Archive | November 14th, 2016

The Coming Plague of Poverty Among the Elderly: Clinton’s Plan For Gutting Social Security



By Alan Nasser | CounterPunch

In the recent Wikileaks revelations confirming Hillary Clinton’s duplicity, one of the clearest disclosures of her policy plans concerns her intention regarding Social Security. She stated that she would return to the position of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, charged with producing recommendations for reducing the deficit, i.e. cutting government social spending.

The Commission, or “Simpson-Bowles committee”  -named after co-chairs former Wyoming Republican senator Alan Simpson, and Erskine Bowles, former Morgan Stanley board member and chief of staff under Bill Clinton-  was appointed by Obama in 2010. Among its members were some of the most persistent deficit hawks. Most significantly, the Commission was stacked with leading enemies of Social Security flailing their arms over the “impending insolvency” of the program. The day before his appointment as co-chair, Simpson said in an interview with the Washington Post: “How did we get to a point in America where you get to a certain age in life, regardless of net worth or income, and you’re ‘entitled’? The word itself is killing us.” (Feb. 17, 2010) In a later e-mail he described Social Security as “a milk cow with 310 million teats,” and had characterized its beneficiaries as “greedy geezers.” Bowles’s record was in line with Simpson’s. He had earlier negotiated with Newt Gingrich how best to cut safety net programs. The ultimate objective was to privatize Social Security.

In a rare moment of candor, a then-editor of The New York Times, Fred Brock, wrote an article critical of the Social-Security-is-going-broke alarmists titled “Save Social Security? From What?” (Business section, November 1, 1998). Brock attributed the faux hysteria to “hidden agendas…..Wall Street would love to get its hands on at least some of the billions of dollars in the Social Security trust fund . . . But knowing that the idea [of full privatization] won’t fly politically, [politicians] are pushing for partial privatization, in which individuals would invest a portion of their contribution in the stock market, all in the name of rescuing the system.”

Bowles’s efforts to undo Social Security through “partial privatization” began during the Clinton regime. The left-liberal economist Robert Kuttner, in his 2007 book The Squandering of America, detailed how Washington elites of both Parties had been planning to weaken Social Security since the Clinton Administration. Steven Gillon’s 2008 book The Pact included letters and interviews with reliable sources illustrating Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich’s collaboration to get Congress behind a plan to begin turning Social Security’s so-called trust fund over to Wall street, which would manage, for a fee, retirees’ benefits. Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin had prodded the president to work with Gingrich not merely to reduce benefits and extend the retirement age, but to begin the privatization of Social Security. Clinton appointed Bowles as his intermediary. But the Monica Lewinsky scandal caused both embarrassed Congressional Democrats and Gingrich to distance themselves from Clinton. The privatization plan fell apart.

A waiting game was now under way.

Hillary Clinton’s speeches to the captains of finance strongly imply that she would resume the project of privatizing Social Security. Hers will be a gradual, stealth approach. The opening salvo will be further cuts in benefits and extensions of the full-benefit retirement age. But these alone will not satisfy Wall Street. The privatization plan will be resurrected, first in the form of legislation once again to begin “partial privatization.” In the end, the objective will be to turn the program into a broker’s-fee-for-service plan entirely in the hands of Wall Street. Retired workers will no longer be unqualifiedly entitled to Social Security benefits. Their fortunes will be tied to the vagaries of the stock market and other speculative ventures favored by brokers. And retirees will pay for this “service.” There will be no refunds when the market goes belly-up.

What Do Retirees Now Get From Social Security?

Because so many seniors have scant savings and have been employed in low- to middle-wage jobs, poverty threatens the majority absent government income supplements raising them above the poverty line. 1 in 3 working Americans has zero retirement savings, and the median working-age couple has a mere $5,000 in retirement savings. The Social Security Administration reminds us that “Social Security is the major source of income for most of the elderly.” (1) It is in fact the federal government’s biggest domestic program, paying benefits to around 1 in 6 Americans and to over 90% of the elderly. With Social Security benefits in decline as the retirement age is steadily raised, the future portends especially hard times for old folks and for the population as a whole, because the elderly are a growing percentage of the entire population.

An outstanding feature of American society well before my 20 year old daughter reaches middle age will be a serious poverty plague among the growing numbers of the elderly. This is evident in the current state of Social Security and the most reliable projections for its future.

Social Security benefits are conspicuously modest. In the countries included in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average public pension benefits replace about 61% of median earnings. The corresponding figure for the U.S. is 37%, after subtracting (escalating) Medicare premiums. The U.S. ranks 26 out of the 30 OECD nations in this respect. The average retiree receives $1,328 a month in Social Security benefits. A third of beneficiaries receives 90% of their income from the program and 61% receive more than 50% of their income from the program. It is a telling indication of the niggardliness of the median household income that paltry Social Security payments kept 22 million from poverty in 2015. Thus, without Social Security benefits, 41% of elderly Americans would have incomes below the official poverty line, whereas with the program, “only” 9 percent do.

Social Security also benefits the non-elderly, and they too will be hit by Clinton’s announced offensive. More than 1 million children were lifted from poverty last year. Some received benefits because a parent died or became disabled or retired, and some live with relatives who receive Social Security. (2) Some 12 million disabled persons received benefits in 2015. According to the Social Administration itself, “That is barely enough to keep a beneficiary above the 2014 poverty level ($11,670 annually).” (3) All in all, without Social Security 20.5% of the total population would be in poverty; because of the program, “only” 13.5% are in poverty. The total number lifted out of poverty by Social Security in 2015 is 22,090,000. (4)

The Simpson-Bowles Recommendations for Social Security

The figures above make it clear that Clinton’s planned attack on Social Security will significantly raise total poverty, particularly among the elderly, the disabled and children. Clinton’s planned revival of Simpson-Bowles virtually guarantees this outcome. What were the recommendations of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform? The emphasis is on cutting benefits by three means.

First, the retirement age would be increased. The then-retirement-age of 66 was to be increased to 67 by 2022 for people born in 1960 and later. Early retirees would be able to claim reduced benefits at 62. The Commission recommended that both the full and the early eligibility age would continue increasing after 2022. At an unspecified time before 2050 the early eligibility age would rise to 63 and the full retirement age would increase to 68. By 2070 the early eligibility age would reach 64 and the full retirement age would climb to 69.

The recommendations would force the elderly either to work full time into the years when their physical capacities have undergone normal decline, or stop working when their bodies tell them that persistent work effort is bad for their mental and physical health and thus suffer the penalty of reduced benefits and an even lower standard of living. The recommendations amount to escalating cruelty to the elderly.

What may not be obvious at first glance is that any increase in the full retirement age entails a cut in benefits for each and every retiree irrespective of the age at which they file. (5) Because the full retirement age is the age at which full benefits are paid, so that workers who file sooner collect permanently reduced benefits and those who file later get larger benefits, raising the retirement age means that the early retiree suffers a deeper reduction and the later retiree gets a smaller increase. The economic security of everyone in the system is jeopardized whenever the retirement age is raised. And Social Security “reform” means gradually raising the retirement age.

Clinton’s announced plan means a wholesale assault on the entire elderly population.

The second means of cutting benefits consists in changing the formula for determining payments so as to reduce benefits.

The third way the Committee would lower benefits is to reduce cost-of-living adjustments. The idea is to devise a different measure of inflation in order to lower cost-of-living adjustments by 0.3 percentage points a year. A number of tricks have been effected to underestimate inflation and hence lower the estimated cost of living. E.g., the substitution hypothesis assumed that when the price of hamburger went up the typical consumer would substitute chicken in the “basket of goods” stipulated to reflect the cost of living. Hence, the measure would not count a rise in the price of ground beef as inflation. What was actually measured was the cost of maintaining a declining standard of living.

All these strategies functioning to put the squeeze on seniors are implemented on top of a system whose basic structure already fails to do what it is allegedly intended to do, to protect the elderly’s buying power. In addition to fudging inflation estimates, the weight attached to various components of the basic market basket of goods is skewed against the elderly, precisely in order to depress Social Security payments. Older Americans tend to spend a greater portion of their budgets on medical care and housing than do younger people. Yet less weight is assigned to medical care and housing costs, which have risen more than 7% and 5% respectively since this time last year, and more weight to gasoline, which has declined deeply over the same period. And because the Consumer Price Index excludes the spending patterns of those over the age of 62, it does not include one of the fastest growing costs for retirees, rising Medicare premiums. It is as if the idea was to hit the elderly especially hard. As if indeed.

It is no surprise, then, that the scandalously inaccurate estimates of increases in the cost of living actually increase the cost of living for everyone, especially seniors. The COLA increase for 2017 will be a niggardly 0.3%. From 2010 to 2016, the COLA was increased, respectively, by the following percentages: 0.0, 0.0, 1.7, 1.5, 1.7, 0.0 and 0.0.

Clinton vs. Obama on the Simpson-Bowles Recommendations

Obama opted not to endorse all of the recommendations of the Commission but to “build on the fiscal Commission’s model.” (6) He accepted most of the major tenets of the Commission but went slower on their implementation. Austerity measures would be implemented over 12 years instead of 10. But he adhered to one of his principal reasons for putting the Commission together, that Social Security benefits would soon increase deficits to unsustainable levels. He supported the Commission’s aim to cut Medicare and Social Security. But his Social Security and Medicare cuts would be smaller than the Commission’s recommendations.

