The Russian menace 4

The Democrats and the Left in general, emotionally unable to accept that they have been massively defeated in the recent general election, bring up one excuse after another to explain how the Republicans managed to get control of the Presidency, the House of Representatives and the Senate, all but 16 governorships, and a majority of state Legislatures.

One of the more persistent – and most laughably implausible  – excuses is that “the Russians” helped Trump to win by leaking (genuine and dishonorable) emails that had passed among members of the Democratic candidates’ team.

What is funny about this is that for decades the Left was pro-Russian, most ardently when it was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Now the fact that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was head of an arm of the KGB,  is held against him by the former fans.

The same excuse, that the Russians are interfering in the election process, is being prepared for the likely toppling from power of the German government, a coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), and the Social Democrats (SPD), led by Chancellor Angela Merkel. (In practice, all of them are socialist parties.)

This government has wrecked Germany, not yet as an economy, but as a nation. It is now a country in which women are afraid to go into public places for fear of being raped and murdered by Muslim immigrants, and where free speech is proscribed to protect the ever-growing Muslim population, and the government itself from criticism for having let in the Muslim hordes claiming to be”refugees”.

Those who would speak out, and do, against the influx of the “refugees” are routinely called “far right” or “hard right” – implying “racist” and “Nazi” (since the Left has got away with labeling Hitler’s National Socialist party as rightists).

The Financial Times of January 30 (only accessible online to subscribers), carries an article by Stefan Wagstyl headed Russia’s next target?, in which it is asserted that [many] Germans are “braced for Russian interference in this year’s federal election”, and that this has already been happening “during election campaigns in three regions” where “emotions were running high about the flow of one million refugees into Germany and support was surging for the hard right Alternative for Germany party [AfD]“.

The writer proceeds:

Now Berlin fears that Moscow could be planning another intervention …

Notice how a first intervention – in the US – is at this point treated as a fact –

… ahead of September’s Bundestag poll with the aim of undermining Ms Merkel. The chancellor herself has warned that thatRussian internet-based misinformation could “play a role in the campaign”. … Berlin’s concerns are heightened by US intelligence agencies; claims that Moscow interfered in the US presidential election through hacking into Democratic party computers and releasing information aimed at damaging Hillary Clinton to the benefit of Donald Trump.

So those unproved allegations, though alluded to as mere “claims”, are used as if they were established fact by politicians who wish they were true.

Why do they want them to be true?

An electoral defeat for Ms Merkel – or even a serious setback – would be a huge victory for Russian president Vladimir Putin. He is keen to break western unity on the sanctions imposed over Russian aggression in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea – unity largely orchestrated and upheld by Ms Merkel. In the longer term, he wants to divide the EU, split NATO and push back an alliance that has extended its reach deep into territory once controlled by Moscow.

Next comes one of the shining illusions of the Left:

Moreover, Ms Merkel is seen in Moscow as the pre-eminent representative of a liberal order that Mr Putin has long feared might undermine his authoritarian grip on Russia. If she can be humbled, her values could also be tarnished.

While we don’t dispute that the Russian government under Putin is authoritarian, we quarrel with the assumption that Merkel’s government is not.

That assumption is so embedded, it accounts for much of the bewilderment as to how Donald Trump ever came to be elected, and the conviction that all opposition to the ruling elite of Europe is “hard left”.  Wagstyl mentions that “her supporters, led by former US President Barack Obama, see Ms Merkel as a liberal beacon in a world of rising nationalism highlighted by Mr Trump’s victory, the UK’s Brexit vote and surging support for far-right leader Marine le Pen”.

So he sees “liberal” as the sweet opposite of naughty “nationalism”; and  the UK’s and US’s choice of independent nationhood and patriotism as identical to Marine le Pen’s movement – which can fairly be called “hard right” even by those of us who are sympathetic to all organized resistance to the  national-suicidal policies of the ruling elite. “Hard right” implies “fascist”. But if the word “fascist” means anything, it means authoritarian, and what are the ruling elite if not authoritarian?

Yet even the Russians still call the EU “liberal” – although, Wagstyl notices, they recognize that the days of such “liberalism” are numbered:

Sergei Karaganov, a foreign policy specialist close to the Kremlin, wrote this month that the world was witnessing the end of EU-style liberal politics. “The old world order is destroyed. We must start building a new one.”

It was perfectly honorable to want to “transfer western values east” into “post-Soviet Russia” through “a plethora of organizations, headed by the German-Russian Forum, financed mostly by German business, and the Petersburg Dialog, funded mainly by the German foreign ministry”. But now, the organizations are being used to channel influence the other way.

“Under Putin, these networks have taken on a different, more nefarious goal: to alter the rules of bilateral relations, influence German policy toward eastern Europe and Russia and impact EU decisions …”

An acknowledgment is made that the present attitude of the “liberal” globalists with Russia was not always thus. The “German political world” is “increasingly critical of Putin’s authoritarian rule” ( but not its own). And “elite opinion has grown wary of Moscow’s charms”.

As it is through the internet  that Russia can now “reach the general population” and influence the way it votes, the fear is growing of cyber attack.

German officials are especially concerned about the hacking of government networks for political ends. [There was] a 2015 attack on the Bundestag when huge amounts of data were removed [stolen]. The BfV intelligence agency blames this raid on a cyber group known as APT28 that is thought to be managed by the Russian secret service [our italics]. … The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that it played any role in US political hacking or the Bundestag attack and dismissed suggestions that it interfered in other countries’ elections.

And –

German security officials concede that they they cannot prove that the Kremlin was ultimately behind the Bundestag hack.

They only think it is “very likely”.

“The chancellor’s chances of losing the Bundestag poll are considered to be small. But” -Wagstyl sounds note of caution – “so  were Mr Trump’s chances of winning the White House.” And he concedes: “No one knows whether the Kremlin tipped the balance there, or what it might attempt in Germany.”

The drift of the entire article, however, is that the Kremlin wants to tip the balances, has tried to tip them, has succeeded in the US, and that if Ms Merkel’s “liberal” government falls, it will most likely be because of Russian interference. 

One good thing that emerges clearly from all this anxious suspicion is that the ruling elite is feeling very insecure. And well it might. The people over whom they exert their “liberal” power are rebelling, and are more than likely to unseat those “liberals” who established and dominated the old world order; who brought alien masses flooding into Europe without the consent of the people they rule – the people whom they are now smearing with insults, trying to silence with tyrannical legislation, and who may be about to dethrone them.

We hope they do dethrone them.

It must not be the Russians who then build a new world order. Theirs would be at least as bad as the old.

We hope for the success of western populism – of the Trumpist popular revolution – in Germany and throughout Europe.

