Thursday, October 07, 2021

POLO / two-by-four between the eyes

The counter-narrative news is coming thick and fast.

"Key witness in Assange case jailed in Iceland after admitting to lies and ongoing crime spree" (Fréttir):

"Thordarson was arrested the same day he arrived back in Iceland from a trip to Spain, and was subsequently brought before a judge after police requested indefinite detention intended to halt an ongoing crime spree. The judge apparently agreed that Thordarson’s repeated, blatant and ongoing offences against the law put him at high risk for continued re-offending."

"Exclusive: US counterterrorism operations touched 85 countries in the last 3 years alone" ( Petras/Zaiets/Bravo).  With an obscene undercount of deaths caused by the Empire (which combines deaths of Imperial forces and the much, much larger number of deaths caused by Imperial forces!), and a ridiculous list of alleged attacks against the US.  The baseworld increase animation is nice, and you can see it is still going on.
"The Anonymous Executioners of the Corporate State" (Hedges) (read the whole thing for the outrageous conduct of the American judiciary; the worst people in the world are completely beyond facing any kind of justice for their Evil, although a complete boycott of Chevron would be a start):
"Judge Loretta Preska, an advisor to the conservative Federalist Society, to which Chevron is a major donor, sentenced human rights attorney and Chevron nemesis Steven Donziger to six months in prison Friday for misdemeanor contempt of court after he had already spent 787 days under house arrest in New York. 

Preska’s caustic outbursts — she said at the sentencing, “It seems that only the proverbial two-by-four between the eyes will instill in him any respect for the law” — capped a judicial farce worthy of the antics of Vasiliy Vasilievich, the presiding judge at the major show trials of the Great Purges in the Soviet Union, and the Nazi judge Roland Freisler who once shouted at a defendant,”You really are a lousy piece of trash!”"
"PATRICK LAWRENCE: Instead of a Free Press":  POLO (the power of leaving out; read the whole thing):
"Have you read anywhere that China just sent the first laden freight train from Shanghai to Hamburg, marking the start of a China-to–Europe rail service? Xinhua had it, nobody else. Have you read anywhere that Venezuela and Iran just signed an agreement to trade the former’s heavy crude for the latter’s condensate? Reuters had a piece, but it focused on the likelihood of U.S. sanctions rather than on what this development means in geopolitical terms. On the latter topic, nothing. 
Are you reading anywhere in the corporate press about the unabated ethnic cleansing of Palestinians under the government of Naftali Bennett, apartheid Israel’s Arab-murdering prime minister? It is as savage as it was last spring, but I have seen nothing but in the non–Western press."
A classic little essay:  "Turkey’s Kurdish obsession explains Putin’s gains and US strains" (Taspinar):
"There are some countries where a single issue can explain pretty much everything that is wrong with its domestic and foreign policy. Turkey’s Kurdish predicament is such a case. Ankara’s historic failure to find democratic solutions to Kurdish ethnic demands has created a deeply insecure and chronically irrational Turkish political culture.

Almost one hundred years after its inception, the Turkish Republic is still obsessed with the fear and trauma of its foundational decades. Where others see manageable Kurdish demands for decentralization, federalism, and minority rights, Ankara sees terrorism and the beginning of an intractable, bloody disintegration.  

Almost no issue at home or beyond borders escapes this Turkish mental eclipse when it comes to Kurds. From its military incursions into northern Syria, to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s transformation from reformer to autocrat, or from the Turkish purchase of Russian S-400s to Erdogan’s chances of winning yet another presidential election by dividing his opponents, Turkey’s Kurdish predicament has all the answers.

For anyone paying attention, the end of the Turkish-American strategic partnership also came because of Kurds. As a legacy of the Ottoman dissolution, Turkish nationalism has always been deeply suspicions of Western intentions. American wars in Iraq, with each one resulting in even more Kurdish autonomy, exacerbated this Turkish insecurity bordering on conspiracy theories: a Greater Kurdistan was in the making under American protection.

But for most Turks, it is in Syria that the Kurdish-American conspiracy turned into prophecy. American military cooperation with Kurdish militias proved simply too much to digest for Ankara. Making matters worse was the specific identity of the Syrian Kurdish group Washington decided to arm. The PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, is a Kurdish militant group in Turkey designated as a terrorist organization by both Ankara and Washington. Desperate to fight ISIS with an effective ground force, the Pentagon decided it had no better option than teaming up with the Syrian wing of the PKK, the PYD, or Democratic Union Party.

