Gen.”Strange”-love (Breedlove) Sabotaging Minsk Deal With “false claims and exaggerated accounts”

Breedlove’s Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine

der spiegel

By SPIEGEL Staff

Top NATO commander General Philip Breedlove has raised hackles in Germany with his public statements about the Ukraine crisis.Top NATO commander General Philip Breedlove has raised hackles in Germany with his public statements about the Ukraine crisis.

 

US President Obama supports Chancellor Merkel’s efforts at finding a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. But hawks in Washington seem determined to torpedo Berlin’s approach. And NATO’s top commander in Europe hasn’t been helping either.

It was quiet in eastern Ukraine last Wednesday. Indeed, it was another quiet day in an extended stretch of relative calm. The battles between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists had largely stopped and heavy weaponry was being withdrawn. The Minsk cease-fire wasn’t holding perfectly, but it was holding.

On that same day, General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander in Europe, stepped before the press in Washington. Putin, the 59-year-old said, had once again “upped the ante” in eastern Ukraine — with “well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery” having been sent to the Donbass. “What is clear,” Breedlove said, “is that right now, it is not getting better. It is getting worse every day.”German leaders in Berlin were stunned. They didn’t understand what Breedlove was talking about. And it wasn’t the first time. Once again, the German government, supported by intelligence gathered by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, did not share the view of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

The pattern has become a familiar one. For months, Breedlove has been commenting on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, speaking of troop advances on the border, the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks. Over and over again, Breedlove’s numbers have been significantly higher than those in the possession of America’s NATO allies in Europe. As such, he is playing directly into the hands of the hardliners in the US Congress and in NATO.

The German government is alarmed. Are the Americans trying to thwart European efforts at mediation led by Chancellor Angela Merkel? Sources in the Chancellery have referred to Breedlove’s comments as “dangerous propaganda.” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even found it necessary recently to bring up Breedlove’s comments with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

The ‘Super Hawk’

But Breedlove hasn’t been the only source of friction. Europeans have also begun to see others as hindrances in their search for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict. First and foremost among them is Victoria Nuland, head of European affairs at the US State Department. She and others would like to see Washington deliver arms to Ukraine and are supported by Congressional Republicans as well as many powerful Democrats.

Indeed, US President Barack Obama seems almost isolated. He has thrown his support behind Merkel’s diplomatic efforts for the time being, but he has also done little to quiet those who would seek to increase tensions with Russia and deliver weapons to Ukraine. Sources in Washington say that Breedlove’s bellicose comments are first cleared with the White House and the Pentagon. The general, they say, has the role of the “super hawk,” whose role is that of increasing the pressure on America’s more reserved trans-Atlantic partners.

A mixture of political argumentation and military propaganda is necessary. But for months now, many in the Chancellery simply shake their heads each time NATO, under Breedlove’s leadership, goes public with striking announcements about Russian troop or tank movements. To be sure, neither Berlin’s Russia experts nor BND intelligence analysts doubt that Moscow is supporting the pro-Russian separatists. The BND even has proof of such support.But it is the tone of Breedlove’s announcements that makes Berlin uneasy. False claims and exaggerated accounts, warned a top German official during a recent meeting on Ukraine, have put NATO — and by extension, the entire West — in danger of losing its credibility.

There are plenty of examples. Just over three weeks ago, during the cease-fire talks in Minsk, the Ukrainian military warned that the Russians — even as the diplomatic marathon was ongoing — had moved 50 tanks and dozens of rockets across the border into Luhansk. Just one day earlier, US Lieutenant General Ben Hodges had announced “direct Russian military intervention.”

Senior officials in Berlin immediately asked the BND for an assessment, but the intelligence agency’s satellite images showed just a few armored vehicles. Even those American intelligence officials who supply the BND with daily situation reports were much more reserved about the incident than Hodges was in his public statements. One intelligence agent says it “remains a riddle until today” how the general reached his conclusions.

Much More Cautious

“The German intelligence services generally appraise the threat level much more cautiously than the Americans do,” an international military expert in Kiev confirmed.

At the beginning of the crisis, General Breedlove announced that the Russians had assembled 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and warned that an invasion could take place at any moment. The situation, he said, was “incredibly concerning.” But intelligence officials from NATO member states had already excluded the possibility of a Russian invasion. They believed that neither the composition nor the equipment of the troops was consistent with an imminent invasion.

The experts contradicted Breedlove’s view in almost every respect. There weren’t 40,000 soldiers on the border, they believed, rather there were much less than 30,000 and perhaps even fewer than 20,000. Furthermore, most of the military equipment had not been brought to the border for a possible invasion, but had already been there prior to the beginning of the conflict. Furthermore, there was no evidence of logistical preparation for an invasion, such as a field headquarters.

