Author Archive

On the Deep State and Surveillance

by Jimmy Falls

Who.What.Why (March 16 2017)

Carl Bernstein knows a thing or two about a high-ranking government official turning on his president. He and fellow Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward famously broke the Watergate burglary story, which ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974.

During their investigation, the reporters were, according to an account provided years later by Woodward, given critical information by Mark Felt, the FBI’s deputy director, whom they referred to as “Deep Throat” {*}.

Now, once again, a president is the target of leaks that are likely coming from high-ranking government officials.

During a recent CNN-hosted Q&A session at SXSW, WhoWhatWhy asked Bernstein his thoughts on the apparent conflict between President Donald Trump and what many are calling the “Deep State”. He expressed a skepticism about the term, saying that many unfounded conspiracy theories were being associated with it. He acknowledged however, that there are elements of the Deep State narrative that could be true.

Many different definitions of the Deep State are floating around. One common narrative is that intelligence bureaucrats, loyal to the Obama administration and liberal ideology generally, have been undermining the Trump presidency through damaging leaks to the press, especially concerning his business relationships with Russia.

According to a counter-narrative, forces within the FBI acted to support Trump in the way they handled the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s email server during the election.

When asked by CNN what to make of the Trump-Russia connection that has dominated news headlines, Bernstein gave a surprisingly conservative answer, saying, “I don’t know”. He stressed the need for careful investigative journalism to separate fact from fiction.

Deep conflicts within government can have beneficial consequences for the public, though this is not always recognized immediately. Bernstein and Woodward’s investigations not only brought down Nixon; they were also a catalyst for a whole series of government investigations into US intelligence activities, including the Rockefeller Commission, the Pike and Church committees, and House Select Committee on Assassinations (“HSCA”). Many reforms, such as the establishment of the FISA court and the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, came about as a result of these hearings.

Though discussion of the Deep State is in vogue now, WhoWhatWhy has been ahead of the curve on this issue. As predicted, the mainstream discussion is being directed to mid-level bureaucrats, rather than to the power elite, the One Percent whose domains include Wall Street and the military-industrial-complex, and whose abiding (if sometimes diffuse) influence was the subject of WhoWhatWhy‘s inquiries.

“Indiscriminate” and “Arbitrary”

WhoWhatWhy also asked Bernstein to compare the surveillance/intelligence complex in his day to that of today, post-Snowden. He said that long before Edward Snowden came on the scene, he was quite aware of the NSA’s technical capabilities, including the ability to “vacuum” up vast amounts of electronic data. He referred to the book The Puzzle Palace (1982) by James Bamford, an expose on the NSA. Yet he indicated that even in light of Snowden’s revelations, there has been no clear evidence of abuse of this vast surveillance privilege by the intelligence agencies.

There has been no evidence that the executive branch has abused surveillance powers to spy on opposing political parties or candidates, as Nixon tried to do by bugging the offices of the Democratic headquarters. (Although now Trump, without providing any evidence, has openly accused the Obama adminstration of just such actions.)

However, indiscriminate data collection from US citizens can itself be construed as an abuse of the Fourth Amendment protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures”. Federal district judge Richard J Leon described the NSA’s technological capabilities as “Orwellian”. In his ruling he writes:

I cannot imagine a more “indiscriminate” and “arbitrary” invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval.

There is yet another sense in which real, concrete abuses of power have been brought to light by leakers. WhoWhatWhy recently interviewed former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who first leaked that the CIA was kidnapping and torturing terrorism suspects in secret bases worldwide. He was tried under the Espionage Act by the Obama administration and spent two years in a federal prison. Apparently, neither the Obama nor the Trump administration want such revelations to reach the public.

In a political environment where the power of government is regularly marshaled to bury news of unreasonable surveillance and other Deep State abuses, Carl Bernstein’s advice to pursue the truth tenaciously seems more timely than ever.


{*} Editor’s Note: Readers of WhoWhatWhy and its editor Russ Baker’s book Family of Secrets (2008) are familiar with serious questions about Woodward’s veracity, about the conventional Watergate narrative we’ve all heard – and about the claimed role of Felt. Nonetheless, Bernstein gained justified praise for work he did for Rolling Stone, after leaving The Washington Post, on the extent to which the CIA had compromised the American media.
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Categories: Uncategorized

Trump = Obama = Bush = Clinton

On Four Core Issues

by George Washington

Washington’s Blog (March 26 2017)

Zero Hedge (March 26 2017)

On a superficial level {1}, Trump and Bush couldn’t be more different from Clinton and Obama. Indeed, pollsters say that many people voted for Trump because {2} they wanted change {3} … Just like they voted for Obama because he promised “hope and change” from Bush-era policies.

But beneath the surface, Trump, Obama, Bush and Clinton are all very similar on four core issues.

