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WHO Crusader to Counter “Conspiracy Dissident Groups” and Sway Covid “Vaccine Acceptance”

An outspoken proponent of government-led tactics to influence public opinion on policy and to undermine the credibility of “conspiracy theorists” will lead the World Health Organization’s (WHO) efforts to encourage public acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine, Children’s Health Defense has learned.

Last week, WHO’s general director, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, tweeted that he was glad to speak with the organization’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health to “discuss vaccine acceptance and uptake in the context of COVID-19.”

In his next tweet Ghebreyesus announced that Cass Sunstein, founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School, will chair the advisory group, which was created in July.

Sunstein was former President Barack Obama’s head of Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs where he was responsible for overseeing policies relating to information quality.

In 2008, Sunstein wrote a paper proposing that governments employ teams of covert agents to “cognitively infiltrate” online dissident groups and websites which advocate “false conspiracy theories” about the government. In the paper, Sunstein and his co-authors wrote:

“Our principal claim here involves the potential value of cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, designed to introduce informational diversity into such groups and to expose indefensible conspiracy theories as such.”

The government-led operations described in Sunstein’s paper would work to increase faith in government policy and policymakers and undermine the credibility of “conspiracists” who question their motives. They would also maintain a vigorous “counter misinformation establishment” to counter “conspiracy” groups opposed to government policies that aim to protect the common good.

Some of this would be accomplished by sending undercover agents, or government-paid third parties, into “online social networks or even real space groups.”

Sunstein also advocated in 2008 that the government pay “independent experts” to publicly advocate on the government’s behalf, whether on television or social media. He says this is effective because people don’t trust the government as much as they trust people they believe are “independent.”

WHO has already contracted the public relations firm, Hill + Knowlton. The PR giant, best known for its role in manufacturing false testimonies in support of the Gulf War, was hired by WHO  to “ensure the science and public health credibility of the WHO in order to ensure WHO’s advice and guidance is followed.”

WHO paid Hill + Knowlton $135,000 to identify micro-influencers, macro-influencers and “hidden heroes” who could covertly promote WHO’s advice and messaging on social media, and also protect and promote the organization’s image as a COVID-19 authority.

There’s no evidence that WHO has yet implemented any “cognitive infiltration” policies similar to what Sunstein advocated in 2008. If the organization were to adopt such a strategy, and use it to convince hesitant populations to take a COVID vaccine, it would raise questions of legality.

As put forward in a report by the Congressional Research Service, illegal “publicity or propaganda” is defined by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to mean either (1) self-aggrandizement by public officials; (2) purely partisan activity; or (3) “covert propaganda.” By covert propaganda, GAO means information which originates from the government but is unattributed and made to appear as though it came from a third party.

Because WHO is a multinational organization and not a U.S. Government agency, covert “cognitive infiltration” policies could fall into a gray area, or even be considered legal.

Dr. Margaret Chan, former general-director of WHO, once stated that the organization’s policies are “driven by what [she called] donor interests.”

According to a 2012 article in Foreign Affairs, “few policy initiatives or normative standards set by the WHO are announced before they have been casually, unofficially vetted by Gates Foundation staff.” Or, as other sources told Politico in 2017, “Gates’ priorities have become the WHO’s.”

WHO’s current general director, Ghebreyesus, was previously on the board of two organizations that Gates founded, provided seed money for and continues to fund to this day: GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, a public–private global health partnership focused on increased access to vaccines in poor countries, and the Global Fund, which says it aims to accelerate the “development, production and equitable global access to safe, quality, effective, and affordable COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.”

If, as Politico put it, “Gates priorities have become the WHO’s,” and if WHO’s policies are driven by “donor interests,” this raises questions as to what online groups, people and websites would be targeted by such covert programs.

The idea of government agents carrying out psychological operations on social media is not far fetched. Earlier this year the head of editorial for Twitter’s Middle East and Africa office was outed as an active officer in the British Army’s psychological warfare unit, known as the 77th brigade, which specializes in online behavioral change operations.

