Obama Sidelines Kerry on Ukraine Policy

 

Eric Zuesse

On May 21st, I headlined “Secretary of State John Kerry v. His Subordinate Victoria Nuland, Regarding Ukraine,” and quoted John Kerry’s May 12th warning to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to cease his repeated threats to invade Crimea and re-invade Donbass, two former regions of Ukraine, which had refused to accept the legitimacy of the new regime that was imposed on Ukraine in violent clashes during February 2014. (These were regions that had voted overwhelmingly for the Ukrainian President who had just been overthrown. They didn’t like him being violently tossed out and replaced by his enemies.) Kerry said then that, regarding Poroshenko, “we would strongly urge him to think twice not to engage in that kind of activity, that that would put Minsk in serious jeopardy. And we would be very, very concerned about what the consequences of that kind of action at this time may be.” Also quoted there was Kerry’s subordinate, Victoria Nuland, three days later, saying the exact opposite, that we “reiterate our deep commitment to a single Ukrainian nation, including Crimea, and all the other regions of Ukraine.” I noted, then that, “The only person with the power to fire Nuland is actually U.S. President Barack Obama.” However, Obama instead has sided with Nuland on this.

Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, bannered, on June 5th, “Poroshenko: Ukraine Will ‘Do Everything’ To Retake Crimea’,” and reported that, “President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to seek Crimea’s return to Ukrainian rule. … Speaking at a news conference on June 5, … Poroshenko said that ‘every day and every moment, we will do everything to return Crimea to Ukraine.’” Poroshenko was also quoted there as saying, “It is important not to give Russia a chance to break the world’s pro-Ukrainian coalition,” which indirectly insulted Kerry for his having criticized Poroshenko’s warnings that he intended to invade Crimea and Donbass.

Right now, the Minsk II ceasefire has broken down and there are accusations on both sides that the other is to blame. What cannot be denied is that at least three times, on April 30th, then on May 11th, and then on June 5th, Poroshenko has repeatedly promised to invade Crimea, which wasn’t even mentioned in the Minsk II agreement; and that he was also promising to re-invade Donbass, something that is explicitly prohibited in this agreement. Furthermore, America’s President, Barack Obama, did not fire Kerry’s subordinate, Nuland, for her contradicting her boss on this important matter.

How will that be taken in European capitals? Kerry was reaffirming the position of Merkel and Hollande, the key shapers of the Minsk II agreement; and Nuland was nullifying them. Obama now has sided with Nuland on this; it’s a slap in the face to the EU: Poroshenko can continue ignoring Kerry and can blatantly ignore the Minsk II agreement; and Obama tacitly sides with Poroshenko and Nuland, against Kerry. 

The personalities here are important: On 4 February 2014, in the very same phone-conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt, America’s Ambassador in Ukraine, in which Nuland had instructed Pyatt to get “Yats” Yatsenyuk appointed to lead Ukraine after the coup (which then occured 18 days later), she also famously said “F—k  the EU!” Obama is now seconding that statement of hers.

In effect, Obama is telling the EU that they can get anything they want signed, but that he would still move forward with his own policy, regardless of whether or not they like it.

Kerry, for his part, now faces the decision as to whether to quit — which would force the EU’s hand regarding whether to continue with U.S. policy there — or else for Kerry to stay in office and be disrespected in all capitals for his staying on after having been so blatantly contradicted by his subordinate on a key issue of U.S. foreign policy. If he stays on while Nuland also does, then, in effect, Kerry is being cut out of policymaking on Europe and Asia (Nuland’s territory), altogether, and the EU needs to communicate directly with Obama on everything, or else to communicate with Nuland as if she and not Kerry were the actual U.S. Secretary of State. But if Kerry instead quits, then the pressure would be placed on EU officials: whether to continue with the U.S., or to reject U.S. anti-Russia policy, and to move forward by leaving NATO, and all that that entails?

If they then decide to stay with the U.S., after that “F—k the EU!” and then this; then, the European countries are clearly just U.S. colonies. This would be far more embarrassing to those leaders than John Kerry would be embarrassed by his simply resigning from the U.S. State Department. It might even turn the tide and force the Ukrainian Government to follow through with all of its commitments under the Minsk II accords.

It would be the most effective thing for Kerry to do at this stage. But, it would lose him his position as a (now merely nominal) member of Obama’s Cabinet.

The way this turns out will show a lot, about John Kerry. The nations of Europe already know everything they need to know about Barack Obama. If Kerry quits, he’ll have respect around the world. If he stays, he’ll be just another Colin Powell.

The ball is in Kerry’s court, and everyone will see how he plays it — and what type of man he is (and isn’t).

