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Mon, 25 Jul 2016
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Former defense secretary Robert Gates: Republicans' understanding of national security issues would embarrass a middle schooler

© AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski
Robert Gates, a former CIA director who served as Pentagon chief under both President Obama and his Republican predecessor George W. Bush
Robert Gates, a Republican stalwart and former US defence secretary who served under eight presidents, has derided the party's election candidates for a grasp of national security issues that "would embarrass a middle schooler".

An ex-CIA director who first joined the White House under Richard Nixon, Gates joked that if frontrunner Donald Trump wins the presidency, he would emigrate to Canada. He condemned the media for failing to challenge candidates from both parties on promises he believes are unaffordable, illegal or unconstitutional.

"The level of dialogue on national security issues would embarrass a middle schooler," Gates said of the Republican contenders at a Politico Playbook event in Washington on Monday. "People are out there making threats and promises that are totally unrealistic, totally unattainable. Either they really believe what they're saying or they're cynical and opportunistic and, in a way, you hope it's the latter, because God forbid they actually believe some of the things that they're saying."

Gates is among Republican elders dismayed by the way this year's campaign is unfolding, with establishment figures such as Jeb Bush, whose father he served as director of central intelligence, failing to gain traction against mavericks with unusual prescriptions for keeping America safe.

Comment: While Gates may be stirring the pot to get a little extra publicity to help sell his new book, what he's saying about the Republican candidates is not wrong. Donald Trump's campaign is the one that gets the most attention for the inflammatory statements and crude level of communication, but the entire discourse in political circles is truly horrific:


Rocket

Iran warns US warship to leave area before starting military exercise

© Stringer Iran / Reuters
Iran has warned a US warship that it should leave an area in the Sea of Oman, where the Iranian navy is holding a major military exercise.

After the Islamic Republic's navy warned the vessel it quickly left the area, according to Tasnim news agency.

The tactical phase of the Velayat-94 war games kicked off Wednesday in a 3 million-square kilometer area of the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, the Tasnim news agency reported. Tehran is testing its submarines, destroyers and coastal missile batteries as well as communications and electronic warfare stations.

"The maneuvers aim to show Iranian forces' strength both in ensuring security on the seas and in defending the country's sea borders in the Hormuz Strait, the Sea of Oman and the north of the Indian Ocean," Rear-Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

The drill comes shortly after the successful resolution of a diplomatic conflict between the US and Iran over two US Navy boats, which entered Iranian territorial waters and were detained by the Revolutionary Guards' navy.

The 10 American sailors were briefly released as Tehran confirmed that a navigational error was to blame for the incident.

Red Flag

Poland's new ultra-national government is double trouble for EU and Russia

© REUTERS/ Francois Lenoir
Poland's new ultra-nationalist government is sharpening the European Union's internal problems. Just as EU leaders are warning that the bloc is in danger of collapse from internal tensions, the ascendant Eurosceptic Poles are pushing contradictions to the limits. In an attempt to ease the EU strain, the US-led NATO alliance is being called upon to mollify Poland's anti-EU government. However, in mitigating the EU's «Poland problem», the consequence will mean more NATO aggression towards Russia.

When Poland's new President Andrzej Duda was received in Brussels this week there was a palpable sense of strained relations with the 28-member EU bloc. The EU announced that it was going ahead with a formal inquiry into fresh laws enacted earlier this month by the ruling Justice and Law (PiS) party. The party came to power in Polish elections last October on a platform of anti-EU rhetoric and socially conservative policies, propelled by Poland's largely Catholic electorate.

The new Polish laws in question allow Duda's government to sack or appoint senior managers of the country's publicly owned media networks and also to weaken the constitutional court. The latter is seen as a move towards giving the ruling party more power to enact its brand of conservative policies. The EU formal probe into Poland's new laws will determine if they contravene the bloc's «democratic standards». More Brussels-Warsaw confrontation is on the way.

Bomb

22 dead, over 100 wounded in ISIS-claimed double-bombing in Homs, Syria

At least 22 people have been killed and over a hundred wounded in two terrorist blasts in a residential area of the Syrian city of Homs, state TV reported. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.

According to provincial Governor Talal al-Barazi, two explosions occurred with a difference of a few minutes in the residential area of Al-Zahra. He said at first a car stuffed with explosives was blown up, parked in a densely populated quarter, then almost on the same spot a suicide bomber blew himself up.

