Tag: Ukraine (page 1 of 4)

Former Congressman Warns That Foreign Countries Could Bribe The Feds To “Regulate Drudge”

Authored by Alex Thomas via The Daily Sheeple,

A former Republican Congressman from Colorado has warned that a foreign country could bribe or “incentivize” the FCC to regulate and “rein in” popular conservative news outlets, including The Drudge Report.

Former Rep. Tom Tancredo, in an opinion piece for The Hill, started out his shocking warning by downplaying the so-called Russian actors who may have spent a measly $100,000 with social media giant Facebook in exchange for ads that hurt Hillary Clinton.

Tancredo not only correctly noted that such a small amount of money could not have actually altered the election, he also destroyed the notion that the American establishment is “surprised” by the idea of a foreign government trying to influence an election.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said this month that his company sold over $100,000 in social media advertising to a Russian government-controlled front group during the 2016 election cycle. While that amount is a relative pittance and critics are saying the ads were poorly produced — where is Bill Maher when you really need him? — the discovery has raised alarms.

 

It’s ironic, of course, that America’s media elites are suddenly alarmed, considering that the CIA and intelligence agencies abroad have engaged in similar activity for decades. But putting that aside, what if the bigger danger comes not from amateurish foreign advertisers, but from foreign governments seeking to influence the American regulatory agencies meant to act as the citizens’ watchdogs?

The former congressman then gets to the crux of his warning, asking a very pointed question to the reader that unfortunately sounds all too plausible in this day and age.

Could a foreign government — such as Russia, Ukraine, or Mexico, for example — bribe or “incentivize” a federal agency such as the Federal Election Commission to regulate (or “rein in”) conservative news websites?

 

The truth could be stranger than fiction if you examine the habits of the federal commissioners who run our regulatory agencies.

Tancredo then reveals a fact that news outlets like The Daily Sheeple have long reported – there are absolutely elements within the federal government who have expressed support for censoring The Drudge Report in the past while at the same time taking dozens of trips overseas, sometimes even bashing the American way of life while doing so.

For years, Democrats on the FEC have been vocal in their desire to regulate speech on websites such as Facebook and Twitter, to say nothing of Drudge and Fox News. Will they use the news of foreign government purchasing social media advertising as an excuse to enter that regulatory minefield more boldly?

 

But what’s even more worrisome is that third-party groups, some connected to foreign governments, have spent tens of thousands of dollars helping regulators travel around the world. Who’s to say that quid pro quo, spoken or unspoken, isn’t part of the equation?

 

It’s far more likely than the idea that foreign governments might be using a website like Drudge to spread propaganda. Buying one regulator would be more cost-effective than spending millions trying to sway millions through advertising. After all, “I can get it for you wholesale” is still the American way.

Consider this. As the establishment media continues to push their 24/7 anti-Trump echo chamber, real dangers posed by other countries are going unchecked, with many in the media most likely on board with the idea that top conservative news outlets need to be censored.

At this point one can’t help but wonder (and worry) that some form of political censorship of the internet is on the horizon which will most likely be attempted by connecting the amazing success of someone like Matt Drudge to supposed Russian propaganda operations – all in the name of censoring non leftist voices.

 

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Pepe Escobar Unmasks Trump Doctrine: Carnage For New Axis Of Evil

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

North Korea, Iran, Venezuela are targets in "compassionate" America's war on the "wicked few." It's almost as though Washington felt its hegemony threatened

Paul Delaroche, Napoléon à Fontainebleau, 1840. With other global powers increasingly at odds with US foreign policy under Donald Trump, the nation's hegemony on the world stage may soon face its own crisis point.

This was no “deeply philosophical address”. And hardly a show of  “principled realism” – as spun by the White House. President Trump at the UN was “American carnage,” to borrow a phrase previously deployed by his nativist speechwriter Stephen Miller.

One should allow the enormity of what just happened to sink in, slowly. The president of the United States, facing the bloated bureaucracy that passes for the “international community,” threatened to “wipe off the map” the whole of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (25 million people). And may however many millions of South Koreans who perish as collateral damage be damned.

Multiple attempts have been made to connect Trump’s threats to the madman theory cooked up by “Tricky Dicky” Nixon in cahoots with Henry Kissinger, according to which the USSR must always be under the impression the then-US president was crazy enough to, literally, go nuclear. But the DPRK will not be much impressed with this madman remix.

That leaves, on the table, a way more terrifying upgrade of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Trump repeatedly invoked Truman in his speech). Frantic gaming will now be in effect in both Moscow and Beijing: Russia and China have their own stability / connectivity strategy under development to contain Pyongyang.

The Trump Doctrine has finally been enounced and a new axis of evil delineated. The winners are North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. Syria under Assad is a sort of mini-evil, and so is Cuba. Crucially, Ukraine and the South China Sea only got a fleeting mention from Trump, with no blunt accusations against Russia and China. That may reflect at least some degree of realpolitik; without “RC” – the Russia-China strategic partnership at the heart of the BRICS bloc and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – there’s no possible solution to the Korean Peninsula stand-off.

In this epic battle of the “righteous many” against the “wicked few,” with the US described as a “compassionate nation” that wants “harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife,” it’s a bit of a stretch to have Islamic State – portrayed as being not remotely as “evil” as North Korea or Iran – get only a few paragraphs.

The art of unraveling a deal

According to the Trump Doctrine, Iran is “an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos,” a “murderous regime” profiting from a nuclear deal that is “an embarrassment to the United States.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “Trump’s ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times – not the 21st century UN – unworthy of a reply.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov once again stressed full support for the nuclear deal ahead of a P5+1 ministers’ meeting scheduled for Wednesday, when Zarif was due to be seated at the same table as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Under review: compliance with the deal. Tillerson is the only one who wants a renegotiation.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has, in fact, developed an unassailable argument on the nuclear negotiations. He says the deal – which the P5+1 and the IAEA all agree is working – could be used as a model elsewhere. German chancellor Angela Merkel concurs. But, Rouhani says, if the US suddenly decides to unilaterally pull out, how could the North Koreans possibly be convinced it’s worth their while to sit down to negotiate anything with the Americans ?