———-

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of  Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

And The Benghazi Media Circus Plays On…

Global Research, May 06, 2014
Region: Middle East & North Africa
Theme: Intelligence, Media Disinformation
In-depth Report: NATO’S WAR ON LIBYA, SYRIA: NATO’S NEXT WAR?

By Joachim Hagopian

 

129366The Benghazi story has once again become the “banzai!” rallying cry for a swarm of pundits and politicians in Washington. Lining up on both sides of the partisan aisle on all the Sunday morning talk shows, like it or not, the American public is being barraged with yet another frenzied round of media circus hype in the shark-infested political waters circling over four dead corpses of the murdered-in-Benghazi Americans. With their wagons drawn, the Democrat-leaning, pro-Hillary-Obama “liberal left” camp are in full damage control overdrive while diehard Republican predators smelling blood move in for the kill Obama legacy with their eye on the bonus prize killing Democrats’ and Hillary’s 2016 presidential chances all in one fell swoop. Like in the Roman gladiator coliseum, the presstitutes announce, “Let the circus games [once again] begin!” Since attacking the hornet’s nest of Obamacare is beginning to fizzle out, all the Hillary and Obama haters are frothing at the mouth over this latest Benghazi opening.

A recent article written by this writer for Global Research posted last Saturday – “The Benghazi Scandal Is Obama’s Watergate But Worse” – was written in an effort to seek and uncover the truth. Accurate reporting on major world events is a challenge in today’s world where propaganda and disinformation are mainstream media norms and where virtually all major players in American politics simply lie through their teeth every time they open their mouths in constant effort to look good and cover up the truth. The American public knows this pathetic and sobering fact that deception has come to rule in the world of both politics and the media. People today neither believe their newscasters nor their political leaders. That is why examining the content of the tidal wave of assertions and opinions spewing forth from politicians and pundits in the aftermath of the latest Benghazi revelations must be taken with a grain of salt. Again, truth in today’s world is hard to come by. But as an investigative reporter, presenting a brief overview of recent comments and statements for any informed citizen to process and digest seems a worthwhile and important enterprise.

A timeline of recently unfolding events: On 10/12/12 exactly one month after the Benghazi incident, the legal conservative group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking documents related to the Benghazi attack on September 11th, 2012 that killed the US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Obama, who had campaigned on a promise of transparency in the criminal wake of the Bush regime, has proven to be anything but open and transparent. Having to sue the US government for access to the records, on April 18th, 2014, a full year and a half later, the Obama administration’s stonewalling ultimately failed and Judicial Watch successfully got hold of 41 State Department Benghazi related documents. Emails between high level White House officials discussing damage control strategies in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi assault were released last week. Jubilant Republicans are now calling one of those emails their “smoking gun,” believing it is so incriminating that it will do in their would-be opponent Hillary Clinton from potentially competing in the 2016 presidential election.

The newly declassified email written by Obama’s then Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser Ben Rhodes specifically directed then UN Ambassador Susan Rice in preparation for her Sunday morning talk show appearances on September 16th, 2012 to explain the administration’s take on what it knew of the Benghazi murders. Rhodes advised Rice to attribute the Benghazi uprising as “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of policy,” pushing talking points designed to bolster Obama’s presidential image as a cool-as-a-cucumber-under-fire kind of wise and benevolent leader and statesman. The major emphasis of the email instructed Rice to blame the bogus anti-Moslem video as inciting a spontaneous protest like in other countries in the region that apparently grew violently out of control, of course all the while knowing that that was a boldface lie.

This crucial piece of evidence proves that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both knew that the video did not cause the attack but that they chose to willfully deceive the American public in order to protect their own political careers and hence was born the infamously never ending Benghazi cover-up. Obama and Hillary withheld this damning email evidence even from the House Oversight Committee led by Congressman Darrel Issa (R-CA) requesting all documents pertaining to Benghazi more than a year ago. With the presidential election less than two months away at the time of the attack, Obama and Hillary were determined at all cost to keep hidden from Americans the real truth of criminal Benghazi activity they were guilty of engaging in during the months leading up to the attack. Last Thursday an angry Issa subpoenaed current Secretary of State John Kerry to appear before the committee on May 21st to further explain why those critical State Department records recently given to Judicial Watch were not among the 3200 documents originally handed over to his committee well over a year ago.