It was a temporary and tactical partnership, devoid of any long-term strategic dimension, Ankara was told. But, to Ankara’s dismay. U.S. support for Syrian Kurds continues to this day, despite heavy turbulence under the Trump administration. Most recently, on September 15, only days after the frantic evacuation of U.S. forces from Kabul, CENTCOM Commander General Frank McKenzie visited northeastern Syria to convey some sense of U.S. credibility with its Kurdish allies.

Why such U.S. engagement with Syrian Kurds, one may ask. Wasn’t Turkey, the second largest army in NATO, a better option for Washington in the fight against ISIS? The short answer is no:  ISIS does not present an existential threat to Turkey the way the PKK does. In any case, CENTCOM commanders had no patience for any reminders extolling Turkey’s NATO credentials, including its steadfast contribution to Washington’s just-abandoned war in Afghanistan. They knew full well that Ankara welcomed jihadi infiltration of Syria by opening its borders wide. This was a Machiavellian move on Erdogan’s part, more so than a display of ideological camaraderie. After all, these jihadists were the most effective fighters against Turkey’s main enemies in Syria: the Assad regime and secular Kurdish nationalists.

Today, on the surface at least, it is the thorn of a Russian missile defense system under Turkish possession that appears to have derailed Turkish-American strategic relations. Dig a little deeper, however, and you will see that Erdogan’s decision to purchase S-400s was also a direct result of strategic imperatives related to the fight against Syrian Kurds. Ankara was greatly alarmed about Kurdish autonomy and territorial gains in northern Syria, and any Turkish cross-border military incursion to stem the Kurdish tide required Moscow’s blessing.

After all, Russia had boots on the ground and owned the skies of its client state. Putin’s green light to Erdogan was always going to come with a heavy price tag, especially after Turkey downed a Russian jet in November 2015. Disappointed with NATO’s lack of tangible support, Erdogan not only apologized to Putin, but was also expected to kiss the Tsar’s ring.

The process that would end with Turkey’s purchase of Russian missiles began in 2016 at a time when Erdogan appeared particularly vulnerable. He had just survived a bizarre coup attempt that summer, during which F-16s bombed the outer walls of the Turkish Parliament and his presidential palace. While it took days for the Obama White House to express support for Erdogan, Putin called him the night of the failed coup to offer his support. Desperate to restore his authority and project some renewed sense of power, Erdogan ordered a military offensive into northern Syria the following month.

Operation Euphrates Shield became the first of a series of three major Turkish military incursions into northern Syria between 2016 and 2019. All these major ground operations needed to be carefully deconflicted with Moscow. The last one, in 2019, also required coordination with a chaotic Trump White House. While Trump first gave a green light, he later changed his tune and threatened Turkey with heavy sanctions. Such discord on the American front made Turkish-Russian coordination even more essential for Ankara. But in this strange partnership where Ankara and Moscow supported opposite sides of the Syrian conflict, Putin always had the upper hand and never hesitated to play it hard.

In February 2020, when 33 Turkish troops were killed by air strikes in Idlib province — the last pocket of anti-regime resistance in Syria — Erdogan had to pretend Russia was not involved. He had simply no interest in escalating military tensions with Moscow. The same dynamics continue to this day. On issues ranging from Turkish dependence on Russian natural gas to Turkey’s agricultural exports and tourism revenues, Putin holds all the cards. But it is in Syria where Erdogan is most vulnerable. If tomorrow Russia were to bomb Idlib province, home to three million people, Turkey would face at least one million Syrian refugees at its borders. At a time when Turkey already hosts four million Syrian refugees and public opinion blames the government for this burden, Erdogan is in no mood to jeopardize good relations with Putin.

Erdogan recently was in New York and had high expectations of meeting the American president. Snubbed by Biden, Erdogan defended his S-400 decision in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation on the grounds that Turkey is a sovereign nation that needs no permission from Washington to pursue its national security interests. What he naturally failed to mention is that he is beholden to Moscow."
"Private Facebook Group That Organized the July Protests in Cuba Plans Bigger Ones Soon" (MacLeod).

"Brief Reflections on Anger and Justice" (Anglin) (the current Dems are pretty much Pol Pot):
"My head filled with images of every single person involved in doing this to this man, from the highest level to the lowest, being blindfolded and marched into the woods, Pol Pot style, forced to kneel in front of a pit, and shot in the back of the head before being unceremoniously kicked into the mass grave."
"Pandora Papers: Every US state-funded exposé on the lavish lives of elites is about Russia & Putin, even when he’s not mentioned" (Robinson).  "US is only country in the world still hanging on to chemical weapons, Russia says, after Washington unveils ‘Novichok’ questions". 

Hey, it is not all bad news!: "France and the Fraying of NATO" (Leupp). I wonder how many Europeans realize their current energy woes are a direct result of the Euro-trash fucking around taking American bribes to delay Nord Stream.
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