News Items – 02.16.17

Is Trump Headed for a War With China?,” by Rajan Menon — Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of International Relations at the City University of New York.


China First, Russia Second, America Third: Trump’s Real Foreign Policy,” by Michael Klare — Five College Professor of Peace & World Security Studies at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.


Academic paper: “When the Great Power Gets a Vote: The Effects of Great Power Electoral Interventions on Election Results,” by Don Levin — Post Doctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University — in International Studies Quarterly, 2016.

Abstract: “Great powers frequently deploy partisan electoral interventions as a major foreign policy tool. For example, the U.S. and the USSR/Russia have intervened in one of every nine competitive national level executive elections between 1946 and 2000. However, scant scholarly research has been conducted about their effects on the election results in the target. I argue that such interventions usually significantly increase the electoral chances of the aided candidate and that overt interventions are more effective than covert interventions. I then test these hypotheses utilizing a new, original dataset of all U.S. and USSR/Russian partisan electoral interventions between 1946 and 2000. I find strong support for both arguments.” (PDF via


The Long Shadow of J. Edgar Hoover,” by Tim Weiner — a veteran New York Times investigative journalist and author of detailed histories of both the FBI and CIA.


Here is the new DCI (Director of Central Intelligence) Mike Pompeo in a Wall Street Journal piece on how far he wants domestic surveillance to go (literally everything on everyone with 0% suspicion necessary).


New Declassified CIA Memo Presents Blueprint for Syrian Regime Collapse,” by Brad Hoff — an antiwar former US Marine during the invasion of Iraq — writes about the secret documents necessary to understanding US regime change policy in Syria, from the 80’s until today (it actually goes back even farther than that but this article’s a necessary reading).


Trump’s holding a brown-shirts–err, red-hats rally, even after election in Melbourne, FL: “The rally, to be held in an airplane hangar in Melbourne, Fla., is an indication that Mr. Trump, who has sometimes felt isolated in the White House, is eager to get outside of Washington and relive the rapturous reception that greeted him during the presidential campaign. Mr. Trump exulted in large crowds assembled at cavernous venues throughout his 2016 bid, and spent the first days of his presidency quibbling over how many Americans attended his inauguration.”


I Have Come to the Conclusion the Country Does Not Need a CIA,” by John Kiriakou — former CIA analyst, case officer in Bahrain and Greece, and Chief of Counterterrorist Operations in Pakistan; whistleblower that served 23 months in prison under the Espionage Act for exposing the Bush Administration’s global torture regime; and former Senate Foreign Relations Committee senior investigator:

“He was Bush’s Deputy Executive Director of the CIA – the organization’s fourth-ranking officer – from 2001 to 2003 and director of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center from 2003 to 2004. He was in the center of the CIA action and up to his neck in counterterrorism in the Agency’s darkest days. To say that he had no idea there was a CIA torture program at the time is utterly laughable. … The excellent civil servants in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research can do the analysis. The Pentagon’s Defense Humint Services can recruit and run human sources around the world. A myriad of DoD and other civilian offices and bureaus can do the science and technology development. In the meantime, however, the job of the CIA ought to remain simple: To recruit spies to steal secrets. When it can’t do that, when a majority of CIA officers are sitting fat and happy in Langley, Virginia, there’s a problem. They are doing the American taxpayer a disservice. The top leadership has to go. Employees who don’t respect U.S. and international law have to go.”


Donald Trump Is Giving the Phrase ‘Multipolar World’ New Meaning,” by Michael Klare — Five College Professor of Peace & World Security Studies at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.


Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East,” by University of California Press (1990; pp. 473-74):

“Syria…came under terrorist attack which it variously blamed on Iraq, on Israeli agents from Lebanon, on the Muslim Brothers, and on the CIA. On 13 March 1986 there was a massive car bomb explosion in central Damascus, the opening shot in a terrorist campaign which seemed designed to destabilize Asad’s regime. On 16 April, the day after the US attack on Libya, bombs on trucks and trains in different parts of Syria killed no fewer than 144 people and wounded many more. It may not have been unconnected that in late 1985 the National Security Council’s Colonel Oliver North and Amiram Nir, Peres’s counter-terrorism expert, set up a dirty tricks outfit to strike back at the alleged sponsors of Middle East terrorism.


Michael Flynn had conversations with Russian intelligence for weeks (why intelligence officials and not diplomats?), Trump knew for weeks then said he didn’t (“alternative” memory), and then subsequently tried to make it seem like nothing (“sad!”). But this excerpt from the New York Times about continuing lack of proof of Russian hacking must be added: “The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election. The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.


Here an article by the New York Times on Trump’s hypocrisy over leaks.

Trump before election: “I love Wikileaks!” (me, too, but Trump was lying, and that should’ve been obvious as the words left his mouth)

Trump after election: “The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy. Very un-American!”


Bernie Sanders cries foul over canceled town hall meeting in West Virginia,” by Washington Post. Bernie Sanders:

“If anyone in West Virginia government thinks that I will be intimidated from going to McDowell County, West Virginia, to hold a town meeting, they are dead wrong. If they don’t allow us to use the local armory, we’ll find another building. If we can’t find another building, we’ll hold the meeting out in the streets. That town meeting will be held. Poverty in America will be discussed. Solutions will be found. … I want people to see, firsthand, how poverty leads to terrible despair and that, in reality, how it is a death sentence for many. In McDowell County, one of the poorest areas in one of our poorest states, people are now living shorter lives than their parents. Unemployment is sky high, drug addiction is at an epidemic rate, and the schools lack adequate funding. It is high time that we, as a nation, heard from the people who are impacted by this crisis and determined the best ways forward.”


The Nation Magazine’s hosting a trip to Russia “to meet Russian historians, cultural and political figures, and independent thought leaders” in order to use “direct people-to-people interaction as an essential way to foster more productive dialogue and support and maintain peaceful relations between nations.” The trip looks great, both for enjoyment (visiting all of St. Petersburg’s islands) and educational (meeting people like Pavel Palazhchenko, Mikhail Gorbachev’s longtime interpreter and colleague), but it’s pretty expensive (~$7,000).


Kushners Won’t Buy Miami Marlins if Seller Gets Ambassadorship,” by the New York Times:

“The family of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said it would pull back from buying the Miami Marlins baseball team — for now — after it emerged that the current owner is likely to be named President Trump’s ambassador to France. … Mr. Loria was a six-figure donor to Mr. Trump’s joint fund-raising effort with the Republican National Committee during the campaign, and a job in the administration has been a priority of the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus. But there is a hitch: Mr. Loria has been in discussions with Mr. Kushner’s father and brother-in-law to sell the team. The Kushners are not keen on the appearance of an ambassadorship-for-baseball-team swap. When word of Mr. Loria’s pending appointment became public in recent days, the Kushner family decided to remove itself from the list of possible buyers of the Marlins, at least for now.”


Here’s NPR interviewing Don Levin, Post Doctoral Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University: “Database Tracks History Of U.S. Meddling In Foreign Elections

“This is hardly the first time a country has tried to influence the outcome of another country’s election. The U.S. has done it, too, by one expert’s count, more than 80 times worldwide between 1946 and 2000. That expert is Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University. I asked him to tell me about one election where U.S. intervention likely made a difference in the outcome.


SHAPIRO: How often are these interventions public versus covert?

LEVIN: Well, it’s – basically there’s about – one-third of them are public, and two-third of them are covert. In other words, they’re not known to the voters in the target before the election.

SHAPIRO: Your count does not include coups, attempts at regime change. It sounds like depending on the definitions, the tally could actually be much higher.

