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 Post subject: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:20 am 
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July 22, 2017

EU sounds alarm, urges U.S. to coordinate on Russia sanctions

Reuters Staff


BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union sounded an alarm on Saturday about moves in the U.S. Congress to step up U.S. sanctions on Russia, urging Washington to keep coordinating with its G7 partners and warning of unintended consequences.

In a statement by a spokeswoman after Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress reached a deal that could see new legislation pass, the European Commission warned of possibly "wide and indiscriminate" "unintended consequences", notably on the EU's efforts to diversify energy sources away from Russia.

Germany has already warned of possible retaliation if the United States moves to sanction German firms involved with building a new Baltic pipeline for Russian gas.

EU diplomats are concerned that a German-U.S. row over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline being built by Russia's state-owned Gazprom could complicate efforts in Brussels to forge an EU consensus on negotiating with Russia over the project.

"We highly value the unity that is prevailing among international partners in our approach towards Russia's action in Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions. This unity is the guarantee of the efficiency and credibility of our measures," the Commission said in its statement.

***"We understand that the Russia/Iran sanctions bill is driven primarily by domestic considerations,***" it went on, referring to a bill passed in the U.S. Senate last month and to which lawmakers said on Saturday they had unblocked further obstacles.

"As we have said repeatedly, it is important that any possible new measures are coordinated between international partners to maintain unity among partners on the sanctions that has been underpinning the efforts for full implementation of the Minsk Agreements," the Commission said, referring to an accord struck with Moscow to try to end the conflicts in Ukraine.

"We are concerned the measures discussed in the U.S. Congress could have unintended consequences, not only when it comes to Transatlantic/G7 unity, but also on EU economic and energy security interests. This impact could be potentially wide and indiscriminate, including when it comes to energy sources diversification efforts.

"Sanctions are at their most effective when they are coordinated. Currently our sanctions regimes are coordinated. As a result their impact on the ground is increased and through coordination we are able to avoid surprises, manage potential impact on our own economic operators and address collectively efforts to circumvent such measures. Unilateral measures would undermine this," the Commission said.

"We therefore call on the U.S. Congress/authorities to engage with the partners, including the EU, to ensure coordination and to avoid any unintended consequences of the measures discussed."

http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-usa-ru ... KKBN1A70RF

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:25 am 
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^^^***EXPLAINER:

The EU countries (well, mostly Germany and France...) are saying that the U.S. Sanctions against Russia are primarily intended to force the EU to purchase energy supplies from the U.S. and not from Russia.

Same thing with Iran.

>*^*<

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:27 pm 
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Follow the fucking money. Anytime you're being told the world is going to end .... just wait...your tax dollars will solve the problem. North Korea is evil and going to nuke the world....with their 1 semi operational rocket....problem solved...over a billion in missile defense systems sold. Russia is evil... sanction them and buy our oil. Fuck......isn't it all so obvious at this point?

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:41 pm 
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I'm sure the glorious billions of money is an unintended side effect of doing the right thing .

:-?

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:51 pm 
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Holyman wrote:
^^^***EXPLAINER:

The EU countries (well, mostly Germany and France...) are saying that the U.S. Sanctions against Russia are primarily intended to force the EU to purchase energy supplies from the U.S. and not from Russia.

Same thing with Iran.

>*^*<


Additionally I approve of brief summary which should follow all multi-paragraphed Holyman posts :D

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:06 pm 
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tgrant wrote:
Follow the fucking money. Anytime you're being told the world is going to end .... just wait...your tax dollars will solve the problem. North Korea is evil and going to nuke the world....with their 1 semi operational rocket....problem solved...over a billion in missile defense systems sold. Russia is evil... sanction them and buy our oil. Fuck......isn't it all so obvious at this point?


You would certainly think so, wouldn't you?

It’s such a peculiar state of affairs with the U.S. Public:

The supreme American virtue is wealth.

“The American Dream” is all about amassing as much wealth as your labour, ingenuity and work-ethic can manage.

Money trumps all other achievements.

“Capitalism for the Win”, as someone around here has long used as a component of their Forum signature.

Money equals Power in American Society: nothing else even comes close. This is beyond dispute.

Therefore… Why *WOULDN’T* money be the first and most obvious motivation considered for U.S. policies and actions..? Especially when no other motivation or explanation seems plausible or feasible, much less logical.

And yet, for the Cheerleaders of U.S. Government actions, money is absolutely and automatically discounted as a motivating factor. The more reprehensible, illegal and immoral the action: the more vehemently money is dismissed as a possible motivation for it.

It *IS* so obvious to anyone outside of the U.S. at this point… And just as obvious to (hopefully/thankfully) an increasing number of people in the U.S.

But not yet enough Americans to hold the U.S. Government to account.

And we non-Americans don’t get a pass on this either. Our own Governments are just as guilty of the same thing (and of enabling the U.S. Government): they just don’t happen to be the dominant player…

I wonder…

Is it that so many of us have been suckered into this con for so long, that we are just too ashamed to admit it?

:-?

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:06 pm 
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Slacks wrote:
Holyman wrote:
^^^***EXPLAINER:

The EU countries (well, mostly Germany and France...) are saying that the U.S. Sanctions against Russia are primarily intended to force the EU to purchase energy supplies from the U.S. and not from Russia.

Same thing with Iran.


Additionally I approve of brief summary which should follow all multi-paragraphed Holyman posts :D


Noted.