What the Trump Doctrine is aiming at is, in fact, a favourite old neo-con play, reverting back to the dynamics of the Dick Cheney-driven Washington-Tehran Cold War years.

This script runs as follows: Iran must be isolated (by the West, only now that won’t fly with the Europeans); Iran is “destabilizing” the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, the ideological foundry of all strands of Salafi-jihadism, gets a free pass); and Iran, because it’s developing ballistic that could – allegedly – carry nuclear warheads, is the new North Korea.

That lays the groundwork for Trump to decertify the deal on October 15. Such a dangerous geopolitical outcome would then pit Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi against Tehran, Moscow and Beijing, with European capitals non-aligned. That’s hardly compatible with a “compassionate nation” which wants “harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife.”

Afghanistan comes to South America

The Trump Doctrine, as enounced, privileges the absolute sovereignty of the nation-state. But then there are those pesky “rogue regimes” which must be, well, regime-changed. Enter Venezuela, now on “the brink of total collapse,” and run by a “dictator”; thus, America “cannot stand by and watch.”

No standing by, indeed. On Monday, Trump had dinner in New York with the presidents of Colombia, Peru and Brazil (the last indicted by the country’s Attorney General as the leader of a criminal organization and enjoying an inverted Kim dynasty rating of 95% unpopularity). On the menu: regime change in Venezuela.

Venezuelan “dictator” Maduro happens to be supported by Moscow and, most crucially, Beijing, which buys oil and has invested widely in infrastructure in the country with Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht crippled by the Car Wash investigation.

The stakes in Venezuela are extremely high. In early November, Brazilian and American forces will be deployed in a joint military exercise in the Amazon rainforest, at the Tri-Border between Peru, Brazil and Colombia. Call it a rehearsal for regime change in Venezuela. South America could well turn into the new Afghanistan, a consequence that flows from Trump’s assertion that “major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.”

For all the lofty spin about “sovereignty”, the new axis of evil is all about, once again, regime change.

Russia-China aim to defuse the nuclear stand-off, then seduce North Korea into sharing in the interpenetration of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), via a new Trans-Korea Railway and investments in DPRK ports. The name of the game is Eurasian integration.

Iran is a key node of BRI. It’s also a future full member of the SCO, it’s connected – via the North-South Transport Corridor – with India and Russia, and is a possible future supplier of natural gas to Europe. The name of the game, once again, is Eurasian integration.

Venezuela, meanwhile, holds the largest unexplored oil reserves on the planet, and is targeted by Beijing as a sort of advanced BRI node in South America.

The Trump Doctrine introduces a new set of problems for Russia-China. Putin and Xi do dream of reenacting a balance of power similar to that of the Concert of Europe, which lasted from 1815 (after Napoleon’s defeat) until the brink of World War I in 1914. That’s when Britain, Austria, Russia and Prussia decided that no European nation should be able to emulate the hegemony of France under Napoleon.

In sitting as judge and executioner, Trump’s “compassionate” America certainly seems intent on echoing such hegemony.

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“We Are At War” – Morgan Freeman Is The Face Of The New “Committee To Investigate Russia”

Imagine this movie-script: a former KGB spy, angry at the collapse of his motherland, plots a course for revenge… narrates the ominous sounding voice of Morgan Freeman. 

The hysteria continues, and this time Hollywood has been enlisted. No this is not The Onion, but yet another serious committee for serious people. Meet the "Committee to Investigate Russia" which launched on Tuesday and immediately garnered broad coverage in pop-culture and entertainment news sites for its release of a short Morgan Freeman narrated video which aims to "tell us the truth" about Russian meddling in the US election. “We have been attacked,” Freeman says in his familiarly reassuring voice while gazing into the camera. “We are at war.”

Not only did the video burn up social media on Tuesday, but the founders of the lobbying group behind the production, barely one day old, were given substantial air time on cable news from CNN to MSNBC. Of course, it helps that actor, director, and lifelong Democrat Rob Reiner is behind it – he's teamed up with neocons David Frum, Max Boot, and national security insiders like James Clapper.

Similar to other recently launched 'Russiagate' campaigns and organizations we've profiled, the initiative is enjoying fawning mainstream media coverage from the very start. And apparently the historical irony is completely lost on Hollywood, a town which itself fell victim to the original McCarthyite witch hunt and its celebrity 'blacklist'.

Meanwhile, it appears the "Committee to Investigate Russia" is designed to appeal especially to the popular masses and consumers of pop media and celebrity culture magazines. For example, the following gushing roll out coverage from entertainment news site PopSugar reads like the "famed" Max Boot himself is on a hollywoodesque mission to save the world from an 'EVIL' cabal bent on total world domination:

The group's advisory board is a who's who of the most outspoken individuals in America today: former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, award-winning actor and director Rob Reiner, former George W. Bush aide and current Atlantic editor David Frum, AEI scholar Norm Ornstein, famed military historian Max Boot, and popular conservative pundit Charlie Sykes. And their mission? To educate the public on the threat that we face from Russia and to serve as a central location for updates, news, and information on all things related to the issue.

But like most commentary on the so-called 'Russian connection' there is one important caveat which appropriately skeptical readers will be sure to notice:

While we still don't have definitive answers on much of what elapsed during the lead-up to the election — or, frankly, have a plan for what we can do to prevent this sort of thing going forward — what we do have is an issue that individuals on both sides of the aisle are desperate to get to the bottom of.

This of course translates to "well we know there's a lot of smoke and no answers, umm… evidence" – but hey, Morgan Freeman's noble and venerable wisdom-from-the-heavens-sounding voice will make it all true. Reiner told the Daily Beast that Morgan Freeman was chosen as spokesman due to the “weight and gravitas” of his voice. Reiner further explained the purpose as, “We’re trying to break through and explain to people why this is important and that there is a serious problem here that people don’t seem to really grasp.”

