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The White House’s Rasputin Comes to the Vatican

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]here is an intriguing movie making the rounds titled “The Young Pope” (which I have reviewed in a separate piece) where one see Pius XIII, the first American Pope, a Caligula type personality, turning Vatican politics into chaos. The parallels, not only with Emperor Caligula, but also with imperial President Trump are uncanny. But of course, that’s fiction; a world that could conceivably come about in the future in the Vatican.

Coming to present reality, we now observe an incredible political phenomenon: Trump’s anti-establishment eminence, or what I prefer to call the Rasputin of the White House,   considered by many experts as the ideological power behind the throne, connecting with the Vatican. Some have called him “President” Bannon. He is a conservative Catholic, who while heading the Breitbart News came to Rome in 2014 for the canonization of John Paul II and made some friends and allies whom he is now revisiting.

One of those friends is an American cardinal, Raymond Burke, who has openly clashed with Pope Francis. The two friends, Bannon and Burke, have a similar world view. They see Islam as a threat to Western Civilization, a civilization which has abandoned traditional Christian values to embrace Socialist principles and degenaracy. The two bonded immediately since they both saw themselves ostracized by the elites in power at that moment. That was in 2014; now things have changed considerably on this side of the Atlantic in any case, while on the other side, the clash of Cardinal Burke with the Pope continues unabated.

Burke is certainly not in the ascendancy at the Vatican; he has been demoted. But, with Trump’s victory, achieved with some help from the Russians hacking and cyberspace’s face-book statistical experts, the game may now be changing in the Vatican too. Bannon is now the ideologue in chief of the White House. The man with ideas, not just the man of inane twits.

Admittedly, traditionalists may not like much a president who has boasted of groping women, who refuses to show his tax returns and has stiffed people who have worked for him, but they can surely identify with a fanatical ideologue and provocateur such as Bannon who subscribes to a dark apocalyptic theory of history (already examined in another article).

Stephen Bannon has not only connected with European far-right parties who have been demanding the dismantling the EU and individual European governments in Western Europe, but he is now making common cause with those who oppose the direction Pope Francis has given to the present Catholic Church. It is too liberal for their taste, especially when it comes to migration, climate change, and the issue of global poverty. They also insist that despite his outward benevolent appearance and his popularity, Francis is in fact a Machiavellian tyrant wielding absolute power with a sinister leftist agenda. One wonders what Jung would call that psychological analysis: probably “projection” of one’s own glaring faults.

And what is on Bannon and Burke’s vision? They are both against rampant secularization and the existential threat of Islam to what they consider a Christian Europe and a Christian America, never mind that fewer and fewer Catholics practice their faith, never mind respect for diversity and multiculturalism. This is Church militant theology at its best; it smells of a Crusading spirit and White supremacy. Bannon is currently gathering names of who will be the next administration’s ambassador to the Holy See. One can just imagine as to who is being suggested by Cardinal Burke. Probably someone who will be putting in doubts whether or not Francis is a legitimate descendant of Peter. Someone who, just as in the Fellinesque movie “The Young Pope” will shout: the Pope goes around naked.

In any case, one can bet that it will be someone with views similar to Bannon’s views: someone who will rail against the decline of capitalism (he is a former Goldman Sachs banker, among other things); someone who believes, like Trump and Bannon, in political upheaval and chaos, in the rejection of those political institutions who have kept peace in Europe for decades, in extreme nationalism contemptuous of the EU and NATO, supportive of an international populist rebellion (Brexit, France’s National Front, Hungary, Italy’s Lega, etc.), someone with racist anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic tendencies, someone who, like Putin, stands for religion (Russian Orthodoxy) and traditional institutions; in other words, a genuine White supremacist.

What will be wholly ignored in all this is the fact that the terrible conditions of workers at the turn of the 20th century and the flawed system of balance of power between powerful national states, led directly to the two horrific World Wars, that the EU and NATO have so far prevented any other war. The focus will be against what purportedly is an imminent war against radical Islam threatening Christian civilization with sharia law.

When we ponder the above considerations, we begin to realize that with Bannon whispering in Trump’s ear, encouraging contempt for alliances and the world order as we know it, the sheer chaos apparent in the first weeks of Trump’s administration (resembling a rather deranged Caligula’s imperial reign) declaring every Muslim a threat, the Australian prime minister a wimp, the European Union and NATO obsolete, Putin our friend and ally against the Islamic threat, a coming white supremacist war with China, makes perfect sense, even if it remains highly misguided and deluded.

Buckle your seat-belts. It’s going to be a very bumpy ride, and the worst is still to come! We, in the democratic West, have been served from the menu we ordered from.

Professor Paparella has earned a Ph.D. in Italian Humanism, with a dissertation on the philosopher of history Giambattista Vico, from Yale University. He is a scholar interested in current relevant philosophical, political and cultural issues; the author of numerous essays and books on the EU cultural identity among which A New Europe in search of its Soul, and Europa: An Idea and a Journey. Presently he teaches philosophy and humanities at Barry University, Miami, Florida. He is a prolific writer and has written hundreds of essays for both traditional academic and on-line magazines among which Metanexus and Ovi. One of his current works in progress is a book dealing with the issue of cultural identity within the phenomenon of “the neo-immigrant” exhibited by an international global economy strong on positivism and utilitarianism and weak on humanism and ideals.

