Saturday, March 18, 2017

Salute to a Modern Martyr: Bullet-Riddled Resistance Activist Basil Al-Araj Finally Buried in West Bank

A Salute

by Mazin Qumsiyeh -

March 18, 2017

[Israeli occupation forces finally delivered the body of our friend Basil Al-Araj after 10 days and we buried him yesterday evening as fireworks lit the sky and thousands pledged to carry on the work of freedom in his honor. 

His body was riddled with 10 bullets including two to his head and one to his heart! It was the latter that killed him physically but it was the injury to his heart by betrayal that made me think of the Mel Gibson's movie Braveheart. I cried many times during those three hours in Al-Walaja especially when I got a glimpse of Basil's face and when his father saluted the body and when I saw a young girl (a mutual friend) crying in the corner just outside the door of the cemetery and I thought of consoling her and decided it might make things worse for both of us. I only decided to redouble my own efforts and call her later and reconnect with the living activists more.]

I will start this weekly message by saying we need your help. Dozens of volunteers work with us every week at the museum and botanical garden but the work is heavy especially in preparation for our opening ceremony mid April.

In the next three weeks, we are especially short-handed in the following areas which you might be able to help with:

- The botanical garden and agriculture area (this is manual labor but in a really beautiful setting with over 100 species of plants blooming now)
- Carpentry and general handicraft work
- Researching some items
- Graphic design
- Good drivers (valid licence)
- Field work
- Plant work (Herbarium)
- Translation
- Writing and copy-editing
- Video-making (including production/editing)
- Educational exhibit design
- Grant writing or to help us with contacts among people who can help

If you can help in any of these areas (or any others), please contact us at or me personally at

Help discover ancient ruins — before it's too late: Citizen science platform. passion is contagious

UN official resigns after pressure to withdraw Israel apartheid report

BDS National Committee response:

Vijay Prashad in the Hindu: Crimes of Apartheid
[The UN may soon become totally irrelevant to world affairs]

Trump budget slashes foreign aid, but not for Israel

Donate: Defense for Children International - Palestine was recently selected by the GlobalGiving Foundation to participate in its Accelerator program, a three-week long crowd-funding campaign for NGOs around the world. Could you help reach our goal to raise at least 10,000 USD by 31 March by making a donation and helping us spread the word?

In particular, we hope that people will make a donation on 22 March, because it is a Bonus Day during which GlobalGiving will match each donation by 20%! that means your gift of, for example, 25 USD turns into 30 USD with the help of GlobalGiving.

Here is a link to the campaign:

[DCI provides expert, child-friendly legal services we offer Palestinian children arrested, detained, and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system. As you know, these children face severe ill-treatment and physical violence at the hands of Israeli forces.]

Stay Human

Mazin Qumsiyeh
A bedouin in cyberspace, a villager at home
Professor and (volunteer) Director
Palestine Museum of Natural History
Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability
Bethlehem University
Occupied Palestine
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Justin's Spanner: Can Freeland Completely Destroy Canada-Russia Relations?

Will Chrystia Freeland Finally Ruin Canadian-Russian Relations?

by Michael Jabara CARLEY - SCF


On 10 January 2017 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired his minister of external affairs, Stéphane Dion, replacing him with Chrystia Freeland, the then minister of international trade. This cabinet shuffle might not have gotten much public notice except that Dion is a distinguished parliamentarian, former leader of the party and leader of the opposition, and a former key minister in the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien. Freeland, on the other hand, is a well-known Ukrainian ultra-nationalist and self-declared Russophobe and hater of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The sacking of Dion was also noteworthy because Trudeau had run on an electoral platform in 2015 promising, inter alia, to improve Canadian relations with Russia, spoilt by the government of Stephen Harper.

When Dion became minister of external affairs, he confirmed the Liberal commitment to re-establish more constructive Canadian-Russian relations.

He kept to this line even though Prime Minister Trudeau said that Canada would continue its close relations with the government in Kiev including the maintenance of Canadian military advisors in the Ukraine. Essentially, Trudeau said he intended to continue Tory policy on relations with Russia. No one paid much attention to the contradiction between Trudeau’s affirmation of Harper’s policy, and Dion’s periodic statements to the contrary.

Dion could make little or no progress in improving Canadian-Russian relations, most certainly because the prime minister and Minister Freeland were against it. Nothing much was said publically because Trudeau had promised a different policy during the election campaign. Was he just another fork-tongued politician? Perhaps he is, and wanted to divert attention from un-kept electoral promises. Nor would it have been desirable to publicise a policy split inside the government.

While Dion is a distinguished parliamentarian, former leader of the party and leader of the opposition, Freeland is a well-known Ukrainian ultra-nationalist and self-declared Russophobe

When the news broke that Trudeau had replaced Dion with Freeland, Liberal sources whispered that Dion was not really suited to be a diplomat. He was irritable, they said, and had not mastered the diplomacy of using speech to conceal his thoughts. Radio Sputnik contacted me at the time for an interview. I commented that Freeland’s appointment was «a catastrophe» for Canadian-Russian relations, as indeed it is. Some elements of the Mainstream Media (MSM) in Canada picked up on my comments saying that Russian sources had claimed the sacking of Dion was a catastrophe. I rejoined that it was me, a Canadian citizen, who had so characterised the Freeland appointment, and not Russian sources.

Is Trudeau just another fork-tongued politician?

Why should Canadians care one way or another whether their government supports the Ukraine and sends arms and advisors there to strengthen Ukrainian military forces?

Well, the most important reason is that the present government in Kiev is illegitimate in spite of democratic appearances. It is the spawn of a violent coup d’état in February 2014, brokered and supported by the United States and the European Union, which overthrew the democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovich.

The vanguard of the Kiev coup d’état are neo-Nazi, fascist or ultra nationalist political and paramilitary organisations, notably the political party Svoboda, the paramilitary Pravyi sektor and various other paramilitary forces such as the so-called Azov and Aidar battalions. These paramilitary units were and are used to crush opposition in those parts of the Ukraine controlled by Kiev.

