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Trump goes weak in his knees and ends up attacking Syria

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] A [/yt_dropcap] suspected chemical attack occurs in Syria killing 72 people including 11 children. More than 550 people get injured in the attack. ‘Beautiful babies were slaughtered. That is unacceptable’ says Trump. Immediately, he launches an attack on Syria as some sort of a protest against the regime using chemical weapons and as a protest against the innocent children getting killed. So what effect did the Tomahawk missiles have?

This killed many people including nine civilians and four children. What about the four children who died due to the missiles? Who will lament for these beautiful babies who have died? First of all, how did Trump conclude that Assad was the perpetrator in this chemical attack? Not a shred of evidence has been provided to either the American people or the Congress. Yet everyone seems to be happy about Trump’s attack on Syria. They are convinced that it was Assad without any concrete evidence for the same. As for the attack, there are three possibilities.

Scenario 1

Assad did not carry out the attack. He had zero motive for that. Even in order for any crime to be committed, a motive has to be there. Assad was gaining in the war. He took back a lot of territory from the rebels. Added to that, very importantly, the US, for the first time since the start of the war, had declared that removing Assad was no longer a goal. So why would he want to risk everything by launching a chemical weapons attack? He had all the reasons to avoid using chemical weapons.

What if this attack had been a ‘false flag attack’ done by the rebels? UN’s senior official Del Ponte has mentioned in the past that the rebels have used Sarin in the past. The rebels had all the motive to commit such an attack. They were losing the war. For the first time since the war had started, Russia and America had started speaking in one voice saying that the staying of Assad was acceptable to them. All that they had to do was to carry out a false flag attack and let Assad take the blame. If Assad had to commit this, either he had to be most stupid person or he had to be taking Ganja when he took such a decision. Neither is he stupid nor is there any evidence for the latter too.

Scenario 2

That was scenario 1. Now let’s look at scenario 2. Just because the rebels are in possession of the chemical weapons does not mean that Assad could not have carried out the attack. What if Assad had carried out those attacks? There are contradictions in Russia’s and Assad’s claims. Russia initially said that Syrian aircraft carried out the raid. However they claimed that the chemicals were part of a terrorist (meaning rebel groups) stockpile that hit the ground during the course of the attack. Later on Assad went on air claiming that the attack did not take place at all and he doubted whether the video was genuine. On one hand, Russia is saying that the attack did take place but the stockpile got released and that was the reason for the attack. On the other hand, Assad has gone on record saying that the attack never took place. Clearly, Russia and Syria are contradicting each other. There is more to it than meets the eye.

Scenario 3

What if both the scenarios were false? Not many have discussed a third scenario. What if some officer in Assad’s regime, disgruntled with Assad or America, or for any other reason, carried out the attack without getting Assad’s nod? In this scenario, Assad would be forced to deny the attack because admitting to the attacks would mean admitting to having chemical weapons. It would also mean that he does not have full control over his army. Also, one notable point is that the vehemence with which Assad denied any responsibility for the bombing attack in Aleppo did not match the somewhat mute denial of any responsibility towards the chemical attack.

Did Trump even think about these possible scenarios? Everyone is talking about the motives of Assad. But no one is talking about the motives of Trump in launching the tomahawk missiles. Why did Trump do that? That Trump was moved by the videos/pictures of the children dying a slow and painful could be true. No doubts the pictures.videos were horrifying and would have moved any human being. But surely, he would not have taken a decision to attack another country based on these pictures. Without a proper investigation by a neutral agency like the UN or the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), when the situation is so complicated as was pointed above, how could he do that?

Clearly, there seems to be two motivations. One was his tendency to react impulsively and immediately to any slights/insults. That could be seen from his twitter attacks to each and every comment/remark which he considered as an insult. He was somehow convinced, mainly by the war-mongering Washington establishment, that it was Assad who did it. Just after a few days after he (the US) declared indirectly that Assad can stay, how can Assad do this to him? He (Trump) will be the one ending up with egg on his face.

