miércoles, 31 de mayo de 2017


Estamos tan acostumbrados al balbuceo incoherente de nuestros “dirigentes”, que sentimos como una brisa fresca cuando alguien abre la boca para decir algo. Eso es lo que ocurre con el único líder global realmente existente; nos referimos a Vladimir Vladimírovich Putin, presidente de la Federación Rusa. Acá va una entrevista que le hiciera hace dos días el diario francés Le Figaro:

Título: Vladimir Putin’s interview with Le Figaro

Epígrafe. President Vladimir Putin gave an interview to French Le Figaro newspaper, at the Russian Cultural Centre in Paris. The interview was recorded on May 29 in Paris during the President’s visit to France.


Question (retranslated): A very good afternoon. Thank you very much for agreeing to answer questions from Le Figaro. I would also like to thank you for meeting with us here, in a classroom at the Russian Cultural Centre. Once again, thank you for granting this interview. 

You came to France in order to open an exhibition that marks 300 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between Russia and France. 

There have been highs and lows in the relations between the two countries. What is your perspective on the current state of these relations?

Vladimir Putin: It is true that President Macron invited me to take part in the opening of the exhibition. However, let me tell you straight away that the relations between Russia and France have a much longer history and much deeper roots, as the French President and I both mentioned on several occasions today. In fact, the younger daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, one of Russia’s Grand Princesses, Anna came here in the 11th century to marry King Henry I of France.

She was actually called Anna of Rus, Queen of France. Her son Philip I of France was the founder of two European royal houses, the Valois and the Bourbons, and the latter rules in Spain to this day.

This goes to say that the roots of our relations go much deeper, although over the last 300 years they did pick up momentum. This is true. I very much hope that today’s event, the exhibition and my talks with President Macron will give a new impetus to these relations.

Question: Mr President, what is your vision of Peter the Great, who came to Versailles in 1717 to establish diplomatic relations?

Vladimir Putin: As I have said to my French colleague and our French friends today, Peter the Great was above all a reformer, a man who not only implemented the best and the most up-to-date practices, but also was undoubtedly a patriot, who fought to secure for Russia the place it deserved in international affairs.

But above all, he was committed to reforming his country, making it modern, resilient and forward-looking. He succeeded in many, if not all of his undertakings. He focused on research, education, culture, military affairs and statehood, leaving an immense legacy that Russia has been relying on to this day, let alone the fact that he founded my hometown, St Petersburg, which was the capital of Russia for many years.

Question: You said that you recently met with Mr Macron. Did you have any expectations from the first meeting? You said that it is important to overcome the stage of mistrust. Is it over now? As for the main issue, the sanctions, can you say you reached any kind of understanding?

Vladimir Putin: At any meeting, in any contacts, at any events of this level, especially if it is the first contact, there are always expectations. If there are no expectations, it is pointless to hold meetings of this kind. I certainly had expectations this time.

I wanted to get a closer look, to learn first-hand the position of the incoming President of the French Republic on the key issues on the international agenda and on the development of bilateral relations.

As the newly elected President takes office, he certainly has his own view of things, of bilateral relations, of international politics. Overall, I would say it is a very pragmatic view. We certainly have points for rapprochement, for joint work in key areas.

Question: The implementation of the Minsk Agreements on Ukraine seems to have reached a deadlock. Have you managed to achieve any progress with President Macron towards the resolution of this conflict?

Vladimir Putin: Progress in resolving any conflict, including the conflict in southeast Ukraine, can be achieved first and foremost by the conflicting parties. This conflict is internal – a Ukrainian conflict primarily. It occurred after an unconstitutional forceful seizure of power in Kiev in 2014. This is the source of all problems. The most important thing to do is to find the strength to negotiate with all the conflicting parties, and above all, I am confident that as they say, the ball is in the court of the official Kiev authorities. First of all, they must take care of implementing the Minsk agreements.

Question: What could help achieve progress in this area? Can Russia put forth an initiative that will bring about peace?

Vladimir Putin: This is what we keep talking about. We believe that the main condition is to withdraw the armed forces from the contact line. 

This is the first thing that must be done. The withdrawal has been completed in two areas, but this goal has not been reached in the third area.

The Ukrainian authorities say this cannot be done because of the shooting there. But shooting will not stop unless troops and heavy weaponry pull back. Heavy weaponry must be withdrawn. This is a key priority.

The second goal in the political sphere is to put into practice, at long last, the law on the special status of these regions, which the Ukrainian parliament has adopted. The law has been adopted but has not come into effect.

The law on amnesty has been passed, but President Poroshenko has not signed it. The Minsk Agreements stipulate the social and economic rehabilitation in the self-proclaimed republics. Instead of doing this, Kiev has blockaded these territories. The blockade was initiated by the radicals who blocked the railway lines.

At first, the Ukrainian President denounced their actions and said that he would restore order. However, he failed. Instead of continuing his efforts, he officially joined the blockade and issued an executive order to this effect. Can we speak of changes for the better in this situation? 

Regrettably, we have not seen any so far.

Question: Let us forget about Eastern Europe for a minute and talk about the Middle East, primarily Syria. After Russia’s military intervention in September 2015, what do you think are the main solutions for Syria to get out of this long-term war?

Vladimir Putin: First, I would like to note the constructive approach of Turkey and Iran, and, of course, the Syrian government, which, together with Russia, have managed to achieve a ceasefire. The ceasefire would not have been possible without the so-called Syrian armed opposition. It was the first and very important step towards peace.

Another step, which is no less important, is the agreement on establishing the so-called de-escalation zones. Currently there are four such zones. We believe this is an extremely important milestone on the way to peace, if I can phrase it this way, because it is impossible to talk about a political settlement without stopping the bloodshed.

Now, in my opinion, we are all facing a different task, which is technically and I would even say technologically completing the creation of these de-escalation zones, agreeing on their boundaries and how government bodies will function there, as well as how these de-escalation zones will communicate with the outside world.