Politicians, journalists, anyone speaking against the putsch government in Kiev could be, or were killed, beaten, jailed or forced to flee. The Ukrainian communist party was declared illegal.

The governing Party of Regions has disappeared, some of its members being charged with criminal offences for having contacts with Russian counterparts. Others abandoned the party because it was neither safe nor practical to remain as members.

Everywhere in the Kiev-controlled Ukraine, Nazi or SS symbols are readily observable

The United States claims that the neo-Nazis are freaks and «a few bad apples». But the signs of fascism can be observed everywhere in the Kiev-controlled Ukraine. Nazi or SS symbols are readily observable. The Nazi swastika can be seen as a frequent tattoo amongst fascist militiamen. Torch light parades redolent of Nazi Germany are often staged in Kiev and other cities to frighten people opposed to the coup d’état.

As with Nazism and Italian fascism, violence, force and atavistic masculinity are exalted to intimidate any opposition.

Nazi collaborators during World War II are now transformed into national heroes, Stepan Bandera, for example, or the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) which perpetrated mass murders amongst Soviet and Polish civilian populations.

Neo-Nazi violence and intimidation worked in many places, but not in others. In the Crimea, the population united almost to the last man and woman, to toss out the putschist authorities and to vote for reunification with Russia.

In the east, in the Donbass, the anti-fascist resistance repulsed Kiev punitive forces with heavy losses.

These remarkable feats of arms, redolent of so many others in Russian history, were wasted by Moscow, which disregarded a first principle of war that one never lets an enemy withdraw to fight another day. «He who spares the aggressor», Stalin once remarked, «wants another war.»

In Ukraine, Nazi collaborators during World War II are now transformed into national heroes 

It may shock some people to hear Stalin quoted, but Plutarch, Sun Tzu, or Clausewitz might have said the same thing. Moscow supported the so-called Minsk peace accords which were never respected by the Kiev authorities. Ultra-nationalists even boasted that they had agreed to Minsk solely in order to rest and refit their beaten forces. It was only a ruse de guerre.

These are the forces which the Canadian government now supports with the enthusiastic backing of Minister Freeland. For her, it must be a lifelong dream-come-true.

There has been much press comment during the last week or so about Freeland’s Ukrainian grandfather, Mykhailo Chomiak, a Nazi collaborator during World War II.

Freeland claimed that he was only a refugee from Stalinist violence. He might have been, but he also collaborated with Nazi Germany. In many places in Europe, France and Italy, for example, collaborators were summarily shot or imprisoned after the war. In France, more than 5,000 were executed including Pierre Laval, a prominent French politician, who sided with Nazi Germany and vaunted collaboration to oppose the USSR. Another 38,000 French collaborators were jailed. Chomiak was lucky he was not hanged and that he ended up in northern Alberta, to die a well-to-do farmer.

The story about Freeland’s grandfather was first put out by John Helmer, a long-time independent journalist living in Moscow. Freeland claimed a week or so ago that Russia was attempting «to destabilize the Western democracies»; and Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale asserted poor Ms. Freeland was a victim of «Russian disinformation tactics».

Should Freeland be held responsible for the sins of her grandfather? Obviously not. What is disturbing about Freeland is her intense hatred of Russia and the Russian government, and her confusion about her own national identity. I am, she has written, «one of Ukraine’s democrats.» If this is so, what is she doing as a minister in the Canadian government? Is she first and foremost a Canadian, or is she a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist whose primary objective is to use her ministerial post to defend the putsch government in Kiev and to exacerbate Canadian relations with Russia?

If Freeland should not be condemned for the sins of her grandfather—although she might not see them as sins—she can be condemned for her own words, publications and deeds. Even by her own proud admission, she has left a long trail of venomous hatred of Russia which can easily be uncovered by internet searching. She defends the putschists in Kiev and overlooks their violence. With more than a hint of Orwellian «newspeak», Freeland asserts that the violent coup d’état in Kiev against the democratically elected president was a defence of «democracy». Is she pursuing the same objectives, twice removed, of dedushka, or Grandpa Chomiak, by supporting the Kiev junta?

That’s the problem with Freeland, who now constitutes a smoking grenade ready to go off at any moment under Canadian-Russian relations. Until now, the virulent, irrational, Russophobia afflicting the United States has not metastasised into Canada. It’s true that the Harper Conservatives were Russophobes, but when they lost power, it was possible to believe that sanity and pragmatism would return to Canadian relations with the Russian Federation. One had only to listen to Dion’s occasional statements on the subject to think that Canada was recovering its common sense. Canadians could breathe a sigh of relief and return the widely held idea that Canada is somehow a more civilised, sensible place to live than the United States.

Unfortunately, Canadian complacency appears premature. On 8 March Macleans, the Canadian equivalent of Time magazine, published a big article as Russophobic and preposterous as any piece of American yellow journalism. The headline reads: «Russia’s Coming Attack on Canada». The subtitle is: «The smear job on Chrystia Freeland is only the start. Why Canada is a logical next target in Moscow’s desperate clandestine war.» The «smear job» is of course the outing of Grandpa Chomiak as a Nazi collaborator. The author spouts one line of rubbish after the next about Russia and then accuses the Russian government of outing Chomiak. In fact, it appears to have been John Helmer, an Australian, who published the first article on Freeland’s forebears.

Further revelations followed from Alex Boykowich, a Ukrainian Canadian, who consulted Chomiak’s personal papers held in the Alberta provincial archives in Edmonton.

«God, why did Grandpa keep those damned papers», Freeland must be thinking: «I should have burned them long ago.» Too late now, Ms. Freeland, the cat’s out of the bag.

«Ravings» (délires), one Montréal journalist called Freeland’s accusations against Russia and Putin. Of course, no one would care about Freeland’s obsessive Russophobia except that she is minister of external affairs. She can encourage the metastasis of Russophobia into Canada, as she indeed has started to do.