Barazi said "the aim of the terrorists was the checkpoint of the Syrian security forces." He added that "among the dead there were several on duty policemen at the checkpoint, but most of the victims are civilians."

The explosions have caused damage to residential buildings and infrastructure of the neighborhood, SANA correspondent reported.

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has claimed responsibility for the attack. According to Reuters, the terrorist group said in an online statement that one of its fighters drove a car loaded with explosives to a security checkpoint in the Al-Zahra neighborhood and blew himself up.

Late last month two terrorist attacks hit the Al-Zahra area, killing 19 civilians and injuring over 40.


Comment: In the Western narrative about 'the war in Syria', Homs is being fought over by the Syrian Arab Army (the state forces loyal to Assad) and the Free Syrian Army.

ISIS is nowhere in sight.

And yet they got into this city in western Syria and set off two massive car bombs.

How else could they have done this if not with the help of the 'moderate' FSA?


Propaganda

UK rag The Telegraph: 'US intelligence to conduct EU-wide investigation into Russian spies infiltrating European organizations'

© JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty
American Intelligence chief James Clapper: 'Am I not awesome? Look at how exceptional I am!'
The recent Telegraph exclusive publishing specious claims by 'anonymous US sources' that Russia is covertly 'undermining EU unity', specifically by conducting "Kremlin influence operations" and infiltrating political parties, is the latest in a long line of hysterical nonsense from the self-styled 'exceptional' rulers of the world. Can you believe the gall of these idiots? Their lies are so obvious, you can only shake your head at how desperate they have become.

By the time we came of age, the paranoid insanity of the "Red Menace" had long become something to look back and cringe at. 'Russian spies dividing Europe' was the hallmark of a Cold War in which every subversive (and often violent) act of US foreign policy was justified because 'the Russians are doing it'. The US has been, and is, infiltrating various European political parties - and even Russian ones - via its Orwellian "Non-Governmental Organizations", spreading US influence and buying politicians who will be subservient to the Empire. And that's just the 'soft power' stuff. There's also a sordid history of overthrowing governments, rigging elections, bribing (and even assassinating) leaders - and it's an unbroken chain right up to the 2014 overthrow of the Yanukovich government in Kiev. So it is rather galling to see the US State Department accusing others of doing something for which it is infamous.

The Telegraph article is itself an example of the Western elites doing what they accuse the Russians of doing. Not only are these Anglo-American hypocrites spreading false information, in the process they are projecting what they are doing onto the Russians, whose 'crime' is to take an independent stance on certain global issues. Others have already ripped the claims to shreds, so we just want to draw your attention to a couple of points.

Here we have a British 'newspaper of repute' (one that is notorious for operating as an arm of British intelligence) announcing that American intelligence will conduct a "major investigation" - led by US Director of National Intelligence James "not willfully" Clapper - into the Kremlin's 'infiltration' and alleged secret funding of European political parties over the last decade. Additionally, The Telegraph informs us, Washington is "becoming concerned about" Moscow's alleged efforts to undermine NATO, block US missile defense and undo the Western sanctions imposed on Russia after it rescued Crimea from Ukraine's deadly embrace with Western 'civilization'.

Георгиевская ленточка

Constant aggression: Russia has good reasons to consider NATO a threat

© AP Photo/ Mindaugas Kulbis
Russia has good reasons to consider NATO a threat, according to a Polish member of the European Parliament.

It's Washington that keeps positioning its troops closer and closer to Moscow and not vice versa, Polish MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke pointed out.

He also criticized the actions of the Polish Law and Justice (PiS), Poland's ruling political party, which actively promotes establishing a NATO military presence in the country. According to Korwin-Mikke, the Polish government's policies remind him of those of pre-WWII Poland, which, as it became apparent in September 1939, ultimately proved to be rather reckless and dangerous.

Crusader

US State Dept veteran Peter Van Buren: 'Time for us to get out of Syria and Iraq'

© AFP 2016/ PATRICK BAZ
In the past 14 years, Washington's road to the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa has been littered with banana peels; although the Pentagon's strategy has yielded nothing but disaster in the regions, it seems the White House is unwilling to change its foreign policy, Peter Van Buren notes.

The prospect of America continuing its military involvement in the Middle East and putting more "boots on the ground" is a recipe for disaster, not a solution to a problem like Daesh (Islamic State/ISIL) according to Peter Van Buren, a US author and 24-year veteran of the US State Department.