Incidentally, President Macron mentioned this when he was speaking about humanitarian aid convoys. Generally, I believe that the French President is right and it is one of the points of contact where we can cooperate with our French colleagues. Once the de-escalation zones are formalised, I do hope that at least some elements of cooperation will begin between the government and those people who will control the de-escalation zones.

I really hope (and what I am about to say is very important) that these zones do not become a prototype for the future territorial division in Syria. On the contrary, I expect that these de-escalation zones, if peace is established, and the people who will be controlling them, will 
cooperate with the official Syrian authorities.

This is how an environment of basic interaction and cooperation can and must be built. The next step is a purely political reconciliation and, if possible, the development of constitutional regulations, a constitution and holding elections.

Question: Indeed, Russia and the other parties differ on the Syrian issue regarding primarily the fate of Bashar al-Assad, whom the Western countries have accused of using chemical weapons against his own people.  Mr President, can you envision Syria’s political future without Bashar al-Assad?

Vladimir Putin: I do not think I have the right to determine the political future of Syria, be it with or without al-Assad. This is for the Syrians themselves to decide. Nobody has the right to claim the rights that belong to the people of another country. This is the first thing I wanted to say.

Do you have an additional question?

Question: Yes, I do. You say that this is not your decision. However, this does not mean that Syria’s future is possible without al-Assad, does it?

Vladimir Putin: As I have said, this is for the Syrian people to decide. You have mentioned allegations about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. When the attack happened, we called on our American partners – and everyone else who considers this to be expedient – to send inspectors to the airfield from which the planes that dropped chemical bombs allegedly took off.

If chemical weapons were used by President al-Assad’s official agencies, modern verification equipment would certainly find traces of this at the airfield. For certain. These traces would be found in the aircraft and at the airfield. However, everyone refused to conduct such an inspection.

We also proposed sending inspectors to the site of the alleged chemical attack. But they refused as well, claiming that it was dangerous. Why is this dangerous if the attack was delivered at an area where peaceful civilians live and the healthy part of the armed opposition is deployed?

In my opinion, the accusations have been made for the sole purpose of justifying the use of additional measures, including military ones, against al-Assad. That is all. There is no proof that al-Assad has used chemical weapons. We firmly believe that that this is a provocation. President al-Assad did not use chemical weapons.

Question: Do you remember what President Macron said about the red lines with regard to chemical weapons? Do you agree with him?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, I do. Moreover, I believe that this issue should be addressed on a broader scale. President Macron shares this view. No matter who uses chemical weapons against people and organisations, the international community must formulate a common policy and find a solution that would make the use of such weapons impossible for anyone.

Question: After Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, many people spoke about a new era in Russian-US relations. 

However, these relations do not seem to have made a new start. The NATO leaders spoke about the Russian threat at their summit last week. Are you disappointed by the US attitude?

Vladimir Putin: No, I am not. We had no special expectations. The US President is steering a traditional US policy. Of course, we remember that during his election campaign, and also after he was elected and assumed office, President Trump spoke about his intention to normalise the relationship with Russia and said that it cannot be any worse. We remember this.

However, we also see and realise that the political situation in the United States is influenced by those who have lost the elections but refuse to accept their defeat, and who continue to use the anti-Russia card and various allegations most actively in the political infighting. This is why we are in no hurry, we are ready to wait, yet we strongly hope that Russian-US relations will become normal again sometime in the future.

As for increasing…

Question: In a perfect world, what would you expect the United States to do to improve relations with Russia?

Vladimir Putin: There is no such thing as a perfect world, and there is no subjunctive mood in politics.

I would like to answer the second part of your question, regarding plans to increase military spending by 2 percent or more. It is a fact that the US defence budget is larger than the defence budgets of all other countries taken together. This is why I understand the US President when he says that his NATO allies should take over part of this burden. It is a pragmatic and understandable approach.

However, what attracted my attention is that the NATO leaders spoke at their summit about a desire to improve relations with Russia. Then why are they increasing their military spending? Whom are they planning to fight against? I see an inner contradiction here, although this is not our business.

Let NATO decide who will pay and how much. We have our own defence to deal with, and we are working to ensure it reliably and with a view to the future. We feel confident.

Question: However, regarding NATO, some of your neighbours want to ensure their security through NATO. Is this a sign of mistrust to you, something that causes a scandalous attitude?

Vladimir Putin: For us this is a sign that our partners in Europe and in the United States are, pardon me, pursuing a short-sighted policy. They do not have the habit of looking one step ahead. Our Western partners have lost this habit.

When the Soviet Union ceased to exist, Western politicians told us (it was not documented on paper but stated quite clearly) that NATO would not expand to the East. Some German politicians at the time even proposed creating a new security system in Europe that would involve the United States and, by the way, Russia.

If that had been done, we would not have the problems we have had in recent years, which is NATO’s expansion to the East up to our borders, the advance of military infrastructure to our borders. Perhaps, the United States would not have unilaterally withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

This treaty was a cornerstone of current and future security. The missile defence facilities in Europe – in Poland and Romania – would not have been built, which, undoubtedly, creates a threat to our strategic nuclear forces and disrupts the strategic balance – an extremely dangerous development for international security. Perhaps all this would not have happened. But it did, and we cannot rewind history, it is not a movie.

We have to proceed from the current situation. In this respect, we need to think about what we want from the future. I think we all want security, peace, safety and cooperation. Therefore, we should not build up tensions or invent fictional threats from Russia, some hybrid warfare etc.

You made these things up yourselves and now scare yourselves with them and even use them to plan your prospective policies. These policies have no prospects. The only possible future is in cooperation in all areas, including security issues.

What is the major security problem today? Terrorism. There are bombings in Europe, in Paris, in Russia, in Belgium. There is a war in the Middle East. This is the main concern. But no, let us keep speculating on the threat from Russia.

Question: You are saying that more could be done regarding terrorism and Islamism. But what exactly should be done and what can Russia do? And why is it so hard to work with Europe to achieve these goals?

Vladimir Putin: Ask Europe. We are willing to cooperate, as I said a while ago at the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, when I called on all countries to unite their efforts to fight terrorism. However, this is a very complex issue.

Look, after the Paris terrorist attack, a bloody and horrible event, President Hollande came to Russia and we agreed on cooperative actions. The Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier approached the Syrian coast. Then, Francois headed to Washington, while the Charles de Gaulle left for the Suez Canal.

So real cooperation with France ended before it even started. France is involved in operations there, but it is acting within the US-led coalition. Go figure who gives the orders, and who is not, who has a say, and what the agenda is. Russia is open to cooperation.

It was also very difficult to agree on these issues with the US. Incidentally, we have been seeing some shifts lately; and there are actual results. I spoke to President Trump on the telephone, and he supported the idea, in general, of creating de-escalation zones.

We are now considering how the interests of all the countries to the south of Syria can be best served, with consideration for the concerns of all the countries that face issues in this region. I am referring to Jordan, Israel and Syria itself. Of course, Russia is ready to heed what the United States and our European partners have to say. However, what we need is for the dialogue to be specific and concise, instead of empty talk about mutual claims and threats. There is a need for a real effort.

Question: You are saying that they are the ones who need to decide and act, right?

Vladimir Putin: That is exactly the way it is.

Question: You have mentioned the United States. The allegations of Russia’s interference in the US presidential race raised a political storm in Washington. Similar allegations were also voiced in France. What is your response, especially against the backdrop of recent developments in the US?

Vladimir Putin: I have already commented on this issue many times. There was a question on this topic from one of your colleagues today. He put it very cautiously at the news conference, saying that ‘there are allegations that Russian hackers…’ Who is making these allegations? Based on what? If these are just allegations, then these hackers could be from anywhere else and not necessarily from Russia.

As President Trump once said, and I think that he was totally right when he said it could have been someone sitting on their bed or somebody intentionally inserted a flash drive with the name of a Russian national, or something like that. Anything is possible in this virtual world. Russia never engages in activities of this kind, and we do not need it. It makes no sense for us to do such things. What for?

I have already spoken to three US Presidents. They come and go, but politics stay the same at all times. Do you know why? Because of the powerful bureaucracy. When a person is elected, they may have some ideas. Then people with briefcases arrive, well dressed, wearing dark suits, just like mine, except for the red tie, since they wear black or dark blue ones. These people start explaining how things are done. And instantly, everything changes. This is what happens with every administration.

Changing things is not easy, and I say this without any irony. It is not that someone does not want to, but because it is a hard thing to do. Take Obama, a forward-thinking man, a liberal, a democrat. Did he not pledge to shut down Guantanamo before his election? But did he do it? No, he did not. And may I ask why not? Did he not want to do it? He wanted to, I am sure he did, but it did not work out. He sincerely wanted to do it, but did not succeed, since it turned out to be very complicated.

This is not the main issue, however, even though it is important, since it is hard to fathom that people have been walking there in chains for decades without trial or investigation. Can you imagine France or Russia acting this way? This would have been a disaster. But it is possible in the United States and continues to this day. This refers to the question on democracy, by the way.

I referred to this example just to show that it is not as simple as it may seem. That said, I am cautiously optimistic, and I think that we can and should be able to reach agreements on key issues.

Question: You are saying that right now, the political storm in Washington rests on absolutely unsubstantiated allegations.

Vladimir Putin: It is not based on allegations, but on the desire of those who lost the elections in the United States to at least improve their standing through anti-Russia attacks, by accusing Russia of interference. The people who lost the elections do not want to admit that they really lost, that the one who won was closer to the people and better understood what ordinary voters want.

They are absolutely reluctant to admit this, and prefer deluding themselves and others into thinking it was not their fault, that their policy was correct, they did all the right things, but someone from the outside thwarted them. But it was not so. They just lost and they have to admit it.

When they do, I think it will be easier for us to work. However, the fact that this is being done using anti-Russia tools is not good, as it brings discord into international affairs. Let them argue among themselves, so they can prove who is stronger, who is better, who is smarter, who is more reliable and who sets a better policy for the country. Why involve third countries? This is very distressing. But it will pass, everything passes, and this will pass as well.

Question: Mr President, we are close to the end of our interview. Most of all I would like to ask you a question about 2018. This is the year of elections in Russia – presidential elections, and elections to the Federal Assembly.

Could you tell us if you intend to run, o perhaps the opposition would be able to nominate someone in a democratic procedure? How do you see the development of this situation? You do want next year’s campaign to unfold in a truly democratic environment, don’t you? I am talking about 2018.

Vladimir Putin: All the recent election campaigns in Russia have been in strict accordance with the Russian Constitution, in strict compliance. 

And I will make every effort to ensure that the 2018 election campaigns are conducted in the same way, I repeat, in strict accordance with the law and the Constitution.

So anyone entitled to run, anyone who fulfils the relevant procedures prescribed by law, can and will participate, if they wish, in elections at all levels – to legislative assemblies, to parliament, and in presidential elections. As for the candidates, it is still too early to talk about it.

Question: Thank you. I hope we will see you soon, thank you very much for sharing your views with Le Figaro.

Ampliación del campo de batalla (3): Siria, otra vez

La NATO está decidida a meterse en Siria con hombres y armas en un nuevo intento por partir a Siria en varios pedazos, funcionales a la política del Imperio de bloquear la alianza chiíta que ya funciona de hecho en la región, y disputarle a Rusia su liderazgo militar en el conflicto. La nota que sigue es de Peter Korzun para el sitio web Strategic Culture Foundation:

Título: NATO Launches Its Own Operation in the Middle East

Texto: The recent NATO summit took a decision to formally become a member of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS), in addition to its training mission in Iraq.

Last year, NATO started a training and capacity-building mission for Iraqi armed forces. In January, it opened a regional center in Kuwait. NATO AWACS aircraft operate in Syria. But the participation in combat actions against the IS has so far been limited to a few aircraft taking part in the operations of the US-led coalition of the willing. Formally, each alliance member contributes to the coalition, but NATO as its own entity does not. Despite the coalition’s efforts, the IS had grown and expanded in Syria till Russia launched its military operation there in 2015.

