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Putin works for peace in Syria, while Obama pushes to violently break apart the country into a thousand parts

Moscow’s geo-strategic objective in Syria is the exact opposite of Washington’s goals. Russia wants a unified, peaceful solution to Syria, while the USA wants to chaotically break apart the country into little pieces.

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Post originally appeared on Counterpunch.

Moscow’s geostrategic objectives in Syria are the polar opposite of Washington’s. Grasping this simple fact is the easiest way to get a fix on what’s really going on in the war-torn country.

What Washington wants is explained in great detail in a piece by Michael E. O’Hanlon at the Brookings Institute titled “Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war”. Here’s an excerpt:

“…the only realistic path forward may be a plan that in effect deconstructs Syria….the international community should work to create pockets with more viable security and governance within Syria over time…

Creation of these sanctuaries would produce autonomous zones that would never again have to face the prospect of rule by either Assad or ISIL….

The interim goal might be a confederal Syria, with several highly autonomous zones… The confederation would likely require support from an international peacekeeping force….to make these zones defensible and governable….The autonomous zones would be liberated with the clear understanding that there was no going back to rule by Assad or a successor.”

(“Deconstructing Syria: A new strategy for America’s most hopeless war“, Michael E. O’Hanlon, Brookings Institute)

Forget about ISIS and Syrian President Bashar al Assad for a minute and, instead, focus on the terms  “autonomous zones”,  “creation of…sanctuaries”,  “safe zones” and “a confederal Syria.”

All of these strongly suggest that the primary aim of US policy is to break Syria up into smaller units that pose no threat to US-Israeli regional hegemony. This is the US gameplan in a nutshell.

In contrast, Russia does not want a divided Syria. Aside from the fact that Moscow and Damascus are long-term allies (and Russia has a critical naval facility in Tartus, Syria), a balkanized Syria poses serious threats for Russia, the most significant of which is the probable emergence of a jihadi base of operations that will be used to deploy terrorists across Central Asia thus undermining Moscow’s grand plan to integrate the continents into a giant free trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok.  Russian President Vladimir Putin takes the threat of terrorism very seriously, which is why he has been working around-the-clock to engage leaders from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran, the Kurds and Syrian opposition groups in negotiations to put an end to the fighting and reestablish security in Syria.  It’s worth noting that there’s been an effective blackout of these crucial negotiations in the western media, mainly because they make Putin look like a peacemaker who is respected among other world leaders and who is making every effort to stop the spread of terrorism. Obviously, that doesn’t jibe with the media’s portrayal of Putin as the new Hitler, so they’ve simply omitted the meetings from their coverage.

The differences between the US and Russia are irreconcilable. Washington wants and end to the nation-state system and create a new world order, while Putin wants to maintain the current system in order to preserve national sovereignty, self determination, and multi-polarity.  This is the basis of the clash between Russia and the US. Putin rejects unipolar global rule and is working as fast as he can to build a coalition capable of resisting persistent US intervention, manipulation and aggression.  This is no small task, and it involves a great deal of discretion. Putin does not have the wherewithal to confront the US Goliath at every turn, so he must pick his fights carefully and operate largely in the shadows, which is what he is doing.

In the last few months, Putin has convened meetings with all the main players in the Syria drama, and has made remarkable headway in resolving the crisis. The main sticking point now, is whether Assad will remain as president or be removed as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the US demand. Putin is resisting this outcome for many reasons. First, he doesn’t be seen as betraying an ally which would seriously hurt his reputation as a reliable partner. Second, he can’t allow himself to comply with a “regime change” doctrine that eschews international law and that could eventually be used against him in a future coup.  Allowing foreign leaders to pick and choose who is a “legitimate” leader and who isn’t is a prescription for disaster, as is evident in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Yemen. Finally, Putin cannot simply hand Washington an easy victory on a matter of this magnitude although, in the end, Assad will probably be gone.

So, what’s been going on behind the scenes?