Trudeau’s neoliberalism is more American than Canadian 

The psychosis is spreading, as I discovered the other day in casual conversation with a respected colleague. Putin is another Stalin, he said, he’s crushed democracy in Russia, press freedom is dead, and no one dares to speak against him. Anyone who has spent time in Moscow knows that lots of people complain about Putin. He knows too, and tolerates it.

«Sure he does» my interlocutor replied with a smile.

I understood and changed the subject.

People who voted Liberal in the last election thinking Trudeau fils would be like Trudeau père are now waking up to the reality that the son is nothing like the father. He is just another neoliberal pretty face, exploiting identity politics to pursue policy lines little different than those of his predecessor, the hated Stephen Harper.

Trudeau’s neoliberalism is more American than Canadian. Is he part of the movement to sabotage any improvement of US-Russian relations? If so, he’s pursuing a dangerous policy.

His external affairs minister is a fanatical Russophobe, hoist upon the petard of her words going back a long way. Is Freeland pursuing grandpa’s old dreams, collaborating with the ultra-nationalists and neo-Nazis in Kiev, all the while pretending they don’t exist?

What should Canada’s surviving veterans think about the Liberal government sending Canadian advisors to train Kiev’s armed hooligans? 

More than 42,000 Canadian soldiers died during World War II to destroy fascism and Nazism.

Is Freeland kicking sand on their graves by supporting the Kiev authorities and their celebration of Nazi collaboration?

What should Canada’s surviving veterans think about the Liberal government sending Canadian advisors to train Kiev’s armed hooligans? «Against Russian aggression», Freeland would no doubt retort.

But even MSM journalists in Canada, not as venal as their American counterparts, have derided such talk as «delusional». The question is will the majority of Canadians fall for Freeland’s dangerous Russophobia?

Boots on the March: Media Silent on Trump Syria Surge

BEYOND MISSION CREEP: U.S. Planning to Send 1,000 More Ground Troops into Syria 

by Patrick Henningsen - 21st Century Wire

March 17, 2017

Just as 21WIRE reported last week – the US mainstream media are still black-balling any substantial reporting about US boots on the ground in Syria. Instead, America’s media are obsessing over Trump’s tax returns, various Russian conspiracy theories, and Michael Flynn’s Moscow public speaking engagement in 2015.

With this latest Pentagon announcement of an additional 1,000 US troops to Syria, that would bring the total combat deployment to approximately 4,000 inside of Syria.

BREAKING: Israeli jets attack Syria government position, draw return fire.

Considering the amount of media coverage and political debate over the 5,000 US military personnel send to Iraq over the last 3 years – one must ask why the silence in US media about the stealth build-up for a major battle in Raqqa, Syria.

Previously, 21WIRE reported how the United States has sent in combat troops to support YPG fighters (Kurdish People’s Protect Units in Syria) – much to the dismay of Turkey, and to the annoyance of both Russian and Syrian planners. Turkey has been pressing the US to change its strategy for fighting Islamic State in Syria by abandoning the YPG whom it deems as terrorists (in league with the Kurdish PKK in Turkey).

The other aspect of this is being ignored by western media and their legion of panel ‘experts’. There are a number of rival factions and militias being backed by the US besides the Syrian Democratic Forces (comprised of Kurdish YPG). the US-led Coalition have substantial investments in Sunni extremist (terrorist) fighting groups allied under the Al Nusra (al Qaeda in Syria) umbrella. Consider how back in late 2015, the US deployed 5o US Special Forces in Syria as ‘human shields’ – arguably to salvage its ‘rebels’ assets being ravaged by Russian airstrikes. After the Coalition’s epic loss when Al Nusra-led brigades were driven out of terrorist stronghold in East Aleppo, one must ask if there an element of this in US positioning around Manbij and Raqqa?

With so many stakeholders, the margin for error is extremely thin. The situation is fraught with risk for all parties.

NOTE: This is taking place amid a political storm in Washington – as the entire Democratic Party, half the Republican Party and the whole of the US mainstream media are all trying to bring down the Trump Administration. If Raqqa is deemed a success, it will effectively give Trump a win. If it is deemed a disaster, then it will be used to fuel the anti-Trump resistance in the US. If the White House is too desperate for a win, then the prospect of a mistake or miscalculation become riskier. If a major world war is to be triggered – it could very well happen here.

Clearly, the US and others are planning a massive operation to lay siege to Raqqa, the ISIS stronghold in Syria. However, if the other similar allied operation in Mosul, Iraq is anything to go by, then expect massive civilian casualties in this battle too. The civilian carnage has been mostly censored from mainstream in the US and Europe, the ‘Coalition’ are afraid of the negative public relations backlash in the event that western public received too much negative news about the haphazard operation in Mosul. After early reports of massive civilian casualties in late 2016, it seems that the Pentagon have given the order to mainstream editorial desks to back off on negative reporting. How else can we explain how hundreds, and possibly thousands, of civilians killed in this month alone – has managed to escape any and all media scrutiny?

To underline this matter, yesterday, Human Rights Watch issued two new reports accusing Iraqi troops of using indiscriminate shelling into civilian areas in the fight to liberate Mosul from ISIS control.

Based these recent reports, it’s becoming more clear that US-led Coalition is sacrificing civilians in their objective to target ISIS fighters.To make matters worse, ISIS, like Al Nusra terrorists in Aleppo, have been using Mosul civilians as human shields. The only difference in this comparison is that western media were condemning the Syrian and Russian militaries for their anti-terror operations in Aleppo, while giving a free pass to clear US Coalition atrocities against civilians in Mosul.

Forget about any word from the US State Dept. either – as they run point on the cover-up:

All indications are that Raqqa could be even worse than Mosul. In addition to the civilian death toll for Raqqa, there is also the certainty of another Mosul repeat – a massive exodus of refugees out of the city, and heading somewhere – possibly towards Turkey.

The other conversation which has been deemed off limits by US and western media – is the fact that this US deployment inside of Syria is completely illegal under every international law, as well as in total violation of the US Constitution. US were not invited by the Syrian government – therefore, like its fellow NATO member Turkey, the US has effectively invaded Syria.

