The War of Western Failures: Hopes for Syria Fall with Aleppo

epa04741424 German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meet for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia, 10 May 2015. Russia continues to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Soviet Union and its Allies over Nazi Germany in WWII, with Angela Merkel arriving in Moscow to commemorate the victims of the war, even as other world leaders chose to stay away for the massive victory parade 09 May. EPA/SERGEI CHIRIKOV +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

epa04741424 German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) meet for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia, 10 May 2015. Russia continues to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Soviet Union and its Allies over Nazi Germany in WWII, with Angela Merkel arriving in Moscow to commemorate the victims of the war, even as other world leaders chose to stay away for the massive victory parade 09 May. EPA/SERGEI CHIRIKOV +++(c) dpa – Bildfunk+++

The Hybrid War: Russia’s Propaganda WAR Against Germany

Russia gives the West a taste of their own medicine:  Propaganda against Russia

The siege of Aleppo is a humanitarian catastrophe on a dramatic scale — and a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He has seized on the Syrian civil war to expose an impotent West and show his own geopolitical muscle.

The brief disappearance of a girl in Germany recently become an international political issue. Russia is exploiting the case for propaganda purposes as part of its strategy of a hybrid war aimed at destabilizing the West and dividing Europe.

Svetlana F. is sitting at the kitchen table in her duplex home in the Berlin district of Marzahn-Hellersdorf. A slim, 39-year-old woman, she wrings her hands as she relates what happened to her daughter more than three weeks ago. The conversation stops each time she is unable to hold back her tears. This will be her only interview with the media.

“My daughter,” says the mother, “is not doing well.” When SPIEGEL and SPIEGEL TV met the family a week ago last Thursday, the girl was in the hospital. “She has been in the psychiatric ward since Monday.”Nothing has been the same for the family since the 13-year-old girl disappeared one morning on her way to school. The case has become an international political issue since it was picked up by Russian media and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attacked the German authorities investigating it.

As the saying goes, truth is the first casualty of war. This is especially true of the propaganda war Moscow has been waging against the West and its open societies since the crisis in Ukraine began. The 13-year-old girl and her disappearance have become a weapon in this war. According to the Russian version of the story, the case has all the necessary ingredients: the rape of a teenage girl, violent refugees, police that use political correctness as an excuse not to investigate and politicians who are afraid of the truth. This is the story Moscow is telling, regardless of the facts.

Russia Accuses Germany of ‘Cover-Up’  –  Russia gives the West a taste of his own medicine

The Kremlin is now portraying itself as an advocate for the girl. The Russian Embassy in Berlin sent a verbal note to the German Foreign Ministry at the beginning of last week. The letter, with one page written in Russian, contains the usual pleasantries, but the overall tone is aggressive. The Russian diplomats demanded that the case be fully investigated, adding that they did not understand why the matter was being kept quiet.

On Tuesday, Lavrov publicly accused the German authorities of a “cover-up,” saying they were “whitewashing reality to make it politically correct.” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier reacted sharply, calling Moscow’s reaction “political propaganda.” On Wednesday, Russian Ambassador Vladimir Grinin was summoned and lectured on the status of the investigation.

Nevertheless, as the propaganda battle continued, the version in which the girl was allegedly raped still circulated on the Internet. Security experts believe that Russia has greatly expanded its propaganda campaigns against the West, including Germany, in recent years. They represent the Kremlin’s attempt to manipulate public opinion in the West, stir up conflict and destabilize Western societies. President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, and his team are using tricks from the intelligence agency’s playbook to conduct foreign policy. The “old methods” of the KGB — disinformation and destabilization — are blatantly on display once again, says Hans-Georg Maassen, president of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence service.

These methods were already evident in the Ukraine crisis, as Russia deployed television stations and so-called trolls to spread propaganda on the Internet and cast aspersions on Western media for being kept on a tight leash. Russian propaganda falls on fertile ground in the West, where distrust of politicians and the media is widespread. Many believe that the established media, disparaged as the Lügenpresse, or “lying press,” are withholding the truth. In Germany, 44 percent of the population harbors such reservations, according to a survey by the polling company Forsa.

Hillary Clinton’s Very Bad Night



In-depth Report:

hillary-clinton-2-400x283Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s stunning 22-point loss to Sen. Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire is even more devastating when looked at in the context of the modern history of this first-in-the-nation primary: No one has ever lost by such a margin and gone on to win the presidency.

Among Democrats, no one who lost by even half that margin in New Hampshire has recovered to win the party’s nomination. In 2008, Barack Obama lost to Hillary Clinton by 2.6 percentage points; in 1992, Bill Clinton lost to Paul Tsongas by 8.4 percentage points; in 1984, Walter Mondale lost to Gary Hart by 9.4 percentage points; in 1972, George McGovern lost to Edmund Muskie by 9.3 percentage points.

