America’s leading scholar of Russia, Stephen F. Cohen, now retired from both Princeton and NYU, used to be, during the Cold War, regularly invited onto U.S. newsmedia, to discuss U.S.-Soviet and then U.S.-Russian relations. But now, he is boycotted by all of the national U.S. ’news’media, because he talks about the very real and now rapidly increasing likelihood of World War III developing from U.S. policies — not from Russian policies, but from the U.S. Government, under both Obama and now Trump.
I used to be critical of Dr. Cohen, for his refusal to use the word “coup” to refer to what in the U.S. ’news’media are euphemistically referred to as “Ukraine’s revolution”. That’s done even by the BBC, which actually knows better, as is shown here — their own producers and editors know that they are deceiving their viewers by thus playing along with the U.S.-Government’s (and its allied UK Government’s) lies on this most crucial of all international-relations matters. Indeed, how could anyone NOT know about it, who has seen and carefully thought about this — an actual “smoking gun” proof of America’s 2014 coup, which took control of Ukraine, which nation has Europe’s longest border with Russia. And now the U.S. regime thus places U.S. military and weapons onto and near Russia’s border. Did John F. Kennedy allow the Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev to do that (actually far less than that) to America during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962? Of course not! But the U.S. Government, and its ‘news’media, demand that Russia accept it — accept the intolerable.
The youtube just linked-to at that “this,” which was uploaded on 4 February 2014, a full 22 days before the coup was completed, presents Obama’s agent, Victoria Nuland, telling the U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine to appoint (the rabidly anti-Russian) “Yats” Yatsenyuk to run the post-coup Ukraine. “Yats” became installed as Prime Minister on 26 February, though the EU had wanted the far more moderate Wladimir Klitschko to be installed once the then-existing democratically elected Government would be overthrown. (So, Nuland just said there to the U.S. Ambassador “F—k the EU!” to express her rejection of the EU’s position. Some ‘ally’ of Europe the U.S. is!) And, then, also on 26 February, was the phone-conversation between the EU’s Catherine Ashton and her investigator in Ukraine who told her (and it’s described and linked-to here) that this had been a coup and not really a revolution, and she was shocked just as he was. The EU had thought that the U.S. simply encouraged a revolution, not imposed a coup that was hidden behind the ‘revolution’. (But the EU never protested against its U.S.-nazi ally, Washington, neither under Obama nor under Trump.) All of this was known to the BBC — and to CNN, and the New York Times, and Washington Post, etc. — before the end of February 2014 (see this for documentation of that knowledge of the reality and subsequent hiding of it). All of them still hide from the public its having been a coup and no authentic ‘revolution’ at all. And, then, recently, two of the snipers that this U.S.-run operation had hired to carry out the coup (these two snipers having been brought in from the nation of Georgia by its ousted President Mikheil Saakashvilli to participate in the U.S.-run anti-Russia operation) went public about their having done so, because they concluded that (as one of them actually said) “there is no reason to prosecute me” because The West backs the coup-regime, which certainly won’t prosecute the gunmen who had brought it to power. How brazen is that!
But then I discovered that on 20 February 2014 — the very day of the coup — Dr. Cohen had actually been the very first person in The West to call it a “coup,” but the interviewers didn’t ask him to elaborate at all on that and instead quickly diverted to insignificant matters, and he didn’t call them on it; he simply accepted their management of the conversation. He’s a quick learner. So, he didn’t ever again say any such thing as that, on 20 February 2014, when he described that phone-conversation on 4 February 2014 between Obama’s agent and the Ambassador in Ukraine, by saying:
“the significance is what you just played. What are they doing? The highest-ranking State Department official, who presumably represents the Obama administration, and the American ambassador in Kiev are, to put it in blunt terms, plotting a coup d’état against the elected president of Ukraine. … in Washington and in Brussels, they lie: … They’re not talking about democracy now; they’re talking about a coup now.”
