A Study in Ambiguity: General Dunford’s Speech at the UN

This has been published at SOTT: https://www.sott.net/article/321312-Learning-from-Russia-US-General-Dunford-Chairman-of-Joint-Chiefs-preaches-multinational-cooperation-to-closed-UN-group

Shifting fronts of of WW3

Turkish boss Tayyip Erdoğan has begun to open dialogue with Damascus, and has offered his apologies to Russia over the unjustifiable shoot-down of a Russian jet over Syria 7 months ago. Turkey’s proxies were also responsible for the followup shoot-down of a rescue helicopter and the murder of a pilot. So far the perpetrator has escaped prosecution in Turkey. Was the sidelining of Davutoglu, formerly PM, also an ambiguous sign, possibly signaling that Turkey is taking a half-step backwards?

On the other side of the globe, disputed imperial claims in the South China Sea have not softened, but China is participating in a grand naval exercise with US forces in the Pacific Ocean. Both sides report the greatest professionalism in the other. The biennial RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) naval exercises will involve 27 nations and 25,000 service members, 45 ships, five submarines and more than 200 aircraft. China is among this year’s contingent that will operate off the coasts of Hawai’i and Southern California.

Brexit too suggests a further crumbling of the US imperium — at least its imperiousness has been curtailed. The EU, like the ECB, IMF, other members of Greece’s enslaving Troika, and the World Bank, are beholden to central banksters and international oligopolists. So are the Warriors of Terror which the US and its satellites have unleashed on the world. Though the US lefty press is in the dark, much of Europe is waking up to the effects of rule by bureaucrats who promise equality, but systematically undermine labor, pensions, and even corporate security, in interest of the banksters. If they truly care about the lower classes, leftists should pray a Frexit follows, even if led by Marine Le Pen. “Remember Greece!” should be the cry. (But see this for the uses the elites make of the Brexit referendum.)

General Dunford’s words at the UN may also be read in the light of a changing world stage where the Eastern alliances have scored their first major victories in the last nine months. Dunford’s speech may be seen as accompanying a step back from the typical US bellicosity espoused by neo-cons and liberal interventionists alike. Whether his words are cause for hope, or merely the usual US strategy of acquiescent dissimulation while in retreat, remains to be seen. It is to be hoped that a “rational” foreign policy will sooner or later surface in the US imperial elite. The ascendance of a “merely imperial” faction over the “rabidly insane” would be sufficient to keep the Lukewarm WW3 from flaring Hot in the spots it presently is Cold. Let us hope that the sensible military men like Sy Hersh’s Pentagon sources, adults, take control of more than discourse, but also ‘facts on the ground.’

Introduction: Parsing Dunford’s June 17 speech at the UN

For the first time in history, a US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Marine General Joseph F. Dunford, has appeared before the UN. Solicited by US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers, Dunford delivered an address on UN peacekeeping to a closed group that had promised additional troops for these missions following President Obama’s 2015 Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping.

While drawing the evident continuities to President Obama’s initiation of these proceedings late last summer, Dunford also sounded a few notes that suggested a subtle but important strategic shift in that time, or at least a softening of the rhetoric. While this is lost on the public, it is not lost on UN ambassadors or foreign departments of state and military affairs.

The shifts — even if they are nothing more than ‘shiftiness’ — must come in response to the critical changes along the fronts of WW3. It is not just UN peacekeeping missions that brought the highest ranking military officer in the US to the UN. Critical as the peacekeeping missions are to the present global status quo, or, in enlarged numbers, to its possible future re-alignments, they have only provided imperfect, partial and peripheral support to the Western imperium so far. The UN does what the US and Israel says it should, but they gripe too much and bring shame and scandal upon their masters.