Moar War

Bush intentionally lied {4} us into the Iraq war … a war which had no relation with US security or defense.

Clinton and Obama intentionally lied {5} us into various “humanitarian wars” … which had nothing to do with our security or defense.

And the same idiots who lied us into the Iraq war are now trying to lie us into a cold (or maybe even hot) war with Russia {6}.

And what about Trump?

He campaigned on peace and non-interventionism …

But he’s already ramped up {7} the war in Syria.

And the war in Yemen {8} … where the US and Saudi Arabia are committing war crimes {9}.

And he’s already increased drone strikes by 432% {10}.

And Trump’s top advisor is predicting war with China and Russia {11}. He said {12}:

We’re going to war in the South China Sea … no doubt.

So it doesn’t look like peace is going to break out any time soon.

And sadly, top experts say the geopolitical policies pursued by Trump – which are very similar to those pursued by Obama, Bush and Clinton – will lead to more terrorism {13}.

Lap Dogs for Wall Street … Making the Rich Richer

Obama, Bush and Clinton all pushed economic policies which made the rich richer, and the poor poorer.

Bush and Obama bailed out the big banks, threw fistfuls of money at the banksters, and otherwise rewarded Wall Street and penalized Main Street {14}.

Clinton repealed {15} the Depression-era law which separated regular deposit banking from speculation (Glass-Steagall), allowed {16} the giant banks to grow into mega-banks, and acted as a cheerleader {17} for unregulated derivatives. And Clinton – like Bush and Obama – decided that white collar financial fraud didn’t exist {18}, or at least shouldn’t be prosecuted {19}.

What’s the effect of these policies?

Rick Baum notes {20}, using official US governments statistics, that inequality steadily increased under all three presidents:

Real wages plummeted {22} through the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

What about Trump?

He’s appointed the same {23} old {24} bankster cronies. Nothing will change. (And unfortunately, it’s not too early {25} to criticize a new president.)

Spying on Americans

The NSA’s mass surveillance on Americans started by 1999 or earlier {26} … under the Clinton administration.

Three months before 9/11, the head of the NSA admitted that the NSA was collecting so much information from spying that it was drowning in too much data {27}.

Mass surveillance expanded under Bush … and then even more under Obama {28}.

It’s gotten to the point that the government is spying on virtually all of our electronic communications and transactions {29}.

And Trump?

Given that he’s called for whistleblowers like Snowden and Assange to be executed for treason, and quickly implemented gag orders {30} as soon as he took office, he is almost certain to continue the expansion of mass surveillance on the American people.

In other words, a president who severely punishes anyone trying to reveal the extent of spying on Americans probably has no intention of reigning it in.

Supporting Dictators Who Support Terrorism

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest sponsor {31} of radical Islamic terrorists. The Saudis have backed ISIS {31} and many other brutal terrorist groups. And the most pro-ISIS tweets allegedly come from Saudi Arabia {32}.

According to sworn declarations from a 9/11 Commissioner and the Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry Into 9/11, the Saudi government backed the 9/11 hijackers {33} (see section VII for details). And declassified documents only amplify those connections {34}. And the new Saudi king has ties {35} to Al Qaeda, Bin Laden and Islamic terrorism.

Saudi Arabia is the hotbed of the most radical Muslim terrorists in the world: the Salafis {36} (both ISIS and Al Qaeda are Salafis {37}).

And the Saudis – with US support – back {38} the radical “madrassas” in which Islamic radicalism was spread.

And yet the US has been supporting the Saudis militarily, with NSA intelligence {39} and in every other way possible through the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.


He’s selling them massive amounts of arms {40}, keeping them off of the list {41} of restricted countries for immigration, and supporting Saudi war crimes {9} in Yemen.

It appears that the voters have been played … again.

Postscript: If you think that the presidents are more different than we’re giving them credit for, then you must conclude that they have been overridden by other forces. In that case, you may wish to consider consider whether the Deep State and big banks {42} have more power than democratically-elected officials.













































Categories: Uncategorized

These Democrats Seem to Really Want a War with Russia

by Tyler Durden

Zero Hedge (March 26 2017)

A little over four years ago Obama infamously mocked Governor Mitt Romney for his assertion that Russia was America’s number one geopolitical foe …



Governor Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaeda’s a threat. Because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America you said “Russia”. The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War has been over for twenty years.





… and while it was a very “cute” line, four short years later Democrats are now the ones progressing the relentless narrative that Russian President Vladimir Putin is behind pretty much every international dispute or cyberhacking plot known to man.

But while most dismissed the left’s rhetoric as just a bunch of sore losers letting off steam in the wake of a stunning defeat in November, rather than subsiding, the left’s rhetoric seems to be escalating with several lawmakers, with no proof whatsoever mind you, looking to officially label Russia’s alleged meddling as a “act of war”. Per The Hill {1}:



Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (Democrat, New Jersey) most recently accused Russia of engaging in warfare.