Breedlove, though, repeatedly made inexact, contradictory or even flat-out inaccurate statements. On Nov. 18, 2014, he told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that there were “regular Russian army units in eastern Ukraine.” One day later, he told the website of the German newsmagazine Stern that they weren’t fighting units, but “mostly trainers and advisors.”

He initially said there were “between 250 and 300” of them, and then “between 300 and 500.” For a time, NATO was even saying there were 1,000 of them.

The fact that NATO has no intelligence agency of its own plays into Breedlove’s hands. The alliance relies on intelligence gathered by agents from the US, Britain, Germany and other member states. As such, SACEUR has a wide range of information to choose from.

Influencing Breedlove

On Nov. 12, during a visit to Sofia, Bulgaria, Breedlove reported that “we have seen columns of Russian equipment — primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops — entering into Ukraine.” It was, he noted, “the same thing that OSCE is reporting.” But the OSCE had only observed military convoys within eastern Ukraine. OSCE observers had said nothing about troops marching in from Russia.

Breedlove sees no reason to revise his approach. “I stand by all the public statements I have made during the Ukraine crisis,” he wrote to SPIEGEL in response to a request for a statement accompanied by a list of his controversial claims. He wrote that it was to be expected that assessments of NATO’s intelligence center, which receives information from all 33 alliance members in addition to partner states, doesn’t always match assessments made by individual nations. “It is normal that not everyone agrees with the assessments that I provide,” he wrote.

He says that NATO’s strategy is to “release clear, accurate and timely information regarding ongoing events.” He also wrote that: “As an alliance based on the fundamental values of freedom and democracy, our response to propaganda cannot be more propaganda. It can only be the truth.”

The German government, meanwhile, is doing what it can to influence Breedlove. Sources in Berlin say that conversations to this end have taken place in recent weeks. But there are many at NATO headquarters in Brussels who are likewise concerned about Breedlove’s statements. On Tuesday of last week, Breedlove’s public appearances were an official item on the agenda of the North Atlantic Council’s weekly lunch meeting. Several ambassadors present criticized Breedlove and expressed their incredulity at some of the commander’s statements.

The government in Berlin is concerned that Breedlove’s statements could harm the West’s credibility. The West can’t counter Russian propaganda with its own propaganda, “rather it must use arguments that are worthy of a constitutional state.” Berlin sources also say that it has become conspicuous that Breedlove’s controversial statements are often made just as a step forward has been made in the difficult negotiations aimed at a political resolution. Berlin sources say that Germany should be able to depend on its allies to support its efforts at peace.

Pressure on Obama

German foreign policy experts are united in their view of Breedlove as a hawk. “I would prefer that Breedlove’s comments on political questions be intelligent and reserved,” says Social Democrat parliamentarian Niels Annen, for example. “Instead, NATO in the past has always announced a new Russian offensive just as, from our point of view, the time had come for cautious optimism.” Annen, who has long specialized in foreign policy, has also been frequently dissatisfied with the information provided by NATO headquarters. “We parliamentarians were often confused by information regarding alleged troop movements that were inconsistent with the information we had,” he says.

The pressure on Obama from the Republicans, but also from his own political camp, is intense. Should the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine not hold, it will likely be difficult to continue refusing Kiev’s requests for shipments of so-called “defensive weapons.” And that would represent a dramatic escalation of the crisis. Moscow has already begun issuing threats in anticipation of such deliveries. “Any weapons deliveries to Kiev will escalate the tensions and would unhinge European security,” Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s national security council, told the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda on Wednesday.

Although President Obama has decided for the time being to give European diplomacy a chance, hawks like Breedlove or Victoria Nuland are doing what they can to pave the way for weapons deliveries. “We can fight against the Europeans, fight against them rhetorically,” Nuland said during a private meeting of American officials on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference at the beginning of February.

In reporting on the meeting later, the German tabloid Bild reported that Nuland referred to the chancellor’s early February trip to Moscow for talks with Putin as “Merkel’s Moscow stuff.” No wonder, then, that people in Berlin have the impression that important power brokers in Washington are working against the Europeans. Berlin officials have noticed that, following the visit of American politicians or military leaders in Kiev, Ukrainian officials are much more bellicose and optimistic about the Ukrainian military’s ability to win the conflict on the battlefield. “We then have to laboriously bring the Ukrainians back onto the course of negotiations,” said one Berlin official.Nuland Diplomacy

Nuland, who is seen as a possible secretary of state should the Republicans win back the White House in next year’s presidential election, is an important voice in US policy concerning Ukraine and Russia. She has never sought to hide her emotional bond to Russia, even saying “I love Russia.” Her grandparents immigrated to the US from Bessarabia, which belonged to the Russian empire at the time. Nuland speaks Russian fluently.