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Jeremy Loffredo is a reporter for Children’s Health Defense.

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Trump Regime Maximum Pressure on Iran a Crime Against Humanity

On Sunday, the UN arms embargo on Iran its ruling authorities voluntarily accepted ended.

Iran is now once again free to buy and sell conventional arms — what many other countries do unrestrained.

Key to understand is that the Islamic Republic wants weapons for defense, not offense.

Its ruling authorities are at war with no one. They threaten no one.

They prioritize world peace, stability, and cooperative relations with other countries.

Their agenda is polar opposite how the US, NATO, and Israel operate — belligerents threatening everyone everywhere.

On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif tweeted the following:

“A momentous day for the international community, which— in defiance of malign US efforts—has protected UNSC Res. 2231 and JCPOA.”

“Today’s normalization of Iran’s defense cooperation with the world is a win for the cause of multilateralism and peace and security in our region.”

Iran’s Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf described the embargo’s end as follows:

“This is undoubtedly a significant failure for…weak-minded (Trump regime hardliners) and (their) powerless and isolated president, who, despite the illegal attempt to activate the snapback mechanism, was ridiculed by the international community…”

“To turn this US defeat into a strategic achievement for the Iranian nation, important steps must be taken in a proportionate and deterrent reaction to further US pressure, as well as the sale and purchase of weapons.”

Iran’s envoy to the Vienna-based international organizations Kazem Gharibabadi said the following:

Henceforth, “governments cannot refer to bans or binding international restrictions in that regard when it comes to arms deals or even the existence of weapons of Iranian origin in other countries,” adding:

The Trump regime tried to extend the arms embargo on Iran indefinitely “but failed and suffered a major defeat.”

Tehran “will closely monitor US behavior and measures… and will take the necessary action in accordance with the existing mechanisms if the lifting of the arms ban faces any obstacles in practice.”

Trump regime “maximum pressure” on Iran has been a colossal failure — succeeding only in harming its people, along with contributing to Washington’s status as an international outlaw.

Its actions against Iran and its population are crimes against humanity under international law.

According to the Nuremberg Tribunal, the Geneva Conventions, and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, they include all forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.

The US Constitution prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.”

US “maximum pressure” is state terrorism by another name.

Under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, terrorism constitutes a “threat to international peace and security.”

Under the Rome Statute, crimes against humanity include actions resulting in “severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law.”

They also include “inhumane acts…intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.”

US sanctions prioritize infliction of maximum pain and suffering to force nations and populations to subordinate their sovereign rights to US interests.

Despite nearly always failing and their illegality when imposed, they’re Washington’s favored weapon of war by other means on targeted nations — along with color revolution attempts, old-fashioned coups, and targeted assassinations.

On Sunday in response to the arms embargo on Iran’s end, Pompeo reinvented reality, saying the following:

“On September 19, virtually all UN sanctions on Iran returned, including re-imposition of the UN arms embargo (sic).”

Fact: The US unilaterally and illegally abandoned the landmark JCPOA in May 2018.

No longer part of the unanimously affirmed agreement by Security Council members — including the US — Washington has no say regarding so-called snapback sanctions and the arms embargo on Iran.

Whatever actions the Trump regime takes regarding these issues — or anything else relating to the JCPOA — are null and void under international law.

On this issue, the US is isolated internationally. Even close EU allies — including E3 JCPOA signatories Britain, France and Germany — oppose the Trump regime’s abandonment of the landmark agreement.

They oppose reimposition of snapback sanctions and extending the now expired arms embargo on Iran.

Pompeo falsely accused Iran of violating Security Council resolutions pertaining to procurement of arms and related items.

He threatened the world community of nations, saying the following:

The Trump regime “is prepared to use its domestic authorities to sanction any individual or entity that materially contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran, as well as those who provide technical training, financial support and services, and other assistance related to these arms.”

