Better Earth

Preparing for the worst: Russian and NATO military exercises making war in Europe more likely?

© AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
NATO drills in Europe, August 2015
Over the last 18 months, against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the relationship between Russia and the West has deteriorated considerably. One aspect of the confrontation, as previously documented by the ELN, has been a game of Russian-instigated dangerous brinkmanship which has resulted in many serious close military encounters between the forces of Russia and NATO and its partners over the last 15 months. Another aspect, however has been the increased scope and size of the military exercises conducted by both Russia and by NATO and its partners in the Euro-Atlantic area since the Ukraine crisis began. To assist the public and wider policy community in understanding the realities of this new and dangerous security environment in Europe, the ELN has prepared a short policy brief and two interactive maps presenting in detail the anatomy of two recent, large scale military exercises. The two exercises profiled are:
  • A Russian 'snap exercise' conducted in March 2015, which brought together 80,000 military personnel.
  • The NATO 'Allied Shield' exercise conducted in June 2015, which brought under one framework four distinct exercises taking place along the Eastern flank of the Alliance, totalling 15,000 personnel from 19 Members states and three partner states.

Comment: Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev said on Tuesday:
The United States and NATO are increasing their military presence in European states neighbouring Russia. Hotbeds of military tension are being created near our border. There have been continuous attempts at bringing anti-Russian political regimes to power in former Soviet states.
This is what Russia has to deal with. In August alone Russia carried out 79 military exercises, focusing on Central Asia. More are scheduled for September, including joint drills with other CSTO members (Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan).


Cult

US created ISIS to be a tool for overthrowing Syria's President Assad - leaked Pentagon report


Comment: Though this commentary was written at the time the Pentagon report was leaked, the analysis is as relevant today. ISIS has gone from strength to strength in a manner that could only be possible with massive, covert support.


From the first sudden, and quite dramatic, appearance of the fanatical Islamic group known as ISIS which was largely unheard of until a year ago, on the world's stage and which promptly replaced the worn out and tired al Qaeda as the world's terrorist bogeyman, we suggested that the "straight to beheading YouTube clip" purpose behind the Saudi Arabia-funded Islamic State was a simple one: use the Jihadists as the vehicle of choice to achieve a political goal: depose of Syria's president Assad, who for years has stood in the way of a critical Qatari natural gas pipeline, one which could dethrone Russia as Europe's dominant - and belligerent - source of energy, reaching an interim climax with the unsuccessful Mediterranean Sea military build up of 2013, which nearly resulted in quasi-world war.

The narrative and the plotline were so transparent, even Russia saw right through them. Recall from September of last year:
If the West bombs Islamic State militants in Syria without consulting Damascus, LiveLeak reports that the anti-ISIS alliance may use the occasion to launch airstrikes against President Bashar Assad's forces, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Clearly comprehending that Obama's new strategy against ISIS in Syria is all about pushing the Qatar pipeline through (as was the impetus behind the 2013 intervention push), Russia is pushing back noting that the it is using ISIS as a pretext for bombing Syrian government forces and warning that "such a development would lead to a huge escalation of conflict in the Middle East and North Africa."
But it's one thing to speculate; it's something entirely different to have hard proof.

And while speculation was rife that just like the CIA-funded al Qaeda had been used as a facade by the US to achieve its own geopolitical and national interests over the past two decades, so ISIS was nothing more than al Qaeda 2.0, there was no actual evidence of just this.

That may all have changed now when a declassified secret US government document obtained by the public interest law firm, Judicial Watch, shows that Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups to topple Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad.

According to investigative reporter Nafeez Ahmed in Medium, the "leaked document reveals that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, despite anticipating that doing so could lead to the emergence of an 'Islamic State' in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
According to the newly declassified US document, the Pentagon foresaw the likely rise of the 'Islamic State' as a direct consequence of the strategy, but described this outcome as a strategic opportunity to "isolate the Syrian regime."
And not just that: as we reported last week, now that ISIS is running around the middle east, cutting people's heads of in 1080p quality and Hollywood-quality (perhaps literally) video, the US has a credible justification to sell billions worth of modern, sophisticated weapons in the region in order to "modernize" and "replenish" the weapons of such US allies as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iraq.