Back in June, Putin met with  the Saudi Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman in St Petersburg an started working on an “international legal framework for creating a coalition to fight terrorism in the region.”  Soon after, he met with the heads of opposition groups and high-ranking officials from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.  The goal was to implement the so-called Geneva communiqué that was ratified in June 30, 2012. In brief, Geneva provides for:

Establishment of a transitional governing body with full executive powers that could include members of the government and opposition, and should be formed on the basis of mutual consent.

Participation of all groups and segments of society in Syria in a meaningful national dialogue process

Review of the constitutional order and the legal system

Free and fair multi-party elections for the new institutions and offices that have been established.

As you can see, Geneva does not resolve the central issue, which is: “Does Assad stay or go?”  That question is not answered definitively.  It  all depends of composition of the “transitional governing body” and the outcome of future elections.

Clearly, this is the result that Putin wanted. Here’s how Lavrov summed it up two days ago:

“I have already said, Russia and Saudi Arabia support all principles of the June 30, 2012 Geneva communique, in particular, the need to preserve government institutions, including the Syrian army. I believe its participation in the effective struggle against terrorists is truly essential.

I have already said that though we hold identical positions on the settlement of the crisis, we also have our differences, and one of them concerns the destiny of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. We believe that all issues of settlement, including the parameters of the transitional period and political reforms, should be resolved by Syrians themselves. The Geneva communique reads that these issues should be resolved by consensus between the Government and the entire spectrum of opposition forces.”

You can see by this statement what Putin really wants. He wants to “preserve government institutions, including the Syrian army” to avoid another Iraq-type nightmare scenario. (Note: Remember what happened to Iraq after Bremer disbanded the army.) What he doesn’t want, is to create a power-vacuum that leads to another failed, balkanized hellhole that serves as a breeding ground for terrorists that will eventually come knocking on Moscow’s door. He doesn’t want that at all. That only serves Washington’s objectives, not Russia’s.

Also, the whole idea of a “transitional governing body” and “free and fair multi-party elections” gives Putin a way to back away from Assad without looking like he’s throwing him under the bus.

Some will probably criticize this and say that Putin is “selling out a friend and ally”, but that’s not entirely true. He’s trying to balance two opposing things at the same time. He’s trying to maintain his commitment to an ally while accommodating Saudi Arabia so they agree to help him to end the hostilities. So, yes, there is a bit of triangulation involved, but what choice does he have?  In practical terms, he can either strike a deal fast or allow the window of opportunity to slam shut.

Why?

Because Washington doesn’t want a deal. Washington wants war. Washington cannot achieve its goal of breaking up Syria and redrawing the map of the Middle East if peacemaker Putin prevails. Let’s put it this way: If Putin gets Saudi Arabia on board, then a good portion of the funding for jihadi groups will dry up,  the Syrian Army, assisted by Iraqi and Kurdish forces, will have greater success on the battlefield, and ISIS will be annihilated.

How does that serve Washington’s interests?

It doesn’t. And even if Assad is removed, the process (Geneva) is such that the next president is not going to be a hand-picked US stooge, but someone who is supported by the majority of the Syrian people. Needless to say, Washington doesn’t like that idea.

The only glitch to the plan is that Putin must move very fast. The US has already gotten the green-light from Ankara to launch its drone attacks and bombing raids from Incirlik air base in Turkey, which means the conflict is going to intensify in the weeks and months to come. Also, Turkey’s hardline President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appears to be using the US aerial attacks as cover for stealing Syrian sovereign territory in the North and declaring it a “safe zone”.  Get a load of this clip from an August 11 article in the International Business Times:

“A group of ethnic Turkmen fighters arrived in Azaz, Syria, on Monday afternoon to launch the first phase of a joint U.S.-Turkish initiative to establish an Islamic State group-free “safe zone” in the country, two soldiers fighting in northern Syria told International Business Times via Skype. Tanks carrying the fighters entered through the Bab al-Salama border, crossing from southeastern Turkey into the town of Azaz, Syria, setting off a wave of attacks by the Islamic State militant group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, in the town of Marea, which forced the al-Qaeda extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra to retreat.