While the public has been assured the committee is stacked with bipartisan experts, it would help if there were any actual… Russian experts. As one Al Jazeera journalist who covers Russian affairs pointed out, the advisory board is made up of the following "experts" (in their respective order):

  • a neocon blogger
  • a perjurer
  • wonk with no Russia background
  • the director of When Harry Met Sally
  • right-wing talk radio guy

In spite of all the immediate positive media coverage the Committee to Investigate Russia ran into some embarrassing problems the moment its website went live. Actual Russian experts identified a glaring error. According to the independent Russian language news site Meduza:

The committee even ran into trouble when trying to identify General Valery Gerasimov, the author of an alleged hybrid military doctrine that some analysts treat as the blueprint for Russia's “information warfare” against enemies like the U.S. and Ukraine. When the committee first launched its website, it accidentally posted a photo of Gerasimov's predecessor, General Nikolay Makarov. The group eventually corrected its mistake, but not before Russian media expert Alexey Kovalev called them out, highlighting the rather obvious dangers of taking on “Russia” without Russian expertise.

As with Hamilton68 before it, this new project will likely become a go-to source of information for mainstream media which similarly lacks in real expertise. Apparently the two-minute Morgan Freeman video is now being roundly mocked in Russian state media, presumably for its ultra-simplistic reading of the fall of the Soviet Union and Putin's rise to power (Morgan Freeman assures us it was all about "revenge"). Perhaps one of many lessons here is this: you'd better divert some funds toward consulting real Russian experts and journalists before hiring a big-moneyed celebrity to "educate" the masses.

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“Extraordinary & Worrisome” – WSJ Demands To Know How FBI ‘Meddled’ In 2016 Elections

Via The Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board,

Congress needs to learn how the FBI meddled in the 2016 campaign.

When Donald Trump claimed in March that he’d had his “wires tapped” prior to the election, the press and Obama officials dismissed the accusation as a fantasy. We were among the skeptics, but with former director James Comey’s politicized FBI the story is getting more complicated.

CNN reported Monday that the FBI obtained a warrant last year to eavesdrop on Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager from May to August in 2016. The story claims the FBI first wiretapped Mr. Manafort in 2014 while investigating his work as a lobbyist for Ukraine’s ruling party. That warrant lapsed, but the FBI convinced the court that administers the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to issue a second order as part of its probe into Russian meddling in the election.

Guess who has lived in a condo in Trump Tower since 2006? Paul Manafort.

The story suggests the monitoring started in the summer or fall, and extended into early this year.

While Mr. Manafort resigned from the campaign in August, he continued to speak with Candidate Trump.

It is thus highly likely that the FBI was listening to the political and election-related conversations of a leading contender for the White House.

That’s extraordinary – and worrisome.

Mr. Comey told Congress in late March that he “had no information that supports those [Trump] tweets.”

 

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was even more specific that “there was no such wiretap activity mounted against—the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.”

 

He denied that any such FISA order existed.

Were they lying?

The warrant’s timing may also shed light on the FBI’s relationship to the infamous “ Steele dossier.” That widely discredited dossier claiming ties between Russians and the Trump campaign was commissioned by left-leaning research firm Fusion GPS and developed by former British spy Christopher Steele—who relied on Russian sources. But the Washington Post and others have reported that Mr. Steele was familiar to the FBI, had reached out to the agency about his work, and had even arranged a deal in 2016 to get paid by the FBI to continue his research.

The FISA court sets a high bar for warrants on U.S. citizens, and presumably even higher for wiretapping a presidential campaign. Did Mr. Comey’s FBI marshal the Steele dossier to persuade the court?

All of this is reason for House and Senate investigators to keep exploring how Mr. Comey’s FBI was investigating both presidential campaigns.

Russian meddling is a threat to democracy but so was the FBI if it relied on Russian disinformation to eavesdrop on a presidential campaign. The Justice Department and FBI have stonewalled Congressional requests for documents and interviews, citing the “integrity” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

But Mr. Mueller is not investigating the FBI, and in any event his ties to the bureau and Mr. Comey make him too conflicted for such a job. Congress is charged with providing oversight of law enforcement and the FISA courts, and it has an obligation to investigate their role in 2016. The intelligence committees have subpoena authority and the ability to hold those who don’t cooperate in contempt.

Mr. Comey investigated both leading presidential campaigns in an election year, playing the role of supposedly impartial legal authority. But his maneuvering to get Mr. Mueller appointed, and his leaks to the press, have shown that Mr. Comey is as political and self-serving as anyone in Washington.

No investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign will be credible or complete without the facts about all Mr. Comey’s wiretaps.

http://WarMachines.com

“Extraordinary & Worrisome” – Wall Street Journal Demands To Know How FBI ‘Meddled’ In 2016 Elections

Via The Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board,

Congress needs to learn how the FBI meddled in the 2016 campaign.

When Donald Trump claimed in March that he’d had his “wires tapped” prior to the election, the press and Obama officials dismissed the accusation as a fantasy. We were among the skeptics, but with former director James Comey’s politicized FBI the story is getting more complicated.

CNN reported Monday that the FBI obtained a warrant last year to eavesdrop on Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager from May to August in 2016. The story claims the FBI first wiretapped Mr. Manafort in 2014 while investigating his work as a lobbyist for Ukraine’s ruling party. That warrant lapsed, but the FBI convinced the court that administers the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to issue a second order as part of its probe into Russian meddling in the election.

Guess who has lived in a condo in Trump Tower since 2006? Paul Manafort.

The story suggests the monitoring started in the summer or fall, and extended into early this year.

While Mr. Manafort resigned from the campaign in August, he continued to speak with Candidate Trump.

It is thus highly likely that the FBI was listening to the political and election-related conversations of a leading contender for the White House.

That’s extraordinary – and worrisome.

Mr. Comey told Congress in late March that he “had no information that supports those [Trump] tweets.”

 

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was even more specific that “there was no such wiretap activity mounted against—the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.”

 

He denied that any such FISA order existed.

Were they lying?

The warrant’s timing may also shed light on the FBI’s relationship to the infamous “ Steele dossier.” That widely discredited dossier claiming ties between Russians and the Trump campaign was commissioned by left-leaning research firm Fusion GPS and developed by former British spy Christopher Steele—who relied on Russian sources. But the Washington Post and others have reported that Mr. Steele was familiar to the FBI, had reached out to the agency about his work, and had even arranged a deal in 2016 to get paid by the FBI to continue his research.

The FISA court sets a high bar for warrants on U.S. citizens, and presumably even higher for wiretapping a presidential campaign. Did Mr. Comey’s FBI marshal the Steele dossier to persuade the court?