Secondly and equally importantly, Trump went weak in his knees. Allegations about his campaign team having connections with Russia were filling up the media. Michael Flynn had to leave. There were allegations against Jeff Sessions. Investigations were going on left, right and centre over Trump’s alleged connections with Russia. How could he get away from all these? Pat came the idea. He used the Syria bombing as a pivot from the Russia connections. It seems to have had its effect.

So what about the subsequent bombing that happened in Aleppo a few days after the chemical attack? Around 126 people were killed including around 70 children. This attack, in all probability, was carried out by the rebels. This convoy was carrying around 5000 people, including civilians and several hundred pro-government fighters. This was part of an agreement between the government and the insurgents. It was a cowardly attack because it was done against fleeing civilians. Around 70 children died. Yet Ivanka Trump did not cry out “Oh Daddy, it is horrible. You’ve gotta do something!!!” Donald Trump did not give out any statements lamenting about beautiful babies dying. While all in the mainstream media went gaga about the Trump administration’s strikes on Syria, hardly anyone mentioned the second bomb attack on the civilians. That is because it was the rebels groups who are believed to have done it and not Assad.

Let’s have a look at a schedule of the CNN programs

07.00 – 09.00 – A special program on Trump’s connections with Russia

09.00 – 11.00 – A special program on Russia’s special connections with Trump

11.00 – 13.00 – Don Lemon’s interview with US Political Analysts on Trump propaganda machine and Russia

13.00-15.00 – Kate Bolduan special program on ‘How Russia meddled in the US elections’

15.00-17.00 – Jake Tapper anchors – ‘Did Russia influence the US elections’

17.00-19.00 – Anderson Cooper hosts the special episode ‘Trump’s business interests in Russia’

19.00-23.00 – A Fareed Zakaria special – ‘How Trump’s close relations with Putin is dangerous to America’

From 23.00 – Repeat of the same cycle

Penultimately, Trump had the vision to see that a better relationship with Russia could have made things better for the US. Sadly, he lacked the courage to implement it……..

Until clear evidence emerges about the chemical attack, one should remember what is happening in Syria is not a fight between The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. What is happening is a fight between The Bad, The Uglier and the Ugliest. Neither For a Fistful of Dollars or maybe even For a Few Dollars More will this writer say that Syria should get into the hands of The Uglier (al Qaeda) or The Ugliest (ISIS) !

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author

Harish Venugopalan is a Research Assistant with the Observer Research Foundation. He has done his Masters in International Relations from the Dublin City University (DCU) in 2011-2012. His current research interest is ‘Conflict Management in Africa’.

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Billionaires, Vanity and Modern Democracy

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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The bullying in Washington is the current trend.  On Monday, the British ambassador resigned his post after Trump refused to deal with him.  Well-liked in Washington and the halls of Congress, his downfall was an honest assessment of the Trump administration as ‘inept’ and ‘dysfunctional’.  The letters were leaked in the U.K.

Suppose the president tweets comments contrary to current established policy, does that mean a policy change?  Do departments adapt promptly.  Nobody knows.  That’s dysfunctional, and everyone knows it.  In the meantime, he has enjoyed 17 golf outings since February averaging three a month.  No wonder he is that rare president who does not seem to age in office from the stresses of the job.  Obama’s hair turned gray.

But then a lighter hand on the tiller has kept us out of war, whereas Obama, the Nobel Peace Laureate, destroyed Libya and escalated in Afghanistan.  The consequences are still being felt in Southern Europe particularly, through the hordes of refugees still continuing to arrive.  Also in the resurgence of anti-immigration political parties in northern Europe.

The supreme irony is the fact of refugees being rescued from ramshackle boats and dinghies or often dying in one part of the Mediterranean while the Obamas cruise on a billionaire’s luxury yacht in another.  Is that a metaphor for democracies in the modern world?  One is also reminded of Mr. Modi’s specially woven pinstripe cloth repeating his name endlessly on the stripes in the material. 