US involvement in Syria is now way past mission creep.

More on more US troops in Syria from the Washington Post….

U.S. military likely to send as many as 1,000 more ground troops into Syria ahead of Raqqa offensive, officials say.

Thomas Gibbons-Neff
Washington Post

The U.S. military has drawn up early plans that would deploy up to 1,000 more troops into northern Syria in the coming weeks, expanding the American presence in the country ahead of the offensive on the Islamic State’s de facto capital of Raqqa, according to U.S. defense officials familiar with the matter.

The deployment, if approved by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and President Trump, would potentially double the number of U.S. forces in Syria and increase the potential for direct U.S. combat involvement in a conflict that has been characterized by confusion and competing priorities among disparate forces.

Trump, who charged former president Barack Obama with being weak on Syria, gave the Pentagon 30 days to prepare a new plan to counter the Islamic State, and Mattis submitted a broad outline to the White House at the end of February. Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, has been filling in more details for that outline, including by how much to increase the U.S. ground presence in Syria. Votel is set to forward his recommendations to Mattis by the end of the month, and the Pentagon secretary is likely to sign off on them, according to a defense official familiar with the deliberations.

While the new contingent of U.S. troops would initially not play a combat role, they would be entering an increasingly complex and dangerous battlefield. In recent weeks, U.S. Army Rangers have been sent to the city of Manbij west of Raqqa to deter Russian, Turkish and Syrian opposition forces all operating in the area, while a Marine artillery battery recently deployed near Raqqa has already come under fire, according to a defense official with direct knowledge of their operations.

The moves would also mark a departure from the Obama administration, which resisted committing more ground troops to Syria.

The implementation of the proposed plan, however, relies on a number of variables that have yet to be determined, including how much to arm Kurdish and Arab troops on the ground, and what part regional actors, such as Turkey, might have in the Raqqa campaign…

Continue this story at The Washington Post

READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files


What the Health!

What the Health!

by A.U.M. Films

March 16, 2017

If you liked COWSPIRACY, you will love our new film!

What the Health is the groundbreaking follow-up film from the creators of the award-winning documentary Cowspiracy. The film exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick.
What The Health is a surprising, and at times hilarious, investigative documentary that will be an eye-opener for everyone concerned about our nation’s health and how big business influences it.

What The Health is an absolute must-see! We're wasting trillions on healthcare, and yet remain sicker than ever. The film clearly shows that we can take matters into our own hands by changing our own habits.”
~ Moby
What The Health is a brilliant and eye-opening documentary. I loved it!”
~ Bryan Adams
"The collusion between big business and those we entrust to advise us on diet and health is truly terrifying. What The Health is required watching for anyone who cares about their own health, the health of their family and the health of our planet.”
~ Tony Kanal

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A.U.M. Films
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Santa Rosa, CA  95406

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Looking for a "Tonkin Incident" in the Persian Gulf?

The Dangerous Reality of an Iran War

by Sharmine Narwani  - The American Conservative

March 15, 2017

A new war in the Persian Gulf could start accidentally—and would take a toll on U.S. forces.

BEIRUTAfter weeks of saber-rattling over Iran as the “number one terrorist state” in the world, the Trump administration appears to have quietly dialed down the rhetoric a notch. Here in the Middle East, however, where every peep and creak out of Washington is scrutinized to death, interested parties haven’t stopped speculating about a confrontation with Iran.

USS McCampbell and aircraft carrier USS 
Ronald Reagan in Persian Gulf. (Wikimedia Commons) 

Fifty days into his term, Trump’s foreign-policy course remains an enigma. He swears “all options” remain on the table with Iran—but do they?

There are already some early actions that hint at Trump’s policy directions—and limitations—in the Middle East. In three key military theaters where U.S. forces are currently engaged, some important corners have been turned:

  • In northern Syria, America’s Kurdish allies just voluntarily relinquished territory to the Syrian army and Russian forces in order to avoid a direct confrontation with another U.S. ally and NATO member, Turkey. Washington has rejected a Turkish role in the liberation of Raqqa, knowing that Ankara will not tolerate the ISIS capital falling into Kurdish hands either. It’s becoming increasingly likely that the winning formula will see the city and its environs ceded to an authority friendly to the Syrian government, under a Russian umbrella.
  • In northern Iraq, the fight to regain Mosul has accelerated, with Iraqi forces liberating half of western Mosul in just twenty days. Under command of the central Baghdad government, these fighters consist heavily of Shia militias, many of whom have received training and equipment from Iranian forces.
  • In Yemen, where alarming western headlines warn of U.S. military blunders and overkill, the media is missing a bigger story. The U.S. bombing blitz is actually—not hypothetically, as once was the case—hitting Al Qaeda terrorists, working alongside UAE forces to target Islamist militias who everybody knows are de facto Saudi allies on the ground. Just last week, the UAE reportedly upped the ante by demanding the Saudis abandon their puppet president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi—ostensibly the “legitimate” Yemeni authority the western-backed Saudi coalition was fighting to reinstate.

In a few short weeks, Trump has taken an axe to Obama-style dawdling in Mideast hotspots—whether by taking direct action or by no longer impeding the actions of others.

What’s notable is that all of these developments, at face value, serve Iran’s interests in the region and undermine those of U.S. allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

But don’t be fooled. This is merely Trump’s opening salvo. He has larger, unknown ambitions, and these recent moves do not necessarily remove Iran from his sights.

The Islamic Republic, its allies, and its detractors will remain part of Trump’s larger geopolitical game. He can use them to engage or punish more vital targets like Russia and China, two major powers that have carved out strategic relationships with Tehran. Iran will also be a useful tool to provoke or cajole traditional U.S. allies like Israel, Turkey, and various Arab monarchies into taking positions favored by Trump.

Already, several threatening U.S. stances have been employed—their ultimate aims unknown—with Iran at their center. There are whispers of a Saudi-led “Arab NATO” that could partner with Israel to target Iran. And calls for Damascus and Moscow to eject Iran from Syria are being heard from various western and western-allied Mideast capitals.

