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Monday, May 6, 2019

Pick One

Choosing First,​
Thanks for this article , Wiggs.​
Since announcing her bid for the Democratic Party nomination in 2020, Tulsi Gabbard has been on a one-woman quest to confront America with reality.
In speech after speech, interview after interview, and in social media post after social media post, the Democratic Party congresswoman from Hawaii has served up a merciless indictment of US militarism, making the elementary point that Washington’s obscenely inflated defense budget and its addiction to regime change wars, military interventions and the subversion of sovereign governments in pursuit of the full spectrum dominance that lies at the heart of the malignant creeds of neoconservatism and liberal interventionism, is harming rather than protecting the interests of the American people
...
​ ​In a field of candidates for the nomination that includes former vice president Joe Biden, veteran congresswoman Elizabeth Warren, and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard stands out as the only one who’s been willing to subject the sacred cow of US hegemony to close scrutiny and even harsher criticism, earning in consequence the mounting opprobrium of a Washington political and media class that is hard wired to the myth of US hard power and force as the last best hope for mankind.
​ ​In a recent Facebook post promoting her bid for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, she put her case succinctly: ‘Say NO to neocon/neolibs beating their war drums. As Commander-in-Chief, I’ll put American people first, END wasteful regime change wars, work to END new cold war/arms race, SERVE the people: healthcare, education, infrastructure & more. Will you join me?’
​ ​Even prior to announcing her bid for the White House, Tulsi Gabbard had stood as a lone voice of reason when it came to the conflict in Syria. Unlike her detractors, she actually took the trouble and time to visit the country and meet its leader, President Assad. She said of the Syrian president: "Assad is not the enemy of the United States because Syria does not pose a direct threat to the United States." ...
​ ​Bringing things up to date on the attempted coup in Venezuela, inspired by Washington’s unhinged neocon-in-chief John Bolton, Gabbard tweeted in January: “The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don't want other countries to choose our leaders--so we have to stop trying to choose theirs.”
On relations with Russia, she is a strong advocate of replacing the current policy of sanctions and confrontation with serious diplomacy and normalization, and is committed to ending what she describes as the “New Cold War”.  

​A ​detailed plan from “UNITED STATES SOUTHERN COMMAND” dated “23 FEBRUARY 2018” was issued with the title “PLAN TO OVERTHROW THE VENEZUELAN DICTATORSHIP ‘MASTERSTROKE’” and is here presented complete.
​ ​This document was personally signed by Admiral Kurt W. Tidd, who was the Commander (the chief), at SOUTHCOM, and he was thus the top U.S. military official handling Venezuela. 
​ ​But this was far more than just a military plan. It was comprehensive — directing military, diplomatic, and propaganda, policies — regarding the Trump Administration’s planned “Overthrow” of Venezuela’s Government. His plan has since guided the Administration’s entire operation, including “the capacities of the psychological war,” regarding Venezuela.
​ ​"Encouraging popular dissatisfaction by increasing scarcity and rise in price of the foodstuffs, medicines and other essential goods for the inhabitants. Making more harrowing and painful the scarcities of the main basic merchandises.” …
​ "​Intensifying the undercapitalization of the country, the leaking out of foreign currency and the deterioration of its monetary base, bringing about the application of new inflationary measures.” …
​ ​"Fully obstruct imports, and at the same time discouraging potential foreign investors in order to make the situation more critical for the population.” …
​"​To besiege him, to ridicule him and to pose him as symbol of awkwardness and incompetence. To expose him as a puppet of Cuba​"
​ At the end, he commands “the denouncement toward Maduro’s regimen” and he also uses the phrase “the enemy” to refer to him — as if there had been the U.S. Constitutionally required authorization, by the U.S. Congress, of this “war.” The close urges “the dispatch of a UNO military force for the imposition of peace, once Nicolas Maduro’s corrupt dictatorship is defeated.” The U.N. is militarily to “impose” “peace,” after the U.S. and its allies have conquered Venezuela.)