Fortunately, the current president does not like the sea, or we would never see him in Washington.  As it is he has had 14 visits to golf clubs (not as much time on the course however) since the beginning of June.  He once had a small yacht that lay anchored in New York until he sold it.  His pleasures have generally centered on the more mundane:  cheeseburgers and women — the younger the better, although perhaps not as young as those that have gotten his friend Jeffrey Epstein in trouble again.  To be fair, Trump had a falling out with him ‘about 15 years ago’ he said recently.  ‘I was not a fan of his, I can tell you,’ he added although he called him a ‘terrific guy’ in 2002.

At least one party had 28 girls to a so-called calendar-girl party at Mar-a-Lago (Trump’s estate and club) in Florida, meaning selection of a calendar girl.  The male celebrities attending, according to the man assigned the task of finding the girls, happened to be Trump and Epstein, and no one else!  So surprised, the man still remembers the story.  The falling out between Trump and Epstein was rumored to have been a business deal.

It brings us to the second resignation, that of Alex Acosta the Labor Secretary.  A Harvard-educated lawyer, Mr. Acosta was the US attorney for the Southern District of Florida when he made a generous agreement with Epstein who had been charged with sex crimes.  For a 13-month sentence of mostly community work, usually from his mansion, Mr. Epstein was protected from further prosecution.  In a clear rebuke to Acosta, the case has been re-opened with a new charge of sex-trafficking minors.

As a result, Mr. Acosta has had to bow to the chorus of calls for his resignation.  The real question:  How ever did Trump get elected?  A mainstream press failure?

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What has happened to Western liberal idea?

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In the recent interview with President Putin, the Financial Times seems to have launched a discussion on liberalism only at its own peril. Inadvertently, a real problem was touched upon, whose pressing nature is no longer denied by anyone in the West. The newspaper had to admit it in its Editorial of 29 June. Its authors claim that the threat to liberalism comes from within, including President Trump and his policies, Brexit and, certainly, the rise of “populist nationalism”. They refer to voters’ disillusionment with liberalism and loss of confidence in the economic system and trust in political elites. The latter are invited to redouble their efforts to take into consideration issues raised by voters and “to renew liberalism”.

Hence, the Russian leader has only identified a problem that Western elites are unable to acknowledge, desperately defending the status-quo as having no alternative. But where is the problem?

The systemic crisis of Western society, if we are to call a spade a spade, has its roots in Reaganomics and Thatcherism. In early 1980s, disregard for the lessons of the Great Depression led to Anglo-American attempts to sort of try the pre-1929 Pure Capitalism. This unleashed the forcers of a “self-regulated market” with the state playing a minimal role – a key concept of liberal economics. The idea of social accountability of business had no place in that system.

At the same time, financial sector was deregulated through the step-by-step repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which was one of key elements of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Its architect was British economist John Maynard Keynes. It was only natural that the 2008 crisis also started in the financial sphere which had practically lost touch with the real sector of economy.

Then neoliberalism (as it became known) came to be imposed by Anglo-Saxon nations on the whole of the EU through the Lisbon agenda. The then Prime Minister Tony Blair was pretty good at it. When asked what she considered as her key legacy, Margaret Thatcher pointed to Blair who continued her economic policies under the “New Labour” slogan.