Another disclosure at last Thursday’s House Oversight Committee hearing further damaging the credibility and actions of the Obama administration came from retired Air Force General Robert Lovell who at the time of Benghazi was in Germany serving as the senior African Command deputy director for intelligence. Lovell testified, “We should have sent help,” adding that the White House decision not to attempt military assistance due to the time factor was unacceptable. Lovell also stated unequivocally that the military knew that the Benghazi attack had nothing to do with the video falsely used by the administration to explain away the tragedy. The ex-general felt his military should have intervened and was waiting all night long for the call that never came from his bosses in Washington. Clearly he feels a sense of remorse and regret over the passivity imposed on him by his commander-in-chief Obama and State Department head Clinton.

Within hours of the general’s testimony came rebukes from both the senior Republican and Democrat on the powerful House Armed Services Committee making claims backing the administration’s that the military was incapable of responding in time to assist the ill-fated Americans in Benghazi. Because they represent the military in Congress that had already drawn the conclusion that nothing tactically could have been done to save the four Americans, they were quick to rebut the general’s testimony. Yet the day before 9/11 every year since 9/11/01 including on 9/10/11, the president meets with top military and security personnel to ensure that US embassies around the globe are bolstered with much needed extra security for 9/11 readiness. Yet the Benghazi compound was so insecure despite repeated requests, both Obama and the military apparently failed to have any military units on standby that could reach Benghazi to be of service on the night of 9/11/12. And this comes after intelligence sources have been reporting insufficient security at the Benghazi embassy compound.

Investigative reporter Kenneth R. Timmerman as author of a new forthcoming book entitled ‘Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi’ states:

We know that orders were issued, then recalled, to deploy a 50-man Special Forces unit from Croatia that could have reached Benghazi within hours.
Timmerman concludes that to date no documents revealing the person who ordered that unit to stand down have yet to surface.

Meanwhile, last week in a heated exchange with ABC correspondent Jon Karl a visibly agitated White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that Rhodes’ email was not related to Benghazi at all but referred to the Moslem protests generally taking place in the region in response to the video. The next day Fox reporter Ed Henry engaged Carney on the same issue, eliciting the same haranguing reaction. All this appears to be yet more desperate lies in a feeble attempt to cover his bosses’ Obama and Hillary’s asses called criminal guilt, and by so doing committing his own. Carney had been among the original recipients of Rhodes’ email.

Carney further explained that the same Rhodes talking points echoed those delivered earlier to Congress and the White House by deputy CIA director Mike Morell who a month ago claimed he received no pressure or influence from anyone in the Obama administration in coming up with his version of what most likely transpired on 9/11/12 based on all CIA intelligence sources available at the time. Yet on his own Morell admitted to toning down the intelligence reports leading up to the Benghazi attack purposely so as to not appear to be an “I told you so” gesture that would offend Hillary and her State Department. That said, Hillary’s underling and rising star Victoria Nuland (the later promoted to profanity-speaking Assistant Secretary of State who played such a key role in the recent US backed fascist Ukrainan coup) objected to Morell’s talking points that in her mind leaned too heavily toward blaming her boss and their State Department for insufficient security at the Benghazi compound. Her words:

Why do we want Hill to start fingering Ansar Al Sharia [the known al Qaeda affiliated attackers that murdered the four Americans], when we aren’t doing that ourselves until we have the investigation results…and the penultimate point could be abused by Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why do we want to feed that?… Concerned.

Observe how the exclusive focus of all post-Benghazi interdepartmental correspondence from Rhodes’ to Morell’s to Nuland’s all center on appearance and potential perception to avoid CYA blame. Furthest down on their priority list is honest and truthful disclosure and self-accountability. Again, the name of the game in the world of politics is passing the buck whenever possible to minimize potential heat that comes with looking bad and maximizing looking good by any means or lies necessary. Benghazi perfectly illustrates all of this.

Based on the information finally coming to light all last week, last Friday House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called for a special select committee not unlike the one for Watergate to further investigate Benghazi. Representative Trey Gowdy (SC-R) has already been selected as its lead investigator. This grandstanding ploy seems a bit superfluous and redundant since the House Oversight Committee has ostensibly been trying to get to the bottom of Benghazi for nearly a year and a half, albeit thus far ineffective in its results, no help from the State Department’s prior email omissions.

Not only is Benghazi the hot topic buzzing here in America, on that same day last Friday, more bullets was buzzing in Benghazi as well. Nine police security soldiers were gunned down by, you guessed it, the same murderers still remaining at large that were behind the 9/11/12 Benghazi attack – the militant group the US has for years labeled an al Qaeda affiliated terrorist organization Ansar al-Sharia. After massacring 31 peaceful demonstrators protesting outside the militants’ headquarters last June, last week’s massacre is a powerful statement showing that the terrorists are still in charge in Benghazi and immune from any accountability from the US installed puppet government either in Tripoli or Washington. They remain free men at large despite Obama’s promise to hunt them down and bring them to justice.