Clinton will at the least swallow whole the Simpson-Bowles recommendations. All stops will be pulled. The woman holds popular sentiment in contempt, so public disapproval will count for nothing. Let us not forget that a principal function of neoliberal policy is to do away with democratic government, a requirement if the distribution of private and public resources is to be consistently to the benefit of the plutocracy. Those most dependent on government assistance  -the elderly, the unemployed and the disabled-  will be hit hard.

The elderly tend to be more politically active, at least with respect to voting behavior. Their demographics are noteworthy. Between 2012 and 2050, the United States is expected to experience considerable growth in its older population. People 65 and over represented 14.5% of the population in the year 2014 but are expected to grow to be 21.7% of the population by 2040. (7) By 2050, the population aged 65 and over is projected to be 83.7 million, almost double its population of 43.1 million in 2012. By 2060 there will be about 98 million older persons, more than twice their number in 2014.

The elderly are growing both in number and as a percentage of the population. They will be hit very hard under financialized neoliberal capitalism. Will they quietly bemoan their fate, or will they be among the historical descendants of Occupy and the Sanders movement, making up a growing force of resistance to an increasingly austere and repressive (dis)order?


(1) Social Security Administration

(2) Center on Budget and Policy Priorities


(4) Census Bureau Current Population Survey, March 2016

(5) See (2) above.

(6) Jackie Calmes, “Obama’s Deficit Dilemma,” The New York Times, February 27, 2012


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How Drone Pilots Talk

Image result for Drone CARTOON
By David Swanson 

For the past eight years millions of people have expended billions of words speculating about exactly how the United States kills people with missiles from drones (and missiles from other sources, such as manned aircraft, targeting people identified with drones). There is good reason to believe that for each such attack there exists a video and audio record of what the drone pilots saw and what they and their colleagues said to each other as they decided to launch a missile and as they observed its results.

This is a level of documentation we rarely have with killings by domestic police officers, who are typically filmed by observers with phones, a method of documentation that excludes the leadup and the aftermath.

It’s also a level of documentation that is almost entirely denied to the public, meaning that it doesn’t actually do us much good. As far as I know we have not seen a single video or heard a single audio recording of a drone murder. The “Collateral Murder” video is a powerful record of a non-drone attack.

With drones, however, we do have one (incomplete) transcript of what was said during the hours leading up and the minutes following one particular attack. This was an attack in Afghanistan in February 2010 that killed zero fighters but numerous innocent civilians. According to survivors, 23 men, women, and children were killed. According to the U.S. military 15 or 16 were killed and 12 wounded. The U.S. military apologized and paid some $4000 to the family of each acknowledged victim.

The ACLU obtained the transcript in 2011, and it was published by the Los Angeles Times, which wrote an account of the incident, but I didn’t pay much attention until the new film, National Bird, dramatized part of it. I think it deserves a bit longer excerpt than either the Times or National Bird provided. So, here is my selection plus commentary. Feel free to read the whole thing at the links above and make of it what you may.

00:38 (JAG25): We are going to hold on containment fires and try to attempt PID, we would really like to take out those trucks.

PID means positive identification. This individual is eager to send missiles into trucks on the ground in Afghanistan but is aware of the need to identify somebody in one or more of them as an armed fighter. In fictional fantasies like Eye in the Sky or presidential speeches, targets must exclude any possibility of killing civilians and the targeted people must be known, specifically identified, be beyond any possibility of arrest, and be “immediate and continuing” threats to the United States of America. None of those criteria or anything like them are even discussed in this actual drone attack. Instead, the question of whether to launch hellfire missiles at automobiles is whether the targeted people are males over 10 years old and whether at least one of them has a gun. As we’ll see, even those standards are not met, but they are discussed.

00:38 (Slasher03): Copy that. Break, break, Slasher, we passed you coords for the vehicle on the west side of the river again you have multiple dismounts in the open break. On the east side of the river there’s an additional vehicle majority of the dismounts are inside a compound located just to the north of that vehicle if you get eyes on that compound. Compound has multiple movers as well as one pickup truck hot.

00:38 (Slasher03): Kirk97, Slasher in addition if you’re able to pick up illumination it appears the two vehicles are flashing lights signaling between.

Before anyone was murdered on this day, everyone was discussed for hours with words like “vehicle,” “compound,” “dismounts,” and “movers” — which simply has to have a different impact than “cars,” “houses,” “pedestrians,” and “people walking around.”

00:41 (Pilot): Does he have a weapon?

00:41 (Sensor): Can’t tell yet

00:41 (MC): Can’t tell


00:42 (Kirk97): Jag25/Slasher03/Kirk97 we are eyes on a vehicle, personnel in the open, definite tactical movement, cannot PID weapons at this time, how copy?

Still, they are hoping to positively identify a weapon. But, in the absence of that justification, they have spotted “definite tactical movement.” How, one wonders, given that these were a bunch of civilian commuters, does such movement differ from a handful of families and students walking about and arranging themselves into a couple of SUVs and a pickup truck?

00:43 (Sensor): possible mortars (reference to what the JTAC is trying to PID)

00:43 (Pilot): Kirk97, good copy on that, be advised personnel in the open, by the vehicles moving tactically definitely carrying objects at this time we cannot PID what they are however we’ve got eyes on and we are working our best

So now there are automobiles with objects and human beings in them, and those automobiles are moving (as they are principally designed to do).

00:44 (Jag25): Jag25, roger, ground force commander’s intent is to destroy the vehicles and the personnel, right now Kirk97 is showing that the individuals egressed the trucks holding cylindrical objects in their hands *radio static*

Personnel egressed some trucks, meaning that some people got out. And they had objects with them. As you read on, see if you notice eagerness or wariness to interpret such a phenomenon as a threat.

00:44 (Pilot): Be ready for a lot of (exploitive deleted) squirters dude

00:44 (Pilot): These guys look to be lookouts, man

People who get out and walk away from a group are “squirters” though not yet “bugsplat” (what drone pilots have sometimes called those they’ve killed). They are also “lookouts.” This identification of them as “lookouts” is made on the basis of the fuzzy little green linear shapes these people appear as in the video being observed, not on the basis of a high resolution color image in which something like binoculars or facial expressions could be identified.

00:45 (MC): See if you can zoom in on that guy, ‘cause he’s kind of like

00:45 (Pilot): what did he just leave there

00:45 (Pilot): Is that a *expletive* rifle?

00:45 (Sensor): Maybe just a warm spot from where he was sitting; can’t really tell right now, but it does look like an object

Well an object could be a rifle. There’s at least a 1% chance, as Dick Cheney would say.

00:45 (Pilot): I was hoping we could make a rifle out, never mind

Why was this man or woman hoping that? Why not fearing it? After all, it could mean being ordered to do something horrific: to kill. Even believing that killing to be somehow justified and possibly even somehow legal, the drone pilot of our imagination faces it regretfully and somberly. Not these guys.

00:45 (Sensor): The only way I’ve ever been able to see a rifle is if they move them around, when their holding them, with muzzle flashes out or slinging them across their shoulders

And yet no such identification happens on this day. Nonetheless, 23 people lose their lives while others lose their limbs. You can see the survivors and hear them tell their stories in National Bird.

00:48 (Slasher03): jaguar25, slasher03 again, on the west side you have 10 pax that are dismounts that appear to be huddled down, hunkered down, holding position they are all static on the east side, you have the original vehicle with 2 dismounts waiting outside, believe you had up to two to three to four that are still inside the vehicle, then just north of that position you have the compound where our 1 individual exited the vehicle and rendezvous, you have multiple movers within that compound as well as a hot pickup truck

Pax does not of course mean peace. It means passengers. “Hot” I believe actually means hot, as pilots are able to observe heat recorded by heat sensors. They sometimes observe the cooling of a body on the ground as the blood leaves it.

************END OF 0023z VIDEO SEGMENT********BEGINNING OF 0054z VIDEO SEGMENT*******

The line above suggests that there is a video we could be shown. Exactly whose embarrassment — er, I mean, national security — overrides our right to see it?

00:54 (Jag25): … we believe we may have a high level Taliban commander …

Don’t they always? If you want to prove they don’t always, make the videos public.

00:55 (Pilot): wouldn’t surprise me if this was one of their important guys, just watching from a distance, you know what I mean?

00:55 (Sensor): yea he’s got his security detail

A group of people, by virtue of containing multiple people, is now wishfully seen as a Taliban bigshot with a “security detail.”

00:55 (Pilot): … Be advised on the west side of the river we still have one vehicle with ten pax, two lookouts, could be definite tactical movement with a commander over watching, definitely suspicious how copy?

These bees are acting suspicious, said Winnie the Pooh.

00:56 (JAG): roger good copy, due to distance from friendlies we are trying to work on justification, we’re gonna need PID

00:56 (Pilot): Good copy on that, no PID on weapons at this time only tactical movements on the west side, can you pass coords for the east please?

00:59 (Sensor): not sure what compound they came from or what we are apparently dealing with.

These guys have no idea who they are looking at, but they are working on coming up with a “justification” to murder them.

00:59 (Pilot): what about the guy under the north arrow, does it look like he is hold’n something across his chest

00:59 (Sensor): yea it’s kind of weird how they all have a cold spot on their chest

00:59 (Pilot): It’s what they’ve been doing here lately, they wrap their *expletive* up in their man dresses so you can’t PID it

The conversation oozes with respect for the people whose country is being “liberated.”

