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Obama’s strategy for Syria: why it failed (and why it was never going to work)

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<a title="By Painter: Dennis Malone Carter [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons" href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADecatur_Boarding_the_Tripolitan_Gunboat.jpg"><img width="512" alt="Decatur Boarding the Tripolitan Gunboat" src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/12/Decatur_Boarding_the_Tripolitan_Gunboat.jpg/512px-Decatur_Boarding_the_Tripolitan_Gunboat.jpg"/></a>
Dennis Malone Carter Decatur boarding the tripolitan gunboat
Syria has long been a target of Neoconservative foreign policy. After the removal of Saddam Hussein from Iraq, Paul Wolfowitz, the leading Neocon ideologist, Deputy Defence Secretary under George Bush and an architect of the invasion of Iraq, said in 2003 that ”there will have to be a change in Syria”.1)Syria could be next, warns Washington, The Guardian.The problems during the occupation of Iraq and the radical change in the American public opinion towards the conflict forced the Bush administration and Neoconservative circles to shelve their plans.

Original plan and first problems
In 2011, Obama assembled a mighty coalition, including France, the UK, Israel, Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia to finally remove Assad and bring “regime” change to the Syrian people, confirming the line of of “liberal interventionism” of the Bush years as Robert Kagan, another prominent Neocon ideologist, defines it.

In August 2013, following an alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad government against rebels, Obama finally found his pretext to justify the invasion of Syria, obtaining the authorization for the use of force from the US Senate.2)S.J.Res.21 – Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons, Congress.govThe use of sarin by the Assad troops would later turn out to be a fabrication,3)The Red Line and the Rat Line, London Review of Books.much like Saddam’s never found weapons of mass destruction that the Bush Neocons had used as an excuse to justify the invasion of Iraq.

References   [ + ]

1. Syria could be next, warns Washington, The Guardian.
2. S.J.Res.21 – Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons, Congress.gov
3. The Red Line and the Rat Line, London Review of Books.

EU, not China or Japan, is the biggest US Treasury holder. And this is not a good sign.

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EU, not China or Japan, is the biggest US Treasury holder. And this is not a good sign.
photo shutterstock / Nik Waller Productions
US-centric media report that Japan has become the biggest holder of the US treasuries, surpassing China last month. However, this is true only in regard to single countries. If we consider European Union member states collectively, then they appear to be the biggest holder of the US treasuries. It has been so almost one year long. Unfortunately, the EU’s holdings are artificially overstated because of some financial havens and they are going in the opposite direction to the trend: up rather than down.

According to the latest data from TIC (Treasury International Capital System), the EU was in possession of $1242 billion of US Treasuries in November 2016, $9 billion more than one month earlier. The EU was the only one from three biggest holders that increased its amount of US treasuries in November, while China and Japan continued to lower their holdings.


Another US shale revolution is over? After gas rig count collapse shale gas production drops

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Another US shale revolution is over? After gas rig count collapse shale gas production drops
photo shutterstock / telesniuk
American dreams about energy independence may never come true. After a continuing decrease in the shale oil production, also the shale gas output has reached its peak and started to fall. As shale oil and gas make up half of the total United States oil and gas production and the rig count remains historically low, the American energy independence is shrinking and hopes for American LNG supply to Europe are disappearing into thin air. The US continues to be a net importer of energy resources and this is not going to change.

Dreams about the American energy autonomy are far from being abandoned, though. The shale revolution enthusiasm was shared even by top politicians, like Hillary Clinton, who claimed that the US had achieved energy independence, even if it was obviously not true.1)Hillary Clinton said America is energy independent. It is not, CNBC 2016-10-10 Gas autonomy seemed to be more achievable that of oil and 2016 was slated to be the first year when the US would export more gas than import.2)The New U.S. Energy Era Will Be a Gas, USNews 2016-05-16

References   [ + ]

1. Hillary Clinton said America is energy independent. It is not, CNBC 2016-10-10
2. The New U.S. Energy Era Will Be a Gas, USNews 2016-05-16

The nationalisation of Ukraine PrivatBank: how two oligarchs bankrupted a nation

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The nationalisation of Ukraine PrivatBank: how two oligarchs bankrupted a nation
photo shutterstock/maxstockphoto
On the morning of 19 December Ukrainians got up to learn about a momentous economic decision: the biggest Ukrainian bank, PrivatBank, had just been nationalised after its two owners used depositors’ money to build a business empire and distributed the money among Jewish organisations in Europe. Why did it have to happen?

A look into the past. PrivatBank used to be Ukraine’s largest bank with 20% of the banking sector and $53bn assets.1)UPDATE: Government nationalizes PrivatBank, guarantees deposits KyivPost 2016-12-18Its history is quite unusual for the country’s realities because it:

  • was one of the first private banks (formed in 1992);
  • was the first bank to introduce plastic cards and ATMs;
  • was the first Ukrainian financial institution to receive an international rating (Thomson BankWatch International Rating Agency, Fitch IBCA);
  • was the first Ukrainian bank to have opened its International Banking Unit in Cyprus in 1999;
  • introduced electronic banking in 2001;
  • received STP Excellence Award from Deutsche Bank in 2003.

References   [ + ]

1. UPDATE: Government nationalizes PrivatBank, guarantees deposits KyivPost 2016-12-18

“Russia did it” – the last stand of neoconservatism

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“Russia did it” – the last stand of neoconservatism
photo Shutterstock / Joe Ravi
In 1992, at the end of the Cold War, an American political scientist infamously proclaimed “the end of history:” liberal democracy and the capitalist system has won, the rest of the world will eventually embrace western ideas as superior to theirs because only they are able to provide peace and prosperity.
This line of reasoning has since become the West’s dogma in international relations, and so under the pretext of spreading human rights and parliamentary democracy all over the world the West perceives itself to be on a mission. For a while, it worked. Most of Eastern Europe readily embraced Western democracy and capitalism and even Russia seemed to follow.