The Democrats don’t love Russia any more 1

Our anti-Trump media accepted the January 6 report, Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections, because it was designed to convey the impression that Trump was favored by the Russians.

But it is the Democrats who have long enjoyed (if that is the right word) a warm relationship with Russian regimes in both their Soviet Socialist and crony-capitalist mode. At least the Dems wanted to. Whether the Russians ever reciprocated the warm feeling remains a matter of conjecture. Skeptics and Republicans will have one opinion, Democrats and other Leftists another.

We quote from an article by Cliff Kincaid at GOPUSA:

The Russians obtained favored nation trading status under President Obama, giving them access to U.S. capital, and New START, a nuclear weapons agreement giving Moscow a strategic advantage.

Historically, the Russians have always found the Democrats to be friendlier to their global ambitions.

Professor Paul Kengor broke a story on how “the liberals’ lover-boy”, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), had “reached out to Victor Chebrikov at the KGB and Yuri Andropov at the Kremlin” to work against President Ronald Reagan.

Remember that, you who are outraged by the notion – born in your own minds – that President-elect Trump conspired with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton in the recent election.

Such a charge [of Trump-Putin conspiracy] was welcomed by the liberal media, in particular because it allowed them to divert attention away from the substance of the WikiLeaks revelations that showed how major journalists worked hand-in-glove with Hillary Clinton-for-president staffers. These disclosures were in emails hacked from the account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee.

Not even the persons most eager to smear Donald Trump claimed that the scandalous contents of the purloined emails (see here and here) were not true or not genuine. In fact the intelligence report positively states that they are true.

The IC report says that WikiLeaks, an alleged Russian agent, disseminated truthful information. “Disclosures through WikiLeaks did not contain any evident forgeries,” the report says.

This is quite a turnaround for the Russians. In the past the Russians would alter or forge documents to make people look bad. This time, the Russians revealed the truth. … Of course, the Russians do not provide accurate and truthful information to their own people and they conduct propaganda and disinformation campaigns targeting foreign audiences. Their alleged illegal hacking into the private accounts of Americans cannot be justified. But Podesta and other Democrats can be criticized for failing to safeguard their own information and virtually inviting foreign hacking.

Russian intentions in allegedly providing the emails to WikiLeaks are a subject worthy of attention. But the conclusion that the Russians favored Trump over Clinton cannot be sustained by the evidence in the report. The IC report fails miserably in articulating how the Russians use dialectical maneuvers in playing both sides of the political street in the U.S.

One of the glaring omissions in the report on Russian interference in “recent elections” is the failure to address the evidence that RT [Russia Today] television was giving enormously favorable coverage in the 2012 presidential campaign to then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a libertarian with pro-Russia views on foreign policy. He ran in the Republican presidential primary. …

Of course, Obama won that election, after dismissing his Republican opponent Mitt Romney’s claim that Russia was a geopolitical threat to the United States. Obama had been caught on an open mic before the election promising to be “flexible” in changing his positions to benefit Russia. These comments provide more evidence that Obama was never the anti-Russian figure he postured as in the final days of his second term. …

Obama’s various federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, the FCC and the FEC, refused to take any direct action against RT over the years when it was engaging in anti-Republican activities and supporting the progressive movement.

But when they saw they could use RT as a weapon against Trump, they suddenly became concerned about foreign interference in the U.S. political process.

Although the IC report insists that the Russians had a “preference” for Donald J. Trump for president … back in August of 2015 …  RT was backing “Bolshevik Bernie” Sanders for president. … Yet the intelligence community report makes no mention of RT programs backing Sanders, whose Russian connections included visiting the Soviet Union on his honeymoon. Sanders was a fellow traveler of the Moscow-controlled U.S. Peace Council.

The focus on Trump runs counter to the stated purpose of the report and reflects the political bias therein. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) says that “On December 9, 2016, President Barack Obama directed the Intelligence Community to conduct a full review and produce a comprehensive intelligence report assessing Russian activities and intentions in recent U.S. elections.” (emphasis added). Yet, nothing is said about RT’s involvement in the 2012 contest that Obama won.

The U.S. Intelligence Community is described as “a coalition of 17 agencies and organizations, including the ODNI,” but only three were involved in the report. They were the CIA, FBI and NSA. It is generally believed that CIA Director John Brennan was the guiding force behind the Obama administration effort to blame the Russians for Trump’s election victory. Former CIA officials Michael Morell, Michael Hayden and Philip Mudd had all denounced Trump.

It certainly looks as if the CIA interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Perhaps blaming the Russians was an attempt to get the attention off the agency.

Brennan was accused of converting to Islam when he was stationed in Saudi Arabia. His CIA under Obama’s orders directed the shipment of arms to jihadist groups in the Middle East. At a congressional panel on diversity in hiring, he admitted voting Communist when he was in college.

His focus at the agency has been on hiring people with “diverse” backgrounds, such as transgenders, and he even signed a policy document on a “Diversity and Inclusion Strategy” for the years 2016 to 2019, beyond his tenure as director.

Rather than go down in history with a reputation for defending America, … Brennan “would prefer his legacy be the way he fought to nurture a workforce that reflected America’s diversity”. The Journal added, “During his tenure he has put particular emphasis on promoting the interests of gay, lesbian, and transgender officers. He was the first CIA director to attend an annual social gathering of LGBTQ employees and has been known to wear a rainbow lanyard around the office as a symbol of solidarity.”

It looks like the focus on “diversity” in hiring has taken precedence over getting the facts right about foreign threats. Indeed, some observers, such as former FBI agent John Guandolo, have suggested that President Trump should abolish and replace the CIA with a new organization. “In 15 years they haven’t gotten a strategic analysis of the threat right — yet”  …

The CIA will have to answer to its new director, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Trump’s pick to run the agency.

But the media have a lot to answer for as well.

If WikiLeaks has suddenly became a Russian front or conduit, why are American news organizations such as The New York Times and The Washington Post still included among the “partners” with WikiLeaks in distributing its information? Other partners include the British Guardian, The Intercept, The Nation, McClatchy, The Wall Street Journal, and, of course, RT. 

If WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a Russian agent, why did major U.S. media organizations partner with him? Why did they not investigate him …? Assange was considered a courageous whistleblower by the liberal press. They hailed WikiLeaks for releasing the classified documents that were stolen by Army intelligence analyst Bradley/Chelsea Manning, whose sentence for espionage has been shortened by Obama.

Obama has commuted Bradley’s 35 year sentence, allowing the convict to be freed in May 2017 – iniquitously, and in contradiction to his outrage at the Russian interference that he alleges.

In addition to these issues and questions, some parts of the report lend themselves to a far different interpretation of Russian motives in U.S. politics.

