British media in a state of hysteria as Russian aircraft carrier passes by the English Channel

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As Russia’s aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, heads to Syria via the English Channel, the UK’s mainstream news outlets have gone on a mad frenzy of fear mongering headlines to further paint Russian president Vladimir Putin of ‘flexing Moscow’s military might’ and of ‘provoking another world war.”

Mail Online, a British news outlet featured a rather terrifying click-bait story with the headline “The Russians are here! Putin’s attack fleet arrives at Dover as warships enter channel on their way to launch strikes in Syria.”

Another popular mainstream news website, The Independent has produced a video clip showing “Russian warships in English water “a smokescreen to distract world” while the BBC has bashed the Admiral Kuznetsov with stories concerning the sorry state of toilets in the aircraft carrier to its troubled engine and to a large tug boat accompanying the vessel ‘in case it breaks down.’ Also, British ‘analysts’ commented that the Russians ‘have achieved complete media and public opinion focus on one bright, shiny object.”

Be that as it may, but the UK does not even have its own aircraft carrier to match the Russian flotilla, which by now has passed the English Channel onto the Mediterranean and probably towards Syria to launch strikes against Islamic State terrorists. The British military will not have a new aircraft carrier until next year with the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales by 2020.

The British Defense Ministry for its part has bragged about its capabilities, where Secretary Michael Fallon reassured “to keep Britain safe” by “man marking” the Russian fleet passing the narrow English Channel.

Alas the hysteria is completely uncalled for. The Russian aircraft carrier group’s deployment to Syria has been announced a few months back. To make matters preposterous, Admiral Kuznetsov and its supporting warships passage is via international waters and is being completely transparent in their movements; there has been a deliberate and exasperated attempt to sensationalize and plant even more hate against Moscow.

Meanwhile, in American mainstream media, the deployment of the Russian aircraft carrier has been seen “as a kind of infomercial for its weapons sales” and that the “battle group adds to Russia’s military leverage in diplomatic negotiations with the United States and other Western powers over the future of Syria.” The Russian flotilla was also described as “a threat to its crew than anything else.”

These so called journalists have clearly missed how America and its allies in Western Europe have ‘manufactured’ conflicts around the world to merit their military’s deployment around the globe and with it billions of dollars of weapons. Indeed, the Admiral Kuznetsov, a floating airbase carrying more than 40 aircraft at a time, is just a ‘threat to its crew than anything else.”

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2016: What’s ahead for the world?

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By and large the previous year was a year of crisis escalation, brought forth by the emergence of new sources of tension not only in diplomacy but also in actual military conflict. On the one hand, fresh sources of armed engagement and humanitarian issues had world leaders worried overnight (ISIS beyond Syria and Iraq, Russian intervention in Syria, migrant crisis in Europe). These events were not predicted before 2015.

2016 will be marked by an increase in local conflicts, like in Ukraine and in the Arabian Peninsula where the rift between Sunni and Shia Muslims will intensify. In fact, as of press time, Saudi Arabia has cut off all diplomatic ties with Iran, the latter infuriated over the execution of a prominent Shia cleric. It is expected to be joined by other Sunni majority countries in the Middle East. This year might just be the time for the spreading of these conflicts to more states.

The presidential elections in the United States will put on hold major foreign policy decisions, as the American public gets distracted by the convoluted race to the White House. As for the exiting American president, Obama will protect what he has accomplished in 2015, including the rapprochement with Iran and Cuba.

As the United States continues to be rejected in many areas of the world, the leadership vacuum that it will create will give opportunities to other major powers, and with it, a new era of anti-West geopolitics will emerge. The post-American century is an irreversible occurrence now as other major powers like Russia, China, and Brazil take on responsibilities beyond their typical spheres of influence. In the military sphere, Russia has re-entered the Middle East in a big way, while China will now formally launch the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), aimed at rivaling the IMF and World Bank.

The global economy is expected to be ‘disappointing and uneven’ in 2016 because of the continuing slowdown in China, sluggishness in world trade, the threat of rising interest rates in the US, the ongoing fall of oil prices, and the vulnerability of emerging economies to absorb economic shocks, according to the IMF.

