As it happened – Yanis Varoufakis’ intervention during the 27th June 2015 Eurogroup Meeting

Yanis Varoufakis

The Eurogroup Meeting of 27th June 2015 will not go down as a proud moment in Europe’s history. Ministers turned down the Greek government’s request that the Greek people should be granted a single week during which to deliver a Yes or No answer to the institutions’ proposals – proposals crucial for Greece’s future in the Eurozone. The very idea that a government would consult its people on a problematic proposal put to it by the institutions was treated with incomprehension and often with disdain bordering on contempt. I was even asked: “How do you expect common people to understand such complex issues?”. Indeed, democracy did not have a good day in yesterday’s Eurogroup meeting! But nor did European institutions. After our request was rejected, the Eurogroup President broke with the convention of unanimity (issuing a statement without my consent) and even took the dubious decision to convene a follow up meeting without the Greek minister, ostensibly to…

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BRICS: Global Change, Peril And Promise.

by Jerry Alatalo

“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs.”

– 1 Timothy 5:9-10

World Map1Alphabet Some have attributed today’s wars and violence around the Earth in large part to the rise of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) international financial institutions. Listening to Brazil-born Paulo Nogueira Batista – an Executive Director for eight years at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – provides affirmation the analysis is most likely correct. The question which arises is can humanity prevent the outbreak of a possible major war over this historic change.

Mr. Batista’s last day of employment at the IMF is June 30, after which he will take the position of Vice President of BRICS new, ready-to-open development bank, marking the first time the IMF, World Bank and other major US/western dominated international financial institutions will have “competition”. The development of BRICS will result in a reduction in the role of the dollar as the world’s major currency. Analysts have concluded that the reason the US, Britain and other western nations invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein in 2003 was Hussein’s decision to sell oil for euros, instead of the dollar. Analysts believe Muammar Gaddafi and Libya became destroyed by NATO air-bombardment in 2011 because of Gaddafi’s plan for major monetary reform – creation of gold Dinars as the new currency for the continent of Africa.

In both cases, Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011, false reasons – lies – were put forth to mould public perceptions in favor of military action to remove those nations’ leaders. The nations of Iraq and Libya, the men, women and children living in those countries, have suffered tremendously ever since those military attacks, and today both nations are in extremely difficult situations struggling to recover some semblance of peace, security and economic normalcy. Depending on the extent to which assertions that monetary choices in Iraq and Libya were the major factor leading to military action to protect the dollar are reflective of truth, one could come to view BRICS’ entry into international finance competition, potentially resulting in the US dollar’s decreased use in global transactions, as reason for concern over escalation of war and violence.

Any study of unsanitized, accurate records of history – such as “People’s History of the United States” by the late Howard Zinn, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” by John Perkins, “The Untold History of the United States” by filmmaker Oliver Stone, “The Secret of Oz” documentary by Bill Still, and many others – provides clear evidence that wars become fought for economic, financial, power/control reasons, and not for noble ideals of “democracy and freedom”. Years-long legal engineering of the secretive and massive trade agreements TPP, TTIP and TiSa could accurately be perceived as economic warfare in response to BRICS nations’ early beginnings, meetings and conferences, and continuing development.

The world is changing at a rapid pace, moving from unipolar to multipolar, and the most important consideration for men and women around the Earth is preventing those strongly opposed to this change from reacting through military force.

It is with the intention of providing greater understanding of the BRICS phenomenon and building awareness of both potential positive and negative consequences that Paulo Nogueira Batista’s (PNB) interview has been shared in this post. As the interview begins, host Oksana Boyko notes that Mr. Batista has been “very critical of some of the fund’s methods”.

PNB: “Sometimes the fund has success stories, sometimes the fund has failures… Often the fund makes mistakes or is misguided in its interventions.”

