Monday, May 9, 2016

Middle East Leaders Turn To Putin. The Quartet vs Israel, The 'Elite' vs 'The People',




Middle East Leaders Give Up on Obama, Turn to Putin


Russia has demonstrated to Middle East leaders that it is a country willing to act, which had completely changed the region’s perception of the US, according to former top Obama White House aide on Middle East issues, Dennis Ross.

America may seem strong regarding its military capability in the region, but for some reason local leaders are becoming frequent visitors in Moscow, not Washington DC, Ross wrote in a piece for Politico. The diplomat noted that the Arabs as well as Israelis gave up on Obama because of his indecisiveness.

"Because perceptions matter more than mere power: The Russians are seen as willing to use power to affect the balance of power in the region, and we are not," he explained.

Meanwhile, Middle East countries, including US allies, favor Moscow's policy, the diplomat emphasized.
"The Russian military intervention turned the tide in Syria and, contrary to Obama's view, has put the Russians in a stronger position without imposing any meaningful costs on them", He wrote.

Ross added that the Syrian operation didn't just consolidate the position of Bashar Assad but in many respects pushed Moscow out of international isolation. Moreover, it is now President Obama himself calling Putin and seeking his assistance in pressuring Assad, making it obvious who has the stronger position.


"Middle Eastern leaders recognize it as well and realize they need to be talking to the Russians if they are to safeguard their interests," 







The Quartet – the international entity charged with brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians comprised of the US, European Union, Russia, and the United Nations -- will issue a new report at the end of the month that is expected to be sharply critical of the expansion of Israel’s construction in areas it acquired in the 1967 war. 


While the report will not reflect a change in the American position, Israeli diplomats and analysts say it is the expected shift in emphasis that concerns Jerusalem.

According to press reports, the report will come down hard on Israel for continuing to build new housing units in the West Bank on land that Palestinians say must be part of a Palestinian state, as well as Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes that are either built illegally or housed Palestinians convicted of attacks on Israelis.

“It is not a sea change but an incremental change,” Robbie Sabel, professor of international law at Hebrew University told The Media Line. “The real danger is it could pave the way for a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel on this.”


The report comes as France is taking a more active role in the Middle East peace process, hosting a summit of foreign ministers at the end of this month, and a possible peace conference later in the summer. Privately, Israeli diplomats said that harsh US criticism of Israel could weaken Israel’s position at that peace conference.








Our awful elites gutted America. Now they dare ring alarms about Trump, Sanders — and cast themselves as saviors. Both parties ignored workers, spewed hate, enriched themselves, hollowed out democracy... And now the problem's populism?

This week, on the night of the Indiana primary, I read one of the most loathsome political screeds it has been my misfortune to encounter.
It was an alarm bell raised by Andrew Sullivan, arguably the greatest hypocrite of the Bush era, on par with his partner in many crimes Christopher Hitchens (remember “Islamofascism?”). Sullivan proclaims that the election of Trump would be an “extinction-level” event. Well, perhaps it will be.
But the extinction Sullivan is most worried about is clearly that of his own breed of callous elites, who could care less about normal human beings who do not have decent jobs and who live in crappy housing and who are so desperate to find a way out of the trap that even someone like Trump starts sounding rational to them.

No, the danger is the elites, who have made such a joke of the democratic process, who have so perverted and rotted it from within, that the entire edifice is crumbling (to the consternation of the elites). 

Both parties are in terminal decline after forty years of ignoring the travails of the average worker (the Republicans admit they’re in the intensive care unit, while the Democrats calling for Sanders to quit already have yet to come around to admitting that they might have the flu), and voters on both right and left have at last—and this is a breath of relief—stopped caring about the cultural distractions that have kept the elites in power. No, they want their jobs back, even if it means building a wall, keeping Muslims out, deporting the illegals, and starting trade wars with China and Japan—because what else did the elites give them, they’re still opposing a living wage!