So, this brings us to 28 March 2018, and The Nation magazine (owned by Dr. Cohen’s wife Katrina vanden Heuvel) headlining from Dr. Cohen, “Unproven Allegations Against Trump and Putin Are Risking Nuclear War”, and reporting on his having been interviewed on The John Batchelor Show at WABC radio in NYC, a progressive news-and-interview program that used to be, but no longer is, nationally syndicated. Can one wonder why? Might Batchelor’s having the courage still to interview Cohen be part of the explanation why only “from early 2001 to September 2006, the show was syndicated nationally on the ABC radio network”? Obviously, corporate America don’t like an honest press.
In that The Nation article, 5 points are stated:
- “Russiagate” and the attempted killing of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the UK have two aspects in common. Both blame Putin personally. And no actual facts have yet been made public.
- This episode increases the risk of nuclear war between the United States and Russia.
- Many Americans, including political and media elites who shape public opinion, have been deluded into thinking, especially since the pseudo–“American-Russian friendship” of the Clinton 1990s, that nuclear war now really is “unthinkable.” That the mass expulsion of diplomats was merely “symbolic” and of no real lasting consequence. In reality, it has become more thinkable.
- The causes of the new risks of nuclear war are not “symbolic” but real and primarily political. As diplomacy is diminished, the militarization of US-Russian relations increases.
- Thus, … the individuals and larger forces that promote the unproven allegations emanating from “Russiagate” and the Skripal incident are, in effect, nuclear-war mongers.
None of those allegations is at all so forward as are, for example, the articles that I have written on Obama’s coup in Ukraine and Trump’s continuation of that U.S. thrust for World War III, and which are thus virtually entirely banned. But, despite Cohen’s veiled statement of the matter, it’s too much for U.S.-and-allied ‘news’media to allow to be published and broadcast.
The only reason why a full 33% of Americans still trust ‘our’ Government is that the ‘news’media hide the truth from us. If the ‘news’media were honest, that figure would be much lower even than it is. The July 2017 Marist poll found that 37% of Americans “trust the media” “not at all”; 31% trust it “not very much”; 22% said “a good amount”; only 8% trusted it “a great deal”; and, so, how could the U.S. electorate then believe that even one’s own vote reflects a sufficiently accurately informed choice for a functioning democracy to result? Many Americans know they’re voting based on contending lies.
A prominent American jurist has pointed out that America’s courts are open only to the rich, basically not available to the general public, and that the U.S. Constitution is routinely violated by the Government; judges simply look the other way and refuse to get involved.
If such a nation isn’t a dictatorship, then what nation is? The lying U.S. regime could call this ‘anti-American propaganda’, but it’s unfortunately merely the truth, and it is being reported here by an American, who writes only on behalf of himself, and of any of the few authentic newsmedia — the media that publish and broadcast the truth, even though others don’t.
Because WW III isn’t just war-games now. It’s war-provocations, too. And they’re all being led by Washington and its UK slave. It’s time for Europeans to abandon any alliance at all with such a regime. That would stop this psychopathically-led insanity. Nothing else could. FDR is dead and gone, and the ideological Cold War ended in 1991, but has secretly been continuing all along on the American side. NATO must end immediately. (Its Soviet equivalent, the Warsaw Pact, ended in 1991, when the Cold War did on the Russian side.) And any further association between the EU and U.S. should be grounds for any European nation to at least consider to leave the EU, too. This is no longer just war-games; it is clearly for real. And if a European government doesn’t seriously consider to do this, then there should be massive public demonstrations against that government. Washington and its allies are looking for, and will quite possibly concoct, an excuse for war against Russia. And Russia isn’t just another Iraq. Nor Libya. Nor Syria. Nor Ukraine. The U.S. Government, and any of its allies, is truly toxic to people everywhere. I, an American, say this, with profound regret that (and only because) it’s the truth.
As Refugees Flee Central America, the Mexican Public Sours On Accepting Them
Authors: Isabel Eliassen, Alianna Casas, Timothy S. Rich*
In recent years, individuals from Central America’s Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) have been forced out of their home countries by extreme poverty and gang violence. While initial expectations were that the Lopez Obrador administration would be more welcoming to migrants, policies have slowly mirrored those of his predecessor, and do not seem to have deterred refugees. COVID-19 led to a decrease in refugees arriving in Mexico, and many shelters in Mexico closed or have limited capacity due to social distancing restrictions. Now that the COVID-19 situation has changed, arrivals could increase again to the levels seen in late 2018 or 2019, with overcrowded refugee centers lacking in medical care as potential grounds for serious COVID-19 outbreaks.
Mexico increasingly shares a similar view as the US on this migration issue, seeking ways to detain or deport migrants rather than supporting or protecting them. For instance, Mexico’s National Immigration Institute has been conducting raids on freight trains to find and detain migrants. Public opinion likely shapes these policies. In the US, support for allowing migrants into the country appeared to increase slightly from 2018 to 2019, but no significant majority emerges. Meanwhile, Mexican public opinion increasingly exhibits anti-immigrant sentiments, declining considerably since 2018, with a 2019 Washington Post poll showing that 55% supported deporting Central Americans rather than providing temporary residence and a 2019 El Financiero poll finding 63% supportive of closing to border to curb migration.
New Data Shows the Mexican Public Unwelcoming
To gauge Mexican public opinion on refugees, we conducted an original web survey June 24-26 via Qualtrics, using quota sampling. We asked 625 respondents to evaluate the statement “Mexico should accept refugees fleeing from Central America” on a five-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. For visual clarity, we combined disagree and agree categories in the figure below.
Overall, a plurality (43.84%) opposed accepting refugees, with less than a third (30.08%) supportive. Broken down by party affiliation, we see similar results, with the largest opposition from the main conservative party PAN (52.90%) and lowest in the ruling party MORENA (41.58%). Broken down by gender, we find women slightly more supportive compared to men (32.60% vs. 27.04%), consistent with findings elsewhere and perhaps acknowledgment that women and children historically comprise a disproportionate amount of refugees. Regression analysis again finds PAN supporters to be less supportive than other respondents, although this distinction declines once controlling for gender, age, education and income, of which only age corresponded with a statistically significant decline in support. It is common for older individuals to oppose immigration due to generational changes in attitude, so this finding is not unexpected.
We also asked the question “On a 1-10 scale, with 1 being very negative and 10 very positive, how do you feel about the following countries?” Among countries listed were the sources of the Central American refugees, the three Northern Triangle countries. All three received similar average scores (Guatemala: 4.33, Honduras: 4.05, El Salvador: 4.01), higher than Venezuela (3.25), but lower than the two other countries rated (US: 7.71, China: 7.26) Yet, even after controlling for general views of the Central American countries, we find the public generally unsupportive of accepting refugees.
How Should Mexico Address the Refugee Crisis?
Towards the end of the Obama administration, aid and other efforts directed at resolving the push factors for migration in Central America, including decreasing violence and limiting corruption, appeared to have some success at reducing migration north. President Trump’s policies largely did not improve the situation, and President Biden has begun to reverse those policies and re-implement measures successful under Obama.
As discussed in a meeting between the Lopez Obrador administration and US Vice President Kamala Harris, Mexico could adopt similar aid policies, and decreasing the flow of migrants may make the Mexican public respond more positively to accepting migrants. Lopez Obrador committed to increased economic cooperation with Central America days into his term, with pledges of aid as well, but these efforts remain underdeveloped. Threats to cut aid expedite deportations only risks worsening the refugee crisis, while doing little to improve public opinion.
Increasingly, the number of family units from Guatemala and Honduras seeking asylum in Mexico, or the United States, represents a mass exodus from Central America’s Northern Triangle to flee insecurity. Combating issues such as extreme poverty and violence in Central American countries producing the mass exodus of refugees could alleviate the impact of the refugee crisis on Mexico. By alleviating the impact of the refugee crisis, refugees seeking asylum will be able to navigate immigration processes easier thus decreasing tension surrounding the influx of refugees.