“There are good reasons and bad reasons for delay in going to the fund. Countries are very reluctant to give up part of their sovereignty, part of their autonomy, in terms of policy-making, and are reluctant to fall into the hands of international bureaucrats. Why? Because, among other reasons, these international bureaucrats, comfortably installed in Washington, visiting countries regularly or on a quarterly basis, are out-of-touch very often with political, social, and even economic realities in the countries that rely on the fund”.

“The international institutions, the IMF and the World Bank, their governance is very skewed – very unequal. So, the North Atlantic countries are in control. And often these countries have a short-sighted view of how these institutions should act, in my opinion. So, you find that powerful countries, powerful stakeholders of the IMF or World Bank, subordinating the institutions to their short-term or medium-term political agendas”.

“The way to hell is paved with good intentions. It’s more than intentions, it’s a political issue. Countries often, not only the North Atlantic powers, but all countries in general, are prone to abuse power. So, you may find institutions that are supposed to be multilateral, or global, obey not the theory or even the rules that they work under but their interests – it’s not malevolence, I wouldn’t say malevolence… If you look at it from a historical perspective, Europeans and Americans have been used to rule the world, and they are adapting with difficulty to the fact that the world is changing very quickly”.

“I think Greece is one of the least successful episodes in IMF history. And there’s no end in sight to the economic crisis of the country. For a number of reasons, but if you look at the unemployment activity, fiscal policy, structural reforms, the political impasse that arose after Syriza’s victory – impasse between Greece and its creditors, the so-called Troika – has led to a deterioration in the situation, and things are coming to a head right now. As we speak, the situation is coming to a, one more cliffhanger, and its not clear at all whether this time you will be able to pull, not only Greece but Greece’s creditors, up from the cliffhanger”.

Host Oksana Boyko asked about the different IMF treatment of Ukraine and Greece.

PNB: “Ukraine can be seen as a second Greece. …Ukraine, the fund is trying to, let’s say learn, from the failure in Greece. Greece was too little, too late in terms of restructuring; that put an extra burden on the problem and the country itself. In the case of Ukraine, not as early as I would have liked. … 2015 – better late than never – and the program calls for restructuring, ironically, June 30. June 30 has become a fateful day both for Greece and Ukraine, as you know Greece has a major payment that’s been bundled for June 30. By the way, for me June 30 is another significant date because that’s my last day at the fund”.

“It’s very important to compare Greece with Ukraine. Are we facing double standards here? Is Ukraine getting better treatment than Greece because the fund has since learned, or is it because Ukraine, for political reasons, has a special treatment that is not granted to Greece? Then you have the political factors. What is the political nature of the government in Kyiv? What is the political nature of the government in Athens? All those questions are not explicitly there always, but they are of course in the background”.

The discussion turns to IMF reform…

PNB: “There’s a change in plateau in terms of cooperation of the BRICS since 2012. So I think that’s one factor. About the fund, I think there’s a sense of disappointment no doubt. For me, for example, I’ve been working so hard on IMF reform in the last eight years… We achieved some things, but much less than I would have expected, say, back in 2010. So I think the west has to decide, does it want to run the institutions that it controls into the ground by making them uncapable of adapting to a changing world in a quick manner, or do they want to realize that, no, the world is changing fast, we need to open space… One Chinese delegate once said, quite rightly, ‘You have a large, very large, and oversized share of a bad cake. Do you want to reduce your share, and have a smaller share of a better cake?’ And that’s the question they haven’t answered”.

“I think the United States did more than vote for reform in 2010. It actually played a very important role in putting forth reform. If you would have asked me five years ago ‘would it be possible for the United States to become the major blocking factor in the implementation of IMF reform?’ I would have answered quite confidently ‘No’. And I would have been wrong, because the US has since become the major blocking factor. Whether it’s a tactical consideration, to put the blame on Congress – ‘I want to do it, but Congress doesn’t allow me’ – I really wouldn’t know”.