For example, the IC report notes that RT ran a story against fracking, a technique that has sparked U.S. oil and gas production. The report says, “RT runs anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health. This is likely reflective of the Russian Government’s concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom’s profitability.”

The 2016 Democratic Party platform is highly critical of fracking. So does this mean the Democrats are doing the bidding of Putin? The progressive movement is almost completely against fracking. Does that mean that the progressives are puppets of Putin? …

By [an] objective measure of actual policies,Trump will prove to be more harmful to Russia than Hillary Clinton could ever hope to be.

And she surely would not have hoped to be harmful to Russia – not to Russia – when she was still in a position to hope for any effect on international relations. Fortunately, that time has passed.

We had noted RT’s favorable coverage of the Occupy movement. Of course, Occupy Wall Street was a left-wing political movement aligned with the progressives and even encouraged by President Obama. So does this mean that Obama was doing the bidding of the Russians?

The IC report explains how RT bypassed American laws such as the Foreign Agents Registration Act “by using a Moscow-based autonomous nonprofit organization to finance its US operations”. The report goes on, “According to RT’s leadership, this structure was set up to avoid the Foreign Agents Registration Act and to facilitate licensing abroad. In addition, RT rebranded itself in 2008 to deemphasize its Russian origin.” Still, the financing for the channel comes from the Russian government, the report says.

So RT is, and has been, a foreign state-funded entity that should be subject to federal oversight from agencies such as the Department of Justice, the FCC, and the FEC. Yet, only now, after Hillary Clinton has lost the presidential election, has the IC been ordered to release a public report on what the Russian channel has been doing in U.S. elections.

The only thing that has changed over the years is that RT is now somehow considered to be a factor in Hillary Clinton’s defeat.

If the liberal media are now truly concerned about Russian influence in the U.S. political process, rather than just using the issue as a weapon against Trump, they should … review their own “partner” relationship with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

After this review is complete, they should take another look at the IC report and determine why and how agencies like the CIA became adjuncts of the Democratic Party with a partisan bias against the new Republican president.

Since we know that the media and the Democrats work hand-in-glove, perhaps it’s time to investigate the CIA’s relationship with the media.

Yes. Tomorrow, January 20, 2017, will be the day when that becomes possible, and sometime soon may it become an active process!

If it wasn’t Russia, who is disappointed? 2

Outgoing President Obama has accused Russia of hacking Democratic Party emails during the presidential campaign, and leaking them with the intention of interfering in America’s election process.

What the emails revealed should be the subject of scandal, but that is lost in the noise about Russia’s interference.

By accusing Russia, Obama casts a shadow of illegitimacy over Donald Trump’s election to the presidency; an implication that he only won because a foreign power intervened to help him. (Which is nonsense, of course.) 

But did Russians hack and leak those scandalous emails?

From Ars Technica, by Dan Goodin

Talk about disappointments. The US government’s much-anticipated analysis of Russian-sponsored hacking operations provides almost none of the promised evidence linking them to breaches that the Obama administration claims were orchestrated in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

The 13-page report, which was jointly published Thursday [December 29, 2016] by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, billed itself as an indictment of sorts that would finally lay out the intelligence community’s case that Russian government operatives carried out hacks on the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Clinton Campaign Chief John Podesta and leaked much of the resulting material. While security companies in the private sector have said for months the hacking campaign was the work of people working for the Russian government, anonymous people tied to the leaks have claimed they are lone wolves. Many independent security experts said there was little way to know the true origins of the attacks.

Sadly, the JAR, as the Joint Analysis Report is called, does little to end the debate. Instead of providing smoking guns that the Russian government was behind specific hacks, it largely restates previous private-sector claims without providing any support for their validity. Even worse, it provides an effective bait and switch by promising newly declassified intelligence into Russian hackers’ “tradecraft and techniques” and instead delivering generic methods carried out by just about all state-sponsored hacking groups.

“This ultimately seems like a very rushed report put together by multiple teams working different data sets and motivations,” Robert M. Lee, CEO and Founder of the security company Dragos, wrote in a critique published Friday. “It is my opinion and speculation that there were some really good [US] government analysts and operators contributing to this data and then report reviews, leadership approval processes, and sanitation processes stripped out most of the value and left behind a very confusing report trying to cover too much while saying too little.”

The sloppiness, Lee noted, included the report’s conflation of Russian hacking groups APT28 and APT29 — also known as CozyBear, Sandworm, Sednit, and Sofacy, among others — with malware names such as BlackEnergy and Havex, and even hacking capabilities such as “Powershell Backdoor”. The mix up of such basic classifications does little to inspire confidence that the report was carefully or methodically prepared. And that only sows more reasons for President elect Donald Trump and his supporters to cast doubt on the intelligence community’s analysis on a matter that, if true, poses a major national security threat.

The writers showed a similar lack of rigor when publishing so-called indicators of compromise, which security practitioners use to detect if a network has been breached by a specific group or piece of malware. As Errata Security CEO Rob Graham pointed out in a blog post, one of the signatures detects the presence of “PAS TOOL WEB KIT”, a tool that’s widely used by literally hundreds, and possibly thousands, of hackers in Russia and Ukraine, most of whom are otherwise unaffiliated and have no connection to the Russian government.

“In other words, these rules can be a reflection of the fact the government has excellent information for attribution,” Graham wrote. “Or, it could be a reflection that they’ve got only weak bits and pieces. It’s impossible for us outsiders to tell.”

Security consultant Jeffrey Carr also cast doubt on claims that attacks that hit the Democratic National Committee could only have originated from Russian-sponsored hackers because they relied on the same malware that also breached Germany’s Bundestag and French TV network TV5Monde. Proponents of this theory, including the CrowdStrike researchers who analyzed the Democratic National Committee’s hacked network, argue that the pattern strongly implicates Russia because no other actor would have the combined motivation and resources to hack the same targets. But as Carr pointed out, the full source code for the X-Agent implant that has long been associated with APT28 was independently obtained by researchers from antivirus provider Eset.

If ESET could do it, so can others,” Carr wrote. “It is both foolish and baseless to claim, as CrowdStrike does, that X-Agent is used solely by the Russian government when the source code is there for anyone to find and use at will.” …

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that Thursday’s Joint Analysis Report provides almost no new evidence to support the Obama Administration’s claims Russia attempted to interfere with the US electoral process.

And this is from PowerLine by John Hinderaker:

Evidence for Russian involvement in DNC hack is nonexistent.

The Obama administration insists that Russia’s government was behind the penetration of the Democratic National Committee’s email system (even though it admits that the intrusion was not carried out by the government itself). The administration released a report that purportedly provided evidence in support of this claim, but even an amateur like me could see that the report was surprisingly weak.