Appropriately for a UN peacekeeping audience, but out of character for a US representative, General Dunford’s speech to the UN emphasized ‘transnational solutions to transnational problems.’ It also included a prominent reference to “trans-regional crime.” These remarks especially departed from the unilateralist bombast and mythological analysis of world affairs given by Obama at the opening of UNGA70 (UN General Assembly) late last September. Only a few days after the UNGA70 addresses by world leaders, Russia began its devastating air campaigns against US-supported terrorist groups, Ahrar al-Sham, and Jubhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria).

Obama had delivered less incendiary remarks shortly beforehand, on September 15, 2015, before the Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping. At that time, he reaped pledges for 40 – 50,000 troops for mission operations. Not all of the countries have followed through on their promises, however. Dunford’s appearance thus came as an opportunity for the US to clamp down on the dilatory members of its coalitions, many observers noted, and congratulate those who made good on their word.

First, some facts and figures, drawn from Military.Com’s assessment of the speech:

“The U.N. currently funds at more than $7 billion annually numerous peacekeeping missions worldwide, including in Abyei (Sudan), the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Darfur, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Golan, Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and Western Sahara. Current peacekeeping operations involve more than 121,000 troops, police and civilians in increasingly dangerous efforts to cope with the chaos of failing states. Since 1948, more than 3,700 UN peacekeepers have been killed on missions.”

I’ll cover the speech, first by way of quoting its most significant paragraphs, then discussing its reception in the US press, and finally focusing again on its most significant shifts since Obama’s words late last summer. The mainstream press has not given Dunford’s speech its due historical importance, since it has no notion of the larger contexts of the Lukewarm WW3 (hot in places, cold in others.) However, some mention was made, (here, here, and here) especially beforehand, to wit, “the closed meeting will be an opportunity for the U.N. to take stock of the (Leadership) summit commitments and highlight where progress is still needed.”

As AP and others reported, Dunford’s appearance not only was to follow-up on pledges for UN peacekeeping operations; rather it also served to preview a meeting of defense ministers in London in September. It served, these reports reiterate, for US leadership at the UN to get its peacekeeping forces in line and up to snuff. Nothing much of significant interest beyond that for most of the US press.

Though little was reported beforehand by the US mainstream, even less commentary and analysis appeared afterwards. Of course, this was true also for the much more important, indeed landmark addresses by Obama, Putin, and other world leaders at the opening of UN General Assembly 70 (UNGA70) in late September 2015. (This came just before Obama’s peacekeeping summit.) Lacking these larger contexts, it is not surprising that the press also missed the shifts in content and rhetorical valence that I will comment upon. (I covered the UNGA70 speeches, here, here, and here.)

Nor did most of the press pick up on Dunford’s sharp demand for reform or his sobering and quite judicious assessment of present global volatility and instability. Though most of the US is unaware, WW3 plays out in hybrid form across the globe, from naval maneuvers in the Baltics, Black Sea, and Mediterranean all the way to the South China Sea, and ground forces and weaponry increasingly positioned across eastern Europe. It involves NATO-led Wars of Terror waged across North Africa and the Middle East, and political coups undertaken by the West from Argentina and Brazil to the Ukraine. WW3 is also waged in the currency markets and with gold reserves. It is waged with ‘trade wars’ and the dominatrix pacts of TTP and TTIP. These are wielded by the Western elites against their own partners and their own peoples as much as those of their Eastern enemies. Sanctions are waged not just against Russia, but also Europe’s natural access to energy and against the Silk Road projects from China that make infinitely better sense for Europe; the sanctions amount, in effect, to sanctions on Europe itself. The war is waged too from the other side in hybrid fashion, with new Eastern banking and clearing institutions, with SCO, BRICS, CIPS, and the AIIB now facing off against the West’s EU, SWIFT, World Bank and the IMF.

In fact, Dunford did not mince words about the growing seriousness of our present situation. His dire pronouncements were again mostly ignored in the mainstream press, but picked up pronouncedly on the Department of Defense media report of the speech. The mainstream, and even specialist press accounts, focused rather on Dunford’s insistence that UN peacekeeping forces, beset with scandals, clean up their act; they also widely reported his plea for greater numbers of female peacekeepers among the peacekeeping ranks. Often, they assumed Dunford was there as military muscle to round up the dilatory members of the mission who promised Obama additional troops and resources. This is a little odd considering Dunford’s endlessly contrite demeanor.