She is also very direct. She can be very keen and entertaining, but has been known to take on an undiplomatic tone — and has not always been wrong to do so. Mykola Asarov, who was prime minister under toppled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, recalls that Nuland basically blackmailed Yanukovych in order to prevent greater bloodshed in Kiev during the Maidan protests. “No violence against the protesters or you’ll fall,” Nuland told him according to Asarov. She also, he said, threatened tough economic and political sanctions against both Ukraine and the country’s leaders. According to Asarov, Nuland said that, were violence used against the protesters on Maidan Square, information about the money he and his cronies had taken out of the country would be made public.

Nuland has also been open — at least internally — about her contempt for European weakness and is famous for having said “Fuck the EU” during the initial days of the Ukraine crisis in February of 2014. Her husband, the neo-conservative Robert Kagan, is, after all, the originator of the idea that Americans are from Mars and Europeans, unwilling as they are to realize that true security depends on military power, are from Venus.

When it comes to the goal of delivering weapons to Ukraine, Nuland and Breedlove work hand-in-hand. On the first day of the Munich Security Conference, the two gathered the US delegation behind closed doors to discuss their strategy for breaking Europe’s resistance to arming Ukraine.

On the seventh floor of the Bayerischer Hof hotel in the heart of Munich, it was Nuland who began coaching. “While talking to the Europeans this weekend, you need to make the case that Russia is putting in more and more offensive stuff while we want to help the Ukrainians defend against these systems,” Nuland said. “It is defensive in nature although some of it has lethality.”

Training Troops?

Breedlove complemented that with the military details, saying that moderate weapons aid was inevitable — otherwise neither sanctions nor diplomatic pressure would have any effect. “If we can increase the cost for Russia on the battlefield, the other tools will become more effective,” he said. “That’s what we should do here.”

In Berlin, top politicians have always considered a common position vis-a-vis Russia as a necessary prerequisite for success in peace efforts. For the time being, that common front is still holding, but the dispute is a fundamental one — and hinges on the question of whether diplomacy can be successful without the threat of military action. Additionally, the trans-Atlantic partners also have differing goals. Whereas the aim of the Franco-German initiative is to stabilize the situation in Ukraine, it is Russia that concerns hawks within the US administration. They want to drive back Moscow’s influence in the region and destabilize Putin’s power. For them, the dream outcome would be regime change in Moscow.

A massive troop training range is located in Yavoriv in western Ukraine near the Polish border. During Soviet times, it served as the westernmost military district in the Soviet Union. Since 1998, though, it has been used for joint exercises by Ukrainian forces together with the United States and NATO. Yavoriv is also the site where US soldiers want to train members of the Ukrainian National Guard for their future battle against the separatists. According to the Pentagon’s plans, American officers would train the Ukrainians on how to use American artillery-locating radar devices. At least that’s what US Army in Europe commander Lt. Gen. Hodges announced in January.

The training was actually supposed to start at the beginning of March. Before it began, however, President Obama temporarily put it on hold in order to give the ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk a chance. Still, the hawks remain confident that they will soon come a step closer to their goal. On Tuesday, Hodges said during an appearance in Berlin that he expects the training will still begin at some point this month.

By Matthias Gebauer, Christiane Hoffmann, Marc Hujer, Gordon Repinski, Matthias Schepp, Christoph Schult, Holger Stark and Klaus Wiegrefe

Netanyahu Addresses His Sheep–US CONGRESS (Israeli subsidized)

[It is only natural that Netenyahu would address the Congress, which has been bought and paid-for by AIPAC, Israel’s arm in America (he first stopped by AIPAC to thank them for their hard work).  Congress represents the Zionist state, in all matters.  Along with the White House, Congress has faithfully carried-out Net’s “Clean Break” strategy throughout North Africa and the Middle East, bringing ruin for the region and for the American and global economies.  It is only right that such a noted crowd as this bow in submission before their master, or at least their “paymaster.”  Congress has been bought and the United States has been sold to that piss-ant shit-hole, which other paid-for politicians planted in Palestine, NOT ISRAEL.  God does not protect the Israeli abomination, the Pentagon does. 

Their God is Money…PERIOD.]

