The United States of America emerged victorious from the Second World War, and came out stronger than any other country in the world. The allies– notably the Soviet Union– won the war but emerged much weaker.
They needed to reconstruct their countries and rebuild their economies, with the US demanding huge retrospective payments for its support. The US became a superpower with nuclear bomb capability and an imposing power of dominance. Industrial countries rebuilt in what the Germans called their Wirtschaftswunder and the French les Trentes Glorieuses, the thirty years of post-war prosperity. Meanwhile the US leveraged its prosperity to spread its hegemony around the world.
US power was enhanced with the beginning of Perestroika and after the fall of the Soviet Union. In the new millennium the US establishment declared the “War on Terror” as justification to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq, while attempting to subdue Hezbollah in Lebanon, changing the régime in Libya and attempting to destroy Syria, all with the goal of reshuffling and forming a “New Middle East”.
In the Levant, the US has dramatically failed to reach its objectives, but it has succeeded in waking Russia from its long hibernation, to challenge the US unilateral hegemony of the world and to develop new forms of alliance.
Iran has also challenged the US hegemony incrementally since the 1979 “Islamic Revolution”. Iran has planned meticulously, and patiently built a chain of allies connecting different parts of the Middle East. Now, after 37 years, Iran can boast a necklace of robust allies in Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan- who are all ready, if necessary, to take up arms to defend Iran.
Iran, in fact, has greatly benefited from US mistakes. Through its lack of understanding of populations and leaders around the world, it has universally failed to win “hearts and minds” in every Middle Eastern country where it imposed itself as a potential ally. The arrival of President Donald Trump to power helped US allies and the anti-US camp to discover, together, the limits and reach of US sanctions.
Russia and China took the lead in offering a new, softer model of an alliance, which apparently does not aim to impose another kind of hegemony. The offer of an economic alliance and partnership is especially attractive to those who have tasted US hegemony and wish to liberate themselves from it by means of a more balanced alternative.
During this period of Trump’s ruling, the Middle East became a huge warehouse of advanced weapons from varied sources. Every single country (and some non-state actors) has armed drones– and some even have precision and cruise missiles. But superiority in armaments by itself counts for very little, and its very balance is not enough to shift the weight to one side or another. Even the poorest country, Yemen, has done significant damage to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a country highly equipped, militarily, and with the most modern US hardware in the Middle East.
US President Trump was informed about the evident failure to change the régime in Syria and the equal impossibility of dislodging Iran from the Levant. He most probably aimed to avoid the loss of lives and therefore decided to abandon the country that his forces have occupied for the past few years. Nonetheless, his sudden withdrawal, even if so far it is partial (because he says, a small unit will remain behind at al-Tanf, to no strategic benefit since al-Qaem border crossing is now operational) – came as a shock to his Kurdish and Israeli allies. Trump proved his readiness to abandon his closest friends & enemies overnight.
Trump’s move offered an unexpected victory to Damascus. The Syrian government is now slowly recovering its most important source of food, agriculture and energy. North-East Syria represents a quarter of the country’s geography. The northern provinces have exceptional wealth in water, electricity dams, oil, gas and food. President Trump has restored it to President Bashar al-Assad. This will also serve Trump’s forthcoming election campaign.
Assad trusts that Russia will succeed in halting the Turkish advance and reduce its consequences, perhaps by asking the Kurds to pull back to a 30 km distance from the Turkish borders to satisfy President Erdogan’s anxiety. That could also fit the Turkish-Syrian 1998 Adana agreement (5 km buffer zone rather than 30 km) and offer tranquillity to all parties involved. Turkey wants to make sure the Kurdish YPG, the PKK Syrian branch, is disarmed and contained. Nothing seems difficult for Russia to manage, particularly when the most difficult objective has already been graciously offered: the US forces’ withdrawal.
President Assad will be delighted to trim the Kurds’ nails. The Kurds offered Afrin to Turkey to prevent the Syrian government forces controlling it. The Kurds, in exchange for the State of their dreams (Rojava), supported US occupation and Syria’s enemy, Israel. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu bombed hundreds of targets in Syria, preferring ISIS to dominate the country and pushing Trump to give him the Syrian-occupied Golan Heights as a gift– although the US has no authority over this Syrian territory.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians were killed, millions of refugees were driven from their homes and hundreds of billions of dollars were spent on destroying Syria. Nonetheless, the Syrian state and President Assad have prevailed. Notwithstanding the consequences of the war, Arab and Gulf countries are eager to return to Syria and participate in reconstruction. Whoever rules Syria, the attempt to destroy the Syrian state and change the existing régime has failed.
Russia is one of the most successful players here, on numerous fronts, and is now in a position President Putin could only have dreamed about before 2015. Numerous analysts and think tanks predicted Moscow would sink into the Syrian quagmire, and they mocked its arsenal. They were all wrong. Russia learned its lesson from the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. It offered air and missile coverage and brilliantly cooperated with Iran and its allies as ground forces.