1:00(Sensor): maybe five in the back of the bed 1:00 *broken radio chatter*

1:00 (Jag25): Jag25 have you loud and clear

1:01 (Pilot): Jag25, Slasher03, Kirk97 it looks like the dismounted pax on the hilux pickup on the east side is carrying something, but we cannot PID what it is at this time but he is carrying something

1:02 (Sensor): He slung it on his shoulder whatever it was, just switched arms with it or something, and is getting in the truck

01:03 (Sensor): the screener is reviewing, they think something is up with that dude as well. I’ll take a quick look at the SUV guys, sorry

1:03 (JAG25): Slasher03 JAG25
1:03 (Sensor): what do these dudes got, yeah I think that dude had a rifle

1:03 (Pilot): I do too

There’s a wishful guess that a group of two dozen people traveling through an extremely dangerous country might have a gun. Wait and see what that is taken to justify.

1:04 (Pilot): All players, all Players from KIRK97, from our DGS the MAM that just mounted the back of the hilux had a possible weapon, read back possible rifle

1:04 (JAG25): Kirk we notice that, but you know how it is with ROEs, so we have to be careful with those, ROE’s *broken radio chatter*

1:04 (Sensor): sounds like they need more than possible

A MAM is a military aged male and an ROE a rule of engagement. These guys are figuring out that they should come up with more than the possibility of a gun before blowing up this convoy.

1:05 (JAG25): copy, slasher03
1:05 (Sensor): that truck would make a beautiful target, ok that’s a Chevy suburban

1:05 (Pilot): yeah,

(Sensor): yeah


1:07 (MC): screener said at least one child near SUV 1:07 (Sensor): bull (expletive deleted)…where!?

1:07 (Sensor): send me a (expletive deleted) still, I don’t think they have kids out at this hour, I know they’re shady but come on

1:07 (Pilot): at least one child… Really? Listing the MAM, uh, that means he’s guilty

1:07 (Sensor): well maybe a teenager but I haven’t seen anything that looked that short, granted they’re all grouped up here, but.

The eagerness to spot a gun is just not matched by eagerness to spot a child. And having a child on the road with his or her family early in the morning is taken as a sign of evil deeds. Or if the child is a military aged male (later defined as having an age in the “double digits”) that is taken as “guilt.” Guilt is the language of a court. Drone piloting has often been discussed as law enforcement, although it violates numerous laws and does not enforce any.

1:07 (Pilot): Yeah review that (expletive deleted)…why didn’t he say possible child, why are they so quick to call (expletive deleted) kids but not to call (expletive deleted) a rifle

1:08 (MC): two children were at the rear of the SUV… I haven’t seen two children

1:09 (Sensor): little bit of movement by the SUV. I really doubt that children call, man I really (expletive deleted) hate that.

1:10 (MC): is this the child entering the rear of the SUV?

1:10 (Sensor): they’re moving, I’ll stay with the pickup truck

1:11 (Pilot): they just threw someone into the back of that truck, and were like, wrestling with somebody did you see that?

1:11 (Senor):Yeah I saw those two dudes wrestling.

1:11 (Pilot): they probably are really using (expletive deleted) human shields here, that’s probably what that is.

Here is an incredible case of believing ones own propaganda. People are here imagined to be forcing victims into their trucks in order to use them as “human shields,” a phenomenon as ill conceived in U.S. culture as “voter fraud.”

1:21 (Pilot):yeah, exactly man. So what’s the, we passed him potential children and potential shields, and I think those are both pretty accurate now, what’s the ROE on that?

1:21 (Sensor): Ground commander assessing proportionality, distinction

And here we are back to eye-of-the-murderer medieval “just war” theory in which someone pretends to determine that killing a certain number of children would be “proportionally” acceptable, although no empirical test of such a thing has ever been devised, and President Obama claims that no shots are fired by his drone warriors without “near certainty” that no civilians will be harmed. You can’t calculate how many civilians are acceptable to kill AND claim that you’re certain of not killing any.

01:32 (Sensor): Wonder what these other dudes at this compound are doing. Picked‐up at third vehicle on their train.

01:33 (MC): Guilty by association.

I suppose they know that’s not a legal term.

01:48 (Pilot): JAG25 just want to confirm that you copied we have about 20 pax dismounted, they are outside the trucks praying at this time and we’re 3 1⁄2 miles from the friendly location.

01:48 (Sensor): … Praying? I mean seriously, that’s what they do.

01:48 (MC): They’re gonna do something nefarious.

When I was very briefly in Afghanistan I didn’t meet anyone who didn’t pray. I also didn’t meet anyone who did anything nefarious. I have also never heard a presidential speech in which President Obama explains that he targets people who pray.

01:50 (MC): Adolescent near the rear of the SUV.

01:50 (Sensor): Well, teenagers can fight.

01:50 (MC): Pick up a weapon and you’re a combatant, it’s how that works.

Got that?

01:52 (Sensor): Oh sweet target. I’d try to go through the bed, put it right dead center of the bed.

01:53 (MC): Oh that’d be perfect.

01:52 (Sensor): Like more of them from the other vehicles are around this one right now.

Such cool, level headed reluctance to use excessive force is no doubt what we would hear in police videos as well.

01:54 (Sensor): MAM near SUV appear to be holding a weapon.

01:54 (Jag25): Roger, still awaiting confirmation.

01:54 (Pilot): JAG25 be advised, our screener just called 1 MAM near the SUV in the line of 3, appears to be holding a weapon.

01:56 (MC) :one weapon on ground may have picked it up and walking around the pickup.

01:56 (Sensor): I didn’t quite catch that but I believe it.

I didn’t see it either. Should I believe it too?

02:29 (Pilot): Can’t wait till this actually happens, with all this coordination and *expletive*

(agreement noises from crew)

02:29 (Pilot): Thanks for the help, you’re doing a good job relaying everything in (muffled), MC. Appreciate it

02:48 (Sensor): Still a sweet *expletive* target, geez….Take out the lead vehicle on the run and then uhh bring the helos in


02:54 (MC): Looks like they’re bringing a Reaper in

02:54 (Sensor): *Expletive*that, man

02:54 (MC): just claim we’re here first

02:54 (MC): At least we know these guys have weapons

02:55 (Muffled talking off comms, some profanity, a chuckle)

Laughing and eagerness to be the one to pull the trigger.

02:58 (Sensor): Hey, that dude just put a weapon down right above the truck. See it?

02:59 (Pilot): See it. See if DGS will call that

DGS is an office that is supposed to approve before eager pilots push the button. A veteran in National Bird describes routinely trying to restrain the eagerness of pilots at Creech Air Force Base to kill.

03:01 (Sensor): Aww where is he going? Just pulling off the road maybe. They probably mostly left their weapons in the vehicles. I’ll be damned, it looks like a short dude back there.

No weapons? They must be inside. A child? It must be a short dude.

03:05 (Pilot): Jag 25 standby one. Kirk 97, we’re checking. Looks mostly to be military aged males. We have seen approximately two children. Standby.

03:05 (Pilot): Dude the only thing I can see if this isn’t something [expletive deleted]is the locals trying to get away. You know what I mean? But I don’t think so.

Here a pilot surmises the situation accurately but chooses not to believe it.

03:06 (Sensor): 24 or 25 at the praying stop.

03:07 (Sensor): CLASSIFIED view I saw the one that looked short enough to be a child.

03:08 (Pilot): And Jag 25, our screeners are currently calling 21 MAMs no females, and 2 possible children. How copy?

03:08 (JAG25): Roger. And when we say children, are we talking teenagers or toddlers?

03:08 (Sensor): I would say about twelve. Not toddlers. Something more towards adolescents or teens.

03:08 (Pilot): Yeah adolescents

03:10 (Pilot): And Kirk 97, good copy on that. We are with you. Our screener updated only one adolescent so that’s one double digit age range. How Copy?

03:10 (JAG25): We’ll pass that along to the ground force commander. But like I said, 12‐13 years old with a weapon is just as dangerous.

03:11 (Sensor): Oh we agree. Yea.

04:05 (Pilot) : Yeah. Alright, so the plan is man, uh, we’re going to watch this thing go down, the helo’s are going to take out as much as they can and when they Winchester we can play clean up.

04:07 (Pilot) : As long as you keep somebody that we can shoot in the field of view I’m happy.

Happy! It’s good to stay positive about your job! Everybody knows that.

04:09 (Pilot) : Yeah, well that’s what we were talking on this. I was talking to the JTAC he said the exact same thing man. Um they called them an adolescent. We called it you know… most likely double digits age range. And he was like that’s old enough to be dangerous.

04:13 (Pilot): It’s a cool looking shot

04:13 (Sensor): O, awesome

Awesome, dude!

04:16 (Sensor): Roger. And, oh … and there it goes!

04:16 (unintelligible)
04:16 (Pilot): Our engagement

04:16 (Pilot): It was backing up

04:16 (Sensor): Stand by

04:16 (Sensor): Have another guy … did they get him too? Yep.

04:16 (Pilot): They took the first and uh the last out. They’re going to come back around

04:16 (Safety Observer): I see squirters at the first one

Missiles have just blown up the first and third of the three automobiles packed with people.

04:16 (Pilot): Uh, follow what you think makes the most sense. In fact, stay on the middle truck for now …

04:16 (Sensor): I will

04:16 (Pilot): … until they take that out or we do

04:17 (MC): Do we want to switch back to other frequency?

04:17 (Pilot): I tried, nobody was talking to me over there

04:17 (Sensor): Looks like they’re surrendering

04:17 (Sensor): They’re not running

04:17 (Pilot): CLASSIFIED

[NOTE: At this point, additional voices appear on the recording – presumably those of the safety observers – and identifying which individual is speaking at any given time becomes very difficult.]

04:18 (Sensor): That guy’s laid down? They’re not running.