Dunford’s early paragraphs deserve extended citation because they describe an evolving and expanding network of problems, and also sound novel notes in respect to those of Obama late last summer before the same audience and at the UNGA70. After the passage cited below, Dunford goes on to draw continuities between his words and those of the president in September, and reiterates a US commitment to add resources to the peacekeeping mission. However, in the end, Dunford’s analysis of global problem areas and the way peacekeeping force may ameliorate the problems (in theory), frankly more resembled the words of Putin at UNGA70 in late September than they did those of Obama. Significantly, Dunford refrained entirely from touting militant US exceptionalism, which the UN got in heaping proportions from Obama last year, and from Samantha Powers ad nauseum.

Before passing to Dunford’s speech, let us recall the world leaders’ addresses last September. (my articles include an overview here, here on Obama’s talk, and here on Putin’s.)

Obama’s words before the UNGA70, and elsewhere, reveal why true US partnership with other nations is rarely considered, much less proffered: US leadership is never justified, but simply assumed. For Obama, the UN is the forum where “the US works with allies …. to prevent a third world war,” (sic) to assert “the emergence of strong democracies” (sic) “accountable to their people instead of any foreign power” (sic) and to build “an international system that imposes a cost on those who choose conflict over cooperation.”

Of course, in reality, “conflict” is exactly what the US, NATO and their Mideast allies have chosen to push on the rest of the world for decades. The “costs” have fallen exclusively to the ‘other guy’ (and increasingly to the US taxpayer), while the profits, geo-strategic and military-industrial, fall exclusively to the Western ruling-classes.

At UNGA70, Obama pretty much blamed all international terrorism on Assad’s tenacious tyranny. Putin laid out a more realistic scenario whereby terrorism grows from the soil of countries destroyed by the West, and is nurtured by financing and arms-trafficking from the same West which naturally and hypocritically refuses to investigate these lines of support. Putin argued for a genuinely joint UN effort to combat international terrorism across a wide sector, what Dunford called a ‘multi-domain’ field. Significantly, this includes cyberspace and “trans-national” crime for Dunford, It did not specify terrorist financing.

This is not surprising. No US official seriously suggests we investigate the banks laundering ISIS money, since they are all Western and will lead back to the Terrorists-in-Chief in DC, Langley, London, Ankara, Riad, and Tel Aviv. Those government officials that do come across the evidence, like Scott Bennett, are made to pay, or silenced more definitively. Not that the US public would know or much care if the information got out. Russia dumped photos of ISIS oil tankers stretched a hundred miles from the Turkish borders and precious few in the Western press paid attention. General Petraeus openly called for alliance with al-Qaeda (Jubhat al-Nusra=al CIAduh in Syria) and no one paid any mind hier bei uns in the Fourth Reich.

In his UNGA70 opening, as in his Valdai speeches of the last two years, Putin argued for coordinated efforts against terrorism and widening global instability, preferably under the UN umbrella, but anyway based on international law, respect for national sovereignty, and the precepts and principles of the UN. Remarkably, at UNGA70, Obama did not even give these ideas lip service, holding strong to his unilateralist, world-leadership message. It is on the question of national sovereignty that US exceptionalism is most virulent. This pathogen is best expressed in US UN Ambassador Samantha Powers’ A Problem from Hell (which should be the title of her autobiography.) This is the cheap thriller that turned Obama from a peace-lover to a “liberal interventionist”.