Congress gave Netanyahu right to veto American policy

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If Netanyahu succeeds in foiling an accord and attacks Iran’s nuclear installations, who will bear the responsibility for the destruction wreaked by this armed confrontation?

netanyahu and his sheepPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Congress on March 3, 2015. Photo by AFP
By Jonathan Lis

The speech is over, with applause duly resounding on Capitol Hill, and negotiations with Iran ahead of a framework agreement continue. Criticism of the Israeli spectacle in the United States capital addressed all there was to be said, and critics will now start to gauge the temperature of the cold shoulder the U.S. administration will show toward Israel.

During the entire noisy exchanges that took place the responsibility of one person, House Speaker John Boehner, never came up for discussion. He was the one who invited Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of the representatives of the American people. The argument is not over Boehner’s right to invite whoever he wants to, just as Netanyahu is far from being an unwilling captive. Netanyahu initiated the invitation, he coordinated the timing and his political goals are plainly in sight.

However, it is precisely the U.S. Congress, which is so friendly toward Israel and so concerned about its security and well-being, that could have been expected to remove an obstacle before the blind, especially when he is driving under the influence.

A demonstration meant to shame the speaker, staged by a few dozen Democrats who stayed away, is no substitute for good advice, especially since it was only part of the partisan political struggle in the U.S. The voice of close friends, who unconditionally ratify the annual aid package to Israel – larger than that given to any other country receiving U.S. aid – should have been heard loud and clear. It should have stated that “Netanyahu’s appearance is dangerous to Israel. It will damage strategic relations with the Administration and may insult a large part of the American public which foots the bill for the aid, and if Netanyahu doesn’t understand this we must him help do so.”

The Congress doesn’t need Netanyahu to explain the essence of the accord with Iran. It has the authority to legislate laws that will foil its signing. It can impose new sanctions on Iran and withhold increasing the budget required for the monitoring system that will supervise Iran’s nuclear installations, thus voiding the accord of any content. However, when it invites Netanyahu to deliver a speech it makes Israel a partner in decision-making over the future of Iran’s nuclear program, making the U.S. a negotiator on behalf of Israel.

The Congressmen who applauded him gave him “power of attorney,” enabling him to determine that the accord shaping up is “bad,” even though its details have yet to be worked out. Moreover, members of Congress, led by Boehner, will use Netanyahu to prove that the accord, when it is signed, endangers Israel and the world. They thereby gave Netanyahu a right to veto American policy.

There could be no greater and more important political victory than the status granted to Netanyahu. However, this victory is fraught with danger. Members of Congress did not ask him, nor did he offer an answer to the question of what happens if no deal is reached. They already know the answer, since Tuesday they gave him approval to use the “Israeli option” if he doesn’t succeed in thwarting the accord.

Netanyahu’s Israel will not wait to see if Iran attains nuclear weapons. The very existence of a nuclear program is the real threat in its view. Let’s assume that Netanyahu succeeds in foiling the reaching of an accord and Iran continues with its uranium enrichment program and Israel decides to attack its nuclear installations. Who will bear the responsibility for the destruction wreaked by this armed confrontation? John Boehner, who only provided the stage for Netanyahu’s rhetoric? Members of Congress who rose to their feet but didn’t warn him or Israel of the calamity that might befall Israel as a result of the sweeping success of the speech? They were only being polite.

Will anyone be able to complain that the Administration is not cooperating with Israel in its war with Iran after Netanyahu vetoed an accord?

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. TERRY L. LOEWEN—the FBI builds another fake bomb plot

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. TERRY L. LOEWEN

Terry Lee Loewen…a clearcut example of FBI entrapment and leading the individual into terrorist activity.  Loewen may have been self-radicalized, but it took FBI agents to radicalize the suspect to a new level of militant committment which didn’t exist prior to their radicalization efforts.  Terry was just another insignificant, disillusioned, middle-age, middle-class, American worker, with a broken marriage, who paid close attention to national news on the terror war. 

This was what originally motivated (“radicalized”) him into hating the American terror war, filling him with shame for the great pain we were inflicting upon the Muslim world.   Terry was known by his wife and son as a mild-mannered, quiet family guy.  His family does not know this other guy, the one who experienced a moment of epiphany, finally understanding the war and its ultimate cost inflicted upon the Muslim world.

Until baited by FBI seducers into taking part in an imaginary crime, Terry Loewen would have been no different than a lot of us.  Like most of the “bomb plots” busted here in the US since the start of the war, the FBI, once again, was the instigator of this terrorist plot to build a bomb facsimile and to draw clueless suckers to it.   There was no crime before the FBI created one, except for being another malcontent.  The man admitted himself, that he would not have been likely to follow his violent fantasies to fruition without “FBI agent 1” and “FBI agent 2” to supply a bomb for him.