General elections will take place in Taiwan, a Western-backed state that is unsure about its identity vis-à-vis China. The emerging leader might give Beijing fresh fears regarding the longstanding One-China policy. The UK public will go to the polls to decide whether to stay or leave the European Union, while in the Philippines, presidential elections will decide whether a future leader will continue to provoke China and further impress the United States for its own benefit.

Islamic State (ISIS) is expected to be put on hold territorially in Syria and Iraq, thanks to Russia’s military intervention. However, it might gain influence beyond the region as other terrorist groups (like Boko Haram in Nigeria, and other groups from Somalia to terror groups in South East Asia) pledge their allegiance to Daesh.

The United States and NATO will further infuriate Moscow as it decides on sending nuclear weapons to Poland, a former Warsaw Pact member. As a result of Washington’s antagonizing policies in Europe, Russia will further invest in its armed forces, which might trigger a new, expensive, and unnecessary arms race in continental Europe.

Europe’s most powerful leader, Angela Merkel, is expected to leave office after three successive terms. What this might mean for Europe is a change in policy towards Russia (sanctions), the migrant crisis, the German commitment to the entire Eurozone project and Berlin’s attitude towards economically and socially troubled states like Spain, Greece, and Italy.

Turkey betrays Russian efforts to contain ISIS with shooting down of military aircraft

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Ending the Syrian Civil war has just took a step backward as Turkey, a member of the imperialist NATO military alliance, shot down a Russian warplane on a bombing mission to eradicate ISIS inside Syrian territory.

In the immediate hours after this major military incident, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan furiously defended his position, stating that “I think if there is a party that needs to apologize, it is not us…those who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologize.”

Russia’s response was calm but with hints of Washington’s involvement in the matter, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stating his country has no intention of going to war with Turkey, while Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted that “the American side, which leads a coalition that Turkey belongs to, knew about the location and time of our plane’s flights”, effectively accusing the US of passing the mission’s details to Ankara.

Moscow also accused Turkey of a ‘planned provocation’ and supporting ISIS (there is considerable evidence showing such) in the fight against Syrian military forces to overthrow President Bashar Al Assad. Putin alleged once again that “we see from the sky where these (stolen oil) vehicles are going. They are going to Turkey (from terrorist controlled territory in Syria) day and night.”

Now that the damage has been done, Russia announced it will strengthen its position in northern Syria, along the Turkish border, by installing highly-advanced anti-aircraft weaponry as well as a series of economic sanction against Turkey.

The sanctions include a ban on goods, cancellation of labor contracts, halting of investment projects, and Russia’s advice to its citizens to avoid holidaying in Turkey because of security concerns. Russia is Turkey’s second biggest trading partner, and a major supplier of energy to the country.

Syria Recap: Who supports who?

Turkey has an interest in carrying out the United States’ declaration of ‘Assad must go’ policy towards Syria, while Russia is interested in maintaining the Syrian regime to be in charge of the country.

As such, with Moscow’s military intervention in Syria since the end of September, Ankara saw this as threat to its grand ambitions in Syria. Turkey tacitly supports ISIS and other ‘moderate’ rebel groups to oust Assad. While Washington openly declares war with ISIS, it is not doing so in such a way that will endanger rebel forces fighting the Syrian government. Indeed, the decision to down a Russian bomber in Syria reflects Turkey’s frustration in the current situation in Syria.

As Moscow steadily weakened Islamic State positions in Syria, policy makers in Washington and its allies became increasingly uncomfortable with the idea that a supposedly external power, Russia, is setting the agenda in the Middle East.

For Turkey, which is suspected of doing the bidding for NATO to compromise Russian air campaigns against rebel groups and in fact called NATO first instead of Moscow after downing the Russian Su-24 bomber, its interest lay in derailing the huge steps Russia has made to marginalize and defeat ISIS.

As for the United States, it is not pleased to work with other regional actors, like Russia and Iran, for doing so will show that its influence is starting to erode; that its being the region’s de facto hegemon is steadily being assigned to Moscow and Tehran.

Obama affirms NATO’s self-fulfilling prophecy to relevance

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US President Obama’s visit to the former Soviet republic of Estonia can’t be more timely as talks of establishing a rapid military force to counter the perceived Russian aggression and fighting between the government of Kiev and separatist rebels in the East intensifies.