He falsely accused Iran of “aggravat(ing) tensions in the region, put(ting) more dangerous weapons into the hands of terrorist groups and proxies, and risk(ing) increasing threats to” the Middle East.

All of the above apply to the US, NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners — clearly not to nonbelligerent Iran.

Pompeo also defied reality by claiming the US “desires peace with Iran…”

Both right wings of its war party target all nations not subservient to US interests for regime change — by whatever it takes to achieve their objectives, including forever wars by hot and other means.

For over 40 years, Iran withstood hostile US actions that violate the letter and spirit of international law.

Everything Washington threw at Iran failed, nor is it likely to succeed ahead.

The same goes for US sanctions war on China, Russia, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Syria, and other countries.

On Sunday, Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Amir Khatami said the following:

“Since last year, many countries have contacted us, and we, in turn, have also held a series of negotiations with a number of countries” on the purchase and sale of conventional arms.

“Of course, we will sell much more than we buy.”

Russia and China have cooperative relations with Iran.

They oppose US war on the country by other means, including imposition of illegal sanctions.

They’ll likely be willing suppliers of conventional weapons to Iran that its leadership seeks solely to defend the nation against possible aggression by hostile foreign countries.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from Silent Crow News

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Top 50 U.S. Think Tanks Receive over $1Billion from US Government and Defense Contractors

The top 50 think tanks in America, as ranked by the University of Pennsylvania’s Go To Think Tank Index, received over $1 billion from U.S. government and defense contractors. The top recipients of this funding were the RAND Corporation, the Center for a New American Security, and the New America Foundation, according to analysis by the Center for International Policy.

Donations to these think tanks came from 68 different U.S. government and defense contractor sources, under at least 600 separate donations. The top five defense contractor donors to U.S. think tanks were Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martina and Air Bus.

The Top 10 Think Tanks by Amount Received from U.S. Government and Defense Contractors 

Top think tank funders from within the U.S. government include the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Air Force, the Army, the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department. The defense contractors that forked over the most to think tanks were Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Airbus.

The RAND Corporation alone received over $1 billion between 2014-2019, accounting for approximately 95 percent of its funding that the report tracked. Nearly all the money came from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ($110 million,) the U.S. Army (over $245 million,) and the U.S. Air Force (over ($281 million.)

CNAS, the second highest recipient, received $9 million from U.S. government and defense contractors, including Northrop Grumman, Boeing and the Department of Defense.

The third highest receiver of U.S. government and defense contractor funding, the Atlantic Council, received nearly $8.7 million from defense contractors like Saab, Airbus, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and United Technologies.

The amounts estimated are conservative, due to the fact that most think tanks do not disclose funders or the amount of funding received, or that the amounts are listed in wide ranged (such as $25,000 to $100,000.) Therefore the amounts listed in the report are a floor, not a ceiling, for the amount of money that the top 50 think tanks received from U.S. government and defense contractors. The report also relies on investigative reporting, as well as publicly available information from the think tanks, and their funders.

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The U.S. of Arms: The Art of the Weapons Deal in the Age of Trump

The United States has the dubious distinction of being the world’s leading arms dealer. It dominates the global trade in a historic fashion and nowhere is that domination more complete than in the endlessly war-torn Middle East. There, believe it or not, the U.S. controls nearly half the arms market. From Yemen to Libya to Egypt, sales by this country and its allies are playing a significant role in fueling some of the world’s most devastating conflicts. But Donald Trump, even before he was felled by Covid-19 and sent to Walter Reed Medical Center, could not have cared less, as long as he thought such trafficking in the tools of death and destruction would help his political prospects.

Look, for example, at the recent “normalization” of relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel he helped to broker, which has set the stage for yet another surge in American arms exports. To hear Trump and his supporters tell it, he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for the deal, dubbed “the Abraham Accords.” In fact, using it, he was eager to brand himself as “Donald Trump, peacemaker” in advance of the November election. This, believe me, was absurd on the face of it. Until the pandemic swept everything in the White House away, it was just another day in Trump World and another example of the president’s penchant for exploiting foreign and military policy for his own domestic political gain.