Terry Lee Loewen first became “radicalized” on YouTube, where he came to closely follow the rantings of a group of three disillusioned Americans, who called themselves Revolution Muslim (even though the leader is Jewish).  All three of these flakes supposedly converted to Islam and adopted Muslim names after listening to the rhetoric of a Jamaican “Imam,” Abdullah el-Faisal

Loewen learned about Islam from a Jamaican Internet preacher and three East Coast deadbeats who were fronting a probable Mossad operation (the Jewish dude spent years in an Israeli rabbinical seminary).   He never met any real AQAP terrorists.

Zachary Adam Chesser, a.k.a., Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee and Jesse “Younes Abdullah Muhammad” Morton were the two “terrorists” who threatened South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker over anti-Islamic depictions of Mohammed.

Peter Chamberlin

peter.chamberlin@hotmail.com

Terry-Lee-LoewenTerry Lee Loewen

Feds say man ‘well on his way’ to becoming violent terrorist

kake news

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a man accused of plotting a suicide bomb attack at a Wichita, Kansas, airport was “well on his way” to becoming a violent terrorist before authorities began investigating him.

A heavily redacted government filing Monday seeks to counter defense arguments that an undercover FBI agent radicalized Terry Loewen. The defense contends the government conduct in the operation was entrapment and that terrorism-related charges against Loewen should be dismissed.

But prosecutors argued it would have been outrageous for the FBI to leave Terry Loewen to his own devices, trolling the internet for someone to help him.

Loewen was arrested in December 2013 when the former avionics technician tried to bring a van filled with inert explosives onto the tarmac at Mid-Continent Airport.

Loewen has pleaded not guilty.

Al-Khattab, a.k.a. Joseph Leonard Cohen Al-Khattab, a.k.a. Joseph Leonard Cohen, rabbinical studies in Israel, Revolution Muslim Leader Who Threatened Jews Pleads Guilty–ADL

Al-Khattab, a.k.a. Joseph Leonard Cohen2

Jesse Younes Abdullah Muhammad Morton and  Zachary Abu Talhah Chesser
Jesse “Younes Abdullah Muhammad” Morton & Zachary “Abu Talhah” Chesser
Morton spent time in Saudi

Chasidic Man Who Converted To Islam Admits Making Threats Against Jewish Groups

yeshiva world

alkA New Jersey man who co-founded a radical Islamic website has pleaded guilty to using the Internet to make threats against Jewish groups.

Forty-five-year-old Yousef Mohamid al-Khattab of Atlantic City started the Revolution Muslim website in 2007 with partner Jesse Curtis Morton.

Al-Khattab, who converted from Judaism and was previously known as Joseph Cohen, is the third person connected with Revolution Muslim to be convicted in federal court in Alexandria. Morton and another man, Zachary Chesser, admitted using the site to deliver thinly veiled threats against the creators of the “South Park” television show for perceived insults to the prophet Muhammad.

Al-Khattab’s guilty plea, announced Thursday, does not mention the “South Park” threats. In court documents, al-Khattab admits encouraging readers to “deal with” Jewish leaders or take other actions.

US v. Chesser, Zachary

ipt

[EDVA] Zachary Adam Chesser (a/k/a Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee) was arrested on charges that he provided material support to Al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization. Chesser admitted to federal agents that he attempted on two occasions to travel to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab as a foreign fighter. According to the affidavit, Chesser maintained several online profiles dedicated to extremist jihad propaganda. These profiles were allegedly used by Chesser to post pro-jihad messages and videos online. In October 2010, Chesser pleaded guilty to a three-count criminal indictment that included charges of communicating threats against the writers of the “South Park” television show, soliciting violent jihadists to desensitize law enforcement, and attempting to provide material support to Al-Shabaab. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison in February 2011.

In May 2011, Jesse Curtis Morton, (aka Younus Abdullah Mohammad) is charged with communicating threats in the “South Park” episode. Morton helped run a website, RevolutionMuslim, with Zachary Chesser. In a jointly drafted statement for the group Revolution Muslim, convicted terrorist Zachary Chesser and Morton, threatened “South Park” producers with murder over illustrated depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. Morton pleaded guilty to his role in threatening the producers of “South Park” for their depiction of the Prophet Muhammad and related charges. He was sentenced to 138 months for using the Internet to solicit murder and encourage violent extremism. In October 2013, Yousef Mohamid al-Khattab (a.k.a. Joseph Cohen) of Atlantic City, NJ, pleaded guilty to using the Internet to support violent jihad and threaten Jewish organizations. Al-Khattab helped Morton found the Revolution Muslim website in 2007.