Then the experts started to weigh in. Their verdict was that the operation termed “Grizzly Steppe” by the Obama administration could possibly have been carried out by Putin’s regime, but the administration’s report contained no evidence at all that pointed toward Russia, let alone the Russian government.

Now, the internet security experts who are proprietors of Wordfence re-state their conclusions and explain the research they did to support them.

On Friday we published an analysis of the FBI and DHS Grizzly Steppe report. The report was widely seen as proof that Russian intelligence operatives hacked the US 2016 election. We showed that the PHP malware in the report is old, freely available from a Ukrainian hacker group and is an administrative tool for hackers.

We also performed an analysis on the IP addresses included in the report and showed that they originate from 61 countries and 389 different organizations with no clear attribution to Russia. …

If I find something in the DHS/FBI report on my website or network, does it mean that Russia hacked me?

No it does not. 

This has caused serious confusion already among press and US policy makers. A Vermont electrical utility found a sample of what is in the DHS/FBI Grizzly Steppe report on a single laptop. That laptop was not connected to the Electric Grid network. It was reported as Russia hacking the US electrical grid. …

The data in the DHS/FBI Grizzly Steppe report contains “indicators of compromise” (IOCs) which you can think of as footprints that hackers left behind. The IOC’s in the report are tools that are freely available and IP addresses that are used by hackers around the world. There is very little Russia-specific data in the Grizzly Steppe report.

If you find an IOC that is in the report on your network or server, it is unlikely that you have been targeted by Russian Intelligence.

The PHP malware the report provided, for example, is freely available for anyone who wants it.

The article then provides a technical explanation of “how the Wordfence proprietors got to the bottom of what appears to have been an attempt at obfuscation by the Obama administration”.

The Wordfence experts conclude:

[That]  is how we determined that the FBI/DHS report contains an old malware sample that is publicly available and the hacker group that distributes it appears to be Ukrainian.

Other experts have weighed in, pointing out that the administration’s report contains little or no evidence that Russia had anything to do with the DNC hack, e.g. Ars Technica and others … If any technical experts have endorsed the claims in the administration’s report, I am not aware of it.

Nevertheless, the Democratic Party operatives who masquerade as reporters in the U.S. have uncritically swallowed the administration’s line, and are hectoring Donald Trump and his aides to admit that Vladimir Putin was responsible for “hacking the election”. 

President-elect Donald Trump does not strike us as a man easily hectored. And he is very unlikely to “admit” to something he had nothing to do with – and that apparently didn’t happen.

If Obama and the Democrats are hoping he will accuse himself and defend Vladimir Putin, they are doomed to yet another disappointment.

The ruinous presidency of Barack Obama 4

… ends with a diabolical act of treachery.

Bret Stephens writes at the Wall Street Journal:

Barack Obama’s decision to abstain from, and therefore allow, last week’s vote to censure Israel at the U.N. Security Council is a fitting capstone for what’s left of his foreign policy. Strategic half-measures, underhanded tactics and moralizing gestures have been the president’s style from the beginning. Israelis aren’t the only people to feel betrayed by the results.

Also betrayed: Iranians, whose 2009 Green Revolution in heroic protest of a stolen election Mr. Obama conspicuously failed to endorse for fear of offending the ruling theocracy.

Iraqis, who were assured of a diplomatic surge to consolidate the gains of the military surge, but who ceased to be of any interest to Mr. Obama the moment U.S. troops were withdrawn, and only concerned him again when ISIS neared the gates of Baghdad.

Syrians, whose initially peaceful uprising against anti-American dictator Bashar Assad Mr. Obama refused to embrace, and whose initially moderate-led uprising Mr. Obama failed to support, and whose sarin- and chlorine-gassed children Mr. Obama refused to rescue, his own red lines notwithstanding.

Ukrainians, who gave up their nuclear weapons in 1994 with formal U.S. assurances that their “existing borders” would be guaranteed, only to see Mr. Obama refuse to supply them with defensive weapons when Vladimir Putin invaded their territory 20 years later.

Pro-American Arab leaders, who expected better than to be given ultimatums from Washington to step down, and who didn’t anticipate the administration’s tilt toward the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate political opposition, and toward Tehran as a responsible negotiating partner.

Most betrayed: Americans.

Mr. Obama promised a responsible end to the war in Iraq. We are again fighting in Iraq. He promised victory in Afghanistan. The Taliban are winning. He promised a reset with Russia. We are enemies again. He promised the containment of Iran. We are witnessing its ascendancy in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. He promised a world free of nuclear weapons. We are stumbling into another age of nuclear proliferation. He promised al Qaeda on a path to defeat. Jihad has never been so rampant and deadly.

These are the results. They would be easier to forgive if they hadn’t so often been reached by disingenuous and dishonorable means.

The administration was deceptive about the motives for the 2012 Benghazi attack. It was deceptive about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s service record, and the considerations that led it to exchange five Taliban leaders for his freedom. It was deceptive about when it began nuclear negotiations with Iran. It was deceptive about the terms of the deal. It continues to be deceptive about the fundamental aim of the agreement, which has less to do with curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions than with aligning Washington’s interests with Tehran’s.

Now the administration is likely being deceptive about last week’s U.N. vote, claiming it did not promote, craft or orchestrate a resolution that treats the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City as a settlement in illegally occupied territory. Yet in November, John Kerry had a long talk on the subject with the foreign minister of New Zealand, one of the resolution’s sponsors.

“One of the closed-door discussions between United States Secretary of State John Kerry and the New Zealand government today was a potential resolution by the United Nations Security Council on a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict,” the New Zealand Herald reported last month. “‘It is a conversation we are engaged in deeply and we’ve spent some time talking to Secretary Kerry about where the U.S. might go on this,’” the paper added, quoting Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

The Israelis claim to have more evidence along these lines. If so, it means the administration no longer bothers to lie convincingly.

Even this might be excusable, if Mr. Obama at least had the courage of his mistaken convictions, or if his deception were in the service of a worthier end. Instead, we have the spectacle of the U.S. government hiding behind the skirts of the foreign minister of New Zealand — along with eminent co-sponsors, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal — in order to embarrass and endanger a democratic ally in a forum where that ally is already isolated and bullied. In the catalog of low points in American diplomacy, this one ranks high.

After the Carter administration pulled a similar stunt against Israel at the Security Council in December 1980, the Washington Post published an editorial that does the paper honor today.

“It cannot be denied,” the editors wrote, “that there is a pack and that it hounds Israel shamelessly and that this makes it very serious when the United States joins it.” The editorial was titled Joining the Jackals.

Unlike Mr. Carter, Mr. Obama hasn’t joined the jackals. He has merely opened the door wide to them, whether at the U.N. or in the skies over Syria or in the killing fields in Ukraine.