If the narcissist-in-chief had been honest for a change, he would have dubbed those Abraham Accords the “Arms Sales Accords.” The UAE was, in part, induced to participate in hopes of receiving Lockheed Martin’s F-35 combat aircraft and advanced armed drones as a reward. For his part, after some grumbling, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to one-up the UAE and seek a new $8 billion arms package from the Trump administration, including an additional squadron of Lockheed Martin’s F-35s (beyond those already on order), a fleet of Boeing attack helicopters, and so much more. Were that deal to go through, it would undoubtedly involve an increase in Israel’s more than ample military aid commitment from the United States, already slated to total $3.8 billion annually for the next decade.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

This wasn’t the first time President Trump tried to capitalize on arms sales to the Middle East to consolidate his political position at home and his posture as this country’s dealmaker par excellence. Such gestures began in May 2017, during his very first official overseas trip to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis greeted him then with ego-boosting fanfare, putting banners featuring his face along roadways leading into their capital, Riyadh; projecting a giant image of that same face on the hotel where he was staying; and presenting him with a medal in a surreal ceremony at one of the kingdom’s many palaces. For his part, Trump came bearing arms in the form of a supposed $110 billion weapons package. Never mind that the size of the deal was vastly exaggerated. It allowed the president to gloat that his sales deal there would mean “jobs, jobs, jobs” in the United States. If he had to work with one of the most repressive regimes in the world to bring those jobs home, who cared? Not he and certainly not his son-in-law Jared Kushner who would develop a special relationship with the cruel Saudi Crown Prince and heir apparent to the throne, Mohammed bin Salman.

President Donald Trump poses for photos with ceremonial swordsmen on his arrival to Murabba Palace, as the guest of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Saturday evening, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Trump doubled down on his jobs argument in a March 2018 White House meeting with bin Salman. The president came armed with a prop for the cameras: a map of the U.S. showing the states that (he swore) would benefit most from Saudi arms sales, including — you won’t be surprised to learn — the crucial election swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Nor will it surprise you that Trump’s jobs claims from those Saudi arms sales are almost entirely fraudulent. In fits of fancy, he’s even insisted that he’s creating as many as half a million jobs linked to weapons exports to that repressive regime. The real number is less than one-tenth that amount — and far less than one-tenth of one percent of U.S. employment. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story?

American Arms Dominance

Donald Trump is far from the first president to push tens of billions of dollars of arms into the Middle East. The Obama administration, for example, made a record $115 billion in arms offers to Saudi Arabia during its eight years in office, including combat aircraft, attack helicopters, armored vehicles, military ships, missile defense systems, bombs, guns, and ammunition.

Those sales solidified Washington’s position as the Saudis’ primary arms supplier. Two-thirds of its air force consists of Boeing F-15 aircraft, the vast bulk of its tanks are General Dynamics M-1s, and most of its air-to-ground missiles come from Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. And mind you, those weapons aren’t just sitting in warehouses or being displayed in military parades. They’ve been among the principal killers in a brutal Saudi intervention in Yemen that has sparked the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe.

A new report from the Arms and Security Program at the Center for International Policy (which I co-authored) underscores just how stunningly the U.S. dominates the Middle Eastern weapons market. According to data from the arms transfer database compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in the period from 2015 to 2019 the United States accounted for 48% of major weapons deliveries to the Middle East and North Africa, or (as that vast region is sometimes known acronymically) MENA. Those figures leave deliveries from the next largest suppliers in the dust. They represent nearly three times the arms Russia supplied to MENA, five times what France contributed, 10 times what the United Kingdom exported, and 16 times China’s contribution.

In other words, we have met the prime weapons proliferator in the Middle East and North Africa and it is us.