“At first everyone thought the tanks were filled with Turkish soldiers, but it was the Turkmen,” one of the rebel fighters said.

The soldiers, interviewed Tuesday by IBTimes, were trained in Turkey and are in one of the biggest moderate-opposition rebel coalitions in the country. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are in combat. Shifting alliances among rebel groups in the country have left them fearing retribution if they identified themselves on the record. One of the soldiers, a commander, recently attended talks with the Turkish government in the capital city of Ankara regarding the Turkish-U.S. plan to create a safe zone in the northern part of the country.” (“Turkey, US, Syrian ISIS-Free Safe Zone: Turkmen Brigades Move Into Syria, Al-Nusra Moves Out, Soldiers Say“, IBT)

So, Turkish tanks loaded with troops that have been armed and trained by Turkey, cross the border into Syria where they are expected to clear and capture territory up to and perhaps including Aleppo?

That sounds a lot like an invasion to me; how about you?

Bottom line: If Putin wants to prevent Washington from splitting up Syria and transforming it into a terrorist breeding ground, he’s going to have to move fast; get the Saudis on board, put an end to the bloodshed, and implement Geneva.

It’s not going to be easy, but he seems to be on the right track.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

References:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/14/is-putin-planning-to-sell-out-assad/

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College offer courses on ‘queering’ children, the Bible

US Colleges are teaching students to “queer” Christianity and religion in general.

Campus Reform

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Authored by Celine Ryan via Campus Reform:


This school year, students across the country will attend courses on “Queering the Bible,” “Queering Childhood,” “Queering Theology,” and similar topics.

Students at Pomona College in Claremont, California, for instance, will have the opportunity to enroll in a brand new course titled “Queering Childhood,” which will examine “the figure of the Child and how this figuration is used by politics, law, and medicine to justify continued cultural investment in reproductive heteronormativity and productive ablebodiedness.”

The course description explains that students will examine the childhoods of “queer and crip children,” as well as “childhoods against which the figure of the Child is articulated,” with reference to work related to “gender studies, childhood studies, disability studies, and queer theory.”

Colleges are not only attempting to “queer” childhood, they are teaching students to “queer” Christianity and religion in general, as well.

This fall, Eugene Lang College will offer a course titled “Queering and Decolonizing Theology,” where students will explore topics such as “the sexual ethics and ritualization found in the S&M community,” and “transgender Christs.”

“Christian theology is often depicted as a violent colonial force standing in particular opposition to LGBTQI lives. However, over the last 30 years people of faith, activists, and theorists alike have rediscovered what is queer within Christianity, uncovered what is religious within secular queer communities, and used postcolonial theory to decolonize lived religious practices and theologies,” the course description asserts.

According to the college, the course “explores secular philosophies of queer and postcolonial theory as well as their critical and constructive application to religion,” focusing on topics like “the sexual ethics and ritualization found in the S&M community, transgender Christs, and the mestiza (or mixed) cultures of Latin America.”

Similarly, students at Harvard Divinity School will be able to attend a course on “Queer Theologies, Queer Religions” this fall, which will explore the “project of ‘queer theology’” and how it relates to “larger aspirations of queer religion or spirituality in America.”

In this course, students will begin by “sampling the efforts to revise traditional Christian theologies in order to accept or affirm same-sex loves.” After that, they will move on to examining “forgotten possibilities in historical engagements between advocates of homosexual rights and established religious bodies (chiefly churches and synagogues).”

“We will consider the boundaries between queer theology and queer theory or between it and other political theologies,” the course description explains.  “We will test the boundaries of ‘Christianity’ while considering the varied forms of queer religion outside familiar religious institutions—in spirituality or spiritualism, in magic or neo-paganism, in erotic asceticism.”

Swarthmore College students, meanwhile, will survey “queer and trans* readings of biblical texts” during a course titled “Queering the Bible,” which will introduce them to “the complexity of constructions of sex, gender, and identity in one of the most influential literary works produced in ancient times.”

“By reading the Bible with the methods of queer and trans* theoretical approaches,” the description promises, “this class destabilizes long held assumptions about what the [B]ible—and religion—says about gender and sexuality.”

The University of San Francisco is also getting into the act with a course on “Christian Feminist Theology” that aims to “develop an understanding of how feminist scholarship provides one fruitful means towards reappropriation of central Christian insights about God.”

The course will facilitate “critical reflection upon the experience of God, and insights from feminist thought,” according to the description.

In a similar vein, students enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania’s “Gender, Sexuality, and Religion” course “will read religion through a variety of feminist and queer theory lenses- exploring the key characteristics of diverse feminist analyses of religion, as well as limits of specific feminist approaches.”

“In this course we will learn about women’s and men’s rituals, social roles, and mythologies in specific religious traditions,” the course description explains. “We will also look at the central significance of gender to the field of religious studies generally, with particular attention to non-binary genders.”

To that end, the course will address questions such as “How important are the gender differences in deciding social roles, ritual activities, and spiritual vocations?” and “How does gender intersect with nationality, language, and politics?”

Campus Reform reached out to each of the schools mentioned in this report for additional comment on the courses in question, and is currently awaiting responses. This article will be updated if and when any of them provide a statement.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @celinedryan

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10 signs that America is in MUCH worse trouble than we all thought

You may find it difficult to believe some of the things that I am about to share with you. Instinctively, most of us know that America is in trouble, but recently it has been impressed upon me that things are much worse than I originally believed.

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A homeless man sleeps under an American Flag blanket on a park bench in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. As of June 2013, there were an all-time record of 50,900 homeless people, including 12,100 homeless families with 21,300 homeless children homeless in New York City.

Our cities are becoming cesspools, our nation is falling apart all around us, and it seems like the number of sick, twisted and depraved people is multiplying.

We still have a relatively high standard of living for the moment, but the only reason we can maintain that standard of living is because we are on the greatest debt binge in human history. And once that bubble bursts, I fear for what this nation is going to become, because things are getting really bad out there.

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The following are 10 signs that America is in much worse trouble than we all thought…

#1 America is “the most dangerous country in the developed world to give birth in”

We all know that our healthcare system is rapidly deteriorating, but I figured that the U.S. would be at least in the middle of the pack when it comes to women dying during childbirth. Sadly, I was completely wrong

The U.S. is the most dangerous country in the developed world to give birth in according to a report.

About 50,000 women are “severely injured” during childbirth, and about 700 women die every year. Half of these deaths could have been prevented, as could the injuries, if correct safety procedures had been followed, according to an investigation by USA Today.

#2 America is absolutely teeming with sexual predators

When I read stories like the one I am about to share with you, it makes me want to vomit. According to a report that was just released, more than 300 “predator priests” were identified in just 6 Pennsylvania dioceses

A landmark grand jury report identifies more than 300 “predator priests” in six of Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses, the state Supreme Court said Friday in ordering the findings released. (Tap here to read the court ruling.)

The justices said the report on clergy child sexual abuse going back decades and allegations of cover-up efforts will be made public but without the names or “individual specific information” of priests and others who have challenged the findings, at least in the initial version to be released.

#3 America has a massive problem with pedophilia

This is particularly true in Hollywood, and actor Elijah Wood has decided to go public about it

The actor, in a new interview with the Sunday Times, is accusing Tinseltown of having a pedophilia problem, saying “a lot of vipers” are preying on children in the business.

“Clearly something major was going on in Hollywood. It was all organized. There are a lot of vipers in this industry, people who only have their own interests in mind,” he said. “There is darkness in the underbelly. What bums me about these situations is that the victims can’t speak as loudly as the people in power. That’s the tragedy of attempting to reveal what is happening to innocent people: they can be squashed, but their lives have been irreparably damaged.”