The United States abstains: What a fitting finish to this ruinous presidency.

Yes. For America, if not for himself, Obama’s presidency has been a colossal foreign policy failure.

If his domestic policy failures – a long list, headed by his failure to achieve even 3% GDP growth in any year of his two terms and his worsening of race relations  – are added to the record, he surpasses Jimmy Carter to win the title of America’s worst president.

The amazing power of Vladimir Putin 2

The Left believes that not only Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential elections, but also Brexit was finagled by …

You guessed it! RUSSIA!

 

And via PowerLine:

obama-putin

 

Posted under Britain, Europe, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Videos by Jillian Becker on Saturday, December 17, 2016

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The in-crowd and its grip on power 1

Donald Trump is calling for “a revolution”. 

This is why a revolution is necessary: 

There is an in-crowd ruling America. Its grip on power is tight.

Here is Victor Davis Hanson’s description of it:

The D.C.”establishment” and its “elites”.

Collate the Podesta e-mails. Read Colin Powell’s hacked communications. Review Hillary’s Wall Street speeches and the electronic exchanges between the media, the administration, and the Clinton campaign. The conclusion is an incestuous world of hypocrisy, tsk-tsking condescension, sanitized shake-downs, inside profiteering, snobby high entertainment — and often crimes that would put anyone else in jail.

The players are also quite boring and predictable. They live in a confined coastal cocoon. They went largely to the same schools, intermarried, traveled back and forth between big government, big banks, big military, big Wall Street, and big media — and sound quite clever without being especially bright, attuned to “social justice” but without character.

Their religion is not so much progressivism, as appearing cool and hip and “right” on the issues.

In this private world, off the record, Latinos are laughed off as “needy”; Catholics are derided as near medieval and in need of progressive tutoring on gay issues.

Hillary is deemed a grifter [!-ed] — but only for greedily draining the cash pools of the elite speaker circuit to the detriment of her emulators.

Money — Podesta’s Putin oil stocks, Russian autocrats’ huge donations in exchange for deference from the Department of State, Gulf-oil-state-supplied free jet travel, Hillary’s speaking fees — is the lubricant that makes the joints of these rusted people move.

A good Ph.D. thesis could chart the number of Washington, D.C., insider flunkies who ended up working for Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac or Goldman Sachs — the dumping grounds of the well-connected and mediocre.

In this world, there are Bill and Hillary, the Podesta brothers, Huma Abedin and Anthony Weiner, Christiane Amanpour and Jamie Rubin, Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein, Andrea Mitchell and Alan Greenspan, and on and on.

Jorge Ramos goes after Trump; his daughter works for Hillary; and his boss at Univision badgers the Clinton campaign to stay lax on open borders — the lifeblood that nourishes his non-English-speaking money machine.

George Stephanopoulos, who helped run the Clinton campaign and White House, and who as a debate moderator obsessed over Mitt Romney’s answers to abortion hypotheticals, is the disinterested [sarcasm-ed] ABC News chief anchor.

CNN vice president Virginia Moseley is married to Hillary Clinton’s former deputy secretary at the State Department Tom Nides (now of Morgan Stanley) — suggesting “The Clinton News Network” is not really a right-wing joke.

Former ABC News executive producer Ian Cameron is married to Susan Rice, a —  pre-Benghazi — regular on the Sunday talk shows.

CBS president David Rhodes is the sibling of aspiring novelist Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for “strategic communications and Speechwriting”, whatever that fictive title means.

ABC News correspondent Claire Shipman married former White House press secretary Jay Carney (now senior vice president for “worldwide corporate affairs” at Amazon: not just “corporate affairs” or “worldwide affairs” but “worldwide corporate affairs”). And on and on.

These nice people report on each other. They praise each other, award each other, make money together, and bristle with each other when they are collectively and pejoratively dubbed the “elites.” They write and sound off about “the buffoon” Trump and preen in sanctimonious moral outrage, as the rest of the country sees this supposedly lavishly robed imperial class as embarrassingly naked.

It is in the interests of all of them to do anything and everything they can, legal or not, ethical or not, to get Hillary into the presidency. 

Only the election of Trump can break their imperial power.  

 

PS. Hanson doesn’t mention James Comey, Director of the FBI, who personally decided against the prosecution of Hillary Clinton for her manifest crimes.

Go here to read about his place in the power web.

Russia preparing for war with the US 2

That is a statement of fact. Russia IS preparing for war with the United States.  

If Putin wants war – and it seems that he does – this is the time for him to start it.

Europe without its own defense, a demoralized NATO, a feckless president of the US to be possibly followed by an incompetent woman, and an American public distracted by the invention of new pronouns – what has he to fear?

We quote from Western Journalism (making use of information from the Daily Mail here):

A new order from Russian leader Vladimir Putin has stirred fears across the globe that Russia is preparing for a massive conflict.

Russia has ordered all government officials to fly home any relatives living abroad, including college students regardless of any impact this has on their studies. “This is all part of the package of measures to prepare elites to some ‘big war’, ” said Russian political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky.

“It’s a fallacy to think that this is like the Cold War. The current times are different and more dangerous,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said of the rising tensions between Russia and the West.

According to the Russian-language site Znak.com, administration staff, regional administrators, lawmakers of all levels and employees of public corporations are covered by the order. They are warned that their chances for promotion depend upon their compliance.

The action comes in the context of many troubling developments. Putin recently cancelled a planned Oct. 19 visit to France, which has denounced Russia’s role in the Syrian civil war. Further, the U.S. recently broke off talks with Russia regarding finding a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis. Cancelling a visit so close to its date is a “serious step… reminiscent of the Cold War,” said Russian foreign policy analyst Fyodor Lukyanov. “This is part of the broader escalation in the tensions between Russia and the West, and Russia and NATO,” he said.

Recent Russian saber-rattling has included Russia’s action on Saturday to put nuclear-capable missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania.  …

Russia recently … held civil defense drills that included 40 million citizens. … [And] bunkers capable of holding all of Moscow’s 12 million residents have been constructed to protect citizens in the event of a nuclear attack.

The Free Thought Project reports:

Amid collapsed diplomatic efforts over Syria and increasing tensions with the United States, the Russian government is beginning emergency response exercises [this week] that will include the participation of thousands of government officials and many millions of citizens who will respond to a mock nuclear attack or other large-scale catastrophe.

The four-day drill will reportedly include 200,000 rescue professionals, tens of thousands of emergency vehicles, and an estimated 40 million civilians from around the country.

“Our priority during the drill is to train evacuation of the civilian population from potentially-risky areas,” Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov, who oversees all civil defense in Russia, told the Interfax news agency. “The main goal of the drill is to practice organization of management during civil defense events and emergency and fire management, to check preparedness of management bodies and forces of civil defense on all levels to respond to natural and man-made disasters and to take civil defense measures.”