The influence of U.S. arms in this conflict-ridden region is further illustrated by a striking fact: Washington is the top supplier to 13 of the 19 countries there, including Morocco (91% of its arms imports), Israel (78%), Saudi Arabia (74%), Jordan (73%), Lebanon (73%), Kuwait (70%), the UAE (68%), and Qatar (50%). If the Trump administration goes ahead with its controversial plan to sell F-35s and armed drones to the UAE and brokers that related $8 billion arms deal with Israel, its share of arms imports to those two countries will be even higher in the years to come.

Devastating Consequences

None of the key players in today’s most devastating wars in the Middle East produce their own weaponry, which means that imports from the U.S. and other suppliers are the true fuel sustaining those conflicts. Advocates of arms transfers to the MENA region often describe them as a force for “stability,” a way to cement alliances, counter Iran, or more generally a tool for creating a balance of power that makes armed engagement less likely.

In a number of key conflicts in the region, this is nothing more than a convenient fantasy for arms suppliers (and the U.S. government), as the flow of ever more advanced weaponry has only exacerbated conflicts, aggravated human rights abuses, and caused countless civilian deaths and injuries, while provoking widespread destruction. And keep in mind that, while not solely responsible, Washington is the chief culprit when it comes to the weaponry that’s fueling a number of the area’s most violent wars.

In Yemen, a Saudi/UAE-led intervention that began in March 2015 has, by now, resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians through air strikes, put millions at risk of famine, and helped create the desperate conditions for the worst cholera outbreak in living memory. That war has already cost more than 100,000 lives and the U.S. and the United Kingdom have been the primary suppliers of the combat aircraft, bombs, attack helicopters, missiles, and armored vehicles used there, transfers valued in the tens of billions of dollars.

There has been a sharp jump in overall arms deliveries to Saudi Arabia since that war was launched. Dramatically enough, total arms sent to the Kingdom more than doubled between the 2010-2014 period and the years from 2015 to 2019. Together, the U.S. (74%) and the U.K. (13%) accounted for 87% of all arms deliveries to Saudi Arabia in that five-year time frame.

In Egypt, U.S.-supplied combat aircraft, tanks, and attack helicopters have been used in what is supposedly a counterterror operation in the Northern Sinai desert, which has, in reality, simply become a war largely against the civilian population of the region. Between 2015 and 2019, Washington’s arms offers to Egypt totaled $2.3 billion, with billions more in deals made earlier but delivered in those years. And in May 2020, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced that it was offering a package of Apache attack helicopters to Egypt worth up to $2.3 billion.

According to research conducted by Human Rights Watch, thousands of people have been arrested in the Sinai region over the past six years, hundreds have been disappeared, and tens of thousands have been forcibly evicted from their homes. Armed to the teeth, the Egyptian military has also carried out “systematic and widespread arbitrary arrests — including of children — enforced disappearances, torture, extrajudicial killings, collective punishment, and forced eviction.” There is also evidence to suggest that Egyptian forces have engaged in illegal air and ground strikes that have killed substantial numbers of civilians.

In several conflicts — examples of how such weapons transfers can have dramatic and unintended impacts — U.S. arms have ended up in the hands of both sides. When Turkish troops invaded northeastern Syria in October 2019, for instance, they faced Kurdish-led Syrian militias that had received some of the $2.5 billion in arms and training the U.S. had supplied to Syrian opposition forces over the previous five years. Meanwhile, the entire Turkish inventory of combat aircraft consists of U.S.-supplied F-16s and more than half of its armored vehicles are of American origin.

In Iraq, when the forces of the Islamic State, or ISIS, swept through a significant part of that country from the north in 2014, they captured U.S. light weaponry and armored vehicles worth billions of dollars from the Iraqi security forces this country had armed and trained. Similarly, in more recent years, U.S. arms have been transferred from the Iraqi military to Iranian-backed militias operating alongside them in the fight against ISIS.