Ms. Boyko points out that the US, without reform, has the “best of both worlds”, so why would they want to change?

PNB: “You touch on a very important point. It was a political agreement at the highest level in 2010, that the countries including the BRICS would provide borrowed resources to the fund as a bridge to the implementation of reforms. We did our part, we provided the resources that we pledged, but the reform did not come. So, it’s a matter of whether you want to have a… Does the United States, do the Europeans want to have a big influence on the multilateral world or are they content to just frustrate everyone? That’s the question they need to ask themselves. They have an incentive. The incentive is to keep the value for the international community – let’s put it this way – of institutions that they created, and where they have a controlling interest. If they don’t want to recognize this… Of course, there are internal divisions…”

IMF reform was/is apparently possible without the approval of the US Congress, but because such reforms would have lowered US voting power below the threshold where the US could assert veto power, it became opposed by the US.

Ms. Boyko talked about “western countries more assertive recently than developing countries”….

PNB: “The west is declining in relative terms but it still rules, and the rest of the world is increasing its weight, but it’s perhaps still not used to having a global view of matters. I think the BRICS are a partial exception to that, let me tell you. If I were to select from the non-west part of the planet – a part of the planet that introduces alternative ideas, that has a global view, I would say it’s the BRICS. It’s the BRICS. I think that one advantage that the BRICS have is that we have experienced what it is to be a developing country, relatively poor, debtor to the IMF… As you mentioned at the beginning of our conversation, not so long ago Brazil was under an IMF program. Russia was under IMF program not so long ago, I think in the 90’s. India in the early 90’s.”

“When someone comes to the board, Greece or Ukraine or whatever, we look at the issue and we have the memory. As a young official in the Brazilian government, I was involved in negotiations with the IMF in the 1980’s during the debt crisis. We have the experience so I think we need to use that experience to have an empathetic approach to the problems of other countries”.

Host Oksana Boyko: “…10 years ago 90% of world currency in the form of US dollar, now it’s 60%. If that trend intensifies, it will have significant social, economic, political consequences on the United States. The United States may become subjected to a new kind of experience. Doesn’t that guarantee that Washington will fight tooth-and-nail to prevent the BRICS plans from being realized? … because it threatens its own well-being?”

PNB: “The United States can do a lot, but it can’t do everything. There are certain trends that the United States cannot deal with, although it might wish to. The United States has resisted any reduction of the role of the dollar, so this is a long-standing issue. It will continue well past my departure from this planet. I don’t think we will solve it, but I do think you’re right that we have signs already – especially with China’s rapid rise – that other currencies will become, including emerging market countries, increasingly important in the world”.

Ms. Boyko: “Do you think your expertise will be helpful in undermining the western dominance of the global financial institutions?”

PNB: “I don’t think that’s the way we see it. The way that the BRICS countries see those institutions – the bank in Shanghai and the monetary fund – is not ‘against’ anyone. They’re pro-BRICS and pro-developing countries, so we take a soft approach”.

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(Thank you to WorldsApart RT at YouTube)

Swiss Banks’ Terror Finance Scandal: July 4 Topic Of The Day.

by Jerry Alatalo

 WE THE PEOPLE (photo: votecitizens.org)
WE THE PEOPLE
(photo: votecitizens.org)

Alphabet Men and women loyal to the truth must at times wonder if lies, scandal, corruption, accumulation of wealth and power-seeking are the world’s perennial, unchanging, indestructible condition. Whistleblower Scott Bennett’s astounding story is a case in point. Mr. Bennett has appeared on many independent media TV/radio programs in the past year, and his interviews have been heard by tens of thousands of people. Yet, although his description of events sounds entirely plausible and compelling, pointing to corruption at the highest levels of political, military and intelligence officialdom in the United States government – plus at least one of the world’s most powerful banks, Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) – he has not been called to testify before the U.S. Congress. In open session.