The exercise, versions of which have been held in the country since 2012, take place following an announcement by Russia that it will pull out of a long-term plutonium disposal agreement if the U.S. and its NATO allies do not reverse a recent military build-up in eastern Europe and the Baltic countries.

The emergency drills also comes on the heels of the announcement by the U.S. State Department on Monday it was severing diplomatic communications with Russia over the deteriorating situation in Syria following the collapse of a cease-fire agreement and an intensifying assault by Syrian and Russian armed forces against the rebel-held city of Aleppo.

“The United States is suspending its participation in bilateral channels with Russia that were established to sustain the cessation of hostilities,” announced State Department spokesperson John Kirby on Monday. Kirby said it was “not a decision that was taken lightly” as he blamed Russia for failing to “live up to its own commitments” on the joint effort.

As the U.S. and Russian officials traded blame, outside critics of the White House called the suspension of diplomatic channels by the U.S. troubling.

James Carden, writing for The Nation, said the “collapse of talks takes the United States one step closer to an unnecessarily deadly ‘military solution’ to the Syria crisis” as he called it the “most dangerous development in a New Cold War”. Such a development deserves fierce rebuke, Carden indicated, especially when it comes amid growing calls among influential members of the national security apparatus to impose a “no-fly zone” in Syria as a way to counter Russian and Syrian targeting of jihadist rebel forces aligned against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

“A military solution, and facile promises of easy answers like the imposition of no-fly and/or safe zones (which are neither easy nor answers) is not the way forward,” warned Carden. “Obama and his advisers have made a potentially grave error in cutting off talks with the Russians, and even a cursory glance back through the history of recent American military interventions should steer them back to, not away from, the negotiating table.”

In an analysis published Monday under the title, Do We Really Want Nuclear War with Russia?, veteran journalist Robert Parry openly condemned the Obama administration’s foreign policy position vis-a-vis Russia and Syria.

According to Parry, a “propaganda war against Russia” in the U.S. and western mainstream press “is spinning out of control, rolling ever faster downhill with a dangerous momentum that threatens to drive the world into a nuclear showdown.” Though he acknowledges the Syria-Russia situation is deeply complex, Parry argues that a misinformation campaign is putting the United States on a worrisome, yet familiar, path:

This propaganda apparatus now has so many specialized features that you get supposedly “progressive” and “anti-war” organizations promoting a major U.S. invasion of Syria under the guise of sweet-sounding policies like “no-fly zones” and “safe zones,” the same euphemisms that were used as the gateway to bloody “regime change” wars in Iraq and Libya.

There exists what intelligence veterans call a Mighty Wurlitzer, an organ with so many keys and pedals that it’s hard to know where all the sounds come from that make up the powerful harmony, all building to the same crescendo. But that crescendo may now be war with nuclear-armed Russia, which finds in all this demonizing the prelude to either a destabilization campaign aimed at “regime change” in Moscow or outright war.

Yet, the West can’t seem to muster the sanity or the honesty to begin toning down or even showing skepticism toward the escalating charges aimed at Russia. We saw similar patterns in the run-up to war in Iraq in 2002-2003 and in justifying the ouster, torture and murder of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Western propaganda also has enveloped the conflict in Syria to such an extent that the American people don’t understand that the U.S. government and its regional “allies” have been supporting and arming jihadist groups fighting under the command of Al Qaeda and even the Islamic State. The propaganda has focused on demonizing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while downplaying or ignoring the real nature of the “moderate” opposition.

Carden also summoned Iraq and Libya as cautionary tales for the Obama administration, but said the stakes are perhaps even more elevated given the numerous military interests now operating inside Syria. Unlike Iraq and Libya, he explained, “both the Russians and Iranians have personnel on the ground in Syria, while the Russian and the Syrian Arab Air Forces are executing an air campaign over rebel-held (or more accurately, jihadi-held) east Aleppo. The mainstream media continue to gloss over the rather salient fact that civilians who are trying to flee the Russian-Syrian bombardment are often blocked from doing so by US and Gulf State funded ‘rebels’.”

Also raising concerns, a group of veteran officials from the U.S. intelligence community on Monday issued an open memo to President Obama warning him against the continued erosion of U.S.-Russian relations. As opposed to cutting ties, the former intelligence officers called on Obama to increase cooperation by holding direct one-on-one talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin as a way to avert deeper divisions and a more protracted war inside Syria.

“We strongly recommend that you invite President Putin to meet with you in a mutually convenient place,” the memo asserts, “in order to try to sort things out and prevent still worse for the people of Syria.”

It remains unclear as of this writing whether or not Obama received, or has read, the memo’s warning.

It remains unclear whether Obama has any understanding at all of what is happening in the Middle East, or cares.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize soon after he became (absurdly!) president of the United States – for no achievement whatsoever. Perhaps he is earning it now by not paying any attention to the loud sound of Russia’s saber-rattling.

Is Putin to be taken seriously?

If so, where is the Western leader who knows it and will act?

Hillary & Vladimir 1

EDIT2-hillary-080116-AP

This is from Investor’s Business Daily:

At the recent Democratic National Convention, the party of the donkey worked overtime at remaking Hillary Clinton’s image from one of an ethically challenged political operator to one of a caring champion of children and families. But as new revelations about her shady dealings with Russia emerge, it may all be for nought.

New revelations from Peter Schweizer, the author of the meticulously documented book “Clinton Cash,” and Stephen K. Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart, show that Hillary’s campaign Chairman John Podesta “sat on the board of a small energy company alongside Russian officials that received $35 million from a Putin-connected Russian government fund.”

Making things worse, Podesta never fully disclosed the relationship, as the law requires. But of greater concern than Podesta is what it says about Clinton’s strange and mutually beneficial relationship with Russia that led to Clinton lending a hand in helping Vladimir Putin build Skolkovo, a high-tech community meant to be “the Russian equivalent of America’s Silicon Valley.”

This is not some sort of free-enterprise experiment. As the authors detail in a study published by the Government Accountability Institute, some 30,000 workers toiled in the state-of-the-art tech hub “under strict governmental control.” While Clinton was in charge at the State Department, the U.S. recruited a bunch of U.S. high-tech powerhouses — including Google, Cisco and Intel — to take part in the project.

Of the 28 companies from the U.S., Europe and Russia that took part, 17 were donors to the Clinton Foundation or paid for Bill Clinton to give speeches.