So they engineered the neoliberal revolution, where the “qualified” elites are firmly in charge, and the only way to get ahead is not democratic (or individualist) unpredictability—and who is a greater exemplar of unpredictability than Trump?—but elite planning, a certain coldhearted “rationality” that is as efficient as any totalitarian system ever was in sidelining those who do not have what it takes to succeed.

So, the problem, according to all the elites, is too much democracyThank you Andrew Sullivan, a Harvard humanities education—all that Plato you read!—was hardly ever put to worse use in the four-hundred-year annals of the institution.


Elites on both sides insisted on not addressing the root causes of economic dissatisfaction, hence the long-foreseen rise of Trump. 


The worst offenders of all are the American left’s cultural warriors, who daily wage some new battle over some imagined cultural offense, which has nothing to do with the lives of normal people but only the highly tuned sensibilities of those in the academic, publishing, and media ecospheres.


The Hillary supporters have the authoritarian mentality of small property owners. They are the mirror image of the “realist” Trump supporters, the difference being that the Trump supporters fall below the median income level, and are distressed and insecure, while the Hillary supporters stand above the median income level, and are prosperous but still insecure.
To manipulate them, the Democratic and Republican elites have both played a double game for forty years and have gotten away with it. They have incrementally yet quite comprehensively seized all economic and political power for themselves. 
They have perverted free media and even such basics of the democratic process as voting and accountability in elections. Elites on both sides have collaborated to engineer a revolution of economic decline for the working person, until the situation has reached unbearable proportions. 
The stock market may be doing well, and unemployment may theoretically be low, but people can’t afford housing and food, they can’t pay back student loans and other debts, their lives, wherever they live in this transformed country, are full of such misery that there is not a single word that an establishment candidate like Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush says that makes sense to them.


The game, for the elites, is over. This is true no matter what happens with the Sanders campaign. The Republican party as we have known it since the Reagan consensus (dating back to 1976) is over. The Democratic party doesn’t know it yet, but Bill Clinton’s neoliberalism (and what followed in his wake with complicity with Bush junior, and the continuation of Bush junior’s imperialist policies with Barack Obama) is also over, or well on its way to being over. The elites are in a cataclysmic state of panic, they don’t know whether to look right or left, they have no idea what to do with Trump, they don’t know what to do with the Bernie diehards, they have no idea how to put Humpty Dumpty together again.









According to the 2014 US-NATO declaration of confrontation with Russia, all member countries are supposed to commit 2 percent of their GDP to military expenditure. But as with most NATO plans and endeavours, this one has failed to meet expectations.
Following dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 there ceased to be any reason for existence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The Pact had been formed in 1955 in response to inclusion of a rearmed West Germany in the US-NATO military alliance whose main objective was to: «settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means... and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations».
All disputes between the US-European alliance and the Soviet Union had indeed been settled by peaceful means. There had been a diplomatically-facilitated, non-violent end to the Cold War, and 1992 was the ideal time for NATO members to begin to withdraw their offensively-tasked troops, missiles and aircraft from the hundreds of bases surrounding the borders of the former Soviet Union. Politically, socially, militarily – and especially economically – the disbandment of NATO made sense. It was a clumsy grouping that, for all the propaganda, was almost entirely dependent on the US for offensive capability.
But nothing of the sort happened, and the US encouraged expansion of NATO to include countries as close to Russia’s borders as could be managed. These countries were anxious to be included in the Club, but there continues to be a problem about their reluctance to pay for the doubtful and decidedly expensive privilege of NATO membership. As pointed out by US presidential candidate Donald Trump on 27 April: apart from the US «only 4 of 28 other member countries ... are spending the minimum required 2% of GDP on defence» that is required by membership of the US-NATO anti-Russia military alliance.
And why should they spend more? NATO is an expensive circus that achieves nothing. It has been defeated in Afghanistan, which is now in chaos, and was humiliated by the catastrophic result of its absurd and totally counter-productive war on Libya in 2011.













Canada fire rages for seventh day









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