Of Course, The Propaganda Ministry (a.k.a Mainstream Media) Forgot To Tell Your That Was The Fifth Time Israel Bombed Syria In March – Because They Are Controlled By Israel.

Syria’s state news agency SANA reported that Syrian air defenses “intercepted hostile targets” in the airspace of Damascus. There was no mention of any casualties or damage caused by the strikes.

Less than 24 hours earlier, SANA reported that two Syrian soldiers were wounded in Israeli strikes on the Syrian capital. Israeli officials haven’t commented on either strike, as Israeli typically does not take credit for individual airstrikes in Syria.

The intensified Israeli airstrikes in Syria come as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a political crisis at home. After massive protests and dissent within the Israeli government, Netanyahu delayed his controversial judicial overhaul, but unrest in the country continues.

Earlier this month, Israeli airstrikes targeted the airport in the Syrian city of Aleppo, which was devastated by the massive earthquake that hit northwest Syria and Turkey on February 6th. The strikes temporarily shut down the airport, cutting off a vital channel for earthquake aid.

Israel claims its operations in Syria target Iran and Iranian weapons shipments, but the airstrikes often kill Syrians and damage civilian infrastructure. Of course, they are Syrians so their deaths and suffering mean nothing to the American or Israeli regimes/


Lawmakers Are Sounding The Alarm About Privacy Concerns With China And TikTok — While American-Based Social Media Companies Are Unaccountably Vacuuming Up Even More User Data.

Members of Congress inveighing against online “harm”; a nervous tech executive defending his company’s policies; thinly veiled threats about regulatory changes. If you tuned into C-SPAN last Thursday, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were looking at the rerun of a pre-2022 hearing, when Democrats used their control of Congress to haul Facebook personnel before them to harangue. Almost, but not quite.

Instead, this particular grilling was made possible by a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and instead of Facebook, it was TikTok CEO Shou Chew in the firing line. And as a result, there’s now an American ban on TikTok being seriously discussed in the corridors of power.

Over five hours long, the hearing was at times a darkly hilarious reminder that the lawmakers most gung ho about clamping down on tech platforms are not exactly tech-savvy. Rep. Richard Hudson and Chew had an extended back and forth as the GOP House member demanded to know if TikTok “access[es] the home WiFi network.” “How do you determine what age they are then?” Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter asked, before being told that, like many social media platforms, users are asked their age. Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Crenshaw seemed to think Chew was a Chinese citizen, despite the fact that he’d mentioned four times earlier that he hails from and lives in Singapore.

It was refreshing to hear some lawmakers raise concerns to a tech executive about his company’s censorship policies and their unintended consequences, instead of pressuring him to do more of it. Even so, this line of questioning was not the norm, with committee members from both parties — even the GOP, who have attempted to rebrand themselves as opponents of censorship (despite going into overdrive in pushing their own censorship measures) in recent years — pressing Chew, as per usual, to do more to remove “potentially harmful content” from the platform, whether misinformation and hate speech for the Democrats or the promotion of drugs for Republicans.

But given this is 2023, this was very much a showcase of hostility to China, with committee members mostly using the hearing to raise nonstop concerns about the dangerous implications of TikTok’s role as a medium of information and its collection of users’ data, given its relationship to Beijing.

That is 150 million Americans that [the Communist Party of China] can collect sensitive information on and control what we ultimately see, hear, and believe,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, warned.

TikTok has been functioning as a massive surveillance program collecting vast swaths of personal data for more than a billion people worldwide,” said Hudson. “Engineers in China have access to personal data of thirteen-year-olds in the United States,” fretted Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, while Rep. Debbie Dingell spoke of the very real “dangerous implications” of what happens when you collect people’s geolocation data.

They’re not wrong. As even Chew acknowledged, TikTok, like other social media companies, does vacuum up and store its users’ personal data, and he wouldn’t explicitly rule out collecting users’ health and location data in the future, one of many instances where he evaded questioning a little too skillfully. Social media, like any form of media, can be an effective instrument of social control. And there are legitimate concerns around TikTok at least being influenced by the Chinese government.

Even so, the hyperventilating underway in Washington over this is hard to take seriously for several reasons. It’s true that the world shouldn’t be sanguine about one extremely powerful government’s special level of influence over a globally popular tech platform or the surveillance implications that result. But this is the same argument that one can make about the United States and the various tech companies — Google, Facebook, Twitter, to name a few — headquartered there.

As the “Twitter Files” reporting and recent disclosures have shown, the American government has a shockingly intimate relationship with, and powerful influence over, tech platforms like these, guiding or even directly shaping their censorship policies, right down to what kind of content and which accounts are to be censored. This isn’t totally new: among the revelations of the Edward Snowden documents was that Washington uses social media to push what the National Security Agency (NSA) itself labeled “propaganda” and “deception.” Several recent major studies found that bots pushing American government–aligned messaging were vastly more active than those of America’s adversaries, even if we don’t hear about them as much.

And when it comes to the peoples of the world having their intimate data sucked up, what the Washington Post once termed “Top Secret America” is a far more egregious offender. The Snowden leak, after all, revealed that through the American tapping of undersea Internet cables and various other means, the governments of the Five Eyes network collect and can access “nearly everything a user does on the Internet.” This isn’t exactly new either: these tech companies have been called “surveillance intermediaries” for years now because of their willing complicity with governments’ requests for people’s data, with the American government not the least among them. The government gathers up so much data about its own and the world’s citizens, in fact, that even NSA workers have complained that it’s hard to sift through it all and actually detect threats.

But for Americans who were meant to watch last Thursday’s hearing and come away feeling very, very afraid of the threat China poses to their personal safety, it’s worth remembering a far more important point: that people everywhere have more to fear from the spying their own governments and businesses do than from the surveillance that foreign adversaries do, however unsavory those other governments might be.

Say you’re a Cop City protester in Atlanta, dozens of whom are currently being prosecuted as domestic terrorists by the state government in Georgia. Is TikTok your biggest worry or is it the sprawling post-9/11 national security state, which has repeatedly surveilled and harassed a variety of government critics and which is reportedly keeping tabs on you? Likewise, if you’re an undocumented immigrant, what the Department of Homeland Security does with the enormous breadth of personal information it quietly collects from commercial brokers — including the geolocation data Dingell correctly raised concerns over — will worry you a lot more than what Beijing may or may not do with the same data.

Or turn this thinking around. Can anyone say with a straight face that the average Chinese citizen is more threatened by overseas data collection — one of the justifications the Chinese government has used for its own Internet crackdowns — than they are by that of their own government, which uses this surveillance to ruthlessly stamp out dissent and control its population? Or if Vladimir Putin told the Russian people they should be most worried about American-based tech companies gathering their personal information, all while his government kept tabs on critics and tracked down and arrested dissidents. Would we think they should take his words seriously? Of course not.

But in any case, it’s worth noting that a TikTok ban may not even matter all that much, since in our decentralized, data-saturated world, the Chinese government has a million ways to Sunday for getting its hands on your private information if it really wants to.

