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Covid, corruption and class struggle: ten pointers for 2022 – weekly briefing

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 10/01/2022 - 10:39am in

Lindsey German sets an agenda for the new year

1972: A great year for the workers - Tony Cliff

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 10/01/2022 - 9:48am in

As part of a series of articles marking the 50th anniversary of a tremendous year for the British working class, we republish Tony Cliff’s overview of the decisive events of 1972

The Colston 4 victory and the principled defiance we need

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 09/01/2022 - 8:09am in

The acquittal of the Colston 4 is a victory for the whole movement and highlights the kind of solidarity we need to challenge this authoritarian government, writes Simon Duckett

How our Intel Agencies Screwed us by Letting Sessions, Trumpies get away with Russia Scheme

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/07/2017 - 4:31pm in

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller at WaPo report from a US intelligence source that former Russian ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, told Moscow that he had discussed campaign-related matters with Jeff Sessions twice in the summer of 2016. This revelation directly contradicts Sessions’ testimony before Congress. If the allegation is correct, Sessions is guilty of a crime, perjury, the same crime of which the Republicans in the House of Representatives impeached Bill Clinton. Only, like, Sessions may actually have committed, like, a crime.

Me, I’m angry. I’m angry because the US intel community had this information in summer of 2016 and they’re only leaking it now. You mean they could have blown the whistle on the Trump gang over the Russian contacts and they didn’t bother? It is too late now. Getting rid of Sessions won’t change anything. Trump will just appoint another stealth white supremacist.

Now, their bosses are Trump appointees and most of this stuff will be ordered suppressed.

Second, let’s acknowledge the hypocrisy of all the condemnations of Ed Snowden over leaking the *illegal* activities of the National Security Agency, and the acceptance of this leak about Sessions. Nobody is threatening the WaPo journalists with jail for publishing the information on Sessions, and nor should they. But tell me how all this is different from the Snoweden affair in form (Snowden obviously released lots more information).

Observers are pointing out that all the intel community has is Kislyak’s cables back to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, not a transcript of the actual meeting. This is true. But why would Kislyak misrepresent the meetings to his bosses? Moreover, if the NSA didn’t actually record their conversations, after recording millions of innocent Americans, then we want our money back.

It should be pointed out that Sessions has trouble telling the truth about his meetings with Kislyak. First, he got the number of those meetings wrong. Now, the substance.

In the wake of the posting of Don Trump Jr.’s emails (by Don Trump Jr.) about the meeting arranged by the Agalarovs via Rob Goldstone with Natalia Vesselnitskya and several other Russians lobbying for a repeal of the Magnitsky Act, this revelation about Sessions takes on greater significance.

Russia had dozens of points of contact with Trump campaign officials in 2016 and one of Vladimir Putin’s major preoccupations was having the Magnitsky Act repealed. It allows the placing of sanctions on Russian businessmen and officials accused of major human rights violations. The Putin government is corrupt and underpinned by billionaire cronyism. Governments like that of Russia (the same is true in the Middle East) can create billionaires by granting certain licenses and smoothing the way. But this sort of corruption requires the ability to launder the money in foreign banks, which the Magnitsky Act prevents. It is therefore a major irritant to Putin’s crony capitalism.

When Congress passed the act in 2012, Putin responded by banning the adoption by US parents of Russian children. That is why Trump said he talked with Putin about adoption and that is why Don Jr said adoption was the topic for his meeting with Vesselnitskaya. “Adoption” is a code word for repealing the Magnitsky Act.

Had Hillary Clinton been elected, she almost certainly would have expanded the Magnitsky Act.

So the quid pro quo was that the FSB (Russian intelligence) and Russian white hat hackers working at least indirectly for the FSB would hack Clinton-related email accounts searching for dirt and would release the emails to the public, to help Trump win.

In turn, Trump would have Congress repeal the Magnitsky Act or order Treasury to cease enforcing it, and then the Putin cronies could again move their money around freely without fear of the US Treasury Department.

The NSA and the CIA watched all this happen in real time. The Trumpies were brazen, not bothering to use cut-outs and meeting directly with principals like Kislyak, whom any normal person would have known was under intense surveillance and had to report the meetings back home.