#4 America is full of people that are looking to take advantage of others

During the recent horrific wildfires in northern California, authorities say that there was “a lot of looting”

With so many people locked out of huge areas of the city, looters had moved in to take advantage, officials said, adding that police patrols are being increased and hat National Guard troops are being brought in to help.

“We’re experiencing a lot of looting and are beefing up our security,” Redding Police Chief Roger Moore told a crowd of about 250 residents Saturday afternoon. And Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko received a round of applause when he announced the first arrest of a suspected looter.

#5 America has way too many politically-correct control freaks that want to ruin all of our lives

I never dreamed that the day would come when plastic straws would be banned in the United States, but now it is actually happening

Only in California can you go to jail for offering restaurant patrons a straw. According to the ordinance, first-time offenders will be given a written warning. Second-time offenders will face steeper consequences. Based on the city’s municipal code, penalties for straw-peddling will include a “fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), imprisonment for a term not exceeding six (6) months.”

The West Coast is home to many a plastic straw ban; the city of Seattle, WA, was the first city in the U.S. to ban plastic straws in early July. But in the Emerald City, a violation only warrants a $250 fine. California is not to be outdone in their regressive-progressive politics.

#6 America is a nation of addicts

Today, I came across a survey that found that nearly half of all Americans admit to shopping online (one addiction) while drunk (another addiction)…

If you’ve poured yourself a glass of wine or two and then started browsing Amazon, you’re not alone — and you may well have spent more than you meant to. A new survey finds that Americans who shop online under the influence spend over $40 each time.

Gin drinkers actually spend the most, about $82 on average, while whiskey drinkers are the cheapest buzzed buyers, according to addiction treatment facility the Archstone Recovery Center. They polled over 1,000 people who reported purchasing an item off of Amazon while under the influence of alcohol.

#7 America is on a path to financial suicide

The federal government is already 21 trillion dollars in debt, and it is being officially estimated that we will hit the 30 trillion dollar mark by 2028.

#8 America seems to have an endless supply of cruel people

Down in Louisiana, authorities have arrested 5 people that locked an autistic woman that they were related to in a cage and forced her to eat her mother’s ashes

A Louisiana woman living with autism was locked up in a cage, threatened and abused and forced to eat her mother’s ashes by five people, who were indicted this week by a federal grand jury in New Orleans, officials said.

The indictments accuse five family members of abusing their 22-year-old relative until June 2016, according to court documents released by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

#9 America’s major cities are rapidly being transformed into cesspools

The following is an excerpt from a letter that was recently penned by Portland’s police chief

Our City has become a cesspool. Livability that once made Portland a unique and vibrant city is now replaced with human feces in businesses doorways, in our parks, and on our streets. Aggressive panhandlers block the sidewalks, storefronts, and landmarks like Pioneer Square, discouraging people from enjoying our City. Garbage-filled RVs and vehicles are strewn throughout our neighborhoods. Used needles, drug paraphernalia, and trash are common sights lining the streets and sidewalks of the downtown core area, under our bridges, and freeway overpasses. That’s not what our families, business owners, and tourists deserve.

#10 America is inhabited by way too many idiots

These days just about anyone will do just about anything for 15 minutes of fame, and one of the worst examples of this was when Florida resident Robby Stratton walked into a convenience store with a live alligator

The man, identified by WJAX as Robby Stratton, is seen on video posted to Facebook walking into the store in Jacksonville with the gator’s mouth taped shut.

Stratton approaches the counter and asks the man behind it: ‘Y’all got beer still? Y’all ain’t out, are y’all?’

He then sees someone in the back of the store and says: ‘Is he taking the last bit of beer? You aren’t taking the last bit of beer are you?’

Stratton planned this stunt well in advance, and he made sure to have it recorded so that he could post it on Facebook.