As Paris Marx recently argued, what this entire matter is really all about is the gradually erupting and entirely unnecessary new cold war with China that American officials are seemingly hell bent on, creating a climate in which lawmakers want to show “how much Western governments are willing to drive a wedge between themselves and China instead of making any real difference to security or privacy.” Far easier to point the finger at the potential misdeeds of a foreign bad guy, after all, than to do the job of holding one’s own government to account — especially if you’d quietly prefer that most Americans didn’t think about the vast surveillance state they live under or the repression it might enable.

As with all social media, there are constructive policy changes and regulations that should be made in regards to TikTok both to protect its users’ privacy and their mental health. But so far, the American efforts against the platform are looking like they might be the worst of all worlds: unpopular, authoritarian, and pointless.


Russia And China Are Determined To Hold The American Perpetrators Of The Nord Stream Sabotage To Account. Uncle Sam’s Days – Indeed Decades – Of Wanton Criminality Are Over.

Russia and China are strong enough to ensure that the United States cannot threaten, blackmail, or arm-twist its way out of scrutiny.

Therefore, there’s going to be hell to pay as the imperialist tyranny in Washington hits a wall of reality.

Several weeks have gone by with the United States and its Western lackeys stonewalling at the United Nations Security Council, squirming and resisting calls from Moscow and Beijing for an international criminal investigation into the sabotage of the Baltic Sea pipelines that were blown up in September.

A swathe of independent observers, such as American economics professor Jeffrey Sachs and former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, have concurred with the investigative report published on February 8th by renowned journalist Seymour Hersh which claims that President Joe Biden and his senior White House staff ordered the Pentagon to take out the natural gas pipeline that runs along the Baltic Sea bed from Russia to Germany.

Russia and China are adamant about not letting this vital subject be ignored. They want a proper investigation, international accountability and criminal prosecution. Moscow and Beijing are right to insist on this. Washington and its Western allies’ presumption of impunity has gone on for too many decades. The buck stops here and both Russia and China are strong enough to ensure that the United States cannot threaten, blackmail, or arm-twist its way out of scrutiny.

The Nord Stream project is a major international civilian infrastructure, costing in excess of $20 billion to construct over more than a decade. At 1,200 kilometres in length under the Baltic Sea, it is an impressive feat of engineering, symbolizing the mutual benefits of good neighborliness and cooperative trading.

For the United States to blow this pipeline up in order to knock Russia out of the European energy market so that it could muscle in with its own more expensive gas supplies is a shocking act of state terrorism and criminality. It is also potentially an act of war against Russia and callous sabotage against supposed European allies whose citizens are now suffering economic misery from soaring energy bills. German workers have this week shut down the entire economy from industrial protests over collapsing businesses and unbearable cost of living.

Of course, the Nord Stream sabotage is an urgent matter of basic justice, accountability for an atrocious crime, as well as massive international financial reparations. It’s almost hilarious how the self-proclaimed American protagonist of “rules-based global order” is desperately procrastinating over a glaring incident of dereliction and chaos.

But more than the essential obligation of justice is the legacy of impunity. For the perpetrators of such a wanton terrorist act not to be held accountable sets a perilous precedent. Otherwise, what is stopping the state terrorists from repeating equally brazen acts of sabotage and warmongering? The very concept of international law and the United Nations Charter is demolished, not simply undermined.

The Nord Stream incident potentially opens an era of rampant lawlessness and state banditry – by a nuclear superpower, the United States, using its Western minions for cover. The Western news media, in their reluctance to investigate, are also exposed as nothing more than propaganda channels in the service of imperial masters.

The present is reminiscent of the 1930s during a time of fascist expansionism by Nazi Germany and other imperialist nations, including the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Japan, and others. Nazi Germany was not the unique culprit during that earlier time of barbarism, notwithstanding the official Western revisionism of history to absolve itself.

After the Second World War amid the ashes of international destruction and up to 85 million deaths, the United Nations and its Charter were founded to ostensibly enshrine the stricture that there would be no repetition of the 1930s-style lawlessness and state terrorism.

That lofty aspiration was always a pathetic illusion. The decades after WWII saw no halt to the imperialist warmongering and subterfuges carried out primarily by the United States and its Western allies, in particular Britain. What a mockery that America and Britain were afforded permanent member states of the UN Security Council given that these two rogue powers have been largely responsible for countless wars post-1945. The decades-long wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are but the most notorious war crimes of the Anglo-American “special relationship”.

During the Cold War decades, the Soviet Union provided a limited check on the worst depredations by Western imperialists. The People’s Republic of China was not strong enough to act as a deterrent force.

For about two decades after the Cold War officially ended in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States rulers perceived a license for “full-spectrum dominance”. Washington embarked on a frenzy of endless wars that up till recently have prevailed.

The first reality check on the unbridled violence of the American imperialists and their NATO henchmen was Russia’s military intervention in Syria in late 2015 to put an end to the Western machinations for yet another regime-change operation. Washington and its accomplices failed in their nefarious goals in Syria, albeit the Americans persist in illegally occupying part of the Arab country and stealing its oil resources.

Ukraine is the full manifestation of the end to impunity for the United States.

Russia under Vladimir Putin has recovered the military strength that was lost with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In some ways, present-day Russia is even more formidable owing to the development of new forms of weapons, such as hypersonic missiles and S-500 air defenses. Also, Russia’s economy is on a sounder footing than the Soviet Union which relied excessively on militarism. Hence, Moscow has been able to withstand the economic assault that Washington and its allies have tried to mount over the Ukraine conflict.

Just as important, too, China has risen to economic and military superpower status. Together, Russia and China now present an invulnerable countervailing force to the United States and its Western allies.

For nearly eight decades after World War Two, the United States was relatively free to run amok, trashing international law and nations’ sovereignty, racking up death tolls by the millions, and terrorizing the planet with its “benign”, narcissistic tyranny.

The conflict in Ukraine, where Russia has said “enough is enough” to years of American-led NATO aggression, is demonstrating that the days of impunity are finally over for the would-be American hegemon.

Washington has recklessly raised the stakes to an unsustainable height in Ukraine. It has bet the house – and farm – on subjugating Russia for its next insatiable imperial move against China. But Moscow and Beijing are calling Uncle Sam’s bluff. The buck stops here.

The edifice of American imperial power has never been challenged at its foundation. It is now. Will we survive it’s reaction?


Learn From A Real Reporter Who Is Not A Groveling Bootlicker Who Would Insulate The Press Secretary Of The Most Powerful Government Office On This Planet.

A fascinating exchange took place at a UN press briefing the other day between China Global Television Network’s Xu Dezhi and the UN’s Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq about the American military occupation of Syria. The exchange is interesting both for the wild pro-American bias shown by a UN official, and for the way it illustrates how much truth can be exposed when journalists do what they’re supposed to do in the press gallery.