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Former CIA analyst: ‘A costly and prolonged cold war now seems a certainty’

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‘No one knows how the war in Ukraine will end, but there is one post-war certainty: there will be a prolonged and costly Cold War between the United States and Russia,’ – predicts Melvin A. Goodman, a former CIA analyst, now a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University.

He writes: In an interview with David Ignatius of the Washington Post, who has been doing the bidding of the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency for several decades, Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the importance of a “long-term goal of deterrence.” Ignatius took this to mean that the Biden administration will make sure that Russia “should not be able to rest, regroup and reattack.”

In addition to this year’s record defense budget that found the Congress providing $45 billion more than the Pentagon requested, a so-called “emergency” provision will lay the foundation for adding scarce resources to defense spending in the coming year. This provision will allow multiyear, noncompetitive agreements to produce such ordinary weaponry as rockets and munitions.

According to the Washington Post, the Pentagon will now have a way to replenish its stockpiles that will provide a “new golden age” for military contractors.

The Biden administration’s gift to the military-industrial complex rivals what the Reagan administration provided in the 1980s and ensures the country’s rich market for weapons sales. Nearly half of the record defense spending of $858 billion goes to military contractors.

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees made sure that these spending spigots remain open by naming individuals with ties to the weapons industry to a commission that will review the Biden National Defense Strategy. The chairwoman of the commission, former Representative Jane Harman, protected Lockheed-Martin when she served on the Hill and currently is on the board of a military contractor that recently received a seven-year $800 million contract from the Pentagon.

The increased defense spending and the new emergency provision coincide with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s creation of a new committee — the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. In view of the recent rise in anti-Asian violence in the United States, it can only be hoped that Democrats appoint members to the committee who understand the domestic consequences of hyping the threat from China at this particular time.

Our China policy is not working, and the exaggeration of the China threat comes just in time for the hawks in the political aviary who fear that the severe deficiencies of the Russian military in Ukraine is making it more difficult to exaggerate the Russia threat. I’ve been calling attention to the exaggeration of the Russian threat for the past 50 years.

But the policy community, the bipartisan congressional community, and the pundit community can’t let go of the idea that the Soviet Union and Russia present a ‘threat to the national security of the United States’.

The Biden policy ensures a robust military presence on the Russian border that will worsen Cold War 2.0. There will be prolonged and unnecessary increases in defense spending, and the absence of a diplomatic dialogue in those important areas where there is Russian-American agreement.

These areas include a variety of arms control and disarmament issues, such as stopping the proliferation of nuclear weaponry and limiting the use of space in the military competition as well as dealing with insurgencies and terrorism; environmental degradation; and future pandemics.

It is hard to imagine any Russian government willing to pursue diplomatic solutions with a United States that has sponsored a NATO with more than 30 members; a military base in Poland; a regional missile defense in Poland and Romania; and the use of Romanian military facilities close by Russian forces and the Black Sea.

This serious turning point is being ignored by the policy community as well as the pundit and academic communities.”

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NATO press South Korea to provide arms to Ukraine

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Image source: NATO

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged South Korea to provide military support to Ukraine, saying the country is in urgent need of ammunition, stresses “The Wall Street Journal”. Mr. Stoltenberg met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. After the meeting, Mr. Yoon promised to provide continued support to Ukraine, without saying whether Seoul would consider sending arms.

NATO is calling on South Korea to supply Ukraine because it is a U.S. ally with substantial capability to provide weapons, said Cha Du-hyeogn, a research fellow at Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. It means that NATO efforts are no longer enough.

While not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, South Korea is a close U.S. ally, and Mr. Yoon attended the NATO summit last year in Madrid. South Korea has sent materials such as gas masks, bulletproof vests and medical supplies to Ukraine, but has declined to provide lethal weapons, citing a law that prevents it from arming countries engaged in conflicts.

South Korea has been supplying arms to countries that have been supporting Ukraine in the war, including NATO member Poland. Seoul has signed deals to provide Poland with tanks and aircraft since the start of the war.

But, Seoul has sought to tread carefully with Russia, which is a large energy supplier to South Korea and holds sway with North Korea.

Mr. Stoltenberg in Seoul called North Korea’s nuclear-weapons development and missile tests grave threats that violate United Nations Security Council sanctions.

Pyongyang called Mr. Stoltenberg’s visit to South Korea and Japan a “prelude to confrontation and war,” saying it could bring a new Cold War to the Asia-Pacific region, according to North Korean state media.

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Russia restored Syrian air base for joint use

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Jarrah Base, Syria (Photo Credit: TASS)

Russia and Syria have restored the ‘Al-Jarrah’ military air base in Syria’s north to be jointly used, Russia’s Defence Ministry said.

“Russian and Syrian military personnel restored the destroyed al-Jarrah airfield,” the ministry said on the Telegram messaging. “The joint basing of aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Air Force at the al-Jarrah airfield makes it possible to cover the state border.”

The small base east of Aleppo was recaptured from Islamic State fighters in 2017.

Russia has been a dominant military force in Syria since launching air strikes and ground operations there in 2015. It further asserted its presence after the United States pulled out its forces in 2019.

The conflict in Syria, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced millions and drawn in regional and world powers, has entered into a second decade, although fighting is at a lower intensity than in earlier years, writes ‘The National’ from Abu Dhabi, UAE.

With backing from Russia and Iran, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s government has recovered most of its territory.

Turkish-backed opposition fighters still control a pocket in the north-west, and Kurdish fighters backed by the US also control territory near the Turkish border.

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