Meanwhile, in Yemen, while the U.S. has directly armed the Saudi/UAE coalition, its weaponry has, in fact, ended up being used by all sides in the conflict, including their Houthi opponents, extremist militias, and groups linked to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This equal-opportunity spread of American weaponry has occurred thanks to arms transfers by former members of the U.S.-supplied Yemeni military and by UAE forces that have worked with an array of groups in the southern part of the country.

Who Benefits?

Just four companies — Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and General Dynamics — were involved in the overwhelming majority of U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia between 2009 and 2019. In fact, at least one or more of those companies played key roles in 27 offers worth more than $125 billion (out of a total of 51 offers worth $138 billion). In other words, in financial terms, more than 90% of the U.S. arms offered to Saudi Arabia involved at least one of those top four weapons makers.

In its brutal bombing campaign in Yemen, the Saudis have killed thousand of civilians with U.S.-supplied weaponry. In the years since the Kingdom launched its war, indiscriminate air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition have hit marketplaces, hospitals, civilian neighborhoods, water treatment centers, even a school bus filled with children. American-made bombs have repeatedly been used in such incidents, including an attack on a wedding, where 21 people, children among them, were killed by a GBU-12 Paveway II guided bomb manufactured by Raytheon.

A General Dynamics 2,000-pound bomb with a Boeing JDAM guidance system was used in a March 2016 strike on a marketplace that killed 97 civilians, including 25 children. A Lockheed Martin laser-guided bomb was utilized in an August 2018 attack on a school bus that slaughtered 51 people, including 40 children. A September 2018 report by the Yemeni group Mwatana for Human Rights identified 19 air strikes on civilians in which U.S.-supplied weapons were definitely used, pointing out that the destruction of that bus was “not an isolated incident, but the latest in a series of gruesome [Saudi-led] Coalition attacks involving U.S. weapons.”

It should be noted that the sales of such weaponry have not occurred without resistance. In 2019, both houses of Congress voted down a bomb sale to Saudi Arabia because of its aggression in Yemen, only to have their efforts thwarted by a presidential veto. In some instances, as befits the Trump administration’s modus operandi, those sales have involved questionable political maneuvers. Take, for instance, a May 2019 declaration of an “emergency” that was used to push through an $8.1 billion deal with the Saudis, the UAE, and Jordan for precision-guided bombs and other equipment that simply bypassed normal Congressional oversight procedures completely.

At the behest of Congress, the State Department’s Office of Inspector General then opened an investigation into the circumstances surrounding that declaration, in part because it had been pushed by a former Raytheon lobbyist working in State’s Office of Legal Counsel. However, the inspector general in charge of the probe, Stephen Linick, was soon fired by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for fear that his investigation would uncover administration wrongdoing and, after he was gone, the ultimate findings proved largely — surprise! — a whitewash, exonerating the administration. Still, the report did note that the Trump administration had failed to take adequate care to avoid civilian harm by U.S. weaponry supplied to the Saudis.

Even some Trump administration officials have had qualms about the Saudi deals. The New York Times has reported that a number of State Department personnel were concerned about whether they could someday be held liable for aiding and abetting war crimes in Yemen.

Will America Remain the World’s Greatest Arms Dealer?

If Donald Trump is re-elected, don’t expect U.S. sales to the Middle East — or their murderous effects — to diminish any time soon. To his credit, Joe Biden has pledged as president to end U.S. arms and support for the Saudi war in Yemen. For the region as a whole, however, don’t be shocked if, even in a Biden presidency, such weaponry continues to flow in and it remains business as usual for this country’s giant arms merchants to the detriment of the peoples of the Middle East. Unless you’re Raytheon or Lockheed Martin, selling arms is one area where no one should want to keep America “great.”

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William D. Hartung, a TomDispatch regular, is the director of the Arms and Security Program at the Center for International Policy and the co-author of “The Mideast Arms Bazaar: Top Arms Suppliers to the Middle East and North Africa 2015 to 2019.”