Likewise, identifying the public’s security and economic concerns surrounding refugees and crafting a response should reduce opposition. A spokesperson for Vice President Harris stated that border enforcement was on the agenda during meetings with the Lopez Obrador administration, but the Mexican foreign minister reportedly stated that border security was not to be addressed at the meeting. Other than deporting migrants at a higher rate than the US, Mexico also signed an agreement with the US in June pledging money to improve opportunities for work in the Northern Triangle. Nonetheless, questions about whether this agreement will bring meaningful change remain pertinent in the light of a worsening crisis.
Our survey research shows little public interest in accepting refugees. Public sentiment is unlikely to change unless the Lopez Obrador administration finds ways to both build sympathy for the plights of refugees and address public concerns about a refugee crisis with no perceived end in sight. For example, research in the US finds public support for refugees is often higher when the emphasis is on women and children, and the Lopez Obrador administration could attempt to frame the crisis as helping specifically these groups who historically comprise most refugees. Likewise, coordinating efforts with the US and other countries may help portray to the public that the burden of refugee resettlement is being equitably shared rather than disproportionately placed on Mexico.
Facing a complex situation affecting multiple governments requires coordinated efforts and considerable resources to reach a long-term solution. Until then, the Central American refugee crisis will continue and public backlash in Mexico likely increase.
Isabel Eliassen is a 2021 Honors graduate of Western Kentucky University. She triple majored in International Affairs, Chinese, and Linguistics.
Alianna Casas is an Honors Undergraduate Researcher at Western Kentucky University, majoring in Business Economics, Political Science, and a participant in the Joint Undergraduate/Master’s Program in Applied Economics.
Timothy S. Rich is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Western Kentucky University and Director of the International Public Opinion Lab (IPOL). His research focuses on public opinion and electoral politics.
Funding for this survey was provided by the Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University.
Indictment of Trump associate threatens UAE lobbying success
This month’s indictment of a billionaire, one-time advisor and close associate of former US President Donald J. Trump, on charges of operating as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States for the United Arab Emirates highlights the successes and pitfalls of a high-stakes Emirati effort to influence US policy.
The indictment of businessman Thomas J. Barrack, who maintained close ties to UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed while serving as an influential advisor in 2016 to then-presidential candidate Trump and chair of Mr. Trump’s inauguration committee once he won the 2016 election, puts at risk the UAE’s relationship with the Biden administration.
It also threatens to reduce the UAE’s return on a massive investment in lobbying and public relations that made it a darling in Washington during the last four years.
A 2019 study concluded that Emirati clients hired 20 US lobbying firms to do their bidding at a cost of US$20 million, including US$600,000 in election campaign contributions — one of the largest, if not the largest expenditure by a single state on Washington lobbying and influence peddling.
The indictment further raises the question of why the Biden administration was willing to allow legal proceedings to put at risk its relationship with one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East, one that last year opened the door to recognition of Israel by Arab and Muslim-majority states.
The UAE lobbying effort sought to position the Emirates, and at its behest, Saudi Arabia under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed’s counterpart, Mohammed bin Salman, at the heart of US policy, ensure that Emirati and Saudi interests were protected, and shield the two autocrats from criticism of various of their policies and abuse of human rights.
Interestingly, UAE lobbying in the United States, in contrast to France and Austria, failed to persuade the Trump administration to embrace one of the Emirates’ core policy objectives: a US crackdown on political Islam with a focus on the Muslim Brotherhood. UAE Crown Prince Mohammed views political Islam and the Brotherhood that embraces the principle of elections as an existential threat to the survival of his regime.
In one instance cited in the indictment, Mr. Barrack’s two co-defendants, a UAE national resident in the United States, Rashid Al-Malik, and Matthew Grimes, a Barrack employee, discussed days after Mr. Trump’s inauguration the possibility of persuading the new administration to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a designated foreign terrorist organization. “This will be a huge win. If we can list them. And they deserved to be,” Mr. Al-Malik texted Mr. Grimes on 23 January 2017.