Obama Dancing On Reagan’s Grave, Running Tanks Up To Putin’s Doorstep

Cross-Eyed-Bill-Clinton--58648

[SEE:  BILL CLINTON: FIRST NEOCON PRESIDENT ]

Bill Clinton’s Epic Double-Cross: How “Not An Inch” Brought NATO To Russia’s Border

zero hedge

“It began as a pledge by the first Bush Administration to Gorbachev that in return for German unification and liberation of the “captive nations” there would be “not an inch” of NATO expansion. It ended up its opposite, and for no plausible reason of American security whatsoever. In fact, NATO went on to draft nearly the entire former “Warsaw Pact”, expanding its membership by 12 nations. So doing, it encroached thousands of kilometers from its old Cold War boundaries to the very doorstep of Russia.”

“Bill Clinton used NATO enlargement to advertise his assertiveness in foreign policy and America’s status as the “world’s indispensable nation.” Clinton bragged about proposing NATO enlargement at his first NATO summit in 1994, saying it “should enlarge steadily, deliberately, openly.” He never explained why.”

“Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”–George Kennan, father of the “containment” doctrine and Truman’s aggressive anti-Soviet policy,

US armor paraded 300m from Russian border

Russia-Today

U.S. soldiers attend military parade celebrating Estonia's Independence Day near border crossing with Russia in Narva February 24, 2015. (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)

U.S. soldiers attend military parade celebrating Estonia’s Independence Day near border crossing with Russia in Narva February 24, 2015. (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)

NATO member Estonia has held a military parade in border town of Narva, just 300 meters from the Russian border. Tallinn is a long-time critic of Moscow, which it accuses of having an aggressive policy towards the Baltic nation.

Tuesday’s military parade was dedicated to Estonia’s Independence Day. Chief military commander Lt. Gen. Riho Terras headed the troops as President Toomas Hendrik Ilves reviewed them.

Over 140 pieces of NATO military hardware took part in the parade, including four US armored personnel carriers M1126 Stryker flying stars-and-stripes. Another foreign nation, the Netherlands, provided four Swedish-made Stridsfordon 90 tracked combat vehicles (designated CV9035NL Mk III by the Dutch).

Estonia also showed off its own howitzers, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, armored vehicles and other hardware. Over 1,400 troops also marched the streets of Narva.

The parade is an obvious snub at Estonia’s eastern neighbor Russia, whom it accuses of pushing aggressive policies in Eastern Europe. The Estonian government is among several vocally accusing Russia of waging a secret war against Ukraine by supplying arms and troops to anti-Kiev forces in the east.

Moscow denies the accusations, insisting that the post-coup government in Kiev alienated its own people in the east and started a civil war instead of resolving the differences through dialogue.

NATO seized the Ukrainian conflict as an opportunity to argue for a military build-up in Eastern Europe, supposedly to deter a Russian aggression. The three Baltic States are among the most vocal proponents of this policy.

Russia sees it as yet another proof that NATO is an anti-Russian military bloc that had been enlarging towards Russia’s border and compromised its national security.

The Estonian government defended its right to hold whatever military maneuvers it wants in its territory.

“Narva is a part of NATO no less than New York or Istanbul, and NATO defends every square meter of its territory,” Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said in a speech in capital, Tallinn.

Historically Narva was a point of centuries of confrontation between Russia and Sweden, when the two nations fought for dominance in the region. The city changed hands several times and ended up under Russian control in 1704, serving as a military outpost for decades.

The city was again contested in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and the dissolution of the Russian Empire it triggered. Narva took turns between being governed by the self-proclaimed Estonian Republic, occupying German troops and the Red Army until eventually becoming Estonian again under a peace treaty between Estonia and Russia.

It then changed hands between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union along with the rest of the Baltics during World War II and went on to be part of an independent Estonia in 1991.

The city has a large number of ethnic Russians and a strong pro-autonomy movement, with some Estonian politicians fearing that it could be exploited now by Russia to saw dissent. Commenting on the issue in an interview with Washington Post, President Ilves said seeing Narva as a potentially separatist region “is stupid.”

One Out of Five Germans Ready For Revolution

One fifth of Germans want revolution: report
A left-wing demo in Leipzig in May 2014. Photo: DPA

One fifth of Germans want revolution: report

the local.de

Anti-capitalism, anti-fascism and anti-racism were all are prominent positions according to the study entitled ‘Against state and capital – for the revolution’, which has revealed a public much further to the left than previously thought.

In the report, 20% of the people surveyed agreed with the statement that “Living conditions won’t be improved by reforms – we need a revolution”.