“I think this attack that we’ve experienced is a form of war, a form of war on our fundamental democratic principles”, Coleman said during a hearing this week at the House Homeland Security Committee.

She lambasted Trump for his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking a panel of experts and former officials what message Trump’s “borderline dismissive attitude” toward Moscow’s cyberattack sends to the Kremlin and other nations.


But Coleman isn’t the only Democrat looking to pick a fight, as a couple of California representatives have also piled on:



“I actually think that their engagement was an act of war, an act of hybrid warfare, and I think that’s why the American people should be concerned about it”, said Representative Jackie Speier (Democrat, California).

“This past election, our country was attacked. We were attacked by Russia”, said Representative. Eric Swalwell (Democrat, California). “I see this as an opportunity for everyone on this committee, Republicans and Democrats, to not look in the rearview window but to look forward and do everything we can to make sure that our country never again allows a foreign adversary to attack us”.



Meanwhile, the heightened rhetoric of the left comes despite the stark warnings from experts on the consequences of their provocative accusations.



“I find that sort of talk dangerous”, said Schmitt, who led the team of legal experts that formulated the Tallinn Manual 2.0, a comprehensive analysis of how international law applies to cyberspace.

The Army’s top officer, Mark Milley, also cautioned individuals about using the term “war” to refer to the cyberattacks, saying at a conference on Tuesday, “If it’s an act of war, then you’ve got to start thinking of your response to that sort of thing”

Schmitt assesses that the hacking campaign was not an act of war but rather a violation of two prohibitions: one on violating another state’s sovereignty and another on intervention into another state’s affairs.

“Without a scintilla of a doubt, it is not an act of war”, Schmitt said.



Of course, as we pointed out earlier this month, if hacking and/or seeking to influence the outcome of elections is truly an “act of war” as these Democrats suggest, then we would kindly remind them that their former leader “declared war” on the majority of the civilized world during his eight years in office. In fact, courtesy of WikiLeaks, here is just a small list of some of the individuals who were wire tapped by the Obama Administration over the years.

The US National Security Agency bugged a private climate change strategy meeting {2}; between (1) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and (2) German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin;

Obama bugged (3) Chief of Staff of UN High Commissioner for Refugees (“UNHCR”) for long term interception targetting his Swiss phone {3};

Obama singled out the (4) Director of the Rules Division of the World Trade Organisation (“WTO”), Johann Human, and targetted his Swiss phone for long term interception {3};

Obama stole sensitive (5) Italian diplomatic cables {4} detailing how Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implored Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to help patch up his relationship with US President Barack Obama, who was refusing to talk to Netanyahu;

Obama intercepted (6) top EU and (7) Japanese trade ministers {5} discussing their secret strategy and red lines to stop the US “extort{ing}” them at the WTO Doha arounds (the talks subsequently collapsed);

Obama explicitly targeted (8) five other top EU economic officials for long term interception, including their French, Austrian and Belgium phone numbers {6};

Obama explicitly targetted the phones of (9) Italy’s ambassador to Nato and (10) other top Italian officials {7} for long term interception; and

Obama intercepted details (11) of a critical private meeting between then (11) French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel and Berlusconi, where the latter was told the Italian banking system was ready to “pop like a cork”.










Categories: Uncategorized

Russophobia – Symptom of US Implosion

by Finian Cunningham

Zero Hedge (March 24 2017)

There was a time when Russophobia served as an effective form of population control – used by the American ruling class in particular to command the general US population into patriotic loyalty. Not any longer. Now, Russophobia is a sign of weakness, of desperate implosion among the US ruling class from their own rotten, internal decay.

This propaganda technique worked adequately well during the Cold War decades when the former Soviet Union could be easily demonized as “godless communism” and an “evil empire”. Such stereotypes, no matter how false, could be sustained largely because of the monopoly control of Western media by governments and official regulators.

The Soviet Union passed away more than a quarter of a century ago, but Russophobia among the US political class is more virulent than ever.

This week it was evident from Congressional hearings {1} in Washington into alleged Russian interference in US politics that large sections of American government and establishment media are fixated by Russophobia and a belief that Russia is a malign foreign adversary.

However, the power of the Russophobia propaganda technique over the wider population seems to have greatly diminished from its Cold War heyday. This is partly due to more diverse global communications which challenge the previous Western monopoly for controlling narrative and perception. Contemporary Russophobia – demonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin or Russian military forces – does not have the same potency for scaring the Western public. Indeed, due to greater diversity in global news media sources, it is fair to say that “official” Western depictions of Russia as an enemy, for example allegedly about to invade Europe or allegedly interfering in electoral politics, are met with a healthy skepticism – if not ridicule by many Western citizens.