President Putin skillfully managed the Syrian war, striking a balance and creating good ties with Turkey, a NATO ally– even after the downing of his jet by Ankara in 2015. Russia wanted to collaborate with the US but was faced with an administration with persistent “Red-Soviet” phobia. Moscow proceeded without Washington to solve the Syrian war and defeat the jihadists who had flocked to the country with support from the West (via Turkey and Jordan) from all over the world.
Russia showed off its new arsenal and managed to sell a lot of its weapons. It has trained its Air Force using real battle scenarios, fought alongside the Syrian and Iranian armies, and a non-state actor (Hezbollah). It defeated ISIS and al-Qaeda 40 years after its defeat in Afghanistan. President Putin has distinguished himself as a trustworthy partner and ally, unlike Trump– who abandoned the Kurds, and who blackmails even his closest ally (Saudi Arabia).
Russia imposed the Astana process instead of Geneva for peace talks, it offered countries to use their local currencies for commerce rather than the dollar, and it is dealing pragmatically with Iran and Saudi Arabia, and with Assad and Erdogan. The Americans, by their recklessness, showed themselves incapable of diplomacy.
Moscow mediated between the Syrian Kurds and the central government in Damascus even when these had been under US control for years. Putin behaved wisely with Israel even when he accused Tel Aviv of provoking the killing of his officers, and stayed relatively neutral in relation to the Iran-Israel struggle.
On the other hand, Tel Aviv never thought Syria would be reunited. Today Damascus has armed drones, precision and cruise missiles from Iran, supersonic anti-ship Russian missiles– and has survived the destruction of its infrastructure and so many years of war.
Israel has lost the prospect of a Kurdish state (Rojava) as an ally. This dream has gone now for many decades to come and with it the partition of Syria and Iraq. The “Deal of the Century” makes no sense anymore and the non-aggression deal with the Arab states is a mirage. Everything that Trump’s close advisor, Prime Minister Netanyahu, wanted has lost its meaning, and Israel now has to deal with the Russian presence in the Middle East and bear the consequences of the victory achieved by Assad, the Russians, and the Iranians.
After the Kurds, Israel is the second biggest loser– even if it has suffered no financial damage and no Israeli lives have been lost in combat. Netanyahu’s ambitions can no longer be used in his election scenario. Israel needs to prepare for living next door to Assad, who will certainly want back Syria’s Golan– a priority for Damascus to tackle once domestic reconstruction is on its way. He has been preparing the local resistance for years, for the day when Syria will recover this territory.
Elon Musk Has Officially Pissed Off Pablo Escobar’s Brother
In what is just another normal day of business for the circus over at Tesla, Roberto Escobar, former accountant to his druglord brother Pablo, has now vowed to “take down” Elon Musk, according to the Sun.
The animosity stems from the allegation that Musk stole the idea for his “Not-A-Flamethrower” from Escobar during a visit to the Escobar compound in the summer of 2017.
In January of 2018, Musk’s Boring Company released the large blowtorches that are shaped like guns. He named them “Not-A-Flamethrower” as a result of U.S. customs officials telling Musk they wouldn’t allow the sale of “flamethrowers” nationwide. All 20,000 of the products that were manufactured were sold out within days.
But Escobar says that he was the one who suggested the concept to Musk’s engineer months before they were released, inspired by his brother’s purported habit of burning money to keep warm.
Escobar launched his own flamethrower earlier this year and also threatened to sue Elon Musk for IP theft. Musk glibly jabbed back at Escobar on Twitter, reminding him that “It’s Not A Flamethrower, Mr. Escobar.”
Escobar now seems dead set on legal action. He told the Telegraph:
“We will soon file a $100 million case against him in America, and I will try my best to make sure he loses his stronghold in Tesla Inc. He knows exactly what he has done to us.”
His brother, Pablo Escobar, was one of the most well known Colombian drug lords who monopolized the trade of cocaine into the U.S. in the 1980’s and 1990’s. He was reportedly worth about 45 billion pounds at the time of his death, which made him the “wealthiest criminal in history”.
Robert acted as co-founder of his brother’s cartel and was the organization’s accountant.
But the real question here may lie behind the lede. Tesla skeptic Mark Spiegel astutely asked on Twitter:
The most bizarre thing about this story is that Musk never denied Escobar’s claim that one of his engineers visited Escobar’s compound in the summer of 2017.
Both Tulsi Gabbard and the Green Party of the United States have issued scorching rebukes of Hillary Clinton for baseless accusations the former Secretary of State made during a recent interview claiming that both Gabbard and former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein are aligned with the Russian government.
“I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,” Clinton said in a transparent reference to Gabbard.
“She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far. And that’s assuming Jill Stein will give it up, which she might not because she’s also a Russian asset.”