The Waterways: An “Accidental” Confrontation

Despite the Iran-as-bogeyman narrative, it is unlikely that Trump will launch any direct military attacks against Iran. This is a president who has voiced contempt for the $6 trillion wasted on Mideast wars and interventions. More confrontation in the region will be costly, and is likely to draw him into clashes with major powers with which he’d prefer to do business.

Although he insists “all options” remain on the table with Iran, Trump’s choices are actually fairly limited. Sanctions never worked and the Iran nuclear deal has ensured that other global players needn’t participate in future ones. Under pressure from allies, he has backtracked on his threats to scuttle the nuclear agreement, which he now seems to understand would needlessly isolate the U.S., not Iran. Subversive activities—such as color revolution plots, propaganda, or cyberwarfare—have proven futile given Iran’s historic vigilance on and within its borders. Conventional war would require a substantial Iranian provocation and isn’t likely to be sanctioned by the UN Security Council.

But there is one theater in which a U.S.-Iran confrontation could easily spark: the various waterways around the Islamic Republic and its neighborhood.

Both countries have plenty of naval and shipping vessels in close daily proximity to each other. Tensions are high, rhetoric remains inflamed, and Iran’s foes in the Persian Gulf and Washington are in a great position to trigger an event, then fan its flames.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, a committed Iran hawk, almost did so several weeks ago when he considered letting U.S. forces board an Iranian ship in Arabian Sea international waters, according to a passing mention of the incident in the New York Times. But the Intercept understood the import of the close encounter and led with the headline: “Trump’s ‘moderate’ defense secretary has already brought us to the brink of war.”

War is indeed a distinct possibility if the U.S. makes an aggressive move. Iran is no banana republic. It has endured an eight-year war with Iraq, which was encouraged, financed, and armed by great powers and regional states alike. The Islamic Republic performed a remarkable claw-back from the assault and went on to amass conventional and asymmetrical capabilities to deter future attacks.

So when Trump saw fit to slap sanctions on Iran after a January 29 ballistic missile test, Iranians made sure to fire off more, just a day after sanctions were announced. And the Iranian responses keep coming, a reminder that any military confrontation with Iran will be highly unpredictable. The Islamic Republic makes sure to remind us of its overt and hidden capabilities through regular public missile tests, advanced air defense demonstrations and war game exercises, such as the just-concluded Velayat 95 drills in the Strait of Hormuz, Sea of Oman, and Indian Ocean.

As tensions between the U.S. and Iran have increased, so have the number of gulfs, straits, seas and oceans in which the two nations’ navies and commercial vessels now operate. The Pentagon insists its naval presence in so many far-flung west Asian waterways is vital to thwart terrorism and piracy. But this is Iran’s backyard, and the Islamic Republic needs little justification to police regional waterways against these very same kinds of threats—and to protect its own territorial and maritime borders.

During a November visit to Tehran, I asked Dr. Sadollah Zarei, director of the think tank the Andisheh Sazan Noor Institute and a MENA expert close to the IRGC, about this. “U.S. actions give us a behavior precedent in our naval reach,” he said. The U.S. naval presence in Iran’s neighboring waters “gives us even more right to be active in the Persian Gulf, in the Gulf of Aden, and other waters.” As a result, Zarei explained, “we are now in the Gulf of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.”

Is Zarei worried about an adversary state brandishing its vast military firepower within spitting distance? He cracks a smile and explains calmly: “When the U.S. is there, Iran’s focus and discipline is better. They’re useful that way. It brings us together, creates support for our security forces, our army, our borders.”

On the other side of the fence, Washington continues to feed this Iranian discipline and cohesion by elevating recent “incidents” in the waterways—mostly unrelated to Iran—into national media hysterics about Iran.

Investigative reporter Gareth Porter has worked to untangle fact from fiction over U.S. accusations that Iran is shipping arms to Yemen’s Houthi rebels through some of these waterways. In short, Porter has shown that most of the Pentagon’s claims appear to be demonstrably false. And because of Wikileaks’ 2010 State Department cables cache, we now know that—in private at least—U.S. officials are also skeptical of their own public charges.

The Unpredictability of a Waterways War

In January 2016, two U.S. navy command boats entered Iranian territorial waters—it’s unclear if knowingly or unwittingly—and were apprehended by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Americans watched as Iranian television broadcasted the capture of 10 U.S. navy sailors on bended knees, hands behind their heads. The Islamic Republic followed maritime regulations and international law in their actions, and released the officers shortly thereafter. But the incident brought home, in technicolor, the unpredictability of waterways operations against this wily U.S. adversary.

For decades, the Pentagon has run war games against Iran to test its assumptions and hone its responses. But an acquaintance who has participated in such CENTCOM exercises told me last year that “the U.S. military rarely beats Iran in asymmetrical war games unless it cheats or rigs it.”

Shocked, I was prompted to dig deeper and discovered the “Millennium Challenge,” a 2002 U.S. armed forces war game in the Persian Gulf between the U.S. (blue team) and an unnamed Mideast adversary (red team), believed to be Iran.

According to retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper, who led the Red’s asymmetrical response—and resigned because rules were changed mid-play to constrict his team’s maneuvers—Reds bypassed Blue’s sophisticated electronic surveillance system using motorcycle messengers sent to the frontline and World War II-style signaling methods, and then destroyed 16 U.S. warships and a significant chunk of its naval fleet—all on the second day of the three-week exercise.

In an article entitled “War Games Rigged?” published on the Navy, Marine and Army Times websites (which appears to have been removed and is reposted here), Van Riper slammed the $250 million war game: “It was in actuality an exercise that was almost entirely scripted to ensure a Blue ‘win.’”

Van Riper explains:

“We were directed… to move air defenses so that the army and marine units could successfully land. We were simply directed to turn [air defense systems] off or move them… So it was scripted to be whatever the control group wanted it to be.”

Rather than learning from the exercise, the U.S. military seemed more interested in confirming existing doctrine and maintaining the facade of invincibility. These are dangerous attitudes that, in real-life combat scenarios, can lead commanders to misjudge capabilities and make foolhardy advances. And Iran knows this well.