LEVIN: Well, you’re right. I don’t count and discount covert coup d’etats like the United States did in Iran in 1953 or in Guatemala in 1954. I only took when the United States is trying directly to influence an election for one of the sides. Other types of interventions – I don’t discuss. But if we would include those, then of course the number could be larger, yeah.

SHAPIRO: How often do other countries like Russia, for example, try to alter the outcome of elections as compared to the United States?

LEVIN: Well, for my dataset, the United States is the most common user of this technique. Russia or the Soviet Union since 1945 has used it half as much. My estimate has been 36 cases between 1946 to 2000. We know also that the Chinese have used this technique and the Venezuelans when the late Hugo Chavez was still in power in Venezuela and other countries.”


The U.S. is no stranger to interfering in the elections of other countries,” by the Los Angeles Times:

“The U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – it’s done so as many as 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University.

That number doesn’t include military coups and regime change efforts following the election of candidates the U.S. didn’t like, notably those in Iran, Guatemala and Chile. Nor does it include general assistance with the electoral process, such as election monitoring.

Levin defines intervention as ‘a costly act which is designed to determine the election results [in favor of] one of the two sides.’ These acts, carried out in secret two-thirds of the time, include funding the election campaigns of specific parties, disseminating misinformation or propaganda, training locals of only one side in various campaigning or get-out-the-vote techniques, helping one side design their campaign materials, making public pronouncements or threats in favor of or against a candidate, and providing or withdrawing foreign aid.

In 59% of these cases, the side that received assistance came to power, although Levin estimates the average effect of ‘partisan electoral interventions’ to be only about a 3% increase in vote share.

The U.S. hasn’t been the only one trying to interfere in other countries’ elections, according to Levin’s data. Russia attempted to sway 36 foreign elections from the end of World War II to the turn of the century – meaning that, in total, at least one of the two great powers of the 20th century intervened in about 1 of every 9 competitive, national-level executive elections in that time period.”


Republicans Tweet, Then Delete, a Fake Lincoln Quote,” by the New York Times:

“In a tweet celebrating the Feb. 12 birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican National Committee attributed a short quote to the 16th U.S. president. It was an uncontroversial maxim, if ever there was one. ‘And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count,’ it said. ‘It’s the life in your years.’ There is no documentation of Lincoln uttering these words, according to James Cornelius, curator of the Lincoln Collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The committee’s tweet was taken down on Monday morning. But in a political atmosphere buzzing with acrimonious debates over fake news and alternative facts, the error caused a ruckus. Blowback was swift on social media and in news reports.”


Here are places that are closing shops to allow workers to participate in A Day Without Immigrants:

Washington, DC; Boston; Chicago; New Jersey; Danbury; Philadelphia; Austin; Norfolk; etc.


WikiLeaks Latest Documents: CIA Spied On French Presidents, Political Parties In 2012,” by IB Times UK:

“Seven documents allegedly show the Central Intelligence Agency spied on all of France’s major political parties in the months leading up to the country’s 2012 presidential election, WikiLeaks revealed Wednesday. That the United States spied on French and other world leaders is nothing new, but WikiLeaks latest document dump asserts the CIA employed three ‘tasking orders’ to target France’s Union for a Popular Movement, the Socialist Party and the National Front parties. The report also said current President Francois Hollande, ex-President Nicholas Sarkozy, leading candidate Marine Le Pen, and former candidates Dominique Strauss-Khan and Martine Aubry were each targeted by one of the main U.S. intelligence arms. The alleged operation took place from November 2011 to September 2012, or 10 months. The documents, WikiLeaks said, state the CIA allegedly wanted to gather intelligence on seemingly every possible inner-working of France’s political process, even its contacts with other countries like Germany, the United Kingdom and Israel. … WikiLeaks has previously exposed the overseas actions of U.S. intelligence services. In June 2016, Hollande said his government would not tolerate a threat to its security and its interests after WikiLeaks published other documents that credited the National Security Agency with spying on Sarkozy, Hollande and Jacques Chirac. Germany’s Angela Merkel was also a target of U.S. spying, a revelation made through documents leaked in 2013 by NSA contractor Edward Snowden.” (Bonus: “The BBC just tried to call out WikiLeaks. It did not end well.“)