All of this is reason for House and Senate investigators to keep exploring how Mr. Comey’s FBI was investigating both presidential campaigns.

Russian meddling is a threat to democracy but so was the FBI if it relied on Russian disinformation to eavesdrop on a presidential campaign. The Justice Department and FBI have stonewalled Congressional requests for documents and interviews, citing the “integrity” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

But Mr. Mueller is not investigating the FBI, and in any event his ties to the bureau and Mr. Comey make him too conflicted for such a job. Congress is charged with providing oversight of law enforcement and the FISA courts, and it has an obligation to investigate their role in 2016. The intelligence committees have subpoena authority and the ability to hold those who don’t cooperate in contempt.

Mr. Comey investigated both leading presidential campaigns in an election year, playing the role of supposedly impartial legal authority. But his maneuvering to get Mr. Mueller appointed, and his leaks to the press, have shown that Mr. Comey is as political and self-serving as anyone in Washington.

No investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign will be credible or complete without the facts about all Mr. Comey’s wiretaps.

http://WarMachines.com

The Root Of Current Tensions: “They Hold No Loyalty Except To Themselves And To Personal Gain”

Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces) via SHTFplan.com,

One of the items that is regularly reported on, but quietly…not alarming anyone…is the situation developing in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States. 

At the forefront is Ukraine, as the U.S.-orchestrated coup of 2014 and the subsequent annexation of Crimea by Russia created a line to develop into a Second Cold War.  This is the root of the current tensions where both Russia and the U.S. are continuously posturing against one another.

The root of the matter lies in the undue influence that was secured by Georgy Schwarz (also known as George Soros) with the purchase of John McCain.  An article just surfaced on September 13, 2017 entitled Power Games: What McCain, Soros, and the Clintons Have in Common, by Ekaterina Blinova of Sputnik News.  The article gives a brief history of “The McCain Institute for International Leadership,” a non-profit organization profiting on the campus of Arizona State University.  This non-profit organization has received “minor” donations, such as $1 million from the Saudi Arabian government in 2014.

Financial ties between McCain and Soros have been exposed in the past, and that the two have had a nebulous relationship since 2001.  Interestingly enough, it was McCain who was the leading proponent behind the regime change in Ukraine.  Assisted by Victoria Nuland with Obama and Hillary Clinton acting the part of “Zardoz” floating invisibly in the background, supplying the authority, and with Sen. Lindsey Graham as a lapdog-collaborator, it was McCain who orchestrated the coup above-board.

Beneath the boards was Soros.  The reason Soros funded Maidan (the right-wing ultra-nationalists of Ukraine) and approved of Arseniy Yatsenuk (a globalist scientologist who currently resides in California) was to grab Eastern Ukraine for himself.  Soros planned on dumping $50 million, backed by political control via McCain and the other Munsters, and financially by the IMF…all wrapped up in the NATO Hegemony….and buying himself one third of Ukraine…with all types of natural resources from coal to minerals…for 1/1000th of its actual worth.

Soros’ plan fell apart, because he did not count on the Russians seizing Crimea to secure Sevastopol (their Black Sea Fleet HQ) and access to the Mediterranean.  He also did not count on Ukrainians of Russian national derivation revolting in Eastern Ukraine against the installed puppetry of Yatsenuk (Yoda) that eventually “morphed” into Petro “Willy Wonka” Poroshenko’s Kiev government.  Because of the insurrection in the east, the IMF would not bail Ukraine out of the $9 billion plus owed to Russia to pay Gazprom for natural gas consumption.

Notice the complexion of the game has changed.  Soros now is fostering ties with Russia, in the hopes that he can take those mineral and oil rights from the other direction and take himself off the hook with the Russian government. Par for the course in the manner of Rothschild, bankrolling both Napoleon and the British government and selling short on both sides to pocket from the overall misfortune of the situation.  A situation caused by Rothschild and instigated into a war that gave him profits.  Only the players are different in the comedy being played out today.

Jared Kushner has deep ties to Soros, as does Hillary Clinton.  As mentioned in other articles, read Shadow Party by Poe that outlines the key role Soros played in the rise to power of Hillary Clinton.  The President truly needs to clean Washington out, and remove these politicos that kowtow and bend to the whim of oligarchs.  Only then can foreign policy be set that is in the interests of the United States and not a pack of privateers, oligarchs, and politicians…such as a Pelosi who begins a career making $150 grand and ends up with a net worth of more than $40 million.

There is a part of it all that is even worse than the theft.  Because of these games and the corruption attached to them, these individuals depose governments and throw whole nations into civil war and anarchy for the promulgation of personal power and personal gain.  World wars begin on the whims of madmen and see fruition because those madmen are in positions of authority derived from the citizens, yet with no accountability to the citizens.  They hold no loyalty except to themselves and to personal gain.

http://WarMachines.com

“She” Happened…

Authored by Jeffrey St.Clair via Counterpunch.org,

So someone has ghost-written another Hillary Clinton memoir. My biggest question when I picked it up was: Did Hillary stiff the writer out of the final payment as she did Barbara Feinman, the real author of It Takes a Village?

You don’t have to read any further than the cover of the book to answer the question posed by its title: What Happened: Hillary Clinton. Glutton for punishment, I took a masochistic dive into its dark pages anyway.

It soon became apparent that Hillary shouldn’t have treated Feinman so churlishly. What Happened would have greatly benefited from her stylistic enhancements. The prose in this book is as brittle as the mind behind it. Notice the lack of a question mark in the title. This is a telling punctuational elision. It signals that this text will not be an investigation into the dynamics behind the most perplexing election in American history.   Don’t skim these pages in search of a self-lacerating confession or an apologia. What Happened reads more like a drive-by shooting rampage. The book is a score-settling scattershot rant, enfilading anyone who stood in Clinton’s way, from Bernie Sanders to James Comey. Amid Hillary’s hitlist of villains, even toothless Joe Biden gets gut-shot.

There are, naturally, two ways of interpreting the results of the 2016 elections pitting the two most unappetizing candidates in American history against each: either Trump found some way to defeat Hillary or, more probably, Hillary managed to lose to Trump.