:)

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:36 pm 
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Holyman wrote:
^^^***EXPLAINER:

The EU countries (well, mostly Germany and France...) are saying that the U.S. Sanctions against Russia are primarily intended to force the EU to purchase energy supplies from the U.S. and not from Russia.

Same thing with Iran.

>*^*<


One would think even the dopey Euro's don't need American arm twisting to diversify their energy suppliers from such bright lights as Putin and the Ayatollahs.

Wasn't too long ago that Russia was cutting off gas supplies to Europe over Ukraine. Europe really wants the majority of its energy coming from a regime that has already used it as blackmail? Talk about being someone's bitch!

Russia Cuts Gas, and Europe Shivers
MOSCOW — Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly, halted nearly all its natural gas exports to Europe on Tuesday, sharply escalating its pricing dispute with neighboring Ukraine. The cutoff led to immediate shortages from France to Turkey and underscored Moscow’s increasingly confrontational posture toward the West.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/07/world ... wanted=all

I'm sure Iran would never do such a thing either provided no more books by the likes of Salmun Rushdie...........or unflattering cartoons of muhammed.


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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:57 pm 
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Foota wrote:
Holyman wrote:
The EU countries (well, mostly Germany and France...) are saying that the U.S. Sanctions against Russia are primarily intended to force the EU to purchase energy supplies from the U.S. and not from Russia.

Same thing with Iran.


One would think even the dopey Euro's don't need American arm twisting to diversify their energy suppliers from such bright lights as Putin and the Ayatollahs.


As opposed to whom? Your delightful allies in Saudi Arabia?

It is probably important for you to understand Foota that right about now, most Europeans have a far more favourable opinion of the Russian and Iranian Governments than they do of the U.S. Government.

I realise that will come as a bit of a shock to you and you'll need some time to get your head around it... So, you know, when you're ready.

Foota wrote:
Wasn't too long ago that Russia was cutting off gas supplies to Europe over Ukraine.


That was not long after the E.U. went along with the U.S. imposed sanctions against Russia, wasn't it..?

OK for the U.S./E.U. to impose sanctions on Russia, but not okay for Russia to stop selling its gas supplies to Europe in retaliation..?

Foota wrote:
Europe really wants the majority of its energy coming from a regime that has already used it as blackmail? Talk about being someone's bitch!


I think the idea is to diversify Europe's bitch status...

Is the point of this thread really: to record that the E.U. is mightily fed up with being the U.S.'s bitch, and actually and comparatively, gets on much better with the Russians than with the U.S. these days.

Sorry 'bout that.

:-??

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 6:12 pm 
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Holyman wrote:

It is probably important for you to understand Foota that right about now, most Europeans have a far more favourable opinion of the Russian and Iranian Governments than they do of the U.S. Government.

:-??


I know a good chunk of the French, Germans and British are supremely retarded when it comes to their anti-Americanism. About as retarded as their long standing anti-Semitism. They just can't shake the ancient illness.

But I think Poland and much of Eastern Europe who were Russia's former slave colonies still have their heads screwed on straight.

By all means - hitch your stars to Putin and Iran. They are supremely enlightened, liberal and tolerant regimes!


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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:22 pm 
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Foota wrote:
By all means - hitch your stars to Putin and Iran. They are supremely enlightened, liberal and tolerant regimes!


They don't have to be enlightened, liberal or tolerant.

They just have to be less belligerent, corrupt and threatening to the survival of the species than the United States, for relations with them to seem more preferable.

What..? Did you *REALLY* think that having Donald Trump as your President, withdrawing from the Climate Treaty, ramping up already obscene levels of military spending, and risking nuclear war with Russia was going to end well for your country..?

I mean... You didn't... Did you..?

:|

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:26 pm 
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US Navy fires warning shots at Iranian ship in Gulf

Quote:
A US Navy ship has fired warning shots at an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel in the Gulf, US officials say.

It happened at around 03:00 local time (00:00 GMT), as the Iranian ship began to approach the USS Thunderbolt.

A US defence official said the boat came within 450ft (137m), and ignored radio calls and the ship's whistle.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard is a paramilitary force that answers directly to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"The IRGCN boat was coming in at a high rate of speed. It did not respond to any signals, they did not respond to any bridge-to-bridge calls, they felt there was no choice except to fire the warning shots," the official told AFP news agency.

The Iranian ship stopped after the warning shots, and the Thunderbolt - accompanied by several US Coast Guard vessels - continued on its way.


The U.S. *COAST* Guard.....?

In the Persian Gulf..?!?

>&8~

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:36 pm 
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Holyman wrote:

What..? Did you *REALLY* think that having Donald Trump as your President, withdrawing from the Climate Treaty, ramping up already obscene levels of military spending, and risking nuclear war with Russia was going to end well for your country..?

I mean... You didn't... Did you..?

:|


I didn't expect anything different.........especially from Europe.

We had arguably the most conciliatory and apologetic president in my lifetime for the last 8 years (Obama). Despite Obama's fuck up with Libya, he and Hillary did virtually everything the left wingers in Europe and Russia wanted. Obama pulled all troops from Iraq, canceled Poland's missile defense shield, kissed up to Putin, did next to nothing to punish Assad in Syria, supported Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, cut a huge nuclear deal with Iran, tried to isolate Israel, played nice with China, opened up to Cuba and tried to limit America's oil and gas production.

What did all that get us or the world?

I see the Middle East in flames, genocide, unprecedented refugee crisis in Europe, Russia invading Europe, China building military bases in the Pacific, Turkey turning more Islamist and authoritarian, North Korea testing nukes and firing off ICBMs.........