04:18 (Safety Observer): Dude, this is weird

04:18 (Sensor): They’re just walking away

04:18 (Sensor): I think I’ve got the bulk of whoever’s left in the field of view

04:18 (Pilot): Yeah, I think so

Now we start to see that these eager killers really had convinced themselves that they were targeting dangerous enemies. When their victims behave like civilians, they are disturbed by it.

04:18 (Unknown): Oh!

04:19 (Pilot): Holy [expletive deleted]

04:19 (Sensor): I don’t know about this. This is weird.

04:19 (MC): Yeah

04:19 (Pilot): Got nowhere to go

04:19 (Pilot): Probably confused as [expletive deleted]

04:19 (Sensor): Oh yeah, they just got thrown from the vehicle, too

04:19 MIC(?): We did call, we did tell them there was adolescents in the second vehicle, so I thought that was the reason they didn’t shoot the (unintelligible) second vehicle

04:19 (Safety Observer): No

04:19 (Sensor): Current recommended target is … I just want to do the most veh‐ … either this one, the most … or the one with the guys in the front, they were in the lead vehicle

04:19 (Pilot): There’s like a trail of like three or four (unintelligible)

04:19 (Sensor): Right

04:19 (Pilot): … to the right of your crosshair

04:19 (Sensor): Yeah, and those are, that’s the most, the most, most individuals, right there

04:19 Pilot(?): Yeah, I’d say let’s do that then

04:20 (Sensor): But I’ll keep this field of view … the previous field of view, uh, so we can maintain eyes on as many as possible

And yet, the momentum here is still for killing the survivors.

04:20 (Bam Bam 41): Kirk 97, Bam Bam 41, confirm, uh, those were hits on the vehicles you were watching

04:20 (Pilot): And Bam Bam, Kirk 97, that is affirm, that is uh three good hits on all three of our vehicles. We are still tracking.

Now all three vehicles have been blown up and burned.

04:20 (Sensor): I’m going to zoom in on the rear vehicle again real quick. It looks … it looks like there’s a bunch of people just hanging out

04:23 (Safety Observer): Are they wearing burqas?

04:23 (Sensor): That’s what it looks like

04:23 (Pilot): They were all PIDed as males, though. No females in the group

04:23 (Sensor): That guy looks like he’s wearing jewelry and stuff like a girl, but he ain’t … if he’s a girl, he’s a big one

We sense reluctance to recognize that there are females among those targeted.

04:23 (Pilot): Bam Bam, uh Kirk 97, we are eyes on the squirters at this time. No weapons PIDed yet.

04:26 (Unknown): Wow
04:26 (Sensor): (unintelligible) That truck is so dead

04:26 (Unknown): Wow

04:27 (Sensor): Trying to, to PID veh‐, uh, weapons, but yeah, we can scan

04:27 (Sensor): The thing is, nobody ran

04:27 (Safety Observer): Yeah, that was weird

04:27 (Sensor): So, all the squirters are, have returned to the road at this point

04:27 (Unknown): Yeah

04:27 (Safety Observer): We need to probably let them know that

04:30 (Pilot): Bam Bam41, uh, Kirk97. We are still eyes on, uh, eyes on trying to PID [Positively Identify] any weapons, uh, on the remaining MAMs [Military Age Male]. Uh, we had previously PID’ed weapons in the group but, uh, nothing at this time. We’re still looking.

04:32 (MC): There’s one guy sitting down.

04:32 (Sensor): What you playing with? (Talking to individual on ground.)

04:32 (MC): His bone.

04:33 (Sensor): Thanks, thanks SOTF‐South.

04:34 (Sensor): So, it looks like those lumps are probably all people.

04:34 (Safety Observer): Yep.

04:34 (MC): I think the most lumps are on the lead vehicle because everybody got…the Hellfire got…

04:35 (Sensor): Yeah, there’s definitely no weapons on the guys in the middle vehicle.

04:36 (MC): Is that two? One guy’s tending the other guy?

04:36 (Safety Observer): Looks like it.

04:36 (Sensor): Looks like it, yeah.

04:36 (MC): Self‐Aid Buddy Care to the rescue.

04:36 (Safety Observer): I forget, how do you treat a sucking gut wound?

04:37 (Sensor): Don’t push it back in. Wrap it in a towel. That’ll work.

04:38 (Pilot): They’re trying to *explicative* surrender, right? I think.

04:38 (Sensor): That’s what it looks like to me.

04:38 MC: Yeah. I think that’s what they’re doing.

04:39 (UNKNOWN): On those individuals. Break.

Uh, exiting from that vehicle was probably about 4 personnel. Believe possibly two of those, maybe 3, were female. They wore bright colored clothing. Uh, those remaining personnel are gathered just west of the middle vehicle. They’re standing about 20 meters to the west.

04:40 (MC): Screener said there wasn’t any women earlier.

04:40 (Sensor): Those are all people.

04:40 (MC): Yeah.

04:40 (Sensor): That’s what I was worried about.

04:40 (Safety Observer): What?




04:40 (Sensor): What are those? They were in the middle vehicle.

04:40 (MC): Women and children.

04:40 (Sensor): Looks like a kid.

04:40 (Safety Observer): Yeah. The one waving the flag.

04:41 (Pilot): Kirk97. Uh, negative, we are still observing at this time. Still no weapons PID, everything else matches with your assessment. Uh, still looking.

04:41 (Sensor): Nah, that guy doesn’t have a weapon…just shru, shrugged off his coat. Nothing underneath.

04:42 (Pilot): Anything on ICOM?

04:42 (MC): Nothing so far. I think the rocket hit the front of the street here.

04:42 (Pilot): He’s calling females? They said 21 males, no females.

04:42 (MC): Earlier, yeah.

04:42 (Sensor): Now they’re calling 3 females and 1 child. 1 possible child.

04:42 (MC): Called him a adolescent earlier.

04:43 (Sensor): Yeah, at this point I wouldn’t…I personally wouldn’t be comfortable shooting at these people.

04:43 (MC): No.

04:43 (Sensor): Uh, esp…especially just on DGS’s…If I couldn’t tell with my own eyeball that they had weapons, I wouldn’t just go off of DGS’s, uh, (another crew member: Yeah.) assessment…for this reason.

04:43 (Pilot): That lady is carrying a kid, huh? Maybe.

04:43 (Safety Observer): No.

04:43 (MC): No.
04:43 (Sensor): Uh, yeah.

04:43 (MC): The baby, I think on the right. Yeah.

04:43 (Sensor): Yeah.

04:43 (Pilot): The middle.

04:43 (MC): Yeah.

04:43 (Sensor): Right there in the crosshairs.

04:43 (Safety Observer): *Explicative,* let them know, dude. Have them pass it to Jag. There’s…

04:43 (MC): Yeah.

04:44 (Safety Observer): Yeah, they called out the kid.

04:44 (MC): Yep.
04:44 (Sensor): I got another kid.

04:44 (Safety Observer): That’s one of the adolescents from earlier.

04:45 (Pilot): Bam Bam41, Kirk97. Uh, just be advised, uh, our DGS is calling out, uh, potential 3 females and, uh, 2 adolescents, uh, near the center vehicle. Uh, just want to confirm that you saw that and passed to Jag.

04:48 (Sensor): These guys all need to get their asses kicked.

04:48 (MC): What’s that?

04:48 (Sensor): These dudes over here. Ones that are standing up…[Radio static]

04:48 (Broken Radio Transmission) Jag25, Bam…(static)

04:48 (Sensor): All their women are over here. Kids.

04:48 (Safety Observer): I know.

04:48 (Sensor): They’re sitting around on their ass over by the blown‐up truck.

Posted in USAComments Off on How Drone Pilots Talk

Taking a Page from Joe McCarthy

Image result for cold war cartoons
By Robert Parry  

One trick of the original McCarthyism from the Old Cold War was to take some innocuous or accurate comment from a leader in Moscow — saying something like “poverty is a cruel side of capitalism” or “racism persists in the U.S.” — and to claim that some American reformer who says much the same thing must be a Kremlin tool.

Now, in the New Cold War, we are seeing a similar trend in the way some Democrats and the mainstream U.S. media are citing accurate assessments from Russian President Vladimir Putin and claiming that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is somehow in league with Putin for observing the same realities.

A case in point is Tuesday’s editorial in The Washington Post, entitled “The Putin-Trump worldview” (in print) and “Trump and Putin share a frightening worldview” (online). The editorial quotes Putin as “observing that Mr. Trump ‘represents the interests of the sizable part of American society that is tired of the elites that have been in power for decades now … and does not like to see power handed down by inheritance.’”

The Post’s editorial writers then snidely note that “Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump have an uncanny way of echoing each other’s words.”

But that is a classic example of McCarthyistic sophistry. Just because some demonized figure like Putin says something that is undeniably true and an American sees the same facts doesn’t make that American a “Putin puppet” or a “Moscow stooge” or any of the other ugly names now being hurled at people who won’t join in today’s trendy Russia bashing and guilt by association.

Putin is not wrong that many of Trump’s supporters – along with many Americans who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders – are “tired of the elites” that have behaved arrogantly and stupidly for decades. Many Americans also don’t believe that a family’s name should decide who becomes the leader of the United States, whether that be the Bushes or the Clintons.

Indeed, what Putin is saying amounts to almost a truism, yet here is The Washington Post not only suggesting that because Putin is saying something that it must be false but then smearing Trump (or anyone else) who detects the same reality.