And they screwed us over by not revealing it. Maybe they tried to get Barack Obama to say something and the president was too much of a gentleman. If so, that was the time to start leaking, guys.

Now we’re screwed, Trump is president and it is too late. We spend like $75 billion a year on those intel agencies. And this is what we get. All the telephone calls in Jamaica are recorded. But a major international conspiracy to undermine US democracy? With that they couldn’t be bothered. Or who knows, maybe they preferred Donald to Hillary. If so, they aren’t actually very, you know, Intelligent.

—–

Related video:

Intercepted Intel: Sessions Discussed Donald Trump Campaign With Russian | The Last Word | MSNBC

Top 4 Lessons Trump can Learn from Napoleon in Russia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/07/2017 - 5:47pm in

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Trump’s New York Times interview can only be understood, to the extent that it can be understood, as the ramblings of someone suffering from delusions of grandeur. It is rambling, full of non sequiturs, and of bizarre allegations.

Trump said that he regretted appointing Jeff Sessions attorney general, since Sessions went on to recuse himself from the investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election (what with Sessions repeatedly meeting with the Russians and all). Sessions stepping aside that way led the assistant AG to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Trump’s Russia ties. Trump warned the prosecutor, Robert Muller, not to look into his business affairs. But gee if you were investigating Trump’s Russia connection, his business ties would be high on a prosecutor’s list. Don Jr., who has a big mouth, let it be known on the golf course once that the Trumps routinely borrowed large sums from Russian banks.

Trump says that he had told French President Emmanuel Macron that Napoleon Bonaparte had been a failure, but that Macron demurred, saying he designed modern Paris. Actually that was Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann who designed modern Paris, at the order of Emperor Napoleon III, and one suspects that Macron must have gotten mixed up about his Napoleons (assuming Trump reported Macron correctly, which cannot be assumed).

Then Trump observed that Napoleon had not ended up so badly (he was exiled to a very remote island after losing at Waterloo to the British).

And his one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death. How many times has Russia been saved by the weather [garbled]?”

Napoleon’s Jeff Sessions was Charles Talleyrand. Talleyrand thought it was wiser to consolidate French conquests and to make peace with, e.g., Austria than to go on dangerously extending the imperial army. He was against Napoleon’s plan to invade Russia and had to step down in 1807. He later conspired against Napoleon, and played a role in the peace settlement when Napoleon was overthrown, leading to his exile.

Actually I wrote a book about one of Bonaparte’s invasions (of Egypt, not of Russia).
51xvToHPQTL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

I can attest that Bonaparte had an affair(probably what Trump meant by extracurricular activities) while in Cairo, with the wife of a junior officer, something that embarrassed his stepson, Eugene de Beauharnais, who was forced to ride behind the adulterous carriage. Eugene was being overly sensitive, since his mother Josephine usually had at least a couple of affairs going on, herself.

Perhaps Trump is projecting on Napoleon his own extracurricular activities in Moscow, though I couldn’t tell you if Napoleon liked golden showers. I doubt it, since the biographers say he was sensitive to smells and was attracted to women who smelled good to him.

However, I can assure Mr. Trump that Bonaparte would never have let some mere p-grabbing interfere with his duties as a leader on the battlefield and that he did go to Moscow and wasn’t delayed in Paris by a dalliance. Unlike some people, he wouldn’t have had time to go off to a hotel with some ladies of the night while he was supposed to be staging a major operation.

Trump is right that Napoleon’s army was in part defeated by the Moscow winter. Note though that winters were colder and harsher then since that was before human beings spewed so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that they changed the climate.

In fact this is Charles Joseph Minard’s famous attempt to visualize the Russia campaign. The broad brown lines are the troops that wen to Russia and the thin black ones are those that came back. Temperature is plotted at the bottom.

1000px-Minard

So to sum up, what can Trump learn from Napoleon, really?

It is dangerous to get bogged down in Moscow.

It is especially dangerous to get bogged down in Moscow with escorts.