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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:01 am 
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Holyman wrote:
...And we non-Americans don’t get a pass on this either. Our own Governments are just as guilty of the same thing (and of enabling the U.S. Government): they just don’t happen to be the dominant player…


:-?


And this is pretty much it. Every nation in history has acted in it's own economic interest. Do you think the Chinese are any different?

I am almost looking forward to Chinese hegemony, because maybe then rabid anti-Americanism will subside. Their foreign policy is much more mercenary and expansionist than the US has been for the last seven decades. Look how the PRC is already carving up Africa, It doesn't matter how many people are murdered in South Sudan, as longs as the government keeps resources flowing. A lot like what the US did in South America in the 19th century with the Banana Republics, but on steroids.

Give it another two decades, and you'll all be wishing to have Pax American back. :-?

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 1:05 am 
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Holyman wrote:
US Navy fires warning shots at Iranian ship in Gulf

Quote:
A US Navy ship has fired warning shots at an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel in the Gulf, US officials say.

It happened at around 03:00 local time (00:00 GMT), as the Iranian ship began to approach the USS Thunderbolt.

A US defence official said the boat came within 450ft (137m), and ignored radio calls and the ship's whistle.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard is a paramilitary force that answers directly to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"The IRGCN boat was coming in at a high rate of speed. It did not respond to any signals, they did not respond to any bridge-to-bridge calls, they felt there was no choice except to fire the warning shots," the official told AFP news agency.

The Iranian ship stopped after the warning shots, and the Thunderbolt - accompanied by several US Coast Guard vessels - continued on its way.


The U.S. *COAST* Guard.....?

In the Persian Gulf..?!?

>&8~


The US Coast Guard works alongside the Navy proper in many situations. All over the world. (They have actually a fairly impressive combat history in WW2.)

Plus they deploy to other nations to conduct training and exercises with other nations on things like maritime safety, maritime interdiction and enforcement, and most importantly search and rescue. They teach a lot of folks worldwide the whys, hows and whats of how to operate safely at sea and what to do if/when something goes wrong.

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:10 am 
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Alaskan Viking wrote:
Holyman wrote:
...And we non-Americans don’t get a pass on this either. Our own Governments are just as guilty of the same thing (and of enabling the U.S. Government): they just don’t happen to be the dominant player…


And this is pretty much it. Every nation in history has acted in it's own economic interest. Do you think the Chinese are any different?

I am almost looking forward to Chinese hegemony, because maybe then rabid anti-Americanism will subside. Their foreign policy is much more mercenary and expansionist than the US has been for the last seven decades. Look how the PRC is already carving up Africa, It doesn't matter how many people are murdered in South Sudan, as longs as the government keeps resources flowing. A lot like what the US did in South America in the 19th century with the Banana Republics, but on steroids.

Give it another two decades, and you'll all be wishing to have Pax American back.


I would like to submit that anti-Americanism (rabid or otherwise) is not and hasn’t ever been the issue.

It is an issue of Anti-Imperialism.

Couple of important points to establish, before I continue:

1) That the United States doesn’t formally/officially declare itself an Empire, in the same way that most Western European nations did in the 19th and 20th Century, is a mere detail… A Public Relations detail actually.

2) And the Anti-Imperialist sentiment that is directed at the United States has nothing to do with the individual or collective characteristics of Americans… And everything to do with the fact that in the 21st Century Human World, Imperialism is widely seen as an anachronistic and negative quality of Human Civilisation.

Whether or not the United States chooses to declare itself an Empire, or accept the appellation when used by others, is neither here nor there. The United States of America conducts itself as an Imperial Power, and has done since the end of World War Two.

Officially, the United States currently has overseas military bases in at least 70 other nations. Only slightly less officially, the number of different nations that actually host a U.S. military base is between 130 and 148. This last tally does include military bases with very few U.S. military personnel, but does not count military contingents attached to U.S. Embassies around the World.

In contrast, three of the European former Imperial powers, Britain, France and Russia, have a combined total of about 30 foreign bases. And the People’s Republic of China has, as we recently learned, only just established its *FIRST* overseas military base, in Djibouti.

In Economic terms, the U.S.’s Imperial status is underwritten (and implemented) by the role that the U.S. Dollar plays in international trade, particularly its role as the only currency in which oil can be traded.

In Diplomatic terms, the U.S.’s role as (by far) the leading “Partner” in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, its primacy in and disdain for the United Nations, and its well-known disregard for International Law and repeated declarations of “Exceptional” status, complete the adjectival qualities of a Nation that holds status as an Empire.

Right, now that is established…

Despite everything, Human Civilisation does manage to make slow progress.

Science, medicine, welfare &c.

And for the most part, Cultural Attitudes progress too.

By and large, we’re all a lot less racist, sexist and generally bigoted than we used to be, even just three or four decades ago.

Aaaaand… Also by an large, we’re getting pretty close to accepting that Might does not make Right, that violence is not a valid or viable solution to disagreements, that with Great Power comes Great Responsibility, and that bullies are arseholes.

And that means that there isn’t much appetite or tolerance left for Nations that want to behave Imperially (or imperiously, come to that…).

Americans can be a bit loud, a bit forthright, sometimes a bit crass. They could certainly be more intellectually curious and honest at times; and they are pretty much walking and talking proof of the adage that self-confidence is the enemy of self-awareness.

But… Americans are also seen to be resourceful, capable, dynamic, hard-working and generous. And of course, very entertaining. Their religious obsession with moral probity can be a bit dogmatic at times, but generally speaking, it’s still a quality most of us would miss if it wasn’t there.