In basic summary, Scott Bennett was a counter-terrorism financing analyst working for Booz, Allen, Hamilton, the same corporation Edward Snowden worked for. Mr. Bennett came to meet Union Bank of Switzerland whistleblower Brad Birkenfeld while both were in the same Pennsylvania prison, where Bennett learned of UBS accounts, controlled by the monarchies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman etc., being used for financing terrorist groups – including ISIS. Mr. Bennett produced a detailed report then sent it up the military and intelligence community chain of command, as well as more than 150 United States Senators and Congressmen/women. Since then – May 2012 – there has been no Congressional investigation.

Recently, Mr. Bennett has called the offices of many U.S. Senators leaving detailed, lengthy accounts with staff  demanding action – an investigation where he and other whistleblowers testify in front of responsible committees and the American people. He has recorded those phone conversations and videotaped them, then posted the videos to YouTube at his channel: ArmyPsyOp Scott.

While following up on Scott Bennett’s efforts to expose this scandal, his latest video upload (June 26) at YouTube is of an interview by Susan Lindauer, whose treatment as a whistleblower parallels Scott Bennett’s, and their discussion lasts 1-hour and 42-minutes. With apology to men and women who follow this blog and many other blogs for such a long video, please record “Interview with Susan Lindauer June 2015” for entry into YouTube’s search engine to view and listen later if time constraints apply. The information presented in Ms. Lindauer’s interview of Scott Bennett is important, because the United States Congress has not taken steps to investigate the matter. The purpose behind posting the lengthy interview is to disseminate the information so that more Americans become aware, contact their elected representatives, and Congress starts an investigation.

The interview provides a more thorough understanding of what is at stake with regard to Scott Bennett’s knowledge about these events, and why the Congress clearly must investigate – on the level of Watergate, Iran-Contra, and Church Committee investigations of recent history.

Here is an excerpt from Mr. Bennett’s interview:

“We’re not going to Congress asking them politely if they have time on their schedule and they can introduce our subject between the ‘green tree frog’ and the ‘little old lady’s cat that got run over’ on their busy agenda of things to tackle. We’re asking them, if not telling them, ‘Look, member of Congress, men and women in uniform are dying because they’re getting blown up and hurt and maimed, and they’re coming back to traumatized families, and they’re going into the VA full of drugs and sleeping pills and all sorts of badness. This is happening to them because terrorist operations are being financed by Swiss banks – and you’re not doing anything about it’ “.

“We want you to have the whistleblowers and this issue brought forth front and center, because the people who’ve been involved with this have been covering it up. That includes Roger Zakheim, Dov Zakheim, Lanny Breuer, Eric Holder, Covington & Burling, Booz-Allen-Hamilton, Brad Birkenfeld, Union Bank of Switzerland, Hillary Clinton… The list of people is there; everybody needs to be examined. So, if they (concerned citizens) contact the Whistleblowing Committee – phone # 202-224-4751 – and send hundreds of emails to whistleblower@ronjohnson.senate.gov, that’s how they (you and everyone you know) can play a part. That’s how they can protect their future sons and daughters and stop a war that’s gone way out of control, and get in and fix the government apparatus that’s corrupt, that totally needs to be examined”.

“We called Rand Paul again, and he’s a contender for the presidency. Well, let’s let him put his money where his mouth is – and I applaud him for what he’s done; I applaud him for the good he’s done. I stand with anybody that stands for our constitution and freedom, and is against any police state or government tyranny of the bureaucrats’ intelligence community lording over the regular population. Rand Paul seems to be about that. So let’s give him this issue and let him be the centerpiece. He’s on the committee; he’s on the majority side of this committee… so, Rand Paul’s on the Whistleblowing Committee so let’s let him lead this and demand that Susan Lindauer, Scott Bennett, John Kiriakou and others come forward and tell their story, and see where it leads”.

“We’re not telling it for our own sake. We’re telling it for the American people because we know it can only get worse if it’s not stopped and corrected”.