The senior Democratic House Intel Committee Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) typifies the partisan Obama-Hillary politics games of each side racing to the media to point fingers at each other in their same old, same old blame game. On Sunday Schiff stated he does not want any Democrats to participate in the newly forming select committee that the Republican House Speaker Boehner has just recently called for, already naming its GOP chair. That is simply a game the Dems will refuse to play. Why? Because Republicans cannot make them. Sound familiar? Perhaps your 7-year old child might employ this same game strategy.

Insider Dems like former White House advisor turned ABC analyst (and another original recipient of Rhodes’ infamous email) David Plouffe conveniently took to ABC’s Sunday morning On This Week with George Stephanopoulos crying foul even louder with their familiar “conspiracy” chant they customarily use to discredit any criticism leveled at the Obama administration. His cries reaching desperation this week accuse a “very loud, delusional minority” of Republicans of an obsessive politics game over Benghazi. Another all too familiar grade school tactic, whatever misbehavior you are accused of, simply accuse your enemy of the same offense, an old early childhood trick that you never need outgrow in the world of politics.

Still another indignant reaction hardcore defenders of Hillary and Obama are now quick to cite are the thirteen embassy attacks that occurred as so called “Benghazi’s on Bush’s watch” when not a peep was ever heard from the press. This straw house strategy is designed to show how Republicans and Fox News are hypocritical in their obsession to find dirt on Benghazi where they deny any exists. Yet this accusation seems to omit one very significant fact. Not one of those embassy attacks during the Bush regime resulted in any murdered Americans, much less four of them and one being a US Ambassador, something that has not happened in the last 32 years before Benghazi.

The media circus demonizing partisan politics players on both sides epitomizes why the US government is so utterly broken, horribly dysfunctional, morally bankrupt and totally ineffective in addressing any and all of the most pressing problems facing America and the world today. The blame game is all they know. Yet in all their exaggeration, lies, name calling and finger pointing, not one of them is even addressing the pink elephant in the room.

Obama, Hillary and then CIA Director retired General Betrayus Petraeus were/are international gun running criminal outlaws of the worst kind, working with the very same al Qaeda terrorist bunch that murdered those four nearly forgotten Americans. US tax dollars were/are going into the pockets of Ansar al-Sharia and al Qaeda mercenaries that looted Muammar Kaddafi’s gold cache and enormous weapon arsenal that included chemical weapons as well as surface to air missiles. And Obama, Petraeus and 2016 presidential heir apparent Hillary were in deep over their heads under Hillary and Stevens’ State Department cover, shipping them from Benghazi through Turkey to Syria to covertly fight a war by proxy against Assad’s government forces. After more than three bloody years, to this day the US is still bent on destroying another sovereign nation posing absolutely no security threat to America.

These are the war crimes constantly being committed by Obama, Petraeus and Hillary and their lies upon lies are unraveling at an accelerated clip with each passing month. Thus, expect to see more desperate acts of aggression from desperate despots who know that their jig is up. Yet desperate despots do not care how many humans they will take down with them. But justice for these longtime perpetrators of multiple crimes against humanity will be served in the end.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former Army officer. His written manuscript based on his military experience examines leadership and national security issues and can be consulted at http://www.redredsea.net/westpointhagopian/. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in psychology and became a licensed therapist working in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now focuses on writing.
SHOP GLOBAL RESEARCH

 

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Ukrainian Nazis Pay Private Military Company Academi (formerly Blackwater) for Training, Russian Report

The Russian Government’s Tass ‘news’ agency is alleging that “The US private military company Academi (formerly known as Blackwater) … has confirmed to the Kiev authorities its readiness to start training an experimental battalion of 550 men as of January at the request of Ukraine’s General Staff,” according to an unnamed source, which source is probably one of the few remaining anti-nazi bureaucrats still remaining in the Ukrainian Government. The reported price of this Blackwater (a.k.a. “Xe,” a.k.a. “Academi”) training contract is $3.5 million.

Furthermore, “‘Ukraine has said it is ready to pay the money on the condition of assistance from the Ukrainian association Patriot, providing technical and financial support for the project,’ the source said.”

That organization is Patriot of Ukraine. If this report in Tass is true, then the Ukrainian Government, which now is being funded almost entirely by U.S. taxpayers (inasmuch as it no longer meets the financial requirements of the IMF and EU, both of which receive funding from both U.S. and European taxpayers), and for which the U.S. Congress just passed and the U.S. President just signed into law in December authorization of a $450 million donation, is now co-funding this military training, along with — as wikipedia describes “Patriot of Ukraine” (but with wikipedia’s footnotes removed) —

a Ukrainian nationalist organization with racist and neo-Nazi political beliefs. It constitutes a paramilitary wing of the Social-National Assembly of Ukraine (S.N.A.), an assemblage of neo-Nazi organizations and groups founded in 2008 that share the social-national ideology and agree upon building a social-national state in Ukraine. Both the “Patriot of Ukraine” and the S.N.A. engage in political violence against minorities and their political opponents. The leader of the “Patriot of Ukraine” and of the Social-National Assembly is Andriy Biletsky.