Double Standards

The same Post editorial also goes to great lengths to reject any comparisons between the Russian and Syrian government airstrikes on the Syrian neighborhoods of east Aleppo — to root out Al Qaeda-connected jihadists and their supposedly “moderate” rebel allies — and U.S. and Iraqi government airstrikes on the Iraqi city of Mosul under the control of Al Qaeda’s spinoff group, the Islamic State.

Insisting that the two similar operations are nothing alike, the Post’s editors white-out the central role of Al Qaeda in commanding the rebel forces in east Aleppo. While ignoring Al Qaeda’s dominance of those neighborhoods and its terror rocket attacks on civilian areas of west Aleppo, the Post only says, “the rebel forces in Aleppo include Western-backed secular groups who seek only to overturn the blood-drenched Assad regime.”

Note the Post’s characterization that rebel forces “include Western-backed secular groups” rather than an honest admission that those supposedly “secular groups” have served mostly as cut-outs in diverting sophisticated U.S. military weapons, such as TOW missiles, to the jihadist cause, a reality recognized by U.S. military advisers on the ground. [See’s How the US Armed-up Syrian Jihadists.“]

Many of these supposedly “secular groups” have openly allied themselves with Al Qaeda’s recently rebranded Nusra Front (now called the Syria Conquest Front). This so-called “marbling” of the “moderates” in with the jihadists was one of the sticking points in the failed limited cease-fire in which the Post’s beloved “secular groups” rebuffed Secretary of State John Kerry’s plea that they separate themselves from Al Qaeda.

An intellectually honest newspaper would have at least admitted some of these inconvenient truths, but that is not the modern-day Washington Post with its own “blood-drenched” editors who played a crucial role in rallying support behind President George W. Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq under false pretenses.

The Post and its editors have on their hands the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died as a result of that illegal aggressive war, but those editors have not suffered a whit for their participation in war crimes. Instead, exactly the same senior editorial-page editors – Fred Hiatt and Jackson Diehl – are still there, touted on the newspaper’s masthead, still misleading the Post’sreaders.

By contrast, The Wall Street Journal (of all places) did some serious reporting on the key question of “moderate” rebels allied with Al Qaeda. The Journal reported on Sept. 29: “Some of Syria’s largest rebel factions are doubling down on their alliance with an al Qaeda-linked group, despite a U.S. warning to split from the extremists or risk being targeted in airstrikes. The rebel gambit is complicating American counterterrorism efforts in the country at a time the U.S. is contemplating cooperation with Russia to fight extremist groups.”

If even Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal can acknowledge this important context, why can’t The Washington Post ?

Dangerous Terrain

But the whipping up of a New Cold War with Russia and the demonizing of Vladimir Putin extend beyond The Washington Post to virtually the entire U.S. political/media establishment which has plunged into this dangerous terrain without any more serious thought and analysis than preceded the Iraq invasion, except now the target for “regime change” is nuclear-armed Russia and this adventurism risks the extermination of life on the planet.

Despite these grave dangers, the Democrats and the Clinton campaign have settled on a strategy of exploiting the New McCarthyism of the New Cold War to discredit Trump through “guilt by association” to Putin even though the two men have apparently never met.

Mostly this New McCarthyism has been used to divert attention from developments threatening to Hillary Clinton’s electoral chances, such as the release of embarrassing emails among Democratic insiders hacked from the personal account of Clinton adviser John Podesta and, since last Friday, the statement by FBI Director James Comey that he has reopened the investigation into Clinton’s use of an unsecured email server because of emails found on a computer in the home of Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.

In the first instance, the Clinton campaign sought to redirect attention from the content of the emails, including the text of speeches that Clinton gave to Goldman Sachs and other financial interests, to the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia was probably behind the hack.

‘A Witch Hunt’

In the Comey situation, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, has sought to counter Comey’s stunning announcement last Friday by calling on the FBI director to also disclose whatever the FBI may have discovered about links between Trump’s aides and the Kremlin.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Democrats have raised suspicions about Carter Page, an early-on Trump adviser and former Merrill Lynch banker who gave a speech last summer criticizing the United States and other Western nations for a “hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change” in Russia and other parts of the old Soviet Union.

Page termed Reid’s efforts to transform a political disagreement into a criminal case “a witch hunt,” a phrase familiar from Sen. Joe McCarthy’s Red-scare investigations of the late 1940s and early 1950s into the loyalty of Americans.

Another Trump adviser caught up in the Democrats’ attempts to smear the Trump campaign over alleged ties to Moscow is Roger Stone. The Times reported that Democrats have accused Stone “of being a conduit between the Russian hackers and WikiLeaks,” which published Podesta’s hacked emails, because Stone has said he had contacts with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and seemed to anticipate the damaging disclosures, though Stone has denied any prior knowledge.

An irony from this case of “trading places” – with the Democrats now darkly suggesting Republican ties to Moscow rather than the opposite during the McCarthy era – is that Roger Stone was a longtime associate of the late Roy Cohn, who was the controversial counsel on Sen. McCarthy’s Red-hunting investigations.

Stone derided the Democratic attempts to discredit Trump and himself with claims of ties to Moscow as “the new McCarthyism.”

Despite the irony, Stone is not wrong in his assessment. Rarely in American politics since the dark days of Joe McCarthy have so many unsubstantiated accusations of disloyalty been directed at any major political figure as the Democrats have done to Donald Trump.

In the third debate, Clinton even accused Trump of being a Putin “puppet.” If such a remark were made by Joe McCarthy or his Red-baiting ally Richard Nixon, there would have been understandable outrage. But Clinton’s ugly charge passed without controversy.

Though there are plenty of legitimate reasons to oppose the eminently unqualified Donald Trump for President, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats risk setting in motion dangerous international forces with their promiscuous Russia-bashing. Recognizing the terrifying potential of nuclear war, a more responsible course would be to tone down the rhetoric and address the legitimate questions raised by the email issues.


*Consortium news

Posted in USA, RussiaComments Off on Taking a Page from Joe McCarthy

The Revealed Cynicism of ‘Benevolent Hegemony’

Image result for USSR AND USA CARTOON
By Mark Citadel – Katehon 

Since the collapse of the USSR, and the inception of the unipolar world order with the United States at its center, the term ‘benevolent hegemony’ has entered the lexicon of international relations and geopolitics. The full fleshing out of this idea was revealed in the 1996 essay by American neoconservatives Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, ‘Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy’. Its essence is an excuse for the United States to pursue whichever diplomatic and military means are believed to forward the goals of an American Empire, on the basis that unlike past empires, this one is not based on the prestige of the American people, or indeed any given leader, but instead on a set of ‘universal values and principles’ which are supposedly positive for all who live under them. One need only look at the neoconservatives themselves and come to the conclusion that they certainly do not represent the interests of the American people, as their international operations rarely have any positive impact for working men and women, and in fact very often engender negative consequences for them. Nor could it be said that neoconservatives aid the prestige of a given leader, as their legacy of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan destroyed the presidential legacy of George W. Bush, and notably his British ally Tony Blair.

This is excusable of course, because it has never been claimed by the neoconservative establishment that their policies are crafted with these people in mind. They are in aid of an ideology, and because most Westerners suffer under the delusion that this ideology is itself benevolent, then the means that America uses to propagate and expand its influence must also be benevolent. Slowly however, this facade is beginning to peel away.

Tom Rogan, a foreign policy analyst for the neoconservative publication National Review recently penned an article describing Three Ways the US Can Save Syria. Obviously this is in response to the fact that America is being defeated in the country, the Syrian Army’s gradual recapture of Aleppo being just the latest blow to the terrorist rebel groups agitating against the legitimate government. If President Assad ends the insurgency of terrorists, then the American Empire loses not only in terms of its original geopolitical goals which spurred its meddling, but in terms of international prestige, especially among the nations of the Middle East. In light of this, Rogan’s urgent recommendations make sense, but in his zeal he gives the world a very clear picture of what ‘benevolent hegemony’ looks like.

The first recommendation concerns the oil market. Russia, the key counter-force to the United States in Syria, has been economically harmed by a dramatic dip in global oil prices, Russia is presently in talks with OPEC members about capping oil production, which would raise the price back up to reasonable levels. Rogan proposes diplomatic interference with this effort (mainly involving Saudi Arabia) in order to do as much economic damage to Russia as possible. The carrot he wishes to lead the Saudis with is the proposal for surface-to-air missiles given to allied rebel groups in Syria, but could just as easily be more rockets for Saudi aircraft to target funerals in Yemen.

Consider how benevolent this is; the stated aim being to wound a sovereign nation’s economy and by extension its people, the means being to arm dangerous groups within a sovereign nation in order that they can kill more civilian and government targets.

The second recommendation is perhaps the most alarming, as it can be perceived to be a direct terror threat against the nation of Turkey and its president, Tayyip Erdogan. Rogan acknowledges that after the failed July coup orchestrated against America’s own supposed NATO ally, the country does not trust the US, and is seeking to mend relations with Russia. For a long time, the relationship between Syria and Turkey was decidedly negative, but as the war has dragged on and millions of the displaced have flooded across borders with no checks on their movement, Ankara knows that stability in Syria is in fact vital to its own national security interests, and has thus moved away from its previous position on the conflict. In response to this setback, Rogan has the following proposition:

“Here America’s golden ticket is the Kurds — specifically, U.S. armament support to Kurdish militias such as the Syrian-based YPG. At present, the U.S. carefully qualifies its support to the YPG to mollify the Turks. Erdogan fears U.S. support will enable the YPG and other Kurdish forces to destabilize Turkey’s southern frontier. And to some degree he is right. But if Erdogan wants to play us, we should play him.”