So in the Grand Scheme of Things, the American Archetype is generally regarded as no worse and (this bit is important:) no better than most other National Archetypes.

It isn’t Americans (or even Americanism, as it pertains to the National Character) that other people in the World have a problem with: it is Imperialism.

So, rest assured that as the U.S. Imperial fortunes and capabilities decline, should any other Nation in our World attempt to adopt or assume the mantel of Imperial Authority, they will face *EXACTLY* the same antipathy, opposition and disdain that the U.S.’s Imperial activities currently attract.

And I can’t say fairer than that, can I?

:-??

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:30 pm 
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This is an interesting and relevant read.

It is a report published by the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute, and is called:

"At Our Own Peril: DoD Risk Assessment in a Post-Primacy World"

Was published on June 29, 2017.

The use of the term "Post-Primacy", both in the title of the report and throughout its text, pretty much says it all.

From the Executive Summary:

Quote:
The imperative for fresh perspectives on enterprise-level risk and risk assessment emerge from the broad recognition of two adverse realities confronting the United States and its defense establishment.

The first is the increasing vulnerability, erosion, and, in some cases, the loss of an assumed U.S. military advantage vis-à-vis many of its most consequential defense-relevant challenges.

The second concerns the volatile and uncertain restructuring of international security affairs in ways that appear to be increasingly hostile to unchallenged U.S. leadership.

At Our Own Peril identifies this new or newly recognized period as one of “post-U.S. primacy.”


It's a technical-strategic paper, focusing on risk assessment, management and mitigation primarily, but the most prosaic section is Section I: "Introduction: Post-U.S. Primacy and the New Fundamentals of Risk and Risk Assessment."

Quote:
Separating risk from the business of strategy invariably hazards two undesirable outcomes.

The first is “failure” or the pursuit of objectives or policy goals that prove overly ambitious or unattainable in practice. The second is “prohibitive cost.” This marks a pursuit of objectives or goals that in the end prove little more than Pyrrhic victories, robbing DoD of depth or freedom of action to pursue other—often more important—future ends.

According to the 2005 National Defense Strategy (NDS), where these terms originated:

Quote:
We assess the likelihood of a variety of problems—most notably, failure or prohibitive costs in pursuit of . . . objectives. This approach recognizes that some objectives, though desirable, may be unattainable, while others, though attainable, may not be worth the costs.


The imperative for fresh perspectives on enterprise-level risk emerges from broad recognition of:

1) the vulnerability, erosion, or even loss of assumed U.S. military advantage vis-à-vis many of its most consequential defense-relevant challenges, and 2) a volatile restructuring of international security affairs that appears increasingly inhospitable to unchallenged American leadership.

On both counts and in the words of one member of the study’s expert working group (EWG), contemporary risk assessment should start from the jarring realization that “we can lose.”

The U.S. military hazards sacrificing core interests and objectives, global position, and material capability if it does not act now to have a greater appreciation for military- and strategic-level risk in the contemporary environment.

Indeed, this study argues that the volatile restructuring of international security affairs currently underway marks the American entrance into a third transformational era since the end of the Cold War. In addition, it is an era that the U.S. defense enterprise is ill-equipped to contend with from a risk perspective.

The first of the preceding two eras is commonly referred to as the “post-Cold War” period, a time where the United States and its military benefitted from unprecedented reach and advantage vis-à-vis the nearest or most threatening of its state rivals. The second era can most reasonably be described as the “post-9/11” period. It saw the United States and its defense establishment suffer a disruptive “strategic shock.”

That shock exposed both the vulnerability engendered by dogged adherence to long-standing national security bias and convention, as well as inherent American adaptability to fundamental change in strategic conditions. Each of these eras presented defense and military leaders with unique risk considerations. Each also offered contemporary decision-makers with clues as to how they should identify, describe, and assess contemporary risk going forward.

Now, it is becoming increasingly clear that the United States is either at the doorstep or in the midst of a third—even more uncertain—wave of foundational strategic change. This study labels this period “post-primacy.” For DoD, post-primacy is marked by five interrelated characteristics:

• Hyper-connectivity and weaponization of information, disinformation, and disaffection;
• A rapidly fracturing post-Cold War status quo;
• Proliferation, diversification, and atomization of effective counter-U.S. resistance;
• Resurgent but transformed great power competition; and finally,
• Violent or disruptive dissolution of political cohesion and identity.

While the United States remains a global political, economic, and military giant, it no longer enjoys an unassailable position versus state competitors. Further, it remains buffeted by a range of metastasizing violent or disruptive nonstate challengers, and it is under stress—as are all states—from the dispersion and diffusion of effective resistance and the varied forces of disintegrating or fracturing political authority.

In brief, the status quo that was hatched and nurtured by U.S. strategists after World War II and has for decades been the principal “beat” for DoD is not merely fraying but may, in fact, be collapsing.

Consequently, the United States’ role in and approach to the world may be fundamentally changing as well.


Glad someone is alert to the situation.

>*^*<

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 11:41 am 
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JULY 28, 2017

Collateral Damage: U.S. Sanctions Aimed at Russia Strike Western European Allies

by DIANA JOHNSTONE


Do they know what they are doing? When the U.S. Congress adopts draconian sanctions aimed mainly at disempowering President Trump and ruling out any move to improve relations with Russia, do they realize that the measures amount to a declaration of economic war against their dear European “friends”?

Whether they know or not, they obviously don’t care. U.S. politicians view the rest of the world as America’s hinterland, to be exploited, abused and ignored with impunity.