During the visit to Estonia, Obama announced that the “door to NATO membership will remain open” and reaffirmed the principles that guided NATO, such as strengthening countries outside the alliance, including Ukraine, to improve their military.

The visit comes a day before a NATO summit to be held in Wales. Dubbed as “the most important gathering of NATO leaders in more than a decade”, the summit will discuss issues relating to America’s failure in Afghanistan, the new threat of Islamic extremism, and the situation in Ukraine.

On the one hand, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk flirted with the NATO membership, stating his eagerness in making Ukraine part of the military alliance, “I consider the most correct decision would be to accept Ukraine as a member of NATO.”

Interestingly, France also made news when it changed its mind on the delivery of two Mistral warships to Russia, ordered back in 2011, because of their ‘concern’ over the situation in Ukraine. While all this is happening, four NATO warships from the US, France, Canada, and Spain will reportedly enter the Black Sea sometime this week and a military drill involving US troops will be held in Ukrainian territory this month.

A return to NATO’S core mission

There is no doubt that the situation in Ukraine has ‘reawakened’ NATO’s reason for existing after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Contemporary observers agree that after the Cold War, with no main adversary to confront, NATO faced a nagging existential threat. For its main advocate at least, the United States has made sure wars for profit will continue to emerge, as long as it sticks to its policy of meddling in other country’s affairs.

Indeed, the alliance has come a long way of finding its raison d’etre to exist, from the much opposed Balkan wars in the 1990s to its intervention beyond Europe, namely the failed military adventure of the Afghanistan war. Eyebrows were raised during the surprise war between Georgia and Russia in 2008, but pragmatism prevailed over talks of Georgia’s annexation to the Western military alliance, as doing so might provoke Moscow’s sensitivities.

Needless to say, the situation in Ukraine today is more of an existential threat to Russia’s security than during the Georgian conflict, because of the existence of its Black Sea fleet in the Crimea. If all of Russia’s actions vis-à-vis Ukraine can be summarized in one line, then it definitely would be that Russia’s core security concerns would have been breached if Ukraine were to host the overt stationing of NATO forces there as a result of its membership.

The West’s intervention in stoking regime change in Kiev has finally paid off with the installation of a leader who is bent on welcoming imperialist money and military but with the side effect of rousing the ire of Russia. For his part though, Putin has calmly outlined his 7-step plan to stop hostilities in Eastern Ukraine. Whether his plan will be recognized by Kiev remains to be seen, but it is unlikely to be taken seriously as Ukraine’s leaders are too busy inviting the West for NATO membership.

In a recent statement, Arseny Yatsenyuk insisted on Western meddling in Moscow’s sphere of influence as if Ukraine was part of the EU, saying “we are waiting for decisions from NATO and the EU on how to stop the aggressor.” He further rejected Putin’s peace plan, stating it is “an attempt of eyewash for the international community ahead of NATO summit and an attempt to avoid inevitable decisions from the EU on the new wave of sanctions against Russia.”

The EU also has not minced its chance to further escalate their relationship with Russia, where incoming European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogheirini announced that a new round of sanctions will be decided within a week.

At the present trajectory of international relations, it is tempting to assume that over the course of 20 years, the West, particularly NATO, has had its way with its relentless expansion towards the East. Indeed, the military alliance has essentially ‘invaded’ former Warsaw Pact members. To Russia’s eyes though, a further expansion to its very borders are a real cause for concern, especially in these days of World War memories, where the wounds from Russia’s involvement in the imperialist wars are still relatively fresh. We can only hope the West does not provoke Russia to act on those memories and fears.

Washington focuses on media disinformation to offset Ukraine failure

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The United States and NATO can’t be more incorrect in their foreign policy than in Russia’s sphere of influence, which happen to include Ukraine. Indeed, the arch rival of the West, standing alone against the combined might and influence of its enemy, Russia continues to show it is not the easiest rival, be it in the issue of the emerging economies (BRICS) or military interventions in Africa, the Middle East, and most importantly in Ukraine.

The sorry story of the overthrow of Ukraine’s legitimately-elected president Yanukovych in 2013, the economic sanctions, and the Malaysian Airlines tragedy has shown that where Russia might be compromised, the West is there to fuel the fire.