In case the severity of this is not clear, the insinuation is that if Turkey does not end rapprochement with Russia and pursue an aggressively anti-Assad agenda, the American military should arm groups it knows may conduct violent attacks against the Turkish state. Is there any way this cannot be taken as blackmail via terror, and if so how benevolent is such a proposal?

The third recommendation is to supply “humanitarian airlifts” to rebel-held areas of Syria. Rogan recollects the Bush-era airlifts to Georgia during the 2008 crisis, but there is a key difference between the two scenarios. In 2008, Georgia was a sovereign nation undergoing an incredibly complex regional dispute with breakaway provinces, but nevertheless the government there invited American assistance. This is not the case in Syria, where the government has expressed no permission for America to even enter its airspace, an international norm which the American Air Force has been violating for over a year now. In fact, in the wake of the brutal air assault on Deir el-Zour which killed 62 Syrian soldiers, President Assad has been even more strident in making its long-held case that Western powers are working hand-in-glove with ISIS. This proposal more than the other two brings the world dangerously close to a conflict that nobody wants to even entertain, as Rogan recommends escorting these “humanitarian airlifts” with “fighter patrols” who would challenge Russian air superiority. Is laying the groundwork for WWIII benevolent?

Rogan finishes his essay by explaining that the goal of these dangerous pieces of foreign policy advice is to express “that America is unwilling to cede Syria to Russia”, apparently indulging in a fantasy that America ever possessed Syria, and indeed with a staggering sense of authority that the entire nation of Syria is something which can and should be possessed by America.

This is the not the first example of this kind of rhetoric coming from mainstream Western think-tanks and foreign policy journals which are intricately tied into the workings of the US State Department, however it is one of the less varnished ones. There is not even the mask of benevolence present in these proposals; they are dangerous, lawless, and cynical. If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, she has made clear that this is the course she will take.

In a secret speech to Goldman Sachs which was revealed by Wikileaks, Clinton admitted the following regarding a no-fly zone in Syria:

“They’re getting more sophisticated thanks to Russian imports. To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defense, many of which are located in populated areas.  So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk—you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians” 

And yet, even with this understanding, Hillary Clinton maintains support for the institution of a no-fly zone. Donald Trump of course represents the antithesis of such a hazardous foreign policy, abandoning the commitments of neoconservatives and their ideology, in order to focus on the various internal problems that his country faces. Even so we cannot rely on a Trump victory, for by now we are all aware of the Clinton campaign’s ability to martial all of her friends and colleagues in the Orwellian media, as well as stoop to even more subversive means to steal an election result. We must assume the worst, and thus we must assume and anticipate President Clinton and her craven approach to geopolitics. De-constructing the myth of ‘benevolent hegemony’ is an important part of this anticipation, and writers like Rogan help with this effort in their bungling inability to bejewel the ugly reality of the Atlanticist designs upon the Middle East and indeed the wider world.

Dropping the pretense of benevolence, this is just hegemony, and when we look at its consequences not just for the suffering people of Syria, but also Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, etc. then  perhaps these outlets ought to be more accurate and deem such projects ‘malevolent hegemony’ instead.

Posted in USA, RussiaComments Off on The Revealed Cynicism of ‘Benevolent Hegemony’

A Glimpse into Jewish Guilt and Aggression

Image result for Jewish Guilt CARTOON
By Gilad Atzmon 

Some Jews were not delighted by Donald Trump’s recent reference to ‘International Bankers”. Trump declared this week that his rival Hillary Clinton is somehow “an instrument of a vast conspiracy involving scads of money and international banks”

You may note that Trump didn’t refer to Jews nor did he point out any ethnicity or religious group. However, Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, was quick to react using the twitter platform. “Trump should avoid rhetoric and tropes that historically have been used against Jews and still spur antisemitism,” Greenblatt said and then added “Let’s keep hate out of campaign.”

One may wonder at this stage why a leading American Jew sees ‘hatred’ in Trump’s critical reference to ‘International Banking’? Is it because Greenblatt knows that the International Bankers who fund Clinton’s presidential affair belong to one particular ethnic group? Is it possible that Greenblatt believes that the bankers at Goldman Sachs, along with individuals like Haim Saban and George Soros, may have one or two things in common apart from being filthy rich?

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency was also alarmed by Trump’s true observation that “This election will determine if we are a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy, but are in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system”

Once again Trump didn’t refer specifically to Jews, yet the JTA must have gathered that he had Jews in mind. The JTA probably knows something many of us may have gathered but prefer to suppress.

I guess the good news is the sudden appearance of Jewish guilt. Greenblatt and the JTA act out of guilt. They do know that international banking is a Jewish territory and that makes them feel uncomfortable.  But the tragic news is that Jewish guilt hardly leads to ethical reflection, and too often it is quick to transform into aggression.

If Greenblatt was genuinely concerned with defamation and the safety of American Jews he should have lobbied the herd of Jewish international bankers to remove themselves from American politics. But for Greenblatt and others within his tribal milieu, Jewish power is the power to silence the very discussion of Jewish power!

In practice, Greenblatt, an American Jewish leader, is telling the Republican presidential candidate which topics to avoid.

I would like to tell Greenblatt and his acolytes that this development is very dangerous to American people and to American Jews, in particular.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on A Glimpse into Jewish Guilt and Aggression

Euro-Atlanticist course fails in Bulgaria

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In Bulgaria, the country’s first direct elections in the second round of presidential elections were won by the candidate who has been called pro-Russian. General Rumen Radev won the overwhelming majority of votes.

A former chief of the Bulgarian Air Force and the presidential candidate of the Socialist Party, General Rumen Radev emphasizes his independence from both Russia and the United States. Before the second round of the elections, he said: “Until recently, I was flying a Soviet-made fighter. I am a graduate of a US military academy, but I am a citizen of Bulgaria, and Bulgaria is my main priority.”

Despite the fact that he is called the pro-Russian candidate due to his policy of lifting the anti-Russian sanctions, reality is different. Moreover, Radev supports his country gaining NATO membership and continuing close ties with the West. However, he is certainly a more advantageous president for Moscow than Tsetska Tsacheva, who represented the ruling liberals.

In Bulgaria, the president does not play a serious role. However, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced his resignation and the dissolution of the government over the defeat of their candidate. He stressed that he would be going into the opposition and that “there will no longer be any compromises.” The current president, Rosen Plevneliev, began to make quite sharp anti-Russian statements several days before the election.

It is premature to expect any major changes before the new government is formed. But many agree that relations with Moscow will actually significantly improve even if the new president does not initiate the lifting of the EU sanctions against Russia.

In addition, the socialist Radev’s victory comes alongside the victory of the socialist Dodon in Moldova and, of course, against the backdrop of the high-profile election results in the US. Taken together, all of these new elections and their results allow one to speak of impending global changes across the whole world.

Posted in BulgariaComments Off on Euro-Atlanticist course fails in Bulgaria

Syria seizes US, Zio-Nazi arms from militants


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Syria has released footage of American- and Nazi-made weapons seized by the Syrian army from Takfiri militants in the capital, Damascus.

Syria’s official news agency said Sunday that the Syrian army units had confiscated the weapons in the town of Khan al-Shih in the countryside of Damascus.

The Syrian government says the Nazi regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding the Takfiri militant groups fighting against Damascus.

On April 28, Syrian officials and locals confiscated a vehicle loaded with Nazi-manufactured weapons bound for the Takfiri Daesh terrorists in the Arab country’s southern province of Suwayda.

The vehicle, which was coming from eastern Dara’a Province, was heading to the eastern Badiya desert.

Anti-personnel landmines, RPG launcher and rounds, B9 shells, 120-mm, 80-mm, and 60-mm mortars, grenades and 23-mm machine-gun rounds were among the weapons confiscated back then.

Earlier in April, popular defense groups in Suwayda also seized a car packed with RPG rounds and other shells on their way to the Badiya desert.

Nazi regime has also been treating the wounded militants from Syria in its medical centers and hospitals. Syrian sources have frequently reported that, after receiving treatment at the Zionist hospitals, the militants return to Syria to continue their acts of sabotage and terror.

Nazi regime has spent millions of dollars for the treatment of the militants injured in fighting with Syrian government forces, documents from Zionist hospitals show.



Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syria seizes US, Zio-Nazi arms from militants

EU Is Falling into Global Loneliness Following Trump’s Victory

Adelina Marini

It was not until after the USA presidential elections that the EU began to realise that it is left on its own, despite President Barack Obama trying to say it to his European partners on numerous occasions. Donald Trump’s victory is a great opportunity for the EU to deepen its integration in the sphere of defence and security, but is this even possible today? The first reactions following the announcement of the election result bring hope, although, so far, they only show the direction, not the unity. They also demonstrate that something very big has happened, which requires going out of the usual protocol congratulations on the victory and sending a message. The axis, around which the EU needs to spin its unity is liberal democracy and the values the Union is built upon, as cliché as this might sound. It is exactly that, which makes the task difficult, however. But the first step has been made – analysing the situation.

Surprise and perhaps hope as well caused the reaction of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who directly placed all future relations between the US and Germany under condition. “Germany and America are bound by values – democracy, freedom, as well as respect for the rule of law and the dignity of the individual, regardless of their origin, skin colour, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or political views. On the basis of these values, I offer close cooperation to the future president of the United States of America, Donald Trump”. Later in her speech, Mrs Merkel states that the USA will remain a cornerstone for German foreign policy.