Putin’s most memorable line at UNGA70 was “Do you even know what you have done?” This should be asked most of liberal interventionists who justify national destruction for humanitarian reasons. In the same speeches and related interviews, Putin let on several times that Russia, anyway, has full knowledge of the support the US and its allies gave to the bloody coup in Kiev as well as the support they give to terrorist groups. It knows well the West’s habit of undermining societies and states that do not toe the imperial line. Putin also warned the US that “exporting democracy” was much like Soviet experience of “exporting revolution”. It will lead often to tragic consequences and “degradation rather than progress.” But most trenchantly, Putin’s speech barreled into the same US exceptionalism and uni-lateralism that Obama so tenaciously defended at the opening of UNGA70.

Here is Putin on the treacherous relation between the US and the international community supposed to be represented at the UN:

“We all know that after the end of the Cold War — and everyone is aware of that — a single center of domination emerged in the world, and then those who found themselves at the top of the pyramid were tempted to think that if they were strong and exceptional, they knew better and they did not have to reckon with the U.N., which, instead of [acting to] automatically authorize and legitimize the necessary decisions, often creates obstacles or, in other words, stands in the way….. But we consider the attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the United Nations as extremely dangerous. They could lead to a collapse of the entire architecture of international organizations, and then indeed there would be no other rules left but the rule of force …. true independent states would be replaced by an ever-growing number of de facto protectorates and externally controlled territories.”

Indeed, Obama’s unilateralism makes George HW Bush look like a great diplomat. Dunford’s talk, on the other hand, seems to have come half-way back round to Putin’s recommendations, if not to his analysis and assessment of US hegemony.

et us listen to Dunford’s crucial paragraphs. To be sure, Dunford here and always plays his hand close to the chest. He usually says what he is supposed to. “Russia is an existential threat” was necessary at his confirmation hearings. He is always respectful and considered in his delivery but at the same time the general is never transparent in his intent. The speech, highlighting a cleaner but greater role for UN peacekeeping forces, certainly can be read as the next stage of the NWO. It might also be read more hopefully, as a partial US opening to the world and an offer of cooperation addressed to peers, rather than puppets.

Dunford’s speech: (my emphases)

“The current security environment has been described as the most complex and volatile since World War II – and frankly, I believe that. The challenges we face range from conventional conflict to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, from violent extremism to trans-regional crime, and the character of war has changed.

Today’s challenges are increasingly trans-regional. The current fight against violent extremism is an example. We estimate that over 45 thousand foreign fighters from 120 different countries have come to Iraq and Syria. No nation today can turn away and consider violent extremism somebody else’s problem. We have many examples of how the fight can follow us home from fragile states in the form of terrorist acts and the mass migration of those seeking to escape violence.

Similarly today, today’s conflict between states is not only trans-regional but also what we in the United States call multi-domain. That is involves simultaneous action on sea, on land, in the air, in space, and in cyberspace. And we also see non-state actors`` involved in conflict that are able to leverage information, cyber capabilities, and sophisticated weapons.

In addition to the complexity of conflict, we see increased volume. In 2014 nearly 60 million people were forcibly displaced from their homes by conflict, and the commission for refugees estimates that violence will displace over 40 thousand people a day.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that United Nations peacekeeping operations are a solution for all of that, but that brief description of the current environment highlights the growing need for multi-national cooperation in responding to conflict. No longer can conflict be considered something that is “over there.” While the international community must develop a wide range of capabilities to respond to today’s challenges, we already have a relevant and potentially very effective tool in the form of the UN peacekeeping. And I firmly believe that UN peacekeeping can play a major role in dealing with the human suffering associated with conflict and by continuing to improve our collective security.”

And later in the speech: “we firmly believe that these missions play a vital role in international security, and reform and adaptation will allow us to be more effective in the future and meet what we see as an absolutely growing demand for the kinds and capabilities that UN peacekeeping missions offer

The Media Mediates… Obfuscates… Ignores

Naturally, no mainstream media detects rhetorical departure from Obama’s words late last year, nor suggests the larger context of the US War OF Terror, or the way in which the UN avoids to address what the US covers up: the West’s obvious support of I.S.I.S. For this reason, we remain cautious of any perceived opening on the part of US officials. In September, Kerry’s slight opening seemed to leave the door open to Russian intervention and the possibility that Assad could stick around a little while. Then, as the Russians made their partial withdrawal and the ceasefire took hold, Kerry threatened a “Plan B” if Assad wasn’t on his way by this August. Actually Plan B kicked into operation last month. Now Kerry is coddling the 51 State Department “dissenting diplomats” who urge US military strikes against Damascus but insist that turning a cold front of WW3 to hot will not lead down the slippery slope but rather to peace and prosperity for all.