Xu, who has done on-the-ground reporting in Syria in the past, asked Haq some challenging questions about an attack on an American military base in eastern Syria last week which injured multiple American troops and killed an American contractor. In his response, Haq made the extremely incorrect claim that there are no American armed forces in Syria, and refused to say whether the American military occupation of part of the country is illegal.

Here’s the UN’s transcript of the key part of this exchange:

Xu: Do you not urge everyone to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria?

Haq: Well of course, that’s a given, and obviously it’s important that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria is respected. At the same time you are aware of the complexity of the situation of foreign forces, but we call for them to exercise restraint.

Xu: But, do you think the presence of the US military in Syria is illegal or not?

Haq: That’s not an issue that we’re dealing with at this stage. There’s been a war.

Xu: But, is that… because it sounds very familiar this week. We talk a lot about the UN Charter, the international law and relative resolutions. But, it sounds to me, a foreign military based presence in another country without invitation, sounds like something else to me.

Haq: I’ll leave your analysis to you. That there’s… At this stage there’s no…

Xu: What’s the difference between the situation in Syria and the situation in Ukraine?

Haq: There’s no US armed forces inside of Syria. And so I don’t have a… It’s not a parallel situation to some of the others.

Xu: You’re sure there’s no US military personnel in Syria?

Haq: I believe there’s military activity. But, in terms of a ground presence in Syria, I’m not aware of that.

Xu: Okay. Five US service members were injured in that attack. If there were no US service members in Syria, how could they got injured? That’s weird, right? Should I ask you about that? And by the way, if you’re talking about the resolution, the international law here is the resolution from Security Council 2254 (2015), I believe, it says in its PA [preambular] paragraph, “reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations”.

Haq: Yes. I’m aware of that. And as you see, that is accepted by the members of the Security Council itself.

Xu: Yeah. So, again, back to my question, is that illegal to have presence in Syria for the US base, according to the relevant resolution that I just read out?

Haq: The relevant resolution does call for that and we call on all countries to respect that. I wouldn’t go beyond that at this stage.

To be absolutely clear, this is a UN official. Haq has been in his current position as deputy spokesperson for almost a decade, and routinely answers questions about Syria as part of his capacity in that position.

It is not some obscure esoteric secret that there are American military personnel in Syria; it’s in the mainstream news constantly. Just the other day The New York Times reported that “America still has more than 900 troops, and hundreds more contractors, in Syria.”

Haq was either ignorant of this extremely important and relevant piece of common knowledge, or was dishonestly pretending to be. The most charitable interpretation of his actions at this press conference is that he sincerely did not know America has armed forces in Syria.

To put it into perspective, this is like being a UN official and routinely taking questions about Ukraine from the press, but not knowing that Russia invaded Ukraine and has been fighting a war there since last year.

Haq is the son of a Pakistani politician but speaks with a pristine American accent, and his acrobatics in dodging around Xu’s American-critical questions would impress even Jen Psaki. The most interesting part is when he says “I’ll leave your analysis to you,” because it’s such a brilliant deflection that can be used on any inconvenient question you can imagine (“Sir why are you holding a severed human head in your hands right now?” “Look, I’ll leave your analysis to you.”)

Xu’s straightforward, intellectually honest questions were all it took to get Haq to expose himself as an airheaded empire lackey, and we can’t help but fantasize about how wonderful the world would be if this happened all the time.

Look, compare this oppositional interrogation with the shit show that erupted in the White House press gallery earlier this month when Today News Africa’s Simon Ateba interrupted some silly publicity appearance by the cast of Ted Lasso to complain that White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had not called on him in seven months.

The entire press corps immediately leapt to the defense of the White House official in the most sycophantic way imaginable, turning against their fellow journalist and paternalistically telling Ateba to shut up and mind his manners when he accused Jean-Pierre of “making a mockery of the First Amendment.”

Reporters from immensely influential platforms like Reuters, AP and CNN shouted Ateba down with calls of “Be respectful!” and “Mind your manners,” with one woman even shrieking “Decorum!” at the top of her lungs like an overwhelmed child. AP’s Zeke Miller even apologized for Ateba’s “display”, saying “I just want to express our apologies in the press corps to the folks watching at home for the display we saw earlier.”

Those are the sort of groveling bootlickers who insulate the press secretary of the most powerful government office on this planet. Imagine what would happen if the press were as oppositional to Jean-Pierre as Xu Dezhi was to the UN’s Farhan Haq. Imagine what contradictions could be exposed, what hypocrisy illuminated, what inconvenient questions pursued until a fruitful response was arrived at.

Instead we get the world’s most powerful government represented by people whose only traits are the ability to skillfully avoid providing meaningful answers, receiving slobbering rim jobs from power-worshipping cronies who want nothing more than to be their friend. This is the exact opposite of a healthy dynamic, and the exact opposite of a functioning free press.

It should not take a reporter from Chinese state media to ask inconvenient questions about the most powerful and destructive government on earth; western journalists should be falling all over themselves to ask those questions, because that’s what the job is supposed to be. The fact that this isn’t what happens shows that the free press has been replaced with propaganda, and accountability has been replaced with the blind service of power.


The Entire Question Of Whether America Should Assist The ICC In Investigating Putin For War Crimes Only Comes Up Because Of Two Other Glaring Acts Of Hypocrisy.

On March 17, the International Criminal Court issued a warrant of arrest for Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal for allegedly deporting and transferring children from Ukraine to Russia.

The 1946 Nuremburg Tribunal declared that, “To initiate a war of aggression is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Putin deserves to be convicted of war crimes on the same grounds that American Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and Bush deserve to be convicted of war crimes. Noam Chomsky has said that, “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.”

But there are a number of questions that need to be answered and a number of hypocrisies that need to be faced in the arrest of Vladimir Putin.

The first is the question of how the ICC came to consider the case. The first way ICC jurisdiction can be triggered is by a referral from the Security Council. That did not happen. The second way is if a country that is a member of the ICC refers a crime that was committed on its territory to the court. Neither Ukraine nor Russia are members of the ICC.

The final way is if an ICC prosecutor starts an examination on his or her own accord into a crime committed on the territory of an ICC member or on the territory of a country that has consented to ICC jurisdiction. Again, neither Ukraine nor Russia are ICC members. However, Ukraine accepted ad hoc jurisdiction of the court in 2014, meaning that crimes against humanity or genocide, but not crimes of aggression, can be tried by the ICC.

According to former Indian diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar, the United Kingdom pressured the ICC judges to take up the case against Putin, though he does not provide a source for this information.

There is greater clarity and evidence for the several hypocrisies that need to be admitted in the American reaction to the arrest warrant.

The first was exposed by Biden’s stumbling endorsement of the arrest warrant. “Well, I think it’s justified,” Biden said of the warrant on Friday. “But the question is—[the ICC is] not recognised internationally by us either. But I think it makes a very strong point.”

America recognizes the justification of ICC arrest warrants but does not recognize the ICC.