What is increasingly apparent here is a gaping chasm between the political class and the wider public on the matter of Russophobia. This is true for Western countries generally, but especially in the US. The political class – the lawmakers in Washington and the mainstream news media – are frenzied by claims that Russia interfered in the US presidential elections and that Russia has some kind of sinister leverage on the presidency of Donald Trump.

But this frenzy of Russophobia is not reflected among the wider public of ordinary American citizens. Rabid accusations that Russia hacked the computers of Trump’s Democrat rival Hillary Clinton to spread damaging information about her; that this alleged sabotage of American democracy was an “act of war”; that President Trump is guilty of “treason” by “colluding” with a “Russian influence campaign” – all of these sensational claims seem to be only a preoccupation of the privileged political class. Most ordinary Americans, concerned about making a living in a crumbling society, either don’t buy the claims or view them as idle chatter.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov this week dismissed the Congressional hearings into alleged Russian interference in US politics. He aptly said that US lawmakers and the corporate media have become “entangled” in their own fabrications. “They are trying to find evidence for conclusions that they have already made”, said Peskov.

Other suitable imagery is that the US political class are tilting at windmills, chasing their own tails, or running from their own shadows. There seems to be a collective delusional mindset.

Unable to accept the reality that the governing structure of the US has lost legitimacy in the eyes of the people, that the people rebelled by electing an outsider in the form of business mogul-turned-politician Donald Trump, that the collapse of American traditional politics is due to the atrophy of its bankrupt capitalist economy over several decades – the ruling class have fabricated their own excuse for demise by blaming it all on Russia.

The American ruling class cannot accept, or come to terms, with the fact of systemic failure in their own political system. The election of Trump is a symptom of this failure and the widespread disillusionment among voters towards the two-party train wreck of Republicans and Democrats. That is why the specter of Russian interference in the US political system had to be conjured up, by necessity, as a way of “explaining” the abject failure and the ensuing popular revolt.

Russophobia was rehabilitated from the Cold War closet by the American political establishment to distract from the glaring internal collapse of American politics.

The corrosive, self-destruction seems to know no bounds. James Comey, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told {2} Congress this week that the White House is being probed for illicit contacts with Russia. This dramatic notice served by Comey was greeted with general approval by political opponents of the Trump administration, as well as by news media outlets.

The New York Times said the FBI was in effect holding a “criminal investigation at the doorstep of the White House”.

Other news outlets are openly airing {3} discussions on the probability of President Trump being impeached from office.

The toxic political atmosphere of Russophobia in Washington is unprecedented. The Trump administration is being crippled at every turn from conducting normal political business under a toxic cloud of suspicion that it is guilty of treason from colluding with Russia.

President Trump has run afoul with Republicans in Congress over his planned healthcare reforms because many Republicans are taking issue instead over the vaunted Russian probe.

When Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was reported {4} to be skipping a Nato summit next month but was planning to visit Moscow later in the same month, the itinerary was interpreted as a sign of untoward Russian influence.

What makes the spectacle of political infighting so unprecedented is that there is such little evidence to back up allegations of Trump-Russia collusion. It is preponderantly based on innuendo and anonymous leaks to the media, which are then recycled as “evidence”.

Devin Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said earlier this week that he has seen no actual evidence among classified documents indicating any collusion between the Trump campaign team and the Russian government.

Even former senior intelligence officials, James Clapper and Michael Morell who are no friends of Trump, have lately admitted in media interviews that there is no such evidence.

Yet, FBI chief James Comey told Congress that his agency was pursuing a potentially criminal investigation into the Trump administration, while at the same time not confirming or denying the existence of any evidence.

And, as already noted, this declaration of open-ended snooping by Comey on the White House was met with avid approval by political opponents of Trump, both on Capitol Hill and in the corporate media.

Let’s just assume for a moment that the whole Trump-Russia collusion story is indeed fake. That it is groundless, a figment of imagination. There are solid reasons to believe that is the case. But let’s just assume here that it is fake for the sake of argument.

That then means that the Washington seat of government and the US presidency are tearing themselves apart in a futile civil war.

The real war here is a power struggle within the US in the context of ruling parties no longer having legitimacy to govern.

This is an American implosion. An historic Made-in-America meltdown. And Russophobia is but a symptom of the internal decay at the heart of US politics.






Categories: Uncategorized

Could Great Wall of Iron …

… become New Silk Roadblock?

by Pepe Escobar

CounterPunch (March 21 2017)

When the hype surrounding the Trump-Xi summit turns into a Mar-a-Lago fact on the ground next month, both presidents are bound to agree fully on at least one issue: “radical Islamic terror” – as per Trump terminology.