France and Germany have always had reservations about the prospect of joining the anti-IS coalition as an alliance, concerned that it would lead to NATO taking over the fight or overshadowing regional partners, such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Italy has been skeptical of the plan.

Despite all the speeches ringing alarm bells about the deadly threat coming from the IS – the mortal enemy of the West that vowed to fight it till it exists - the bloc’s combat ready forces are deploying…against Russia in the Eastern Europe! As a result, the alliance has seen no need to counter the IS plans to create a caliphate. It stubbornly turns a blind eye on the peril coming from the South.

Migrant flows are flooding the territories of European alliance members, terrorist acts are committed to kill citizens of the NATO member states, US and Turkish military are fighting the extremists on the ground but the bloc largely limits itself to words of condemnation while demonizing Russia – the country which says it does not want to provoke confrontation and calls for a dialogue!

The summit’s decision to join the fight comes at a time the US, UK and France-backed rebel forces based in Jordan are reported to be preparing for operations on Syrian soil. On May 18, US aircraft struck a convoy of forces affiliated with the Syrian government. The attack occurred in far southern Syria near al-Tanf, along the Syria-Iraq border – an area where US Special Operations Forces (SOF) are training local fighters. The leading NATO member plunged directly into the Syrian conflict taking sides. Evidently, the move signaled broadening of American involvement in the six-year Syrian civil war. The US has led the anti-IS in Syria since 2014, but so far has avoided engaging with Syrian government or Iran-backed forces.

The US, the UK and France are the leading members of the alliance and there is little doubt they are preparing to cross the border and establish control over the region where the borders of Jordan, Syria, and Iraq meet. They will need support of other nations, especially the allied ones and it coincides with NATO’s decision to become part of the anti-IS operation. The control over the area by NATO-supported forces will include a key highway from Baghdad to Damascus that Iran has used to supply weapons to Syrian forces. Al-Tanf is a strategic crossing located at the intersection of the Jordanian, Iraq, and Syrian borders and commands the No.1 Route linking Baghdad with Damascus and the Jordanian capital of Amman.

It all happens at a time NATO members involved in the combat actions and Israel are deeply concerned over the recent visit of a high-ranking Iraqi military to Damascus to discuss the situation on the Syrian-Iraqi border. The allegation that Iraq’s Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has pivoted his support away from the US-led campaign to the Russia-Turkey-Iran coalition adds even more fuel to the fire.

Definitely, the contribution will increase. Right after the summit on May 25, the Netherlands announced the decision to send two more warplanes to fight the IS. From mid-June a Dutch KDC-10 tanker aircraft will be stationed in Kuwait. And in the last quarter of the year, a C-130 transport plane will be contributed to the fight for two months. About 90 military personnel will go with the planes. The new deployment will temporarily increase the number of Dutch soldiers in Iraq to about 175, twenty more than previously agreed. The Dutch commandos currently supporting Iraqi troops on the front will be equipped with armored vehicles and other weapons systems from next month. The Netherlands also expressed readiness to contribute several F-16 fighters from early next year. Other NATO members will increase the contribution to support the NATO effort. It will increase but it is worth to remember that the bloc’s operations in Libya and Afghanistan ended up in failure.

Expanding NATO role in Syria may lead to either confrontation or coordination, or at least de-confliction, with the Russia-Syria-Iran forces. Turkey, a NATO country, is a member of Russia-Turkey-Iran trio pushing forward the Astana peace process. And the common enemy is the IS. Coordination of efforts appears to be a logical step. The issue should top the NATO-Russia Council agenda along with the plans to establish de-escalation zones. It could be discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G20 summit.

Some arrangement with Russia is unavoidable. But is it an achievable goal with NATO building up its forces in the Baltics, Poland, Romania and the whole Black Sea region? Can Russia and NATO fruitfully coordinate efforts, or even cooperate, in Syria with tensions running high in Europe? Evidently, the standoff between Russia and NATO benefits no one but IS. Finding mutual understanding is indispensable to defeat the common enemy. Actually, playing off the West against Russia is the IS only hope for survival. That’s the expectation the group must be deprived of. It remains to be seen if these arguments are taken into consideration as NATO joins the fray.

martes, 30 de mayo de 2017

Postales de fin de época

Seguimos leyendo artículos que nos suenan a postales de fin de época para el Imperio y su nación estandarte, los EEUU. La nota que sigue es de Jeff Thomas y apareció en el sitio web InternationalMan.com:

Título: For Every Action, There Is An Equal And Opposite Reaction

Texto: Newton’s third law of motion has proven the test of time, since he first stated it in 1686. If we were to apply the same concept to political history, we might say,

A nation that rises to a great height will fall to an equally great depth.

At first glance, that seems to be merely clever wordsmithing. However, historically, it does seem to play out exactly that way. Most countries tend to ebb and flow as to their prosperity, but those that rise to great heights, particularly those that rise to become empires, tend to crash with a weight equal to their strength at the height of their power.

If we consider that point when we observe the present dominant empire, the US, we would expect that, at the point that the empire is teetering on the edge of collapse, we would see signs of rot within the government, the economy, and even within many of the people. The closer we get to the tipping point, the more this would be borne out by lunacy in the media, the courts, even the hallowed halls of education.

So, let’s have a peek into present events – events that may not be the most crucial in the state of the union but are indicators that the system is self-destructing.

The following are three briefs on articles that recently appeared in the same publication on the same day (they have not been edited by me):

- “Mike Adams Reports the Boston Herald to the FBI for Recommending That Those who Oppose Vaccines Should Be Executed by Hanging”:

Mike Adams, the owner of the Natural News website, is filing a complaint with the Boston FBI against the Boston Herald for publishing a violence-inciting editorial attributed to the Boston Herald. The editorial claims that vaccines don't cause autism and that it ought to be a "hanging offense" for anyone who opposes this conventional theory.