Featured image is from Stop the War Coalition

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Human Rights Debate at UN Security Council. Horrifying Social Consequences of US Sanctions Inflicted on North Korea

During the press briefing outlining Russia’s program of work for their October Presidency of the UN Security Council,  I mentioned the offer by Dr. Kee B. Park, Director of the Korea Policy Project at Harvard Medical School, and renowned Lecturer on Global Health and Social Medicine,  who stated he is willing to address the Security Council and inform them of the horrifying human consequences suffered by the ordinary citizens of the DPRK, as a consequence of the sanctions that the Security Council is relentlessly and savagely inflicting upon North Korea.  Dr. Park was born in South Korea, and at the age of ten years his family brought him to the United States, where he now lives.  He is impeccably objective, and intimately aware of the devastation that these sanctions are wreaking upon the entire health care system of the DPRK, where he has helped, as a neurosurgeon, in several humanitarian organizations and programs.

Russian Ambassador Nebenzia immediately responded with profound and moving concern about this tragic situation, and emphasized that Russia has raised this issue for a long time, calling on the Chair of the Sanctions Committee of the DPRK to hold a briefing, which for some reason was postponed and postponed so, as Ambassador Nebenzia stated, “We have a debt that they owe us, and we want them to repay”! Ambassador Nebenzia stated that he has been approached by another  distinguished scientist who is completely unbiased, and is very familiar with this problem, and confirmed that the situation is appalling, and completely unacceptable. Ambassador Nebenzia reiterated:

“Indeed it is!!  I will approach the Chair of the Sanctions Committee, and tell him that there is a distinguished neurosurgeon willing to brief the Security Council.  Please provide me with his coordinates.”

Ambassador Nebenzia continued:

“This is a problem causing great suffering in other countries in addition to the DPRK.  The sanctions take a great toll on the general population in Syria.  Our partners say these sanctions are very targeted, very refined, and do not harm the general population.  This is disproved by numerous humanitarian actors, including even Western NGO’s, who are saying they are also victims of the sanctions, and state that the secondary effects of the sanctions cause many humanitarian providers to fear retaliation by the sanctions watchdogs of the Western countries that introduced them.”

Ambassador Nebenzia continued, stating that the Secretary-General called for a global ceasefire, and lifting of the sanctions. The General Assembly Omnibus Resolution on the 2030 Agenda contains a paragraph on the adverse effect of sanctions on achievement of the 2030 agenda, and this paragraph is a part of the Resolution.

In addition to the other brutal deprivations the general population suffers as a result of the sanctions, the sanctions deprive doctors of crucial medical equipment necessary to restore to heath and restore to life a huge number of citizens in the targeted countries, including the most vulnerable, the elderly, disabled, and women and children. I have also discussed this with Ambassador Olof Skoog, currently Ambassador of the European Union, formerly Ambassador of Sweden. Ambassador Skoog is also concerned about this situation, and one hopes he can awaken his colleagues to this emergency.

The great human concern about these egregious human rights violations caused by the Security Council sanctions,  concern so eloquently expressed by the Russian Ambassador, is phenomenally important. It is in staggering contrast to the almost psychopathic indifference with which other Security Council Ambassadors have reacted when I mentioned the tragic human suffering caused by the sanctions.

Their indifference is both immoral and obscene.  These Ambassadors whose lives are so privileged do not care if a human being in Pyongyang dies in agony because the Sanctions a white European supported deprived the people of the DPRK of the medical equipment necessary to cure his illness, and save his life.  These sanctions constitute Crimes against Humanity, and one day a court of law may hold the Security Council accountable for these crimes.  The Security Council is not above the law, and it behooves them to face the reality that they cannot continue imposing these genocidal sanctions with impunity.

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Carla Stea is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and Global Research’s Correspondent at UN headquarters, New York. 