Nevertheless, Kerry’s September opening had positive consequences, even if he took back his words as soon as he came back to DC. Words too are players on the big chessboards. Dunford’s speech, I hope and hypothesize, may also be such an opening. At least, he does not have Kerry’s long record of lies behind him.

If the mainstream press mostly ignored the speech, the web-based military press gave it more attention. Interestingly, it is the DOD article on the speech, not the massmedia’s, which resounds most closely with my analysis, if not my interpretive prognosis. But let us begin with the massmedia’s range of more or less expected responses, which will serve to cover other aspects of the address.

APBigStory’s report gave a conventional Obaman unilateralist slant to Dunford’s speech. Feigning objectivity with its bland headline (“Top US General Discusses UN Peacekeeping”), the newsline’s BigStory article appropriately suggested a larger-than-UN peacekeeping context to its reportage, emphasizing that the meeting also served to preview a meeting of defense ministers in London in September. This is significant since the internal and sovereign issues of the participatory powers will there come most to the fore. Even NATO powers and NATO Mideast allies now are bickering as WW3 takes its toll along the edges of NATO and the US empire. It may be that the cooperative tone of Dunford’s speech was geared to keep wayward recalcitrant allies in line. Any real-world analysis would suggest that this ‘soft power’ approach is as effective as US military “leadership”, emphasized ad nauseum by Obama last fall at the UN. Indeed, Dunford ended his talk with an urgent plea to make the London meeting a success.

Interestingly, APBigStory interpreted Dunford’s intent without actually referencing the speech. Where did it get its ‘take’ that this is basically a US-first, self-interested operation, and that Dunford was there to get recalcitrant ‘allies’ or ‘puppets’ in line? From the horse’s mouth, as it were, or rather, from unnamed sources. Here’s AP (my emphasis):

Officials, who declined to be identified because they were speaking at a background ahead of the closed meeting, said Dunford’s visit reflects the Obama administration’s understanding that a robust U.N. peacekeeping force is in the United States best interest.”

Sourcing anonymous ‘officials’ once again, AP further reported that only about two-thirds of the pledging countries had followed through on their promises to Obama. These troops are already deployed in some sorry theater of the world the West is probably responsible for de-stabilizing. The same or another unnamed official then continued to inform AP that “part of the reason for the meeting was to make sure that the remaining one third follow through on their pledges“.

Who are the countries in danger of reneging? A highly diverse group with highly diverse reasons for holding back: “According to a report seen by The Associated Press, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, Spain, Uganda and Vietnam were among the countries that have yet to fulfill their pledges.”

Perhaps a more inclusive message and a friendlier face, with Dunford’s humble and apologetic visage, not just a military man, was needed to get the slowpokes to follow through. If so, such subtlety was lost on most of the press. That the US should lead the UN is simply assumed by half of the US electorate, while the other half assumes the UN is a purely foreign force of invasion of the US. (“Never the twain shall meet”: the left and right of the mainstream press. In the alternative sphere there is much more overlap. Reality-based reporting makes a difference.)

Nevertheless, even if no Western mainstream media get the larger pictures, and few outlets even commented on the speech, the range of interpretation was revealing.