The unsuccessful push for designating the Brotherhood came three months after Mr. Barrack identified the two Prince Mohammeds in an op-ed in Fortune magazine as members of a new generation of “brilliant young leaders.” The billionaire argued that “American foreign policy must persuade these bold visionaries to lean West rather than East… By supporting their anti-terrorism platforms abroad, America enhances its anti-terrorism policies at home.”
Mr. Barrack further sought to persuade America’s new policymakers, in line with Emirati thinking, that the threat posed by political Islam emanated not only from Iran’s clerical regime and its asymmetric defence and security policies but also from the Brotherhood and Tukey’s Islamist government. He echoed Emirati promotion of Saudi Arabia after the rise of Mohammed bin Salman as the most effective bulwark against political Islam.
“It is impossible for the US to move against any hostile Islamic group anywhere in the world without Saudi support…. The confused notion that Saudi Arabia is synonymous with radical Islam is falsely based on the Western notion that ‘one size fits all,’ Mr. Barrack asserted.
The Trump administration’s refusal to exempt the Brotherhood from its embrace of Emirati policy was the likely result of differences within both the US government and the Muslim world. Analysts suggest that some in the administration feared that designating the Brotherhood would empower the more rabidly Islamophobic elements in Mr. Trump’s support base.
Administration officials also recognized that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt constituted a minority, albeit a powerful minority, in the Muslim world that was on the warpath against the Brotherhood.
Elsewhere, Brotherhood affiliates were part of the political structure by either participating in government or constituting part of the legal opposition in countries like Kuwait, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco, Jordan, and Indonesia.
The affiliates have at times supported US policies or worked closely with US allies like in the case of Yemen’s Al Islah that is aligned with Saudi-backed forces.
In contrast to UAE efforts to ensure that the Brotherhood is crushed at the risk of fueling Islamophobia, Nahdlatul Ulama, one of, if not the world’s largest Muslim organization which shares the Emirates’ rejection of political Islam and the Brotherhood, has opted to fight the Brotherhood’s local Indonesian affiliate politically within a democratic framework rather than by resorting to coercive tactics.
Nahdlatul Ulama prides itself on having significantly diminished the prospects of Indonesia’s Brotherhood affiliate, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), since the 2009 presidential election. The group at the time successfully drove a wedge between then-President Susilo Yudhoyono, and the PKS, his coalition partner since the 2004 election that brought him to power. In doing so, it persuaded Mr. Yudhoyono to reject a PKS candidate as vice president in the second term of his presidency.
Nahdlatul Ulama’s manoeuvring included the publication of a book asserting that the PKS had not shed its links to militancy. The party has since failed to win even half of its peak 38 seats in parliament garnered in the 2004 election.
“Publication of ‘The Illusion of an Islamic State: The Expansion of Transnational Islamist Movements to Indonesia’ had a considerable impact on domestic policy. It primarily contributed to neutralizing one candidate’s bid for vice president in the 2009 national election campaign, who had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood,” said militancy expert Magnus Ranstorp.
Biden Revises US Sanctions Policy
In the United States, a revision of the sanctions policy is in full swing. Joe Biden’s administration strives to make sanctions instruments more effective in achieving his political goals and, at the same time, reducing political and economic costs. The coordination of restrictive measures with allies is also seen as an important task. Biden is cautiously but consistently abandoning the sanctions paradigm that emerged during Donald Trump’s presidency.
The US sanctions policy under Trump was characterised by several elements. First, Washington applied them quite harshly. In all key areas (China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, etc.), the United States used economic and financial restrictions without hesitation, and sometimes in unprecedented volumes. Of course, the Trump administration acted rationally and rigidity was not an end in itself. In a number of episodes, the American authorities acted prudently (for example, regarding sanctions on Russian sovereign debt in 2019). The Trump-led executives stifled excess Congressional enthusiasm for “draconian sanctions” against Russia and even some initiatives against China. However, the harshness of other measures sometimes shocked allies and opponents alike. These include the 6 April 2014 sanctions against a group of Russian businessmen and their assets, or bans on some Chinese telecommunications services in the United States, or sanctions blocking the International Criminal Court.