The Cost of Primacy

Why are U.S. armed forces in the Persian Gulf anyway? Princeton University’s Roger Stern calculates that between 1976 and 2010, Washington has spent an eye-popping $8 trillion protecting the oil flow in the Persian Gulf. As of 2010, the U.S. only received 10 percent of those oil shipments. The largest recipients were Japan (20 percent), followed by China, India, and South Korea.

Trump should take note: if access to oil was the real goal of U.S. presence in the Gulf, Washington could have achieved it at a fraction of the cost by building pipelines to bypass that waterway.

Instead, mission creep has overtaken U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf, establishing a policy trajectory few American presidents have dared to challenge. Of the eight littoral states of the Persian Gulf, Iran has the longest coast on the waterway, almost double the length of its other seven neighbors combined.

As Washington hawks continue to insist that Iran cannot be allowed to challenge U.S. hegemony in the Persian Gulf, they should first ponder the potential consequences of another avoidable war—before a catastrophe humbles them into silence.

Sharmine Narwani is a commentator and analyst of Mideast geopolitics, based in Beirut.

The Fate of an Uninformed Polity

The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. 


Hannah Arendt

"What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed? If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies,but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie-a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days-but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please."

Mt. Polley Aftermath: Bringing Mines to Account

Sign the Mount Polley petition to demand accountability

by Erica Stahl, Staff Counsel - WCEL

9 March, 2017

MiningWatch needs your help to ensure accountability for the Mount Polley tailings pond disaster.

If you’ve been following the news about MiningWatch’s private prosecution against the BC government and the Mount Polley Mining Corporation (MPMC), then you know that the federal government is now trying to stay the charges.

MiningWatch has teamed up with SumOfUs to launch a petition asking Prime Minister Trudeau, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, and Fisheries Minister Dominic Leblanc to make sure the prosecution proceeds. At time of writing, MiningWatch needs fewer than 3000 signatures to reach their goal of 25,000 names, so please consider supporting them by signing the petition.

The worst disaster in Canada’s mining history

The 2014 Mount Polley tailings pond breach was the worst environmental failure in Canadian mining history. The breach unleashed almost 25 million cubic metres of arsenic-containing wastewater into the beautiful and bountiful Quesnel Lake in an apparent violation of the federal Fisheries Act.

The federal and provincial governments both launched investigations, but they have dragged on for over two years without result despite evidence of harm to fish, fish habitat and communities. By October 2016, it became clear that the government was not going to determine whether to press charges against MPMC or the Province in anything resembling a timely manner.

MiningWatch took the initiative and launched a private prosecution against the Province and MPMC under the Criminal Code. With support from our Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund, MiningWatch hired a lawyer and assembled the evidence it needed to support its allegations.

Where we are now

The next step was a Process Hearing in the Provincial Court in Williams Lake, which took place on January 13th 2017. MiningWatch was ready to present its evidence about how MPMC and the Province failed to implement minimum safeguards, leading to the spill and to violations of the Fisheries Act. But in a deeply disappointing move, the Federal Prosecutor asked the court to stay the charges before MiningWatch even presented its evidence.

Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch, responded to the federal motion, stating:

"We were stunned that the federal Crown does not even want us show the Court that there was enough evidence to justify proceeding with a prosecution against both the B.C. government & MPMC for the worst mining spill in Canadian history."

Federal Prosecutor Alexander Clarkson apparently said that the MiningWatch prosecution is not in the public interest because the BC Conservation Officer Service, Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are already investigating the collapse of the tailings pond, and because there is no prospect of conviction.

In my view, neither of those points is valid.

This prosecution is in the public interest precisely because the investigations are still dragging on two and a half years after the Mount Polley breach. When a tailings pond bursts and our waters and fish are poisoned, it should not take the federal government two and a half years (and counting) to figure out whether or not to lay charges.

In cases like Mount Polley, swift government action is essential to tell industry that breaking environmental laws will not be tolerated.

As to whether there is a reasonable prospect of conviction, in this case that should be for the court to decide. Process hearings (also called “pre-enquetes”) are meant to weed out the good cases from the bad ones so that we don’t spend time and money bringing meritless cases to trial. At process hearings, private prosecutors must present evidence supporting every part of their allegations, and then the court decides whether there is enough to justify proceeding to a full trial.

MiningWatch has evidence to back up the charges they have laid, and the federal government should be helping to assemble the evidence rather than standing in the way. So for the Federal Prosecutor to try to stay the charges before the evidence can be presented… one could say that such an action could be perceived as an attempt to prevent damaging evidence from coming to light, rather than an effort to protect the public interest.

MiningWatch’s private prosecution is a powerful tool for accountability, and the evidence it gathered should be presented on the public record. If you agree, please sign the petition.

Top photo: Cariboo Regional District

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Neo-Kagans: Return of the Pair Who Would Be Conquerors

The Kagans Are Back; Wars to Follow

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News

March 15, 2017

The Kagan family, America’s neoconservative aristocracy, has reemerged having recovered from the letdown over not gaining its expected influence from the election of Hillary Clinton and from its loss of official power at the start of the Trump presidency.

Fmr Asst. Sec't of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland pushed Ukraine coup, helped pick post-coup leaders. (Wife of neocon theorist Robert Kagan.)

Back pontificating on prominent op-ed pages, the Family Kagan now is pushing for an expanded U.S. military invasion of Syria and baiting Republicans for not joining more enthusiastically in the anti-Russian witch hunt over Moscow’s alleged help in electing Donald Trump.

In a Washington Post op-ed on March 7, Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and a key architect of the Iraq War, jabbed at Republicans for serving as “Russia’s accomplices after the fact” by not investigating more aggressively.

Then, Frederick Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project at the neocon American Enterprise Institute, and his wife, Kimberly Kagan, president of her own think tank, Institute for the Study of War, touted the idea of a bigger U.S. invasion of Syria in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on March 15.