The Bill H.R. 3364 “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” was adopted on July 25 by all but three members of the House of Representatives. An earlier version was adopted by all but two Senators. Final passage at veto-overturning proportions is a certainty.

This congressional temper tantrum flails in all directions. The main casualties are likely to be America’s dear beloved European allies, notably Germany and France. Who also sometimes happen to be competitors, but such crass considerations don’t matter in the sacred halls of the U.S. Congress, totally devoted to upholding universal morality.

Economic “Soft Power” Hits Hard

Under U.S. sanctions, any EU nation doing business with Russia may find itself in deep trouble. In particular, the latest bill targets companies involved in financing Nord Stream 2, a pipeline designed to provide Germany with much needed natural gas from Russia.

By the way, just to help out, American companies will gladly sell their own fracked natural gas to their German friends, at much higher prices.

That is only one way in which the bill would subject European banks and enterprises to crippling restrictions, lawsuits and gigantic fines.

While the U.S. preaches “free competition”, it constantly takes measures to prevent free competition at the international level.

Following the July 2015 deal ensuring that Iran could not develop nuclear weapons, international sanctions were lifted, but the United States retained its own previous ones. Since then, any foreign bank or enterprise contemplating trade with Iran is apt to receive a letter from a New York group calling itself “United Against Nuclear Iran” which warns that “there remain serious legal, political, financial and reputational risks associated with doing business in Iran, particularly in sectors of the Iranian economy such as oil and gas”. The risks cited include billions of dollars of (U.S.) fines, surveillance by “a myriad of regulatory agencies”, personal danger, deficiency of insurance coverage, cyber insecurity, loss of more lucrative business, harm to corporate reputation and a drop in shareholder value.

The United States gets away with this gangster behavior because over the years it has developed a vast, obscure legalistic maze, able to impose its will on the “free world” economy thanks to the omnipresence of the dollar, unrivaled intelligence gathering and just plain intimidation.

European leaders reacted indignantly to the latest sanctions. The German foreign ministry said it was “unacceptable for the United States to use possible sanctions as an instrument to serve the interest of U.S. industry”. The French foreign ministry denounced the “extraterritoriality” of the U.S. legislation as unlawful, and announced that “To protect ourselves against the extraterritorial effects of US legislation, we will have to work on adjusting our French and European laws”.

In fact, bitter resentment of arrogant U.S. imposition of its own laws on others has been growing in France, and was the object of a serious parliamentary report delivered to the French National Assembly foreign affairs and finance committees last October 5, on the subject of “the extraterritoriality of American legislation”.

Extraterritoriality

The chairman of the commission of enquiry, long-time Paris representative Pierre Lellouche, summed up the situation as follows:

Quote:
“The facts are very simple. We are confronted with an extremely dense wall of American legislation whose precise intention is to use the law to serve the purposes of the economic and political imperium with the idea of gaining economic and strategic advantages. As always in the United States, that imperium, that normative bulldozer operates in the name of the best intentions in the world since the United States considers itself a ‘benevolent power’, that is a country that can only do good.”


Always in the name of “the fight against corruption” or “the fight against terrorism”, the United States righteously pursues anything legally called a “U.S. person”, which under strange American law can refer to any entity doing business in the land of the free, whether by having an American subsidiary, or being listed on the New York stock exchange, or using a U.S.-based server, or even by simply trading in dollars, which is something that no large international enterprise can avoid.

In 2014, France’s leading bank, BNP-Paribas, agreed to pay a whopping fine of nearly nine billion dollars, basically for having used dollar transfers in deals with countries under U.S. sanctions. The transactions were perfectly legal under French law. But because they dealt in dollars, payments transited by way of the United States, where diligent computer experts could find the needle in the haystack. European banks are faced with the choice between prosecution, which entails all sorts of restrictions and punishments before a verdict is reached, or else, counseled by expensive U.S. corporate lawyers, and entering into the obscure “plea bargain” culture of the U.S. judicial system, unfamiliar to Europeans. Just like the poor wretch accused of robbing a convenience store, the lawyers urge the huge European enterprises to plea guilty in order to escape much worse consequences.

Alstom, a major multinational corporation whose railroad section produces France’s high speed trains, is a jewel of French industry. In 2014, under pressure from U.S. accusations of corruption (probably bribes to officials in a few developing countries), Alstom sold off its electricity branch to General Electric.

The underlying accusation is that such alleged “corruption” by foreign firms causes U.S. firms to lose markets. That is possible, but there is no practical reciprocity here. A whole range of U.S. intelligence agencies, able to spy on everyone’s private communications, are engaged in commercial espionage around the world. As an example, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, devoted to this task, operates with 200 employees on an annual budget of over $30 million. The comparable office in Paris employs five people.

This was the situation as of last October. The latest round of sanctions can only expose European banks and enterprises to even more severe consequences, especially concerning investments in the vital Nord Stream natural gas pipeline.

This bill is just the latest in a series of U.S. legislative measures tending to break down national legal sovereignty and create a globalized jurisdiction in which anyone can sue anyone else for anything, with ultimate investigative capacity and enforcement power held by the United States.

Wrecking the European Economy

Over a dozen European Banks (British, German, French, Dutch, Swiss) have run afoul of U.S. judicial moralizing, compared to only one U.S. bank: JP Morgan Chase.

The U.S. targets the European core countries, while its overwhelming influence in the northern rim – Poland, the Baltic States and Sweden – prevents the European Union from taking any measures (necessarily unanimous) contrary to U.S. interests.