Donald Trump has relied on a controversial Muslim “no-ban” ban that – in theory – would restrict the inflow of potential radical Islamists to US territory; his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, meeting Xinjiang lawmakers on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, has launched a “Great Wall of Iron” to protect China’s Far West.

The matter primarily concerns the East Turkestan Independence Movement (“ETIM”), active in Xinjiang, which Cheng Guoping, State Commissioner for counterterrorism and security matters, describes as “the most prominent challenge to China’s social stability, economic development and national security”.

ETIM is an Islamic extremist separatist organization, which according to Cheng is seeking “Xinjiang independence”.

It has been designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States, Russia, China, the UAE, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, among others. It is open to question whether the movement is really a cohesive separatist outfit, but certainly Chinese intelligence views it as such.

The matter also concerns, predictably, ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

Daesh has recently released a video in Uyghur, the Turkic language written in Arabic characters and spoken by Xinjiang’s Muslims, showing jihadis practicing somewhere in Iraq before slitting the throat of an alleged informer.

But the crux of the video is a thirty-second segment containing Daesh’s first direct threat to Beijing. Moments before the execution, a fighter – in the translation by the US-based SITE Intelligence Group – exclaims:



Oh, you Chinese who do not understand what people say! We are the soldiers of the Caliphate, and we will come to you to clarify to you with the tongues of our weapons, to shed blood like rivers and avenging the oppressed.



Chinese intelligence keeps extensive tabs on Uyghurs who have metastasized into jihadis across “Syraq” after making the journey illegally via Southeast Asia and Turkey. Beijing is as much alarmed at their eventual return home as Moscow is about Chechens and other Southern Caucasus jihadis.

And then there’s a third quite startling element. The Daesh video signals the formal excommunication of the Turkestan Islamic Party (“TIP”), which is essentially al-Qaeda in Xinjiang.

The TIP’s leadership and core fighters are based in Pakistan’s tribal areas, protected by the Tehreek-e Taliban (Pakistani Taliban) and have launched a number of attacks across the border over the past several years. Their announced aim is to install a Caliphate across Central Asia, but paying obedience to al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri, not Daesh’s self-proclaimed Caliph al-Baghdadi.

A key question is whether ETIM and TIP are one and the same. Uyghur jihadis are notoriously secretive and shifty. I met some of them in the “Lion of the Panjshir” Commander Masoud’s prisons in northern Afghanistan only three weeks before 9/11 – and they would not even admit ETIM existed. They also denied any links with al-Qaeda, following the example of then-ETIM leader Hasan Mehsum. They insisted their principal aim was independence from China.

Beijing essentially regards TIP as ETIM rebranded; high officials like Cheng Guoping continue to refer to all Uyghur jihadis as ETIM. A fluid movement, congregating multiple outlooks derived from separatism, it’s safer to say that “ETIM” referred to the few hundred Uyghur fighters active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan until TIP was formally announced in 2006.

There are other complicated overtones. ETIM was previously connected to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (“IMU”), co-founded by notorious jihadi Juma Namangani, an ex-Soviet paratrooper, who died in Afghanistan in 2001. IMU for its part was connected with the Afghan Taliban. Then, in the mid-2000s, there was a split; and the connection/protection of ETIM switched to the Pakistani Taliban.

The Daesh video chooses to refer to TIP, not ETIM. Although not as sophisticated as Daesh, TIP also harbors its own Sawt al-Islam (Voice of Islam) multilingual media operation, complete with an Islamic Turkestan magazine.

Beyond the terminology morass, Chinese intelligence ultimately may have to build a Great Wall of Iron aiming at two separate fronts: against Daesh and Uyghur jihadis fighting alongside Daesh in Syria and Iraq, who may be returning to Xinjiang or Pakistan, and against al-Qaeda ramifications/interpolations calling themselves TIP. Michael Clarke, an expert on Xinjiang at the National Security College of Australian National University, says that the hints of a Uyghur split could “intensify the threat to China” as it indicates Uyghur terrorists may be able to tap into the capabilities of both Daesh and al-Qaeda.

Daesh has set its sights on seducing packs of reservoir dogs not only from northern Africa but also from Indonesia, Pakistan and northwestern China. There are at least 23 million mainly Sunni Muslims in China – when we add the mostly Xinjiang-based Uyghurs and the Huis, an ethnic minority living in Gansu, Qinghai and Ningxia provinces; that’s twice the population of Tunisia, a fertile Daesh recruiting ground. Since 2014 al-Baghdadi has designated China as a jihad target. Daesh beheaded a Chinese hostage in November 2015. Daesh has released videos in mandarin to seduce the Hui.

Between a Separatist Rock and a Jihadi Hard Place

The Daesh video, produced by the group’s al-Furat Province unit in western Iraq, in which Uyghur jihadis promise to come home and “shed blood like rivers”, was released the same day (February 27) that China held the latest in a series of mass rallies of military police in Xinjiang meant to indicate government resolve in crushing security threats.

Coincidence? Perhaps. But there can be little doubt of either Daesh’s determination to spread jihad to far-away places as it rapidly loses ground in Syria and Iraq or of China’s equally strong determination to prevent Uyghur grievances from morphing into full-blown jihadism in its largest western province sitting astride the New Silk Road.

One Belt, One Road (“OBOR”), the official designation of the New Silk Road project, is President Xi’s most important foreign and economic policy undertaking. Xinjiang, a province at the very center of Asia and the size of Germany, France, Italy, and the UK combined, is a critical geographical link bordering on Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. It sits on vast energy and mineral reserves, is China’s largest producer of natural gas, and will be the privileged node connecting China to central and west Asia in a maze of high-speed rail, pipelines and fibre optics. The capital, Urumqi, is being turned into an information-technology hub. Trouble in Xinjiang spells major trouble for OBOR. It’s a fair bet that Beijing won’t stand for that.

Since August of 2016, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as it’s officially called, is run by Chen Quanguo, Communist Party Secretary of the Region, Member of the 18th CPC Central Committee, and promising candidate for the 19th Politburo of the CPC to be elected in October this year.

Prior to taking up the Xinjiang position, Chen for five years served as Communist Party Secretary of the Tibet CPC Autonomous Regional Committee. He knows ethnically diverse border regions trouble, has been entrusted by Beijing to deal with it and stood next to Xi Jinping when the Great Wall of Iron policy was announced.

While running Tibet, Chen revived methods of social control pioneered by ancient Chinese dynasties, the baojia system of groups of neighbors watching neighbors, now called the “grid system of social management”, with myriads of small police boxes in Lhasa and smaller towns and networks of citizens set up block by block to watch over each other, enforce proper behavior and identify suspicious strangers and potential troublemakers.

These methods are now being replicated from the capital of Urumqi to Korla to Aksu to Kashgar and Hetian. And if social controls and grid surveillance should prove insufficient, Chen will always have recourse to the People’s Armed Police Force, large units of which were on such prominent display in late February parades.

The stakes are high. There’s a fine line between social controls administered judiciously and with a measure of acceptance and success and controls administered harshly, experienced as repression and giving rise to violent reaction. It remains to be seen whether Chen’s and Xi’s Great Wall of Iron will fend off separatism and jihadism or whether the application of too much iron will strike a serious blow against the most ambitious infrastructure undertaking of the century.




This piece first appeared in Asia Times:

Categories: Uncategorized

Will Washington Risk World War Three …

… to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate?

by Mike Whitney

CounterPunch (March 23 2017)



Russia is an inalienable and organic part of Greater Europe and European civilization. Our citizens think of themselves as Europeans … That’s why Russia proposes moving towards the creation of a common economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, a community referred to by Russian experts as “the Union of Europe” which will strengthen Russia’s potential in its economic pivot toward the “new Asia”.

– Russian President Vladimir Putin, “Russia and the changing world”, February 2012



The relentless demonization of Vladimir Putin is just one part of Washington’s multi-pronged strategy to roll-back Russian power in Central Asia and extinguish Putin’s dream of a “Greater Europe”. Along with the attempt to smear the Russian president as a “KGB thug” and “dictator”, the media has also alleged that Moscow intervened in the US presidential elections and that Russia is a serial aggressor that poses a growing threat to European and US national security. The media onslaught, which has greatly intensified since the election of Donald Trump in November 2016, has been accompanied by harsh economic sanctions, asymmetrical attacks on Russia’s markets and currency, the arming and training of Russian adversaries in Ukraine and Syria, the calculated suppression of oil prices, and a heavy-handed effort to sabotage Russia’s business relations in Europe. In short, Washington is doing everything in its power to prevent Russia and Europe from merging into the world’s biggest free trade zone that will be the center of global growth and prosperity for the next century.

This is why the US State Department joined with the CIA to topple the elected government of Ukraine in 2014. Washington hoped that by annexing a vital landbridge between the EU and Asia, US powerbrokers could control critical pipeline corridors that are drawing the two continents closer together into an alliance that will exclude the United States. The prospect of Russia meeting more of the EU’s growing energy needs, while China’s high-speed railway system delivers more low-cost manufactured goods, suggests that the world’s center of economic gravity is shifting fast increasing the probability that the US will continue on its path of irreversible decline. And when the US dollar is inevitably jettisoned as the primary means of exchange between trade partners in the emerging Asia-EU free trade zone, then the recycling of wealth into US debt will drop off precipitously sending US markets plunging while the economy slips into a deep slump. Preventing Putin from “creating a harmonious community of economies from Lisbon to Vladivostok” is no minor hurtle for the United States. It’s a matter of life and death.