For Nicole Duran writing at the Washington Examiner, Dunford’s speech was meant to convey precisely the kind of moral and military authority to which only the US can aspire. The headline read: “Dunford to U.N.: Control your peacekeepers better”. These have been plagued by charges of corruption and sexual assault against local populations. Here are his words in that regard: (again, my emphases)

 “I think it’s clear to all of us that the UN’s record in this area has been mixed – and there’s a lot of reasons for that mixed record, but chief among them is the hard reality that UN peacekeeping missions deal with some of the most challenging and protracted issues on the planet. But while many of the challenges are due to the nature of the conflicts, there’s other challenges that should concern us all. Problems of ill-disciplined units conducting criminal acts, including sexual assault; problems with corruption and shortfalls in equipment cannot be blamed on the environment.”

 ” While the missions will always be hard, we have to address the challenges that are within our control. And we have to do that because they threaten our collective legitimacy and our effectiveness. To much of the world’s populations, a soldier or policeman wearing a blue helmet and a UN patch represents their last best hope for safety and security, and we must work to ensure that image and hope isn’t diminished.

“Being candid about our challenges is not about finger pointing, addressing them is something that we have to do together. And today, I want to emphasize that U.S. military forces are prepared to be a part of the solution, from helping to develop the capacity of peacekeeping forces, to providing enabling capabilities, to assisting with reform. This is a personal priority for me, the United States’ Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the entire U.S. Joint Force. And the priority we place on UN peacekeeping operations is consistent with our view that these operations make an indispensable contribution to international security.”

However, Duran and Richard Sisk at Military.Com both underlined a passage that Dunford himself “highlighted”, “the growing need for women to serve as peacekeepers”. Obama had made a similar request, but did not explain the need. His simple request sounded like the mathematical solution to a problem of inequality. Nevertheless, the comment served to mark Obama, like Samantha Powers, as a “liberal interventionist” rather than a neo-con, a distinction that is merely a choice of excuses to offer for war and other forms of asset-stripping.

While Obama had made what seemed an obligatory plea for equality on Obama’s part. Dunford, drawing on his own experience, showed another crucial side, a tactical one. “Women not only add to the capability of our own forces“, Dunford said, “they have a unique ability to connect with local populations in areas of instability“. This, of course, can be read with nefarious as well as pure intent, if we read Dunford as we would read Powers or Obama mouthing the same phrases. Indeed, liberal interventionists like neo-cons have put forward many supposedly female demagogues, but none are able to “connect with local populations”.

Certainly you could not have “peacekeepers” in the mold of female warmongers like Samantha Powers, Hillary Clinton, Victoria Nuland, and Susan Rice or oldtimers like Condeleeza Rice and Madeleine Albright. Tulsi Gabbard, however, that’s another thing: there’s a real woman. (All else being equal, a Council of Grandmothers probably would rule our roost best – if we must have ‘rulers’.)

Improving the gender-ratio of UN peacekeeping forces may also contribute to the other, most-oft cited intent of Dunford’s speech, to enforce better behavior among troops riddled with scandals. Military.Com reported that “Dunford said it was a “personal priority for me” to improve the discipline and professionalism of the missions.” These remarks, especially Dunford’s insistence that UN own up to the charges of misconduct went far beyond Obama’s in September. So did his calls for “reform”, mentioned three times in the speech.

The DOD Account of Dunford’s Speech

The headline at the DOD website perhaps gives the gloss closest to the text: “Transnational Threats Need Transnational Solutions, Dunford Says at U.N.”. This piece, written by Jim Garamone at DoDNews, makes extensive quotations (though not as long as mine). The interpretation obviously meets official approval, so it is expected that Garamone’s analysis does not buffer the main points, as those in the massmedia did, but also confirms my suspicion that more is there than noted by other reports. However, Garamone’s exposition, without analysis, makes no attempt to decry the shifts since Obama’s speech, or delve into anything other than UN peacekeeping contexts. (Fair enough.)

Garamone draws his headlining remarks from the same paragraphs I did. Besides the focus on “transnationality”, he cites Dunford on the volatile state of the world today, the fact that “violent extremism” and “transregional crime” are among the new trans-national problems, and that even non-state actors now have command of “multi-domain” array of weapons at their disposal. Garamone reports Dunford saying “45,000 foreign fighters from 120 different countries have come to Iraq and Syria” and further, that “We have many examples of how the fight can follow us home from fragile states in the form of terrorist acts and the mass migration of those seeking to escape violence.”