By far the biggest catch in Uncle Sam’s financial fishing expedition is Deutsche Bank. As Pierre Lellouche warned during the final hearing of the extraterritorial hearings last October, U.S. pursuits against Deutsche Bank risk bringing down the whole European banking system. Although it had already paid hundreds of millions of dollars to the State of New York, Deutsche Bank was faced with a “fine of 14 billion dollars whereas it is worth only five and a half. … In other words, if this is carried out, we risk a domino effect, a major financial crisis in Europe.”

In short, U.S. sanctions amount to a sword of Damocles threatening the economies of the country’s main trading partners. This could be a Pyrrhic victory, or more simply, the blow that kills the goose that lays the golden eggs. But hurrah, America would be the winner in a field of ruins.

Former justice minister Elisabeth Guigou called the situation shocking, and noted that France had told the U.S. Embassy that the situation is “insupportable” and insisted that “we must be firm”.

Jacques Myard said that “American law is being used to gain markets and eliminate competitors. We should not be naïve and wake up to what is happening.”

This enquiry marked a step ahead in French awareness and resistance to a new form of “taxation without representation” exercised by the United States against its European satellites. They committee members all agreed that something must be done.

That was last October. In June, France held parliamentary elections. The commission chairman, Pierre Lellouche (Republican), the rapporteur Karine Berger (Socialist), Elisabeth Guigou (a leading Socialist) and Jacques Myard (Republican) all lost their seats to inexperienced newcomers recruited into President Emmanuel Macron’s République en marche party. The newcomers are having a hard time finding their way in parliamentary life and have no political memory, for instance of the Rapport on Extraterritoriality.

As for Macron, as minister of economics, in 2014 he went against earlier government rulings by approving the GE purchase of Alstom. He does not appear eager to do anything to anger the United States.

However, there are some things that are so blatantly unfair that they cannot go on forever.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:55 am 
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August 7, 2017

The Instability of Britain and the US: How Do We Come Back From This?

by Patrick Cockburn


There is a famous scene in Shakespeare’s Henry V on the night before the battle of Agincourt, when the French lords speak of the inevitability of their coming victory. Puffed up with arrogance, they deride the English: “Do but behold yon poor and starved band.” Of course, all this is to be exposed as bombast when the over-confident lords get their comeuppance the following day.

I was thinking about this scene when Donald Trump was elected President last year, contrary to the predictions of almost every commentator in the US. I thought about it again when pundits in Britain had their own St Crispin’s Day on 8 June, as Theresa May lost her majority in Parliament, dumbfounding expectations that Jeremy Corbyn was leading the Labour Party to calamitous defeat. A comical outcome of the general election was the way in which the commentariat, who has by and large lauded May as a mix of Queen Elizabeth I, Judi Dench and Margaret Thatcher, switched at high speed to seeing clear similarities between her and Inspector Clouseau.

It is always satisfactory to see anybody in the prediction business tripping over their feet and getting egg on their faces. Most commentators admitted error, noted that everybody else had also got the election wrong, but still managed to sound as if they knew what made the nation tick. It was particularly easy to move on the agenda in the week after the election because of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The American political establishment – at the core of which is TheNew York Times and CNN – have been busily counterattacking Trump and his election victory as the outcome of a Russian plot. Evidence for this is scant.

The anti-Trump forces may well be right in their strategy. Simple innocence is not going to do Trump a lot of good, and refuting vague and exaggerated charges can be difficult because of their very lack of substance. The Republicans should know this because they persecuted the Clintons for years by manufacturing scandals such as the Whitewater real estate deal, the murder of the US ambassador in Benghazi and Hillary’s supposed mishandling of her private emails.

Current political battles are so intense that they mask crucial long-term developments: Britain and America both look much more unstable today than they have done at any time since the Second World War. Some weakening of Anglo-Saxon dominance on the world stage had been expected in the wake of the Iraq war in 2003 and the financial crisis in 2008, but suddenly both powers feel as if they are starting to implode.

The pros and cons of Brexit are furiously debated in Britain, usually with the point at issue being the ultimate political and economic outcome of leaving the EU. But two important negative consequences are already with us: Britain is far more divided than it used to be and the Government is entirely preoccupied with Brexit to the exclusion of anything else. Brexit is like the tremors of an earthquake that shake apart weak and vulnerable points in British society, state and nation.

The British ruling class used to have a high international reputation for intelligence and realism in pursuit of its own interests. This may have been exaggerated, but latterly it seems to have lost its touch and to be happiest when sawing off the branch on which it is sitting. Privatisation and globalisation since Margaret Thatcher took power in 1979 were always going to weaken Britain because these exalted private gain over public and communal interests. The political selling point was the old saying that a rising tide raises all ships, but this turned out to depend on how big or small a ship you were sailing in and many of the latter were soon foundering. What the three political earthquakes in the Anglo-Saxon world – the Brexit referendum, the British general election and the US presidential election – have in common is that they showed that there are many more people unhappy with the status quo than anybody had suspected.

Loathing for Trump on the part of most of the US media is so intense as to make sensible commentary a rarity. They see Trump as a demonic conman who is ruining their country and they may well be right, but this makes it all the more necessary to ask what are the real grievances among voters that he was able to identify and exploit. Edward Luttwak, political scientist and historian, has a compelling article in the Times Literary Supplement pointing to an all-important but little regarded statistic for car “affordability” in the US which shows that almost half of American households have “been impoverished to the point that they can no longer afford a new car”. This is in a country where a car is a necessity to get to work or shop for food, but where wage stagnation and the rising price of vehicles makes it an increasing strain to buy one. Luttwak argues that Trump got “the political economy” right in a way that none of his opponents even tried to do and this made him invulnerable to attacks on his character that his opponents thought would destroy him.