Remember the Wolfowitz Doctrine:



Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.



Washington’s relations with Russia will always be fractious because Russia poses a perennial threat to US ambitions to rule the world. Geography is fate, and Russia’s geography contains massive oil and gas reserves that Europe needs to heat its homes and fuel its businesses. The symbiotic relationship between supplier and end-user will eventually lead to the lifting of trade barriers, the lowering of tariffs, and the smooth melding together of national economies into a region-wide common market. This may be Washington’s biggest nightmare, but it’s also Putin’s top strategic priority. Here’s what he said:



We must consider more extensive cooperation in the energy sphere, up to and including the formation of a common European energy complex. The Nord Stream gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea and the South Stream pipeline under the Black Sea are important steps in that direction. These projects have the support of many governments and involve major European energy companies. Once the pipelines start operating at full capacity, Europe will have a reliable and flexible gas-supply system that does not depend on the political whims of any nation. This will strengthen the continent’s energy security not only in form but in substance. This is particularly relevant in the light of the decision of some European states to reduce or renounce nuclear energy.



If Europe wants a reliable partner that can meet its energy needs, then Russia fits the bill. Unfortunately, the US has repeatedly tried to sabotage both pipelines in order to undermine EU-Russia relations. Washington would prefer that Europe either dramatically curtail its use of natural gas or find other more expensive alternatives that don’t involve Russia. In other words, Europe’s material needs are being sacrificed for Washington’s geopolitical objectives, the primary goal of which is to prevent the forming of Greater Europe.

Washington’s war against Russia is becoming increasingly militarized. Recently the Pentagon deployed more combat troops to Syria and Kuwait suggesting that US warplanners intend to shift from the current strategy of arming jihadist militias (to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad), to a more direct use of martial force to seize-and-hold territory in East Syria. There are signs of an uptick in the violence in Ukraine too, as President Trump appears only-too-eager to use a more iron-fisted approach in settling regional disputes than his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Also, Nato has deployed troops and weaponry to Russia’s western flank while the US has spread its military bases across Central Asia. Nato has continued to push eastward ever since the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989. The steady buildup of hostile armies on Russia’s western perimeter has been a source of growing concern in Moscow and for good reason. Russians know their history.

At the same time the US is building a ground-based missile defense system in Romania (Star Wars) that integrates the US nuclear arsenal at a site that is just 900 miles from Moscow. The US missile system which was “certified for operation” in May 2016, cancels-out Russia’s nuclear deterrents and destroys the strategic balance of power in Europe. Putin has responded by ordering appropriate countermeasures. Here are Putin’s comments on the subject:



It seems that Nato countries, and especially the United States, have developed a peculiar understanding of security which is fundamentally different from our own. The Americans are obsessed with the idea of “absolute invulnerability” for themselves … But absolute invulnerability for one nation means absolute vulnerability for everybody else. We cannot agree to this.



In the last week, the Trump administration announced that it will deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (“THAAD”) system to South Korea citing a need to respond to provocations by North Korea. In truth, Washington is using the North as a pretext for its plan to hem in Russia and China at “axial ends” of the Eurasian heartland as a means of containing the vast landmass that Sir Halford Mackinder called the “pivot area … stretching from the Persian Gulf to China’s Yangtze River”.

Washington hopes that by controlling critical sea lanes, encircling the region with military bases, and aggressively inserting itself where necessary, it can prevent the emergence of an economic colossus that will diminish the United States role as global superpower. America’s future rests on its ability to derail economic integration at the center of the world and prevail in the Great Game where others have failed. Here’s an excerpt from an article by Alfred W McCoy titled “The Geopolitics of American Global Decline” which helps to shed light on the struggle that is now taking place for control over the so called “world island”:



Following World War Two the US became the first power in history to control the strategic axial points at both ends of Eurasia … With fears of Chinese and Russian expansion serving as the catalyst for collaboration, the US won imperial bastions in both Western Europe and Japan. With these axial points as anchors, Washington then built an arc of military bases that followed Britain’s maritime template and were visibly meant to encircle the world island …

Having seized the axial ends of the world island from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in 1945, for the next seventy years the United States relied on ever-thickening layers of military power to contain China and Russia inside that Eurasian heartland. Stripped of its ideological foliage, Washington’s grand strategy of Cold War-era anticommunist “containment” was little more than a process of imperial succession …

By the Cold War’s end in 1990, the encirclement of communist China and Russia required 700 overseas bases, an air force of 1,763 jet fighters, a vast nuclear arsenal, more than 1,000 ballistic missiles, and a navy of 600 ships, including fifteen nuclear carrier battle groups – all linked by the world’s only global system of communications satellites … {1}