- “Black Student Group at UC Santa Cruz Threatens Takeover”:

The African/ Black Student Alliance (A/BSA) physically occupied a building on the UC Santa Cruz campus and was granted all of its demands, which includes mandatory ‘diversity training’ for all incoming students. Now they are threatening more civil disruption if their new demands are not met.

- “Tim Allen’s TV Sitcom Cancelled After He Said Being a Conservative in Hollywood Was Like Living in Nazi Germany”:

Tim Allen starred as a positive conservative character in the ABC sitcom, Last Man Standing, which was cancelled despite high ratings. The cancellation comes two months after he made a comment on a talk show comparing living as a conservative in Hollywood to Nazi Germany.

No need to go into the entire articles. You get the point. The fact that these articles appeared on the same day in the same publication exemplifies the fact that these are not isolated incidents. They are a part of an overall social/legal/cultural trend that we see not only in the US, where these incidents occurred, but in much of what was once known as “the free world.”

These incidents represent the antithesis of freedom. They are the acts of individuals and small groups taking the position that they should be afforded the authority to determine the behavior of all others. They represent power without accountability and have the support of the rulers, media, and courts.

But, how is it that they have become so pervasive? How are they even acceptable points of view? The answer lies in one word: education.

This danger was predicted by a young Thomas Jefferson, when he stated, "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

Mister Jefferson was, to my mind, the greatest visionary of his time. He was eminently educated. He entered the prestigious College of William & Mary in 1760 and, upon graduation, rounded out his education under the great George Wythe in Williamsburg, Virginia. In Mister Jefferson’s day, education was the key to higher understanding.

He studied architecture, which led to his creation of several iconic buildings, whose designs are still studied today. He studied ancient history and improved upon the Athenian Republic when creating an outline for what would become the United States. He studied economics and successfully knocked down the ideas of a central bank and income taxes, as proposed by Alexander Hamilton, his nemesis in George Washington’s cabinet. These accomplishments were inspired by his education.

A half-century ago, I was sent to school in Boston, which had long been regarded as the centre of higher education in the Western Hemisphere. In my final years there, I spent endless hours discussing higher concepts with others in and around the lawns of Harvard University, expanding my outlook. At that time, the emphasis in higher learning was on the expansion of the powers of reason—the ability of each individual to make use of existing knowledge in order to expand upon it. This was seen as essential, as those who were learning there were being prepared to lead the next generation in politics, economics, manufacturing, invention, and most every other endeavor.

And, yet, what was considered the very best in America has become, in many ways, the worst. Today, the nation’s universities, from Berkeley in California to Columbia in New York, have become the exact opposite of what they were created to be. Instead of cultivating the powers of reason in order to expand upon previous achievements, universities in America have become bastions of oppression, decrying and even punishing any thought that’s not strictly politically correct. And nowhere is this more true than at Harvard. It’s become a centre for collectivist thinking and a factory for the oppressors of the next generation.

To be sure, the students themselves did not create this atmosphere. But huge grants to both professors and schools have assured that the mindset of the instructors and the goals of the schools themselves have become the indoctrination of a future generation of leaders to a collectivist way of thinking.

The result of years of such indoctrination is that the US is today a culture in which the collectivist agenda is being pushed by those who are the most educated and respected. Not surprising then, that the media, the courts, and the public themselves now see collectivism as high-minded and fail to grasp what the American Founding Fathers knew: that a successful and progressive society is built upon freedom, not Orwellian domination.

Unfortunately, it’s ever-true that we’re the product of what we learn. More importantly, a country that’s successful in indoctrinating its youth to believe in oppression will bear fruit and become an oppressive nation.

The US rose to an unprecedented height in its developing years. In its decline, that hasn’t merely been diminished - it’s been reversed. Although some Americans do still grasp the Jeffersonian concept of freedom, the overall thrust of the nation is the opposite. The US still exists, but America has departed.

Macron-Putin: ¿Siria por Ucrania?

Poco a poco se van desgranando aspectos de la entrevista que mantuvieran ayer los presidentes francés y ruso en torno a temas internacionales. La clave es separar la paja del trigo en lo que dicen los medios de desinformación de Occidente. Nuestra primera impresión es que Macron exigió una tajada francesa en Siria a cambio de dejar de apoyar a los fascistas en Ucrania. Veamos lo que dicen dos diarios españoles. Primero, una nota de El Mundo

Título: Macron planta cara a Putin

Epígrafe: El presidente francés promete que París "tomara represalias" si Siria utiliza armas químicas y acusa a dos medios del Kremlin de "contraverdades infamantes"

Texto: El tiempo dirá si esa actitud mejora o no las tensas relaciones entre París y Moscú. La cooperación antiterrorista constituye un ámbito en el que pueden alcanzarse resultados.

Francia es desde hace siglos el país del Occidente europeo más ligado a Rusia. La visita de Vladimir Putin a París respondió a una invitación que Emmanuel Macronformuló hace pocos días, ligada precisamente a la inauguración de una muestra que conmemora los 300 años del viaje del zar Pedro el Grande a la Corte de Versalles. Debido a esa relación especial, cada presidente francés tiene que medirse con su homólogo ruso desde el principio de su mandato. Putin, que, como presidente o como primer ministro, dirige el Kremlin desde hace dos décadas, puede ser un rival terrible. Nicolas Sarkozy sufrió una muy mala experiencia con él.

En 2007, recién elegido, Sarkozy conoció a Putin durante una reunión del G-8. Tras reunirse con él, Sarkozy compareció ante la prensa en un estado que algunos atribuyeron al consumo de alcohol. Pero no hubo vodka de por medio: Sarkozy es abstemio. Lo que el bisoño presidente francés arrastraba tenía más que ver con el shock postraumático. En un momento de la conversación, Putin le había amenazado: "Si continúas hablándome en ese tono, te aplasto".