The S.N.A. derived from “the Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine,” whose name was derived from the National Socialist Party of Germany — the original Nazis. America’s CIA hides its longstanding support of nazis after World War II (see this and this), but the Bushes and Obama have continued it even decades after the Soviet Union and its communism ended. Consequently, in 2004, the Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine was advised by the CIA to, and it did, change its name to the “Freedom Party,” or “Svoboda,” because that sounds better to Americans.

Biletsky has been kept out of high official authority in its post-coup Ukrainian Government, by the Obama Administration, but wikipedia’s article on Ukraine’s racist and overtly pro-Hitler “Azov Battalion” notes that Biletsky was placed in charge of the Azov Battalion, and also that Biletsky “was awarded by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko with a military decoration, ‘Order For Courage’,” so that the post-coup Ukrainian Government publicly honored this high nazi (‘nazi’ meaning racist-fascist, irrespective of any political party) operative, which Biletsky certainly has been, and is. Even the pro-U.S.-invasion Foreign Policy magazine has described the Azov Battalionas “fascist.” That propaganda-organ of the American aristocracy says “The conflict in eastern Ukraine has come, in some ways, to resemble a battle between Ukrainian and Russian nationalists,” condemning both sides equally, without even mentioning that this is an invasion by nazis into the Donbass region — as if whom the invaders are, and whom the defenders are, makes no difference (which is a very convenient underlying assumption for today’s United States Government to promote, especially since ours is now a fascist if not outright nazi government, despite the liberal rhetoric from Obama and some others, to fool suckers — and the American public are no longer represented in it).

In a youtube video (with English subtitles), Biletsky describes how he tortures residents in the separatist region (called “Donbass”), in order to extract confessions and other information from them; so, Obama’s conflict with the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee over the release of their torture-report might have relevance to his policies in Ukraine, especially since Blackwater-Academi is a U.S.-based mercenary firm, which Obama hires.

As a politician, Biletsky has switched back and forth between Ukraine’s two nazi Parties, sometimes being withRight Sector, sometimes with Svoboda. (By contrast, Germany never had more than one nazi party.)

According to the Tass report, the purpose of this training will be “marksmanship, operations by assault groups in urban conditions, … combat, and logistics support for the battalion.” In other words: the purpose is urban assaults against the residents in Donetsk, Luhansk, and other cities, and their surrounding villages. This street-fighting is necessary because merely bombing these people has failed to get them to surrender. But it has caused a vast exodus so that, in one town that was studied, “Before the war, there were 25,000 inhabitants; now there are less than 8,000. Most have fled into Russia.”

Meanwhile, any assistance that Russia provides to the residents, even food and other non-military aid, iscondemned and blocked by the nazis — the pro-ethnic-cleansing Western governments and press — who aresaying, “Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown little interest in … halting his aggression in neighboring Ukraine.” So: the Ukrainian Government is allowed to pillage, rape, and torture, but Russia would be committing ‘aggression’ to do anything about it.

If what Putin does is “aggression,” then the term that’s appropriate for what Obama does is — well, what is it? And since when is self-defense even “aggression” at all? (No wonder why Hitler called this technique, which since has been refined by the American Government, and which is now used by the Ukrainian and American Governments:“the Big Lie.” Hitler would probably admire Barack Obama, though his rhetoric was very different, and Hitler might have admired Obama as an even bigger liar — especially about himself and his beliefs.)

And when will Americans boycott the U.S. ‘news’ media, for their constant lying? Wasn’t the lying of America into George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq enough for us? Are we now to be lied into invading Russia too, with Ukraine being used as the proxy for the present stage, before NATO missiles start flying from there, at a surrounded Russia?

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Obama Accepts Decision Not to Prosecute CIA Officers: White House

 

 

1015720510

President Barack Obama

CIA Torture Report (47)
 

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest announced that US President Barack Obama shares the US Department of Justice decision that no prosecutable crime had been committed by the CIA officers.

WASHINGTON, December 11 (Sputnik) — US President Barack Obama agrees with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) finding that CIA officers involved in enhanced interrogation should not be prosecuted, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said.