For the last seventy years the imperial strategy has worked without a hitch, but now Russia’s resurgence and China’s explosive growth are threatening to break free from Washington’s stranglehold. The Asian allies have begun to crisscross Central Asia and Europe with pipelines and high-speed rail that will gather together the far-flung statelets scattered across the steppe, draw them into a Eurasian Economic Union, and link them to an expansive and thriving superstate, the epicenter of global commerce and industry. Grand Chessboard brain-trust Zbigniew Brzezinski summed up the importance of Central Asia in his 1997 classic stating:



Eurasia is the globe’s largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions … About 75 per cent of the world’s people live in Eurasia, and most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for sixty per cent of the world’s GNP and about three-fourths of the world’s known energy resources. {2}



A new global empire is gradually emerging in Central Asia, and while the transformative impact of economic integration has not yet been realized, US efforts to block the embryonic alliance are getting weaker and more desperate all the time. The hyperbolic propaganda about the alleged “Russia hacking” of the presidential election is just one example of this, while the arming of Nazi militants in Kiev is another.

The bottom line is that both Russia and China are using markets, development and raw ingenuity to beat Washington, while Washington relies almost exclusively on deception, covert activity and hard power. In other words, the former communists are beating the capitalists at their own game. Here’s more from McCoy:



China is reaching deep within the world island in an attempt to thoroughly reshape the geopolitical fundamentals of global power. It is using a subtle strategy that has so far eluded Washington’s power elites …

The initial step has involved a breathtaking project to put in place an infrastructure for the continent’s economic integration. By laying down an elaborate and enormously expensive network of high-speed, high-volume railroads as well as oil and natural gas pipelines across the vast breadth of Eurasia, China may realize Mackinder’s vision in a new way. For the first time in history, the rapid transcontinental movement of critical cargo – oil, minerals, and manufactured goods – will be possible on a massive scale, thereby potentially unifying that vast landmass into a single economic zone stretching 6,500 miles from Shanghai to Madrid. In this way, the leadership in Beijing hopes to shift the locus of geopolitical power away from the maritime periphery and deep into the continent’s heartland … {1}



Washington is not going to let the Russo-China plan go forward without a fight. If economic sanctions, covert activity and financial sabotage don’t work, then US powerbrokers will implement more lethal strategies. The recent deployment of troops to the Middle East suggests that policymakers believe that a direct military confrontation might be the best available option, after all, a shooting war with Russia in Syria or Ukraine would not necessarily escalate into a full-blown nuclear conflagration. No one wants that. But if the fighting can be contained within Syria’s borders, then it would be a practical way to rally the EU allies, torpedo Russia’s “economic integration” plan, and draw Moscow into a long, resource-draining quagmire. Is that what US war-planners have in mind?

It’s a risky plan, but one that Washington would eagerly pursue if it helped to reinforce America’s global supremacy.



{2} Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (1997), page 31

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“They’re Like the Praetorian Guard”

Whistleblower Confirms NSA Targeted Congress, the Supreme Court, & Trump

by Chris Menahan (March 25 2017)

Zero Hedge (March 25 2017)

NSA whistleblower William Binney told Tucker Carlson on Friday that the NSA is spying on “all the members of the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congress, both House and Senate, as well as the White House”.

Binney, who served the NSA for thirty years before blowing the whistle on domestic spying in 2001, told Tucker he firmly believes that Trump was spied on.

“They’re taking in fundamentally the entire fiber network inside the United States and collecting all that data and storing it, in a program they call Stellar Wind”, Binney said.

“That’s the domestic collection of data on US citizens, US citizens to other US citizens”, he said. “Everything we’re doing, phone calls, emails and then financial transactions, credit cards, things like that, all of it”.

“Inside NSA there are a set of people who are – and we got this from another NSA whistleblower who witnessed some of this – they’re inside there, they are targeting and looking at all the members of the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Congress, both House and Senate, as well as the White House”, Binney said.

“And all this data is inside the NSA in a small group where they’re looking at it. The idea is to see what people in power over you are going to – what they think, what they think you should be doing or planning to do to you, your budget, or whatever so you can try to counteract before it actually happens”, he said.

“I mean, that’s just East German”, Tucker responded.

Rather than help prevent terrorist attacks, Binney said collecting so much information actually makes stopping attacks more difficult.

“This bulk acquisition is inhibiting their ability to detect terrorist threats in advance so they can’t stop them so people get killed as a result”, he said.



Which means, you know, they pick up the pieces and blood after the attack. That’s what’s been going on. I mean they’ve consistently failed. When Alexander said they’d stop 54 attacks and he was challenged to produce the evidence to prove that he failed on every count.



Binney concludes ominously indicating the origin of the deep state …



They are like the praetorian guard, they determine what the emperor does and who the emperor is …



Who’s going to stop them?

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