These words could have been pronounced at UNGA70 by Putin – but not by Obama. Belying Obama’s narrative that the Syrian rebels are home-grown, these words closely echoed Putin’s UNGA70 speech warning of blowback and the danger of being manipulated by those you would manipulate. (The latest Istanbul attack?) They also echo reality rather than make-believe. For Obama, takfiri terrorists are inevitably “moderate rebels” dissatisfied with Assad. That Dunford tacitly admits that the “mass migration” may come from unchecked terrorism, and not just the dictator of the moment, is also a step beyond what Obama informed his two UN audiences late last summer.

Garamone continues to quote Dunford: “No longer can conflict be considered something that is ‘over there‘”, — which certainly may be understood as a liberal interventionist platform — but then also ” All this begs for multinational cooperation in responding to conflict“. “Cooperation” was the word the US refused to utter in the fight against terror, if it meant cooperating with Russia or Assad. Neither country was presumably represented at this meeting, but still, US officials are entering almost uncharted rhetorical territory (in the 21st century) with this support for “multinational cooperation.”

The article goes on to cover the rest of the talk, including those themes that most interested the article-writers earlier discussed.

Dunford’s Possible Openings

I would like to focus on a few other remarks made by Dunford that we have hitherto skimmed over. We remember that Dunford characterized the problems faced by peacekeeping forces as in steady change, ranging now ” from conventional conflict to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, from violent extremism to transregional crime.”

Correctly, Dunford insists upon using the phrase “violent extremism” rather than “Islamic extremism” or “radical Islam”, since there is nothing “Islamic” about al-CIAduh and the CIAliphate, however duped their cultish rank-and-file and the US masses remain. Whether he intended it or not, “violent extremism”‘s close association with “transregional crime” is most apt. Is he thinking, perhaps, of the Erdogan-HSBC-BP-ISIS oil-for-arms trade and money laundering scheme? Or perhaps Fast-and-Furious’ links to the Mideast terrorist arms trade? The possibilities are endless.

The mention of “transregional crime”, never uttered by Obama, seems to extend the usual understanding of UN peacekeeping missions into Interpol territory. Again, this may provoke in many the fears of a One World Government. But we must not let our trauma think for us. These same NWO institutions, emptied of crooks and obfuscating bureaucracy and downsized by 90%, might be made into beneficial operations.

However, in the mouth of a US representative at a UN gathering, critical commentary about trans-regional crime and terror is particularly ironic. Not only has the US originated most of the terrorism of the past generations, either directly or through puppets and proxies, but the UN too has facilitated all manner of war-criminality itself, such as hosting the media theatre for the Ghouta sarin gas attack in 2013 which nearly led to a serious US escalation of the crisis. The chemical weapons attacks were actually perpetrated by Jubhat al-Nusra, with the gas supplied through Turkey, but Kerry blamed Assad.

The massacre brought Obama to the brink of unleashing cruise missiles on Damascus. Obama was then informed by the most rational arm of the military, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) that the evidence that Assad used the sarin gas on Syrian citizens was “not a slam dunk.” This much we learn in the US press, like the legacy Atlantic interview by Jeffrey Goldberg. Actually, its chemical signature made it plain it did not come from the SAA arsenal. Instead, it most likely came from Libya, shipped along Sy Hersh’s “rat line” with Hillary Clinton’s approval through Turkey to Jubhat al-Nusra to be used on Syrian citizens by US-backed terrorist forces and then blamed on Assad.

This false flag blew up in Obama’s face, and Obama was wise to restrain trigger-happy neo-cons intent on war. One of these was Samantha Powers. Excuse me, she’s a “liberal interventionist.” (By and large, liberal interventionists pursue the same policies of national destruction and asset-stripping as neo-cons, but with “humanitarian” rationalizations. Neo-cons prefer to run on greed and fear).