“The president [Obama] has confidence both in this [US] justice system and in the way it was deployed in this particular situation [CIA officers investigation],” Earnest said Wednesday, when asked if Obama accepts DOJ conclusion that there are no prosecutable crimes committed by the CIA.

The US Department of Justice did their own investigation that concluded that no prosecutable crime had been committed by the CIA officers.

“There is a process in place that is administered by career professionals [DOJ prosecutors] that did what they were supposed to do. The president [Obama] believes firmly in their confidence and the system,” Earnest said.

On Tuesday, the US Senate Intelligence Committee released the so-called CIA “torture report,” a summary of the detailed investigation into the CIA Detention and Interrogation program that in some cases included torture practices.

Following the release of the report, US President Barack Obama vowed not to use the methods of torture, outlined in the report during the time of his presidency.

But according to the United Nations, the United States is obliged by international law to investigate its citizens suspected of engaging in torture, but even if it does not, Americans who ordered or carried out torture can be prosecuted abroad, by legal bodies including the International Criminal Court, legal experts say.

Whether they will be is another question. That’s largely a political determination. But calls for international prosecution, legal experts say, are likely to grow so long as the United States chooses not to prosecute its own.

“If I am someone implicated in the torture report, I am thinking twice about traveling to Europe anytime soon,” said Steve Vladeck, a law professor at American University in Washington. “It puts those governments in a sticky position if someone who is accused of torture presents themselves on that country’s soil.”

President Obama Defends His ‘Lockstep With Europe’ Approach to Sanctions on Russia

1015020728

U.S. President Barack Obama

 

Addressing a meeting of the President’s Export Council, Obama asked the US business community to support his course on keeping Europe in lockstep with Washington “as there may be some movement out of Congress for us to get ahead of Europe further.”

WASHINGTON, December 11 (Sputnik) — US President Barack Obama expressed caution on Thursday about unilaterally ratcheting up sanctions against Russia over Ukraine as the move that could split the United States and Europe.

Addressing a meeting of the President’s Export Council, Obama asked the US business community to support his course on keeping Europe in lockstep with Washington “as there may be some movement out of Congress for us to get ahead of Europe further.”

“The notion that we can simply ratchet up sanctions further and further and further and then ultimately Putin changes his mind, I think is a miscalculation,” Obama said.

“Where Putin will succeed is if it creates a rift in the Trans-Atlantic relationship. If he starts seeing Europe divided from the United States that would be his strategic victory,” Obama stressed calling for “strategic patience.”

“What will ultimately lead to Russia making a strategic decision is if they recognize that Europe is standing with us and we will be in it for the long haul and we are in fact patient,” he said.

“We have been successful with sanctions precisely because we’ve been systematic about it and made sure there wasn’t a lot of daylight between us and the Europeans,” the president emphasized.

1015717226

Anti-Russia Sanctions, Counter-Measures Hurting EU Members Economies: UN

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs published the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2015 report, which reads that the sanctions against Russia have had a negative impact on the economies of a number of European countries.

 

UNITED NATIONS, December 11 (Sputnik) — Sanctions, imposed on Russia by the West and Moscow’s counter-measures have had a negative impact on the economies of a number of European countries, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) said in a report.

“Weaker Russian import demand has already affected a number of EU economies, as the Russian market absorbs almost 5 per cent of the euro area’s exports,” DESA’s World Economic Situation and Prospects 2015 report, published Wednesday, read.

According to DESA, the “slowdown in the German economy in the second quarter is partially explained by lower exports of automotive components to the Russian Federation. Moreover, the restriction on supplying deep-water drilling equipment to sanctioned Russian companies affected Germany’s producers.”

Countries such as the Baltic States and Finland will lose transit revenue due to the sanctions regime, the report read, while globally, “the tourism industry will suffer from the depreciation of the Russian currency.”

Addressing Russia’s one-year food import restrictions, DESA noted that for “some East European countries (especially the Baltic States and Poland) and also for Finland and Norway, the Russian Federation absorbs a significant share of their food exports.”

Total EU food exports to the Russian market amount to approximately $11 billion annually, the report read, and “the forgone food exports would impact the entire logistics sector.”

The need to compensate farmers” losses will put pressure on national budgets, DESA stated, and while the EU member states could file a compensation claim with the union, “full coverage of losses is not likely.”

The European Union, alongside the United States, has introduced several rounds of sanctions against Russia over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, a claim Moscow has repeatedly denied. In August, Russia responded with a one-year ban on the import of certain food products from the countries that had imposed sanctions against it.

Moscow responded to Western sanctions with a one-year import ban on certain food products in August.

The current sanctions regime has already backfired on a number of European economies. Germany has seen an economic slowdown partially related to the export ban on deep-water drilling equipment to Russia, while countries such as the Baltic states, Poland, Finland and Norway have suffered due to Russia’s food import ban, according to a recent UN report.