The second hypocrisy is more glaring still. The United States says that the arrest warrant is “justified” and “makes a very strong point” while simultaneously protecting themselves from similarly justified warrants.

According to reporting by The New York Times, “The Pentagon is blocking the Biden administration from sharing evidence with the International Criminal Court in The Hague gathered by American intelligence agencies about Russian atrocities in Ukraine.” Why would the American military oppose assisting the ICC to prosecute Putin since Biden says it is justified? Because the American military knows it is guilty of war crimes. “American military leaders oppose helping the court investigate Russians,” according to former and current American officials, “because they fear setting a precedent that might help pave the way for it to prosecute Americans.”

The entire question of whether America should assist the ICC in investigating Putin for war crimes only comes up because of two other glaring acts of hypocrisy. The first is that America has restrictions in place that limit cooperation with the ICC, since it does not recognize its jurisdiction. But recent legislative alterations have made it easier for America to cooperate with the ICC specifically on Ukraine. America is now permitted to cooperate with the ICC—whom it does not recognize—specifically in its Ukraine “investigations and prosecutions.” Human Rights Watch has pointed out the hypocrisy that “restrictions still apply to other ICC investigations” and that “There is now a two-tiered system in which broader cooperation is allowed for Ukraine than in other equally worthy investigations.”

The other hypocrisy that Human Rights Watch points out is that the United States “objects to the court’s jurisdiction over American citizens and nationals from other non-member countries, even when they fall within the court’s jurisdiction.” That implies that America is making an exception for Ukraine and their ad hoc acceptance of jurisdiction. The Times says that Washington takes “the position that the court should not exercise jurisdiction over citizens from a country that is not a party to the treaty, like the United States and Russia—even when the alleged war crimes take place in the territory of a country that did sign onto it.”

Though the National Security Council has tried to mediate between the Pentagon and the State and Justice Departments who do want to give evidence to the ICC, “Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III continued to object.”

There is yet one more remarkable hypocrisy in the American response to the arrest warrants. Biden says the ICC decision is justified and that it makes a strong point. But the American regime has historically fought to make the ICC unjustified and not strong.

In 1998, 160 countries attended a conference to formulate the Rome Statute of the ICC. Many states advocated for universal jurisdiction that would give the new court jurisdiction over crimes committed anywhere in the world. America blocked that universal jurisdiction and insisted that the ICC have jurisdiction only over crimes committed in countries who voluntarily signed the Rome Statute. This was a loophole America planted so that it could later exploit it. In 2000, President Clinton signed the Rome Statute, but did not send it to the Senate to be ratified. Two years later, President George W. Bush withdrew the signature. That ensured that the ICC could not prosecute Americans for war crimes.

Just to be sure, in 2002, the Bush administration enacted the American Service members’ Protection Act, or the “Hague Invasion Act,” as it came to be known. The act authorized the United States to use “all means necessary…to bring about the release of covered U.S. persons and covered allied persons held captive by, on behalf, or at the request of the Court.”

To be doubly sure, the law banned “the provision of U.S. military assistance…to the government of a country that is a party to the court.” That prohibition was extended in 2004 by the Nethercutt Amendment to include several other types of economic assistance. NATO countries and major non-NATO allies were exempt. For all other countries—unless the president deemed it important to the national security of the country—there was only one route to exemption. That was by entering a Rome Statute Article 98 agreement with America ensuring that they agree not to surrender Americans to the ICC, “preventing the International Criminal Court from proceeding against United States personnel present in such country.”

WikiLeaks revealed hundreds of cables that show how America used the threat of sanctions to force countries into Article 98 agreements. A confidential December 2002 American cable from Honduras says “the U.S. will help those countries that sign Article 98 agreements and cut aid to those that do not.”

The United States sought agreements from 77 countries who joined the ICC “to make extraditions of Americans to the Hague impossible.” They exerted significant pressure. Romania’s foreign minister said that he “can’t remember anything they put so much weight or interest into.” The EU told member states that entering into an Article 98 agreement with America “would be inconsistent” with their ICC obligations. Human Rights Watch said the American goal was “to exempt U.S. military and civilian personnel from the jurisdiction of the ICC” and said that signing the “impunity agreements…would breach their legal obligations under the Rome Statute.” In the end, at least 100 countries signed Article 98 agreements with the United States.

The long list of sanctioned countries eventually boomeranged against the American, leading countries to look to Russia and China for help and impeding the American-led Global War on Terror and drugs. They were gradually dropped.

America may believe the ICC is “justified” in issuing an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, but it has tried to make sure the same will never happen to an American. In 2017, when the ICC tried to investigate American torture of terrorism detainees, the government imposed sanctions on court officials.

Putin deserves the same sentence as practically ever post-World War II American president. The hypocrisy of American support for the ICC action against Putin is revealed by the long history of the United States attempting to weaken the court and refusing even to recognize it. It is further revealed both by the reluctance to assist the court because of the precedent it could set against itself and by the selective willingness to support the court against American enemies but not against its “equally worthy” friends.


What Did The American Invasion Accomplish? Two Decades After The Invasion, The Iraqi People Are Still Struggling To Pick Up The Pieces.

November 6, 2006, was a quiet morning in Baghdad. Noor Ghazi and her family had packed what they could into the car and jumped on the road as early as possible. It was Ghazi’s 16th birthday, but there was no time to celebrate. They had only one goal in mind: getting to the border with Syria.

Since American troops rolled into Baghdad three years earlier, the Ghazis had lived through the worst of Iraq’s brutal civil war. Noor remembered passing dead bodies lying in the streets during her walk to school. Grief became a regular part of the teenager’s daily life.

Wherever Ghazi went, she paid close attention to her surroundings, knowing that at any moment a car bomb or stray bullet could set off chaos. “My school started getting emptier and emptier,” she told RS. “Every day, one of my friends would come in and say her last goodbyes because she was leaving the country.”

Ghazi’s father had no intentions of following their lead. “My dad used to say that he would be the last person to leave Iraq,” she remembered.

But everything changed when her cousin died. It wasn’t the first time they had lost a family member, but this was different. Extremists had kidnapped him in the middle of the night, murdered him with drills, and left his remains in the street. Ghazi’s father was tasked with identifying the body, meaning he would have to look through photos of all the unnamed corpses held at the local hospital.

After flipping through hundreds of images of maimed and disfigured bodies, he finally found who he was looking for. Noor’s cousin was number 167. It was time to leave Baghdad.

As the Ghazi family passed near Fallujah, they came upon an impromptu checkpoint. Three gunmen jumped out of the car in front of them and demanded to see their IDs — no doubt a way to find out if Noor and her family were Sunni or Shia Muslims. Her mother, who is Shia, managed to hide her ID card, revealing only the ones that showed their bearers to be Sunni.

The gunmen then moved on to the car beside them, which had a family with a small child inside. “It seems like they had the wrong last name,” Ghazi recalled. “After I heard the gunshots, I don’t remember anything.”

It has now been two decades since the United States launched its war on Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. Americans have largely moved on, but Iraqis are not so lucky.