Nevertheless, Obama and the State Department continue to ply the old line about Assad’s “barrel bombs” and “chemical weapons” attacks. None of that kind of slander infected Dunford’s talk.

Certainly “trans-regional crime” was also never mentioned by Obama in September. Does its inclusion reflect a US understanding that international terrorism ought to be treated, finally, as the organized inter-regional crime it actually is? This would be new and refreshing. Perhaps then we would move on to treating “government” like the family-run organized crime syndicate it is.

Unfortunately, the financing of terrorism is a part of hybrid warfare left completely unmentioned in Dunford’s speech. Still, his assessment of the problem was superior to that of Obama. In his UNGA70 speech Obama maintained terrorism was a social problem deriving solely from nasty dictators and solved by bombing countries into the Stone Age.

If Dunford’s talk seemed to enlist Putin’s prototype about the analysis of the rise of terrorism, its inevitable blowback, and its need to be combatted with international cooperation, he did not suggest looking into the financing of terrorism, nor did he reinforce the legitimacy of international law since he did not mention it. Neither did Dunford’s short remarks restore the legitimacy of national sovereignty, which Obama had as much as dismissed in his UNGA70 opening remarks. Still this speech represents a softening of the US stance since the UNGA opening.

Is Powers Power Diminishing?

If Dunford’s remarks represent an opening, then they are flying in the face of policies maintained by Obama, and by his UN representative Samantha Powers, a well-known liberal interventionist. The official Obama narrative informs us that Samantha Powers’ A Problem from Hell is the tract that made the peace-loving Obama a war-monger, though not in those terms. (The two do clash, however, most famously in late 2013, when hundreds died in chemical weapons attacks in the Ghouta suburbs of Damascus. Despite the DIA warning, Powers, Kerry, and others were still gung-ho for the attack but Obama had less confidence in the flimsy false flag story.)

On the surface, Dunford’s appearance before the UN showed, as Powers introduction of the Joint Chiefs Chairman stated, that the US and especially the US military is “recognizing the evolving threats that we all face today, but also adapting so that we can effectively meet them.” We should wonder whether ‘threats’ refers more to ISIS or Russia. We also should wonder whether ‘change’ and ‘reform’ mean provisional retreat or the real thing.

How much of a new path these peacekeeping remarks represent, and what kind, remains to be seen. Powers’ characterization followed her introductory pronouncement that this was the first US Joint Chiefs Chair ever to speak before the assembled UN, an historic occasion. “First time ever” she repeated for emphasis. Perhaps it is historic. A quick reading of the transcript, however, may give the sense of ‘more of the same’. Certainly one may wonder if it matters what a US official pronounces or promises, since this has carried so little weight in the past.

Based on past experience, we must expect US officialdom to dissimulate, but from the US imperium’s present loggerheads we similarly may expect a retreat, whether minor and tactical or definitive and heartfelt. While behind-the-scenes arm-twisting and terrorist support may continue unabated, the play of rhetoric also is meaningful, as it creates expectations in its audience, expectations which turn against one if too often disappointed.

The pertinent audience for Dunford’s speech is international. The US public is unconcerned and the address was not covered in the mainstream media. Only the US military press paid it any mind. Still, Dunford’s speech may represent a slight but significant retreat from the Powers doctrine, which basically post-modernizes the ancient theory of “might makes right.” In their speeches at UNGA70, leaders across the world including Putin, Assad, and even the Pope, recognized that ‘higher’ forms of legitimacy, such as international law, national sovereignty, self-determination, and decency between states, have proven in the past better for global stability than unilateralism. Has a rational faction ascended at the Pentagon and replaced the nutcase neo-cons and loony liberal interventionists, or are they merely the ‘merely imperial’? In either case, let us hope that Dunford’s measured words about reform and tackling crime and extremism soon reflect equally measured actions on the ground.

About neithernoreithermore

i am an historian of the present and past
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