 

 

Obama: U.S. to train, arm Ukraine national guard in 2015

Ukraine troops Slavyansk

Ukraine troops Slavyansk

 

The Obama administration has notified Congress of its plans to train and arm the Ukrainian national guard next year, the Pentagon said on Friday, as Washington continues to intensify its response to Moscow’s support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.

“The Defense Department and State Department have notified Congress of our intent to use $19 million in global security contingency fund authority to train and equip four companies and one tactical headquarters of the Ukrainian national guard as part of their efforts to build their capacity for internal defense,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.

The training, which requires congressional approval, would occur at a location within Ukraine that hosts multilateral exercises, Kirby said. The trainers would be provided by U.S. Army Europe and by the California National Guard, he added.

While Kirby did not link the training to the West’s deepening standoff with Russia over Ukraine. The announcement comes as the United States and other Western nations seek to tighten pressure on Moscow after the July 17 downing of a Malaysian airliner over rebel-held territory in Ukraine by what Western nations say was a Russia-supplied missile.

Earlier on Friday, President Barack Obama urged Russian leader Vladimir Putin to stop supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine and to seek a diplomatic end to the crisis. Washington and European nations announced new sanctions against Russia earlier this week.

While the United States has repeatedly slammed Russia’s troop buildup along the border with Ukraine and its support for the rebels, the Obama administration has limited military assistance to non lethal aid such as medical supplies and helmets.

Also on Friday, the United States pledged about $8 million in new aid to bolster the Ukrainian border guard service.

Lame-duck Obama’s brave new world

THE ROVING EYE
Lame-duck Obama’s brave new world
By Pepe Escobar

Fresh out of his latest Congressional election shellacking delivered by the minority who bothered to vote in the United States, the formerly most powerful leader in the world, US President Barack Obama, will star in a thriller this weekend, appearing in the same room with China’s Xi Jinping, Japan’s Shinzo Abe and – fasten your seat belts – Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

What a drag – the Bomber-In-Chief must be musing. The global economy is mostly a disaster. China, even growing at “only” 7% a year, keeps eroding his “indispensable nation” aura. Japan has decided to copy the Federal Reserve and embark on its own kamikaze version of quantitative easing. Numerous Southeast Asian nations keep freaking out about a few rocks in the South China Sea.

And last but not least, Obama’s nemesis, pesky Vlad “the Hammer” Putin, has just been crowned Most Powerful Leader in the world – even if for the most stupid reasons (“unpredictable” head of a “rogue state”) [1] – while he, the Nobel Peace Prize leader of the exceptionalist, indispensable nation, is now nothing but a pitiful lame duck.

The get-together, extended to Monday and Tuesday, will be the highlight of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing – actually, outside of Beijing, so presumably unpolluted blue skies may also have a chance at the photo op. This is APEC’s 25th birthday. And the 20th birthday of the Indonesian summit in Bogor – I happened to be there – which, under Bill Clinton’s flowery charm, set the 21-member APEC nations a goal of “free” and open trade and investment by 2020. “Free” as in US corporations dictating the rules, of course.

What the whole planet really wants to know about APEC is whether The Lame Duck with meet The Bear face to face, one on one. The White House remains mum. The Kremlin did not rule it out. Well, there’s always Plan B: the Group of 20 summit on November 15-16 in Brisbane, Australia.

What the whole planet already knows is that the new slimy show premiering on Capitol Hill on January 2015 has a top priority: the Republicans will do everything in their power to make the lame duck cry for mercy over and over again. So what will this mean in terms of Obama’s self-styled “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” foreign policy doctrine, which that 2016 juggernaut known as “The Hillarator” has already derided as a “non-organizational principle”? Just extra layers of cosmic stupidity, or something more substantial?

That old axis of evil
Let’s start with The Caliph, aka Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Obama already said, after his shellacking, he is going to seek Congressional authorization for his coalition of the cowards bombing IS – aka Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or Daesh, the jiahdi outfit’s Arabic acronym

Now that’s not a dumb move. If Republican-ruled Congress says “yes”, they will be responsible for the fiasco (and it’s already a fiasco). If they say “no”, the fiasco can be attributed to their irresponsibility.

Republicans are immersed in their own internal split – the boots-on-the-ground favored by the establishment against the non-interventionist Tea Party. So in the end, the lame duck may profit from it after all.