Chess

Russian-American chess grandmaster: Vladimir Putin is America's reluctant foe

Editorial introduction
Lev Alburt will celebrate his 70th birthday in August. His life was divided in two: the first half passed in the Soviet Union, the second is going on in the USA. In his first homeland, the Odessian GM achieved many successes: he was 3-time Ukrainian Champion, a winner and a prize-winner of numerous international competitions, a repeated participant of the USSR Championship finals which were by then the strongest tournaments in the world. In 1979, Alburt, as the saying went, "chose freedom", deciding not to come back from abroad. He has settled down in New York city and has been living there from then on.

As Alburt moved to the USA, he became one of the top American Grandmasters, winning the U.S. Championship three times and representing this country many times at the Olympiads. He is still into chess, being not only a successful coach but also a prolific writer. He is the author of many chess books on various topics, which are being sold in prestigious American and European book shops and could occupy nearly a bookshelf if taken together.

Apart from that, Albert has devoted a lot of his time to fighting Soviet communism. He spent his first-earned US money on a trip to Washington D.C. for the Sakharov Hearings. Whenever he got a chance, he provided his chess colleagues coming to the West with anti-Soviet literature. He participated in different rallies and forums, knew Bukowski and Amalrik, was in correspondence with Solzhenitsyn. He was also a member of organizations that made no secret of their intentions to change the Soviet regime.

Dramatic acceleration of events in his former country the USSR, resulting in its collapse, was quite unexpected for Alburt as well as for many others. These days, 25 years after that sharp turn of history, Lev Alburt is still interested in the world political situation. The fate of his former country still worries him, as well as, of course, the fate of his new homeland. We are presenting the Grand Master's point of view on the matters still very important to him.

Comment: Like Julius Caesar dealing with Pompey and the Optimates before the Civil War, Putin is giving the West every opportunity to make the rational, better choice. But they refuse at every new opportunity. This status quo can only continue for so long...

See also:

Putin's phone call to Obama and its significance

Vladimir Putin's historic defiance of the Anglo-American Axis and their New World 'Order'


Eye 1

How covert agents infiltrate the internet to manipulate, deceive, and destroy reputations

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A page from a GCHQ top secret document prepared by its secretive JTRIG unit
One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It's time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.

Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about "dirty trick" tactics used by GCHQ's previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking "Five Eyes" alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled "The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations."

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse "hacktivists" of using, the use of "honey traps" (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

Quenelle - Golden

If Russia plays by the West's rules it will lose

© AFP 2015/ Filippo Monteforte
In a recent op-ed for Czech online newspaper Nova Republika Slovak-Ukrainian politician, writer and political analyst Sergei Chelemendik suggested that it's time for Russia to stop playing the game of geopolitics according to the rules established by the West.

The writer began his piece by noting that "today there is an elementary truth that is being ignored by philosophers in both Russia and Europe: that history gains a new impetus for development when one of its participants puts forth new rules of the [geopolitical] game, forces the rest to play according to these rules, and begins to emerge victorious, using these rules."

Looking to history for examples, Chelemendik recalled that "this is how all the great conquerors and empires acted, long before the globalists and neoconservatives and even before Genghis Khan."

Comment: An ideology of sorts is actually available to Russia: Eurasianism, as expounded by Aleksandr Dugin and others. We get hints of it from time to time in official Russian statements - "humanitarian free trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok", "moving to a multipolar world", and "many civilizations, not one global hegemon".

But the likely reason why it has not been fully embraced as 'Russia's explicit ideology, complete with 10-step program' is because Russians have learned the hard way that committing to ideology can lock you into a cul-de-sac, whereas their opponent (Washington), while it has mastered an ideology for world revolution on its terms ('freedom and democracy'), behind that mask retains the freedom to act as it pleases.


Megaphone

Mass shootings and gun control in the U.S.: The problem is not gun laws, but a society dripping in fear, insecurity, anger and violence

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© Chris Keane / Reuters
People gather to pay respects at a memorial outside of the offices for WDBJ7 in Roanoke, Virginia, August 26, 2015.
The problem in the US is much deeper than simply access to weapons, the whole society is dripping with fear, with violence, people are afraid of each other and there is a lot of insecurity, journalist and political analyst Caleb Maupin, told RT.

RT: A TV crew was shot dead in Virginia in the US during a live interview. It is another tragic shooting which has reignited the debate over gun control in the US. But in the past the pro-gun lobby always seemed to win through - will this be any different?