The affordability of housing is to the British what the affordability of cars is to Americans: the prohibitive cost of buying and the extortionate cost of renting a place to live increasingly determines political choices. Ownership of property underpins the political chasm separating young from old voters, the dividing line being the advanced age of 47. Below this, the majority vote Labour and above it Conservative. Students are supposed to have been energised into voting Labour by the promise of abolishing tuition fees, but when I talked to them they were much more worried about paying high rents for miserable accommodation which, unlike tuition fees, they have to pay cash down.

The results of the Brexit vote, the US presidential election and the British general election were all so close that any factor can be highlighted as the one which made the difference. Conservatives tend to point to a poor and over-confident campaign on their part, emphasising marginal considerations such as Theresa May’s spectacular lack of the common touch. Less talked about by Conservatives was the surprising failure of the campaign of vilification directed against Jeremy Corbyn which not only failed to sink him but confirmed his status as the anti-establishment candidate.

Corbyn is a much better person than Trump, but both men benefit from the impossibility of putting somebody on permanent trial by the media without continually mentioning their name. Trump evidently calculates that it scarcely matters what he is accused of so long as he tops the media agenda. Corbyn likewise draws benefits from media hostility so unrelenting that it discredits itself and no longer inflicts real wounds. Political establishments are baffled by successful challenges from those they had dismissed and despised, unlike Shakespeare’s defeated French leader at Agincourt who says: “Let’s stab ourselves. Are these the wretches we played at dice for?”

Patrick Cockburn is the author of The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 12:46 pm 
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August 8, 2017

Liberating Europe from Russian Gas

by Gary Leupp


Congress has responded to the president’s apparent intention to improve ties with Moscow with a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia, which Trump has now signed into law. (There was no choice. Trump governs under the cloud of Russian “collusion” and Congress could override a veto.) The law does not just punish Russia, but its European trading partners, most notably Germany, which imports over a third of its natural gas from the nearby country in the natural, normal way.

But U.S. policy now, under the Trump administration, is to promote U.S. energy exports to Europe to replace Russian ones. It is both old-fashioned Cold War Russophobia and old-fashioned inter-capitalist, inter-imperialist contention.

The sanctions bill has been promoted as one that appropriately penalizes Russia for its international misbehavior. The always-cited examples being the invasion of Georgia in 2008 and the (alleged) invasion of Ukraine in 2014. (As though these in any way rival in their impact and ramifications of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, based on lies, in 2003, or the U.S./NATO-led assault on Libya sold in the UN Security Council as a “humanitarian” intervention supported by Russia, that turned out to be a grotesque regime change operation culminating with Hillary Clinton’s public orgasm following Muammar Gadaffi’s sodomy-murder. “We came, we saw, he died!”)

Russia is always depicted in the corporate media as an “adversary.” It acts, we are told ad nauseam, against U.S. “interests” around the world. Its involvement in Syria is (to support the survival of the secular modern Syrian state against the most savage opponents imaginable) is somehow objectionable (whereas U.S. bombing of Syria, condemned by Damascus as a violation of Syrian sovereignty and clearly in violation of international law, is treated as a matter of course). Its role in the bombing of Aleppo, resulting in the reconquest of the city from al-Nusra and its allies, was depicted by the U.S. media as a bad thing. Meanwhile U.S. bombing of Mosul, to retake that city from ISIL, is treated as heroic, however many thousands perish in “collateral damage.” Anyway CNN won’t cover it and has fewer reporters on the ground there than RT does.

Russia is depicted as “provocative” when it mobilizes military forces within its own territory (and Belarus), in response to massive NATO exercises involving 31,000 troops in Poland last June that the German foreign minister criticized as “warmongering.”

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev matter-of-factly tweeted: “The Trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to Congress in the most humiliating way.” But where will this power lead?

The concept, as articulated by Sen. John McCain and Sen. John Hoeven in a 2014 Wall Street Journal op-ed, is to “liberate our allies from Russia’s stranglehold on the European natural-gas market.” But as the Washington Post has observed, “The problem is that Europeans don’t necessarily want to be liberated. Russian gas is much cheaper than American LNG, and could become even cheaper to undercut the United States if it entered the European market. American LNG suppliers prioritize their own profits over America’s strategic advantage anyway, and are likely to want to target more lucrative markets than Europe, such as Japan. Finally, the Russian gas supply is likely to be more reliable than the United States’, since it involves predictable long-term contracts, whereas U.S. production capacity rises and falls, as it becomes cheaper and more expensive to extract American unconventional hydrocarbons.”

The McCain-Hoeven piece was of course written before there was any talk about Russian “election meddling.” But that issue was used to justify the sanctions bill. That, plus miscellaneous Russian actions, basically in response to U.S. actions (as in Ukraine, where—as everyone should know—Hillary Clinton’s crony Victoria Newland helped organize a putsch in February 2014, designed to pull Ukraine into NATO, although that effort has failed and anyway lacks German support).

The U.S. at this point (under Trump) is taking actions towards Russia that recall those of the Truman administration. The warm, fuzzy (and miserable, abjectly weak) Russia of the 1990s under Yeltsin is now a reviving world power within an emerging Eurasian trade system. The relationship between Russia and China will stay strong even if the U.S. takes measures to sabotage trade relations between Russia and Europe.