In two of those cases, New Hampshire did favor neighboring politicians – Sen. Tsongas from Massachusetts and Sen. Muskie from Maine – but Tuesday’s 22-point margin for Vermont Sen. Sanders cannot be explained simply by making the “nearby-favorite-son” argument. Sanders swept nearly every demographic group, including women, losing only to Clinton among New Hampshire’s senior citizens and the state’s small number of non-white voters. Sanders’s margin among young voters was particularly impressive, 82 percent, roughly the same proportion as the Iowa caucuses last week.

If Hillary Clinton hopes to overcome her New Hampshire drubbing, she would have to look for encouragement from the legacy of Republican George W. Bush who lost the 2000 New Hampshire primary to Sen. John McCain by a margin of 49 percent to 30.2 percent, but even Bush’s landslide loss represented a smaller margin of defeat than Clinton suffered on Tuesday.

A Worried Establishment

Clinton’s failure to generate momentum or much enthusiasm in her pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination presents the Democratic Party establishment with a dilemma, since many senior party leaders fret about the risk that Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist,” might lead the Democrats to the kind of electoral disaster that Sen. George McGovern did in 1972.

Though the Democrats rebounded in 1976 with Jimmy Carter’s victory amid Republican disarray over Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, the Republicans soon reestablished their domination over presidential politics for a dozen years with Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. For the Democrats to reclaim the White House in 1992, it took a “New Democrat,” Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, to repackage the Democratic message into one proposing “neo-liberal” (anti-regulatory, free-trade) economics, embracing Republican tough-on-crime tactics, and rejecting “Big Government.”

President Clinton also emphasized “micro-policies,” best illustrated by his call for “school uniforms,” rather than proposing “macro-policies” for addressing poverty and other structural problems facing Americans. Though the economy performed fairly well under Clinton – his success lessening pressures from liberal groups – he also opened the door to Wall Street and other corporate excesses (by supporting deregulation of the financial and media industries).

At that point in the 1990s, the “neo-liberal” strategies had not been tested in the U.S. economy and thus many Americans were caught off-guard when this new anti-regulatory, free-trade fervor contributed to a hollowing out of the Great American Middle Class and a bloated Gilded Age for the top One Percent.

The full consequences of neo-liberalism became painfully apparent with the Wall Street Crash of 2008 and the resulting Great Recession. The suffering and hopelessness now affecting many Americans, including the white working class, has led to an angry political rejection of the American Establishment as reflected in the insurgent candidacies of Donald Trump and Sanders.

A Legacy Campaign

Hillary Clinton (like Jeb Bush) faces the misfortune of running a legacy campaign at a time when the voters are angry about the legacies of both “ruling families,” the Clintons and the Bushes. Though Sanders is a flawed candidate faulted for his muddled foreign-policy prescriptions, he (like Trump) has seized the mantle of fighting the Establishment at a time when millions of Americans are fed up with the Establishment and its self-serving policies.

In some ways, the Iowa and New Hampshire results represented the worst outcome for establishment Democrats. Clinton’s razor-thin victory in Iowa and her slashing defeat in New Hampshire have left Democratic strategists uncertain as to whether they should rally behind her – despite her lukewarm to freezing-cold reception from voters – or try to recruit another candidate who could cut off Sanders’s path to the nomination and represent a “more electable” choice in November.

If Clinton continues to stumble, there will be enormous pressure from Democratic leaders to push her aside and draw Vice President Joe Biden or perhaps Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the race.

If that were to occur — and, granted, the Clintons are notoriously unwilling to admit defeat — the Democrats could experience a political dynamic comparable to 1968 when anti-Vietnam War Sen. Eugene McCarthy challenged the prohibitive favorite President Lyndon Johnson and came close enough in New Hampshire to prompt Sen. Robert Kennedy to jump into the race — and to convince Johnson to announce that he would not seek another term.

Many idealistic Democrats who had backed McCarthy in his seemingly quixotic fight against Johnson were furious against “Bobby-come-lately,” setting up a battle between two anti-war factions of the Democratic Party. Of course, the history of the 1968 campaign was marred by the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and then Robert Kennedy, followed by the chaotic Chicago convention, which handed the nomination to Johnson’s Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

Then, after Republican Richard Nixon secretly sabotaged Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks, Nixon managed to eke out a victory over Humphrey.

While Campaign 2016 reflects a very different America – and the key Democratic issue is “income inequality,” not the Vietnam War – some parallels could become obvious if the presumptive nominee (Johnson in 1968 and Clinton in 2016) is pushed out or chooses to step aside.

Then, the Democratic choice would be plunging ahead with a back-bench candidate (McCarthy in 1968 and Sanders in 2016) or looking for a higher-profile and more mainstream alternative, such as Biden who (like Humphrey) would offer continuity with the sitting president or Warren who shares many of Sanders’s positions (like Robert Kennedy did with McCarthy) but who might be more acceptable to “party regulars.”

A Warren candidacy also might lessen the disappointment of women who wanted to see Hillary Clinton as the first female president. At the moment, however, the question is: Did New Hampshire deal a death blow to Hillary Clinton’s campaign or can she become the first candidate in modern U.S. political history to bounce back from a 22-point loss in the first-in-the-nation primary?

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and