Caleb Maupin: US media often portrays kind of a false image of US society, and a lot of people around the world are led to believe that the US is some kind of paradise in which the streets are paved with iPads and everyone lives in prosperity. But for a few moments on live television people [on Wednesday] saw what the US is really like. This is a society dripping with fear, with violence and people walk around really upset and afraid of each other and there is a lot of insecurity.

Of course there is going to be a debate about gun control following this, but the issue is obviously something deeper than that, because there are many countries around the world where people are heavily armed, but they don't feel a need to kill each other and there are not these kinds of mass shootings we see routinely happening here in the US. The problem is much deeper than simply access to weapons.

Comment: To expand upon Caleb Maupin's excellent analysis, we have a society in the U.S. set up by psychopaths in power that forces us to be at each other's throats to survive a system set up by those same psychopaths. We should all be gathering together to remove them from power to eliminate the horrible system which terrorizes us all, yet we're too busy fighting against each other to notice the big picture. As long as that's case, the Powers That Be will be happy to sit idly by while we slaughter each other.


Eye 2

U.S. puppet state Saudi Arabia and their psychopathic genocide in Yemen

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© Khaled Abdullah / Reuters
Blanketed by its wealth and protected by political alliances, Saudi Arabia has covertly run and promoted a new movement in the Middle East: religious eugenics, under the false pretense of opposing the rise of Iran. From Syria to Bahrain and Yemen the evidence is overwhelming.

Earlier this August, the Red Cross added its voice to those of other humanitarian and rights groups in its condemnation of Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, lifting the lid on Riyadh's little house of horrors in southern Arabia.

In no uncertain terms Peter Maurer, the head of the international Red Cross told reporters he had seldom witnessed such degree of devastation. He said: "Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years ... The images I have from Sanaa and Aden remind of what I have seen in Syria."

He stressed "the firepower with which this war is fought on the ground and in the air is causing more suffering than in other societies, which are stronger and where infrastructures are better off and people are wealthier and have reserves and can escape."

A country in ruins, Yemen is also a nation in permanent mourning, as every day its people are relentlessly slain - casualties of a violent and murderous colonial war - the latest victims of Riyadh's expansionist military campaign in the Middle East.

Recycle

The rotting corpse of Minsk 2.0

The Minsk-2 ceasefire agreement is dead but no one wants to bury the rotting corpse. Since it was signed in February of this year the Donbas governments and Russia have bent over backward to comply with the terms of that agreement hoping against hope that the Kiev junta would do the same. They hoped in vain.

Poroshenko and his fascist allies instead have refused to change the constitution to accommodate the concerns of the Donbas republics, have tried to suppress the Communist Party and other parties in opposition, have refused to withdraw heavy weaponry from the line of contact, have maintained increasingly heavy artillery attacks on the civilian populations and areas and cut off routes for essential foodstuffs, medical aid and technical equipment. Rather than enjoying a ceasefire, the peoples of the Donbas are under a state of siege.

Poroshenko openly calls for a military solution to the crisis and has increased the draft in the west. The NATO alliance continues to pour in its forces disguised as "advisers" and "mercenaries" and puts additional pressure on Russia with multiple military exercises from the Baltic to Bulgaria, where more tanks have been recently dispatched to "send Russia a message."

Comment: Russia and Donbass have played the game of geopolitics well, despite the carnage and massive war crimes committed by Kiev and NATO against them. Knowing full well that peace was the last thing Kiev/NATO wanted (despite lip service to the contrary), Russia not only drafted all the important portions of the Minsk agreements to show that they were fully committed to a rational, peaceful resolution to the conflict; Donbass fully complied with their end of the bargain.

So when the agreements inevitably fail, it will be demonstrably Kiev's failure. What then? It looks like DPR and LPR haven't given up their wish to join the Russian Federation:
In late autumn, the integration of the two Novorossiya republics, the DPR and LPR, into the structure of Russia will reach a qualitatively new level: it is expected that after a month, after holding local elections to the government of Novorossiya, a referendum will be carried out which will put forth the question of the DPR and LPR joining the Russian Federation.
Moscow has consistently stated its wish that DPR and LPR remain part of Ukraine, albeit as semi-autonomous regions. Will that change? Or will the people's will have some effect on the so-far intransigent Kiev 'government'?