Meanwhile, the sanctions law has produced general European outrage. This is not the anti-Trump outrage that accompanied his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. It is outrage at the U.S. legislature for its arrogance in demanding Europe shoot itself in the foot, to show Washington deference. In other words, the entirety of the divided, troubled U.S. polity is seen as a problem. This is as a new Pew Research Center report showing that only 49% of the world’s people now hold a positive view of the U.S.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern have publicly condemned the law, which could prevent them from benefiting from the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline, declaring: “we cannot agree with threats of illegal extraterritorial sanctions against European companies which take part in the development of European energy supply.” Brigitte Zypries, head of Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, says the new sanctions are “against international law, plain and simple… Americans cannot punish German companies because they [do business] in another country.” The foreign ministers of Germany, France, Austria, Italy and Spain have protested. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said the bill could have “unintended unilateral effects” on the EU’s energy security, adding, “America first cannot mean that Europe’s interests come last.”

This is not just a provocation of Russia, but of the whole world. It’s leveled by a bipartisan effort, and general (although insane) consensus that Russia is trying to revive the Soviet empire, is constantly interfering in foreign countries’ elections, and represents an “existential” threat to the U.S. and its freedoms, etc. (Because—reputable media talking heads opine routinely—Putin hates freedom and wants to oppose it, by electoral interference in Germany, France, Italy, etc.)

U.S. politicians—many of whom who do not believe in global warming or evolution, and cannot find Syria or Ukraine on the map—have boldly gone where no one has gone before: to risk a trade war with traditional allies, to force them to more firmly embrace the principle of U.S. hegemony. This when the U.S. GDP has dropped below that of the EU, and U.S. clout and credibility in the world—in large part due to global revulsion at the results of U.S. regime-change wars—is at low ebb.

Medvedev predicts that “relations between Russia and the United States are going to be extremely tense regardless of Congress’ makeup and regardless of who is president. Lengthy arguments in international bodies and courts are ahead, as well as rising international tensions and refusal to settle major international issues.” No bromance here.

Meanwhile Sen. Lindsey Graham—an extreme reactionary and warmonger now lionized my the mainstream media as some sort of “moderate” and adult in the room—informs NBC’s Today Show that reports that “there is no military option” on North Korea are “just false.”

“There is a military option: to destroy North Korea’s nuclear program and North Korea itself. He’s not going to allow — President Trump — the ability of this madman [Kim Jong Un] to have a missile that could hit America. If there’s going to be a war to stop him, it will be over there. If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die over here — and he’s told me that to my face.”

Because you see, North Korea threatens the United States (as opposed to the reverse). At least, this is what every cable news anchor wants you to believe. Don’t think about the 40,000 U.S. troops in South Korea (why, when South Korea has a massive, well-trained military, and there are no foreign troops in the north?), or the massive annual joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, or THAAD, or the Bush/Cheney sabotage of north/south rapprochement and collapse of the multi-lateral nuclear agreement. Don’t talk about the whole history of U.S. hostility to the north.

The U.S. has told Pyongyang it must not continue its nuclear program designed to defend itself. Thus in Graham’s view it invites justifiable annihilation. The glint in his eye when he says that is scary. So is the Today Show’s Matt Lauer respectful reception of his assertion that Trump may have to choose between “national security” and “regional stability”—which is to say, between risking the possibility that the west coast could be hit by a hypothetical North Korean nuke in the future, and attacking it—so rationally, so necessarily, so justifiably, so well-explained, so popularly applauded—producing, however unfortunately, the death of half a million East Asians.

Trump told that to Graham, “to his face” he testifies.

Meanwhile we’re told that Russia threatens the U.S.—in places like Syria and Ukraine. And Iran threatens the U.S., just by being what it is. And China threatens the U.S. (because of island-building or something). Mexico (according to Trump) threatens the U.S., by sending us rapists and drug-traffickers, while Canada threatens us by exporting to us its lumber. It’s not just Trump railing about how the world laughs at us, takes advantage of us, treats us so unfairly. Both branches of government agree that the U.S. is a victim.

1,800 U.S. nukes are on high-alert status. Russia has a comparable number. All the people “over there”—on the Korean peninsula, or who knows? Central Europe—could be destroyed by a military option, for not obeying a weakening power. I don’t think it will happen. But then I don’t know just how unhinged and amoral Trump is, and how he relates to his generals.

And the now overt, standard, crazy Russophobia of the media and the liberal shift towards McCain-mentality (as though it should be the comforting, default and responsible worldview) is scary. So is Trump’s inevitable capitulation to the Russophobes.

One can only hope that Europe says no, and that U.S. demands and overreach in time undermine the metastasizing NATO alliance, the central problem to begin with.

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

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"The person who claims the legitimacy of the authority always bears the burden of justifying it. And if they can’t justify it, it’s illegitimate and should be dismantled." - Noam Chonsky


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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:45 pm 
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Teehee... Russian gas.


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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:58 pm 
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Every time I see the name of this tread I think anal fissures.

:-O

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:05 pm 
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MIDNIGHT wrote:
Every time I see the name of this tread I think anal fissures.

:-O


Weirdly me too. It also reminds me I need to get mine sorted.

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 6:06 pm 
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Slacks wrote:
MIDNIGHT wrote:
Every time I see the name of this tread I think anal fissures.

:-O


Weirdly me too. It also reminds me I need to get mine sorted.


Great minds think alike B-)

Also more lube on that last part.

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 Post subject: Re: Fissures
PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 6:24 pm 
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Doc's want to get a surgeon to look at it. Thankfully ass surgery is available under our communist healthcare system.

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