“When you know of intelligence you report it. You report it loudly, you report it fearlessly, you get into people’s faces, you put your finger in their chest and say ‘Hey, wake up! There’s an issue here you need to pay attention to, because there are kids getting blown up. Do I got your attention, Congressman? Senator? Here it is’. Oh, you’re getting paid by this bank? You’ve got a Swiss bank? You’ve got a Union Bank of Switzerland account? You’ve got an HSBC account? Well, guess what? You’re out of this room. You’re off this table. I want men who don’t have corrupt bank accounts and don’t have financial connections to those parties, and you’ve sworn an oath to the constitution – you damn well better take this front and center and make it your issue”.

“I’ve had people who were on the phone who were saying ‘Well, I’ve got to run to another meeting’, and I say ‘No, you don’t have to run to another meeting. This is the only meeting you need to be in, because this is the only meeting that can stop kids from getting killed! Do I have your attention?’ And I go on with the briefing. So it takes about an hour to get it all out, but I want it out and I record it so it is on the record as a legal document that your office, Senator, was advised. What did you do with it? And that’s where those guys are going to stand up and be leaders, faithful to the constitution, or they are not. And if they are not, then we have the choice to live in a corrupt tyranny or we can clean them out by replacing them – either through impeachment or recall or just not voting for them again and new people taking their jobs”.

“But this is the chance, this is the D-Day invasion of the beach. We need to draw attention to this, and bang these drums as loudly as possible, and get into the face of John McCain, of Bob Portman, of Claire McCaskill, of John Tester, of Heidi Heitkamp, of Tammy Baldwin, of James Langford, of Rand Paul, of Michael Enzi, of Kelly Ayotte, of Corey Booker, of Gary Peters, and Ben Sasse, and Jodi Ernst. Jodi Ernst, who’s an Army officer, she should be furious about this. We’ll see where she stands. But all of these people… If you call yourselves Senators on the Government Affairs and Oversight Committee and you’ve got a whistleblowing email, and a whistleblowing dimension to you, then you damn well better have Susan Lindauer, Scott Bennett, John Kiriakou and a few other whistleblowers appear at your next session”.

“…those are the guys who’ve been persecuted; they had a number of problems. I feel for them; I’ve been there. But what we’ve been through Susan is even worse because we’ve been bloodied. And what they’ve bloodied us with they can do to any American citizen – any other American citizen can go through what you did… kick down your door”.

“This whole Covington & Burling thing is the pustule that will soon burst, out of which will come all sorts of smelly poison, and you see that Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer, the top law enforcement officials, worked at Covington & Burling, this big law firm in D.C. UBS whistleblower Brad Birkenfeld comes forth and says ‘Here’s all the bank account information; here’s all the cellphones; here’s the hotels; here’s the emails; here’s everything you need to track’. You know what their response to him was, Susan? ‘We can’t track that. You watch too much TV’. As if to say ‘we don’t have the technological capability’… And I wrote that in my report. That is a flat-out lie”.

“Of course we have the technical capability to track his bank accounts. Of course we can track that. Anyone who says the opposite is hiding something. That’s what they said to him, and then they stab him in the back when he wouldn’t stop. He goes to the IRS, he goes to the SEC, he finally gets into the Senate – and maybe the Senate was told ‘get this guy inside so we can shut him up’ – and he goes into the Senate and testifies to Carl Levin, and Senator Barack Obama was on that committee, and a variety of other colorful characters on the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations. He gives them all of this information and then they prosecute him with it, send him to prison, and Oh! … And then he meets me”.

Ms. Lindauer seemed to suggest at the interview’s end that members of the military took the actions which led to Brad Birkenfeld and Scott Bennett being sent to the same prison. She seemed to imply that their meeting in prison had become arranged in order to get the scandal out. There are so many more details involved which will need investigating, but nothing such as that will occur until an investigation actually begins. If you have been in the military, take the action you think necessary. If you have family, friends or acquaintances who’ve served in the military, know an elected representative or public safety official, know men or women in the media, please share this information with them all.