Her Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on the other hand, announced the awakening in the new world. “I think we will have to get used to the idea that US foreign policy will be less predictable for us and we will have to get used to the idea that the US will tend to make more decisions on its own”, said Mr Steinmeier. He sent out a message to the EU itself as well by stating that neither Germany, nor Europe can afford to be thrown off course by the election results. “We should remain a stronghold of reason and we should foster our political culture”, he continued.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon as well did not hide her disappointment with the election result. “While this is not the outcome I hoped for, it is the verdict of the American people and we must respect it. I congratulate president-elect Trump on winning the election”. She expressed hope that Mr Trump will not keep to the tone of his campaign and will be a president for everyone “in modern, multicultural America”. Nicola Sturgeon called on all those who believe in tolerance and diversity to speak loud and clear about these values.

The traditional joint statement of the presidents of the European Council Donald Tusk (Poland, EPP) and the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg, EPP), despite attempting to be composed and politically correct, showed some panicking. In it, the two leaders called for the organisation of an EU-US summit “at earliest convenience”, during which to set the course of trans-Atlantic relations for the next four years. The two of them hope that America, “whose democratic ideals have always been a beacon of hope around the globe, will continue to invest in its partnerships with friends and allies”.

A little later, Donald Tusk came out with an independent, quite more direct statement, in which he admits that the elections have brought uncertainty on the future of trans-Atlantic relations. “The events of the last months and days should be treated as a warning sign for all who believe in liberal democracy. This means that we should finally get our act together and bring back a sense of direction, bring back confidence, bring back a sense of order”, is said in the statement. The leader of the largest political group in the European Parliament Manfred Weber (Germany, EPP) put his finger in the wound by stating that it is obvious that the EU needs to take responsibility for its own future and its own interests. “We don’t have to look anymore so closely to Washington. We have to look what European interests are and defend them”, he said.

In much the same spirit was the Twitter reaction of the leader of the Liberals group in the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt. He believes that the election of Trump is a “wake up call for Europe to further unite and take charge of its own destiny”. Gianni Pittella (Italy), leader of the Socialists and Democrats group, stated that the victory of Trump opens up an opportunity for Europe to set its house in order. “There are great winds of change pushed by the losers of globalisation, and not only the poorest ones, but people who chose misogyny and racism”, was Mr Pittella’s reaction.

From NATO to a defence union?

The EU has long felt the need to take full responsibility for its own security and President Barack Obama has been trying during the full length of his presidency to explain to his European partners that it is time for them to be at least equal partners in the trans-Atlantic partnership. The EU-USA summits, which grew ever rarer over the years, were a signal for the cooling down of the trans-Atlantic partnership, ignited to red hot by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The securing of the American energy independence by the shale gas revolution, the pivoting of the US foreign policy towards the Pacific region and the unwillingness of Washington to be drawn into Ukraine or Northern Africa were clear indicators that the EU should count on itself ever more. It was, however, busy elsewhere.

During the latest EU-US summit this year in Warsaw, within the framework of the NATO summit, President Obama, fully aware of the situation in his homeland for the election campaign was already peaking, made it perfectly clear that it may be earlier than we all expected or wanted that the EU will have to take its destiny in its own hands. His arguments, again, were based on democracy. “Every member of the EU is a democracy.  No EU country has ever raised arms against another.  An integrated Europe is one of the greatest political and economic achievements of modern times, and this is an achievement that has to be preserved”. “The world needs a strong, prosperous, democratic and united Europe”, continued Mr Obama.

The reply of President Donald Tusk revealed that the EU is not ready. At this same summit the former Polish prime minister insisted that the EU still needs the USA for its security and democratic foundations. “I remember when 27 years ago, it was in my hometown of Gdańsk, members of Solidarity welcomed George Bush-senior outside the famous gate of the Gdańsk shipyard. We were chanting: “Nie ma wolności bez solidarności” that means “There is no freedom without solidarity”. We already knew then, that our newly-gained freedom would require defence and guarantees, which − in a global dimension − implied the closest possible cooperation between Europe and the United States. Today, we can repeat that phrase with only a small change; it has preserved its meaning. ‘There is no freedom in Europe without Atlantic solidarity.’”

This was back in July. In the beginning of November, the shock by the election of Donald Trump starts to build confidence in the EU that it can be an independent superpower. It is the exact wording that was used by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini (Italy, Socialists and Democrats) just a day after Mr Trump’s victory. In her annual speech in front of the European Defence Agency, she stated that the EU hides some true potential of becoming a superpower. “Europe and Europeans have the responsibility, and also the opportunity, especially in these days we see it very clearly, to find our own way to security, to shape the answers to very difficult questions in a world where there is very few things, if any, we can take for granted”, she said.

It is somehow just in time, and perhaps just a bit late, that Mrs Mogherini presented the new global strategy of the Union. This happened in an exceedingly inopportune moment – literally days after the referendum in Great Britain, at which British citizens chose to Brexit and that after a not less ugly and manipulative campaign than the one in the USA. Facing MEPs of the EP’s Foreign Affairs Committee and representatives of national parliaments, Federica Mogherini attempted to explain that the need for deepening of integration in the sphere of defence and security is not a result of the Brexit, but is a priority to citizens.

The new strategy envisages a deepening of integration in the defence and security sphere, which Germany and France named a “defence union”. So far, the obstacle to the realisation of some bolder ideas was NATO. Many EU members, which are also members of NATO, are reserved towards such ideas for they believe that they will duplicate the functions of the Alliance. At the NATO summit in July, however, President Obama gave a carte blanche to Europeans to continue forward. The joint declaration of the EU and NATO says that, considering the common challenges, a stronger NATO and a stronger EU will strengthen each other.

Expressly charted out in the declaration is the development of “coherent, complementary and interoperable defence capabilities of EU Member States and NATO Allies”. It also envisages the facilitation of a stronger defence industry and more serious research and development activities in the field of defence in Europe and on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Part of this declaration could prove a problem, for during his campaign Donald Trump demonstrated contempt towards NATO. He believes the Alliance is outdated, which will make cooperation between Washington and the EU quite a bit more difficult regarding the exchange of information because of the lack of trust towards the president-elect.

If he keeps the same vision towards NATO, it could further untie the EU’s hands in continuing to build its own defence without having to fear Washington’s reaction. This could, however, prove more difficult today, when in the EU Donald Trump and his anti-establishment policy have a growing number of followers. Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, who all the way back during the election campaign announced his support for Trump, was among the first to congratulate him on his victory. Viktor Orbán even glorified it as a victory of true democracy over liberal non-democracy. This seems to be a new chorus, for two years ago he announced his intention to building an illiberal regime, because he believes that liberal democracy has failed, never minding the fact that it is because of it that he came to power. In Poland, although no official course against liberal democracy has been announced, government actions are aimed in the exact same direction. There are problems with democracy elsewhere in the Union as well.

This is a very serious problem, which will hobble the EU in its attempts to consolidate as an island of liberal democracy and peace. It looks like another obstacle will be Great Britain, which, although it is almost entirely out of the EU, has stated firmly that it is against the plans of the EU to build a defence union. London has threatened to block these plans to the last possible minute. To Theresa May’s government, this is a serious leverage instrument for the winning of more concessions during the exit negotiations of Great Britain. The ruling of the High Court in London of last week, however, shows that those negotiations might not start soon. And this in turn means that the EU plans for a defence union might run late and become even more impossible with the complication of the global atmosphere.

The Union is late as it is. It failed to offer an adequate reply to the Russian aggression in Ukraine, the Middle East, or Northern Africa. The EU turned out to be completely incapable of pushing through even its own policy regarding the migrant and refugee crisis. It will not get any easier over the next few years, just more difficult, as was admitted by the German foreign minister himself as well. Following the US elections, the EU woke up in a world where global balance has already been tipped towards authoritarian regimes. Putin, Erdoğan, and China are no longer global marginals. Their crusade towards a new illiberal world order will be led by the mightiest economic and military power in the world. In order to survive in this ever more hostile environment the EU will need much more than just admitting that the situation is difficult.

Donald Tusk put his finger on the problem all the way back in July, when at the EU-USA summit he charted the boundaries of the new world order. “All those who value our fundamental principles of freedom, the rule of law, democracy, human and civil rights, must act in favour of this cooperation. […]We know, however, that besides  the old world and the new world, there is also a world apart, with different values and different strategic aims. And it has allies, also in the USA, in Europe, and here in Poland. […] We have been building liberal democracy with determination on both sides of the Atlantic. We have followed the lessons of the same scholars, we have been inspired by the same political philosophies. We must now protect this heritage, both rich and indeed surprisingly fresh”.

EC President Jean-Claude Juncker made a speech in a similar spirit back then. “The United States, NATO, and the European Union are central pillars of the global order.  We complement each other, and together provide peace and stability in Europe, our neighbourhood, and beyond”. Alas, by all accounts the US is dropping out of the equation, and without the US NATO is dropping out as well. So the EU, together with several more countries around the world like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan will remain the only havens of liberal democracy. The good news is that the Union is fully aware of the new situation. Thus, it is as early as this Sunday that ministers of foreign affairs will gather for an informal meeting in Brussels to discuss the new defence plans, fully aware of the urgency of the matter. On Monday, the ministers will discuss in detail Federica Mogherini’s action plan for the implementation of the global strategy. Those meetings will show the state of unity in the EU.