What the West accuses Russia of; the West has done in the past–plain and simple. In their latest disinformation against Moscow, the West is spreading new war mongering news that Moscow is building up troops in Ukraine’s border. Besides the fact that Russia has the inalienable right do anything within its borders, this is nothing new, as fears always play the prime time in the Western press’ psyche: Cold War-style, fear sells.

This week, A NATO official was quoted as saying that Moscow could use “the pretext of a humanitarian or peacekeeping mission as an excuse to send troops into Eastern Ukraine.” These words via email, from NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu, will sound fresh if it was published during the NATO bombing campaign in Serbia, Yugoslavia, or to more contemporary interventions led by the West themselves: Iraq, Libya, Syria, and other pseudo-humanitarian interventions around the planet.

Having shown no backing down despite Western pressure, Vladimir Putin is keen to show that the Russian bear is not ready to be pushed and bullied around especially in its own sphere of influence. Now on its 3rd round of toothless Western sanctions, Moscow has shown that it can rally other emerging players who are willing to avoid the elitist West, pursuing new economic possibilities with South America, more commitment to a new Silk Road to China, and the canceling of Cuba’s Soviet-era debt.

Russia has withstood it all: double-edged economic (and now military) sanctions, NATO exercises in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea, Sochi Olympics terrorism fears spread by Western media, and the fateful downing of Malaysian Air flight MH 17, wherein the complex truth is just materializing as we speak.

Indeed, what makes Washington and NATO busy in these days of their empire-centric decline is to at least slowdown their decay down the waste bin of history. Despite having the biggest firepower and military budget in the world, the United States has shown it is not ready to fight a final war with nuclear-armed Russia. Instead, together with its cronies in Europe, the United States is waging its fundamentally envy-centric battle with economic, political, and media war against Russia, and other countries further East (China).

As the infrastructure and experience in disinformation is well established in the West, we can only see this war of words to further intensify as more and more of those born beyond the original Cold War admit a new irreversible rivalry has already taken hold between the West and Russia. As the world pays its respects to the immense heroism and tragedy of World War I, we can only fear history does not repeat itself.

Regardless of the sorrow caused by both World Wars, there are just facts that remain inconvenient to admit for those in the West, including the fact that World War I and World War II have been instigated by Germany and Japan, the latter of which is being encouraged by the United States to change its constitution so it can rearm and military engage its neighbor China. The fact remains that Russia, from Napoleon to Hitler, has been on the right side of history. If past acts make a good lead to the future, then we can only hope that Russia is on the right side of history once more.

The Language of Western Double Standards

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By now Obama has addressed Europe’s elites in Brussels for the G7 summit, which excluded Russia because of disagreements with Moscow’s stance on the Ukraine crisis. The Crimean referendum is perhaps the pinnacle of this almost half-a-year old Ukrainian fiasco–an essentially chessboard game between European powers and America. Depending on your news sources though, it can be hard to know who is telling the truth or spreading propaganda.

Of course, for those of you who manages to extricate yourselves from the claws of the mainstream Western media, reading ‘between the lines’ is more like an exercise on deciphering and disgust than simple curious observation and impartiality–what used to be news has now been transformed into outright and shameless propaganda.

Whether you are sitting pretty on your couch watching the evening news, or attending a press conference of US officials, here is a fun exercise on learning “the language of Western double standards.”

When Obama calls for “de-escalating the Ukraine crisis

  •          Dig on the facts, the ‘cause and effects’ of the crisis: the Ukraine protests late last year was ‘escalated’ by the West by its support for the Ukrainian anarchists, perhaps starting with John McCain’s visit to Kiev. Russia went to protect Crimea after the fact; triggered by the takeover of the Ukrainian self-proclaimed government

When the president of the United States calls for tougher sanctions if Russia engaged in “deeper incursions” into Ukraine

When Obama mentions the existence of “the principles that have meant so much to Europe and the world must be upheld”

When the West declares the Crimean referendum to secede from Ukraine is “illegal and against international law”

When the West says Russia is expanding its influence in the region

There is no denying that the inclusion of Ukraine as part of the European Union is only a pretext to its NATO membership in the future, and this Russia will fight at all cost. Here again, the principle of ‘cause and effect’ plays a role: Being in its region of influence, naturally Russia has the right to increase its military readiness amid NATO preparations near Russia’s borders.