Posts Tagged ‘Donald Trump’


What a difference a year – an eternity in geopolitics – makes. No one could see this coming; the ideological matrix of all strands of Salafi-jihadi terror – which Russia fights no holds barred, from ISIS/Daesh to the Caucasus Emirate – beating a path to the Kremlin and about to embrace Russia as a strategic ally.

The House of Saud was horrified by Russia’s successful campaign to prevent regime change in Syria. Moscow was solidifying its alliance with Tehran. Hawks in the Obama administration were imposing on Saudi Arabia a strategy of keeping oil prices down to hurt the Russian economy.

Now, losing all its battles from Syria to Yemen, losing regional influence to both Iran and Turkey, indebted, vulnerable and paranoid, the House of Saud has also to confront the ghost of a possible coup in Riyadh against Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, as Asia Times reported. Under so much pressure, who’re you gonna call?

The ultimate ghost-buster; Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Interesting to see how Malaysia is getting closer to the US while the rest of the world enters Putin’s tent.

October 12, 2017

The House of Saud Bows to the House of Putin

Photo by thierry ehrmann | CC by 2.0

What a difference a year – an eternity in geopolitics – makes. No one could see this coming; the ideological matrix of all strands of Salafi-jihadi terror – which Russia fights no holds barred, from ISIS/Daesh to the Caucasus Emirate – beating a path to the Kremlin and about to embrace Russia as a strategic ally.

The House of Saud was horrified by Russia’s successful campaign to prevent regime change in Syria. Moscow was solidifying its alliance with Tehran. Hawks in the Obama administration were imposing on Saudi Arabia a strategy of keeping oil prices down to hurt the Russian economy.

Now, losing all its battles from Syria to Yemen, losing regional influence to both Iran and Turkey, indebted, vulnerable and paranoid, the House of Saud has also to confront the ghost of a possible coup in Riyadh against Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, as Asia Times reported. Under so much pressure, who’re you gonna call?

The ultimate ghostbuster; Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Essentially, the House of Saud is obsessed by three main vectors; low oil prices; Iran and Shi’ism; and what to make of US foreign policy under Trump. Let’s take them one by one.

I want my S-400s

As much as a Moscow-Washington reset remains doomed, even with the implosion of Russia-Gate, House of Saud advisers must have known that the Kremlin won’t ditch its strategic relationship with Iran – one of the key nodes of Eurasia integration.

Moscow will keep aligned with Iran across “Syraq”; that’s part of the “4+1” (Russia-Syria-Iran-Iraq, plus Hezbollah) alliance in the Levant/Mesopotamia, an incontrovertible (and winning) fact on the ground. And that does not preclude Russia’s increasingly cozy relationships across the Arab world – as with Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Libya.

What concerns Moscow, deeply, is Saudi (formal or informal) financing of Salafi-jihadi outfits inside Russia. So a high-level line of communication between Moscow and Riyadh works towards dissipating any misunderstandings regarding, for instance, jihadism in Tatarstan and Chechnya.

Moscow does not buy the much-spun (in the West) Iranian “aggressive behavior” in the Middle East. As a key negotiator of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Russia very well knows that Iran’s ballistic missile program is actually the key target of Trump’s imminent decertification of the Iran deal.

These missiles actually represent dissuasion against any possible US attack, “leading from behind” or not. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) in Tehran has made it quite clear the ballistic missile program does not fall into the JCPOA, and will remain active.

Enter the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Saudis and Rosoboronexport (Russia’s state body for exporting military hardware) signed in Moscow for the purchase of the S-400 missile system; the Kornet-EM system; the TOS-1A; the AGS-30; and last but not least the new Kalashnikov AK-103.

The S-400 success story is unequivocal. Iran bought it. Turkey bought it. Now Saudi Arabia buys it – even after splurging a fortune in US weapons during Trump’s by now infamous “sword dance” visit to Riyadh.

So no wonder, after the S-400 news, the US State Department like clockwork approved the possible – that’s the operative word – $15 billion sale of 44 THAAD launchers and 360 missiles to Saudi Arabia, a very good business for Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

The Pentagon’s defense security cooperation agency said, “this sale furthers US national security and foreign policy interests, and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats.” Cynics already envisage a battle of Iranian S-400s and Saudi THAADs “moderated” by Saudi S-400s.

We are the new OPEC

King Salman may have boarded the Saudi Arabian Airlines flight, but the real architect of the pivot to Russia is MBS. Oil in Saudi Arabia accounts for 87% of budget revenues, 42% of GDP, and 90% of exports. MBS is betting all his cards on the Vision 2030 program to “modernize” the Saudi economy, and he knows very well it will be impossible to pull off if oil prices are low.