"Time to remind him or her [US presidential candidates] that Washington's war on terror strategy has already sent at least $1.6 trillion down the drain, and left thousands of American troops and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Muslims dead. Along the way we lost precious freedoms to the ever-expanding national security state," Van Buren writes in a recent article for his WeMeantWell.com site.

Comment: Instead of getting out, they're getting more stuck in:

US hints at staying in Afghanistan for many more decades, possibly forever


Snakes in Suits

Watch Stephen Colbert extract stunning answer from Donald Rumsfeld on case for Iraq War (VIDEO)

© Luke Frazza / Reuters
Death merchant: U.S. Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld signs a Baghdad road sign at the request of a US soldier, April 30, 2003 during his visit to US troops at Baghdad's international airport.
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld came to promote his solitaire app, but when Stephen Colbert craftily brought up the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Rumsfeld's remarks left 'The Late Show' host and many others saying "Wow."

Launching his 'Churchill Solitaire' game, the 83-year-old Rumsfeld has been on a media tour where tough questions are not a prerequisite. Talking about the Iraq War, even as it looms like a cloud, can be a challenge when 2016 is saturated with politics and a fun application built to benefit charity is closer at hand. But Colbert made transitioning to the taboo topic look easy.

Colbert asked if Islamic State, or terrorist groups like it, holding western Iraq and eastern Syria was considered "a worst-case scenario, or a beyond-worse-case scenario" in 2002 and 2003 during the run-up to declaring war.

The "disorder in the entire region ... generally, people had not anticipated," Rumsfeld answered.


Comment: This isn't about getting an 'admission' or a 'confession' from Rumsfeld, or from any of the others involved in unleashing hell on Earth.

As Rumsfeld makes plain in this masterful interview by Colbert, psychopaths literally don't understand the meaning of the term 'fact'. For them, facts are fluid things. Even when you think you've got him to commit to one particular definition of the term 'fact', that can change for him the next day.

That's why self-styled 'reality-creators' like Rumsfeld treat 'intelligence' as they do: as a government service for spinning narratives that can have little to no bearing on objective reality. Why work to eke out and abide by scarce Truth when you can have so much more fun with abundant Lies?


Snakes in Suits

Witnesses testify that Russian oligarch Khodorkovsky played crucial role in assassination of Siberian mayor

© Vasily Prokopenko / Sputnik
Former head of YUKOS oil company Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Several witnesses have told investigators that former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky played a crucial role in the 1998 assassination of a Siberian city's mayor, a defense attorney has said. "All the witnesses who testified against him are currently in custody. They say that they heard from someone that without my client's participation this crime would never take place," RIA Novosti quoted Khodorkovsky's state-appointed defense lawyer as saying Wednesday.

The lawyer spoke in the Moscow City Court, which was looking into her request to cancel the previous ruling that ordered Khodorkovsky's arrest. In late December, Russian investigators officially charged the ex-tycoon in the criminal case that was opened after the murder of Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of Neftyugansk, who came into conflict with Yukos stakeholders and managers and was killed on June 26, 1998 - Khodorkovsky's birthday. The charges of conspiracy to murder two or more people potentially carry a life sentence in Russia.

Comment: Earlier, when Khodorkovsky was still in prison...
...he said that if and when he is released, he simply wants to spend time with his family, but many see in him someone who could eventually unite the fractured opposition to Putin.

When Putin came to power in 2000, he offered an informal deal to Russia's oligarchs - they could keep their wealth but they were not to dabble in politics. Khodorkovsky broke the deal. Keen to turn his company, Yukos, into a modern, international business, he made allegations of corruption in the Kremlin and funded opposition political parties.
See also:


Bad Guys

Emails reveal "hundreds of deficiencies" in US' most expensive weapons program

© AFP 2016/ HO/US NAVY/ MCS2D
The digital maintenance and logistics system of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter could be vulnerable to cyberattacks, the Pentagon's operational test chief warned last month.

Michael Gilmore, Pentagon director of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E), issued a warning in a December 11 memo that was recently leaked to the media.

The F-35's Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) "continues to struggle in development with... a complex architecture with likely (but largely untested) cyber deficiencies," Gilmore wrote.

Comment: And this is why Russia is blowing the US out of the water - the US is so corrupt that it's a wonder anything functions at all. And soon, it probably won't.

Also see: