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Scott Ritter

The return of the Obama ‘adults’ in a Joe Biden administration is likely to spell ruin for America

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The US establishment, and the world, has spent the last four years trying to adapt to the disruptive policies of a childish president. Now the Democrats’ "adult" leadership team will return. Watch out, folks.

To those watching the drama unfolding in Washington, DC around the stalled efforts on the part of nominal President-elect Joe Biden in forming a transition team, the parallels are eerily familiar: a bitterly contested election between an establishment political figure and a brash DC "outsider’," a controversial outcome delaying the implementation of the transition between administrations, and an openly condescending atmosphere where the incoming team postured as comprising a return to "adult" leadership. 

That time was December 2000, when a Republican team led by President-elect George W. Bush stood ready to install a cabinet composed of veteran spies, diplomats, and national security managers who had cut their policy teeth during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. With Colin Powell as secretary of state, Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense, George Tenet as director of central intelligence, and Condoleezza Rice as national security advisor, the foreign policy and national security team that Dubya surrounded himself with upon assuming the presidency was as experienced a team as one could imagine. 

And yet, within two years of assuming their responsibilities, this team of “adults” had presided over the worst terrorist attack in American history, and the initiation of two wars (in Afghanistan and Iraq) that would forever change both the geopolitical map of the world and America’s role as world leader.
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Why Bob Woodward’s ‘Rage’ is a Lie Built on a Lie, and What Trump vs ‘Military Messiah Syndrome’ Really is About

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Bob Woodward’s new insider account of the Trump administration, ‘Rage’, details the multi-faceted controversies surrounding President Trump’s approach to governance – none more so than his relationship with the military.

Bob Woodward is a legendary reporter whose talent for getting insiders to speak about the most sensitive matters in government dates back to Watergate and the Nixon presidency. His most recent presidential expose, ‘Rage’, touches on a wide range of controversies, from the coronavirus pandemic to issues relating to war, and the promise of war.

It is Trump’s tortured relationship with the military that stands out the most, especially as told through the eyes of former Secretary of Defense Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, a retired marine general. It is clear that Bob Woodward spent hours speaking with Mattis – the insights, emotions and internal voice captured in the book show a level of intimacy that could only be reached through in-depth interviews, and Woodward has a well-earned reputation for getting people to speak to him.

The book makes it clear that Mattis viewed Trump as a threat to the US’ standing as the defender of a rules-based order – built on the back of decades-old alliances – that had been in place since the end of the Second World War.
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US-German relations are beyond repair as result of decades-long clash of views & ideas. Troop pullout is only a symptom

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While the Trump administration sells the decision to withdraw US troops from Germany as a strengthening of NATO force alignment, the reality is it’s merely the latest manifestation of a relationship on the decline for decades.

The announcement by Secretary of Defense Mike Esper that the US has finalized plans for the withdrawal of some 12,000 troops from Germany came as a surprise to no one. This decision, minus the details concerning implementation, was originally announced back on June 30. At that time, President Donald Trump linked it to the failure of Germany to meet its obligation regarding meeting NATO goals of defense spending matching 2 percent GDP (German levels for 2019 were around 1.4 percent). However, in announcing that, of the 36,000 forces permanently stationed in Germany, 24,000 would remain while 11,900 will deploy elsewhere or return home, Esper did not mention Germany’s budgetary arrears, instead linking the decision to new US defense priorities driven by the need for better deterrence of Russia and China.

National security experts on both sides of the Atlantic will be debating the genesis of the US troop withdrawal for some time to come, trying to assign weight to the competing justifications offered by Trump and Esper. The reality, however, is that this decision was a long time in coming, with its roots not so founded in any personal animus on the part of President Trump or strategic force re-posturing by the US. The current crisis is derived from a larger US-German dysfunction that has been in place for decades, driven by inherently incompatible world visions and value systems, and the inevitable clash between American exceptionalism and German ideals based on the principle of European sovereignty.
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Turkey will be the death of NATO – its recent clash with fellow member France off the coast of Libya is an early symptom

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When two countries who are supposed to be military allies fall out and almost get themselves into a shooting match, you know there’s going to be trouble ahead. The problem for NATO is, this time, it may prove terminal.

For a story that involves high seas skullduggery, clandestine gun-running, a punch up between people who are supposed to be friends, and an incident that could be fatal for the world’s biggest military alliance, this one started mundanely enough.

Back on June 7, 2020, a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship, the Cirkin, quietly departed a Turkish port and set sail toward the Libyan port of Misurata.

No one is absolutely certain what its 5,800 tons of cargo was, but it’s safe to say it probably wasn’t carpets.
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New York Times takes anti-Russian hysteria to new level with report on Russian ‘bounty’ for US troops in Afghanistan

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The New York Times published an article claiming that Russia was paying out monetary bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan. There’s just one problem — none of what they reported was true.

As news reporting goes, the New York Times article alleging that a top-secret unit within Russian military intelligence, or GRU, had offered a bounty to the Taliban for every US soldier killed in Afghanistan, was dynamite. The story was quickly “confirmed” by the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers, and went on to take social media by storm. Twitter was on fire with angry pundits, former officials, and anti-Trump politicians (and their respective armies of followers) denouncing President Trump as a “traitor”and demanding immediate action against Russia.

There was just one problem — nothing in the New York Times could be corroborated. Indeed, there is no difference between the original reporting conducted by the New York Times, and the “confirming” reports published by the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. All of the reports contain caveats such as “if confirmed” and “if true,” while providing no analysis into the potential veracity of the information used to sustain the report — alleged debriefs of Afghan criminals and militants — or the underpinning logic, or lack thereof, of the information itself.
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Romantic Republicans seeking a return to Cold War aggression are deluded – no-one values America’s tarnished values anymore

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Right-wing members of Congress have issued a report calling for the US to move to defend itself against a reimagined global threat. But it ignores the fact that, after George Floyd, America’s world standing is irreparably damaged.

A new document published by the Republican Study Committee (RSC), an adjunct of the conservative caucus of House Republicans and a self-described “leading influencer on the Right,” proposes a policy roadmap to reassert American global leadership by flexing US military and economic muscle in confronting a myriad of reimagined threats.

It offers a long list of possible actions against “America’s most aggressive global adversaries” such as China, Russia and Iran, including the “toughest sanctions ever proposed.”

Whether labeling China as “America’s top threat” or revalidating a previous observation made by former Secretary of Defense James Mattis of Russia being “the principal threat” to the US, this document, entitled Strengthening America & Countering Global Threats, paints a disturbing picture of a fortress America surrounded by a sea of enemies.
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New Putin-Erdogan Deal is Sugar-Coating the Turks’ Surrender

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This week’s meeting between Presidents Putin and Erdogan in Moscow was cast as preventing a war between Russia and Turkey in Syria. War, however, was never on the horizon. Putin called Erdogan’s bluff, and the Turk folded.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, accompanied by their respective senior national security advisers, met in Moscow on March 5. The purpose of this emergency summit was to negotiate the terms of a ceasefire that would bring an end to heavy fighting in Syria’s Idlib province that threatened to draw their two nations into direct military conflict. After more than six hours of meeting, a new agreement, packaged as an “additional protocol” to the “Memorandum on Stabilization of the Situation in the De-escalation Area as of September 17, 2018” (better known as the “Sochi Agreement”), was agreed to by both parties.

A sputtering offensive

Over the course of a week, from February 27 through March 5, Syria’s Idlib province transitioned from being ground zero for a war between the Syrian army and allied forces, and heavily armed groups opposed to the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad, into a geopolitical powder keg that threatened to pull the Turkish and Russian militaries into direct conflict with one another. On March 1, Turkey, following up on threats previously made by President Erdogan to drive the Syrian Army and its allies back to the line of demarcation set forth in the original Sochi Agreement, unleashed a major offensive, dubbed “Operation Spring Shield” and involving thousands of Turkish troops fighting alongside anti-Assad formations.
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