A similar percentage of people said they saw the rise of a new fascism in Germany as a real danger, while as many as a third agreed that capitalism inevitably leads to poverty and hunger.

Reflecting the massive media attention given to a wave of anti-Islam Pegida demonstrations, the report highlighted that 48 percent thought that a deep-rooted xenophobia existed in modern day Germany.

East-West divide

An ideological divide between the former East and West was also very prominent, with left-wing statements generally garnering more support in the eastern states.

Among Germans living in the east, 60 percent considered socialism to be a good idea that so far has merely been poorly implemented – compared to only 37 percent of people in the west.

The statement that most people (62 percent) agreed to in the survey was that German democracy isn’t real democracy, because it is the economy not the electorate that has the biggest say.

This is as clear a message as any for the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, who commissioned the study as part of their ‘Strengthening Democracy’ initiative.

State against dissidents

Almost 50 percent of respondents said they had noticed an increased surveillance of left-wing dissidents by police and the state.

And 27 percent fear that by spying on its citizens, Germany is on its way towards a dictatorship.

A more damning finding of the report, which aimed to provide a comprehensive portrayal of left-wing extremism in Germany, was that left-wing related violence had seen a stark increase in recent years.

Police and right-wing extremists were the most regular targets of far-left violence.

An attack on a Leipzig police station in January, with hooded people throwing rocks, bottles and paint bombs and burning vehicles, was the most visible far-left outburst in recent times.

But left-wing extremists were the prime suspects in the vandalizing of posters for the Hamburg local elections belonging to right-wing party AfD (Alternative for Germany).

The report looked into previous studies, discussions on the notion of extremism and interviews with former and current activists.

Researchers deemed it important to analyse the “structural similarities between right and left-wing extremism”, which include a doctrinal fanaticism that can be prone to conspiracy theories.

by Matty Edwards

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Ukraine President Drags Poland and Lithuania Into His Quagmire

[SEE:  Poland to move thousands of troops to border with Ukraine]

Ukrainian President ratifies joint 4,500-strong military unit with Poland and Lithuania

Russia-Today
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko.(Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko.(Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko has signed a law ratifying the creation of a joint military unit with Poland and Lithuania. The unit is set to carry out tasks which have been given a UN Security Council mandate.

“The Agreement provides for the establishment of joint Ukrainian-Polish-Lithuanian military unit and determines the general purpose, principles of activity, decision-making process, security guarantees and other organizational measures related to the activity of the brigade,” the Ukrainian president’s official website says.

The brigade is to become a UN and EU peacekeeping force. Other states can join it under joint invitation from the three states.

The Ukrainian commitment is planned at 545 soldiers, according to the country’s defense ministry. Poland and Lithuania were expected to contribute up to 3,800 and 350 servicemen respectively. The funding will be separate for each country’s contingent and it will be provided by the governments of the participants. The HQ is going to be situated in Lublin in Eastern Poland.

The defense ministers of the three countries agreed to form the unit last September in Warsaw, and plan to conduct the first joint military drill in 2015. Ukraine’s parliament ratified it on February 4.

The idea to create a joint Ukrainian-Polish-Lithuanian brigade was first put forward in 2007, when the three states decided to establish a joint battalion.

A year later, a more ambitious plan of assembling an entire brigade of Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Polish troops was put forward.

Former Ambassador, Robert Ford, Blasts Obama’s Syrian Policy As “a huge failure,” “singularly unsuccessful”

Once a top booster, ex-U.S. envoy no longer backs arming Syrian rebels

McClatchy

By Hannah Allam

Congress SyriaRobert Ford, former U.S. ambassador to Syria, arrives to testify to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the conflict in Syria, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 31, 2013.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE — AP

WASHINGTON — Robert Ford was always one of the Syrian rebels’ loudest cheerleaders in Washington, agitating from within a reluctant administration to arm vetted moderates to fight Bashar Assad’s brutal regime.

In recent weeks, however, Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria who made news when he left government service a year ago with an angry critique of Obama administration policy, has dropped his call to provide weapons to the rebels. Instead, he’s become increasingly critical of them as disjointed and untrustworthy because they collaborate with jihadists.

The about-face, which is drawing murmurs among foreign policy analysts and Syrian opposition figures in Washington, is another sign that the so-called moderate rebel option is gone and the choices in Syria have narrowed to regime vs. extremists in a war that’s killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions.

On the heels of meetings with rebel leaders in Turkey, Ford explained in an interview this week why his position has evolved: Without a strong central command or even agreement among regional players that al Qaida’s Nusra Front is an enemy, he said, the moderates stand little chance of becoming a viable force, whether against Assad or the extremists. He estimated that the remnants of the moderate rebels now number fewer than 20,000. They’re unable to attack and at this point are “very much fighting defensive battles.”