But Hillary’s psyche can’t swallow either scenario. So, she endeavors to create a mystery where there is none. The outcome was so inexplicable, she reasons, that there must be some hidden mechanism at work: Russian hacking, press bias, left betrayal, FBI sabotage. Clinton summons a lineup of the possible suspects: Bernie Sanders, Vladimir Putin, Julian Assange, Jill Stein, the New York Times, CNN, and Jim Comey. Alas, Hillary and her ghost-writer are not John LeCarré. She can’t spin a coherent and plausible cyber-spy yarn, in part because Clinton keeps getting sidetracked by a compulsion to wash her own hands of any culpability in blowing the election.

The closest Hillary comes to any admission of personal liability is when she discloses that she may have blundered when she smeared Trump’s supporters as “deplorables.” Then she suddenly pulls back, recalibrates and defends her denunciation of white working class voters as an act of courage, speaking truth to the powerless, even though it may have harmed her. “I regret handing Trump a political gift with my ‘deplorables’ comment,” she writes. “[But] too many of Trump’s core supporters do hold views that I find — there’s no other word for it — deplorable.” What started as a confession ended in a boast.

Of course, Hillary Clinton has never been able to conceal her contempt for her enemies, real and imagined. It’s one reason she’s never been a successful politician. Where others are supple, she is taut. Unlike Bill, Hillary is a prolific, but graceless and transparent liar. She is also probably the nastiest political figure in America since Nixon. Yet she lacked Nixon’s Machiavellian genius for political manipulation. Hillary wears her menace on her face. She could never hide her aspiration for power; her desire to become a war criminal in the ranks of her mentor Henry Kissinger (symbolized by the laurels of a Nobel Peace Prize, naturally). Americans don’t mind politicians with a lust to spill blood, but they prefer them not to advertise it.

Thus, Clinton was miscast from the beginning as a political candidate for elected office. Her skills and temperament were more suited to the role of political enforcer in the mode of Thomas Cromwell or John Erhlichman. But her ambition wouldn’t let her settle for the role of a backstage player. “One thing I’ve learned over the years is how easy it is for some people to say horrible things about me when I’m not around,” she fumes with Nixonian fury, “but how hard it is for them to look me in the eye and say it to my face.”

Hillary has tried to reinvent herself many times and does so yet again in this meretricious coda to her failed campaign. She made herself more domesticated for the southern electorate in Arkansas. She shifted the blame to her advisors after the disaster of her health care bill. She washed off the blood-spatter from the Ken Starr investigations by portraying herself as the target of a witch hunt. She exploited an addled Daniel Patrick Moynihan to justify running as an interloper for Senator in New York. She rationalized her votes for the Iraq War by saying she was duped by Colin Powell and Dick Cheney. She manufactured a timely tear for the cameras after her loss to Obama. She assumed the mantle of unrepentant war-monger during her belligerent tenure as Secretary of State and transubstantiated into a white dove during her debates with Bernie Sanders.

She has weeded and blurred inconvenient episodes from her resumé. She has gone on talking tours. She has appeared in town halls. She has reintroduced herself, again and again. She’s changed her name, hairstyles and fashion designers. She exchanged dresses for pantsuits. She shifted from drinking pinot noir to craft beers. She’s backed wars both before she opposed them and after she condemned them. But she remains the same Hillary Rodham Clinton Americans have known since 1992. Everybody sees this except her. Americans know Hillary better than she does herself.  All of her manufactured mirages are translucent to the very the people she wants to deceive.  When Hillary looks in the mirror, she must see what might have been (should have been in her mind) and not what is. And that schism enrages her.

“Why am I seen as such a divisive figure and, say, Joe Biden and John Kerry aren’t?” she mopes. “They’ve cast votes of all kinds, including some they regret, just like me? What makes me such a lightning rod for fury? I’m really asking. I’m at a loss.”

This self-pitying book should prove a challenge for library cataloguers. Shall they shelve it as non-fiction or fiction? What do we make of a woman who lies so casually about matters great and petty, including the origins of her own name? For years, Hillary has insisted that her mother named her after Edmund Hillary. HRC was born in 1947. The New Zealand mountaineer and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Everest six years later in 1953.

Hillary rarely offers anything remotely revealing about herself, other than plastic platitudes and self-flattering fables. But what seeps through this memoir page after page is an animus that seethes beneath her very thin-skin against anyone she believes has slighted her. Brooding on her fate, she writes mordantly: “It wasn’t healthy or productive to dwell on the ways I felt I’d been shivved.” Yet that’s precisely what she does, incessantly. [Note the deployment of the prison slang “shivved,” with its faint whiff of black criminality. The cunning use of racist tropes is a familiar trick in the Clinton playbook. It implies that she has been stabbed in the back by a friend or someone she thought she owned.]

Hillary’s politics never really matured much beyond the inbred conservativism that drew her to Barry Goldwater in the mid-60s. She’s a moral prude, a hawk, and an unrepentant capitalist, who is deeply suspicious of black people. Eventually, the Democratic Party devolved toward her austere political views, abetted by her husband, Al Gore and the other neoliberal “New Democrats.”

What she had, the ace of up her sleeve, was her feminism. But it was a unique brand of feminism. Call it power feminism, which asserted individual ambition rather than a militant political agenda. She also weaponized the feminism of victimhood. At one point in What Happened, she compares herself to Cersei Lannister in “Game of Thrones.” Not Cersei the torturer, assassin and war-monger, mind you, where the parallels might have been germane. But Cersei the victim of male power, who was forced to walk naked through the streets of Kings Landing while being jeered and pelted with garbage and feces by the townsfolk in a ritual of public shaming. Hillary charges that her chance to rule was undone by a nation of misogynists, who thrilled at her torments. “I wish so badly we were a country where a candidate who said, ‘My story is the story of a life shaped by and devoted to the movement for women’s liberation’ would be cheered, not jeered. But that’s not who we are.”

As for the 53 percent of white women who voted against her, they too are portrayed as victims. We are led to believe that these women weren’t acting on their own agency in the voting booth. Rather they were captives, little more than automatons controlled by their husbands, fathers, bosses and preachers.