****

All clarifying, additional, and/or corrective comments on this issue are appreciated. Thank you.

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(Thank you to ArmyPsyOp Scott at YouTube)

World War III Or World Peace One?

by Jerry Alatalo

“Now friendship may be thus defined: a complete accord on all subjects human and divine, joined with mutual good will and affection. And with the exception of wisdom, I am inclined to think nothing better than this has been given to man by the immortal gods.”

– MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO (106-43 B.C.) Roman orator, poet, statesman

aaa-31The purpose of this post is to promote and support to the greatest extent possible the efforts of The American Committee for East-West Accord (ACEWA). Why? Because the group’s assertion that there has been virtually no public debate in America on events in Ukraine is, sadly and unfortunately, true. The ACEWA website will be found on the internet at http://eastwestaccord.com. Please visit the website, add it to favorites/blogroll, share it with friends and relatives, and take creative, effective steps leading to maximum success for ACEWA.

Those who have spent a moderate amount of time looking at the situation in Ukraine over the past 18 months fully understand the profoundly important point made by ACEWA about the near absence of serious debate in America. Because of that absence, ACEWA members have come together to promote discussion and addressing of extremely concerning issues which in their view suffer from unwise neglect and/or ignorance.

The organization’s members’ goal is beginning an open, civilized, informed debate in America on relations between the United States, Europe and Russia, of which: “There may be no precedent for such an absence of American democratic discourse at such a fateful moment.”

ACEWA’s Board of Directors:

Bill Bradley United States senator from New Jersey (1979-1997), presidential candidate in 2000, and probably best known as a professional basketball player with the world champion New York Knicks (1967-1977)

Stephen F. Cohen Professor Emeritus of Russian studies, history and politics at New York University and Princeton University

Gilbert Doctorow He received a Ph.D. in Russian History from Columbia University in 1975

Jack F. Matlock, Jr. A career diplomat who was United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987-1991

Ellen Mickiewicz James R. Shepley emeritus professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University

John Popper Former chairman and CEO of the Proctor-Gamble Company, who also served as chairman of the Walt Disney Company and the Yale Corporation

William J. vanden Heuvel Served as the American Ambassador to the United Nations by appointment of President Jimmy Carter

After visiting Mr. vanden Heuvel’s blog at ambassadorsperspectives.wordpress.com and reading a number of articles by former United States ambassadors to nations around the world, one post stood out as particularly relevant today. It was written by former Ambassador John Price on March 25, 2014 – days after Crimea became part of Russia – an event that ACEWA recognizes as, among other important East-West issues, one of the main topics for the much-needed open, civilized, informed debate in America.

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Originally written/posted on March 25, 2014 | ambassadorsperspectives.wordpress.com

“Russia’s Takeover of Crimea Needs Careful Action”

John Price (Ambassador to Mauritius, Seychelles and Comoros, 2002-2005)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Price’s March 25, 2014 blog post

On Friday March 21 President Vladimir Putin signed the annexation treaty making Ukraine’s autonomous Crimea region a part of Russia. The port city of Sevastopol on the Black Sea, home to Russia’s naval fleet in the region, was included.

Russia flexing its muscle in Crimea was reminiscent of the World War II Stalin era. It was in 1944 that the minority Muslim Tatar’s were deported from Crimea, and shipped off to the Urals. Stalin had accused them of collaborating with the Nazis. Thousands of Tatars died along the way. Ironically male Tatars were serving in the Soviet army at the time. Upon their return home they found their families gone.

As the Cold War was ending in 1989 the exiled Tatars were allowed to return to their ancestral homes in Crimea. Many of the 250,000 Tatars living in the region still remember vividly being expelled from Crimea by the Soviets. They see Putin as Stalin’s protégé, and fear for the future. A number of Tatar’s have joined the ranks of the Islamist rebels fighting in Syria, attempting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, who Putin supports.