Did the Bank of Japan prevent the US bond market from imploding?

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US bond
photo Shutterstock/njene

The turmoil in the financial market was far from good news to President-Elect Donald Trump.
The 10-year Treasury yield was on pace for the largest 2-week rise since 2009. The crash in the bond market happened alongside a 10% devaluation of the Japanese yen.

The mainstream media presented the dumping of Treasury bonds as good news. Investors miraculously expected the US economy to boom and inflation to rise now that Donald Trump will be their president. The same media analysts that predicted two weeks ago that the financial world would collapse if Trump were elected are now convinced that Trump’s plan to increase spending and lower taxes will finance itself.


Brussels will force the Dutch to accept their failed Ukraine policy

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Dutch to accept their failed Ukraine policy
photo Shutterstock/ Roman Mikhailiuk

61% of the Dutch voters rejected the Ukraine association treaty in a referendum this year. 31% of the population showed up, which is a far larger number than of those who turned up at Maidan to protest. For the second time the Dutch population cast its vote in a referendum, for the second time the outcome will be nullified in the name of European Democracy.

European leaders have celebrated the Maidan revolution as the attempt of Ukrainian people to join the family of liberal democracies of Western Europe. It couldn’t be further from the truth. In the official version presented in the West, Maidan protests were spontaneously sparked off when the pro-Russian Yanukovich government renounced to ratify an association agreement with the European Union.

Yet in November 2013, before the Maidan movement even started, Oleg Tsarov, member of the Ukrainian parliament, had reported in a parliamentary session on the recruitment of activists organized by the US embassy in Kiev for unknown purposes1)“MUST WATCH: Nov 2013 (pre-Maidan!): Ukraine Deputy has proof of USA staging civil war in Ukraine”, Youtube.

The US embassy in Kiev, via its representative Victoria Nuland, would later become a primary actor in pressuring for a regime change and the formation of a pro-West government in the first months of 2014. For clarity, Victoria Nuland is the third in charge of the US foreign policy, second only President Obama and John Kerry, who had been busy negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran.

References   [ + ]

1. “MUST WATCH: Nov 2013 (pre-Maidan!): Ukraine Deputy has proof of USA staging civil war in Ukraine”, Youtube

After the US elections: last call for the establishment

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After the US elections
photo Shutterstock/Krista Kennell

The overwhelming majority of polls gave her a strong lead in the electoral colleges count, but the outcome proved to be the exact opposite. America has asked for a change, just like in 2008 with Obama, and the repetition also means the latter did not deliver.


US elections: Western media stopped reporting and began shaping opinion

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Donald Trump
photo Shutterstock/egorkeon

Donald Trump has won. Against the odds, against the polls, against the massive attacks from the media that have gone to great lengths during the past several months to depict him as a monster, a cannibal, a flaw in the pattern, a Putin-fan, a war-monger, a racist, an abomination, the worst candidate in all of history. Every article, well, every paragraph in an article contained a disparaging word like ‘populist’ or ‘populism’ in reference to Trump.


Caught in the act: NGOs deal in migrant smuggling

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Abandoned boat on the coast
photo Shutterstock / Nightman1965

Ship-tracking software and reports from journalists prove that NGOs, the Italian Coast Guard and smugglers coordinate their actions. The Automatic Identification System (AIS) exposes NGOs operating in Libyan territorial waters. Since the ouster of President Ghadafi, a growing number of Africans are smuggled into Europe. They travel via Libya from where they cross the Mediterranean. Different “humanitarian” organisations or NGOs involved are an indispensable part of the smuggle route to Europe. We noticed that the Italian coast guard, NGOs and locals coordinate their actions. Whatever they call it themselves, these operations cannot be classified as genuine rescue operations.

The Dutch, Maltese and German based NGOs are part of the human smuggling network and one wonders, are these NGOs themselves criminal organisations.

Whatever the motives of these NGOs, their behaviour is illegal, and in countries governed by a constitution, i.e. European states, crime should be prosecuted regardless of the intention of its perpetrators.

We followed the movements of the Golfo Azzurro on 12 October. We used AIS Marine Traffic signals, twitter and the live reports of a Dutch journalist on board of the Golfo Azzurro.


Death road to Europe promoted on the web

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Death road to Europe promoted on the web
photo Shutterstock/songpholt

Jonathan Samuels, Sky News Correspondent, and his team discovered a discarded handbook, printed in Arabic, on the shore of the Isle of Lesbos, providing the migrants with detailed information on the routes, important phone numbers, non-government organizations that aid the migrants and on their rights in target countries1)(also video), Sky Finds ‘Handbook’ For EU-Bound Migrants, Sky News 2015-09-13.. WatchTheMed (watchthemed.net and alarmphone.org) and w2eu (w2eu.info and w2eu.net) are among the organizations listed in the said rough guide.

References   [ + ]

1. (also video), Sky Finds ‘Handbook’ For EU-Bound Migrants, Sky News 2015-09-13.

The Americans from MOAS ferry migrants to Europe

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The Americans from MOAS ferry migrants to Europe
photo Shutterstock / Alexyz3d

MOAS stands for Migrant Offshore Aid Station. It is a Malta-based non-governmental organisation, which set itself the task of patrolling the Mediterranean and rescuing people in high seas, lifting them up from dinghies, rafts and boats onto the Phoenix, the MOAS-owned trawler, a vessel complete with drones for scanning the waters, and ferrying migrants from places several miles off the Libyan shore to Sicily. The organisation is run by Chris Catrambone (35) and his wife Regina.