Second, Trump clearly ignored the views of US allies. The unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 forced European businesses to leave Iran, resulting in losses. Even some of the nation’s closest allies were annoyed. Another irritant was the tenacity with which Trump (with Congressional backing) threw a wrench in the wheels of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. Despite the complicated relations between Moscow and the European Union, the latter defended the right to independently determine what was in its interests and what was not.
Third, concerns about sanctions have emerged among American business as well. Fears have grown in financial circles that the excessive use of sanctions will provoke the unnecessary politicisation of the global financial system. In the short term, a radical decline in the global role of the dollar is hardly possible. But political risks are forcing many governments to seriously consider it. Both rivals (Moscow and Beijing) and allies (Brussels) have begun to implement corresponding plans. Trade sanctions against China have affected a number of US companies in the telecommunications and high-tech sectors.
Finally, on some issues, the Trump administration has been inconsistent or simply made mistakes. For example, Trump enthusiastically criticised China for human rights violations, supporting relevant legislative initiatives. But at the same time, it almost closed its eyes to the events in Belarus in 2020. Congress was also extremely unhappy with the delay in the reaction on the “Navalny case” in Russia. As for mistakes, the past administration missed the moment for humanitarian exemptions for sanctions regimes in connection with the COVID-19 epidemic. Even cosmetic indulgences could have won points for US “soft power”. Instead, the US Treasury has published a list of pre-existing exceptions.
The preconditions for a revision of the sanctions policy arose even before Joe Biden came to power. First of all, a lot of analytical work was done by American think tanks—nongovernmental research centers. They provided a completely sober and unbiased analysis of bothха! achievements and mistakes. In addition, the US Government Accountability Office has done serious work; in 2019 it prepared two reports for Congress on the institutions of the American sanctions policy. However, Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election significantly accelerated the revision of the sanctions instruments. Both the ideological preferences of the Democrats (for example, the emphasis on human rights) and the political experience of Biden himself played a role.
The new guidelines for the US sanctions policy can be summarised as follows. First, the development of targeted sanctions and a more serious analysis of their economic costs for American business, as well as business from allied and partner countries. Second, closer coordination with allies. Here, Biden has already sent a number of encouraging signals by introducing temporary sanctions exemptions on Nord Stream 2. Although a number of Russian organisations and ships were included in the US sanctions lists, Nord Stream 2 itself and its leadership were not affected. Third, we are talking about closer attention to the subject of human rights. Biden has already reacted with sanctions both to the “Navalny case” and to the situation in Belarus. Human rights will be an irritant in relations with China. Fourth, the administration is working towards overturning Trump’s most controversial decisions. The 2020 decrees on Chinese telecoms were cancelled, the decree on sanctions against the International Criminal Court was cancelled, the decree on Chinese military-industrial companies was modified; negotiations are also underway with Iran.
The US Treasury, one of the key US sanctions agencies, will also undergo personnel updates. Elisabeth Rosenberg, a prominent sanctions expert who previously worked at the Center for a New American Security, may take the post of Assistant Treasury Secretary. She will oversee the subject of sanctions. Thus, the principle of “revolving doors”, which is familiar to Americans, is being implemented, when the civil service is replenished with personnel from the expert community and business, and then “returns” them back.
At the same time, the revision of the sanctions policy by the new administration cannot be called a revolution. The institutional arrangement will remain unchanged. It is a combination of the functions of various departments—the Treasury, the Department of Trade, the Department of Justice, the State Department, etc. The experience of their interagency coordination has accumulated over the years. The system worked flawlessly both under Trump and under his predecessors. Rather, it will be about changing the political directives.
For Russia, the revision is unlikely to bring radical changes. A withdrawal from the carpet bombing of Russian business, such as the incident on 6 April 2018 hint that good news can be considered a possibility. However, the legal mechanisms of sanctions against Russia will continue to operate. The emphasis on human rights will lead to an increase in sanctions against government structures. Against this background, regular political crises are possible in relations between the two countries.
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