Tal vez durante el almuerzo privado entre Macron y Putin, en el Trianon de Versalles, se pronunció alguna frase parecida. Pero Macron no pareció conmocionado. Más bien al contrario, dijo ante la prensa que la conversación había sido "franca y directa" y se refirió a unos cuantos asuntos, como la persecución de los homosexuales en Chechenia, el hostigamiento a las ONG en Rusia o las injerencias rusas en la campaña electoral francesa, que incomodaron de forma evidente a su invitado. Por una vez, el presidente ruso adoptó una actitud defensiva.

Las relaciones bilaterales, que fueron buenas con Jacques Chirac (por su negativa a secundar la invasión de Irak), empeoraron con Sarkozy y se hicieron gélidas con François Hollande a causa de los conflictos en Ucrania y Siria. En octubre pasado, Hollande canceló una visita de Putin a París en la que debía inaugurar la nueva catedral ortodoxa. La inauguración se realizó al fin ayer.

Respecto a Siria no hubo avances apreciables. Macron subrayó que no tenía ninguna prisa por reabrir la embajada francesa en Damasco ni por aproximarse al régimen de Bashar Asad. Incluso lanzó una advertencia: si el frente ruso-sirio volviera a utilizar armas químicas, Francia "tomaría represalias inmediatas" . Eso es fácil de decir, difícil de hacer.

Macron recuerda a sus socios europeos

Por otro lado, se dio un pequeño paso respecto al conflicto de Ucrania y a la práctica secesión de la región oriental, rusófila y respaldada militarmente por Moscú: en las próximas semanas se celebrará una nueva reunión entre representantes de los gobiernos de Rusia, Ucrania, Francia y Alemania. Macron especificó que informaría de ello por teléfono a Angela Merkel: una y otra vez, el presidente francés hizo notar que no tomaría ninguna iniciativa sin el respaldo de sus socios europeos.

La llamada telefónica con la que Putin felicitó a Macron tras su victoria en las elecciones no debió ser demasiado relajada. Putin había apostado por Marine Le Pen, de quien dijo ayer que "algunas de sus ideas sobre la soberanía nacional" le parecían "interesantes", y en menor medida por François Fillon. Macron era el enemigo: dos medios ligados al Kremlin, Russia Today y Sputnik, publicaron falacias sobre el candidato centrista, y hackers relacionados también con el Kremlin saquearon el contenido de los ordenadores de En Marche! Macron reveló que le había echado en cara a Putin esos hechos cuando hablaron por teléfono. "Soy pragmático, no me gusta volver sobre cosas ya dichas", afirmó. Pero, a preguntas de una periodista rusa, volvió sobre ellas y acusó a los citados medios rusos de difundir "contraverdades infamantes".

Putin buscaba a un posible aliado

Putin salió del paso como pudo. Se limitó a comentar que la actuación de los hackers rusos era "una suposición no confirmada" y que en ningún caso había intentado influir en el resultado de las elecciones presidenciales francesas.

La idea de Macron consistía en mostrarse firme, aclarar pasadas divergencias y ganarse el respeto de Putin, al tiempo que con su actitud de firmeza se ganaba el respeto de los votantes franceses: en poco menos de un mes se celebran unas importantísimas elecciones parlamentarias.

El presidente ruso, por su parte, aspiraba a sondear a Macron como un potencial aliado. Putin es un dirigente aislado, salvo por su alianza con Irán y el régimen sirio, castigado por las sanciones económicas y separado del G-7. Esperaba contar con Donald Trump, pero la jugada no está funcionando. Aprovechó su encuentro con Emmanuel Macron para pedir al mundo la cancelación de las sanciones impuestas a Rusia; Macron le respondió, en otro momento, que ningún gran problema internacional podía resolverse sin dialogar con Rusia.


Ahora veamos lo que dijo el diario catalán La Vanguardia:

Título: Macron dice ante Putin que responderá a todo uso de armas químicas en Siria

Epígrafe: El presidente francés y el ruso trataran de mejorar en unas relaciones diplomáticas con profundas diferencias, en particular sobre los conflictos en Siria y Ucrania

Texto: El presidente francés, Emmanuel Macron, advirtió hoy ante el presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin, de que su país responderá de forma inmediata a “todo uso de armas químicas” en el conflicto de Siria. En una rueda de prensa conjunta, Macron señaló que desea reforzar la cooperación con Rusia para combatir al terrorismo en Siria, que supone la “prioridad absoluta” de Francia en el país árabe.

El presidente francés recibió a su homólogo ruso en el Palacio de Versalles en la primera visita a Francia de un jefe de Estado extranjero desde que Macron asumió el cargo, el pasado 14 de mayo. “Hay una línea roja muy clara por nuestra parte, la utilización de armas químicas por parte de quien sea, lo que sería objeto de represalias y de una respuesta inmediata por parte de Francia”, subrayó el presidente francés.

Macron marcó como gran objetivo de su país facilitar el socorro humanitario de los refugiados sirios

Además de la “intransigencia” hacia el armamento químico, Macron marcó como gran objetivo de su país facilitar el socorro humanitario de los refugiados sirios, al tiempo que se propician las negociaciones diplomáticas para crear una paz estable.

Por su lado, Putin insistió en que Macron conoce bien la posición rusa: “No podemos luchar contra la amenaza terrorista destruyendo el Estado”, explicó. Por ello, abogó por “unir esfuerzos” en la lucha contra el terrorismo y centrarse más en los puntos de acuerdo que en las diferencias que existen entre ambos países.

Acusaciones a los medios rusos

Macron dijo que los medios de comunicación Russia Today y Sputnik, ambos financiados por el Kremlin, publicaron deliberadamente noticias falsas sobre su partido durante la campaña electoral francesa y que por esta razón estaba en su derecho de no dejarlos entrar en la sede de su partido político, ¡En Marche!.

El presidente francés calificó a ambos medios como “órganos de influencia y de propaganda”. Las acusaciones contra ambos medios no son nuevas en el partido de Macron. Durante la campaña, parte de su equipo político ya criticó a Russia Today y Sputnik de quererles debilitar para facilitar a la candidata más afín al Kremlin, la ultraderechista Marine Le Pen.