Iran is a much dicier proposition. It all depends on a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) being reached in a little over two weeks, on November 24. That’s a taller-than-the-Himalayas order, although feasible. The Obama administration is desperate for a deal – as the leak of a “secret letter” from Obama to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei attests. But a deal under Washington’s terms, which for Tehran is unacceptable. [2]

The new US Senate only takes over in January. Obama has already stressed he won’t ask the Senate to ratify the deal. Once again, the problem is what deal? Obama’s idea of a grand design in the Middle East is to use a “responsible” – according to US standards – Tehran to balance the Sunni-Shi’ite divide and get rid of the current proxy wars, the whole thing arbitrated by Washington. This is a pipe dream. But it’s what the lame duck wants.

Needless to say, Republicans – for whom Tehran never left the “axis of evil” – will try to bomb the dream, pipelines and all, for instance by passing legislation preventing the lifting of key sanctions. Sparks will fly. Tehran won’t accept a nuclear deal where Washington just says “take my word for it, we will lift sanctions”; this has to be in the letter of the agreement. After all they have vast experience of dealing with gun-crazy Republicans in power.

Nothing will change on Russia – even as the Obama administration needs Moscow to get a deal with Tehran. The relentless demonization of Putin and the resurgence of the same old Cold War meme, “The Russians are Coming”, are guaranteed to keep propelling stupidity 24/7 to intergalactic spheres.

Capitol Hill will go on overdrive. After all, Russia demonization is a bipartisan sport in Washington. The only “solution” would be regime change. Not only is Putin not going anywhere, but he’s ratcheting up his defiance of the Empire of Chaos. This implies increased problems with Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel keeps appeasing the Americans while German businesses want increased trade with Russia and Eurasia as a whole.

Another China win-win?
On trade, here’s where APEC collides with the two-pronged US version of an economic NATO: the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Asia.

What the Obama administration is fighting for is nothing less than a totally unregulated global marketplace. Imagine the “free” market – as Bill “Bubba” Clinton was already parading in Indonesia two decades ago – setting all sorts of standards on everything from working conditions to the environment. In theory, that’s exactly what Republicans love. So here Obama would be right in their alley, which implies an easy Senate ratification.

It’s actually way more complicated. Republicans simply cannot stomach an Obama victory. That means this upcoming Senate won’t give him the fast track he needs to clinch the TPP deal.

That happens to be exactly what China wants. Beijing will use APEC to promote the road map for its own, anti-TPP trade deal, the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). TPP involves 12 APEC members – but not China. And even inside TPP there’s a monster revolt; Tokyo is battling the US because they Japan is sure its auto industry and agriculture may be devoured by US corporations.

So we’re right into a titanic Transformer-style Battle of the Deals. In fact any deal is problematic, as China, Japan and South Korea may want, in principle, broader economic cooperation. But on trade, in so many levels, they are fiercely competing against each other – as in the auto industry and agriculture, for instance – not to mention that heavy historical baggage between Japan and China and Japan and South Korea.

The Chinese charm offensive at APEC in Beijing is all about “innovative development”, “building infrastructure investment” and “comprehensive connectivity”. It’s all a mirror image of the extremely ambitious New Silk Roads proposed by President Xi to connect Eurasia.

Beijing is proposing a new “connectivity framework” into three key areas – “physical connectivity, institutional connectivity, and people-to-people connectivity”. But still no one knows how this will work out in practice towards Asia integration. Washington doesn’t care; it just wants a “free” unregulated mega-market for US corporations.

Beijing sees Asian economic integration as APEC facilitating an FTAAP by 2025. Needless to say, the US and a few vassals aboard the TPP have been adamant that no regional deal jeopardizes TPP. Washington was betting on TPP being signed before APEC. It didn’t happen. So Plan B is to boycott FTAAP until TPP is signed. And that Beijing won’t allow. The lame duck will have to duck a lot on his one-on-one with Xi in Beijing.

Finally, what about the Obama-Capitol Hill battle on the climate-change field? For the absolute majority of Republicans, climate change and global warming are nothing but an evil conspiracy. End of story.

The lame duck and Capitol Hill at least may agree on – what else – the Global War on Terror. Pentagon supremo Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently said the US should get ready for endless wars, as “tyranny”, “terrorism”, national security challenges and – surprise! – climate change pose a substantial “threat”.

Since 2002, the Pentagon has been saying to anyone who was bothered to listen that Endless War is the only deal in town – or the universe, for that matter. The lame duck might even fraternize about it with his Republican nemeses over the odd round of golf. What a wonderful (lame duck) world this would be.

Notes:
1. Putin Vs. Obama: The World’s Most Powerful People 2014, Forbes, November 5, 2014.
2. Obama Wrote Secret Letter to Iran’s Khamenei About Fighting Islamic State, Wall Street Journal Online (subscription).

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.