In Crimea ethnic Russians represent 60 percent of the population. Last weekend they were celebrating the annexation in the capital, Simferopol. The Tatars were not so jubilant, since they were required to make a decision–either to accept Russian passports or risk losing their property.

(Originally written on March 25, 2014)

The Tatar jihadists in Syria are joined by Chechen and North Caucasian Islamists affiliated with Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar. These extremists have extensive combat experience, and could return to undertake attacks against the Russians in Crimea. Peace in the region may be short lived.

Islamists issuing a “fatwa”—a declaration of war against the Russians–could bring thousands of Islamist extremists to the region from around the world. The Europeans should be concerned since the terrorists could reach their soil. The saber-rattling and economic sanctions will not stop Russia’s integration of Crimea, which has a historical relationship.

The Caucasus Emirate, including the break-away republic of Chechnya, is a confederation of twelve regional provinces that are predominantly Muslim. Their goal is to expel Russian presence from the North Caucasus, and create an independent Islamic State ruled under Sharia.

Caucasus Emirate Islamists could create instability throughout the region in support of the Tatars in Crimea. They have been responsible for terrorist attacks and bombings in Russia, including an apartment building in 1999, a theater in 2002, a school in 2004, a high-speed train in 2009, the Moscow Metro in 2010, the Moscow’s airport in 2011, in Dagestan in 2012, and a number of suicide attacks in southern Russia in 2013. The Tsarnaev brothers, who undertook the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013, are both ethnic Chechens having trained there.

(Originally written on March 25, 2014)

Mr. Putin supports Syria’s ruler Bashar al-Assad, and has now indicated that he may not coöperate with the international community to help destroy Syria’s chemical weapons cache. Syria is in its third year of a chaotic civil war in which tribal, ethnic, religious, and Islamist factions are fighting for control. There are over 11,000 Islamists in Syria coming from nearby Arab countries, Europe, and Iran which is also an ally of al-Assad. Regime change will bring about a vacuous situation, which could allow Islamists to take control.

We need Mr. Putin’s cooperation if there is the slightest chance of finding a solution in Syria. Ousting al-Assad will not bring peace or democracy to this fractious country. His minority Alawite tribal members live in fear of annihilation. The U.S.-NATO incursion into Libya emboldened al-Qaeda linked Islamists who captured and killed Col. Muammar Gaddafi, and in his hometown of Sirte slaughtered many of the Warfalla tribal members.

Since then democratic institutions have failed to take hold in Libya. Instability in the country has seen attacks on government officials, foreign diplomats, and international aid workers. In 2012 Islamists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

Islamists in Libya now control three major shipping ports in eastern Libya. They also control large swaths of the country, including the oil-producing sites in the southern desert. Oil exports to Europe have all but ceased, since the government has not been able to stop the Islamists from taking control.

(Originally written on March 25, 2014)

Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa, and the 5th largest in the world. Europeans import 85 percent of Libya’s oil and depend on the source. Since Gaddafi had threatened to cut off supplies on several occasions the European countries needed to consider alternative sources from Russia or Iran. The military incursion to remove Gaddafi offered the opportunity that the flow of oil would continue to Europe. Now the sanctions against Russia has the European leaders wringing their hands, since Russia as a major trading partner controls the natural gas, and possible access to oil sources.

The imposed sanctions could backfire, if Mr. Putin halts cooperation on the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons and Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov recently stated, “We wouldn’t like to take advantage of these negotiations as an element of gambling with a higher ante,” adding that Crimea’s reunification with Russia far outweighs the developments surrounding the Iranian nuclear program.