Putin no ocultó su simpatía por Le Pen, la rival de Macron en las elecciones presidenciales francesas. El presidente de Rusia defendió las ideas políticas de la líder del Frente Nacional y aseguró que su partido siempre trabajó para favorecer las relaciones con Rusia. Eso sí, negó rotundamente que Rusia hubiera intentado influir en las elecciones francesas.

lunes, 29 de mayo de 2017

Un encuentro, dos versiones

Nos seguimos preguntando de qué hablaron realmente los presidentes de Rusia y Francia en este primer encuentro llevado a cabo hoy en París. En algunas de las fotos que hemos visto, Vladimir Putin parece estar preguntándose "Para qué vine", mientras que Emmanuel Macron aparece mucho más animado. Esto sugiere que, tal como lo señaláramos ayer, el evento parece haber sido diseñado más para darle a Macron cierto barniz de estadista más que para hablar seriamente de los muchos problemas que ambos tienen en común. Habrá que ver. 

Damos a continuación dos versiones sobre el encuentro. En primer lugar, y con cierto toque de optimismo, así lo cuenta Russia Today

Título: Primer cara a cara entre Putin y Macron: ¿Qué lograron acordar?

Epígrafe: "Sin diálogo con Rusia no se puede actuar sobre las cuestiones más importantes", ha asegurado el presidente de Francia.

Texto: Los mandatarios de Rusia y de Francia, Vladímir Putin y Emanuel Macron, han ofrecido este lunes una rueda de prensa tras mantener su primera reunión.  "Sin un diálogo con Rusia no se puede actuar sobre los asuntos más importantes", ha asegurado el presidente francés.

Ambos presidentes han conversado sobre los problemas en Siria, destacando la lucha contra el terrorismo como una cuestión prioritaria. Para Francia, el uso de armas químicas es una "línea roja" que conllevará "una respuesta", ha recalcado Macron.

"Creo que hemos hablado de todo"

Asimismo, el mandatario francés se pronunció a favor de fortalecer la cooperación con Rusia sobre Siria fuera del marco de la coalición estadounidense que combate al Estado Islámico. "Hay que hallar una solución política inclusiva que erradique el terrorismo y restablezca la paz en Siria", ha insistido Macron.

Entre otros temas que abordaron los mandatarios de Rusia y de Francia figuran el cumplimiento de los acuerdos de Minsk sobre la paz en Ucrania, la situación de las minorías sexuales en la república rusa de Chechenia y la cooperación en la esfera humanitaria, ha asegurado Macron.

"Ha sido el primer intercambio de opiniones y me parece que resultó abierto y sincero […] Creo que hemos hablado de todo", ha resumido el presidente francés.

Por su parte, el mandatario ruso dijo haber abordado con su homólogo francés la cuestión de las relaciones bilaterales, así como la búsqueda de "enfoques comunes" a los "puntos problemáticos" que hay en el mundo. "Nuestra opinión común es la de que la tarea más importante hoy en día es la lucha contra el terrorismo", ha dicho Putin, que anunció la creación de un grupo del trabajo para combatir a los terroristas.

Sobre la supuesta injerencia rusa en las últimas elecciones presidenciales de Francia o de cualquier otro país, el presidente ruso negó la cuestión y dijo que el que el tema no fue planteado, ya que -dijo- "no existe un tema semejante para la conversación". "No se pueden sacar conclusiones sobre piratas electrónicos rusos basándose en declaraciones infundadas", ha insistido Putin. Según él, ello conduce a "un callejón sin salida".

"Nunca tratamos de influir en las elecciones de Francia"

Sobre la visita a Rusia de Marine Le Pen, la candidata a la presidencia francesa que compitió con Macron en las recientes elecciones presidenciales, Putin ha explicado que fue ella la que solicitó una reunión en Moscú. "Siempre estamos dispuestos a recibir a cualquier persona", ha dicho el mandatario. Putin recordó que Le Pen "siempre abogó por el desarrollo de las relaciones con Rusia", si bien -recalcó- "nunca tratamos de influir en las elecciones de Francia".

"Lo digo abiertamente: el punto de vista de Le Pen no carece de sentido", ha confesado el presidente ruso.

El presidente de Francia, Emmanuel Macron, se ha reunido con su homólogo ruso, Vladímir Putin, por primera vez desde que asumió el cargo. El 18 de mayo los líderes tuvieron su primera conversación telefónica, en la que expresaron su voluntad de desarrollar relaciones amistosas en la política y la economía.


Por su parte, el Telegraph de Londres, siempre listo para dar el punto de vista "occidental" (imperial) sobre cualquier asunto, trata de embarrar la cancha con comentarios colaterales que tampoco permiten suponer de qué habló realmente esta gente: 

Título: Macron slams Russian media 'lies' during muscular exchange with Putin at Versailles

Texto: French President Emmanuel Macron accused Russian state-sponsored media of employing "lying propaganda" to try and smear his electoral campaign in an angry outburst as he stood alongside Vladimir Putin at Versailles.

The new French premier also threatened an "instant response" from France should chemical weapons be used in Syria in a muscular exchange with his Russian counterpart at Louis XIV's sumptuous palace outside Paris. But the two leaders promised to forge a deeper "partnership" in fighting terrorism.

Fresh from talks with Western leaders at a NATO meeting in Brussels and a G7 summit in Sicily, Mr Macron had promised "demanding dialogue" with the formidable Russian premier - in France to celebrate 300 years of Franco-Russian diplomacy with an exhibition on Tsar Peter the Great.

Mr Putin's visit was the latest test of Mr Macron's diplomatic mettle after the G7 talks in Sicily last week and the NATO summit in Brussels where he turned the tables on Mr Trump by refusing to release the American leader's hand for several seconds during the handshake for the cameras.

After a "frank and direct" tete a tete, the two men emerged into the Gallery of Great Battles, whose paintings chart 15 centuries of French victories, including over the Russians at Austerlitz.