At the Russia Energy Week forum in Moscow, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the Aramco IPO – a key driver of funds to Vision 2030 – will happen in the second half of 2018, contradicting Saudi officials who earlier stated the IPO was once again postponed to 2019. And no one can tell whether it will take place in the NYSE or not.

Meanwhile, the priority remains the OPEC / non-OPEC deal (with Russia at the forefront) to “stabilize” oil prices, clinched in November 2016 to cut production. President Putin tentatively agreed the deal could be extended beyond March 2018, something to be discussed in detail at the next OPEC meeting in Vienna in late November.

The deal may certainly be seen as a purely strategic/economic measure to stabilize the oil market – with no geopolitical overtones. And yet OPEC is geared to become a brand new animal – with Russia and Saudi Arabia de facto deciding where the global oil markets go, and then telling the other OPEC players. It’s open to question what Iran, Algeria, Nigeria, Venezuela, among others, will have to say about this. The barely disguised aim is to bring oil prices up to a band of $60-75 a barrel by the middle of next year. Certainly a good deal for the Aramco IPO.

There were a rash of other deals clinched in Moscow – such as Aramco and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) $1 billion fund for oil-services projects in Russia, plus another $1 billion for a technology fund.

This synergy implies Saudi Arabia investing in top Russian energy assets and Russia, for instance, supplying gas to the Saudi petrochemical industry and reducing drilling/production costs. Certainly a good deal for Vision 2030.

The new sheriff in town

To say that the Saudi pivot to Russia is rattling nerves across the Beltway is an understatement. The CIA is not exactly fond of MBS. 9/11-related puzzles are bound to resurface.

What’s also clear is that the House of Saud has realized it cannot be left to watching camels as the great Eurasia integration caravan picks up speed. Russia has pipelines crisscrossing most of Eurasia. China is building rail lines connecting all of Eurasia. And we haven’t even touched specific Saudi-Chinese projects part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Those were the days of King Abdulaziz and FDR aboard the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal forging a strategic partnership; the days of Washington leading Saudi Arabia to increase oil production, drive down prices and weaken the USSR; the days of the Afghan jihad. Now there’s no US dependence on House of Saud oil anymore. And jihadist blowback is the name of the security game.

It may be too early to identify the Saudi pivot to Russia as the shift of the century. It is though a certified game-changer. Moscow is about to become the new sheriff in town, in virtually any town across Southwest Asia. And it’s getting there on its own terms, without resorting to a Colt dialectic. MBS wants energy/defense cooperation? He gets it. MBS wants less Russian cooperation with Iran? He doesn’t get it. OPEC aims at higher oil prices? Done. And what about the S-400s? Free – sort of – for all.

This piece first appeared in Asia Times.

More articles by:

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).  His latest book is Empire of ChaosHe may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

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by Barnard Law Collier, Former New York Times Bureau Chief in Buenos Aires.

Yes. The young Donald Trump.

When I met him on occasion as a reporter, he was in his mid-20s, well dressed, handsome, semi-brilliant, the son of a well-to-do real estate developer. He displayed a natural curiosity about anything and anyone who could help him show his overbearing father how he, “Junior,” could erect buildings and amass a fortune in the family enterprise.

The young Donald hung like a rock groupie on every word that a hotshot lawyer named Roy Marcus Cohn spoke. The lessons he learned from Roy Cohn (and which I was party to at various steakhouse-ish venues around midtown) were ones that Trump has clung to all of his life since.

The core Roy Cohn commandment:

“Don’t tell me about the law, tell me about the judge.”

Immorality was defined in the Roy Cohn/Trump realms as doing anything not of direct personal benefit to oneself or one’s “satellites.” It was considered “stupid” if adversaries would not do dirty tricks because of “morality.” Roy Cohn taught that it was anti-business to allow one’s money-making activities to be hampered by any “moral” concept, including any bias against malicious lying, cheating, framing, and stealing.

Roy Cohn was supremely brilliant. He graduated Columbia University School of Law at age 20. He guided the shameless un-American activities and anti-homosexual “witch hunts” by Senator Joseph McCarthy. As attorney for several top Italian mob guys, Roy Cohn made both prosecutors and judges terribly uneasy. His opponents were met by the lowest, meanest, and dirtiest possible counters. His tactics were the talk of those New York real estate people who cared a wit about “the law” and ethics, much less morality.

Trump was then, as he is now, referred to by business people who knew him and his operations as “a noisy pipsqueak.”

Mark Cuban, a contemporary billionaire investor and television celebrity, has asked:

“If he was such a good businessman, where are the hundreds and thousands of people who will come out an say they made money with him?”

They seem not to exist, although many people who were stiffed and conned by Trump do.

By the time he was in his 40s, everyone who counted in New York and New Jersey real estate and banking were aware that the only persons to benefit from a Trump deal was Trump.