For instance, everyone knows what the nationalization of British railways led to. Profits are reaped by operators, while costs are borne by taxpayers who finance UK Rail, the state-run company responsible for railroad infrastructure. And this is not the only way to privatise profits while collectivising costs. In fact, globalisation has become one such practice for Western elites. Its original motive was quite liberal and far from being altruistic or even geopolitical (Donald Trump has reassessed this part of it when he blamed globalisation for China’s economic rise). It was about cheap labour for increased profits. The jobs  that were to be transferred abroad should have been compensated for by a new technological revolution. But it’s not happening, not even in the second generation. Information technologies do not create as many jobs, and we are already talking of robotisation and artificial intelligence, as well as a universal minimum living allowance as a solution to the problem of poverty and unemployment. It was Keynes who said: “Free trade assumes that if you throw men out of work in one direction you re-employ them in another. As soon as that link is broken the whole of the free trade argument breaks down”.

Liberalism in politics, especially after the end of the Cold War, has degenerated into averaging and alternative-free policies in the “end of history” spirit. Even Henry Kissinger admitted in his “World Order” (2014) that Western elites had again relied on automaticity, as was the case with the market. But as it was shown by Karl Marx supported by modern economists (Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Thomas Picketty and others), free markets always give advantage to the investing classes, which only leads to more inequality.

In this respect, the 45-year post-WW2 period was an exception to the rule due to the creation of a social welfare state – the one that is now being destroyed by the neoliberal economics. Along with it the middle class is being destroyed – the pillar of Western democracy. For these reasons the real discourse of democracy is being substituted in the West by a discourse of liberalism. This involves labelling all protest voters as “populists” and “nationalists”, allowing to side-step the issue of the inability of the actual political system to represent this silent majority. Yet, that is what’s going on when differences blur between the Right and the Left, Tory and Labour in Britain, Republicans and Democrats in the US, or Christian Democrats and Social Democrats in Germany’s “Grand coalition”. Is it any wonder that when an opportunity arises to have a say, this majority votes for Brexit, Trump, or newly-created anti-system parties and movements, often with marginal ideologies?    

In social terms, as BBC is trying to explain in this ongoing debate, liberalism is about protecting the rights of minorities of all kind, including transgender persons. It turns out that there’s nobody to protect the interests of the majority. Yet, we are speaking of the post-war “social contract”, which simply does not work in liberal economics. Anglo-Saxons are on the path of further liberalisation, which the continental Europe cannot afford. Boris Johnson, contributing to the discussion, has said the other day that Brexit is precisely aimed at giving a new lease of life to it by following the US in income tax reductions for business and private individuals.    

British political analyst David Goodhart (in “The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics”, 2017) shows another perspective of the issue. In his opinion, the elites have become cosmopolitan, but the majority has remained rooted in their own countries, regions and communities. In other words, the majority sticks to its national identity, unlike the elites. Even the European middle class, united by similar living standards and occupations, becomes aware of its nationality when hit by bad economic times.

Those who accuse Russia of meddling in internal affairs of Western countries are essentially denying their voters the right to vote, while the genesis of the liberalism crisis clearly points to its roots and origins inside the system. It was no-one else but Angela Merkel who in 2010 spoke of failure of multiculturalism in Germany, while calling for intensifying efforts at integrating immigrants into German society.

It was not Moscow that drew the attention to this problem. As early as 2007, the Economist wrote of a “secular overreachl” in the West, while today many are voicing concerns over a “liberal overreach”. Speaking broadly, it can be said that in the absence of a competitive environment in the realm of ideas after the end of the Cold War (which ended up doing a disservice to Western elites), liberalism has mutated into a dogma, a totalitarian ideology which does not tolerate dissent or pluralism of ideas. No wonder that the elites have resorted to political technologies, media control and political correctness to tighten the grip on the freedom of speech and generate semblance of an alternative-free existence. Social media have put an end to this, becoming a tool for politically alienated electorate to self-organize. As a measure to protect the status quo, the elites are now constructing an artificial dichotomy of liberalism vs authoritarianism, i.e. if not one, it’s definitely the other.