It’s yet another stunning example of the Clinton Foundation’s growing list of conflicts of interest, suggesting that Hillary used the State Department’s offices to line her family’s pockets through the Clinton Foundation. Don’t forget that, with her email carelessness on her home-brew server during her tenure as secretary of state, Hillary has already exposed the United States’ most secret information to the Russian government. As radio talk show host and law professor Hugh Hewitt noted Monday: “Hillary is already a Putin pawn.”

This was no accident. Nor was it innocent. FBI Assistant Special Agent Lucia Ziobro in 2014 sent a letter to several U.S. corporate participants in the project warning: “The (Skolkovo) foundation may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research development facilities and dual-use technologies with military and commercial application. … The FBI believes the true motives of the Russian partners, who are often funded by the government, is to gain access to classified, sensitive, and emerging technology from the companies.”
Either Hillary did not suspect that – in which case she was not fit to be secretary of state; or it did not matter to her – in which case she was not fit to be secretary of state.
Which brings us back to Podesta. He sat on the board of a tiny energy company named Joule Unlimited, write Bannon and Schweizer. A mere two months after he joined the board, Rusnano, founded by Vladimir Putin in 2007, invested $35 million in the company. Podesta sat on three separate boards of Joule-affiliated corporate entities, but only reported two.

Moreover, Podesta’s own leftist think tank, the Center for American Progress, got $5.25 million from a group called the Sea Change Foundation in the four years ending in 2013. Sea Change, in return, had received what the authors call “a large infusion of funds from a mysterious Bermuda-based entity called ‘Klein Ltd.'”, which appears to have Russian ties.

This puts Clinton’s actions while in office under deep suspicion – including her enabling a “reset” with Russia that seems to have led to a resurgent Russia expanding its military, diplomatic and economic power in Eastern Europe and the Mideast.

In a wide-ranging interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Hillary suggested that Donald Trump “has shown a very troubling willingness to back up Putin, to support Putin, whether it’s saying that NATO wouldn’t come to the rescue of allies if they were invaded, talking about removing sanctions from Russian officials after they were imposed by the United States and Europe together, because of Russia’s aggressiveness in Crimea and Ukraine, his praise for Putin which is I think quite remarkable.”

Anyway much remarked upon, with pretense of shock and horror, by the US media. Whereas her commercial collaboration with Putin, and her exposing of state and military secrets to his government hackers, is unlikely to be remarked upon at all. In any case, such things make no difference to her followers and fans. They gave up caring about the character, morals, criminal behavior, and treachery of their present candidate for the presidency long ago; from the very beginning of her “political career” as the wife of a governor.

Putin’s man in Washington is running Clinton’s campaign 1

This report, published in April this year, is from the Observer, by John R. Schindler:

The revelations of the so-called Panama Papers that are roiling the world’s political and financial elites this week include important facts about Team Clinton. This unprecedented trove of documents purloined from a shady Panama law firm that arranged tax havens, and perhaps money laundering, for the globe’s super-rich includes juicy insights into how Russia’s elite hides its ill-gotten wealth.

We have no objection to tax havens or the super-rich safekeeping their money any way they can from the confiscating hands of government. But Hillary Clinton claims that she does.

Her hypocrisy is a wonder for the ages.

However, the connection between “Team Clinton” and the Panama Papers is indirect, if it can be called a connection at all.

The Clinton scandal the article exposes is unsavory enough without any such involvement. It is this:

HER CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN also LOBBIES for Vladimir Putin’s personal bank, which is AN ARM OF THE KREMLIN.

The bank’s name was found in the Panama Papers, and Schindler’s article takes off from there:

Almost lost among the many revelations [of the Panama Papers] is the fact that Russia’s biggest bank uses The Podesta Group as its lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

Though hardly a household name, this firm is well known inside the Beltway, not least because its CEO is Tony Podesta, one of the best-connected Democratic machers in the country. He founded the firm in 1998 with his brother John, formerly chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, then counselor to President Barack Obama. Mr. Podesta is the very definition of a Democratic insider. Outsiders engage the Podestas and their well-connected lobbying firm to improve their image and get access to Democratic bigwigs.

Which is exactly what Sberbank, Russia’s biggest financial institution, did this spring. As reported at the end of March, the Podesta Group registered with the U.S. Government as a lobbyist for Sberbank, as required by law, naming three Podesta Group staffers: Tony Podesta plus Stephen Rademaker and David Adams, the last two former assistant secretaries of state.

It should be noted that Tony Podesta is a big-money bundler for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign while his brother John IS THE CHAIRMAN OF THAT CAMPAIGN, the chief architect of her plans to take the White House this November.

It’s hardly surprising that Sberbank sought the help of Democratic insiders like the Podesta Group to aid them in this difficult hour, since they clearly understand how American politics work. The question is why the Podesta Group took Sberbank’s money. That financial institution isn’t exactly hiding in the shadows — it’s the biggest bank in Russia, and its reputation leaves a lot to be desired. Nobody acquainted with Russian finance was surprised that Sberbank wound up in the Panama Papers. Sberbank (Savings Bank in Russian) engaged the Podesta Group to help its public image — leading Moscow financial institutions not exactly being known for their propriety and wholesomeness — and specifically to help lift some of the pain of sanctions placed on Russia in the aftermath of the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine, which has caused real pain to the country’s hard-hit financial sector.

Although Sberbank has its origins in the nineteenth century, it was functionally reborn after the Soviet collapse, and it the 1990s it grew to be the dominant bank in the country, today controlling nearly 30 percent of Russia’s aggregate banking assets and employing a quarter-million people. The majority stockholder in Sberbank is Russia’s Central Bank. In other words, Sberbank is functionally an arm of the Kremlin, although it’s ostensibly a private institution.

Certainly Western intelligence is well acquainted with Sberbank, noting its close relationship with Vladimir Putin and his regime. Funds moving through Sberbank are regularly used to support clandestine Russian intelligence operations, while the bank uses its offices abroad as cover for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service or SVR. A NATO counterintelligence official explained that Sberbank, which has outposts in almost two dozen foreign countries, “functions as a sort of arm of the SVR outside Russia, especially because many of its senior employees are ‘former’ Russian intelligence officers”. Inside the country, Sberbank has an equally cosy relationship with the Federal Security Service or FSB, Russia’s powerful domestic intelligence agency. …

Sberbank is the Kremlin, they don’t do anything major without Putin’s go-ahead, and they don’t tell him ‘no’ either,” explained a retired senior U.S. intelligence official with extensive experience in Eastern Europe. …

Predictably, Sberbank has blown off the Panama Papers revelations as nothing of consequence, but the fact that they are an arm of the Kremlin and they do plenty of shady things in many countries is a matter of record. As is the fact that the Podesta Group is their lobbyist in America.