This is what America has become. We need to take a long look in the mirror, because we are in an advanced state of decline.

Hopefully the American people will start to wake up, because the time to turn things around is quickly running out.

Via The American Dream

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Democrat Party Exodus: Millennial white men not welcome (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 44.

Alex Christoforou

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Public demonization, identity politics, and forcing equality of outcome throughout society, is driving white male millennials away from the Democrat Party.

Young white men are increasingly turned off by the Democrats’ embrace of identity politics. An entire generation of voters has become disillusioned with what was once considered an inclusive, working class left, and has now morphed into a social media lynch mob obsessed with the destruction of “The Patriarchy” and “toxic masculinity”.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou unpack the reasons behind a millennial white male exodus away from the establishment left, and towards Trumpism on the right or progressive ideology thought on the left. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via Spiked

A hock poll by Reuters/Ipsos reveals that the Democrats are shedding millennial votes, with support dropping by nine percentage points since 2016. This shift is most pronounced among white millennial men, who now favour Republicans over Democrats by 11 percentage points. In 2016, Democrats led Republicans in this group by 12 percentage points. There has been a staggering swing of 23 percentage points in just two years.

The poll shatters a number of widely held assumptions. Firstly, that young people are naturally drawn to the Democrats. Secondly, that the chaos and incompetence of Donald Trump’s rule are enough to turn voters blue. While two thirds of those polled dislike Trump, that distaste does not translate into either a rejection of the GOP as a whole or into support for the Democrats.

Democrats are clearly yet to come to terms with their defeat in the 2016 presidential election. Since then, the party has devoted a great deal of energy to pushing allegations of Russian meddling – a story of little interest to ordinary voters, who have long since accepted the outcome of a fair and free election. Similarly, baseless and shrill accusations that Trump is a fascist have clearly been ineffective in drumming up support for an alternative. Opposition to Trump is one thing, but most voters are none the wiser as to what the Democrats actually stand for.

But while the Democrats may be uninspiring to millennials as a whole, the party is actively alienating young, white men. Today’s identity politics is impossible for millennials to avoid, whether they are confronted with it on campus or through clickbait comment pieces. In the identitarian worldview, ‘white men’ are responsible for all the world’s woes – the phrases ‘white people’ and ‘white men’ are practically shorthand for evil. Listicles reveal the ‘37 things white people need to stop ruining in 2018’, magazines declare that ‘white men must be stopped’, while even respectable outlets like the Washington Post ask ‘why can’t we hate white men?’.

But rather than reject the divisive politics of identity, the Democratic establishment and its cheerleaders have embraced it. During the election, Hillary Clinton namechecked and explicitly targeted a number of demographic groups. At the same time, her team told the media they were confident they could win without the support of white men. Many commentators agreed. ‘Hillary Clinton doesn’t need white men’, insisted the Washington Post – supposedly because they make up a declining share of the electorate and can therefore be ignored. Of course, we all know what the result was – white voters were crucial to Trump’s election upset. Nevertheless, liberal commentators are still urging the Democrats to ‘get over’ white working-class voters in the upcoming midterms. They are surplus to electoral requirements, outsiders to the ‘progressive coalition… in all its multicultural, multiracial splendour’, according to one writer.

Democrats insist that white voters are electorally irrelevant. But when they disappoint the party and decide not to vote for it, they are painted as backward and irrational. Clinton’s defeat was rationalised by her allies as a ‘whitelash’ – not a rejection of a wildly unpopular candidate, but an outburst of racist rage. Clearly, white male millennials are picking up on this kind of language and are beginning to think that they are not wanted by the party.

A truly progressive party ought to be able to give voice to concerns that bridge racial and gender divides. It ought to have a more honest understanding of its past failures and a clear programme for the future. But if the Democrats continue to shirk responsibility for their electoral defeats, and continue to embrace identity politics, it won’t just be young, white men who abandon them.

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