It is, therefore, not about the end of the liberal idea, just as President Putin pointed out, but that it cannot claim to be a one-size-fits-all model negating the wealth of ideas in Europe and the world. The problem is that any ideology, as history has shown, is always aggressive when it claims the ultimate truth, exceptionalism and, as a result, becomes a threat to the world. The notion of a “liberal world order” has also been introduced only recently, as a defensive reaction of the West when its dominance in global politics, economy and finance is coming to an end. Everything could have been different, had Western elites bothered to make this order, Bretton Woods institutions included, truly liberal, open and inclusive. Nobody was preventing them from doing so.

From our partner International Affairs

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Could Trump’s tricks boost his ratings and settle the Syrian conflict?

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Recently the U.S. President Donald Trump formally launched his 2020 re-election campaign in front of a large crowd in Orlando, Florida. The campaign is gaining momentum. We have already seen the celebrities and politicians speeches, preliminary ratings and even the economic models of the New York Times predicting Trump’s victory. For his part, the candidate keeps on delighting the world community by posting promising Tweets to increase his popularity and to retake votes from his opponents. According to Gallup, 45% of U.S. adults said Trump should be impeached and removed from office over the matter, while 53% said he should not be. 45% is too much for the sitting president, so it has been decided to increase his positions in the eyes of freedom fighters.

In this case, we are not speaking about the strict implementation of all his statements, but only about election promises that can snatch the next agenda from competitors. For instance, the situation is so with Trump’s report on the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan. It looks like the White House analysts are working on the same scenario.

Last Monday President Trump told Fox News that he would leave an intelligence presence in Afghanistan, though he has long hoped for a full withdrawal of U.S. military presence from the country. So, according to Trump’s statement, the U.S. will retain intelligence in the region. That’s ridiculous! Washington has been trying to withdraw troops from Afghanistan for several years.

Boutros Marjana – the head of Syria’s parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee in response stated that this action was focused on the media, to make the average American to believe that the unnecessary and external conflict is over. “Tramp said the same on Syria. However, a radical change in the area of hostilities has not happened. The situation on the ground is quite different from what was stated. So far, in my opinion, the United States has not developed a strategy for the situation in the eastern coast of the Euphrates River”, Marjana said.

And while Trump is posting Tweets for his electorate, the U.S.-led international coalition carried out another air raid on the residential area in Idlib province. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) units were the alleged aim of the aviation. The details on casualties among civilians have not been reported. It worth noting, that during the previous bombardment, apart from the extremists, 49 civilians in a mosque were killed.

U.S. Central Command announced that the attack had been initiated in response to HTS terrorist acts in residential areas. It is unlikely that Trump will actually withdraw from Syria or Afghanistan because the killing of terrorists and civilians does not stop.

Moreover, telling the world about the withdrawal of troops the White House decided to put pressure upon Germany to expand its participation in the Syrian conflict (apparently instead of Washington).

Currently, Germany supplies weapons and surveillance planes to Syria. However, the United States insists on Germany to send its ground forces.

It is hardly surprising that some international coalition members suddenly proclaim their participation in the joint operation against ISIS terrorists under any pretext. In fact, their contingent will be intended to replace the U.S. troops that following Trump’s intention should be withdrawn from Syria. Wonder who will get all the U.S. military bases in Syria? In this situation, the obvious question arises: why should the EU troops be located in Syria instead of the U.S.? And who is going to replace the U.S. forces in Afghanistan?

At the same time, Israel is also playing an active role in the ‘peacemaking’ process in Syria. On June 1, at least 15 citizens, including five women and a child, were killed as a result of the Israeli air strike on Syria.

Anyway, illegal U.S. forces presence is a considerable obstacle to the political settlement of the Syrian conflict. And the cynical Israeli air attacks, as well as its international policy, break any hope for resolving all disputes peacefully. Trump may make the only right decision that will let him increase his ratings using the Syrian issue. The current president should do his best to reconcile the parties, suspend cooperation with Israel, and also establish a dialogue with Turkey, Russia, and Iran. That is very unlikely. Therefore Trump has to go on tricks with a contingent from other states.

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