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Trump Seeking New START Deal Pre-Election?

Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has been a deal-breaker, not maker.

Hardliners surrounding him obstructed efforts to extend New START.

The last remaining Russia/US arms control agreement expires on February 5, 2021.

Unacceptable US demands on extending New START were made to be rejected, not accepted.

That’s where things now stand.

On Sunday, The Hill reported that Russian Security Council head Nikolai Patrushev and Trump regime national security advisor Robert O’Brien met in Geneva on October 2.

Claims of progress made toward extending New START were way overblown.

No agreement in principle was reached between both officials.

According to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov,

“there are still huge differences in approaches, including to the central elements of such an agreement.”

After frittering away nearly four years without extending New START, chances for resolving major differences between now and February 5 are slim at best.

If Biden defeats Trump and takes office on January 20, they’ll be scant time remaining to extend New START before its expiration date.

While extending it for another five years can be accomplished by agreement between the US and Russian presidents, nothing is ever simple in bilateral relations between both countries.

Without New START and the INF Treaty (the latter abandoned by the Trump regime on August 2, 2019 for phony reasons), nothing legally will stand in the way of unrestrained US expansion and deployment of its nuclear arsenal.

This action will force Russia and likely China to respond defensively, given a greater threat posed by Washington to their security.

According to Russian international security experts Andrey Pavlov and Anastasia Malygina, abandonment of New START “could create high levels of uncertainty and unpredictability.”

“A complete collapse of (stabilizing arms control) foundations, coupled with the deepening conflict between Russia and the West, could create a situation” fraught with dangers.

“Maintaining parity with the United States in strategic nuclear armament remains essential to Russian” security.

Moscow’s “longstanding definition of strategic stability (is) a situation in which no party has an incentive to initiate a nuclear first strike.”

If one super-power has a strategic advantage over another, there’s a heightened risk of potential conflict.

Russia is greatly concerned about US plans to deploy weapons in space, likely including nukes.

US political and military hardliners want nothing that deters their pursuit of a strategic advantage over all other nations, notably Russia and China.

If New START expires next year for failure of Washington to agree on extending it, a hugely dangerous arms race will likely follow.

Trump’s arms control envoy Marshall Billingslea falsely called New START “deeply flawed.”

It stood the test of time for nearly a decade.

So far, Russia’s chief arms control negotiator Sergey Ryabkov called Trump regime demands “absolutely unrealistic…a nonstarter for us.”

The US unacceptably combines demands and threats.

According to Billingslea, Washington “will be extremely happy to continue…without the START restrictions,” adding:

The US will begin expanding its nuclear arsenal straightaway.

He also threatened to impose new (unlawful) sanctions on Russia by the November election if its authorities don’t bend to the Trump regime on this issue.

Like countless times before, the US blames other countries for its own wrongdoing and failures to reach bilateral and multilateral agreements — along with phony reasons for abandoning existing ones.

On October 5, Ryabkov and Billingslea met in Helsinki, Finland.

In response to the Trump regime’s claim of significant progress from the meeting, Russia’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the claim, saying:

“(F)urther prospects on the track of bilateral cooperation on arms control” were discussed — no agreement reached.

Separately, Sergey Lavrov said based on where things stand now, New START “is going to die,” adding:

“The conditions (that the Trump regime) set are absolutely unilateral and do not take into account either our interests or the experience of many decades, when arms control was enforced to everyone’s satisfaction and was welcomed by all countries.”

Allowing New START to expire by the US will more greatly strain relations with Russia and China — along with increasing the threat of conflict between the US and these countries.

Washington upgraded but didn’t increase the size of its nuclear arsenal for decades.

Expanding it ahead if New START expires will be a major and hugely dangerous change in longstanding US policy.

Billingslea notably threatened to spend Russia and China “into oblivion” if a new arms race begins.

Arms control talks should focus on reducing numbers of nukes toward eliminating them altogether one day before they eliminate us.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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