The 2003 invasion — and the crushing, American-led sanctions regime that preceded it — set into motion a series of events that have torn at the very fabric of Iraq’s society, leaving at least 185,000 of its citizens dead and displacing 9 million more, according to the Costs of War project at Brown University. Those who survived their country’s darkest moments now live with mental and physical scars that most Americans can scarcely imagine. “Violence destroys our ability to feel human,” said Ghazi, who now teaches Arabic and courses on peace and conflict at several universities in North Carolina.

Indeed, it is difficult to find any measure by which life in Iraq has improved over the last 20 years. Rolling blackouts have made summers unbearable in much of the south, and the government remains far too weak to do much about it. (The daily high rarely drops below 100 degrees fahrenheit in Baghdad’s warmer months.) Once a regional leader in medicine and education, Iraq has now fallen far behind most of its neighbors. A recent poll found that 37 percent of Iraqis want to emigrate, and 81 percent say their country is headed in the wrong direction.

Moral math is notoriously tricky. It may be difficult for some to pin all of Iraq’s ills on the America. But Americans should be under no illusions that the war was a mere policy blunder, as Eamon Kircher-Allen wrote in a recent roundtable for the Century Foundation.

[W]hile Americans seem to mostly understand the Iraq War did not serve the national interest, it’s much less clear whether they grasp how the war was morally and legally wrong—in other words, that it was a crime.”

After Ameriacn forces defeated Saddam Hussein’s army in the 1991 Gulf War, the UN imposed unprecedented sanctions on Iraq. What followed was nothing short of disastrous.

During the 1980s, Iraq had managed to steadily grow its GDP to more than $60 billion per year despite a brutal (and ill-advised) war with neighboring Iran. When the comprehensive sanctions regime kicked in, Baghdad’s GDP plummeted to less than $1 billion. Oil exports — which had long been the backbone of the country’s economy — dropped to nearly nothing overnight, and even humanitarian organizations struggled to import food and medicine. Many families pulled children out of school in order to make ends meet.

It became like we changed from a rich country into a poor country,” said Yanar Mohammed, a prominent Iraqi activist who emigrated in the 1990s in order to escape the impact of sanctions.

To borrow a line from Ernest Hemingway, Iraq collapsed gradually, then suddenly. When American troops finally rolled into Baghdad, more than a decade of sanctions had hollowed out the government, leaving little more than destroyed infrastructure and severely weakened institutions in its wake. Now, Washington was on the hook to fix it.

American officials quickly established a provisional government and set the ambitious goal of transforming Iraq into a stable, flourishing democracy. As the military undertook its futile search for Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, President George W. Bush secured enormous amounts of funding to backstop his nation-building policy and enlisted former diplomat Paul Bremer to carry it out.

Several decisions from the first year of the occupation would prove particularly consequential. The Bush administration disbanded the army and created a policy of “de-Ba’athification” that sought to remove from power all officials who had served under Saddam. Washington also imposed a sectarian political system known as the “muhasasa,” which used quotas to divvy up power and resources between Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds.

Most analysts now agree that these policies fanned the flames of sectarianism, which would soon drive the country’s devastating civil war. But their impact would not end there. “The U.S. occupation of Iraq and the sectarian politics of successive Iraqi governments eventually led to the rise of the Islamic State,” wrote Zainab Saleh, a professor at Haverford College, in a 2020 report for Brown University’s Costs of War Project.

To make matters worse, American forces engaged in a series of human rights violations, including multiple massacres and a program of torture at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. These abuses helped fuel anti-American insurgents and motivated extremists far from the battlefield, including the perpetrator of the 2015 attack at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo.

Women were the “biggest losers” of the post-2003 order, according to Mohammed, who returned after the invasion and founded the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. What she saw was dramatically different from the country she had left just a decade before. “The women of Iraq lost the improvement of their well-being, their status, their women’s rights gradually, and went back to the status of our grandmothers,” she said.

With the old regime gone, tribal and religious leaders became the key power players in Iraq, leading to a rapid rollback in women’s rights. According to Mohammed, Iraqi women faced a dramatic uptick in human trafficking and honor killings, accompanied by a drop in education and access to healthcare.

Iraq is now the fifth worst country in the world to be a woman, according to the Women Peace and Security Index. While political violence has gone down in recent years, 45 percent of Iraqi women say they have faced domestic abuse — the highest rate of any Middle Eastern country.

Mohammed has fought for years to change this backslide. Under her leadership, the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq created a network of shelters for women fleeing violence and other social ills. To date, she and her colleagues have sheltered 1,300 Iraqi women.

But Mohammed faces an uphill battle. Iraq’s leaders have long opposed her shelter program, forcing her to work in secret. She has been dogged by government lawsuits and accusations of human trafficking — a particularly painful allegation for a dedicated women’s rights activist.

When our organization stands against [oppression], and we shelter women from that kind of abuse and violence, we are considered the crim[inals] here,” Mohammed said.

In 2018, Ghazi returned to Iraq with a camera in hand. During her 12 years in exile, she had moved to the United States, had a child, and enrolled in a master’s program in peace and conflict studies. Now, she wanted to give back to the country that raised her.

What she saw was harrowing. In just three years in power, the Islamic State’s totalitarian rule had reduced the once vibrant city of Mosul to ruin.

When I went to Mosul, I [saw] all the destruction. I [saw] how the entire civilization was destroyed under ISIS,” Ghazi recalled. “I lived for 12 years thinking that I would return one day, but it was not there anymore. It did not exist anymore.”

Ghazi criss-crossed the city filming ruins of ancient monuments and conducting interviews with those who lived through ISIS rule. Locals told her how extremists pushed out Mosul’s Christian community, massacred Yazidi residents, and sexually assaulted countless women. At least 800,000 residents fled the city, and many have yet to return.

Even Mosul’s liberation brought tragedy. In its efforts to flush ISIS from the city, America conducted airstrikes that killed hundreds of civilians, as journalist Azmat Khan has painstakingly documented for the New York Times. The deadliest single attack came in March 2017, when a pair of bombs killed two ISIS snipers and more than 100 civilians who had taken shelter in the same building in west Mosul.

After returning to America, Ghazi produced a documentary about her experience entitled “The Mother of Two Springs” — a reference to Mosul’s unusually temperate weather in the fall and spring. The film ends with a daunting set of statistics: 10,000 civilians died during the city’s liberation; 40,000 houses were left destroyed or in need of repairs; more than half of the city’s government buildings were flattened.

Despite Iraq’s tragedy, Ghazi is optimistic about the future. In recent years, protestors across the country have taken to the streets to demand an end to the sectarian “muhasasa” system established during the American occupation. So, Ghazi came back from a January visit to Baghdad “full of hope.” We should all do the same.


America Has Been Systematically Unjust And Dishonest In Its Dealings With Other Nations And That Is Clear To Those Who Live Outside Of The American Empire.