Among the Sberbank subsidiaries that the Podesta Group also represents are the Cayman Islands-based Troika Dialog Group Limited, the Cyprus-based SBGB Cyprus Limited, and the Luxembourg-based SB International. As reported this week by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a consortium of journalists exploring the Panama Papers leak, Sberbank and Troika Dialog are used by members of Mr. Putin’s inner circle to shift public funds into sometimes questionable private investments. In other words, this is top-level money laundering of a brazen kind. As the OCCRP stated plainly, “Some of these companies were initially connected to the Troika Dialog investment fund, which was controlled and run by Sberbank after the bank bought the Troika Dialog investment bank. Troika and Sberbank declined to comment.”

Adding to the shadiness of all this, the Podesta Group is playing along with the useful charade that Sberbank is simply a private financial institution, rather than the state-owned bank that it is, since that would require the lobbyists to register as agents of the Russian government under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

John and Tony Podesta aren’t fooling anyone with this ruse. They are lobbyists for Vladimir Putin’s personal bank of choice, an arm of his Kremlin and its intelligence services. Since the brothers Podesta are presumably destined for very high-level White House jobs next January if the Democrats triumph in November at the polls, their relationship with Sberbank is something they — and Hillary Clinton — need to explain to the public.

The point is:

Putin’s lobbyist in Washington, D.C., is running Hillary Clinton’s campaign. 

Posted under Russia, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, July 31, 2016

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Putin projects Russian power, Obama wags his finger 2

Russia has brought fighter planes, air-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft batteries to Syria. He has put military “boots on the ground” there too. The aerial bombing and ground fighting have started. Command centers have been established. Russia is there to stay.

An editorial in Investor’s Business Daily deplores the fact that Russia is now the dominant great power in the Middle East.

And it is a fact. Obama has handed the region to Putin as on a golden platter.

And what’s worse, with Russia comes China and Iran. We can’t see Putin sharing power with any other country for very long.  But right now, the Vast Nasty Country Conspiracy is in full operation.  (See here, here, and here.)

Moscow won’t just be destroying IS; it will be replacing us as dominant power in the Mideast, where the oil the free world needs is. And Putin won’t be alone.

According to Russian Sen. Igor Morozov, who sits on Russia’s international affairs committee, Chinese forces are joining Russia against IS. “China has joined our military operation in Syria,” Morozov said in Pravda. “A Chinese cruiser has already entered the Mediterranean, and an aircraft carrier follows it.”

With Iranian Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani believed to have met with Russian officials this month, the “genuinely broad” coalition against terrorism in which “Muslim countries are to play a key role” may end up as Russia, China and Iran.

Meanwhile, London’s Daily Express reports on German reporter and author Jurgen Todenhofer’s book, “Inside IS — Ten Days in the Islamic State.”

In it, he warns that the free world “is drastically underestimating the power of ISIS’,  which “intends to get its hands on nuclear weapons”,  then undertake “the largest religious cleansing in history”. Years ago, all these would have seemed laughable predictions. But Obama’s new world of American decline is full of such terrifying surprises.

Charles Krauthammer thinks, as we do, that Putin has little interest in defeating the Islamic State.

He writes, also at IBD:

If it had the wit, the Obama administration would be not angered, but appropriately humiliated. President Obama has, once again, been totally outmaneuvered by Vladimir Putin.

Two days earlier at the United Nations, Obama had welcomed the return, in force, of the Russian military to the Middle East — for the first time in decades — in order to help fight the Islamic State.

The ruse was transparent from the beginning. Russia is not in Syria to fight the Islamic State. The Kremlin was sending fighter planes, air-to-air missiles and SA-22 anti-aircraft batteries. Against an Islamic State that has no air force, no planes, no helicopters?

Russia then sent reconnaissance drones over Western Idlib and Hama, where there are no Islamic State fighters. Followed by bombing attacks on Homs and other opposition strongholds that had nothing to do with the Islamic State.

Indeed, some of these bombed fighters were U.S. trained and equipped.

Asked if we didn’t have an obligation to support our allies on the ground, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter bumbled that Russia’s actions exposed its policy as self-contradictory.

Carter made it sound as if the Russian offense was to have perpetrated an oxymoron, rather than a provocation — and a direct challenge to what’s left of the U.S. policy of supporting a moderate opposition.

The whole point of Russian intervention is to maintain Assad in power. Putin has no interest in fighting the Islamic State.

Indeed, the second round of Russian air attacks was on rival insurgents opposed to the Islamic State. The Islamic State is nothing but a pretense for Russian intervention.

Just three weeks ago, Obama chided Russia for its military buildup, wagging his finger that it was “doomed to failure”. Yet by Monday he was publicly welcoming Russia to join the fight against the Islamic State.

He not only acquiesced to the Russian buildup, he held an ostentatious meeting with Putin on the subject, thereby marking the ignominious collapse of Obama’s vaunted campaign to isolate Putin diplomatically over Crimea.

Putin then showed his utter contempt for Obama by launching his air campaign against our erstwhile anti-Assad allies not 48 hours after meeting Obama.

Which the U.S. found out about when a Russian general knocked on the door of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and delivered a brusque demarche announcing that the attack would begin within an hour and warning the U.S. to get out of the way.

In his subsequent news conference, Secretary Carter averred that he found such Russian behavior “unprofessional.”

Good grief. Russia, with its inferior military and hemorrhaging economy, had just eaten Carter’s lunch, seizing the initiative and exposing American powerlessness — and the secretary of defense deplores what? Russia’s lack of professional etiquette.

Makes you want to weep.

Consider: When Obama became president, the surge in Iraq had succeeded and the U.S. had emerged as the dominant regional actor, able to project power throughout the region.

Last Sunday, Iraq announced the establishment of a joint intelligence-gathering center with Iran, Syria and Russia, symbolizing the new “Shiite-crescent” alliance from Iran across the northern Middle East to the Mediterranean, under the umbrella of Russia, the rising regional hegemon.

Russian planes roam free over Syria attacking Assad’s opposition as we stand by helpless. Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of state beseeches the Russians to negotiate “de-conflict” arrangements — so that we and they can each bomb our own targets safely. It has come to this.

Why is Putin moving so quickly and so brazenly? Because he’s got only 16 more months to push on the open door that is Obama.

He knows he’ll never again see an American president such as this — one who once told the General Assembly that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation” and told it again last Monday of “believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion.”

They cannot? Has he looked at the world around him — from Homs to Kunduz, from Sanaa to Donetsk — ablaze with conflict and coercion?

Wouldn’t you take advantage of these last 16 months if you were Putin, facing a man living in a faculty-lounge fantasy world?

Where was Obama when Putin began bombing Syria? Leading a U.N. meeting on countering violent extremism.

Go on, weep.

That’s what we’re doing, figuratively at least.

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