Grayzone  — On April 24, six days before self-proclaimed Venezuelan “interim president” Juan Guaido’s attempt to violently overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected government alongside a handful of military defectors, the U.S. State Department published a fact sheet that boasted of Washington’s central role in the ongoing coup attempt. After realizing the incriminating nature of its error, the State Department quickly acted to remove the page.  
​ ​Entitled “U.S. Actions on Venezuela,” the document boasted that U.S. policy had effectively prevented the Venezuelan government from participating in the international market and has led to the freezing of its overseas assets. It read like a sadistic celebration of Washington’s retribution against the Venezuelan population as a whole, the kind of collective punishment which is illegal according to Article 33 of the Geneva Conventions.  

The Trump administration wants to force Iran to come into breach of the deal to then use that as an excuse for further action against the country.

​ ​The U.S. provided waivers for several nuclear trades that were part of the JCPOA deal. Some of these were now eliminated, others were put under time restrictions.
​ ​Iran is allowed to enrich Uranium under the deal, but it is not allowed to hold large amounts of ready enriched Uranium. Enriched Uranium is valuable and Iran found a customer who bought it. Iran also produces heavy water, needed to cool some types of reactors, and exports it. These trades were previously provided with waivers. The Trump administration did not renew those wavers and the export of those products will end. Iran will have to either stop all enrichment and heavy water production or it will have to store what it produces and thereby come into breach of the JCPOA agreement.​..​
​ ​That Iran is forced to temporarily accumulate products above the level allowed in the deal is solely caused by the U.S. breach of that deal, i.e. its new sanctions. It is unlikely that the other JCPOA signers will regard Iran's as being in breach of the JCPOA. The U.S. will of course scream bloody murder and will continue to do what it would have done anyway - ratchet the tensions further up
​ ​Yesterday National Security Advisor John 'Stache' Bolton announced that an aircraft carrier and U.S. long range bombers would be send to Gulf to counter and imminent threat from Iran. That was empty bluster.
 ​Micah Zenko @MicahZenko - 1:07 utc - 6 May 2019
​ ​Bolton framing a routine deployment of the Lincoln to CENTCOM AOR as an attempt to frighten Iran is an especially weak and hollow threat.
​ ​The carrier deployment to the Gulf is routine. It had been announced on April 8. The U.S. has bombers on rotation in the Middle East since 2001. Moreover - a carrier in the Persian Gulf is a sure sign that the U.S. will not attack Iran. Within the restricted waters of the Persian Gulf a carrier is a too easy target.
​ ​The idea though may be to provide for an 'accident' as Iran's Foreign Minister described it in a recent CBSinterview:
FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIF: I don't think military confrontation will happen. I think people have more prudence than allowing a military confrontation to happen. But, I think the U.S. administration is putting things in place for accidents to happen. And there has to be extreme vigilance, so that people who are planning this type of accident would not have their way.
​ ​MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean? What kind of accident are you talking about?
​ ​FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIF: I'm talking about people who have- who are designing confrontation, whose interest--
​ ​MARGARET BRENNAN: Who's doing that?
​ ​FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIF: My 'B' team. I call--
​ ​MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean 'B' team?
​ ​FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIF: I call the group 'B' team who have always tried to create tension, whose continued existence depends on tension. Ambassador Bolton, one 'B,' Bibi Netanyahu, second 'B,' Bin Zayed, third 'B,' Bin Salman, fourth 'B.' And I'm not just making accusations. .


 On Sunday night US national security advisor John Bolton threatened Iran with  "unrelenting force" while announcing the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf region, saying further it sends a "clear and unmistakable" message to the Iranian regime.
​ ​Bolton's statement also cited a "number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" from Iran, which later on Monday morning CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr described based on unnamed US defense officials as including “specific and credible” Iranian threats against US assets in Syria, Iraq, and at sea.