Yet, as much standing as the Kagans retain in Official Washington’s world of think tanks and op-ed placements, they remain mostly outside the new Trump-era power centers looking in, although they seem to have detected a door being forced open.

Still, a year ago, their prospects looked much brighter. They could pick from a large field of neocon-oriented Republican presidential contenders or – like Robert Kagan – they could support the establishment Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, whose “liberal interventionism” matched closely with neoconservatism, differing only slightly in the rationalizations used for justifying wars and more wars.

There was also hope that a President Hillary Clinton would recognize how sympatico the liberal hawks and the neocons were by promoting Robert Kagan’s neocon wife, Victoria Nuland, from Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs to Secretary of State.

Then, there would have been a powerful momentum for both increasing the U.S. military intervention in Syria and escalating the New Cold War with Russia, putting “regime change” back on the agenda for those two countries. So, early last year, the possibilities seemed endless for the Family Kagan to flex their muscles and make lots of money.

A Family Business

As I noted two years ago in an article entitled “A Family Business of Perpetual War”: “Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats.

Prominent neocon intellectual Robert Kagan. 
(Photo: Mariusz Kubik)
“This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks.

“Not only does the broader community of neoconservatives stand to benefit but so do other members of the Kagan clan, including Robert’s brother Frederick at the American Enterprise Institute and his wife Kimberly, who runs her own shop called the Institute for the Study of War.”

But things didn’t quite turn out as the Kagans had drawn them up. The neocon Republicans stumbled through the GOP primaries losing out to Donald Trump and then – after Hillary Clinton muscled aside Sen. Bernie Sanders to claim the Democratic nomination – she fumbled away the general election to Trump.

After his surprising victory, Trump – for all his many shortcomings – recognized that the neocons were not his friends and mostly left them out in the cold. Nuland not only lost her politically appointed job as Assistant Secretary but resigned from the Foreign Service, too.

With Trump in the White House, Official Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment was down but far from out. The neocons were tossed a lifeline by Democrats and liberals who detested Trump so much that they were happy to pick up Nuland’s fallen banner of the New Cold War with Russia. As part of a dubious scheme to drive Trump from office, Democrats and liberals hyped evidence-free allegations that Russia had colluded with Trump’s team to rig the U.S. election.

New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman spoke for many of this group when he compared Russia’s alleged “meddling” to Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor and Al Qaeda’s 9/11 terror attacks.

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, Friedman demanded that the Russia hacking allegations be treated as a casus belli: “That was a 9/11 scale event. They attacked the core of our democracy. That was a Pearl Harbor scale event.” Both Pearl Harbor and 9/11 led to wars.

So, with many liberals blinded by their hatred of Trump, the path was open for neocons to reassert themselves.

Baiting Republicans

Robert Kagan took to the high-profile op-ed page of The Washington Post to bait key Republicans, such as Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who was pictured above the Post article and its headline, “Running interference for Russia.”

Kagan wrote: “It would have been impossible to imagine a year ago that the Republican Party’s leaders would be effectively serving as enablers of Russian interference in this country’s political system. Yet, astonishingly, that is the role the Republican Party is playing.” 

Kagan then reprised Official Washington’s groupthink that accepted without skepticism the claims from President Obama’s outgoing intelligence chiefs that Russia had “hacked” Democratic emails and released them via WikiLeaks to embarrass the Clinton campaign.

Though Obama’s intelligence officials offered no verifiable evidence to support the claims – and WikiLeaks denied getting the two batches of emails from the Russians – the allegations were widely accepted across Official Washington as grounds for discrediting Trump and possibly seeking his removal from office.

Gen. David Petraeus posing before the U.S. 
Capitol with Kimberly Kagan, founder and 
president of the Institute for the Study of War. 
(Photo credit: ISW’s 2011 Annual Report) 

Ignoring the political conflict of interest for Obama’s appointees, Kagan judged that “given the significance of this particular finding [about Russian meddling], the evidence must be compelling” and justified “a serious, wide-ranging and open investigation.”

But Kagan also must have recognized the potential for the neocons to claw their way back to power behind the smokescreen of a New Cold War with Russia.

He declared: “The most important question concerns Russia’s ability to manipulate U.S. elections. That is not a political issue. It is a national security issue. If the Russian government did interfere in the United States’ electoral processes last year, then it has the capacity to do so in every election going forward. This is a powerful and dangerous weapon, more than warships or tanks or bombers.

“Neither Russia nor any potential adversary has the power to damage the U.S. political system with weapons of war. But by creating doubts about the validity, integrity and reliability of U.S. elections, it can shake that system to its foundations.”

A Different Reality

As alarmist as Kagan’s op-ed was, the reality was far different. Even if the Russians did hack the Democratic emails and somehow slipped the information to WikiLeaks – an unsubstantiated and disputed contention – those two rounds of email disclosures were not that significant to the election’s outcome.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. (NBC photo)

Hillary Clinton blamed her surprise defeat on FBI Director James Comey briefly reopening the investigation into her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State.

Further, by all accounts, the WikiLeaks-released emails were real and revealed wrongdoing by leading Democrats, such as the Democratic National Committee’s tilting of the primaries against Sen. Bernie Sanders and in favor of Clinton. The emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta disclosed the contents of Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street, which she was trying to hide from voters, as well as some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation.

In other words, the WikiLeaks’ releases helped inform American voters about abuses to the U.S. democratic process. The emails were not “disinformation” or “fake news.” They were real news.

A similar disclosure occurred both before the election and this week when someone leaked details about Trump’s tax returns, which are protected by law. However, except for the Trump camp, almost no one thought that this illegal act of releasing a citizen’s tax returns was somehow a threat to American democracy.

The general feeling was that Americans have a right to know such details about someone seeking the White House. I agree, but doesn’t it equally follow that we had a right to know about the DNC abusing its power to grease the skids for Clinton’s nomination, about the contents of Clinton’s speeches to Wall Street bankers, and about foreign governments seeking pay-to-play influence by contributing to the Clinton Foundation?