In order to be effective, however, the EU must first of all cleanse itself from the enclaves of illiberal democracy, which are weakening and undermining it. It is now more than ever that determination is needed to deal with this problem, especially after the first reactions, following Trump’s election, showing clearly that the magic key is exactly in liberal democracy and Western values.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

Posted in EuropeComments Off on EU Is Falling into Global Loneliness Following Trump’s Victory

فوكوياما يراجع نظريته حول نهاية التاريخ


Francis Fukuyama

مراجعة من إعداد منذر هنداوي

لمقالة لفرانسيس فوكوياما في جريدة الفاينانشال تايمز بعنوان “أمريكا بمواجهة العالم. و اتمنى ان يتاح الاطلاع عليها مترجمة بالكامل الى اللغة العربية علها تساعد في فهم صعود دونالد ترامب و اليمين عموما.

كتب فرانسيس فوكوياما مقالته الشهيرة حول “نهاية التاريخ”  عام ١٩٨٩. كان متفائلاً بسقوط جدار برلين و تفكك المعسكر الاشتراكي و ما تلاه لاحقا من تفكك الاتحاد السوڤياتي. نهاية التاريخ لا تعني له نهاية العالم، بل نهاية الصراع الأيديولوجي الذي طبع العالم حتى أواخر القرن العشرين. و قد انتهى الصراع، حسب رأيه، بانتصار الليبرالية الديموقراطية كنظام حكم عالمي على الاشتراكية كأيديولوجية منافسة.

لكن التاريخ لم ينته، والصراع الأيديولوجي يتجدد و يأخذ مضموناً جديداً. يرى فوكوياما أن صراعاً جديدا في معاقل الدول الليبرالية قد خرج إلى السطح بعد أن بقي يتفاعل خلال العقدين الماضيين. فقد أدت العولمة الى بطالة كبيرة في عدد كبير من المدن الصغيرة و الارياف في أمريكا بينما انتعشت المدن الكبيرة بفعل العولمة التي أدت الى استحواذ المدن الكبيرة على مراكز المال و الاعمال. صناعات السيارات و الإليكترونيات و غيرها انتقلت من المدن الصغيرة في امريكا الى الصين و المكسيك و غيرها. شركة آبل مثلاً تصنع ملايين الموبايلات في الصين خلال عدة أسابيع لتبيع منتجاتها في أمريكا، بينما كان هذا الانتاج يتم قبل العولمة في تلك المدن الأمريكية الصغيرة. هذا ادى إلى ان الليبرالية التي فتحت أبواب العولمة عززت من مكاسب المدن الكبيرة على حساب الارياف و المدن الصغيرة.

 مسألة أخرى يطرحها فوكوياما وهي تمركز المتعلمين ذوي الكفاءات الارفع في المدن الكبرى. هذا أعطى الصراع وجهاً جديداً بين مدن كبيرة ارقى تعليما، و أطراف مهمشة اقل تعليما. الريف و المدن و الولايات الصغيرة وجدوا في خطاب ترامب الشعبوي القومي، و المؤيد لسياسة الحماية ضد المنافسة التجارية مع العالم الخارجي، ضالتهم المفقودة للتعبير عن غضبهم من فقدان أعمالهم و للوقوف في وجه النخب السياسية المتحكمة بمصيرهم. خطاب ترامب في كل حملته كان ضد هذه النخب في كلا الحزبين المتحكمين بالسياسة في امريكا.

و الحال نفسه في بريطانيا التي صوتت للخروج من الاتحاد الأوربي. المصوتون لصالح الخروج كانوا من الأطراف، و هم أكبر الخاسرين من العولمة، بينما معظم سكان لندن كانوا ضد هذا الانفصال لدرجة ان مطالبات شعبية واسعة في لندن طالبت بانفصال لندن عن بريطانيا بعد ذلك الاستفتاء.  الأمر نفسه يحصل في فرنسا فالناخبون في المدن الصغيرة و الارياف الذين كانوا ينتخبون تلقائيا الحزب الشيوعي و الاشتراكي يتحولون الآن الى اليمين العنصري المعادي للعولمة و للاجانب.

في روسيا و في تركيا تتمركز شعبية بوتين و وأردوغان كذلك في الارياف و المدن الصغيرة الأقل تعليما. و هذا ينطبق على عدد آخر من الدول الغربية.

و يخلص الكاتب إلى أن صراعاً جديداً يحصل بين طبقتين تتمايزان حسب مستوى التعليم؛ طبقة من النخب الأكثر تعلماً و ثروة تتمركز في المدن الكبيرة. و تمثل هذه الطبقة النخب السياسية الحاكمة و المؤيدة لليبرالية و العولمة، و طبقة أقل تعليما تتمركز في المدن الصغيرة و الارياف و معادية للنخب السياسية الحاكمة. و يعد انتصار ترامب انتصارا ضد هذه النخب الحاكمة. بعبارة أخرى الليبرالية الديموقراطية انقسمت إلى ديموقراطية معادية للعولمة أتت بترامب، و في مواجهتها ليبرالية داعمة للعولمة و لا تستطيع تقبل نتائج الانتخابات الديموقراطية.

لكن الى اين سينتهي هذا الصراع. دول العالم لها مصالحها. و امريكا لا تستطيع فرض ارادتها كما تريد على العالم. فإما ان يتراجع ترامب عن سياساته ضد العولمة  وهذا من الصعب التكهن به، و إما أن يفرض فعلاً ضرائب ضد شركاء امريكا مما سيدفع هؤلاء الشركاء إلى الرد بالمثل و فتح باب حرب الحماية الجمركية. و هذا سيضع العالم أمام أزمات اقتصادية تتشابه مع المقدمات التي أدت إلى الازمة الاقتصادية الكبرى عالم ١٩٢٩ والتي كانت من أحد أسباب الحرب العالمية الثانية.

فهل يقود هذا إلى حرب عالمية ثالثة؟

للإجابة على هذا السؤال يرجح فوكوياما أن سياسة ترامب تميل إلى العزلة أكثر من ميلها إلى الحرب و الى أنه قد يفكر بطريقة عملية و خاصة فيما يتعلق بالصراع في سورية.

و لكن يبقى فهم الصراع الذي يجتاح الغرب و كثيراً من دول العالم مفتاح فهم مستقبل هذا العالم. و أول ما ينبغي فهمه ترافق هذا الصراع مع قومية شعبوية تتشابه بكثير من الصفات مع ما ساد في عشرينيات و ثلاثينيات القرن الماضي في الغرب.

Posted in USA, ArabicComments Off on فوكوياما يراجع نظريته حول نهاية التاريخ

Bulgaria in Turmoil after PM Quits over New Pro-Russia President


(AFP) – EU member Bulgaria faced an uncertain future on Monday after centre-right Prime Minister Boyko Borisov quit following the crushing defeat of his presidential nominee at the hands of a Moscow-friendly general backed by the Socialist opposition.

Critics fear the surprise win could tilt ex-communist Bulgaria, which has long walked a tightrope between Moscow and Brussels, towards Russia’s orbit — a trend seen across eastern and central Europe amid rising euroscepticism.

Nearby Moldova also looked set to elect a pro-Russian president on Sunday.

“The results clearly show that the ruling coalition no longer holds the majority,” the premier, who was re-elected in 2014 for a second time, said on Sunday evening.

“I apologise to those who supported us. I thought I was doing the right thing.”

The announcement came shortly after projections showed that ex-airforce chief and political novice Rumen Radev had swept close to 60 percent of ballots. Borisov’s nominee ex-parliament speaker Tsetska Tsacheva obtained just over 35 percent, in what political analysts calls a “catastrophic defeat”.

“It’s a victory for all Bulgarian people. Democracy has beaten apathy and fear today,” Radev told state TV on Sunday evening.

The straight-laced Tsacheva meanwhile failed to sway voters disgruntled over the government’s perceived failure to tackle rampant corruption and poverty in the European Union’s poorest member state.

Gallup director Parvan Simeonov told AFP the outcome was a “clear protest vote”.

Despite promised reforms, graft and poverty remain rife in the EU’s poorest member state, while public anger has also grown over thousands of migrants currently stranded in Bulgaria.

“Bulgaria needs a new face, someone who defends national interests instead of always saying ‘Yes’ to the European Union and the United States,” businessman and Sofia resident Assen Dragov, 39, told AFP Sunday.

The Bulgarian president’s role is largely ceremonial but the incumbent is nonetheless a respected figure and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

– ‘Seek dialogue’ with Russia –

Radev is due to take office on January 22 for a five-year term. His first job will likely be to call early elections in spring next year, after Borisov said Sunday he would refuse to form an interim government.

Although GERB remains the country’s top political force, opinion polls indicate it will not be able to obtain an outright majority.

National security and preventing a new migrant influx were key points of Radev’s campaign, which saw the general gaining confidence and projecting himself as a fierce critic of the conservative status-quo.

His clear support for the lifting of EU sanctions on Russia over Ukraine and ambivalent statements about the EU and NATO have prompted analysts to speculate that he could pursue closer ties with Moscow.

“General Radev’s victory represents the unfolding of a pro-Russian scenario in Bulgaria so that the country supports Russian interests in the EU and NATO,” political expert Antoniy Galabov told AFP.

In his victory speech, Radev reiterated his support for scrapping the sanctions and also praised new US president-elect Donald Trump for “seeking more dialogue” with President Vladimir Putin.

“This gives a lot of hope for reducing (the risk) of confrontation, particularly in Syria” where Russia and the US are backing opposite sides in a bloody civil war, Radev said.

His victory signals a change of direction from outgoing President Rosen Plevneliev, a strong critic of Moscow.

Plevneliev warned Sunday that Russia was trying to “destabilise Europe” by financing anti-EU ultra-nationalists in Balkan states including in Bulgaria.

Posted in Europe, BulgariaComments Off on Bulgaria in Turmoil after PM Quits over New Pro-Russia President

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