Russia’s takeover of Crimea is a “fait accompli”. As such we need to continue to focus on controlling Syria’s chemical weapons, and Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. President Obama’s current trip to Europe needs focus more on these issues, and not overly denounce Mr. Putin’s annexation of Crimea.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) insisting that we install the scrapped missile defense system in Poland and Czech Republic could further exacerbate the tenuous situation with Russia. There will be an opportunity in the future to address that issue. But for now finding alternative natural gas and oil sources for Europe seems to be a more pressing issue.

President Obama needs to find a diplomatic solution, with hopes that Russia will reverse its acquisition of Crimea. We need to immediately engage the Tatar, and Caucasus Emirate leaders so as to avoid retaliation and terrorist attacks which could destabilize Europe. The planned U.S. military exercises with Ukrainian troops in Russia’s backyard will further exacerbate the crisis. If we are not careful we could be inching closer to World War III. (emphasis added – Please note Mr. Price wrote this on March 25, 2014)

While Mr. Obama is in Europe he should plan to have a beer with Mr. Putin to get better acquainted. This could be the beginning of a friendship and better understanding each other’s goals. World leaders may misunderstand Mr. Putin’s real motives, and overestimate his desire of rebuilding the Russian Empire. Spending time together socially might diminish the hostility, and even reach a diplomatic resolution to the Crimea standoff—it’s worth a try.

Originally written/posted on March 25, 2014 | ambassadorsperspectives.wordpress.com

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To fully illustrate how important it is for men and women of ACEWA’s efforts to become supported, effective, successful, widely known and disseminated: Mr. Price wrote “If we are not careful we could be inching closer to World War III”fifteen months ago.

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Mission Statement of The American Committee for East-West Accord:

The Committee for East-West Accord is a nonpartisan, tax-exempt educational organization of American citizens from different professions — business, academia, government service, science, law, and others — who are deeply concerned about the possibility of a new (potentially even more dangerous) cold war between the United States/Europe and Russia. Our fundamental premise is that no real or lasting American, European, or international security generally is possible without essential kinds of stable coöperation with Russia.

Since early 2014, we have therefore watched with growing dismay as East-West coöperation created over decades — in diplomacy, arms control, economics, energy, education, science, space, culture, even in preventing nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and environmental threats — have been heedlessly discarded or gravely endangered. While experts warn of an unfolding new nuclear arms race, and with it the risk those weapons may actually be used, there may already be less East-West cooperation than existed during the latter decades of the preceding cold war.

And yet, these looming dangers, whose immediate cause was the U.S./EU -Russian confrontation over the future of Ukraine but whose origins lie in policy decisions taken and not taken on both sides since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, have developed virtually without any significant public debate in the United States — in Congress, the mainstream media, academia, think tanks, or anywhere else that might influence the course of events. There may be no precedent for such an absence of American democratic discourse at such a fateful moment.

The primary mission of the Committee is to promote such discussion about East-West relations and thus to create broad public awareness of the new dangers and of ways to end them. The Committee encourages open, civilized, informed debate of all the related issues, current and past, among Americans with different, even opposing, positions, perspectives, and proposals. And the Committee seeks to do this in as many ways as possible,including an informational website for engaging individuals and other groups; sponsoring or cosponsoring public events in Washington, at universities, and across the country; and in the national media, including social media.

The Committee is new but not without a distinguished predecessor. Its name derives from The American Committee on East-West Accord, a pro-detente organization founded in 1974 by illustrious Americans — among them, CEOs of multinational corporations, political figures, educational leaders, and policy thinkers such as George F. Kennan. That Committee, believing cold war had ended, closed its doors in 1992, though not before being credited with having contributed to the historic agreements reached by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985-1991.

Today’s need for something akin to a new détente is no less imperative. And the new Committee for East-West Accord, which expects to be joined soon by an affiliated European branch in Brussels, strives for even more: A conclusive end to cold war and its attendant dangers.

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Please vigorously support and strongly promote the urgent, vital work of The American Committee for East-West Accord. Thank you.