Eye 2

The plague of American authoritarianism

© Unknown
Authoritarianism in the American collective psyche and in what might be called traditional narratives of historical memory is always viewed as existing elsewhere. Viewed as an alien and demagogic political system, it is primarily understood as a mode of governance associated with the dictatorships in Latin America in the 1970s and, of course, in its most vile extremes, with Hitler's poisonous Nazi rule and Mussolini's fascist state in the 1930s and 1940s. These were and are societies that idealized war, soldiers, nationalism, militarism, political certainty, fallen warriors, racial cleansing, and a dogmatic allegiance to the homeland.[i]


Comment: Sounds familiar:

Education and the media were the propaganda tools of authoritarianism, merging fascist and religious symbols with the language of God, family, and country, and were integral to promoting servility and conformity among the populace. This script is well known to the American public and it has been played out in films, popular culture, museums, the mainstream media, and other cultural apparatuses. Historical memory that posits the threat of the return of an updated authoritarianism turns the potential threat of the return of authoritarianism into dead memory. Hence, any totalitarian mode of governance is now treated as a relic of a sealed past that bears no relationship to the present. The need to retell the story of totalitarianism becomes a frozen lesson in history rather than a narrative necessary to understanding the present.

Comment: Totalitarianism and the police state have already arrived in America and it's not just the overtly crazy Republican presidential candidates that are driving it; the more covert Democrats have been driving it under the Obama regime for the past 8 years. It doesn't look the same as the totalitarianism of the past, but the results are the same: the destruction of freedom, justice, and the concern for the well-being of our fellow humans. With psychopaths in power, the names change, but the contempt for humanity and human decency remains the same. Unfortunately, history appears to be repeating itself and it looks like we're in for a bumpy ride.

For more information on the subject of psychopaths in power, read Political Ponerology:

© Red Pill Press



USA

We are the government: Tactics for taking down the police state

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© JPL Designs / Shutterstock.com
The people have the power, all we have to do is awaken that power in the people. The people are unaware. They're not educated to realize that they have power. The system is so geared that everyone believes the government will fix everything. We are the government."—John Lennon
Saddled with a corporate media that marches in lockstep with the government, elected officials who dance to the tune of their corporate benefactors, and a court system that serves to maintain order rather than mete out justice, Americans often feel as if they have no voice, no authority and no recourse when it comes to holding government officials accountable and combatting rampant corruption and injustice.

We're impotent in the face of SWAT teams that break down doors and leave toddlers scarred for life. We're helpless to prevent police shootings that leave unarmed citizens dead for no other reason than the police officer involved felt "threatened." We shrug dismissively over the plight of fellow citizens who have their heads cracked, their bodies broken and their rights violated for failing to jump to attention when a police officer issues an order. And we fail to care about the thousands of individuals who have been punished with extreme sentences for nonviolent offenses and are forced to spend their lives as modern-day slaves in bondage to private prisons and the profit-driven corporations they serve.

Make no mistake about it: virtually anything and everything is a crime nowadays (feeding the birds, growing vegetables in your front yard, etc.) to such an extent that if a prosecutor, police officer and judge were so inclined, you could be locked up for any inane reason.

This is tyranny dressed up in the official garb of the police state. It is the self-righteous, heavy-handed arm of the law being used as a decoy to divert your attention to the so-called criminals in your midst (the fisherman who threw back small fish into the ocean, the mother who let her child walk to the playground alone, the pastor holding Bible studies in his backyard) so that you don't focus on the criminal behavior being perpetrated by the government (bribery, cronyism, electoral fraud, slush funds, graft, pork, theft, and on and on).

In the face of such abject injustice, outright corruption and overt inequality, it's hard to feel empowered to believe the average citizen can make a difference. It's hard to persuade anyone to stand against tyranny when all you can promise them as a reward is persecution, prosecution and a one-way trip to the morgue. And when the outcome seems to be a foregone conclusion—the government always wins—it can seem pointless, even foolhardy, to dare to challenge the system. As such, it's far easier to buy into the political process, even though elections amount to nothing of consequence.

There are also those who subscribe to the notion that an armed revolution is the only thing that will save America. These armed resistors are making themselves easy targets and will be the first to be taken down by militarized police who are trained to kill and armed to the teeth with every kind of weapon imaginable, from grenade launchers and sniper rifles to armored vehicles and Black Hawk helicopters.

So how do you not only push back against the police state's bureaucracy, corruption and cruelty but also launch a counterrevolution aimed at reclaiming control over the government using nonviolent means?