Nobody likes a bully, whether he operates in the schoolyard or in the international arena. Those who support a bully do so out of fear. Hence, bullies never have any real friends. They have followers who are intimidated by the arrogance and power of the tormenter. There are many nations, which appear to be friendly to America, yet they wait patiently with hope in their hearts that one-day the bully will meet his match. Meanwhile, they pay homage to the bully in order that they may avoid his wrath.

To the world outside America’s borders it appears that Bin Laden strides into the schoolyard, confronts the bully and slaps his face before his tormented schoolmates. Around the globe, good people who have watched the bully in his conceit, speak of justice and democracy as if he was their inventor and the only person worthy of their benefits, are appalled to find that their horror of the event is accompanied with an inward sense of satisfaction. At last, “the bully got what was coming to him”.

In the aftermath of 9/11, America’s citizens are scared. Awakened from a dream of rampant consumerism and ignorance of world affairs, they found ourselves confused and uncertain. How could such a thing have happened? It happened because America’s democracy has been subverted, not by communists or terrorists, but by their regime choices. The great majority of America’s people choose to close their eyes or look away when the bully treated the people of other nations in a manner which would sicken them, had it occurred to one of their own family.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said “Just as our national policy in internal affairs has been based upon a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all of our fellow men within our gates, so our national policy in foreign affairs has been based on a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all nations, large and small.” If this were ever true, it certainly has not been reflected in recent American foreign policy. We are pleased to bathe in the waters of prosperity and do not find it deplorable that we expect others to cleanse themselves in our dirty water.

It is deplorable that a mind set exists which allows us to think, that simply because we were born within these borders, we are somehow entitled to a enjoy a greater degree of respect and dignity than we are prepared to acknowledge are the birthright of all the world’s people. Were we to reflect a “decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all nations, large and small” we would demanded that our government mirror in its foreign policy those things, which we most value in our own personal and political lives.

The issue is not terrorism. It is injustice! America has been unjust and dishonest in its dealings with other nations. John F. Kennedy said “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable”.

What is it, about the American psyche that leads us to believe that we have the right to install and support unjust, puppet governments throughout the world? Why do we think that we can impose our economic interests, over those of the populations of these countries? We are insane to think that we can engage in the support and sponsorship of these regimes without expecting that they would wish to retaliate.

We am not aware of one instance where “terrorism” has ever been defeated at the barrel of a gun. Northern Ireland, Israel and a host of other conflicts throughout the last century have demonstrated that these conflicts will only be resolved when each party acknowledges that the other party’s position has some validity. Discussion and compromise are the only weapons that have the capacity to defeat terrorism.

A recent Gallop poll indicated that a large portion of the people of the world perceive America as being arrogant and a bully. Yet, rather than providing insight as the possible causes of “terrorism” this poll has been used exclusively to portray its participants as unbalanced and deranged. Rather than looking at the information, it provides and reflecting on the mere possibility that it may contain some nugget of truth, it is cast aside.

Our inability to look at ourselves and to contemplate that our foreign policy may be part of the problem is beyond the grasp of many of us, and those who would dare to suggest such action are immediately deemed to be subversive or supporters of “terrorism”

The inevitable consequence of our choices will be airlifted to grieving families, who will not dare to pull the zipper on the body bag which houses their loved one. Their grief will demand vengeance. Further orders will be placed with America’s industrial war machine to better equip our poor, uneducated citizens who have been duped into believing that they are about to die for our freedoms. Our President will raise his fist and talk about how “They hate our Democracy” and “This is a war against evil” a “Just cause” as he prepares the soil to grow another generation of “terrorists”.

Peace is not just the absence of conflict but also the presence of justice, for in our world’s history, peace has never prevailed where justice was absent.

Injustice is the garden that nourishes terrorism.

A great many of us choose to engage ourselves in rampant consumerism and ignorance of world affairs. After all, who cares what is happening “over there”?

9/11 has taught us nothing. We have become narcissistic and self centered; like the drug addict who refuses to look at himself, we rage on about how everyone is against us, and use our denial to continue our self destructive behavior. In search of another fix we roar across the world dropping bombs on anyone who may try to point out that our sickness is self-imposed.

If America is addicted to power, who then are its friends ? The pushers who feed the habit or those who call to its attention the destruction it brings on its own family?


The Western Political/Media Class Has Suddenly Resurrected The Phrase “Axis Of Evil” In Recent Days To Refer To The Increasing Intimacy Between Russia And China.

Famed Iraq War cheerleader Sean Hannity appears to have kicked things off last week, saying on his show that “a new Axis of evil is emerging” between China, Russia and Iran, a slogan that has since been echoed numerous times this week.

On Tuesday former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told Fox News that Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are “two dictators that have said they are unlimited partners,” asserting that “This is the new Axis of Evil, with Iran being their junior partner.”

Also on Tuesday Representative Mike Lawler tweeted, “Xi’s meeting with Putin in Moscow is deeply concerning and highlights the growing threats posed by this new axis of evil,” and on Thursday he tweeted, “We are dealing with a new axis of evil and failure to stop Putin in Ukraine will have far-reaching implications as Russia pushes further into Eastern Europe and China moves against Taiwan.”

On Wednesday The Telegraph published an article titled “Xi and Putin are building a new axis of evil,” which mixes in the phrases “China-Russia axis” and “Beijing-Moscow axis” for good measure.

Also on Wednesday Representative Brian Mast tweeted “This is the new axis of evil” with a picture of Xi and Putin shaking hands.

On Thursday British tabloid The Sun published an article titled “WHO’S THE BOSS? Body language experts reveal Putin & Xi’s hidden messages in their ‘axis of evil’ meeting and who REALLY has the power,” with the phrase “axis of evil” appearing nowhere in the actual body of the text.

The “Axis of Evil” slogan was first made infamous by George W Bush in a jingoistic speech he gave a few months after 9/11, and at the time referred to the nations of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. The following year Iraq would be in ruins as the American empire ushered in a new era of worldwide military expansionism and shockingly aggressive interventionism throughout the Middle East.

Bush (and the speech writer who helped him coin the phrase, neoconservative war propagandist David Frum) used the word “Axis” to evoke the memory of the Axis powers of World War II who fought against the Allied forces, of which the United States was a part. Western warmongers have an extensive history of comparing every war they want to fight to the second world war, framing whoever their Enemy of the Day happens to be as the new Adolf Hitler, whoever wants to fight him as the new Winston Churchill, and whoever opposes the war as the new Neville Chamberlain.

The idea is to get everyone thinking in terms of Good Guys versus Bad Guys like children watching a cartoon show, instead of like grown adults engaged in complex analysis of real life as it actually exists. Because the American empire has spent generations framing WWII as a pure Good Guys versus Bad Guys conflict, now propagandists can say that every Pentagon target is Hitler and America and its allies are the brave heroes who are fighting Hitler.

And that appears to be the intention behind this recent resurrection of the “Axis of Evil” label: not to recall George W Bush’s hawkish sloganeering on the 20th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, but to recall World War II. This seems likely because we’re also seeing a huge increase in the use of the term “axis” to refer to Russia, China, Iran and sometimes other nations like North Korea, without the fun “of Evil” part.