In short: It makes no sense to keep sending help to a losing side.

“We have to deal with reality as it is,” said Ford, who’s now with the Middle East Institute in Washington. “The people we have backed have not been strong enough to hold their ground against the Nusra Front.”

Ford today sounds like a different person from the optimist who only six months ago wrote an essay in Foreign Policy that began: “Don’t believe everything you read in the media: The moderate rebels of Syria are not finished. They have gained ground in different parts of the country and have broken publicly with both the al Qaida affiliate operating there and the jihadists of the Islamic State.”

Now, however, on panels and in speeches, Ford has accused the rebels of collaborating with the Nusra Front, the al Qaida affiliate in Syria that the U.S. declared a terrorist organization more than two years ago. He says opposition infighting has worsened and he laments the fact that extremist groups now rule in most territories outside the Syrian regime’s control.

Ford said part of the problem was that too many rebels – and their patrons in Turkey and Qatar – insisted that Nusra was a homegrown, anti-Assad force when in fact it was an al Qaida affiliate whose ideology was virtually indistinguishable from the Islamic State’s. The Obama administration already has suffered a string of embarrassments involving supplies it’s donated to the rebels ending up in the hands of U.S.-designated terrorist groups.

“Nusra Front is just as dangerous, and yet they keep pretending they’re nice guys, they’re Syrians,” Ford said. “The second problem is, some of our stuff has leaked to them.”

As his calls to arm the rebels have become more muted, Ford has grown more vocal about the relationship between the rebels and Nusra, something U.S. officials have preferred to ignore, at least in public.

At a seminar last month where the audience included prominent Syrian dissidents he’d worked with for years, Ford began with a disclaimer that what he was about to say was “not going to be popular” among the opposition crowd.

He then launched into an indictment of the moderate rebels, pulling no punches as he told them they could forget about outside help as long as they kept collaborating with Nusra. He suggested that supportive U.S. officials had grown tired of covering for them before an administration and an American public that are skeptical of deeper U.S. involvement in Syria.

“For a long time, we have looked the other way while the Nusra Front and armed groups on the ground, some of whom are getting help from us, have coordinated in military operations against the regime,” Ford said. “I think the days of us looking the other way are finished.”

Most audience members were familiar with Ford’s record, and they were visibly surprised at the tongue lashing; they knew him as a relentless defender of the rebels, someone who’d ended a long diplomatic career a year ago this month with scathing words about the Obama administration’s refusal to arm them. Ford is often described as the first senior official to come out so vocally against U.S. policy toward Syria; the White House is still furious with his decision to go off-message.

Ford hasn’t softened his stance against the U.S. role in the Syrian catastrophe – he still describes American policy as “a huge failure” and “singularly unsuccessful” – but now he doesn’t spare the rebels their share of the blame. He has little patience for the argument that they were forced to work with Nusra and other unpalatable partners because of broken Western promises of assistance. There needs to be agreement, he said, that an al Qaida affiliate is off-limits as a partner.

“It becomes impossible to field an effective opposition when no one even agrees who or what is the enemy,” he said.

Ford said the latest U.S. approach of ditching the old rebel model to build a new, handpicked paramilitary to focus on the Islamic State was doomed; Syrian rebels are more concerned with bringing down Assad than with fighting extremists for the West, and there are far too few fighters to take the project seriously.

“The size of the assistance is still too small,” he said. “What are they going to do with 5,000 guys? Or even 10,000 in a year? What’s that going to do?”

The Assad regime is eager to present itself as an alternative, but Ford said the Syrian military had been severely weakened and that it was doubtful the regime could pull off a successful campaign against the extremists. Then there’s the political and moral fallout that would come from a U.S. détente with a man American officials have described since 2011 as a butcher who’s lost the legitimacy to rule.

Ford said the time had come for U.S. officials and their allies to have a serious talk about “boots on the ground,” though he was quick to add that the fighters didn’t need to be American. He said a professional ground force was the only way to wrest Syria from the jihadists.

And any parallel effort to build up a local rebel movement would have to be streamlined through a central, Syrian chain of command, he said. International partners, Ford said, have to ditch the current “nonsensical” framework in which regional powerhouses each fund client groups in an uncoordinated tangle that he said would be comical if the results weren’t so tragic.

And if those steps can’t be achieved, said the man known for advocating greater U.S. involvement, “then we have to just walk away and say there’s nothing we can do about Syria.”

Email: hallam@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @HannahAllam.

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