Nonetheless, an array of politicians from the major parties begged him for donations, including the Clintons. That’s how Trump got to know the fixers and the judges.

Trump’s ghosted book about the “art” of the deal was itself a scam. There was no art.

His artless point is that to be honest or scrupulous about a business deal (or any deal) is for suckers. To stick it to anyone stupid enough to be stuck is “smart,” and that includes any and all governments.

It was Roy Cohn’s advice to die, as Roy Cohn would die, owing millions of dollars in taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. Currently the public does not know how well Trump may carry out that advice.

Most important, taught Roy Cohn, is to obtain a sharp lawyer, take your adversaries to court at every opportunity, accuse the opponents of doing what you yourself are guilty of, and fight ferociously on all fronts to protect your lies.

In Roy Cohn’s alternative world, the “lie” was the alternative truth, and the real truth, such as the fact that Roy Cohn was dying of a new and deadly disease called AIDS, was a “truth” he denied until his dying day, but the autopsy proved that complications from AIDS are what actually killed him. His death came only months after he was disbarred in 1986 by a five-judge panel of the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court for unethical, unprofessional conduct, including misappropriation of clients’ funds, lying on a bar application, and pressuring a client to amend his will by guiding the hand of a nearly comatose millionaire to put his signature on a will that favored Roy Cohn’s client.

By the time Trump was in his 40s, his working motto became:

“Overpromise, underdeliver, keep the difference.”

There may be no more pithy definition of a scam.

Later in his career he ran into a hard problem he could not solve: His funding among most American banks dried up after several real estate gambles came up snake eyes. However, he found, the Russians do business almost exactly as Trump does.

But Trump is shrewd enough to know, going in, that if you try to scam the Russians, and they catch you, as they inevitably will, they will ruthlessly assassinate you or those you may love, no matter how rich and important you may think you are. (A lot of dead Russians testify to this caution.)

If you or your businesses borrow money from the Russians, there is going to be a payback.

It’s time to face it: The Russians have grabbed Donald Trump by the knurled noil and they know how to shake him.

He’s never had qualms about lying (he has often called it “natural exuberance”), quite probably to himself; a “lie detector” test may prove only that Trump is so expert at lying for a lifetime that his pulse, perspiration, respiration, and pupil size doesn’t budge a micron when he lets loose a mendacious whopper.

It’s time, in my opinion, for all Americans at least to admit and to deal with the fact that the Russians have landed themselves a whopper of a pipsqueak scam artist.

To Russians, more than a few of whom play high level chess, Trump might well represent the “passed pawn”проходная пешка. In slang, the term may also mean “an enterprise likely to bring in gold.”

The pawn is the most minor piece in chess (a pipsqueak). But, when allowed to pass behind the defenses of opponent pawns, the passed pawn has an unobstructed line to the eighth rank, where it can be promoted to a queen, a bishop, a knight, or a rook.

A passed pawn requires an opponent to defend against it, which requires the employment of major pieces which otherwise might be used as attackers.

The Russians may quite literally be “laughing at us” (as Trump has said) because Vladimir Putin has promoted his passed pawn into a golden queen, which would have made Roy Cohn laugh, too.


The United States and China will fight a war within the next 10 years over islands in the South China Sea, and “there’s no doubt about that”. At the same time, the US will be in another “major” war in the Middle East.

Those are the views – nine months ago at least – of one of the most powerful men in Donald Trump’s administration, Steve Bannon, the former head of far-right news website Breitbart who is now chief strategist at the White House.

the guardian

Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong

Thursday 2 February 2017 03.55 GMT
Last modified on Thursday 2 February 2017 12.07 GMT

The United States and China will fight a war within the next 10 years over islands in the South China Sea, and “there’s no doubt about that”. At the same time, the US will be in another “major” war in the Middle East.

Those are the views – nine months ago at least – of one of the most powerful men in Donald Trump’s administration, Steve Bannon, the former head of far-right news website Breitbart who is now chief strategist at the White House.

In the first weeks of Trump’s presidency, Bannon has emerged as a central figure. He was appointed to the “principals committee” of the National Security Council in a highly unusual move and was influential in the recent travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, overruling Department of Homeland Security officials who felt the order did not apply to green card holders.

While many in Trump’s team are outspoken critics of China, in radio shows Bannon hosted for Breitbart he makes plain the two largest threats to America: China and Islam.

“We’re going to war in the South China Sea in five to 10 years,” he said in March 2016. “There’s no doubt about that. They’re taking their sandbars and making basically stationary aircraft carriers and putting missiles on those. They come here to the United States in front of our face – and you understand how important face is – and say it’s an ancient territorial sea.”

China says nearly the entire South China Sea falls within its territory, with half a dozen other countries maintaining partially overlapping claims. China has built a series of artificial islands on reefs and rocks in attempt to bolster its position, complete with military-length airstrips and anti-aircraft weapons.