Throughout her career, HRC regularly scolded poor black and Hispanic families about taking “personal responsibility” for their dire circumstances. Indeed, Clinton cast welfare reform as the penance the poor must pay for not getting their shit together. But personal responsibility is a quality that Hillary never adopts for her own failures and screw-ups, including grave ones such as the invasion of Libya or sliming black teens as “super predators” in her lobbying blitz to enact her husband’s vicious Crime Bill. She can’t forgive Bernie Sanders for having the temerity to challenge her pre-ordained coronation and shining a spotlight on the more ignoble chapters of her political career.

“Bernie routinely portrayed me as a corrupt corporatist who couldn’t be trusted…Bernie was outraged about everything. He thundered on at every event about the sins of the ‘millionaires and billionaires,’” she raves.

 

“I was more focused on offering practical solutions that would address real problems and make life better for people.”

 

She then cynically blames Sanders for her losses in Ohio and Pennsylvania with apparently no assist from Putin: “What did matter, and had a lasting impact, was that Bernie’s presence in the race meant that I had less space and credibility to run the kind of progressive campaign that had helped me win Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2008.”

 

Tell Putin the news, Bernie.

Hillary Clinton has been obsessed with power her entire adult life. Now it has finally slipped from her hands, and, like some deposed monarch or disgraced CEO, she can only see a conspiracy behind her downfall. Of course, the Clintons have always been professional paranoids. Every roadbump in their political careers has been covertly placed in their path by some shadowy, malign force. In What Happened the “vast right-wing conspiracy” Hillary inveighed against in the 1990s has morphed into a vast “left-right conspiracy of men,” who, in her portentous words, “want to blow up the system and undermine it and all the rest of the stuff they talk about.” The system, of course, is a stand-in for herself. Her defeat at the hands of a ruthless and scheming patriarchy, we are encouraged to believe, is a trembling testament to American political decline. This egotistical gibberish comes from the woman who seemed eager to bring the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust over Syria and Ukraine.

What Happened is a sordid book, petulant and spiteful. It made me feel queasy and dirty while reading it, like the whole 25-year-long experience of Clintonism itself.

By the end, I got the sense that its sleazy torrent of invective and blame-mongering was more an attempt to console the frail psyche of the author rather than to repair her shattered image to any readership the book might find. In the years to come, What Happened will prove much more valuable as documentary evidence for psycho-historians than political scientists.

http://WarMachines.com

Syria’s President Exposed A Flaw In US Foreign Policy That No One Wants To Talk About

Authored by Darius Shahtahmasebi via TheAntiMedia.org,

In an interview with RT in 2015, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uttered perhaps one of his most intriguing statements since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011. Assad stated:

“Western propaganda has, from the very beginning, been about the cause of the problem being the president. Why? Because they want to portray the whole problem in Syria lies in one individual; and consequently the natural reaction for many people is that, if the problem lies in one individual, that individual should not be more important than the entire homeland. So let that individual go and things will be alright. That’s how they oversimplify things in the West.”  [emphasis added]

He continued:

Notice what happened in the Western media since the coup in Ukraine. What happened? President Putin was transformed from a friend of the West to a foe and, yet again, he was characterized as a tsar…This is Western propaganda. They say that if the president went things will get better. [emphasis added]

Putting aside Assad’s vast and extensive list of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Assad highlighted one of the major flaws in Western thinking regarding America’s hostile policies toward a number of independent states.

Just look at the current to-and-fro-ing between North Korea and the United States to gather an accurate picture of what is being referred to here. The problem of North Korea is consistently portrayed in the media as caused by one person (current leader Kim Jong-un), a narrative that ultimately ignores the role America and its allies have played in this current crisis. As Anti-Media previously highlighted:

“…the problem [North Korean crisis] is constantly framed as one caused by North Korea alone, not the United States. ‘How to Deal With North Korea,’ the Atlantic explains. ‘What Can Trump Do About North Korea?’ the New York Times asks. ‘What Can Possibly Be Done About North Korea,’ the Huffington Post queries. Time provides 6 experts discussing ‘How We Can Solve the Problem’ (of North Korea). ‘North Korea – what can the outside world do?’ asks the BBC.”

What the media is really advancing here – particularly when one talks about a military option as a response to dealing with North Korea’s rogue actions – is the notion that if the U.S. could only take out Kim Jong-un, the problem of North Korea would disappear.

Would the death of one man rid every single North Korean of the hostility and hatred they harbor toward the United States when many know full well that in the early 1950s the U.S. bombed North Korea so relentlessly they eventually ran out of targets to hit — that the U.S. military killed off at least 20 percent of the civilian population?

If Kim Jong-un is removed, will North Koreans suddenly forget that nearly every North Korean alive today has a family relative that was killed by the United States in the 1950s?

In the simple corporate media narrative, yes they will. Killing that one person and removing them from office will not only save the country they brutalize but will also provide security and stability for the rest of the world.

Never mind that prior to the U.S.-NATO onslaught of Libya in 2011, Libya had the highest standard of living in the African continent. The Times once admitted that its healthcare system was the “envy of the region.” Now, the country has completely collapsed, with well over two million children out of school, countless migrants drowning in its waters, extremism running unchecked and unchallenged, and traders openly selling slaves like a commodity.

Let’s suppose every single accusation against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was true (they weren’t); how can it be said that destroying a country’s infrastructure and assassinating its leader in flagrant disregard of international law is a realistic solution to any problem? If you oppose Donald Trump, would a Russian-led military intervention solve your problems with the country he rules over?

Forget what you think you know about Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Kim Jong-un, Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro – the narrative Western governments and their media mouthpieces have promulgated for the last few decades remains completely nonsensical. You can’t solve Syria’s or Venezuela’s problems by removing their current leaders, especially if you attempt to do it by force. Anyone who claims this is possible is lying to you and is also too naïve and indolent to bother researching the current situations in Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Iraq – to name a few.

The fact that the U.S. evidently doesn’t want to solve any problems at all – that it merely seeks to overthrow leaders that don’t succumb to its wishes – is a topic for a separate article but is certainly worth mentioning here as well.

The same can ultimately be said of Donald Trump. Since his election victory, many celebrities, media pundits, and members of the intelligence community have sought to unseat and discredit him. Yet Donald Trump is merely a horrifying symptom of America’s problems; to think he alone caused them and that by removing him from office the U.S. would suddenly become a safe-haven of freedom and liberty is nothing short of idiotic.