Mr Macron went on to accuse pro-Kremlin news outlets Russia Today and Sputnik of being "organs of influence and propaganda, of lying propaganda" against him in this year's presidential election.

During the fraught campaign, Mr Macron's camp barred the two state-funded Russian media from accessing campaign headquarters, saying they were engaged in a "smear campaign". It also accused the Russians of having a hand in a massive cyberattack on key Macron aides.

Mr Putin declined to comment on the media ban, but brushed off the hacking allegations, saying: "Actions cannot be based on hunches, hunches that are moreover unconfirmed."

He also fended off claims he had sought to influence the electoral outcome by welcoming Mr Macron's far-Right rival Marine Le Pen, whom he appeared to back, during the campaign. 

"That doesn't mean we tried to influence the results of elections, indeed it's almost impossible," he said.

On the conflict in Syria, Mr Macron warned: "A very clear red line exists on our side, the use of chemical weapons by whomever". This, he said, would spark "reprisals and instant response…from the French side", without providing further details. Another was guaranteeing humanitarian access to besieged civilians.

Mr Macron also put Mr Putin on the spot by saying he had promised "the whole truth" about accusations of a crackdown on homosexuals in Chechnya. The Russian president's visit coincided with the arrival in France of the first Chechen gay to be granted asylum from persecution in his home country.

domingo, 28 de mayo de 2017

Portazo de Merkel

Uno está tentado a decir: "Tarde piaste, Angelita"; de todos modos, la frase de Angela Merkel, canciller de Alemania, sonó fuerte en las principales capitales del planeta. Es que más allá del tono, suena fuerte escuchar a un mandatario decir que de ahora en más Europa deberá decidir por sí misma su destino. ¿Y hasta ahora quién lo decidía, corazón?

Lo notable del caso es que Merkel arroja los dardos al corazón anglosajón del Imperio, los EEUU y el Reino Unido. La agencia AFP lo pone así: "Merkel warns US, Britain no longer reliable partners." (Merkel advierte que los EEUU y el Reino Unido ya no son socios confiables). Uno se pregunta si la visita de mañana de Vladimir Putin a Emmanuel Macron no tendrá que ver con algo de esto (o todo). Leemos en Zero Hedge

Título: In "Watershed Moment" Merkel Says Germany Can No Longer Rely On America

Texto: One day after Donald Trump infuriated Angela Merkel and the rest of his G-7 peers, when the US president refused to endorse the Paris climate treaty, prompting the German chancellor to say  that “the whole discussion about climate has been difficult, or rather very unsatisfactory... here we have the situation that six members, or even seven if you want to add the EU, stand against one", Germany's prime minister made what many have dubbed, an "era-defining" statement.

Speaking at a CDU election rally in Munich, Merkel said that Europe "must take its fate into its own hands" or as the AFP put it, "Merkel warns US, Britain no longer reliable partners."

Faced with a western alliance divided by Brexit and Donald Trump's presidency, Merkel said "die zeiten, in denen wir uns auf andere völlig verlassen konnten, sind ein Stück vorbei", or loosely translated "the times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out" and added that "I've experienced that in the last few days."

Mathieu von Rohr ✔ @mathieuvonrohr
Merkel today: "The times in which [Germany] could fully rely on others are partly over. I have experienced this in the last few days."
11:06 AM - 28 May 2017 · Washington, DC
349 349 Retweets   323 323 likes
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Merkel then said that while Germany and Europe would strive to remain on good terms with America and Britain, "we have to fight for our own destiny" and she also said that special emphasis was needed on warm relations between Berlin and newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron.

Her comments came after Trump said during the G-7 meeting he needed more time to decide if the US would continue backing the Paris climate deal, which has frustrated European diplomats. A subseqent report by Axios, Trump privately told multiple people, including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, that "he plans to leave the Paris agreement on climate change" which will likely further infurate his European allies.

During his trip, Trump also echoed his past criticism of NATO allies for failing to meet the defensive alliance's military spending commitment of two percent of GDP.

Observers noted that he neglected to publicly endorse the pact's Article Five, which guarantees that member countries will aid the others they are attacked. The omission was especially striking as he unveiled a memorial to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the US, the only time the mutual defense clause has been triggered.

On Friday, Trump also described German trade practices as "bad, very bad," in Brussels talks last week, complaining that Europe's largest economy sells too many cars to the US.

Reactions to Merkel's striking comment came pouring in from the likes of Edward Snowden who called her speech an "era-defining moment":

Edward Snowden ✔ @Snowden
This is an era-defining moment. https://twitter.com/Independent/status/868838993122795522 …
12:08 PM - 28 May 2017
7,140 7,140 Retweets   12,713 12,713 likes
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... the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Richard Haass, who called it a "watershed moment"

Richard N. Haass ✔ @RichardHaass
Merkel saying Europe cannot rely on others & needs to take matters into its own hands is a watershed-& what US has sought to avoid since WW2
12:08 PM - 28 May 2017
1,159 1,159 Retweets   1,307 1,307 likes
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... the editor of the Financial Times, calling it a"big moment in transatlantic relations"

Lionel Barber ✔ @lionelbarber
Big moment in transatlantic relations: Merkel says Trump's America no longer a reliable partner 
https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article165008816/Merkel-sieht-in-den-USA-keinen-verlaesslichen-Partner-mehr.html&wtmc=socialmedia.twitter.shared.web … via @welt
12:08 PM - 28 May 2017
347 347 Retweets   225 225 likes
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... and many others:

James Rothwell ✔ @JamesERothwell
Unprecedented fighting talk from Merkel as she says last few days have showed her that Europe cannot rely on US anymore. Wow.
11:44 AM - 28 May 2017
41 41 Retweets   22 22 likes
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Eric Geller ✔ @ericgeller
Wow. "Merkel warns US, Britain no longer reliable partners" https://www.afp.com/en/news/826/merkel-warns-us-britain-no-longer-reliable-partners …
12:17 PM - 28 May 2017
92 92 Retweets   114 114 likes
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In short, it seems that the time for a New-er World Order may be at hand, and many are not too happy.