Bannon’s sentiments and his position in Trump’s inner circle add to fears of a military confrontation with China, after secretary of state Rex Tillerson said that the US would deny China access to the seven artificial islands. Experts warned any blockade would lead to war.

Bannon is clearly wary of China’s growing clout in Asia and beyond, framing the relationship as entirely adversarial, predicting a global culture clash in the coming years.

“You have an expansionist Islam and you have an expansionist China. Right? They are motivated. They’re arrogant. They’re on the march. And they think the Judeo-Christian west is on the retreat,” Bannon said during a February 2016 radio show.

On the day Trump was inaugurated, China’s military warned that war between the two countries was a real possibility.

“A ‘war within the president’s term’ or ‘war breaking out tonight’ are not just slogans, they are becoming a practical reality,” an official wrote on the website of the People’s Liberation Army.

Aside from conflict between armies, Bannon repeatedly focused on his perception that Christianity around the world is under threat.

In one radio show, used to promote an article incorrectly claiming that a mosque had been built at the North Pole, Bannon focused heavily on China’s oppression of Christian groups.

“The one thing the Chinese fear more than America … they fear Christianity more than anything,” he said.

But China is not the only hotspot Bannon sees, and forecasts another ground war for American troops in the Middle East.

SEE THE REST HERE


THIS IS FROM THE MAN WHO HOPES TO EDUCATE THE WHOLE WORLD FROM NEXT YEAR.

Despite Trump University’s claim that it offered “graduate programs, post graduate programs, doctorate programs,” it wasn’t a university at all. It was a company that purported to be selling Trump’s secret insights into how to make money in real estate. From the time Trump University began operating, in 2005, the A.G.’s office repeatedly warned the company that it was breaking the law by calling itself a university.

Following the release, earlier this week, of testimony filed in a federal lawsuit against Trump University, the United States is facing a high-stakes social-science experiment. Will one of the world’s leading democracies elect as its President a businessman who founded and operated a for-profit learning annex that some of its own employees regarded as a giant rip-off, and that the highest legal officer in New York State has described as a classic bait-and-switch scheme?

This article from The New Yorker says it all, see here http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/trump-university-its-worse-than-you-think


This is an interesting piece about Donald Trump by The Times of India. Just wanted to share with all you guys….

WASHINGTON: Most Presidential elections in America have a pivotal campaign moment — some sublime, others ridiculous — that makes or mars a candidate’s prospect. Often it is a single visual (Michael Dukakis looking comical in a helmet, riding an Abrams battle tank; “the photo-op that tanked” it was called); or Gary Hart’s escapades on a yatch aptly called “Monkey Business”; or an aging Reagan destroying a youthful Walter Mondale on live television (“I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”)

No such electric moment has occurred in the 2016 election campaign already brimming with invective and name-calling. But the politically savvy comedian Jon Stewart surcharged the liberal set on Monday by called presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump a “man baby,” in a deft swipe at his limited powers of expression and lack of intellectual heft or vision.

“I’m not a constitutional scholar, so I can’t necessarily say, but are you eligible to run if you are a man-baby, or a baby-man?” Stewart told former Obama advisor David Axelrod during a live-taping of his Axe Files podcast on Monday. “He has the physical countenance of a man and a baby’s temperament and hands.”

Stewart also shredded Hillary Clinton in the hour-long interview that saw him emerge briefly from retirement as a trenchant political commentator, calling the presumptive Democratic candidate “a very bright woman without the courage of her convictions, because I’m not even sure what they are.” But he was quick to clarify that her flaws were not on the same magnitude as those of Trump, who he called an “unrepentant, narcissistic asshole.”

However, it was the “man baby” moniker that went viral within hours on social media surpassing anything Trump’s rivals coined for him (bully, con artist, phony etc) or what Trump has tied to his rivals (Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, Crooked Hillary. Goofy Elizabeth). Considering he is openly vain about his looks and his manhood, the #manbaby moniker could well become the signature taunt of his critics in an election that is already being fought through #hashtags.

Many pundits concur that Trump has lived up to the charge of being shallow and immature with his off-the-cuff outbursts (expressed without much clarity or consistency) and lack of any policy depth. On Monday, Trump said people like the newly elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan could be an exception to his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, because, he rambled infelicitously, he was doing a “good job.”

“Because I think if he does a great job, it will really — you lead by example, always lead by example,” Trump rambled incoherently with what critics say is the vocabulary of a high-schooler. “If he does a good job and frankly if he does a great job, that would be a terrific thing.”

Khan, in any event, snubbed Trump, saying it wasn’t about him alone and he did not want an exemption from “ignorant” Trump’s Muslim ban.

from The Times of India