If you agree with the latter sentiment, you must also concede that the problems facing North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and elsewhere could never be solved by the U.S. forcibly removing their leaders.

If Assad was removed from Syria, would extremism disappear or would it thrive in the political vacuum as it did in Iraq? Could Syria’s internal issues — which are much more extensive than the corporate media would have us believe — be solved by something as simple as removing its current leader? Can anyone name a country where this has been tried and tested as a true model for solving a sovereign nation’s internal crises? Anyone who truly believes a country’s problems can be solved in this facile way needs to do a bit more reading.

If you can recognize this dilemma, you can agree that it’s time for the media to completely undo the simplicity in its coverage of these issues and start reporting on the genuine diplomatic options that could be pursued, instead.

http://WarMachines.com

Hundreds Of Tanks And Howitzers From The United States Arrive In Poland

One day before Russia kicked off its “Zapad 2017” military exercise, dubbed the “biggest display of Russian military power since the end of the Cold War”, on September 13 American military equipment arrived in the port of Gdansk, Radio Poland reports, where more than a thousand pieces of American military equipment from the Second Anti-tank Brigade Combat Team were unloaded at the port, including Abrams tanks, Bradley combat vehicles, Paladin howitzers and other combat equipment. This is the first shipment of equipment to arrive in Poland under the initiative Operation Atlantic Resolve according to UA Wire.

According to the General Commander of Poland’s Armed Forces, General Jaroslaw Mika, the equipment will be used during military exercises.

“This military equipment, which we see today, will be located in the western part of Poland. I mean, first of all, in such areas as Boleslawiec, Zagan, Torun, Swietoszow, and Skwierzyna. This equipment will be used in various maneuvers and training. This is a brigade fighting group. At this point, I want to emphasize the scale of the Dragon 17 exercises. This is 17,000 soldiers from 11 countries. I think that these figures are quite impressive if we are speaking about the activity of the NATO member countries, as well as the use of America’s potential,” he said.

On Thursday, the first train with American weapons departed for the place of permanent deployment.

The goal of Operation Atlantic Resolve, as discussed previously, is to assure the continued presence of U.S. troops in Central and Eastern Europe. The Dragon17 exercises, which will be held September 25-29, will be the largest exercise held this year in Poland.

Earlier this year, American troops were deployed to bases across Poland on a rotating basis as reassurance amid Russia’s increased military activity. As mentioned yesterday, leaders in Poland, the Baltic states, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria are concerned Russia might not pull back all of its soldiers after the drills.

Meanwhile, despite NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg statements that the “Zapad-2017” Russia-Belarus joint drills aren’t considered a threat by the alliance, the Pentagon has said that it is “closely watching” the war games anyway.

“The US Department of Defense is closely observing watching joint Russia-Belarus Zapad 2017 drills”, Pentagon spokesperson Rob Manning said in a briefing on Friday.

“We are watching Zapad very closely. Obviously Russia has the right to conduct their own exercises,” Manning added.

Previously, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance does not see any imminent threat posed to against any NATO member by the drills.

In turn, senior Russian and Belarusian officials reiterated that the drills do not pose any threat to other states and are exclusively defensive in nature. Moreover, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko stated earlier that these exercises would be open for foreign observers. The Defense Ministry of Belarus reported in August that observers from seven countries — Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Norway — were invited to the event. Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to observe the drills on September 18. When commenting on NATO states’ reaction to the planned drills, the Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier that increasing military presence of NATO in Eastern Europe went unnoticed amid groundless criticism of the Russian-Belarusian Zapad-2017 military exercises.

Moscow has repeatedly criticized the increased presence of the alliance’s troops and military facilities near the Russian border. Moscow has said Russia had never planned and does not plan to attack any NATO member.

Meanwhile, with verbal accusations being lobbed between Russia and NATO, and achieving nothing to halt the proliferation of weapons on both sides of the renewed “cold war” conflict, the heavily armed build up continues unabated.

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Russia Kicks Off “Biggest Display Of Military Power Since The Cold War”

Today, Moscow kicked off its controversial, week-long “Zapad-2017” drill, the latest iteration of a series of training maneuvers that began under the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and which has angered and put NATO and Baltic States leaders on edge. Land, sea and air units will be taking part in war games until the 21st of September across a huge area encompassing western Russia, Belarus, the Baltic Sea and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

After a long break following the collapse of communism, Zapad, or “west” in Russian, was revived in 1999 and then was expanded after Vladimir Putin became president at the end of that year. Previous versions were held in 2009 and 2013.  Moscow says fewer than 13,000 troops are participating – the threshold for inviting international observers – but NATO members believe as many as 100,000 troops will be involved in the drills. That would make this year’s drill the biggest display of Russian military power since the end of the Cold War a quarter-century ago. 


Foreign observers from NATO were never allowed to watch Soviet-era Zapad exercises, and diplomats based in Moscow were barred from visiting regions where the exercises were taking place. That was supposed to change with the signing of the Vienna Document, adopted in 1990 by the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and updated in 2011, but Russia has always found ways to circumvent the agreement.

In the drill, Russia and Belarus will deploy their troops, designated as “the Northern ones” to stand up to the aggression from “the Western ones” – armed attackers from the made-up countries of Vesbaria, Lubenia, and Veishnoria. According to the scenario released by Russian and Belarusian defense officials, Vesbaria and Lubenia are located in the Baltic region and control the corridor which links the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad with Belarus.

In the real world, the corridor roughly corresponds to the border between Lithuania and Poland, both of them NATO members.  The hypothetical state of Veishnoria, however, is located in the Grodno area of Belarus, near the country’s western border. Experts cited by DW see this as a sign that Minsk and Moscow are preparing scenarios for threats originating in NATO countries as well as from within Belarus. The Grodno area seems to have a special significance as the home for a large population of Poles living in the former Soviet state. However, military officials insist that the scenario was developed “against a hypothetical opponent, unrelated to the concrete region.”

What is the goal of the drill?