Genocide walrus John Bolton has been trying to make “axis” happen for a while now; he used that term to refer to the relationship between Russia and China last month in an interview with The Washington Post, where he also claimed that we are already in “a global war” against those nations. In an interview with The Telegraph earlier this week Bolton referred to “the China-Russia axis,” which he described as having “outriders like Iran and North Korea.”

On Monday Representative Jamie Raskin tweeted about the “axis of authoritarianism linking Russia, China, and Iran.”

On Wednesday Representative Lisa McClain tweeted, “Xi and Putin seek a new world order that poses a worrying global threat. The West should be worried about this China-Russia axis and what it means for freedom.”

You should note that it’s a bit odd for the other guys to be labeled the “axis” when America is now aligned with every one of the World War II Axis powers don’t you think? (If you can do that.)

At a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday, committee chairman Michael McCaul shed a bit more light on the worldview driving this perspective in his opening remarks.

History shows when you project strength you get peace but when you project weakness it does invite aggression and war; you only need to look back to Neville Chamberlain and Hitler, and really the course of time has proven that axiom,” McCaul said, adding, “We’re starting to see this alliance very similar in my judgement to what we saw in World War Two: Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.”

The problem with McCaul’s thinking, of course, is that he is pretending America is just some passive witness to the formation of this evil “axis” of hostile nations instead of the singular driving factor behind it. Russia, China, and other unabsorbed governments have all been driven closer and closer together by the hostility of the United States toward all of them, and now they are overcoming some significant differences to rapidly move into increasingly intimate strategic partnerships to protect their national sovereignty from a globe-spanning empire which demands total submission from every government on earth.

Empire managers have long forecasted the acquisition of post-Soviet Russia as an imperial lackey state which could be weaponized against the new Enemy Number One in China, but instead the exact opposite happened. Hillary Clinton told the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in 2021 that as an insider within the American power structure she’d “heard for years that Russia would become more willing to move toward the west, more willing to engage in a positive way with Europe, the UK, the US, because of problems on its border, because of the rise of China.” But that’s not what occurred.

We haven’t seen that,” Clinton said. “Instead what we’ve seen is a concerted effort by Putin maybe to hug China more.”

Perhaps more effort would have been expended winning over Russia’s friendship had this incorrect forecast not been made. If the American empire managers had not been so confident that Moscow would come groveling to their feet to kiss the imperial ring, perhaps they would not have felt so comfortable expanding NATO, knocking back Putin’s early gestures of goodwill while administration after administration assured him with its actions that it will accept nothing but total subordinance, and engaging in aggressive brinkmanship on its border.

But they made a different call, so now we have to listen to cringey cold warriors like Michael McFaul moan about Moscow deciding to go with Beijing instead of Washington.

After the collapse of the USSR, a democratic Russia had the chance to be a major, respected European power,” McFaul recently complained on Twitter. “Putin however has pushed Russia a different way, turning Russia (yet again) into a vassal of an Asian autocratic power. Such a wasted opportunity. Oh well.”

Which is of course just McFaul’s way of saying, “Russia was supposed to be our vassal, not China’s!”

Really all this fuss is nothing other than the emergence of a multipolar world crashing headlong into the imperial doctrine that American unipolar hegemony must be maintained at all cost. If not for that last bit the American empire ceasing to singularly dominate the planet wouldn’t be much of a problem, but because there’s a zealous belief that all attempts to surpass the United States must be treated as enemy acts of aggression we’re now seeing world powers split into two increasingly hostile alliance groups with more and more talk of hot global conflict.

This is madness, and it needs to stop.


Even The Most Vociferous Opposition Leaders Say Creating New States Out Of The Federation Would Be Fraught With Disaster. Learn Why.

There is a small but growing lobby in America and it’s European client states making the case for the break-up of the Russian Federation. Their main argument is that Putin’s denial of Ukraine’s right to exist proves that the Russian state is irredeemable imperialist, and that none of its neighbors can feel safe living alongside such a revisionist and expansionist state.

Advocates of this position also draw the analogy with the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union seemed to be a permanent feature of the international landscape, but it abruptly collapsed like a house of cards in 1991. They argue the same thing could happen to the Russian Federation, which occupies 60 percent of the territory of the Soviet Union and rules over 190 ethnic groups inside 21 republics in the federation.

Such arguments were advanced at a meeting in Brussels convened by the European Conservatives and Reform group, the conservative bloc in the European Parliament, on January 31st. They called for the creation of 34 new states on the territory of the Russian Federation. In Washington, DC the Hudson Institute and Jamestown Foundation met to discuss “Preparing for the dissolution of the Russian Federation” on February 14; while a “Free Peoples of Russia Forum” convened in Sweden in December 2022. The case was laid out by Janusz Bugajski in his book “Failed State: A Guide to Russia’s Rupture.”

They have some supporters in Ukraine. On October 18, 2022, Ukraine’s Parliament declared the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria “temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation.” In February, novelist Oksana Zabuzko published an op-ed in the New York Times calling for the break-up of Russia.

This maximalist approach to the Russia problem is unrealistic and unhelpful. Yes, an ideal world would be populated by hundreds of little Switzerlands living at peace with their neighbors. But the real world includes many large, powerful states that use military force to defend their interests. There are over 6,000 distinct nations on the planet, but only 193 sovereign states in the United Nations.

There is minimal chance of the Russian Federation breaking up in the foreseeable future. While Russians accounted for only 51 percent of the Soviet population, they make up over 80 percent of the Russian Federation’s inhabitants. Sovereignty is not a credible option for any of the non-Russian peoples who live in Russia’s vast territory. The Chechen wars showed the lengths which Moscow was willing to go to resist secessionism. No one — including the Chechens themselves — want to repeat that experience.

In only six of the 21 ethnically designated republics does the titular nationality make up a majority of the local population. According to the 2021 census, only five nations have more than 1 million adherents (Tatars, Chechens, Bashkirs, Chuvash, and Avars). The Tatar, Bashkir, and Chuvash republics are located in the middle Volga region and are completely surrounded by Russian territory.

If the Russian Federation was to fragment, it would trigger a wave of local civil wars and ethnic cleansing — a grim prospect made even more alarming by the presence of thousands of nuclear weapons on Russian territory. For these reasons, the break-up of the Russian Federation would not serve America’s national interests.

Another problem with the “Russia must go” approach is that it will antagonize Russian political elites and make it even less likely that a post-Putin ruler will emerge who can reach a reasonable modus vivendi with Russia’s neighbors. Non-Russian nationalists criticize Russian opposition leaders such as Aleksei Navalny or Mikhail Khodorkovsky for failing to confront Russia’s imperial nature, and for believing that the North Caucasus region belongs in the Russian Federation.