Clinton provided no evidence for her outlandish claims, because she does not have any.Gabbard has repeatedlydenied centrist conspiracy theories that she intends to run as a third-party candidate, a claim which establishment pundits have been making more and more often because they know there will never be any consequences when their claims are disproven. There is no evidence of any kind connecting either Jill Stein or Tulsi Gabbard to the Russian government.
Of course, this total lack of evidence hasn’t dissuaded Clintonites from falling all over themselves trying to justify Mommy’s claims anyway.
“Russian ‘assets’ are not formal relationships in the USIC [US Intelligence Community] sense of the word,”CNN analyst and former FBI agent Asha Rangappa explained via Twitter.
“If you are parroting Russian talking points and furthering their interests, you’re a source who is too dumb to know you’re being played to ask for money.”
“It’s important to point out here that a Russian ‘asset’ is not the same thing as a Russian ‘agent’,” tweeted virulent establishment narrative manager Caroline Orr. “An asset can be witting or unwitting; it’s any person or org who can be used to advance Russia’s interests. It’s pretty clear that Tulsi satisfies that criteria.”
“One doesn’t have to be on the Kremlin’s payroll to be a Russian asset. One doesn’t even have to know they are a Russian asset to be a Russian asset. Have you not heard the term ‘useful idiot’ before?”tweeted writer Kara Calavera.
Yep, yeah, that makes perfect sense. One doesn’t have to actually have any formal relationship with the Kremlin to be a Kremlin asset. One doesn’t have to know they’re a Kremlin asset to be a Kremlin asset. The Kremlin doesn’t even need to know one is a Kremlin asset for them to be a Kremlin asset. Nothing has to have happened except the accusation of being a Kremlin asset. It’s just kind of a vague, shapeless nothing thing that doesn’t necessarily have any actual meaning to it at all besides the way it makes people feel inside. It’s more like a religious belief, really.
Isn’t it interesting how that works? Establishment loyalists get a damaging and incendiary tag that they can pin on anyone who disagrees with them, with the sole evidentiary requirement being that disagreement itself.
Author and antiwar activist David Swanson noticed this bizarre intellectual contortion as well, tweeting, “Notice that they carefully define ‘Russian asset’ to mean not necessarily an asset and not necessarily with any connection to Russia.”
Notice that they carefully define “Russian asset” to mean not necessarily an asset and not necessarily with any connection to Russia. https://t.co/Yp6rR1EElh
Establishment narrative managers have been performing this obnoxious trick for years; this is just the most publicly it’s been brought into the spotlight. They claim someone is a Russian asset, then when asked to provide proof that the person is working for Russia, they say they might be an “unwitting” Russian asset, or a “useful idiot”, who does the Kremlin’s bidding without realizing it by sharing ideas and information which the Russian government agrees with. Which is just another way of saying that they hold positions which diverge from the microscopic Overton window of establishment-authorized opinion.
Such positions typically consist of some form of opposition to longstanding US military agendas, such as America’s failed policy of regime change interventionism. Both Jill Stein and Tulsi Gabbard have inserted skepticism of US military policy into mainstream political discourse, which is tremendously inconvenient for the people whose job it is to manufacture consent for new wars and endless military expansionism.
The “Russian asset” smear has given the establishment narrative managers the ability to make incredibly inflammatory and scandalous accusations about anyone who opposes the US establishment foreign policy consensus, without ever having to back them up with facts. It’s no obstacle for me if I can’t prove that you have any connection to the Russian government, because I can still smear you as a Russian asset by saying your views align with Moscow’s interests, or by noting that Russian news media has done news reporting on you as our friend Neera Tanden does here:
Never mind the fact that there are many, many reasons to oppose the US establishment foreign policy consensus which have nothing to do with Russia. Never mind the fact that the US establishment foreign policy consensus has been an unmitigated disaster that has only made the world worse and is pushing the US-centralized power alliance toward a point where a direct military confrontation with Russia, China and their allies becomes inescapable. Never mind the fact that Russia is far from the only country in the world that wishes America would scale back its aggressive military expansionism. It has been firmly established beyond any doubt that it is now literally impossible for an American political figure to vocally oppose US warmongering without being labeled a Russian asset.
In reality, “Russian asset” is nothing more than a completely meaningless noise that war pigs make with their face holes, no more coherent and communicative than the barking of a dog or the chattering of a squirrel. If we were to come up with a definition for that term which reflects the way it is actually being used in modern political discourse, that definition would be something like, “An incantation which magically makes political dissent look like something treasonous and Machiavellian.”
Establishment narrative managers are getting more and more aggressive with the psychological bullying tactics they are using against political dissidents. Applying a ridiculous, meaningless pejorative to anyone who disagrees with mainstream US foreign policy views is just one more ugly tool in their infernal toolbox. It is not normal, healthy or acceptable to accuse someone of being a Russian asset just because they disagree with the authorized commentators of the American political/media class, and when they make such accusations they should be publicly shamed for it.