“Belarus and the Kaliningrad region have been infiltrated by extremist groups with the intention of committing terrorist attacks. The illegal militias are backed from abroad, providing them with armaments and naval and air capabilities. In order to neutralize the opponents, land forces will be deployed to cut off their access to sea and block air corridors in the region, with the support of the air force, air defense forces, and the navy,” the official plan says.

The goal of the Zapad-2017 maneuvers is to coordinate actions between regional military commands “in the interest of ensuring military safety,” Moscow and Minsk said. “The Republic of Belarus strives to prevent armed conflicts, and the Russian federation is providing it with political backing, financial aid, as well as technical and military support,” according to the Belarusian Defense Ministry.

 

The drill is set to proceed in two stages. Initially, the military will boost their air force and air defense capabilities to protect key military and state objects, and prepare to “isolate regions of activity by the illegal armed groups and their subversive-reconnaissance squads.” The second stage will be “to work out the issues of managing troops while repelling an aggression” against Russia and Belarus.

Who will take part?

Officially, the two countries say that some 12,700 servicemen will be involved in the upcoming drills. “Zapad-2017″ will also involve 70 planes and helicopters, 280 tanks, 200 artillery weapons, ten ships, 200 “heavy weapons and guns” and various other pieces of military equipment. The drills will also include agents of the Russian intelligence service FSB, as well as people working for the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

However, NATO allies have repeatedly disputed these numbers, with German Defense Minister Ursula Von der Leyen claiming the real number is likely to be upwards of 100,000 troops. International accords mandate that countries provide a larger degree of transparency when holding drills with over 13,000 troops.

Last weekend, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it was “bewildered” by Von der Leyen’s assertion, and repeated its claims that drill would stay below the 13,000 threshold. Previously, the Kremlin has asked foreign defense officials and military-diplomatic corps to visit the final stage of the joint exercise at one of the sites in Russia. Belarus also stated that it had sent out invitations to UN, OSCE, NATO, the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States, and military attaches accredited in Belarus.

Despite a global anti-Russian wave that would make McCarthy blush, so-called experts don’t believe that Russia is about to launch a war, at least not yet , according to NBC.  “NATO remains calm and vigilant, and committed to keeping Estonia and all our allies safe,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last week in Estonia, one of the tiny Baltic nations that borders Russia and often worries about undue influence from Moscow. But not everyone in the region is so sanguine. In Lithuania, another Baltic nation that was once part of the Soviet Union, Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis summed up the mood.

“We can’t be totally calm. There is a large foreign army massed next to Lithuanian territory,” he told Reuters.

Other Western officials, including the head of the U.S. Army in Europe, Gen. Ben Hodges, have raised concerns that Russia might use the drills as a “Trojan horse” to make incursions into Poland and Russian-speaking regions in the Baltics. Hodges made the comment in a Reuters interview in July.

There are fears that Moscow may be moving far more troops into Belarus than it intends to withdraw, establishing a permanent military presence there on the border with NATO countries. And officials in the Baltics and Poland have voiced alarm that the exercises could be used as a cover for Russian aggression, as happened in 2014, when Moscow staged large-scale exercises to camouflage preparations to intervene on the side of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

NATO is also concerned: “Russia is not organizing defensive operations but instead an offensive threat, testing how serious we are about protecting the members of NATO,” said Jonathan Eyal, international director of the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank. Belarus not only borders Russia, but also three of America’s key but relatively isolated NATO allies: Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.

“Russia is reminding us that the Baltic states are relatively indefensible,” Eyal added according to NBC. “They want to see where the cracks are in NATO and where they can be widened.”

Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, said he could not speculate about the real purpose of Zapad-2017, saying that this would become clear only once it was over next week. At the same time, he noted, the exercise fits a “pattern of a more assertive Russia” that is “exercising more aggressively” and, through its actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, has shown that “it is willing to use military force against its neighbors.”

In hypothetical scenarios played out by the Rand Corporation last year found that it would take Russian forces just 60 hours to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga.

In terms of this year’s Zapad exercise, what concerns some officials and experts is they aren’t exactly sure how big they will be. There are also questions about Putin’s true intention. The last Zapad exercise, in 2013, featured “more than 75,000 men, who were engaged in simulated operations in the air, on land and at sea,” according to a report by The Jamestown Foundation, a Washington-based research institute. For comparison, last year 24 NATO members held a military exercise named “Anakonda,” which included more than 31,000 service members.

Whatever the number, the exercises come against the backdrop of several close encounters between Russian and NATO aircraft and ships in recent years.

“There’s always a possibility for miscalculation when that’s going on,” Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, NATO’s supreme allied commander, told reporters last month, referring to these near-misses. “I think that’s the importance of transparency, particularly on Russia’s part, to tell us about [the Zapad] exercise: What should we expect to see, what is the size of them, where will they operate?”

* * *

What is far less mentioned in the western press, is that are pointed out earlier, Belarus had previously invited international monitors from various foreign countries to observe the active phase of the drills.

“We are not planning to attack anyone. In terms of what the drills will be like – we’ve invited almost anyone who wants to attend. Let them come and watch,” Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko stated in September. In July, Belarusian Defense Minister Andrey Ravkov, also stressed that international organizations, including the UN, NATO, and the OSCE, as well as more than 80 foreign observers, are invited to the drills since there is “nothing to conceal.”

Finally, while the world’s attention is focused on Zapad 2017, NATO and its allies have increased their military activity on Russia’s borders.

Launching today, by odd coincidence, Sweden is holding its largest war games in over two decades, timed to start at the same time as the Russia-Belarus drills. Apart from exceeding the number of troops participating in Zapad 2017 by several thousand, the maneuvers are aimed to prepare for a possible Russian attack.

Moreover, around 40,000 NATO troops and allied forces have taken part in various military drills in Europe this summer, according to Air Force Brigadier General John Healy, who directs the drills of US forces in Europe. Eighteen NATO exercises, including Noble Partner in Georgia, occurred in the Black Sea Region alone, close to the Russian border, in summer 2017. At the same time Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria joined separate US-led Saber Guardian 2017, which took place this summer. Around 25,000 service members from 22 allied and partner nations were involved in the drills, making them the largest of the 18 Black Sea region exercises this year.  Earlier, Ukraine hosted the US-led Sea Breeze 17 naval drills, involving around 2,500 troops and more than 30 ships from 17 participating countries.

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