Yet, because Obama’s political appointees in the U.S. intelligence community “assess” that Russia was the source of the WikiLeaks emails, the assault on U.S. democracy is a reason for World War III.

More Loose Talk

But Kagan was not satisfied with unsubstantiated accusations regarding Russia undermining U.S. democracy. He asserted as “fact” – although again without presenting evidence – that Russia is “interfering in the coming elections in France and Germany, and it has already interfered in Italy’s recent referendum and in numerous other elections across Europe. Russia is deploying this weapon against as many democracies as it can to sap public confidence in democratic institutions.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, flanked by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria “Toria” Nuland, addresses Russian President Vladimir Putin in a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on July 14, 2016. [State Department Photo]There’s been a lot of handwringing in Official Washington and across the Mainstream Media about the “post-truth” era, but these supposed avatars for truth are as guilty as anyone, acting as if constantly repeating a fact-free claim is the same as proving it.

But it’s clear what Kagan and other neocons have in mind, an escalation of hostilities with Russia and a substantial increase in spending on U.S. military hardware and on Western propaganda to “counter” what is deemed “Russian propaganda.”

Kagan recognizes that he already has many key Democrats and liberals on his side. So he is taking aim at Republicans to force them to join in the full-throated Russia-bashing, writing:

“But it is the Republicans who are covering up. The party’s current leader, the president, questions the intelligence community’s findings, motives and integrity. Republican leaders in Congress have opposed the creation of any special investigating committee, either inside or outside Congress. They have insisted that inquiries be conducted by the two intelligence committees.

“Yet the Republican chairman of the committee in the House has indicated that he sees no great urgency to the investigation and has even questioned the seriousness and validity of the accusations. The Republican chairman of the committee in the Senate has approached the task grudgingly.

“The result is that the investigations seem destined to move slowly, produce little information and provide even less to the public. It is hard not to conclude that this is precisely the intent of the Republican Party’s leadership, both in the White House and Congress. …

“When Republicans stand in the way of thorough, open and immediate investigations, they become Russia’s accomplices after the fact.”

Lying with the Neocons

Many Democrats and liberals may find it encouraging that a leading neocon who helped pave the road to war in Iraq is now by their side in running down Republicans for not enthusiastically joining the latest Russian witch hunt. But they also might pause to ask themselves how they let their hatred of Trump get them into an alliance with the neocons.

On Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, Robert Kagan’s brother Frederick and his wife Kimberly dropped the other shoe, laying out the neocons’ long-held dream of a full-scale U.S. invasion of Syria, a project that was put on hold in 2004 because of U.S. military reversals in Iraq.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, following his address to 
the UN General Assembly on Sept. 28, 2015. (UN Photo)

But the neocons have long lusted for “regime change” in Syria and were not satisfied with Obama’s arming of anti-government rebels and the limited infiltration of U.S. Special Forces into northern Syria to assist in the retaking of the Islamic State’s “capital” of Raqqa.

In the Journal op-ed, Frederick and Kimberly Kagan call for opening a new military front in southeastern Syria:

“American military forces will be necessary. But the U.S. can recruit new Sunni Arab partners by fighting alongside them in their land. The goal in the beginning must be against ISIS because it controls the last areas in Syria where the U.S. can reasonably hope to find Sunni allies not yet under the influence of al Qaeda. But the aim after evicting ISIS must be to raise a Sunni Arab army that can ultimately defeat al Qaeda and help negotiate a settlement of the war.

“The U.S. will have to pressure the Assad regime, Iran and Russia to end the conflict on terms that the Sunni Arabs will accept. That will be easier to do with the independence and leverage of a secure base inside Syria. … President Trump should break through the flawed logic and poor planning that he inherited from his predecessor. He can transform this struggle, but only by transforming America’s approach to it.”

A New Scheme on Syria

In other words, the neocons are back to their clever word games and their strategic maneuverings to entice the U.S. military into a “regime change” project in Syria.

The neocons thought they had almost pulled off that goal by pinning a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, on the Syrian government and mousetrapping Obama into launching a major U.S. air assault on the Syrian military.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin stepped in to arrange for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons even as Assad continued to deny any role in the sarin attack.

Putin’s interference in thwarting the neocons’ dream of a Syrian “regime war” moved Putin to the top of their enemies’ list. Soon key neocons, such as National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman, were taking aim at Ukraine, which Gershman deemed “the biggest prize” and a steppingstone toward eventually ousting Putin in Moscow.

It fell to Assistant Secretary Victoria “Toria” Nuland to oversee the “regime change” in Ukraine. She was caught on an unsecured phone line in late January or early February 2014 discussing with U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt how “to glue” or “to midwife” a change in Ukraine’s elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Several weeks later, neo-Nazi and ultranationalist street fighters spearheaded a violent assault on government buildings forcing Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives, with the U.S. government quickly hailing the coup regime as “legitimate.”

But the Ukraine putsch led to the secession of Crimea and a bloody civil war in eastern Ukraine with ethnic Russians, events that the State Department and the mainstream Western media deemed “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.”

So, by the last years of the Obama administration, the stage was set for the neocons and the Family Kagan to lead the next stage of the strategy of cornering Russia and instituting a “regime change” in Syria.

All that was needed was for Hillary Clinton to be elected president. But these best-laid plans surprisingly went astray. Despite his overall unfitness for the presidency, Trump defeated Clinton, a bitter disappointment for the neocons and their liberal interventionist sidekicks.

Yet, the so-called “#Resistance” to Trump’s presidency and President Obama’s unprecedented use of his intelligence agencies to paint Trump as a Russian “Manchurian candidate” gave new hope to the neocons and their agenda.

It has taken them a few months to reorganize and regroup but they now see hope in pressuring Trump so hard regarding Russia that he will have little choice but to buy into their belligerent schemes.

As often is the case, the Family Kagan has charted the course of action – batter Republicans into joining the all-out Russia-bashing and then persuade a softened Trump to launch a full-scale invasion of Syria. In this endeavor, the Kagans have Democrats and liberals as the foot soldiers.

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