You might lead a lot of people on a campaign but if it crashes and burns you might not be able to lead a lot of people after that.

If you dismiss a powerful official, it can come back to bite you in the ass.

—-

Related video:

Late Night with Seth Meyers: “Trump Turns on Sessions Amid Russia Probe: A Closer Look”

Trump hands Putin gift, cancels Support for Syrian Rebels

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/07/2017 - 4:46pm in

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous at WaPo report that Trump cancelled the CIA program to support the remnants of the Free Syrian Army a month ago. The decision was made in a meeting of Trump with CIA director Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser H. R. McMasters, and came just before Trump met (twice) with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Hamburg on the sidelines of the G20 summit.

Ever since Russia intervened in Syria in fall of 2015, its Aerospace forces have given support to the Syrian Arab Army in a bid to roll back and defeat the armed opposition, especially in the northwest of the country. The totalitarian regime of Bashar al-Assad, the Baath Party, has a key vulnerability. The capital is in the south of the country and is supplied by the port of Latakia in the northwest. If the rebels could cut Latakia off from Damascus or could just take Latakia, they could starve the capital of arms and staples and overthrow the regime.

The Russians forestalled any such scenario by pushing Nusra and other militants out of Latakia province, forcing them out of Hama, Homs and East Aleppo, and bottling them up in the rural backwater of Idlib province.

Still, the Syrian Arab Army is small and stretched thin. The small and not very important CIA program was enough to keep some of the rebel groups going in ways that proved an irritant to the Baath government and to Russian strategic planners. They would much prefer that the US stopped supporting the rebels in any way. For one thing, withdrawal of Washington’s backing would be a huge blow to the flagging morale of the opposition.

Trump campaigned on handing Syria over to Russia, and at least with regard to the country’s northwest and deep south, he has followed through.

The cancellation of the CIA program does not affect the Department of Defense effort in the northeast of Syria, which has formed the Syrian Democratic Forces, mainly leftist Kurds fighting ISIL.

Al-Akhbar (leftist, Beirut) wonders if this move will have an effect on the rivalry between US-backed rebels in the southeast near the Jordanian border where the US has a small base. That base is aimed at ISIL to its north but also at Iran and Iranian logistics for supplying Hizbullah. It could be that US troops will now be evacuated from this southeast pocket which would be a victory for Iran more than for Russia.

The Central Intelligence Agency was ordered to begin the program in 2013 by President Barack Obama. It involved vetting opposition guerrilla groups to make sure they did not have links to al-Qaeda or ISIL. The CIA identified some 40 such groups. It appears to have sent them money and light arms through Saudi Arabia’s ministry of intelligence. As a result, probably some groups, like the Army of Islam (Jaysh al-Islam), were included in the vetted category even though their discourse was that of Salafi holy warriors who desired to wipe out the Alawite Shiites. Saudi Arabia follows the militantly puritan Wahhabi form of Islam that hates Shiites the way the devil hates holy water. Having the Saudis be the pass-through for the CIA aid thus allowed Salafi extremists to receive some of it. Other groups appear to have been Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, whom the Saudis could not have been eager to help. (The Saudis like fundamentalist Salafis but hate fundamentalist Muslim Brethren with a passion).

Although these groups were “vetted” for contacts with al-Qaeda, some of them occasionally formed battlefield alliances with the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate.

Many of these remnants of the Free Syrian Army appear to have been small and to have controlled two valleys and a hill each. The most effective fighters in the opposition continued to be extremists, whether Nusra or its forrmal ally, the Freemen of the Levant.

The Free Syrian Army and the more radical groups have in any case been decisively defeated, with Russian help. The only reason given for continued US backing of a lost cause was to maintain some leverage to force Bashar al-Assad from office. But al-Assad won’t be forced out as long as he has Iranian and Russian support, so that wasn’t going to happen. The US program was just prolonging the violence in some northern provinces.

The Syrian regime appears to hope that without lukewarm US backing for some of the rebels, the civil war will died down quickly. They are misreading the situation and blaming the victim. But for the moment, they have won.

———–

Related video:

WaPo: “Trump is shutting down a secret CIA program in Syria”

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