Indeed, Khodorkovsky is adamant that it is “irresponsible to wish for the collapse of the Russian Federation” and insists that “the Putin regime is leading to the destruction of Russia.” He continued, “A broken up Russia could cause more problems that the current version.” Writing in Politico he argued that if disintegration did occur, “a new need will arise for the forced unification of Russia’s main territory, and this will be accomplished by a Russian dictator. It will set in motion a new totalitarian cycle in Russia.”

There were some dissenting voices at the Hudson Institute symposium in February. For example, Natalia Arno, the president of the Free Russia Foundation (and herself an ethnic Buryat) said, “We want to fix Russia, not to dissolve it,” adding that “There is no demand for dissolution on the ground level, aside from emigrants.”

These issues came up in the 1950s, during Cold War 1.0. In 1959 Congress established the National Captive Nations Committee to promote the liberation of the nations living under Soviet rule. The next year, 16 distinguished historians published a letter in Russian Review complaining about the law’s treatment of the Soviet Union as synonymous with Russia, and arguing that the liberation of the Russian nation should also be a priority. And sure enough, what brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was the defection of the Russian Federation under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin.

Another drawback of the “Russia must go” approach is that it amplifies one of Putin’s main propaganda claims — that the West is out to destroy Russia, and that the war in Ukraine is therefore one of self-defense. Putin said in September 2022 that Western leaders “say openly now that in 1991 they managed to split up the Soviet Union and now is the time to do the same to Russia, which must be divided into numerous regions that would be at deadly feud with each other.” On February 26th, he said that the West wants to break Russia into pieces. Nail Mukhitov, a Security Council adviser and former FSB general, said, “The West’s main goal is the destruction of Russia,” and in support quoted Zbigniew Brzezinski’s 1997 book “Grand Chessboard.”

This theme resonates with the Russian public. Denis Volkov of the Levada Center argues that, “The idea that NATO wants to ruin Russia or at least weaken … it has been commonplace for three-fourths (of poll respondents) for many years.”

Marginalized and in exile, one can understand why the leaders of ethno-nationalist movements such as the Erzya or Idel-Ural would try to hitch their cause to the Ukrainian wagon. It is an opportunity for them to get attention and possibly support from Western powers.

Indeed, Putin should be condemned for his opposition to the nationalist opposition inside Russia, and the mounting restrictions on the right to education in the native languages of the ethnic republics. But that does not mean that America should put any political capital into promoting a fantasy future where Russia does not exist.


This Risks Pushing Russia And China Into A Tight Alliance And America Missing Out On Opportunities For Peace In Ukraine.

The most popular foreign policy related activity in Washington this week is raising the alarm about Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow and what it might mean for a Chinese-Russian alliance.

But this outcry threatens to conceal the complexity of the situation, and most importantly the freedom of action America still has to head off such an alliance. Using that freedom of action is going to require a more conciliatory, flexible, and imaginative foreign policy than we have seen in recent years. This will be a tall order, particularly as there are many in Washington who seem to wish to lock America into a full blown new cold war against a Russian-Chinese alliance.

The Xi visit reflects Beijing’s ongoing effort to uphold its close relationship with Moscow while, crucially, avoiding an unqualified endorsement of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. In crafting this balancing act, Xi seeks to present China as a trustworthy, if not completely neutral, proponent of peace. This is the perspective presented in China’s recently unveiled twelve point position paper on Ukraine.

The paper implicitly counters Moscow by championing territorial sovereignty and opposition to nuclear threats. This is a position likely to appeal to neutral states. But the paper also refers to the need to respect the legitimate security interests of states, an obvious reference to Moscow’s stated concerns about its border security and the expansion of NATO.

Both Putin and Xi released statements at the end of meetings on Tuesday. Neither reflected any new or expanded positions on the relationship vis-a-vis Ukraine. Xi in fact, continued to insist that China “adhere to an objective and impartial position.”

China has significant motives for trying to keep at least some distance from Moscow, including maintaining economically important links in Europe and keeping international credibility with neutral states. But rather than appreciate these motives and try to build on them, Washington has categorically condemned China for failing to explicitly condemn Putin’s invasion and demand Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine. This approach puts China in the same box with Russia. Instead of building on Beijing’s hesitation to fully support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it simply pushes Moscow and Beijing closer together.

This position is made even more problematic by the fact that it undercuts Ukraine’s own efforts at triangulation. Zelensky has not aligned himself with the American-led stance, seeking instead to look for the positive in the Chinese position and do what he can diplomatically to keep China from full military support of Russia.

There is no question that Beijing’s resistance to condemning Russia’s invasion outright runs counter to its own stated support of national sovereignty and territorial integrity. But we should realize that it is in part the level of hostility being expressed by Washington toward China that drives this hypocrisy. So long as Beijing perceives a full-blown American campaign to weaken China and overthrow the CCP — as strikingly illustrated by XI Jinping’s unprecedented recent comments on American “suppression” — it is unrealistic to expect it to come out in full opposition to Russia, its most significant strategic partner in opposing such a campaign.

If America is unwilling to distinguish between Russia and China as challengers to American interests and international law, and persists in rhetoric and actions that seem to substantiate Beijing’s worst case assumptions about American motives, it gave Xi Jinping little reason to put any pressure at all on Putin during his three-day visit to Moscow. This alone reduces the chances for peace. Indeed, contrary to our position that Ukraine is fully in control of any peace process, America has already unilaterally rejected any cease fire that might emerge from Chinese efforts.

Even more dangerously, an American position that seems to prejudge China as a full supporter of Russia’s worst instincts may have the opposite effect and encourage China to provide more extensive military support to Russia. Particularly if it appears Russia might actually lose the war in a decisive way; a China that sees Washington as an intractable enemy would have a strong incentive to prevent such a defeat of its most powerful ally against American global control.

To avoid this outcome, Washington needs to show more openness to the possibility that China might play some constructive role in the resolution of the war — or at least need not play a negative role. At minimum, it would require America to tone down its attacks on Beijing’s motives and role in the international order. An American willingness to reassure China on this score might give it more reason to keep its distance from Moscow.

But some in Washington might even welcome a closer alliance between China and Russia, despite the fact that it would be harmful to America’s long-run strategic interests. From the perspective of domestic politics, driving China and Russia into a coalition of independent states makes it easier to win support for a more militarized and more aggressive American global posture based on the framework of a new cold war. For those who believe this more aggressive stance is needed for America to protect its global primacy, there are many advantages to making a conflict between America and a tight China-Russia alliance of free countries appear inevitable.

But it’s not yet inevitable, and we should try to avoid making it so. For reasons obvious from a glance at a map, some of the most respected figures in American foreign policy have long warned of the risks of a closer Russia-China alliance. As Zbigniew Brzezinski stated in his magnum opus The Grand Chessboard, “the most dangerous scenario would be a grand coalition of China, Russia, and perhaps Iran, an ‘anti-hegemonic’ coalition united not by ideology but by shared grievances.” As this possibility draws nearer, we need diplomats adroit enough to prevent it through actually engaging in diplomacy.