​Syrian War Update from Moon of Alabama:
​ ​A September 2018 agreement between Russia and Turkey stipulated that Turkey would bring the 'rebels' in Idleb under control. A 20 kilometer wide demilitarized zone was to be established along the demarcation line. All heavy weapons were to be removed from the zone. The M4 and M5 highways were to be opened for traffic.
​ ​None of it happened. Turkey established observation post along the demarcation line but these had no effect. Instead HTS assimilated more and more of the 'Free Syrian Army' groups that Turkey supported. The organization acquired new arms and equipment and intensified its training.
​ ​During the last months they became more active. Mortar and missiles were fired into Aleppo city. Command units crossed the demarcation line, attacked Syrian army guard posts and caused a number of casualties. Drones were flown from Idleb against the Russian base at Hmeimim. Missile volleys were launched against the base.
​ ​The Syrian government long demanded to finally attack in Idleb, but Russia held it back. There was a risk that Turkey would use an attack on Idleb to switch back to the U.S. side. That risk is now much lower as the U.S. became more hostile to its NATO ally.
​ ​Two weeks ago, after HTS shot the latest missile volley at Hmeimim, Russian jets started to pound HTS positions in Idleb governorate with hundreds of bomb attacks. Additionally Russian intelligence reported that HTS was preparing to launch a large attack against Hama city further south. Russia flew in new fighter jets and bombers to up its engagement capabilities. The Syrian air force and its artillery also chimed in. It soon became obvious that these attacks were not just revenge acts but the preparations for a larger campaign.
​ ​Turkey recognized that it can no longer do anything to prevent an attack on Idleb. In a Hail Mary move it tried to at least fulfill one of its old aims: to capture the town Tal Rifaat and Menagh Air Base north of Aleppo. These are in the Kurdish area (yell0w) at the top of the map. But the defenders were prepared. When Turkish aligned 'rebels' under the command of Turkish officers attacked their positions they retreated. The Turks advanced and suddenly found themselves in a minefield and under artillery attack. They had been trapped. After several were killed and wounded the Turkish forces had to retreat and the Syrian army and the Kurdish units could retake their old positions. In parallel Syrian artillery fired on one of the Turkish outposts in Idleb governorate. Four Turkish soldiers were wounded and evacuated.​..

​ ​These attacks are not (yet) the big campaign to liberate all of Idleb governorate. It seems more likely that this will be done piecemeal with one bite at a time followed by a pause. One intermediate aim is to regain full control over the M5 and M4 highways in Idelb governorate. That would allow for direct traffic between Latakia to Aleppo and from Hama to Aleppo and could help to revive the devastated economy​...
​ ​"Idlib is essentially the largest collection of al-Qaida affiliates in the world right now," Michael Mulroy, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, said this week during remarks at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.
​ ​"We have very limited insights as to what's going on," he added.
​ ​That this is (again) publicly recognized, likely  means that Syria is now allowed to clean up the mess. Back in 2017 and 2018, when Syria was ready to retake Idleb, the U.S. threatened to stop any attack. At that time it still cared for its ally Turkey which would be swamped with new refugee wave should the HTS terrorists and their families have to retreat from Idelb. The U.S. no longer cares about Turkey. Any new difficulty for the wannabe Sultan Erdogan will likely be welcome.


 While a Chinese delegation is still scheduled to visit Washington as planned this week, with talks to take place Thursday and Friday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told reporters Monday that the Trump administration plans to increase duties on Chinese imports at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, accusing Beijing of backpedaling on commitments it made during negotiations.
U.S. and China had been making substantial progress on a trade deal, but in the past week China has reneged on some of its promises:
​ ​“We felt we were on track to get somewhere. Over the course of last week we have seen an erosion of commitments by China,” Lighthizer said, adding that significant issues remain unresolved, including whether tariffs will remain in place.


​The Saker: Behold The Breathtaking Weakness Of The Empire
The Empire has suffered painful defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq, but one has to admit that these are “tough” countries to crack.  The Empire also appears to have lost control of Libya, but that is another complex country which is very hard to control.  We also saw all the pathetic huffing and puffing with the DPRK.  But, let’s be honest, the USA never stood a chance to bully the DPRK into submission, nevermind invading or regime-changing it.  Syria was much weaker, but here Russia, Iran and Hezbollah did a world class job of repelling all the AngloZionist attacks, political and military.  Besides, I for one will never blame Trump for not listening to Bolton and not triggering WWIII over Syria (yet?)
But Venezuela?!
No Hezbollah or Iran backing Maduro there.  And Venezuela is way too far away from Russia to allow her to do what she did in Syria.  In fact, Venezuela is in the proverbial “backyard” of the USA and is surrounded by hostile puppet regimes.  And yet, tonight, it appears that the US puppet Guaidó has failed in his coup attempt.​..

 The Empire only *appears* to be strong.  In reality it is weak, confused, clueless and, most importantly, run by a sad gang of incompetent thugs who think that they can scare everybody into submission in spite of not having won a single significant war since 1945.  The inability to break the will of the people of Venezuela is only the latest symptom of this mind-boggling weakness.

C​hoosing Peace​

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