The Guardian: “Deutsche Bank examined Donald Trump’s account for Russia links


The New York Times, 2017: “Russia Deploys Missile, Violating [Intermediate-Range Missile] Treaty and Challenging Trump

The New York Times, 2001: “Bush Pulls Out of Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; Putin Calls Move a Mistake

Note that the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) is far more important — in fact, the most important — nuclear treaty between Russia and the US. Bush unilaterally withdrew from it in 2001 while planning/implementing a global imperial program and writing laws to invade the Hague to break out US or US-ally war criminals. But everyone pretend Putin’s some aberration in the post-9/11 world.


Here’s today’s show from Democracy Now, and here are selected headlines:

Standing Rock Sioux Sue for Halt to Dakota Access Pipeline

Trump Science Adviser Candidate Calls Climate Science a ‘Cult’

Colorado: Undocumented Mother Seeks Sanctuary in Denver Church

Texas: ICE Agents Detain Immigrant Seeking Domestic Abuse Protection

Report: Agencies Withhold Intelligence from Trump over Leak Concerns

Iraq: Suicide Bomb Blast in Baghdad Kills 15, Wounds Dozens

Report: Pentagon Considers Deploying Ground Troops in Syria

Yemen: U.S.-Backed, Saudi-Led Coalition Strikes Kill 10 Civilians


Here’s more evidence of the moral bankruptcy of US foreign policy via “2 Years Into Yemen War, US Ramps Up Refueling of Saudi Jets

“Saudi Arabian coalition jets bombing Houthi rebel sites in Yemen increasingly turn to U.S. Air Force tankers for refueling support almost two years after the conflict began. Since April 2015, the Air Force has logged 1,778 tanker sorties for the operation, Air Forces Central Command spokeswoman Capt. Kathleen Atanasoff told on Tuesday. That includes 1,069 over the past year, an increase of 360, or 50 percent, from the 709 in the previous period. … The Air Force’s involvement with Saudi airstrikes in Yemen drew scrutiny in October after one hit a funeral hall packed with mourners in Sanaa, killing more than 150 people and wounding hundreds, according to The New York Times. The incident prompted the U.S. to launch an immediate review of its support operations for the Saudi-led coalition, the Times reported. … According to The Yemen Data Project, an independent body of researchers, academics and human rights advocates, more than 8,600 air attacks occurred between March 2015 and August 2016 in Yemen — with more than 3,150 hitting non-military locations, as cited by The Guardian.”

———————– “SOCOM Chief: Yemen Raid Wasn’t Hastily Planned

O’Really? So you screwed up badly enough to kill 20+ civilians, including — despite nationality being irrelevantan American 9-year-old girl and a US commando, and still fully executed (dark pun intended) a well-planned operation?

———————– “Fort Bragg Soldiers Return Home After Secretive Africa Mission

Leaving out the support-our-troops “I missed my kids and dog” personal stories (which magically aren’t told in the same manner about victims of the US military), here are some of what the “secretive Africa missions” are actually doing via Nick Turse at The Nation Magazine, TomDispatch, and The Intercept:

Secret Warfare: U.S. Special Forces Expand Training to Allies With Histories of Abuse

U.S. Special Operations Numbers Surge in Africa’s Shadow Wars

New Nation, Long War: Hillary Clinton’s State Department Gave South Sudan’s Military a Pass for Its Child Soldiers

American Special Operations Forces Are Deployed to 70 Percent of the World’s Countries

How Many Missions Has the US Military Carried Out in Africa? No One Knows For Sure.

Declassified: The Military’s Border-Busting Operations in Africa

U.S. Military Is Building a $100 Million Drone Base in Africa

America’s Empire of African Bases


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